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Dallas Symphony Win New Terms, Lexington Philharmonic Agree Temporarily...Minnesota Orchestra Players Rumored to Go it Alone

By James Inverne on Sep 23, 2013 01:13 PM EDT

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, very much a big fish orchestra, has agreed a new two-year contract with its players, according to Scott Cantrell in the Dallas Morning News. Retroactive to September 1, the musicians actually get a small rise, which will be welcome for them when colleagues at other orchestras are under pressure to accept pay cuts. Nevertheless, the Dallas musicians get a one per cent hike in 2013, and two per cent in 2014. They'll get another two per cent the following year, if financial development targets are met. There are other initiatives rolled in--including ways to help keep the players healthy and allowing for them perform away from the full orchestra.

Meanwhile, Kentucky's Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra have avoided a strike, at least for now. The players are reportedly still not satisfied with terms offered by their management, but a vote has--just--gone the "give negotiations a chance" route and concerts have not been canceled. This was in contrast to what had been feared, and indeed warned by the American Federation of Musicians (representing the players).

Theirs has been a long process, with talks going on since April 2012. The Lexington Herald-Leader quoted Philharmonic board president R. Scott King: "It gives both parties an opportunity to put something in place for now. What might be overlooked is it also gives us the opportunity to really take a breather; step away from the table; there's a lot of wounds that occur, particularly in a process as long as ours."

Still no agreement, either short- or long-term, in Minnesota, where the latest rumor doing the rounds involves the musicians and their music director, Osmo Vänskä, playing their slated Carnegie Hall visit on their own terms. In other words, players and conductor might go ahead and play the concert outside of their protracted, bitter contract dispute with management. If the two Carnegie concerts do not go ahead, Vänskä has said that he will resign. There have, according to the New York Times, already been some local events arranged by players on their own, and their adopting this model for Carnegie is being mooted as a possibility in some quarters, though it's still a remote possibility (there may even be legal impediments to that happening).

So, the U.S. orchestral scene in microcosm, as it were. Some relatively happy, some making it work by hook or by crook. And others, still, desperately unhappy and, with no mutually acceptable prospects seemingly yet in sight, hoping against hope for a solution from somewhere.

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TagsDallas Symphony Orchestra, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Morning News, Scott Cantrell, Lexington Herald-Leader, New York Times, American Federation of Musicians

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