No-pay US orchestra finally coughs up

No-pay US orchestra finally coughs up


norman lebrecht

February 20, 2019

The South Florida Symphony tonight informed cast members of Porgy and Bess that they have, at last, been paid.

It says: ‘The delay we encountered in funding was finally resolved yesterday. Checks are being sent out today via mail. We sincerely apologize that there has been a two-week delay and for any inconvenience this may have caused.’

Many will imagine that the rush to payment was prompted by Morris Robinson’s outcry earlier today.


In future, we sincerely advise artists who are approached by the South Florida Symphony to see the money before they sing.



  • Iris says:

    But I’m sure that the orchestra, conductor administrative and backstage staffs all got their coins run to them post-haste. To be candid, I found the letter they sent to the cast insulting. “We hope this doesn’t dampen your joy at the pleasure you gave the audience”, “wishing you the best as you pursue your dreams”…these were professionals, not kids! Eff “dreams”. Run me my money. Bravo to Morris and good colleagues worldwide.

  • Anonymous says:

    They still haven’t paid their orchestra and haven’t offered a time when checks will be ready like they did with the cast! Probably because it wasn’t mentioned in the article!! They told orchestra players that money is not available. They also have a history of paying people faster based on who shows more allegiances toward the conductor or if they return for more performances (or apparently if a news article slanders them). And in past seasons, they’ve constantly written emails to musicians saying checks were going out and months later nothing was in the mail. This is not just about singers and this is not a one-time incident. They mistreat everybody involved. They constantly hire talented musicians who only last a season or two because they catch wind of all the unprofessional and disorganized behavior. This organization gets a few concerts out of these talented musicians before they get fed up, quit or get fired for asking to get paid, and the organization moves on to their next victims. And on top of all of this, the conductor is always unprepared and rude to the musicians. With the amount of lies, not paying people on time, and a need for undying loyalty, this organization is quite similar to Trump’s way of doing business. People are literally scared to speak up in fear of not getting paid.

    • Bruce says:

      ” (or apparently if a news article slanders them)”

      It’s not slander if it’s true. (Of course, someone who gets charged with slander has to prove that it is true, but still)

    • MD says:

      Yes to all of this (it’s happened to me and dozens of colleagues). Additionally, they send hostile and threatening emails if people even ask questions or if they get wind of the musicians trying to organize (not even official union organizing, just things like trying to get together a lawsuit after a year of not being paid.) A former personnel manager also has threatened to blacklist players around the East Coast. It’s a really unhealthy work environment.

      Now that the pressure is on, let’s all keep on them to pay their orchestral musicians too!!

  • Musician says:

    Now what about the rest of the musicians that are owed money? From last year!

  • Jillush says:

    What about the orchestra musicians? Chances are that they have not been paid either.

  • Laurie says:

    Hats off Morris!

  • Bruce says:

    Hopefully the timing is coincidental. It would be nice if they really are honest and well-intentioned, wouldn’t it?

    • Bruce says:

      ^ In fairness to myself, this comment was submitted in the overnight hours and no other comments had yet been published. To say this after reading a string of comments like the ones above would be willfully naive, or worse.

      Maybe I could adjust it to “It would have been nice”…

  • Jamesay says:

    Eh Norman… get real. NO ONE sees the money BEFORE they sing!

  • Little K says:

    I am glad the singers are mollified by “your check is in the mail”. Let’s wait and see if the mailman delivers. The orchestra, all of whom have paid their own travel to Florida and living expenses whilst there, have had no promise of payment as of today, and in fact have been stonewalled completely. I am still owed for The Nightmare Before Christmas project in December (which has now extended well into the New Year) as well as Porgy and Bess. Fees and non-reimbursed expenses totaling in excess of $3,000.
    The way that the “conductor” and her do-nothing Board use and abuse musicians who accept their engagements in good faith, and then treat them with such disrespect and disdain is not only disgraceful, but something which every honest and hard-working musician should know about and be protected from. Nothing new under the sun.

  • HV465 says:

    This orchestra has a long history of not paying their musicians in a timely fashion if at all.
    YEARS. Time to close up shop or get leaders who are financially responsible. It’s just not right!

