BSO Ratifies New Labor Agreement, Musicians Agree To Salary Cuts

The Boston Symphony Orchestra performing at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. (Courtesy Suntory Hall)
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performing at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. (Courtesy Suntory Hall)

The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced on Friday a new three-year labor agreement that will last until August 2023. As part of the agreement, musicians will take a salary reduction averaging 37% in the first year. This is in response to a loss of $35 million in revenue since the pandemic began in March.

In the announcement, the BSO says it plans to increase compensation “over the course of the agreement” as the organization “redevelops sustainable revenue.”

Also part of the new agreement is the creation of a BSO Resident Fellowship Program, a one- to two-year program intended to help train early-career orchestra musicians of color from historically underrepresented communities. Fellows will study with BSO musicians and perform with the orchestra and Boston Pops in their Symphony Hall seasons in Boston, as well as participate as a fellow in the BSO’s summer music academy, Tanglewood Music Center.

This month, the BSO is also expanding its definition of official work “quota” services to include both concerts and rehearsals and adding digital online performances and involvement in community engagement activities, educational collaborations, Tanglewood Learning Institute programs, and development and BSO Board events. In a joint statement by Mark Volpe, BSO president and CEO; James Markey, chair of the BSO Players Committee; and Patrick Hollenbeck, president of the Boston Musicians Association, they said, “this agreement reflects our collective understanding of the major challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating financial losses due to the cancellation of the performance and event schedule.”

“By addressing these challenges on the compensation level, as well as in several other areas, the BSO’s new labor agreement acknowledges the part the musicians are playing in the overall cost-saving measures to ensure the Boston Symphony Orchestra emerges from the pandemic as a vibrant and essential institution for its loyal music community,” the statement read. “It was especially gratifying to come to an agreement on the importance of redefining official services beyond rehearsals and concerts during this time of hiatus from live performances and beyond.”


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Cristela Guerra Reporter
Cristela Guerra is an arts and culture reporter for WBUR.



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