Adaptistration: Chicago was lose-lose for the musicians

Adaptistration: Chicago was lose-lose for the musicians


norman lebrecht

April 29, 2019

Consultant Drew McManus, in an analysis of the strike settlement, reckons that the musicians got none of what they struck for – neither pay parity with LA and San Fran, nor an unchanged pension deal.

While the musicians have been painting this settlement as a win in their press statements, the actual terms don’t support that position, he concludes.

Read the full analysis here.



  • Bill says:

    The fact is, they do have pay parity, maybe even better pay when you factor in the cost of living, which is considerably lower in Chicago than either of Los Angeles or San Francisco.

    • CSO Fan says:

      Yes, exactly. One of the most misleading elements of the union’s statements about the LA Phil and SFSO has been the lack of cost-adjusted dollar amounts. Early during the strike, the CSOA presented a report to the full orchestra showing that the SFSO would have to pay $250k+ base annually to match what they were offering at the time, which I believe was around $170k after the five years. Now that the total is over $181k, there is no possible way it would be more attractive to be in the SFSO on a cost-adjusted basis barring a housing collapse in the Bay Area. I don’t have the LA numbers handy, but I can’t help but think that they are also below CSO after adjusting for COL.

    • Mkay says:

      That and living in SF or Los Angeles is a nightmare. The CSO players teach in Universities right next door to the hall or a 10 minute subway along with being in the orchestra. The amount of classical gigs in Chicago is astounding having just come from Los Angeles and San Fran. La phil players do get to record soundtracks.

      • Bill says:

        Wait until there’s a major earthquake. There hasn’t been one in either of those cities since the ’90’s and they’re due, and certainly none since the housing and tech boom took over. It’s not going to be pretty when it happens.

      • barry guerrero says:

        The S.F. Conservatory of Music is literally right next door to Davies. Any closer, it would be inside of it.

      • Carl says:

        Waaay back in journ school, one of my profs said, “You can live in San Francisco, one of the world’s loveliest cities and work for a lousy newspaper, or you can live in Chicago and freeze your ass off but work for a great newspaper.” Vagaries of the newspaper biz aside, the analysis still mostly holds.

        • Mkay says:

          There are coats. Lived in Los Angeles for 20 years and don’t have a problem with the Chicago weather even the vortex.

      • barry guerrero says:

        I lived on the west side of S.F. for over 20 years on a yearly salary that was maybe 1/6th that of a S.F. Symphony player. While it was difficult, I would not describe as a “nightmare”. To me, Chicago’s extreme winters and high summer humidity would be the nightmare. Good luck to you.

        • Mkay says:

          traffic is a nightmare in Los Angeles and getting the random neighbor who has a meth lab or makes porn isn’t great and that was in an upper middle class neighborhood with million dollar homes. The homeless in San Francisco and the knives they whip out scared me. A friend just left his 3 story place in San Fran because he couldn’t take it anymore. I stayed at his gorgeous place that was in some movie and his neighbor started running up and down the street at night screaming for a good 2 hours from midnight to two a.m.. I saw another guy ask for money and when they didn’t give the money he attacked them and kicked them repeatedly. No cops. I didn’t have any money on me and a female homeless girl started following me when I said sorry. She screamed sorry over and over again and said she was going to scratch out my eyes. So yeah, it was kinda a nightmare. There are so many needles in the parks by my friend’s house near City Light Books that 2 clean sweeps a day can’t keep up. It has become frightening.

          • barry guerrero says:

            I’m sorry you had such a rough time in S.F., but it sounds as though you were fairly close to downtown. I lived out in the avenues and then, later, close to City College. Those places were actually quieter than my parents’ home on the west side of San Jose was. Being out there had the advantage of living somewhere relatively quiet and safe, yet close enough to ride the Muni Metro or BART into downtown. It wasn’t always easy, but it worked quite well. Yes, plenty of foggy weather.

      • Eaglearts says:

        Do you actually know anything about the music scene in LA? I think not.

        • Mkay says:

          Considering I’ve been in the music business in Los Angeles for 20 years I would think yes.
          Just bought a place in Chicago so I could walk places for a change. Bit odd of you assuming I’m not in the business. You don’t know who I know or what I’ve done. Odd.

          • Bill says:

            You’re right; we’ve had to draw our own conclusions from your postings.

