“Carnegie Hall canceled its opening-night gala Wednesday after its stagehands went on strike and began picketing outside the hall with a giant inflatable rat just hours before the season was set to open, with a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin,” writes Michael Cooper on Wednesday’s (10/2) ArtsBeat column at the New York Times. “ ‘As of right now, the strike is on,’ James J. Claffey Jr., the president of Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, said in a message on his answering machine that was recorded at 12:45 a.m., after talks with Carnegie Hall broke down. The dispute centered around whether the union would have jurisdiction over Carnegie Hall’s newly-created education wing. Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, said that he regretted the inconvenience to concertgoers and musicians.” The opening gala had been scheduled to feature works by Tchaikovsky, Tiomkin, and Ravel along with violinist Joshua Bell and bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding.  “ ‘We are disappointed that, despite the fact that the stagehands have one of the most lucrative contracts in the industry, they are now seeking to expand their jurisdiction beyond the concert hall and into the new education wing in ways that would compromise Carnegie Hall’s education mission,’ Mr. Gillinson said. ‘There is no precedent for this anywhere in New York City.’ He said that the education space would offer free or low-cost community programs that have nothing to do with the hall’s performance-related work.”

Breaking news: The Philadelphia Orchestra announced that it will perform an unscheduled “pop up” concert at 6 p.m. tonight at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall, instead of performing in New York City.

Posted October 2, 2013