Musicians in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and singers in the chorus have opened a blogsite for local responses to the crushing settlement that gave the players back their wages and their healthcare. The site is, in part, a response to the lamentable failure of the city newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to report the dispute fairly and objectively. Here’s a sample submission:
Letter to the AJC from retired ASO musician, Patrick MacFarland.
As a proud former player with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (after 47 years) I must respond to the recent contract.
This orchestra has been a world class orchestra, having toured Europe to packed houses with wonderful receptions and I am proud to have been part of the successes of Atlanta’s fine ensemble.
However, the new contract between the musicians and management will be devastating to the quality of the group. With such huge wage concessions, reducing the size of the orchestra and the number of weeks of playing, the effect will bring the lowering of the usual high quality of the music that we’ve come to expect from our fine ensemble.
The heavy handed treatment of the musicians, beginning with the termination of their health insurance and lockout is inexcusable. It is the job of management to create opportunities for financial gain Yet, they have failed to do so and the musicians have to sacrifice, and that they have dearly. According to the article in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, CEO Stanley Romanstein earns $314,000.00 a year with $291,000.00 for Donald F. Fox, 2nd in charge in management. According to the same article, they have offered to take a 6% pay cut which comes to $18,840.00 for Mr. Romanstein, while the average musician will be losing around $20,000.00, or about 17%. Is this equitable?
The orchestra will take several years to again become the same proud group that I knew when I played with them. From the world class status to a local group of demoralized musicians is thoroughly devastating to me. This is the death knell of a great orchestra.
Congratulations to you, Mr. Romanstein, you must be a proud man!
English horn player