Orchestra meeting tonight on contract

Posted: September 15, 2007

(Republished from "ArtsWatch," at http://go.philly.com/artswatch.)

The results, or non-results, of contract talks between players and management of the Philadelphia Orchestra will be presented to musicians tonight at the Kimmel Center. The current contract expires Monday at 12:01 a.m.

Players might hear only a status report tonight as negotiations continue. Or a contract proposal could be brought before them, in which case musicians would vote on the deal Monday.

The orchestra's Web site still indicates the hope of opening night's going ahead Thursday with Christoph Eschenbach returning to start his last season as music director, leading The Rite of Spring and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1.

Last time the Orchestra Association negotiated a new labor pact, in 2004, the orchestra's chairman called the players' contract a "road map to extinction." Mayor Street eventually stepped in and brokered a deal.

This time, the public-relations campaign has been a lot less alarmist. Talks continue, but both sides have refrained from public mudslinging.

The essence of what the association was looking for in 2004 was more flexibility in its ability to earn money from concerts - the right to split the orchestra in two for two concerts going on at the same time, and concerts on Sundays.

Expect more of the same this time. The association would like players to agree to more "run-out" concerts - that is, concerts in the region in places an hour or two away - and musicians are balking.

Contact music critic Peter Dobrin at 215-854-5611 or pdobrin@phillynews.com.

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