NY Phil finds ways to pay its players

NY Phil finds ways to pay its players


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2020

In contrast to the Met, which won’t.

The Philharmonic has just cancelled the rest of its season with this announcement:

Members of the New York Philharmonic will retain all health benefits through their current
contract (September 20, 2020). All members will be paid minimum scale from April 1 through
30, 2020, then 75% of scale through May 31, 2020. (The Philharmonic staff is working from
home during this period in which concerts are cancelled and the Lincoln Center Campus is
closed.) To help the Philharmonic reach out to its community during the crisis, the musicians
have agreed to allow the Philharmonic to use all the assets in its considerable media archives, to
be distributed through a newly developed, free portal. Currently, the New York Philharmonic is
projecting incremental operating losses of approximately $10 million directly due to the COVID-
19 pandemic.
President and CEO Deborah Borda said: “The decision to cancel our concerts was particularly
painful: music is a powerful source of comfort and healing, and we know that this closing is as
profound a loss for our audiences as it is to our musicians and, indeed, the institution. As the
situation continues to rapidly evolve, we are developing plans to address the ever-changing and
unpredictable landscape. In our 178-year history, the New York Philharmonic has weathered the
US Civil War and two World Wars and survived the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. We will be


  • Dongsok Shin says:

    Yes, the Met is not paying its employees past the end of the month, which sucks. But it is, frankly, deceptive, to leave out the part of Deborah Borda’s comments about paying the orchestra where she said the following (from The New York Times):

    Ms. Borda said that the relatively small size of the orchestra made it possible to maintain wages, even if reduced — compared with far larger organizations like the Metropolitan Opera, which will not compensate its unionized orchestra, chorus and stagehands after this month, beyond health benefits.

    “The orchestra is our family,” Ms. Borda said. “It’s 100 people. It’s a different situation than the Met, which has close to 1,000 union employees.”

    • John Holmes says:

      ==newly developed, free portal

      Fantastic. Anybody have details ?

    • sam says:

      NYP anticipates losing $10 million.
      Met anticipates losing $60 million.

      Silly even to compare an orchestra to an opera house.

      An orchestra in an opera house is but a 1/3 of its main components, which includes the chorus and stage hands.

    • Has-been says:

      Deborah Borda is a class act !!

    • Catherine Davis says:

      Will the NYP pay casuals pro rata for cancelled programs?

      • Anon says:

        The Philharmonic is not paying the extras that were hired to play in April and on their tour. Somehow Chicago Lyric Opera was able to pay their extras but the NY Philharmonic has made the decision not to pay the most vulnerable of musicians who would be on stage in the coming months.

        • Chicago Violinist says:

          The Lyric Opera is paying subs because the musicians of the orchestra decided to take a paycut for the remainder of the season, and the money will be used to pay subs. So no, the institution did not pay subs, it was the musicians themselves who are taking care of their own.

          • Catherine Davis says:

            What a magnanimous gesture on the part of the permanents and what an example to other orchestras. This hasn’t happened, yet, in Australia; not a peep from permanents. Disappointing to say the least as orchestras are reliant on subs/casuals.

  • mary says:

    getting paid 75% (and degressing) of minimum scale is better than nothing, but it’s a huge drop for everyone except the most junior rank and file players, and certainly for the principals.

    how much is van Zweden and Borda getting paid?

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I hope so. What worries me so much about this devastating crisis is that there will not be enough will to preserve all the cultural institutions that will go broke by the end of it. We live in a dumbed down age totally dominated by increasingly vacuous popular culture. It may even be an opportunity and relief for many governments that they no longer need to spend so much money on old fashioned, unprofitable institutions such as opera companies and symphony orchestras. A very depressing prospect.

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is exactly my worry too. The difference between countries with their cultural identity still more or less (!) intact like Germany and France, and the anglo sphere and countries like Holland which always follows the USA as much as possible in terms of populism.

  • DK says:

    Fantastic. The Met orchestra members can cut the lawns of NYPhil members this spring to feed their families. Yay.

  • Gustavo von Karajan says:

    How can Geld get away with this? He lost the trust of his soloists, orchestra, chorus and everybody else except the board. Great leadership and team work at the NY Phil. Congrats to them.

  • Celia Jelley says:

    Let us all keep hope for America’s oldest orchestra!

  • WillymH says:

    Again with the apples and beetroot comparison? To what end?

  • fflambeau says:

    Somehow, I think the Met will take care of its people too. They have too much to lose.

    • Jaura says:

      But you are wrong. Salaries will stop on April 1st. Gelb doesn’t care!

      • Willymh says:

        Did you ever think that perhaps it is stop the salaries April 1st or stop the salaries permanently? I’m no fan of Mr Gelb but how exactly do you think he should handle it and still guarantee that when this is all over there would still be an opera house to work for?

        • SVM says:

          Gelb has just issued an appeal for urgent donations, in which he made no reference to the issue. He should have said something like: “Our salary costs are $X per month; please help us keep our valued chorus, orchestra, and other staff on the payroll during this period of disruption and uncertainty. The value of our freelance contracts for the rest of the season was $Y; please help us pay our freelancers, many of whom have already incurred significant expenses and committed a lot of time and effort at rehearsals and private practice. We have set up the following dedicated funds, so that you can earmark your donation to support a specific cancelled production and/or a specific category of artistic or non-artistic worker: [list of dedicated funds].”

          If Gelb had said something like this, he would have made a very strong case for donating, *and* he would have put “the ball” in the donors’ “court” (i.e.: donors would to some extent be jointly responsible with management for how the staff are treated).

          • CA says:

            I agree! If ever there were a time to marry the art with the human effort to make it happen, and to be brutally honest and humble, that time is now!

  • lalalalalala says:

    isn’t calling it “Spanish Flu” racist?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Not racist, but certainly xenophobic. It was from another century, literally. We should know better now.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The name “Spanish flu” has entered the lexicon. Even though it didn’t originate in Spain but rather on the Western front. The allies suppressed the information in order not to affect the war effort. The Spanish press (Spain was neutral in the war) were the first to report it, hence the name stuck.