Quiet harmony at the BSO Labor contract: Musicians sacrifice for long-term health of orchestra.

August 11, 1996

THE FIVE-YEAR labor contract between the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and its players should provide the orchestra with a tranquil stability to consolidate its gains and build a stronger financial base supporting its art.

What should be sought in this period is an end to deficits, at least a token of greater support from suburban subdivisions whose amenities include the nearby BSO, and a search for new corporate donors to replace some that have disappeared or moved away in the on-going rationalization of American business life.

The musicians are among those dedicated citizens underwriting the orchestra that has brought great music to Baltimore audiences and spread Baltimore's cultural renown with recordings and triumphant tours to Europe and East Asia. They agreed to a long contract that marginally lowers their purchasing power for three years at least.

This is not without self-interest, as they do it from the vantage of a year-round, solid professional wage that, a quarter-century ago, Baltimore Symphony players did not enjoy. Not all orchestras in comparable cities do. By avoiding any possibility of a repetition of the painful 1987 strike and allowing a period for financial support-building, they are at least protecting what they have.

With Music Director David Zinman leading the orchestra upward into his second decade here, Marvin Hamlisch taking over pops programming and the great violinist Pinchas Zukerman directing summer festivals, the Baltimore Symphony is maintaining its artistic ambition and box office outreach. It needs younger audiences new to symphonic subscriptions, and is working hard to attract them.

A prolonged period of labor peace provides the stability during which stronger support of this great regional asset must be built.

Pub Date: 8/11/96

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