Philharmonic, Musicians Reach Deal

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Here’s how the president of the Philharmonic’s musicians’ union Larry Gardner describes the mood of members right now:
“I don’t think it’s ecstatic or anything like that. But we’re happy to have an agreement in place.”
“Not ecstatic” because of a wage freeze. And Gardner says even though the number of performances has been reduced, musicians will be working just as hard.
“I mean they’re frozen but the rehearsal period has been shortened. People are still expected to perform up to the standards of the orchestra with less time to rehearse.”  
The Philharmonic is scaling back from five to four concerts for the 2009 – 2010 season. Marc Feldman is the orchestra’s executive director. Feldman says he’s grateful musicians agreed to the wage freeze.
“It’s an agreement that takes into account the economic situation that I think most orchestras are in around the country.”
That situation is – people have less discretionary income to spend on things like symphony tickets.
“Orchestras realize that this is a tough time.”
Judith Kurnick is with the New York City-based League of American Orchestras. 
“In many ways for orchestras it’s a little bit tougher even than last year due to the nature of our funding and our subscription sales.”
She says even though the recession may be lifting in some ways, high unemployment continues to impact ticket sales. Kurnick says the steps that orchestras like the Sacramento Philharmonic take to ensure their financial health vary from market to market.
“But what we are seeing across the board is shared ownership of these issues and shared sacrifice. This is a perfect example of that.”
Philharmonic Executive Director Feldman says they plan to resume a five concert season for the 2010-2011 and will look at lifting the musician’s wage freeze. The new contract also includes a provision allowing Capital Public Radio to broadcast archival recordings of the Philharmonic’s live performances.
The current season kicks off this Saturday night with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony Number Nine at the Sacramento Community Center Theater.