labor issues the orchestra world

socks and underwear

Oregon Symphony/Leah Nash
Oregon Symphony/Leah Nash

In the latest issue of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) journal, Senza Sordino, the Oregon Symphony’s ICSOM delegate, piccolo player Zachariah Galatis, wrote eloquently of the ennui that accompanied our recent ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. I won’t go into it, he describes everything quite well in the article, but I’ll just say this about how the settlement looks to me, in terms of respect to the musicians:

The musicians of an orchestra are the socks and underwear of the budget line items. Necessary, not exciting. Spend as little as you can get away with on them.

By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

2 replies on “socks and underwear”

The musicians are not just “necessary” but essential to the current and future success of the OSO. I’m sure that most if not all of the board members would agree. In all honesty I’ve never heard “raise” used in any board meetings. Someone (usually from the office) points out the concessions the musicians made in recent years and that new salary increases are made to make up lost ground.

The living vs. actual salary disparity in Portland isn’t a problem unique to the OSO and arts/non-profit organizations… we’re feeling the pinch in the for-profit space too. As a startup hiring manager I can’t compete with the salaries in other cities or with the big boys in town (ie. Nike, Intel). I’m not making excuses for the office & board… but the red hot housing/rental market has wide ranging impact.

Thanks to you and Zach for raising awareness in the community and pushing for continued dialogue.

Thanks for posting Zach’s informative article. Some of us in the audience are aware of how much the musicians have given up in recent years, but this emphasizes their concessions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.