Chicago strike: The Mayor gets stuck in

Chicago strike: The Mayor gets stuck in


norman lebrecht

April 25, 2019

“For more than 125 years, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been a crown jewel within Chicago’s rich cultural landscape. None of us want to see that jewel tarnished. After speaking with both parties, it appears that we should be able to achieve an end to this seven-week strike.

Therefore, I am offering the services of my office to serve as a forum where both parties can work in
good faith to facilitate an equitable and fair solution and that brings an end the current impasse.”



  • Phillip Ayling says:

    In about 4 weeks Rahm Emanuel term as Mayor will conclude. Lori Lightfoot will be the Mayor at that point. She may well start work before the CSO does.

  • Nick2 says:

    If the CSO is indeed the jewel in Chicago’s crown, why on earth has it taken the Mayor’s office so long to become involved?

    • Mario Lutz says:

      Following our own examples (Argentina) he gets involved now, because everything he signs, if any, will be paid by his successor…

  • sam says:

    Laughable. Contemptably laughable.

    A man who has never attended a single concert, who needs the billions of those sitting on the board, who no longer even holds the keys to his own offices as the outgoing mayor, is offering what?


    Just another opportunistic, exhibitionistic publicity whore thrusting himself in the spotlight.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    He’s an even greater walking photo op’ than Gavin Newsom.

  • anonymous says:

    “offering the services of my office”

    1) You’re not “offering” anything, everything in the mayor’s office — the space, the personnel, the coffee — is paid for my tax payers.

    If Chicago tax payers wanted to get involved, they would’ve contributed to the $200K musicians fund. But they didn’t. Because it’s not an issue on their top 1,000 problems plaguing the city (hint, gun violence would occupy the first 999 problems).

    2) It won’t be “your office” much longer. Should’ve shown some concern earlier.

    3) Because the biggest problem for the parties is that they don’t have a big enough office to sit down in to negotiate.

    • says:

      Acquaint yourself withe the many definitions of office….it ain’t always about paper clips.

    • Mick the Knife says:

      On the other hand, myself, and a lot of others are not plagued by the 1000 problems sucking up our tax dollars and showing no improvement, year after year. The CSO is actually more important in OUR lives. So, don’t speak for “the tax payers”.

      • anonymous says:

        Who’s “OUR lives”?

        So you think it was total waste of time, and PR stunt, for the CSO musicians to give their free concert in the Apostolic Church on the South Side? You must think half of THEM can’t appreciate European culture, and the other half of THEM will be shot anyway?

        Afterall, no one of THEIR color is a member of the CSO.

        Paradoxically, I’m sure more than a few board trustees also share your views.

        Too bad they also hold the view that the musicians don’t deserve a better pension or salary increase.

        So much for “OUR lives” versus THEIR lives.

        In any case, to return to reality:
        – Taxpayers don’t pay for the CSO so I don’t see why you should concern your little head
        – Taxpayers do pay for the emergency room and all subsequent medical costs as well as policing of someone getting shot

        • Mick the Knife says:

          I can’t even follow your rant; the product of a cluttered mind. OUR lives refers to taxpayers who pay lots of money in taxes for things that are not OUR problems and don’t help us in anyway. This group, which is certainly not limited to me would like to see some tax dollars go to supporting the arts, including groups like the CSO, as well as the myriad social welfare programs we are forced to underwrite.

  • anon says:

    “crown jewel within Chicago”

    Do the the wealthy patrons of a city still depend on an orchestra to burnish the image of the city and thus their own image?

    Depends on the city.

    Take Dallas. The wealthy patrons of Dallas were willing to pay Jaap van Zweden a whopping $5 million just to maintain the Dallas Symphony in decent enough shape.

    The world’s perception of Dallas, or its orchestra, has not changed one bit. (Who on earth thinks either Dallas or its orchestra has moved up in any ranking because of its orchestra?)

    Take LA and NY. Disney and Geffen put their money into the hall, not into the orchestra (salary and pension). So the smart money is in the building, the starchitect, not the musicians.

    Take SF. The dotcom billionaires have shown no interest in either building or people.

    Now Chicago. Yes, the orchestra is important for the image, but I think that the current board is betting that worst comes to worst, they get to restructure the orchestra in a bankruptcy, fire and rehire the same musicians for 1/2 the cost, and the orchestra is as good as ever.

    Because, frankly, there is no market for 100 unemployed musicians (albeit the ‘best’). Where are they going to go? Cleveland Ohio?

    • Edgar says:

      So the smart money is in the building, the starchitect, not the musicians.

      Yes, LA has its orchestra, in a great starcitect hall, and both are thriving artistically and economically.

      Geffen Hall is a failure, no matter whose name is on it. The best thing to be done is to gut it. Let’s see what Deborah Borda will work out.

      As for the board: I would be pleased it it fires itself.
      But then, of course, that’s fantasy.

      It has been ever thus: Musicians and other artists are there to entertain the rich, and should otherwise shut up and get lost. Just as Richard Strauss shows in Ariadne auf Naxos, performed “im Hause des reichsten Mannes in Wien”.

  • sam says:


    Mayor of Chicago to offer CSO musicians the city’s defined benefit pension plan.


  • Peter DG says:

    Looking forward to this ending so I can have the pleasure of BOOING them at their next performance in orchestra hall!

  • KK says:

    Or the Mayor chose to interject himself