Pittsburgh Symphony’s stabiliser has died

Pittsburgh Symphony’s stabiliser has died


norman lebrecht

April 19, 2017

James Wilkinson, a negotiator who settled a musicians’ strike at the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1976 and stayed involved for the next 40 years, has died, aged 72.

During one of many crises, between 2011 and 2015, Jim stood in as president and chief executive.

A quiet man whose shy smile concealed a sharp brain, he was the antithesis of the usual type of board member who demands bang for buck. Jim worked consensually with his board, the musicians and the community to keep the orchestra alive. He loved music and was well loved in return.

After coffee with Jim you came away full of hope for the future of orchestras.


  • Robert Moir says:

    Jim was a man of great intellect and generosity of spirit. His innate ability to bring both sides together at the negotiating table was singular, as evidenced by the fact that his first act at the PSO was to settle a strike in 1976, and the next strike didn’t occur until a year after he left the organization forty years later. How rare is it that the musicians have so much trust in the person negotiating for the management? He never wanted or needed praise or public acknowledgement of his contributions, he was content to do his great work and remain in the background. His vast knowledge of the issues facing modern orchestras, his clever and absorptive mind, and his big heart are sorely missed.