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BSO cancels two concerts at Strathmore as labor issues weigh on negotiations for new season

The Baltimore Symphony rehearses at the new Music Hall at Strathmore in preparation for their opening in early February.
The Baltimore Symphony rehearses at the new Music Hall at Strathmore in preparation for their opening in early February. (Sun photo by Nanine Hartzenbusch)

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced Friday that it is relocating one concert and canceling two others that had been previously scheduled to be performed in mid-October at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.

The changes are in addition to those that were previously announced, including two concerts that were moved to Baltimore this weekend, and that stem from a labor dispute between the venue and its ticket-sellers.

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The performance by the Imani Winds quintet originally scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10 at Strathmore will be performed instead at that date and time at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

Patrons affected by the change will be offered comparable seating and either free parking in a nearby garage or free transportation by bus from Montgomery County.

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The symphony has canceled performances originally scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 of “Off The Cuff: Phenomenal Women” and on 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 of “Celebrating John Williams.”

The Music Center at Strathmore is in contract negotiations with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union that represents ticket sellers, over the future of the ticket office.

The BSO said in a statement Friday that the newly announced changes were once again to allow Strathmore and the ticket sellers union an opportunity to resolve their dispute. Tonya McBride Robles, BSO vice president and chief operating officer, said the organization, as a founding partner in Strathmore, is “willing to be flexible.”

However she said the BSO wants to avoid becoming embroiled in the dispute at a time when it is in negotiations with Strathmore to finalize its annual license agreement for performances of the 2021-2022 season at the venue.

“We cannot agree to changes in our license agreement that require the BSO to compel our stagehands and musicians to cross a picket line and work with replacement workers,” said Robles.

Two years ago this month, BSO was in a bitter labor dispute with its musicians union. The two sides ultimately negotiated a five-year contract that guarantees performances through 2025.

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