Whenever I need a break from music, I log on to Tumblr, scroll down, and zone out.
Then the other day in the midst of mindless scrolling I saw this.
Of course I immediately wondered if this was the work of a trickster with too much time on his hands and a grudge to bear against the Dallas Symphony, so I opened a new tab and Googled “dallas symphony beethoven festival brochures.”
In light of the great news coming out of Pittsburgh (their orchestra settled their contract A YEAR EARLY!, AND they aren’t facing 30-50% cuts in compensation! yay, Pittsburgh!), I decided a summary of recent contract negotiations at major American orchestras was in order.
The orchestras are listed in order of endowment size (and you’ll definitely notice that toward the bottom of the list, as endowments get smaller, there is more friction and instability at the negotiating table). I focus largely on base salary here, but keep in mind there are many other moving parts to a contract, including working conditions and pensions and all that other fun stuff; however, those are more difficult for an outsider to properly compare and analyze, and I’m not going to write much about them, so go do some homework yourself if you want to learn more about those things.
I also rate each orchestra with my personal opinion as to whether said orchestra recently went through a “market reset” (the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s Orwellian phrase for “foisting massive cuts in compensation onto musicians”).
Endowment figures come from the Minnesota musicians’ website, and are probably a year or two old. If anyone steps forward with comprehensive updated endowment information, I’ll update the list.