Atlanta Symphony locked out, again

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Locks Out Its Players, Again

The following is tragically serious. Having been trained as an orchestral musician and having had the privilege
of performing in such an orchestra, it is painful to see the above.

Even more painful, because though excellent, this is one of our smaller orchestras, not known for many recordings and, though, in a culturally rich area, we all need this and other similar ensembles.

Yes, like many of you, I think of the joyful hours learning all of the orchestra parts of which I could think, playing al the chairs in numerous Boston ensembles, auditioning many times, sometimes failing, and, after resigning, seeing no less than 200 players auditioning for my job. That is what I wanted, and what I got. My own personal principal position turned out to be fraught with unbelievable difficulties: a desire, I thought for justice, repertoire, salary. and work condition. For all ambitious clarinetists, please note the above. It is all much less than the solo in symphony #6, with a great reed.

“The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra began its second lockout in two years on Sunday when the ensemble’s management and its players, who accepted deep pay cuts two years ago, failed to agree on a new contract before a midnight deadline.

The orchestra’s management said in a statement that the impasse “may delay or cancel portions of the 2014-15 season,” which was supposed to be a celebration of its 70th anniversary.

The musicians said in a statement that the orchestra’s management had refused to budge from an offer “under which the musicians would continue to hemorrhage income and lose orchestra positions.”

The musicians accepted pay cuts of more than 14 percent and agreed to reduce the size of the orchestra after a lockout two years ago, to help right the orchestra’s finances. But the orchestra continued to have a $2 million deficit last year, management said.

The orchestra’s management said that its most recent offer to musicians would have raised their pay by 4.5 percent over the course of four years, but musicians said that those gains would be more than offset by the extra money they would have to pay for health benefits.

Last week the orchestra’s music director, Robert Spano, and Donald Runnicles, its principal guest conductor, wrote a letter urging management to recognize the sacrifices that the orchestra’s players had already made. “The A.S.O. is a jewel, which should not be lost or compromised, and the current conditions threaten that loss.


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