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Troubled Indianapolis Symphony cancels first two weeks of concerts

September 11, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • The ISO's Krzysztof Urbanski conducts the L.A. Phil in his West Coast debut at the Hollywood Bowl last week.
The ISO's Krzysztof Urbanski conducts the L.A. Phil in his West Coast… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

In news that didn't bode well for its stability, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has canceled the first two weeks of its new season after failing to reach an agreement with its musicians union. The new season was scheduled to begin this Friday.

Citing financial troubles, the ISO was unable to come to terms with its musicians, whose contract had expired on Sept. 2. Though the musicians union had proposed a two-month extension of the existing contract and a 17% salary reduction, the ISO held firm on deeper cost-cutting demands, which reportedly include a 40% pay cut and a shortening of musicians' contracts from 52 weeks to 38. Management also wants to reduce the size of the orchestra from 87 musicians to 69.

In response to the concessions by the musicians' union, the symphony said a continuation of the existing contract “would only exacerbate the ISO’s already difficult financial challenges.”

In the same prepared statement cited by the Indianapolis Business Journal, the ISO also said, “The gap between what the musicians union is proposing and what is essential to economically sustain the ISO’s future is just too great.” 

Musicians were said to be stunned by the announcement to cancel performances for the next two weeks, and the ISO has left open the possibility for canceling more concerts if an agreement cannot be reached.

After last week's Hollywood Bowl debut of the ISO's 29-year-old conductor, Krzysztof Urbanski, L.A. Times Music Critic Mark Swed was bullish on what the symphony has in the spiky-haired young talent. "The Indianapolis Symphony would be crazy to blow the opportunity Urbanski presents," Swed wrote in a rave review. "If it does, someone else will snap him up in a second."

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Twitter: @chrisbarton

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