Orchestra Digest: September 23

This week: Bold words from Pinchas Zukerman, new seasons in Toronto and Saskatoon, a big rally in Minneapolis, and negotiations all over. Here are stories we're following...

Canada news
National Arts Centre Orchestra music director Pinchas Zukerman, who will leave the orchestra in 2015, says that major changes are needed at NACO: to its mandate, its facilities, and perhaps even its name. Zukerman's comments arose in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen last week.
The Toronto Symphony season opens this week, and the Detroit News reports on the opening concerts. TSO music director Peter Oundjian is well-known to Detroit audiences from his tenure with the Detroit Symphony. 
Novelist and Toronto Star columnist David MacFarlane writes that for those new to opera, the Canadian Opera Company's season-opening production of La Bohème is the place to start. The COC's 2013-14 season begins next week.
Last week Saskatoon Symphony musicians promoted their new season by hitting the streets - or more accurately, the parking lots. The Star Phoenix reports on their mini-performances as part of Saskatoon's second annual Park(ing) Day.
New agreements
Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians ratified a 4-year agreement, including annual increases and adjustments in healthcare, retirement, and housing allowance benefits. The LA Times reported on the new contract, which raises base pay to $154,336 for the 2016-17 season.
Dallas Symphony musicians ratified a 2-year contract, with salary increases of 1 and 2 percent and a provision for larger increases if fundraising goals are met, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Lexington (Kentucky) Philharmonic musicians averted a strike this past weekend, drafting a Memorandum of Understanding which provides for a one-year contract to be finalized in the next two weeks. Lexington 18 Local News and the Lexington Herald-Leader featured stories on the near-breakdown in negotiations. 
Other negotiation news
Two Symphony Nova Scotia musicians' unusual retirement plan made headlines this week: Anne and John Rapson are moving to Ecuador, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports. Living abroad made sense for the couple, who factored their modest pension against the high cost of living in Canada.
And a quote by Alan Gordon, executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, drew strong complaints from musicians this week. Speaking with Backstage about San Francisco Ballet dancer negotiations, Gordon said: "Orchestras have always been paid better than opera singers or ballet dancers, and we think that’s wrong. People don’t go to the ballet to hear the orchestra. They go to the ballet to see the dancers... The orchestra’s irrelevant; they could be replaced tomorrow by a computer or a record. We’re entitled to more because we are the product.” AFM President Ray Hair responded in an open letter, calling on AGMA to work together with the AFM and other unions to improve the lives of all performing artists. 
Last Friday, Minnesota Orchestra musicians and community supporters held a rally outside the Symphony Ball, a fundraising event. The rally crowd sang songs, played music, and heckled attendees, MinnPost reports. Video footage of the rally is also available on YouTube
Compiled by Matt Heller, Calgary Philharmonic and OCSM Past President. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM online at: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php