January 19, 2021
Pacific Symphony has been relatively quiet online. But there’s been work going on behind the scenes. The orchestra announced Thursday, Jan. 14, that its musicians and board of directors have settled on a four-year contract, through Aug. 31, 2024. Crucially, the agreement lays out a way for the musicians to be performing together again, recording new programs from their home venue, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
Some of the contract’s considerations: musicians’ pay, allowances for streaming programs, COVID safety protocols, and the possibility of fluctuating pandemic restrictions.
Pacific Symphony musicians will take a 30-percent pay cut this season, to be restored by 2023–2024 — a move on par with other orchestras’ pandemic negotiations (recently, the San Francisco Symphony). Also, for this season and next, the musicians will be paid on a steady, every-other-week basis, rather than per service, the previous setup.
Pacific Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte said, “The musicians thoughtfully recognized our institutional challenges.” He also noted that the multi-year agreement “will require significant fundraising efforts to successfully implement.” The orchestra’s assistant concertmaster, Jeanne Skrocki, added, “We are proud of the musicians’ commitment to Pacific Symphony and their willingness to make necessary sacrifices in order to secure the future of live orchestral music in Orange County.”
The allowances for streaming content signal big things going forward, impacting not only Pacific Symphony’s main-season concerts but education and community outreach projects, too. Recording these programs at Segerstrom Hall will be possible because of health procedures recently developed for the space. And significantly, the contract through 2024 suggests that digital, recorded programming could play a part in the orchestra’s post-pandemic future. It’s a question on everyone’s mind: which changes brought about by the coronavirus will have a lasting effect?
“My heart is uplifted by the news of this agreement,” said Pacific Symphony’s longtime music director, Carl St. Clair. “I greatly look forward to the opportunity to return to the concert hall and make music with my colleagues in the orchestra.”