    • anon says:

      US ranking of the Big 7 Orchestra cities (and neighboring cities to show how tight it is) by cost of living index :

      1) —
      2) Mountain View 255
      3) Palo Alto 250
      4) SAN FRANCISCO 243
      5) NEW YORK CITY 242
      6) San Jose 215
      7) —
      8) Oakland 211
      9) BOSTON 208
      10) —
      11) LOS ANGELES 205
      12) —
      13) —
      14) Jersey City 199
      15) —
      17) CHICAGO 191

      27) PHILADELPHIA 173

      59) CLEVELAND 151

      Look, five of the top ten highest COL cities are in the Bay Area, so if you’re in the SF Symphony, you are screwed, there is no escaping to some nice cheap suburb within an hour commute.

      That COL index number after each city shows that San Francisco is 52% more expensive than Chicago. The equivalent of a Chicago $150,000 base salary in SF would need to be $228,000.

      Even with a dual income household of $500,000, in San Francisco, you’re competing against the Zuckerbergs for that 2 bedroom house on the hill. It’s hopeless.

      • iamamalted says:

        “Fake math” in anon’s calculation. Please correct: SF COL is 27% higher than Chicago, not 52%. (243 divided by 191 minus 1.) Base salary in SF would need to be $190,838 to be equivalent to $150,000 in Chicago.

        • sam says:

          You need to understand what the index stands for and then review your high school algebra.

          If you counted like that as a musician, you’d be behind the orchestra.

    • SEATAC says:

      Cost of living comparisons with Chicago are deceptive. Many coastal cities are uniformly expensive, while Chicago’s unevenness produces a deceptively low average that doesn’t exist in reality. Chicago has a lot of subpar (and therefore cheap) neighborhoods alongside “good” neighborhoods where real estate is just as expensive as on the coasts. (I know, I just moved to the west coast after 14 years in Chicago.) When you take that into account, plus high IL and local income and real estate taxes, plus crappy public schools (which mean you send your kids to expensive private schools almost by default), then the alleged lower cost of living in Chicago evaporates really, really fast. For working professionals Chicago is nearly as expensive as LA or NY.

      • sam says:

        It would not surprise me if someone told me no CSO musician lives on the South Side of Chicago.

        Yet Chicago has many cheap but high potential (lake front) neighborhoods that have long been overlooked, like the neighborhoods in and near where Obama is building his Presidential Center.

        • Mr. Knowitall says:

          Hyde Park, where I grew up, on the South Side, is completely livable, not horribly expensive, and a 20-minute Metra ride to the orchestra’s home. It would surprise me if no CSO members live there. (It’s also the neighborhood of the in-progress Obama Library.

          • SEATAC says:

            Have you tried commuting from Hyde Park to the CSO’s summer home in Ravinia?

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            Not commuting, but I’ve made the trip. Not fun at all.

          • anonymous says:

            Which begs the question, why is the CHICAGO symphony playing Ravinia in the summer (in the 21st century)?

            Rich white folks. I get it. Fine.

            But it’s embarrassingly transparent when they go pandering to the Apostolic Church on the South Side with a free concert when they are on strike and need CHICAGO support.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Boo Hoo. Rank + file viola players in CSO are getting paid an eye-watering amount.

  • Tod Verklärung says:

    What my be lost for the musicians is their future ability to negotiate with management as a united body. As the group of “new” players grows, all with a less generous retirement package than their senior colleagues, the musicians may well be split over what to fight for.

    • NYMike says:

      A ploy not unknown to orchestra managements across the US.

    • timpanitroll says:

      “The Boomer Generation and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.”

      – Ted Kaczynski

      • Bill says:

        Nothing like the wisdom of a serial murderer. What’s next, great moments in prose from Ted Bundy?

      • Mkay says:

        Yes! There is a book entitled The Sociopath Generation or something like that. In fact when I told a friend about the CSO situation he asked how is that possible and I replied the baby boomers. We both shrugged our shoulders and didn’t have to say anything else. They ruined my alma matter and turned it into a McDonalds like music school when it could easily have competed with Juilliard had they gone that route. But no, they needed the big bucks and have brought in so many sub par music students that it makes me sad for them. The boomers ruined the church that I grew up in as well. It was just a normal laid back church that was fun and more all encompassing with great classical music from professors at the local colleges. Then the boomers came in, moved the church to some warehouse and started playing banjo and changed it to fundamentalism. The change was shocking. I was fairly young when I saw that happen so it pretty much made me leave religion all together by the time I was 18. I guess that was a good thing since it’s a waste of time.
        Anyway thanks for that statement! Boomers are a very selfish generation my parents included.

    • M2N2K says:

      Not necessarily. Various taxes notwithstanding and assuming reasonable health benefits, Minimum Wages should always be a priority for overwhelming majority of players in leading American orchestras, because most other payments – overtime, extra services, seniority, many types of overscale, etc. – are usually being calculated as percentages of the MW, and that certainly includes the amount of defined contribution for pension which directly affects the size of the retirement benefits themselves. Needless to say, higher wages can also help musicians save a little bit more for their retirement if they choose to do so. Therefore, financial priorities for orchestra members of virtually all ages should continue to be closely aligned.

