While we were out, Philadelphia went back to work

While we were out, Philadelphia went back to work


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2016

It may be the shortest strike in recent history.

On Friday, musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra walked out on strike.

On Monday, they walked right back after  a 73-11 vote to accept a new offer.

Here’s what both sides are saying. It does look like the management side blinked first.


(Philadelphia, PA) – October 2, 2016 – The leadership of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association announced today that they have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract.
Terms of the agreement include salary increases of 2 percent in year one, and 2.5 percent increases each in years two and three bringing the musicians’ base pay to $137,800 in the third year of the contract. Additionally, a Musicians’ Appreciation Fund will be established that will provide for supplemental compensation tied to the Orchestra’s financial success annually. Other terms of the agreement include increased opportunities for revenue generation and:
  • Continued support for the artistic excellence of the Orchestra and the future financial stability of the organization
  • The expansion of the complement to 97 musicians in year three
  • Flexibility to stage additional pop-up concerts more frequently
  • The expansion of the highly popular Sunday concerts to embrace audience demand
  • Creative engagement in collaborative learning activities
  • Musician participation on the Development Committee of The Board of Directors and direct involvement in fundraising
Allison Vulgamore, president and chief executive officer of The Philadelphia Orchestra, said, “First, it is important to express our deep regret to patrons, students and volunteers for the cancellation of all performances this weekend. Each and every one of us takes our commitment to our audience and community very seriously.
We now have a tentative agreement that will immediately restore our music to our audiences and provide our outstanding musicians with a compensation plan that both increases their base salaries and provides additional financial reward as we continue to build resources for a vibrant and exciting future. This agreement is a demonstration that we are moving forward together to ensure that the Fabulous Philadelphians will be playing for generations to come. We are extremely grateful to the musicians and our Board of Directors for the swift resolution of this agreement.”


We, the Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra,  with the deepest respect for our music, our audience, the City of Philadelphia, and the world’s musical community, have today ratified a new contract. This agreement covers the next 3 years, and gives us modest increases of 2%, 2 1/2% and 2 1/2%.  These increases do not achieve our goal of being compensated on a level comparable with other leading American Orchestras.

The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has indicated to us that it will be engaging in new methods to enhance the position of the Orchestra in the community and to reach new donors.  The musicians have committed to working with the Association in these endeavors. 

The musicians believe that the vast majority of the recommendations made by Michael Kaiser should be adopted by the Association.  We will be closely watching to see if this occurs. 

When we reluctantly went on strike a few days ago, we had no expectation that we could quickly restore this Orchestra to the compensation and working conditions for which we are striving.  But we felt that, after years of decline which threatened to become irreversible, this was the only way in which we could call attention to a situation we regarded as desperate. 

Three years from now, we look forward to ratifying a contract which will truly restore the Philadelphia Orchestra to its rightful place among the great orchestras of the world. 

We hope to see you at any of our October 4th Audience Appreciation Day concerts.  Further information can be found on our website:www.POMusicians.org




  • Bruce says:

    A few years ago, the Chicago Symphony had a strike that lasted one day as I recall.

  • DrummerMan says:

    Glad to hear that the strike is over but to schedule free “Audience Appreciation Concerts” right after they struck just minutes before a gala fundraising concert was to be be held — the audience was literally sitting in the hall when it got the bad news — is a bit strange. After all, the proceeds from the gala were going to be used, theoretically at least, to help pay the musician’s salaries. Why not offer to play a free concert for the folks who had paid the big bucks to be at the gala?

  • NYMike says:

    It remains to be seen as to whether ANY of Kaiser’s suggestions will be implemented. Meanwhile, the Orchestra remains eighth in basic wages in the US with only two rostered positions of the ten taken away after the bankruptcy to be filled – the second only in the third year of the agreement.