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A little less restless in Seattle? Some positive news for musicians

October 23, 2012|By Deborah Vankin
  • Conductor Ludovic Morlot with the Seattle Symphony in September 2011.
Conductor Ludovic Morlot with the Seattle Symphony in September 2011. (Ben VanHouten / Boston Symphony…)

A little good news from Seattle. The Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera and the union representing those musicians (the SSOPO) have agreed to extend their collective bargaining agreement through Jan. 31, 2013, allowing more time to work out a new contract. Talks have been going on since the summer.

David Sabee, acting chair of the SSOPO, said in a statement Monday that he was optimistic that a new pact could be reached without interrupting any scheduled concerts. Over the weekend, he said, the symphony musicians performed Beethoven’s “Fidelio” and Gabriel Prokofiev’s “Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra.”

"The Seattle Symphony is now playing on a national stage,” Sabee wrote. "… We feel a great responsibility to protect the artistic integrity and standard of excellence that have elevated the Seattle Symphony to new heights.”

On Oct. 10, management of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera proposed that musicians take a 15% reduction in overall compensation for the 2012-13 season. On Oct. 15, the union approved a strike authorization for its members. The union said that the musicians have made financial concessions since 2005, giving back more than $9.6 million to the symphony, and it has been trying to reach a deal that reverses this trend.

American orchestras across the country are grappling with labor and financial problems, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where musicians went on strike for 48 hours last month. Orchestras in Philadelphia, Detroit, Indianapolis and Atlanta also have been struggling.

Both major orchestras in the Twin Cities -- the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra -- are locked out.  The Minnesota Orchestra on Oct. 1 canceled its first six weeks of concerts, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra canceled its concerts through Nov. 4 for the first time in its 53-year history, said President and Chair Dobson West.

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Twitter.com/@debvankin

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