    • My Two Cents says:

      The biggest mistaken notion the musicians have harbored in their fight over this contract was accepting without question the idea that the change over to the defined contribution pension plan would be detrimental to the younger and new members of the orchestra. While it is true that players joining the orchestra after the pension transition will not have the baseline safety net of the guaranteed amount that is available for current players, it is highly unlikely that this will translate into a “less generous retirement package” for them.

      First of all, to trigger this safety net, current players have to agree to put their funds into an ultra conservative 50/50 mix of S&P500 index and bonds. At the time of their retirement, if this mix has done badly enough that it cannot be transferred into an annuity that yields them the equivalent of what is now being offered in the Defined Benefit plan (plus 1% a year), the association will add funds necessary to reach that amount. The requirement for how this mix has to perform to meet this threshold is very low, so this guarantee most likely will not result in the association having to fork over anything. This guarantee is more a psychological gain than a monetary one. Like training wheels on a bike, to ease people terrified of getting off the defined benefit plan because that is all they have known. But for a player who is not due to retire in 20-30 years, putting 50% of his money into bonds removes the probability of much greater gains. Like the training wheels, once you get comfortable riding the bike, you realize all it is doing is limiting maneuverability and speed, so you prefer it off, even knowing that there is always the chance that you might have a spill-out due to removing the stability aspect. For the CSO musician, as this decision to keep the “training wheels” cannot be changed once the transition to the new system is over, I predict very few of the current players will opt to take this ultra risk-averse option once they realize how much they could be missing out on.

      So, other than this option, the new players will be in pretty much the identical position as the current younger members of the orchestra. Comparing these younger players with the older players, it is still unlikely that they will be less advantaged by the change. The older players have to be given what has already been accrued in the old defined benefit plan, as required by law. For fully vested players, this means they get the full defined benefit amount of around $80,000 plus any future accrual of the yearly funding into the new defined contribution plan. But if they are retiring in only a few years, not much will have accrued under the new plan under the new plan. A young current player will have very little accrual under the old plan, but working a much longer period of time under the new plan, they will have much more accrued in their 401k. Given average market performance, they will probably end up with more than what the old members will get. In certain cases, considerably more, especially if the player works for longer than 35 years, as is often the case.(There has never been a 20 year period in the last 50 years in which the average performance of the market has been less than 6%, and the calculation to estimate this was based on a 5% return.)

      Compare this to what would have happened if the musicians had succeeded in keeping their old plan completely intact. (They were frequently quoted as saying that all they wanted was to preserve what they have had for 50 years.) The maximum cap on their defined pension would be reached at working 35 years. This amount would most probably have remained stagnant. It has barely risen in the last 15 years, and federal funding requirements are so stiff if that it would be highly unlikely the musicians would have been able to negotiate any rise in this amount in the next 20 years. An assumption of a regular increase in the cap is, therefore, just as risky (if not more) than an assumption in average level investment returns. Plus, this amount is only available to you as long as you’re alive. Only surviving spouses get any of it, and even then, only 50%. With the funds in the new pension plan, 100% goes to anyone you bequeath it to. So how would the new players entering the orchestra, if the old system had been successfully defended by the orchestra, been better of than they will be under the new system?

      Change is always scary, and it always involves a certain amount of forging into unknown territory. But the level of risk that the musicians thought they were being asked to take by changing over to the defined contribution system was falsely high, and I doubt many took the time to analyze the actual offer in detail before deciding that fighting it was actually worth losing 7 weeks of paychecks over. They were probably just told that the association was trying to take their defined benefit pension from them and replace it with a glorified savings plan. As far as the younger members go, this may teach them a lesson in the future not to hand over to their negotiating committee their strike vote before being told all the details of the offer and hearing from all sides. No one is error and bias free, and there is no group of individuals with power over the well-being of others that they should be free from checks and oversight.

    • TruthHurts says:

      Good point. The older players, especially the ones who can’t play anymore, should watch their backs! Something tells me that down the road their younger colleagues won’t have theirs.

  • Larry W says:

    McManus gets paid by orchestra managements for his consulting. His views are almost uniformly pro-management and anti-musician. No surprise that this is more of the same.

    • barry guerrero says:

      Just how “anti-musician” is 181 thousand as a starting salary in Illiniois? The rest of the world wonders.

      • Larry W says:

        bg, you are confusing issues with your question. The salary of the CSO is a different matter from the historically anti-musician views of McManus. You should take the time to educate yourself.

