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BSO musicians reach agreement for new contract three months early

BSO musicians reach agreement for new contract three months early
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra during rehearsal with Marin Alsop (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

For the second year in a row, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians have ratified a one-year contract with management three months before the old one expires.

Like the agreement reached last year*, the new one, which begins Sept. 11 and runs until Sept. 9, 2018, includes a pay raise. Minimum weekly scale will rise from $1,560 to $1,591.20.

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The contract ratification was announced Friday.

"We will be doing a new strategic plan that will involve representatives of all stakeholders — board, musicians, staff and community leaders," said Peter Kjome, who became BSO president and CEO in February. "And this contract is a great opportunity to work together on that process. My sense is that next year we would work toward a multi-year agreement."

Greg Mulligan, chair of the BSO Players Committee, said that the one-year contract "makes sense for us because Peter is still new and because we haven't done a strategic plan in a while. Since the day Peter arrived, we have had a very open and honest conversation."

In a statement, music director Marin Alsop described the orchestra's "collaborative spirit" of music-making as the "same spirit [that] has helped support the fine work of all involved in reaching agreement."

Starting about 15 years ago, salaries of BSO musicians took a series of hits during financial downturns for the organization. The process of regaining lost ground began with a three-year deal ratified in 2013, but annual base salary still lags behind that of several orchestras of similar budget size and artistic caliber.

Base salaries are above $100,000 at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra, for example. The annual base salary in the new BSO contract will be $82,742.

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated when the BSO reached an agreement for a contract last year. The Sun regrets the error.

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