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Friday, August 13, 2010

Symphony gets hot in July

As July was moving into its hottest phase of the summer, the Shreveport musicians of the city's own orchestra were hammering out a rescue package to keep the symphony alive as an organization. The efforts were productive, as an agreement was reached to prolong the existence of the SSO for another 2 years, in a reduced format, as far as investment of time and money. The cut of the core musicians' salaries by 45% was a major feature, which might or might not be the end of the symphony as we know it. Let's see what transpires in the next two years. The phoenix might yet arise out of the ashes! Here is the scoop as portrayed by the Shreveport Times on July 19, 2010:

Shreveport Symphony board, musicians reach agreement

By Donecia Pea • • July 19, 2010

Symphony board president Richard Bremer had barely gotten the words out before the applause erupted Monday morning.

"It is my pleasure to announce that the board and musicians have entered a new two-year agreement…" Bremer said, kicking off the first of many rounds of applause among the packed house at the Symphony House.

After more than two years of contentious negotiations, including an 18-month strike and this past spring's mini-season, board members and musicians have agreed to a contract that will keep the full-time core musicians intact and include a 45 percent salary cut, instead of the initial contract proposal two years ago that would have included a 75 percent pay cut.

The contract takes effect immediately and will run through May 31, 2012.

"The key thing for us is that the full-time core musicians remained intact. There were a few other things, like travel costs for out-of-town musicians. But the main thing that was important to us was maintaining the core professional musicians," said musicians' spokesman and principal trumpet player Rick Rowell.

"The pay cut is not the best, but it's better than it could have been. We found a middle ground."

The press conference included a parade of officials from symphony board chairwoman and longtime symphony supporter Virginia Shehee and symphony music director Michael Butterman to Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, as they expressed their thanks and excitement for the new season.

The first concert is set for Nov. 13. More details on that concert will be announced.