    • Bill says:

      Yes, of course, as one married to a musician, he is pro management all the way!

      His commentary seemed well-grounded in facts, like the fact that they lost the Defined Benefit plan they wanted to keep, and didn’t really get anything in exchange.

      • barry guerrero says:

        Getting a healthy pay raise is, in your words, “didn’t really get anything in exchange”? Is it any wonder that many of us feel that your musician spouse is ‘out of touch’ with the rest of the real world? Seriously – this kind of nonsense makes me never want to see another American super orchestra again. I certainly won’t go hear the CSO any time soon, especially with Muti. And I’m truly sorry your family will have to suffer so.

        • Bill says:


          they said going in that they wanted to keep the DB plan and get pay parity with the west coast orchestras. Do they have the DB plan in the final offer? No. Did they get pay parity? No. Did they get paid for the 7 or 8 weeks they were on strike? No. This seems like some other guy’s notion of “winning”…

        • Larry W says:

          bg, there you go again, revealing your consuming jealousy of talented musicians and their salaries. The CSO will manage without your attending their concerts. The artistic and human value is lost on you anyway. Sorry, but you are the one out of touch.

          • Barry Guerrero says:

            More utter nonsense and more being out of touch on you and those of that opinion. Jealousy has nothing to do with it. If I had ever gotten that far in the music biz, I would be ashamed to walk out in the middle of a concert season – especially one that effects not only my orchestra, but the Civic Orchestra as well; not to mention the various other concerts that were scheduled for the Orchestra Hall venue. As for managing without my attendance, OF COURSE you can manage without my attendance. I’m not wealthy and can not contribute to the CSO endowment. Those are the only patrons you’re going to waltz over to and ‘put on the dog’ for. At my late stage of life, I play with musicians who go out at night for little or no pay. Some of them are pretty funky alright. Some of them are really, really good – by any standards. We do not sit around bitching about how the world owes us a pension or a high salary. We do it because we love music and – to a lesser extent – the camaraderie. I actually think that’s more than you can say for a percentage of unionized symphony musicians. Keep talking like that and see how many other folks you might be pushing away as well. Be sure to blame it on the ‘boomers’. Frankly, I think young people are not too dumb for staying miles away from your kind – the kind that preach how high and might the CSO is.

          • Larry W says:

            The CSO is “high and might”?
            BG, you might be high.

  • russ says:

    Did I read that right? $181,000 starting salary? Christ

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Compared to what Cristiano Ronaldo makes, it’s not much.

      • Mkay says:

        If a sports guy has an injury he is out for life and they retire incredibly young. Musicians can be in the orchestra until they fall out of their chair. Tennis elbow is fake so musicians should be fine.

    • M2N2K says:

      In the final year of the current contract, that is. So you still have a couple of years to practice in order to take and WIN an audition over a few hundred of some of the finest, highly talented and accomplished musicians from all over the world. It’s that simple.

    • SEATAC says:

      That puts them almost eye-to-eye with a first year lawyer on Wall Street fresh out of law school.

      • My Two Cents says:

        First year lawyer in big firm works 70-80 hour weeks if he/she wants to get ahead and takes a 2 week vacation at his peril. CSO musicians work 20 hour weeks and get 12 weeks vacation minimum. (Few positions actually work only 10-15 weeks out of the year and many work only 25 weeks. They all get paid at least the base salary.) Never mind all the extra “practice time” involved. Very few tutti players practice more than an hour or two to prepare for a CSO program, and you never heard of lawyers bringing home work? You have to compare apples-to-apples before making a simple statement like that.

        • oy vey says:

          nobody cares about your two cents. maybe you should go back to playing free violin recitals, pretending to be a great soloist.

    • bratschegirl says:

      $180,000-ish is the going rate these days for a brand new junior associate at the larger US law firms, fresh out of law school; that’s the *least* amount of money you can make as a lawyer at a major firm. The Chicago Symphony players, and those is a few other top orchestras, represent the peak of the profession; that’s the *greatest* amount of money you can hope to make as an orchestral player.

      • Sam says:

        Ah, but orchestra players get life time tenure.

        And orchestra players have 20 hour work WEEKS.

        Law firm associates, it’s up or out, and it’s 20 hour work DAYS!

        If you survive as a first year law associate, you may not survive to be a 5th year, if you survive to 5th year, you may not survive to make partner, if you survive to make partner, you may not survive to make equity partner, if you survive to make equity partner, you may not survive to make senior partner…

        Give me guaranteed minimum salary of $180K for life working 20 hours a week and I will name not only my first born but ALL my children “Chicago Symphony Orchestra”.

