Symphony players agree to 15% cut

Union president sees deal as 'stopgap measure'

The musicians of the Nashville Symphony have agreed to a 15 percent pay cut and ratified a one-year contract that avoids a work stoppage.

The new contract for members of the American Federal of Musicians Local 257 already has become effective and will run through July 31 of next year. The players’ salaries are being cut by the same amount that Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and President and CEO Alan Valentine saw their pay fall this summer. But the agreed-upon reduction is half of the initial proposal made by management earlier this year.

The new labor deal adds to the cost cuts for the Symphony, which two months ago concluded debt restructuring talks with its bank and received a cash injection from prominent donor Martha Ingram. All told, Symphony execs say the organization’s debt service costs have now been slashed by more than 90 percent and this year’s operating costs will come down by $6 million, or 29 percent of the group’s total.

“We are profoundly grateful to our musicians for their spirit of shared sacrifice,” Valentine said. “We were able to reach these mutually agreeable terms through a genuinely collaborative effort and a common desire to serve the people of Middle Tennessee. We are especially pleased that the new contract will allow us to continue offering the same high level of programming for our audiences, and it will also provide increased opportunities for the orchestra to go out into the city and engage everyone in our community even more actively than ever before.”

Dave Pomeroy, president of the Nashville Musicians Association, said the musicians showed their commitment to the community in taking the lower pay package, but added that he expects the situation to be rectified at some point soon.

“This one-year contract is a stopgap measure that provides a way to keep the music playing in the Schermerhorn at the high artistic level Nashville has come to expect,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Symphony Association towards a mutual goal of restoring NSO salaries to a level commensurate with their world-class talent as soon as possible.”