Baltimore, MD (PRWEB) September 13, 2013
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announces the settlement of a new three-year contract between the Association and members of Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians. The new collective bargaining agreement went into effect on September 9, 2013 and will extend through September 11, 2016, replacing the previous two-year contract, which expired on September 8, 2013. The successful settlement of the contract and the terms ratified by both the musicians and the Board of Directors demonstrate a commitment by both parties to uphold the BSO’s long tradition of artistic excellence while maintaining fiscal responsibility. Further, after the economic downturn necessitated the renegotiation of the 2008 contract with significant reductions in compensation and benefits, this new agreement signals increased confidence in the orchestra’s long-term financial outlook.
“BSO management and musicians approached these negotiations with realistic expectations and the discussions maintained a constructive tone throughout,” reported BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham. “Both sides understood the imperative: come to an agreement that struck the critical balance between financial responsibility and competitiveness essential to attracting and retaining the best musicians. This contract is a vital step towards achieving these goals. Furthermore, the new contract, coupled with the extension of BSO Music Director Marin Alsop’s contract through 2021, allows the board and management to focus on the planning of strategic priorities including the BSO’s 2016 centennial and the campaign to grow its endowment. I especially want to thank the Players’ Committee for their diligent, thoughtful work in concluding this deal.”
The contract upholds the BSO as one of 17 full-time American orchestras, operating 52 weeks per year. It also secures increased flexibility on a number of work rules, enabling the BSO to offer a five-concert Sunday matinee series to take place at the Music Center at Strathmore (the Orchestra’s second year-round home, located in North Bethesda), beginning in the 2014-2015 season. Annual base salary will increase by 11% from $67,600 for tenured musicians in the 2012-2013 season to $75,000 in the 2015-2016 season. Additionally, previously cut over-scale and seniority payments will be fully restored. The contract also includes increased employer contributions to retirement plans and to high-deductible medical insurance plans, coupled with a formula that shares the burden of rising medical expenses equally between employer and employees.
The costs of financing the new contract will be covered by new earned and contributed sources. The Sunday matinee concerts at Strathmore will generate an important new, sustainable revenue stream. Secondly, the BSO is in the early phases of a campaign that will grow both the Annual Fund and the institution’s endowment, making the BSO less vulnerable to market volatility.
“We have worked hard to return the BSO to a position of financial stability and the ratification of this contract is a crucial step toward the continued maintenance of the BSO’s fiscal integrity,” reported BSO Board Chair Kenneth DeFontes. “The musicians of the Orchestra deserve our thanks for their hard work and commitment to making this contract possible. As orchestras around the country have had to interrupt programming due to stalled negotiations, the collaborative spirit in with which these negotiations took place made it possible to reach this positive outcome. We are fortunate to have an orchestra of the highest artistic caliber that is committed to serving this community. It is one of Maryland’s greatest cultural treasures.”
“The BSO musicians are happy that these negotiations are now behind us and we thank our board and management for their positive tone through the negotiation period,” commented Players’ Committee Chair Greg Mulligan. “We are delighted BSO musicians have approved this forward-looking three-year agreement, and that the contract was settled without any interruption to the upcoming season. We look forward to working with the BSO’s board and management, and of course, our Music Director Marin Alsop, to continue building a world-class orchestra of which Baltimore, Montgomery County and all of Maryland can be incredibly proud.”
“I applaud the work of the BSO’s management team and the musicians for achieving this contract,” says BSO Music Director Marin Alsop, who recently returned from making history as the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms. “The BSO musicians are among the finest in the world and I am grateful to the board of directors and everyone involved in recognizing the importance of sustaining this wonderful orchestra as we approach our 100th anniversary.”
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland through education and community outreach initiatives. The BSO is the only orchestra in the country to perform year-round at venues in two metropolitan areas: Baltimore’s Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall where it has performed since 1982, and the state-of-the-art 1,976-seat concert hall at The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., which opened in 2005.
The BSO made musical history at the start of the 2007-2008 season when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra's 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Maestra Alsop's arrival marks the dawn of a new era for the BSO, as she brings her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music to BSO audiences.
For more than 80 years, the BSO has maintained a vibrant educational presence throughout Maryland, supporting the local community not only through concerts and recordings, but also through its commitment to actively giving back with its education, outreach and mentorship programs. The 2013-2014 season marks the sixth year of OrchKids™, a year-round in-school and after-school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City’s neighborhoods. The BSO recently launched its first program for the very young: the Music Box Series offers short, interactive concerts for children ages six months to three years and their families. The BSO also provides educational opportunities for adult music lovers through special performance opportunities with members of the Symphony, such as Rusty Musicians and the week-long immersive summer camp, the BSO Academy.