  • Monty Bloom says:

    Norman, there are TWO orchestras in South Florida that do not pay their musicians on time (or ever)… The Miami Symphony (I’ve written you about them before) and the South Florida Symphony.

    The South Florida Symphony owes many musicians from years ago! They are an orchestra that is mostly staffed by students and ringers — although the distinction between the two groups is small, if nonexistent — most of the musicians in this orchestra are not considered among the top tier players in the area. Many of these so-called “ringers” are flown in from up north — a lot of them have some crazy nostalgia from their “summer festival” days and want to go to Miami and have crazy parties on the beach and get drunk and laid — I’m not making this up — this is why they do this gig — to get a “free” trip to South Florida. It’s not really “work”. A huge insult to the rest of us REAL musicians in South Florida that actually take our craft SERIOUSLY as a JOB!

    I am appalled by the commentators here all hiding behind the Anonymity of the internet — because they are so afraid of not being hired by this orchestra, as well as others that do the same nonsense, they will only complain anonymously! I will say it under my own name — I never have played in this orchestra, and I am retired from orchestral playing since the ripe age of 27 (I have moved on to more lucrative gigs).

    No musician should agree to play in this orchestra UNLESS they are given a CERTIFIED CHECK at the FIRST REHEARSAL!


    These players choose to play in this orchestra because they are bored, and it’s just a silly hobby to them. Needing the money is just an afterthought. Many of them are students at Lynn University that are living here for free (this school gives very generous scholarships including room and board) — they love being able to get on a bus to go to Key West with their friends — it’s like going back to All-state in High School, but as an adult with no curfew, alcohol, and sex!

    The conductor will trash anyone who calls them out on this. I never had any contact with the conductor until in 2011, one of my violist friends did some chamber music concerts and administrative work for them and wasn’t paid, and he wrote stuff about them on Facebook — she randomly messaged me to trashtalk my friend!! From that day on, I have been an enemy of this orchestra!

    On top of all of this, it must be known that their conductor is actually a TERRIBLE CONDUCTOR! No legitimate orchestra would ever hire her! She blames her lack of success on sexism, but the truth is that she is basically a man anyways (she looks like a man and wears Tuxedos) and even if she were a white man from Northern Europe, she would not get hired to conduct any REAL orchestra.

    Musicians in South Florida — stop supporting this stupid vanity project, and musicians from up North — if you want to come down here, why don’t you just save up your money and go on a real vacation and enjoy South Florida — and buy a ticket to a concert by a legitimate institution here and listen to our wonderful local musicians perform!


    • Jillush says:

      Thank you Monty once again…You are one of the few who really tells it as it is! Bravo to you my friend. I can confirm everything that you posted.

  • Interested patron says:

    With such a negative history with this organization, it might be a good idea to have money in escrow with an attorney that can guarantee payment following a performance for the singers and other musicians

  • Musician says:

    I am a musician who played in the orchestra for series of concerts in December and for Porgy & Bess. I have not been paid for my services and yet I see that the singers for Porgy have been paid. As much as I am happy for them, I find it outrageous that the orchestra musicians have not been paid for December Series or for Porgy & Bess.

  • MusicInsider says:

    The conductor of the orchestra is married to the CEO. Plus, no listing of the orchestra musicians on the website? Not a surprise that this is a poorly-run organization.

  • Iris van Eck says:

    Unfortunately … this orchestra has not finished paying their musicians and not even their soloists … this is not a one time event … it has happened for over 10 years. It really is due to incompetent management, and disregard to the musicians. There is only one way to run an orchestra… you need to have a budget … funds come in, and you know what you can do with these funds. If repeatedly, an organization keeps on spending next years donations and grants to pay last years musicians and musicians that were fired because they spoke up about not being paid, or quit in desperation for the same reason, it is a failing organization… and i agree with Norman Lebrecht … do not play for this orchestra. If for some reason you agree to play, you should make sure you get a check before the concert. It would not take long for them to either collapse or actually make sure they have the funds available, if the entire orchestra refuses to play before they get paid. And believe m … there is room for other orchestras to form….