        • anonymous says:

          When an orchestra player makes a mistake, she gets a glare from the maestro.

          When a lawyer makes a mistake, her client loses the case, she gets fired, she gets sued for malpractice, she is disbarred, she starts a home jewelry business and sells on etsy for $5 a necklace.

          • John Marks says:

            Heh heh heh heh heh! THANKS! The very aggressive trial-law firm where I got passed over for Partner did not believe in settling cases (not enough money in that!).

            So they, in roughly the same time frame, got whacked with the largest by far wrongful-death verdict in our state’s history, and in another case, the largest punitive-damage award in our state’s history (on top of the jury’s giving the plaintiff company everything it asked for–the suit was against a bank).

            We represented the Governor of Rhode Island; somehow we could not stop a Federal Judge from fining him $250,000 for Contempt of Court.

            Playing Tough Guy is fun, until it doesn’t work any longer and your client base evaporates.

            OTOH, I did help Alan Dershowitz get a new trial for Claus von Bülow… which is a good cocktail-party icebreaker.

        • My Two Cents says:

          To be precise, it is not even a 20 hour work week. Their contract specifies average of 7.5 services per week. (Service means concert or rehearsal) Everything above that qualifies as overtime. Each service is between 2 and 2.5 hours. That puts it at about 17 hours a week.

          • M2N2K says:

            Counting musicians’ workweek hours the way you are doing here is simply ignorant, but your estimate of your comments’ value looks correct to me.

        • SEATAC says:

          Oh, the old 20-hour-workweek canard. As a child of orchestra musicians and a lawyer myself it’s clear that you haven’t the slightest idea how either profession works.

          With classical music ‘fans’ like these, who needs enemies…?

          • sam says:

            “As a child of orchestra musicians and a lawyer myself”

            My deepest condolences.

          • sam says:

            “With classical music ‘fans’ like these, who needs enemies…?”

            We are fans of the music, not fans of the musician. We are devotees of Chopin, not devotees of the Chicago Symphony. That is where the CSO musicians went astray, they mistook themselves to be the high priests of classical music who should be worshipped and richly compensated by unquestioning acolytes.

          • Larry W says:

            Not a very long Chopin list, sam. The only music of his that the CSO would play is the accompaniment to two piano concerti.

        • Musician says:

          But we can all agree the world would be a better place with LESS lawyers and MORE musicians!

          • anon says:

            Everyone says that. Until they need a lawyer. Try playing a violin to the judge.

            Who represented the CSO musicians in their negotiations? A lawyer.

            Who beat the their lawyer in these negotiations? The CSOA’s lawyers.

            And why did the CSOA have better lawyers? Because there are more lawyers than musicians.

      • william osborne says:

        The average salary of a federal judge is $165,200.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Yes, but I can go hear a perfectly good viola section in Santa Cruz, Ca – much closer to my home [1 mile] – from an orchestra where a violist doesn’t even make 1/20th of what a CSO violist makes. And yes, their brass section is quite good also.

  • fflambeau says:

    Who is Drew McManus?

    He’s an arts “consultant” meaning he’ll pretty much say and do anything he is paid for.

    From his website: “Arts Consulting
    There’s never been a better time to be in the business.

    Debt, shrinking audiences, and rising expenses.” Interestingly, the website give no bio info at all about this person.

    Ugh! Why even print this dodo’s thoughts?

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Why does this have to be framed as a loss for either party when the three sides (board, musicians, management) have to meet somewhere to keep the institution alive.

    It’s this type of wording that creates internal friction and does no good for the three parties involved.

  • My Two Cents says:

    One thing McManus should have pointed out was that the last best final offer had an 8% funding of the defined contribution plan, versus the 7.5% funding in the ratified contract. This effectively cuts the salary gains made by the musicians in the ratified contract compared to that in the last best final offer in half. So the “modicum of improvements”, as he describes the pay raise, is even more of a modicum than at first glance.

  • Russ: I had the same reaction. Unbelievable. Here are musicians that are among the best in the world on their instruments, playing in one of the great ensembles in the world, on instruments they have been practicing since they were little kids (I estimate the average high level orchestra musician, especially the string players, have put in something like 10,000 hours of practicing by the time they gradate college) and they end up getting paid less than $200,000 per year. Of course, it makes no sense to compare a classical musicians salary to a professional baseball, football or other athlete but, really, under $200,000 after arriving at the very pinnacle of ones profession? It’s a sad commentary on our culture and I’m glad you agree.

    • Bill says:

      How do you see that working? The costs of running an orchestra already far outstrip ticket revenues. The musicians won’t want to play more concerts for the same pay. “Our culture” should just donate more money to the musicians, is that the idea?

