Philadelphia Orchestra strikes moments before gala

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES- Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra went on strike Friday moments before donors opened a black-tie gala, in the latest labor unrest in the tight-belted US classical music world.
With dramatic timing, the musicians' union voted to strike as guests arrived for an annual opening night gala to support the institution, traditionally considered one of the big five orchestras in the United States.

The musicians held up picket signs at the door rather than play at the gala, where they would have performed a selection under its star conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin, a Canadian recently named as music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The musicians' union in a statement said that the performers were not "greedy" but wanted to end a "downward spiral" and attract top talent who could instead go to other orchestras.
"We make no apology for wanting to be well compensated when we have devoted countless hours of hard work to achieving a level of musicianship which has placed us at the very top of our profession," the union said in a statement.
The musicians said that they reluctantly accepted multiple wage cuts even though the orchestra came out of bankruptcy more than four years ago.
The management said it offered a package that included annual pay increases of two percent for the next three years off annual base pay of $127,608.
Orchestra president Allison Vulgamore said in a statement that the strike was "naturally disappointing" but said the institution was making progress and hoped for a deal soon with the union.
US classical music institutions, which rely heavily on donors in contrast to European counterparts which enjoy substantial public funding, have struggled to stabilize their finances since the 2008 financial crisis.
The Minnesota Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in recent years have both locked out their musicians amid contract disputes.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is among the most internationally minded US classical institutions, in 1973 becoming the first US orchestra to perform in China.
It went on another extensive tour in May of China and Japan and next year plans to be the first Western orchestra to perform in Mongolia.

Saturday, October 1st 2016

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