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The Post  
Music News - Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians Go on Strike at Opening Night Gala at Kimmel Center
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 10/01/16 5:30 am | updated: 10/01/16 5:30 am
The musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra went on strike Friday night just as the 7pm Opening Night black-tie gala fundraiser concert was supposed to start. The members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 77, which includes 96 musicians and 2 librarians, voted to walk out. There were last minute efforts to reach a deal backstage, but both sides could not come together. The audience of around 1,000 was already seated in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. It was around 20 minutes past curtain when orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore came on stage to make the announcement. The dinner, however, went on as planned. The audience simply made their way to the lobby.

The musicians received a mixed reaction from the audience when a short time later they made their way through the lobby to the sidewalk carrying picket signs. There was some applause and cheers, but some longtime patrons and donors expressed their displeasure with the walkout with boos and jeers. The remainder of this weekend's concerts have been cancelled. Coincidentally, the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra also went on strike on Friday and canceled its shows. The Philadelphia Orchestra last went on strike in 1996 for 64 days.

The old contract expired on September 12th and they have continued to play as negotiations on a new one continued. Salary and raises are the major issues. The musicians want to be paid on par with the top orchestras in the county. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, for example, boasts a minimum annual salary of around $153,000. Philadelphia's just expired contract has the minimum salary at $129,000. The last deal on the table would have raised the minimum to $135,000.

The orchestra released the following statement Friday night:

"Over the past few months, we have been engaged in contract talks with our musicians. During this time we have been negotiating with a clear understanding that any agreement created today will have great and lasting consequences for the future of the Orchestra.

Management of The Philadelphia Orchestra and its musicians share the goal of returning 'The Philadelphia Sound' as quickly as possible.

Your support and continuing patronage are extremely important to the future of the Orchestra and we want to be sure you have up-to-date information throughout the duration of our negotiations. Below you will find important information about any changes or potential changes regarding concerts, events, and other Orchestra related activities. Thank you for your understanding and ongoing support of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

We are saddened that the concert-only performance of the Opening Night Concert on September 30 cancelled due to the musicians' labor action and we look forward to having the Philadelphia Sound return to us soon. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

All ticket holders have been notified directly of the concert cancellation and have several options for managing their tickets: They may apply the value of them into another Orchestra concert later in the season, donate the value of their tickets back to the Orchestra, or request a refund. Information on how to do has be sent directly to ticket holders. If you hold tickets to a cancelled concert and have further questions, please contact Ticket Philadelphia at 215.893.1999 or by e-mail at"

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