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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Day the Lights Went Out in Georgia

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra locks out musicians. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
An empty, silent campus and armed off-duty cops as the
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra locks out its players.
Photo of the Woodruff Arts Center from Wikimedia Commons.
Jail bars added by the author.
A breaking story on Norman Lebrecht's blog Slipped Disc states that a lockout is in effect for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which threatens that ensemble's 2012-2013 season.

 Last month, Superconductor reported an impending labor impasse between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association (ASOPA) and the Executive Board of the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC). That impasse has now escalated into a lockout.

According to the Slipped Disc piece, orchestra members' Aug. 31 paychecks have been canceled, along with health, dental and disability benefits. Several musicians in the orchestra are battling cancer and other health issues. The musicians' contracts expired Aug. 25.

According to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's official website, negotiations are ongoing. But the Slipped Disc article paints a different, disturbing picture:

  • Off-duty police have been hired to patrol the Woodruff Arts Center, (no doubt to fend off threatening bassoon players).
  • The players' parking passes have been cancelled. 
  • All scheduled work (performances and rehearsals) through Sept. 24 are cancelled.

The Woodruff Arts Center seeks to close a budget gap estimated at $5 million. Orchestra members had made an 11th-hour offer of $4 million in concessions, to be paralleled with income cuts for the 75 members of the ASO board. The ASO, in turn wants $2.6 million in cuts to come from the orchestra musicians alone.

The orchestra is scheduled to open its season Oct 4. Their 2012 tour will bring them to Carnegie Hall on October 27 for a performance of William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast.

For an update on this story featuring the ASO's side of the matter, visit this link.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats