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Classical 101

Chicago, Atlanta Symphony Orchestras Reach Contract Agreements

Two major U.S. orchestras recently on strike have ratified contract agreements that will keep the music playing - at least for a while. After declaring a strike last weekend merely hours before their first Saturday evening subscription concert of the 2012-13 season, the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra ratified a three-year contract Monday evening that stipulates salary increases, higher insurance premiums and more work for an upcoming production of Verdi's Macbeth and during its summer season at Ravinia, according to the Chicago Tribune. Musician salaries will increase 4.1% over three years, and out-of-pocket health insurance contributions will increase from $15 per week to $52 per week by the end of the new three-year contract period. The current base salary for Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians is $145,000 a year, and the average yearly salary is $173,000, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians accepted a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday, allowing the orchestra to open the 2012-13 season as scheduled on Oct. 4. The orchestra's musicians are reportedly "far from satisfied" with the agreement, which will reduce the number of orchestra members from 95 to 88, shorten the performance season from 52 weeks to 42 weeks by the 2013-14 season and reduce musician compensation $5.2 over two years. Five top Atlanta Symphony Orchestra executives also will see pay reductions. All measures were taken in an effort to lower the orchestra's operating deficit, projected to reach $20 million next year. Read more:

  • Musicians Ratify 3-Year Deal (CT)
  • ASO Musicians Strike Deal, Avert Delay of Season Opener (AJC)
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra Musicians on Strike (CST)