Detroit Honors Exceptional Giving
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) recently celebrated the extraordinary generosity of Peter Cummings and his wife Julie, whose accumulated giving to the DSO has exceeded $10 million. The Music Box, a multi-purpose entertaining space, was renamed the Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings Cube. The Cube is located within the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, and serves as a supplemental performance space to Orchestra Hall. The Cube features the popular “Mix @ the Max” series, which showcases diverse musical experiences ranging from chamber music and jazz to yoga classes accompanied by live music. Featuring local artists as well as national talent, the events at The Cube attract audiences beyond the traditional classical and pops series.
This past June, the Detroit Symphony family was saddened to hear of the passing of Marjorie S. Fisher. Over the years, the DSO has been the recipient of over $25 million from the Fisher family and its Foundation, a fact that was celebrated just last year when Marjorie’s name was added along side her husband’s to the front of the building. In July, the musicians of the DSO were astonished to learn that Mrs. Fisher had bequeathed $5000 to each full-time musician. This gift totaled $390,000. The news was delivered to the musicians by Mrs. Fisher’s son, and DSO Board Chairman Emeritus, Phillip Fisher.
The musicians’ Orchestra Committee issued the following statement of appreciation:
“The Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion by the unprecedented generosity of Marjorie Fisher. Her gift is incredibly meaningful to each of us, as it embodies the personal bond we share as musicians with the Fisher family and our entire community. We are most appreciative of the entire Fisher family and their impact on our community. We will always cherish the special bond we had with Marjorie and all members of the Fisher family. She will be truly missed.”
Nashville’s New Records
The Nashville Symphony ended its 2015/16 season with much to celebrate. The Symphony won its eighth Grammy Award, settled a scheduled reopener three months ahead of schedule, and broke records for ticket sales and fund raising.
The current CBA, which expires in 2018, included a financial reopener at the end of the second year. The union and musicians were able to settle in record time, with raises totaling 10 percent over the next two years. This restores wages to 2012/13 levels after a 15 percent pay cut in August 2013.
For the third consecutive year, ticket sales for the 2015/16 season broke all previous records, with $11.1 million in sales—a 23% increase over the previous season. Attendance grew 14% from the 2014/15 season, to 191,000, and the organization boasted 132 concert in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year.
The 2015/16 season also saw record-breaking increases in fundraising. The Association raised more than $7.3 million in donations, up from $6.6 million the previous year. This includes a 10% increase to the Nashville Symphony Annual Fund. Individual donors rose by 700 contributors with average donations of $900. There was also a 35% increase in the number of foundations supporting the Symphony and a 27% increase in the number of companies donating at the $5,000 level.
A Philharmonic Farewell
After an astonishing 67 years as “the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers”, Vin Scully is hanging up his microphone at the end of the season. Members of the brass and percussion section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic were invited to play the national anthem, arranged and conducted by John Williams, at the pregame ceremony honoring Scully. Broadcast live on KTLA TV and MLB.com, the performance was paid under the Basic Cable and Television Agreement. “It was an honor to have been asked to participate in this historic event,” said ICSOM Delegate John Lofton. “This became a reality because of lots of behind-the-scenes effort by Local 47 President John Acosta, the AFM, and the LA Philharmonic Association. Kudos to my Philharmonic colleagues for making this a great experience.”
Historic Contract in Buffalo
The musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra ratified a new six-year contract on September 15 that continues an unprecedented period of labor stability and financial growth.
A five-year contract was fulfilled and expired at the end of the 2015-16 season as the new contract was being negotiated. After many months of active negotiations, the new deal was tentatively reached in early August 2016. Both contracts were successfully negotiated by retiring SSD negotiator Nathan Kahn.
The new contract continues the trend of slow and steady growth established during the previous agreement. Although the first year contains a pay freeze from the 2015-16 season to allow the BPO society to recover from a rather flat season of ticket sales, the remaining years of the agreement show slow and steady growth, with annual raises ranging from 2% to 2.85%. The third year will see base scale above $50,000 for the first time, a goal set forth in these negotiations. The final season, 2021-22, arrives at a salary of $54,177, up from $48,120 in year one. Additionally, EMG payments remain at $3000.
The new contract maintains current health plans, with any future increases in premium costs tied to existing contractual formulas. The contract carries over necessary changes made last season due to the Affordable Care Act. The AFM-EPF pension contribution remains at 8%, while the number of vacation weeks remains at two weeks. Significant changes were made in the new contract regarding non-renewal and reseating, especially in the area of peer review.
Language was added to the contract creating a tour committee. Touring is becoming a common occurrence in the BPO and seems likely to be a part of the BPO’s future, so the negotiating committee felt it necessary to have more input into tour planning and execution. During this last contract the orchestra toured twice to Florida, as well as to Princeton, NJ, and Saratoga Springs.
The agreement also converts an open Violin 1 section position into a new title position—an additional Assistant Concertmaster. There is no change to the overall complement of 73 full time musicians.
The musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra are excited about the continued growth not only of the orchestra but also of the region as a whole. The forward vision of the musicians, the management and the board of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is a testament to all those involved in a common goal: a stable future for symphonic music in Western New York.