Just in: Baltimore locks out its musicians

Just in: Baltimore locks out its musicians


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2019

After issuing an eleventh-hour clarification of its position, the Baltimore Symphony announced last night that its musicians would be locked out of their workplace from midnight. Those who cleared their lockers yesterday saw this coming.

The board is demanding that the musicians agree to reduce their contract from 52 weeks a year to 40. Despite strenuous efforts on both sides to keep the dispute civilised, something snapped last night as the board realised it was facing bankruptcy.

The causes of this confrontation are weak management and poor financial planning. As the board itself admitted last night, it had been relying on $3.2 million of state funding that never came through.

The price for these shortcomings is to be paid  by musicians and audiences. The future does not look bright.

Baltimore is the new black hole at the heart of America’s orchestral industry. It is the Minnesota de nos jours.




  • Kevin Case says:

    This was no 11th-hour snap decision. It was in the cards as soon as BSO management announced on May 30 that it was cancelling the summer season and would not pay musicians past June 16.
    Under US labor law, the only way BSO can legally stop paying the musicians at this point is through a lockout.
    This was long planned. The only thing that could have stopped it was total capitulation by the musicians. And even if the musicians had given in, we would be back here in a year or two because BSO leadership has no plan beyond cutting the season and the compensation of the musicians.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Why is it that orchestral musicians in Baltimore are expected to be near perfect over their career while their employers utterly incompetent and steer the ship into an iceberg time after time?

  • The View from America says:

    “Baltimore is the new black hole at the heart of America’s orchestral industry. It is the Minnesota de nos jours.”

    With one big difference: People in Minneapolis-St. Paul cared — big-time. Baltimore shrugs.

  • fflambeau says:

    Minnesota has snapped back amazingly strong. They were in London and South Africa (on tour) recently. Ditto for Chicago. Maybe it will all work out in Baltimore too?

  • Karl says:

    They need to form their own musician run orchestra like Louisiana did.