New York musicians are rallying for Chicago

New York musicians are rallying for Chicago


norman lebrecht

April 12, 2019

Thirty musicians from the Met Opera, New York Philharmonic, and New York City Ballet will be performing at a rally for the strikers today at 1:30 pm local, conducted by Joseph Alessi.

Catch them in Dante Park directly across from Lincoln Center.

Emma Gerstein, flutist at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will speak about her orchestra’s strike since March 10 to protect their pension benefits and regain parity to other leading orchestras across the nation.



  • Dd says:

    That will fix everything.

  • Kelly says:

    Bravo Emma, we’re so proud of you! For those who don’t know, Emma was educated in the Chicago Public School System. Through her hometown education and absolute dedication she rose to the top of the music world. Emma deserves the pension plan she was promised upon winning an audition to her hometown orchestra, which also happens to be one of the very best in the world.

    • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

      See Emma picket.
      See management give in.
      See CSO declare bankruptcy in 10 years (like Philly)
      See Emma cry

      Long term sustainability is more important than the tweaks that need to be made to the current model which will jeopardize the CSOA long term.

      • NYMike says:

        Philly declared false bankruptcy with an endowment of $160 mil and ownership of the Academy of Music to get out of its defined benefit pension obligations. This was facilitated by the law firm of one of its board members and a politically friendly judge. This had nothing to do with its long-term financial sustainability.

  • Ben says:

    Any news on any citizen of the city of Chicago rallying for the orchestra?

    • Mkay says:

      That guy? Really? What a follower. Look, anyone who criticizes the musicians for wanting benefits and a salary based on the money the CSO holds while the billionaires on the board own 3, 4 or 5 houses is a moron. I met a couple on the elevator had a house in SF, Chicago and London. Really? Z ell has a house in Malibu, Chicago, New York and most likely Jackson Hole or on an island. Why don’t we go after the billionaires who have way too much money. I don’t need any more money. You don’t need yachts and five houses and planes and Magrittes in your house. Rent and go to a museum Give me a break. We need a strong middle class. The rich don’t want that in the USA.

      • Chuck says:

        There will always be someone who has more than you, and someone who has less than you. Get over it. And those yachts? Somebody had to build them. Money spent is money earned. And the Zells? They contributed $17,000,000 to the CSO several years ago. The CSOA cannot possibly cover the defined benefit plan any longer, going forward that is (low interest rates, and appropriate government regulations on fully funding are the cause). The musicians can do better in a defined contribution plan anyway, that’s the irony of it all.

  • Anon says:

    And New Yorkers should care because?

  • NYMike says:

    A good rally with city and state officials there along with musicians from the freelance areas including B’way. Needless to say, the combined brass playing was terrific.

  • Anon says:

    Whoa, you can’t just get away with playing a free rally, cough up $15K per organization, following SF and Boston. That’ll be $45K collectively from the Met, NY Phil, NYC Ballet, thank you very much.

  • fflambeau says:


  • Isaac says:

    Why don’t we let those poor, impoverished musicians of the CSO into NY and have them sub with the Philharmonic and Met during their strike (and displace regular subs)? Things are getting so tough out there, I heard Robert Chen might have to skip a meal today and dim-sum tomorrow.

  • anon says:

    Why don’t orchestras self govern?

    I mean, if management is so incompetent, if the board is so bad and disrespectful of talent, why not quit, start your own orchestra, appoint your own board, hire your own managers, and vote your own salary and pension plan?

    Because orchestras would never survive on the open market, by ticket sales alone (or I mean, you could, you just won’t have a 100 piece band, starting salaries of $160K, full medical benefits), but must need the patronage of wealthy donors who demand seats on your board and control of your finances.

    And in exchange for financial stability provided by these wealthy patrons (because in years of deficit, you don’t want to have no salary and have to draw from your savings to pay creditors), you cede more and more seats on your board to these patrons.

    If the musicians of the CSO seized control of the board today, and implemented the salary and pension plan they want, what would happen?

    Creditors would swoop in, demand the immediate repayment of $100 million debt, and to protect itself, the musicians would file for bankruptcy, restructure itself, fire half the musicians, reduce salaries, and change pension plans, freeze hiring for the next 10 years.

    • NYMike says:

      Orchestras in Berlin and Vienna, among other Europeans, do govern themselves. Of course, they have local, state and federal government financial backing including pension and heath benefits allowing them to do so. That said, your comments, usually regressive on SD, are not helpful here.

  • anon says:

    Where are the David Geffens of the world?

    Where is he — willing to plop down $100 million to see his name on the facade of a building — coming to the rescue of the CSO?

    Why did the real Geffen, who lives in LA, choose the New York Phil instead of the Chicago Symp?

    For that matter, where was the Avery Fisher of Chicago in the 1990s when he could’ve paid for the $100 million renovation of orchestra hall in exchange for perpetual naming rights?

    There are rich dynasties in Chicago, the Pritzkers are among the most prominent, their names are on a law school (Northwestern), a medical school (University of Chicago), the most famed international architectural prize, not to mention current governor of Illinois and past Secretary of Commerce under Obama.

    In the arts, why are the Pritzkers interested in architecture but not the CSO?

    Mysteries, mysteries, mysteries.

    • anon says:

      Forbes’ list of wealthiest Chicagoans:

      1: Ken Griffin, $10 billion
      2: Sam Zell, $5.6 billion
      3: Thomas Pritzker, $4.2 billion
      4: Neil Bluhm, $4 billion
      5: Joe Mansueto, $3.6 billion
      6: Mark Walter, $3.5 billion
      7: J.B. Pritzker, $3.2 billion
      8: Jean “Gigi” Pritzker, $3.2 billion
      9: Patrick Ryan, $2.9 billion
      10: Penny Pritzker, $2.7 billion
      11: Ty Warner, $2.6 billion
      12: Joseph Grendys, $2.5 billion
      13: Eric Lefkofsky, $2.5 billion

      #2 Zell (wife = chair of board) is the target of the striking musicians’ ire.

      There are 4 Pritzkers on the list, but maybe they don’t want to deal with Zell either.

    • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

      Who is this fellow David Geffen?

  • Musician says:

    Once again, thanks goes to Henry Fogel who is responsible for renovating Orchestra Hall, giving us “Symphony Center,” and creating this financial mess! Shame……shame…..shame……shame….”

    • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

      A very dumb comment.

      Henry had total support from the BOD to remodel Orchestra Hall.

      A location, in the east area of the Loop, was researched for a brand new hall. This also would have been financed by bonds with interest rates at the prevailing rates.

      There was no question that something new was needed. Orchestra Hall was antiquated and the musicians wanted better facilities. So did the patrons who donate at high levels and pay the bills.

      To blame Henry is stupid and short sighted. He did not act on his own and OH was improved.

  • Allan Leicht says:

    One of the supreme artistic institutions on earth is in jeopardy and this is the only place it is being reported? Shame on us all! Over pensions for musicians?! Never before did it occur to me to be a European.

  • Allan Leicht says:

    Thank you for reporting this.