In Saturday’s (2/27) Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Dobrin reports that, faced with the serious economic concerns the Philadelphia Orchestra is confronting, “musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra have agreed to a freeze on minimum salaries for next season, early negotiations for a new contract, and a hiring freeze with certain qualifications. Musicians also agreed to give up an expected increase in contributions to their underfunded pension fund while a musician-board-staff task force works to ‘identify viable pension plan options for musicians and staff.’ The concessions could save $4.5 million, according to their employer, the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. ‘It was a difficult but necessary decision to make,’ said members committee chairman John Koen, a cellist. But in the end, ‘the overall economic state of the orchestra’ persuaded players, he said. … Combined with an earlier set of givebacks and changes in work rules, the new pact could bring $8 million in savings over 2¼ years. New orchestra chief Allison B. Vulgamore, who started work in January, said the savings were critical to the orchestra’s survival. But just as important, she said, is that they are ‘a signal and truthful articulation of the fact that the orchestra board and management and musicians are coming together awfully quickly to look the future in the eye.’ ”

Photo of Charles Dutoit leading The Philadelphia Orchestra courtesy of Chris Lee/The Philadelphia Orchestra Association

Posted March 1, 2010