Everyone at Philadelphia Orch takes pay cut

Everyone at Philadelphia Orch takes pay cut


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2020

Message received:

(Philadelphia, March 31, 2020)—The Philadelphia Orchestra Association and the musicians of the Orchestra today jointly announced that musicians have volunteered to take a temporary salary reduction of 20%, beginning April 1, to help counter the significant financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. This cooperative step to preserve institutional financial progress of recent years is complemented by a 20% net reduction in staff salaries, based on salary level, also beginning April 1. Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is forgoing 20% of his March and April compensation. These steps are among a series of measures the organization has been taking since the last concert performed on March 12, 2020. 


  • RW2013 says:

    YN-S only 20%?!

    • Daniel Poulin says:

      “…musicians have volunteered to take a temporary salary reduction of 20%, beginning April 1”; why should YNS take a bigger cut?

      • Linda C. says:

        For starters: because he makes at least half a million dollars a year from Philly alone. And because he can probably afford the hit more than the musicians can. And because it’s a sign of leadership in this crisis.

        • fflambeau says:

          He is giving an extra month to the pay cut. March and April. I agree that he could afford more.

          • MarBeth says:

            Actually, musicians pay cut starts April 1. YN-S only offered 20% of March and April…

      • drummerman says:

        Because he has other income, i.e. The Met.

        • V.Lind says:

          Thought the Met was ceasing to pay, like, today.

        • Audit The Met IRS! says:


          That’s quite a good question!

          The Met has not “suspended employment” for its Music Director, YN-S or ANY other staff unless there is an official Met statement not know to anybody else???

          Meanwhile Gelb was ‘pressured’ to wave his own salary yet sucked up to donors 2 times in a huge panic. Poor leadership yet again…

          SD ran the following very informative yet dire item on March 19:


          “Peter Gelb has notified musicians of the Met orchestra and chorus that their employment is suspended from March 12.

          Invoking the Force Majeure clause in their contracts, he has agreed to pay two weeks’ wages up to the end of this month. Healthcare and instrument insurance will, however, be continued.”

          …”The Met has made no public announcement, and other media seem unaware of this dire development.

          Not a peep from Yannick.”

          • Stereo says:

            Not surprised. All conductors think about is themselves. Their fees are the reason most orchestras struggle financially.

      • Anon says:

        For the same reason that people with higher income pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

      • Stereo says:

        These overpaid conductors should forego their fees all together

      • Stereo says:

        Daniel I assume you meant why shouldn’t YNS take an even bigger cut. All conductors are overpaid.

    • anon says:

      Most music director contracts are structured in two parts- a title fee paid as a salary or in quarterly installments, and a conducting fee of a set amount for each week conducted, which usually represents the larger share of the compensation. YNS has certainly lost any conducting fees due to the season cancellation, so this probably references a 20% cut in his title fee. When considering the lost of the conducting fees, he’s facing a far more than 20% cut in his income on the season.

    • Annnon says:

      should first chairs also take a bigger % cut? how about the most senior members too? Or do what the NY Phil is doing, flatten everyone’s pay to base pay, and then cut 20%?

  • John dolon says:

    Somehow, I don’t think some earning over 1.5 million, just from Phila Orch alone, needs 80%. Give more of it up for those for whom the 20% cut might make a difference

    • Brian v says:

      I never feel sorry for people earning over 1.5 million.
      I worked for 50 years and never earns that much but I have always managed

  • chris says:

    … The cut to the musicians’ pay, however, was initiated by the players themselves. After the March 12 concert, players began circulating emails discussing what could or should be done, and the ensemble held a meeting online via Zoom. ​​

    “Everyone realized we were going to have to do something to help,” said David Fay, double-bassist and chairman of the members’ committee. “There’s quite a bit of trust between the musicians and management right now, and that helped.”

  • NYMike says:

    Better than what’s happened @ the MET, and Kennedy Center.

  • frank says:

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

  • Roger Kaza says:

    They could apply for Paycheck Protection Program under the Care act. Many orchestras are investigating this now. https://eig.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Overview.pdf

  • Edgar Self says:

    Do you ever wonder about double-bass players so often being officers or committeemen of orchestras? Is it the same old brains/lower strings ratio that applies to violists and cellists? The only advice I ever got was never lend money to oboists.