Strike looms at US orch

Strike looms at US orch


norman lebrecht

January 21, 2016

Musicians at the Fort Worth Symphony have voted unanimously to authorise a strike, a union spokesman said.

They have been in pay negotiations for seven months, with no end in sight.

Pay at Fort Worth is poor to appalling. One recent principal was hired ( we heard) for $30,000 a year.

Orch President and CEO Amy Adkins says there is a $4 million gap between what the musicians want and what the organisation is prepared to pay. The music director is Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

This looks like another disaster scenario, deep in the heart of Texas.

fort worth symphony


  • Olassus says:

    I guess, if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there. Better $30k than no FWSO. Presumably the budget is published and known each year.

    • Amy Adams says:

      The FWSO musicians are being asked to pay for an inept management’s lack of fundraising and development. The economy in Fort Worth has rebounded and steadily gained over the last few years. The orchestra does have a strong fan base and a popular conductor.
      Ever since CEO Amy Adkins came on board, the orchestra has declined financially. It is likely that she’s in well over her head. (Oddly, she was selected for the position from a candidate pool of one.)

      • Olassus says:

        In that case the Board will eventually fire her.

        The year-to-year ups and downs in FWSO income should not have a direct bearing on the musicians, if a multi-year contract exists.

        I guess they have been trying to ink the next multi-year contract. If so, is the Board seeking cuts? Smaller increases than the musicians want?

        There is a lot we don’t know.

  • Robert says:

    The pay is less but it’s a less active orchestra.

    Perusing the season brochures… FW has 10 classical programs in a season vs 18 in neighboring Dallas (which is already operating at a reduced level).

    LIkewise ratio for Pops concerts.

    I don’t know if they still serve as the orchestra for the Texas Ballet Theater which might even that out.

    • Max Grimm says:

      “The pay is less but it’s a less active orchestra.”

      I don’t know how busy the orchestra is, but I think their level of activity isn’t the main factor for their pay.
      The annual salary for a principal player was $68.694,56 in the 2014/2015 season and, if what Norman says he heard is true, that salary has now dropped to ~$30.000 for the 2015/2016 season, even though the current season (as planned) would have an almost identical workload.

      • Olassus says:

        How could pay drop by an amount like that? Doesn’t sound right.

        • Max Grimm says:

          I agree that such a reduction in pay sounds incredible but worse has happened in orchestras before.
          The $68.694,56 I quoted is the salary listed on the Fort Worth Symphony’s website and it appears that the amount was paid to principal players, regardless of section (presumably with the exception of the concertmaster/s). The most recent audition call from Jan 4th & 5th 2016 (for principal trumpet) only lists:
          “2014-2015 Season is 46 Weeks. 2014-2015 Principal Annual Salary: $68,694.56
          2015-2016 salaries to be determined. All salaries pro-rated based on start date.”


          As I wrote above, I don’t know whether the yearly salary for a principal player is now down to $30.000 per annum, as Norman said that this is what he had heard. Questions as to where that quoted amount came from or how accurate that number is must therefore be directed to NL.

  • Ira says:

    I wonder what the average player on the local football team earns? (Just saying!)

  • David says:

    The current base pay for a section musician of the FWSO is $54,953.44. The proposed three week reduction would bring the base pay to $51,369.52. There is no chance that a Principal Musician is making $30,000. That amount is reserved for a majority of the staff that have not seen raises since before 2008. Over 30 staff members have been fired or quit since Amy Adkins was named Executive Director in 2011. For a staff of around 25 that is a ridiculously high turnover rate. There is no hope for growth as long as Amy Adkins is in charge.

  • scott jessup says:

    I urge all who read this or have commented here to visit our website: and sign the open letter to our management. There you will also find a Fact Sheet which details our situation and clarifies many misconceptions above. You may also want to sign up for our newsletter through the link to at the bottom of the Fact Sheet, or follow us on FB: “musicians of the FWSO.” Thank you!
    Scott Jessup, Chair, FWSO Musicians Negotiating Committee