      • Mkay says:

        Why is the staff over 100 people? That is ridiculous. They could easily hire a business management firm from the arts industry out of los angeles or NYC and fire most of the people on staff but no, the business model of this non-profit is from the 1800’s.

        • Realist says:

          Mkay, the staff is so big because it takes an army to comply with the 50 pages of work rules that have been written into the contract over the years and because a fundraiser that gets paid $75,000 is bringing in multiples of his/her salary to underwrite the costs of the organization that can’t make the math work with ticket sales. And while a simple brochure was pretty much all that was needed 50 years ago, orchestras now need marketing people to try to convince the public to buy tickets to music that is less relevant by the day.

        • Bill says:

          I wonder why none of them thought of that. Probably too busy playing cards all day with some nurses, right?

          The CSO is a top-drawer orchestra, why do the musicians not just shed the rest of that deadwood and run the show without them? Symphony Center has lousy acoustics and is burdened by debt, so they’ll be free of that as well.

  • America’s orchestral world has a winner take all system that reflects the country’s unique and isolated system of funding by contributions from the wealthy. Many major cities in the world have multiple full time orchestras because arts funding is provided by governments and spread around more widely — and often more democratically, especially in regard to regional orchestras.

    I list here the 12 full time orchestras of Moscow, and the multiple full time orchestras in London, Paris, Munich, Vienna, and Berlin. I also added new listings for 8 additional cities. Corrections are welcomed if documentation can be provided.

    + Moscow Chamber Orchestra
    + Moscow City Symphony Orchestra
    + Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
    + Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
    + Moscow Symphony Orchestra
    + Moscow Virtuosi
    + National Philharmonic of Russia
    + Russian National Orchestra
    + Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
    + State Symphony Capella of Russia
    + State Symphony Cinema Orchestra
    + Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
    (Moscow also has more opera performances per year than any other city in the world, including Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and London. Meanwhile, New York is no longer even in the top 10.)

    + London Symphony Orchestra
    + London Philharmonic
    + Royal Philharmonic
    + Philharmonia
    + BBC Symphony Orchestra
    + BBC Concert Orchestra
    + Royal Opera Orchestra
    + English National Opera Orchestra
    (There are several other world class orchestras in London that are not full time such as the London Sinfonietta, English Chamber Orchestra, and Academy of St Martin’s in the Field.)

    + L’Orchestre National de Radio-France
    + Orchestre de Paris
    + Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
    + L’Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris
    + Ensemle Intercontemporain
    + Orchestre de Chambre de Paris
    + Orchestre des Concerts Pasdeloup.
    + Orchestre Colonne,
    + Orchestre Lamoureux
    (The Paris Opera Orchestra has 170 members since the services must be rotated to meet demand. The last two orchestras are more marginal and may not be full time.)

    + Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    + Bavarian Radio Orchestra
    + Munich Philharmonic
    + Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
    + Gärtnerplatz Opera Orchestra
    + Munich Symphoniker
    + Munich Chamber Orchestra
    + Vienna Philharmonic
    + Vienna Symphony Orchestra
    + Vienna State Opera Orchestra
    + Vienna State Radio Orchestra
    + Volksoper Orchestra
    + Vienna Klang Forum
    + Tonkünstlerorchester
    (The VPO and State Opera Orchestra use the same personnel, but the ensemble has 149 positions so that they can rotate the services. I think there might be other orchestras in the city I don’t know about.)

    + Berliner Philharmoniker
    + Konzerthausorchester Berlin
    + Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    + Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
    + Orchester der Staatsoper Unter den Linden/Staatskapelle Berlin
    + Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
    + Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

    +Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
    + Czech National Symphonic Orchestra
    +Prague Symphony Orchestra “F.O.K.”
    +Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
    +National Theatre Opera Orchestra
    +The Capitol Prague Opera Orchestra
    +Prague Film Orchestra
    +Prague Chamber Philharmonic

    +Royal Stockholm Philharmonic
    +Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    +Royal Opera House
    +Stockholm Chamber Orchestra

    +Budapest Festival Orchestra
    +Budapest Philharmonic
    +Hungarian National Philharmonic
    +Dohnányi Orchestra Budafok
    +Hungarian State Opera Orchestra
    +Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    +Concerto Budapest
    +Danubia Orchestra
    +Hungarian Railway Symphony

    + Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid (royal opera)
    + Orquesta Sinfónica de la Radio y Televisión Española
    + Orquesta Nacional de España
    + Orquesta de la comunidad de madrid

    + Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya
    + Orquestra Simfónica del Gran Teatre del Liceu” (opera)

