Musicians accuse Atlanta Symphony of dragging out the agony

Musicians accuse Atlanta Symphony of dragging out the agony


norman lebrecht

November 01, 2014

Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are demanding to know why the ASO won’t end the lockout now that they have conceded the last sticking point. The only conclusion one can draw is that the WAC and ASO enjoy inflicting pain.

Since the acting ASO chief exec is a retired Coca-cola executive, I suggest we all stop drinking Coke until the dispute is decently settled.

atlanta musicians

Musicians statement:

Atlanta, GA, October 31, 2014


Four days ago, the Musicians made a new proposal to the Woodruff Arts Center that balances the stated needs of the WAC/ASO leadership while meeting the need to ensure the survival of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  The orchestra has been in a world of hurt since the deep salary and benefit cuts of 2012, and there are numerous losses within the ranks needed to produce the ASO’s programs with the sound that made the Orchestra famous and won Atlanta 27 Grammy awards.


Every aspect of the Musicians’ proposal provides significant savings for the WAC/ASO, while keeping it on a narrow path toward desperately needed restoration.  The ASO has had up to 95 Musicians, and has been cut back to 76, even though the current contract calls for 88 players.  The Musicians temporarily gave up positions, and now need to replace them.  The Musicians’ proposal embodies flexibility and true willingness to reach an agreement, replacing the positions gradually over time.  Notable aspects include:


    An extended stabilization period – sought by the WAC/ASO management – offering to maintain the current complement size of 77 for the duration of the first year, and flexibility in arriving at a guaranteed complement number of 88 Musicians by the end of the fourth year.


    No individual Musician gains a penny in their fight to keep what the ASO and every other major orchestra in the United States and the world has: a fixed minimum number of musicians large enough to perform the music of a full symphony orchestra.


    A tentative agreement regarding healthcare involves the musicians offering to move to a high deductible plan – a major change from the current health insurance plan – ensuring annual savings of over a quarter of a million dollars for the WAC.


    No agreement has been reached on the modest incremental salary increases that the Musicians proposed.  If agreed, Musician salaries would still not reach pre-2012 levels by the end of the four-year contract in 2018.


Having addressed the stated needs of the Woodruff Arts Center to continue the stabilization period begun in 2012, the ATL Symphony Musicians call on the WAC to accept their latest offer, end the lockout of the musicians, and put the award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra back on stage for its 70th anniversary season.


  • Itsy Ditsy says:

    Maybe their social media demonizing of those that feed them, went too far.

  • Eli Bensky says:

    Why don’t the ASO musicians for their own orchestra and tell the ASO’s management to take “a flying leap”.

  • Eli Bensky says:

    Correction: s.b. “form” instead of “for”

  • atlantamusiciansarebabies says:

    How about the musicians try to live on minimum wage while working EVERY DAY out of the year WITHOUT benefits while taking care of their children. All of this broken promises and crap is a load of bull. I was raised with a certain mentality engraved; Get a job. Become become thankful for the fact you’re bringing in money, regardless of the labor. There are plenty of people out there less fortunate than you. And to me… this is just a bunch of whining. Both parties are trying to walk away from this lockout saying, “We got what we want.” with all of these counter offers. Both parties (ASO/WAC and the musicians) need to swallow their pride and stop letting down their fans. You think it’s just the ASO/WAC that’s being greedy? Both sides are. This lockout has made me sick.

    • Mikey says:

      oh look! the WAC are posting on Slipped Disk now.

    • Eli Bensky says:

      Be grateful you’re not working for a fast food chain. Maybe the musicians of ASO might want to do something for people working for minimum wage with no benefits, after the lockout is over.

      A fundraiser would be nice

    • Elizabeth Erickson says:

      It is truly disgusting that someone who works 40 hours a week and makes minimum wage cannot afford food and housing. That should be an embarrassment to everyone in this country.

      But for you to throw highly skilled musicians in the same camp, people who have probably spent more than 20 years working their tails off, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime on instruction, and in many cases, have instruments that cost more than their houses, just makes you sound like a bitter and very uninformed person.

  • David Davenport says:

    The primary issue is not about money. The musicians are fighting to keep their status as a major orchestra. The WAC seems determined to reduce the Atlanta Symphony to a part-time per-service orchestra. Metropolitan Atlanta has a vibrant economy with many corporate headquarters. If the WAC and ASO managements and Boards would stop trying to sabotage the orchestra and do their jobs of raising funds, they should be able to keep the Atlanta Symphony in the orchestral major leagues.

  • Will Drach says:

    The big financial gains from 2001-2006 were squandered by Allison Vulgarmore and her senior management team.
    Those funds are gone as well as donor confidence in management.
    Ticket sales declining.
    Public interest waning.
    If it were not for the Woodruff’s deep pockets the ASO would be bankrupt.
    Like it or loathe it the musicians need to suck it up and take the hit.
    Time to rebuild.