The BSO is pushing back the start of its new season by one week.
The BSO is pushing back the start of its new season by one week. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

In the midst of a bitter labor dispute, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced Friday that it is delaying the start of its 2019-20 season by one week.

The season originally was scheduled to open at 8 p.m. Saturday with a free concert that would preview compositions to be performed over the next nine months. But according to a media advisory issued by the BSO, the free concert will be held instead at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.


BSO Associate Conductor Nicholas Hersh is scheduled to conduct the program, which includes works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, as well as movements from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

For the first time, the BSO is referring to the work stoppage as a “strike.” The musicians instead describe their refusal to rehearse or perform for the organization without a contract as the continuation of a summer-long lockout that they contend was illegal.

The musicians still plan to perform a free concert at 4 p.m. Saturday at the New Shiloh Baptist Church. The BSO is not involved in that event.

“Our priority remains to bring music back to the stage," the BSO advisory said, “but the absence of our musicians ... makes it particularly difficult to move forward as planned at this time.”

As of Friday afternoon, no further bargaining session have been scheduled, according to Brian Prechtl, co-chairman of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians Player Committee.

Previously, the program announced for Sept. 19-21 was to have featured the music of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back." Those three performances at The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda and at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore will be postponed until this spring. Specific dates for those shows will be announced in the next two weeks, the advisory said.

Once the new dates are confirmed, BSO customers who already purchased tickets for one of the “Star Wars” concerts will be contacted by representatives from the symphony’s box office, the advisory said.