    + State Orchestra of Athens
    + Orchestra of Athens
    + National Opera
    + Radio Symphony Orchestra
    + Philharmonia Orchestra
    +State Orchestra of Thessaloniki
    + Orchestra of Thessaloniki
    + New Orchestra of Thessaloniki

    + National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre Orchestra
    + Belarusian State Academic Musical Theatre Orchestra
    + National Academic Concert Orchestra (jazz/pop)
    + Presidential Orchestra of the Republic of Belarus
    + State Academic Symphony Orchestra
    + State Chamber Orchestra
    + State Academic Zhynovich Folk Instruments Orchestra
    + State Radio Symphony Orchestra

    + The George Enescu Philharmonic
    + The Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra
    + The National Romanian Opera Orchestra
    + Radio Chamber Orchestra
    + Bucharest Operetta and Musical Orchestra

    Caracas, Venezuela
    +Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela
    +Orquesta Filarmonica de Venezuela
    +Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas
    +Orquesta Sinfónica Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho
    +Orquesta Sinfónica Juan José Landaeta
    +Orquesta Sinfónica Simon Bolívar A
    +Orquesta Sinfónica Simon Bolívar
    +Orquesta Sinfónica Barroca
    (This listing for Caracas contains some youth orchestras that might need deleting. Corrections welcome.)

    Mexico City
    + Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional,
    + Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México
    + Orq. Filarmónica de la UNAM
    + Orq. Sinfónica del IPN
    + Orquesta del Teatro de Bellas Artes and
    Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes
    There are also two youth orchestras that are seen by some as providing full time jobs.

    • Mkay says:

      O.k. but why are they not as good as the CSO? Never heard of most of these. There is complacency in socialism and communism. How can you care about something if you don’t have to fight for it? Where does the passion come from? Unfortunately passion comes from the fight which is probably why the USA produces the most creative ideas the world has seen.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Two words for Mkay: utter nonsense. Seriously, go travel and hear some of these orchestras. I have.

        • Larry W says:

          Which ones, BG? The world wants to know.

          • william osborne says:

            To name some of the more notable: Berlin Phil, Vienna Phil, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, London Symphony, Czech Phil, and Simon Bolivar Orchestra. For what its worth, Gramophone, for example, ranks some of these higher than the CSO.

          • Larry W says:

            Ranking orchestras is not worth much because qualitative measures are subjective. The only quantifiable measure is salary, which is why top orchestras compete for the highest.

            To be fair, you might try ranking composers. A quantifiable measure is performances. How many of the 115 orchestras listed have performed your works?

  • Daniel Layne says:

    It is my opinion that the unions are a huge problem for the arts organizations here in the USA. The Chicago musicians are getting $181K as a starting salary for a part-time position? If they are not working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, I don’t see how they have any right to complain.
    As for this whole “cost of living” thing, I think a big part of it is housing costs. Most people, whether they are in New York City, L.A., or Chicago, always want to live in areas they can’t afford. There are many areas in Chicago where you could easily find affordable housing with a salary of $181k per year. Most people, though, wouldn’t want to live there.

    • Not.Dr.Who says:

      This union has gotten the musicians, especially the top third in titled chairs, absolutely nothing, and in fact has cost them dearly in loss of income and prestige. Why do they still keep supporting it?

      • Bill says:

        because over the years, the union has gotten them a pretty sweet package! You don’t really think the players would be making that without the union, do you? I am NOT saying that they shouldn’t be able to get that without a union, just to be clear…just that the union brought them the necessary bargaining power.

        • Not.Dr.Who says:

          Union and professional seem like a contradiction. Doctors, lawyers, accountants. etc. do quite well with no union “backing.”

          • M2N2K says:

            Your first sentence may be correct, but “seem” is a key word in it. Some professionals “do quite well” indeed while others do not. Besides, top-earning American musicians – those in leading US orchestras – apparently consider it their duty to share some of their good fortune with less successful colleagues, and so they see staying united as an appropriate way of doing exactly that.

          • Bill says:

            Because there is more demand for them than supply. No one has to counsel med students, law students, accounting students, etc. about the likely difficult they will face in finding a decent job. Face it, spending $60,000+ per year to go to Juilliard, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, etc. is a terrible investment for most of the students because most will not land this sort of gig.

          • Kelly says:

            Dr. Not at all Who; if you could see past your nose as you look down it, you would see the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association are indeed trade unions. Whether they admit it or not, they are.
            Apparently you have little understanding of what a professional is. All skilled tradesman who demand a voice in their workplace through collective bargaining are indeed professionals.

      • sam says:

        Unions give them tenure.

        Unions act as barriers to competition.

