Musicians ratify contract, call for new SPCO leadership

spcomuslogo1Stressing that they “remain deeply concerned” about the ensemble’s future, musicians of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra today announced their vote to ratify a three-year agreement with the orchestra, officially ending the lockout that began Oct. 21, 2012.

The new contract will reduce the size of the SPCO from 34 to 28 musicians. It also slashes by more than 20 percent musicians’ salaries and “overscale” pay, additional compensation some musicians receive for special skills or leadership roles.

In a press release, members of the musicians’ negotiating team said they accepted the pay cuts in order to avoid a two-tiered pay scale that would make it difficult to attract high-caliber artists to positions with the SPCO.

“The vast difference between the new SPCO annual salary of $60,000 and the salaries of other major American orchestras, many of which exceed $100,000, will make attracting such musicians very difficult,” said Carole Mason Smith, chair of the negotiating committee.

Musicians estimated the SPCO will achieve cost savings of $5 million by 2016 as a result of the new contract – and the 191-day lockout, which will be lifted tomorrow.

In the press release, musicians also “called for the immediate commencement of a search for a new SPCO leader with proven orchestra management experience, and the vision and skill to substantially increase revenues and to maintain and enhance the SPCO’s status as one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras. If revenues are not significantly increased in the next three years, the artistic quality of this Orchestra will not be preserved.”

“We’re eager and excited to return to the stage and play music again for our loyal audiences,” Mason Smith said. “We’ve keenly missed performing for our community, but we remain deeply concerned about the artistic quality of the SPCO for future generations.”

SPCO concerts are scheduled to resume May 9. Click here for ticket information.

The musicians of the SPCO are members of American Federation of Musicians Local 30-73, which also represents musicians locked out of their jobs by the Minnesota Orchestra since Oct. 1, 2012.

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