Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Musicians Reach One-Year Agreement: Concert Season to Open This Weekend

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Inc. (BSO) and members of the Orchestra and the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Local 40-543, announced at a joint press conference on September 23, 2019, that they have reached a one-year agreement and will open the Orchestra’s 2019-20 concert season this weekend.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs at the Strathmore Music Center. Photo courtesy of the BSO.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs at the Strathmore Music Center. Photo courtesy of the BSO.

In opening the press conference, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Board Chair Barbara Bozzuto said, “It is a proud moment at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra that an agreement has been reached with our musicians. In the view of the Board, the establishment of a Vision Committee is the most promising provision, as we are committed to including our musicians in additional aspects of planning, programming, fundraising, and governance.” Bozzuto added, “There is still a great deal of work to be done in building a new business model, but we are better poised to accomplish these goals together.”

Music Director Marin Alsop, in attendance at the press conference, stated, “I’m thrilled that an agreement has been reached and that we will have our musicians back on stage to open our 104th season beginning on Friday night. The musicians of our Orchestra are a great treasure to our community and this agreement assures that we will continue creating the highest level of music-making together.”

Also in attendance at the press conference, Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said, “The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is an essential part of what makes Baltimore, and the state of Maryland, such a special place to live, to work and to visit. I am proud to partner with my colleagues in the State and all the surrounding Counties and communities that you serve, in assuring that the BSO is here in our great City for many generations to come.”

BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome stated, “The Baltimore Symphony is one of the most important orchestras in the country, and the year ahead will be a pivotal one for us. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of those who provided additional support to enable the BSO and our exceptional musicians to reach agreement. We look forward to opening our season this week at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and The Strathmore Music Center.” Kjome continued, “Important work lies ahead. All of us need to come together to advance our great orchestra – through participation, attendance and philanthropy – to achieve our shared goal of a robust and achievable plan for the future that will ensure that Baltimore and Maryland remain home to an exceptional orchestra for many years to come.”

Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Courtesy of the BSO.

BSO Players Committee Co-Chair Brian Prechtl stated, “The Musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have felt an incredible outpouring of love and support from citizens in Baltimore City and across the state of Maryland this summer.” Prechtl continued, “We look forward to returning to this stage at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and at the Music Center at Strathmore alongside our supporters that have demonstrated their dedication to preserving our amazing orchestra for generations to come. The musicians also look forward to working side by side with leadership to chart a course for a promising future and to once again fill this room with the glorious sounds of music.”

The terms of the one-year agreement, effective through September 6, 2020, include the following:

  • Increase of 2.4% in weekly scale over 38 concert weeks plus 2 summer weeks, including the BSO’s Star-Spangled Spectacular at Oregon Ridge.
  • Bonus compensation to the musicians of $1.6 million for the 10 weeks of summer equal to their increased weekly scale, made possible through the generosity of special friends of the BSO.
  • Collectively, average pay will increase to $94,000 during the contract period.
  • Continuation of a comprehensive year-round benefits package which includes medical, dental, vision, life, long-term disability and instrument insurance. Musicians and management will jointly address the expected increase in health insurance premiums on January 1, 2020, with a possible modest increase that would be borne by both the musicians and the BSO.
  • Four weeks of paid vacation during the concert season, as well as additional time off during the summer that will be covered by the $1.6 million in bonus pay.
  • A commitment to hire additional musicians during the 2019-20 season.
  • The formation of a standing Board committee, the Vision Committee, to include musician participation, with a broad mandate to plan for the future of the BSO.
  • Agreement to meet together to continue addressing work rules over the next 60 days.
  • No strike and no lockout through September 6, 2020, and the musicians will withdraw and not refile the unfair labor practice charge that was filed on September 10, 2019.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra paid health, dental, and vision insurance premiums in full for the period of the lockout and for the month of September.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will open its 2019-20 season this weekend with Music Director Marin Alsop leading the Orchestra in Verdi’s La forza del destino Overture, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. Also on the program, violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain joins the Orchestra to perform his Voodoo Violin Concerto. For information and tickets to upcoming BSO performances, go online.

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