        True, an orchestra player may have won over 200 others initially, but can she honestly say that she could’ve kept her position for 40 years if she had to defend her chair every year against 200 new applicants?

        But that is how the rest of the professional world works: bankers, attorneys, doctors, yes, even orchestra presidents and orchestra board members.

  • David Rohde says:

    While a lot of this discussion is about the comparative cost of living among US cities, my main concern is the effect of the strike on the relationship between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the city of Chicago itself – meaning the community, not the government. From that standpoint, McManus’ conclusion has value in that it demonstrates that the musicians holding out for what they clearly didn’t get may have a deleterious effect on everyone.

    As I stated in one of the most recent previous threads on the strike, the musicians’ dead-set position against defined contribution retirement plans easily came across as some combination of elitist, lazy, and just plain out of touch. It’s reasonable for the public to wonder why brilliant musicians who (they were lectured) have many hidden demands and pressures on their careers can’t trouble themselves to learn Diversified Investing 101, as tens of millions of Americans are instructed to do in their 401k plans, with every likelihood of coming out very well just the same. And since the musicians didn’t win on this core point anyway, which realists knew they wouldn’t, then the conclusion of a “lose-lose” has substantial merit.

    My best to both a great orchestra and (all flaws aside) a truly great city, but if the real game today is re-engaging the entire American general public in the glories of classical music, broadly defined, this strike was very likely a big step backwards.

    • barry guerrero says:

      Exactly. As I said, I won’t pay to hear them. I don’t care that Charlie Vernon and Gene Pokorny are blasting away in the back. The cry baby antics of this orchestra have left a really bad taste in my mouth. Santa Cruz Symphony has a perfectly fine tuba player, Forrest Byrom. He plays in the Cabrillo Music Festival as well. In fact, I think he’s from the Chicago area. They’re happy to have the gigs and don’t go pulling a strike in the middle of concert season. They also have a young, dynamic conductor who’s trying to work his way up, as so many are.

  • Plush says:

    The strike got them nothing and they achieved none of their announced goals. And now, in a Kafka-esque response, the orchestra declares victory. The strike was for naught.

  • Steve says:

    As a subscriber and donor of more then 30 years, this strike and the musicians’ behavior have caused me to lose a lot of respect for them and I have a certain amount of regret for having renewed for next year and forking over another donation.

    My first post-strike subscription concert is next week, and I will attend with a certain amount of ambivalence, both toward the musicians and Music Director Muti. I hope that feeling subsides quickly, but somehow I don’t expect it to.

    There is a certain satisfaction in knowing the musicians’ unreasonable stand was not rewarded, but their announcement of a “win” further eroded my high estimation of them. They lost, and I feel like the city and I did too.

    There were no winners.

  • fflambeau says:

    I do think the musicians won the battle but perhaps lost the war.

    By this, I mean they are seen by many as money grubbers and elitists. Meanwhile, ticket and cd prices will jump.
    Perhaps what will eventually happen is that newer, perhaps smaller groups, more attuned to a location, and less expensive will form, some even without conductors. Some groups have dual concertmasters and leaders (Australian Chamber Orchestra). Also, mostly volunteer groups (but of high quality) will also get a boost.

    I think this is already happening with groups like “A Far Cry” and the revered Orpheus Chamber Concert, Spira Mirabilis (orchestra of Europe) etc. Volunteer groups: Prometheus Chamber Orchestra (Philadelphia); Middleton Symphony Orchestra (Madison, Wi.). These are but examples.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    And yet, Chicago has done nothing to address the sub-par acoustics of Orchestra Hall, where the stage is much wider than it is deep. As a result, in many CSO recordings made in Orchestra Hall, the trumpets – who are almost always placed dead center – sound as though they’re sitting right in front. Enjoy your Beethoven cycle with Muti – there’s a truly original idea. Enjoy Rand too. I’m so jealous. I’m out.

    • Kelly says:

      “where the stage is much wider than it is deep”. Yes, thats a fact. I can’t think off hand of any concert halls that are deeper than they are wider at the proscenium. Perhaps portable shells, but not halls. In regard to that depth, the stage is 49′ deep from downstage center to the upstage wall. Few if any concert halls in the world are as deep. The only truth in your comment is the acoustics are definitely sub-par and not nearly worthy of an orchestra the caliber of the CSO.

  • David says:

    Is the glass half empty or half full? I mean, they will receive substantial pay raises each of the next five years (what other employee can boast that?) and the current members retained their DBP, even if future CSO musicians will not. DBP are untenable in today’s day and age — and have been widely eliminated. Let’s be realistic here. The CSO musicians have done well, and will continue to do very well.