Just in: Boston settles its flute pay dispute

Just in: Boston settles its flute pay dispute


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2019

Someone blinked. Not sure which side. The lawyers win, as usual.


The Boston Symphony Orchestra and Elizabeth Rowe have successfully mediated the case involving Ms. Rowe’s lawsuit against the orchestra. While the details of the resolution are confidential, all those involved in the process are satisfied with the result.

The Boston Symphony continues to strive to be an industry leader in furthering the role of women at every level of the organization, including staff, management, and orchestra. Former BSO principal flutist Doriot Anthony Dwyer was a trailblazer when she joined the orchestra in 1952, the same year that the BSO became the first orchestra to implement a blind audition process. This process was designed to promote fairness and to address the issue of gender imbalance, among other issues, in orchestras throughout the country at that time.

In the same spirit of improvement and innovation it demonstrated more than six decades ago, the orchestra will continue to collaborate with musicians, staff, and other leaders in the field to accelerate the process of achieving gender parity. The BSO and Elizabeth Rowe look forward to continuing their shared commitment to artistic excellence at the highest level.



  • Doug says:

    If auditions are truly “blind” and based solely on artistic merit, how can there ever be a “gender imbalance”? Gender should not even enter the equation. I see a clear choice here: you either twist and grovel before the cultural revolutionaries who ultimately seek to destroy you, enjoying a brieg reprieve, or you honor the traditions and cultural legacy handed down to us to cultivate for future generations and tell the Marxist useful idiots to f*^k off.

    • nimitta says:

      Your comment is both nasty and ignorant on many levels, Doug, but let me lead with just one: of the two principals on which the suit was based, only Elizabeth Rowe auditioned. John Ferrillo was lured away from the Met at great cost, which is probably the chief factor in their pay differential. I support Rowe and agree with Ferrillo that she deserves equal pay, but neither is any sort of “cultural revolutionary” seeking to “destroy” anything. Neither they nor their supporters within the orchestra – a large majority – or beyond are Marxist, or idiots. Your rant is sheer projection, writ large.

      • Bruce says:

        And anyway, whether or not you believe the pay disparity situation had anything to do with gender, the principal flute audition and/or the audition process in general certainly does not.

        I remember reading in the work of some psychologist (Jung, I think) that people are often “sane” about some or most things, but when a certain topic comes up their “insanity” on that subject reveals itself.

        Doug’s conservative politics, and his disdain for liberals & liberal thinking are common enough traits. But when when the topic of gender equality comes up (and of course it’s often intertwined with politics), there’s nothing to be done but sit tight and wait for the wind to die down.

      • Anon says:

        Agree. And “Doug” is clearly abusing the glitch in the “thumbs down/up” system here.

        Come on, Doug. 145 thumbs up for your comment which was posted yesterday and 14O thumbs down for someone who disagrees with you? REALLY? Not even Yuja gets a response like that.

        You went a little overboard voting for your own rant.

    • prof says:

      First rounds are done “blind” but offers are never extended without knowing the player. Stupid comment.

    • Tromba in F says:

      Both players were offered a good salary when they joined the orchestra and both accepted. I strongly doubt that gender played any role whatsoever in their original salaries, but any perceived slight can be used for leverage or to generate faux outrage these days. Regardless, Ms. Rowe decided she was not being paid fairly, sought mitigation, and arrived at a resolution. She worked the system, advocated on her own behalf, and seems to have negotiated a figure copacetic to both her and the orchestra. She stood her ground and didn’t resign. The orchestra, either magnanimously or by having their hand forced, came up with additional salary. I don’t know if this is a case of the free market system working or yet another instance of a major organization caving into PC pressure to avoid further bad publicity. In the end Ms. Rowe got her money, the orchestra retained a principal player, and life goes on.

  • Karl says:

    It’s a free market. People get the pay they negotiate for. Rowe is free to seek higher pay in other orchestras. That’s what John Ferrillo did.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    Obvious P.R. statement. Dwyer was exceptional. Not anyone since.

  • Marge O. says:

    She’s average at best. another trustfunder/wealthy professorial parents. More elitist drivel from Bahston