Striking Symphony Musicians Play Outside Heinz Hall

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They say the show must go on, and today it did out on the streets of Pittsburgh right in front of Heinz Hall. However, that show was quickly cut short.

“Heinz Hall management is shutting down the music. We can’t play anymore we have to go across the street,” said a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

PSO performers packed up their bags.

“That’s really lame,” one PSO performer said.

They carried their instruments across the street and continued performing for patrons.

“This is great hearing them out on the street. That’s the kind of protest you want to see,” patron Ulf Skrappen said.

“It’s really joyous in an unjoyful situation,” patron Devon Bakum said.

Saturday evening would have been day two of “The Music of John Williams”, but shows were cancelled this weekend when musicians walked off the job Friday morning. Ninety nine members of the American Federation of Music picketed outside the theater. Musicians say management wants to cut pay by 15 percent. They say management wouldn’t budge on a contract that included major pension changes and a reduction in the number of musicians. They say that would not attract quality performers. However, the chief operating officer of the orchestra says they’re facing some hard financial realities.

“We are expecting a 20 million dollar cash deficit in the next five years,” Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra COO Christian Scornisch said.

“We want to meet with management to get back to the table to come up with a solution to the problem but as of now they do not want to meet with us,” musician Micah Howard said.

Until then, they’ll keep playing.

“We just wanted to play for the city. We were playing for our patrons and our fans we wanted to provide them some music,” musician Jim Nova said.

“Classical music has survived over the centuries and more and more we need this type of culture in our lives,” patron Borys Bakum said.

Musicians with the symphony say classical music has gained in popularity over the years. In fact, they said season ticket sales went up last year and are continuing to see the audience build. People with tickets should call the box office to arrange a refund or exchange. Check the symphony’s website for information on future shows.

symph Striking Symphony Musicians Play Outside Heinz Hall

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For more information on future shows,visit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s website.


One Comment

  1. tspark63 says:

    A 15 percent pay cut, pension contribution cut for members with less than 30 years service, and reduction of the number of musicians? Such atrocities by the management toward highly trained, highly professional musicians of the 120 year old symphony orchestra is unbelievable. Music is a gift from heaven. It takes a certain quality of people to appreciate, to be proud of, and to promote a symphony orchestra of that caliber, and I have a feeling that some people in the management are neglecting their duties or unqualified to sit at their positions.
    As mid-westerners, my husband and I have attended PSO concerts a dozen times over the years and we always arranged our time around the symphony concert schedule. It’s tragic that we can’t hear the Symphony concert during out next visit.

    Music enriches souls and expand minds and hearts. I pray that the members in management do some serious homework on what they might lose by rejecting musicians’ demands and let the music resound in Heinz Hall as before.

    1. John Dole says:

      Maybe you missed the part about a $20M deficit over the next 5 years. Music might be all the things you say….to YOU. But to me, and obviously many others, their product is overpriced. Plain and simple. If it wasn’t, they’d be profitable. They need to adjust their personal “charge” if they want to be employed by PSO. Plain and simple.

      1. tspark63 says:

        I sympathize with you. Symphonic music isn’t for everyone as a fine painting like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is NOT. The colorful sounds of instruments pouring out at a performance, each well-trained musician inspired by the work of grand composer he/she plays–all coming together as a fine tapestry of “sounds” is a spiritual experience. If you have never experienced such a concert, you’re commenting on a wrong subject. A great eastern philosopher wrote, “Know your place before you speak.” I know nothing about football game at a noisy stadium so I don’t comment on that subject.
        I am aware of $20 million deficit the management claims.
        That’s why the management needs a wise and strong leader who understands what MUSIC can do for the community, where the PSO stands now, and take a big step forward, like a wise general who brings his troops out of danger without losing a single man. Frankly, $20 million deficit is small, compared to what the PSO contributes to millions of music lovers in that town, that had been supporting the orchestra to be one of the finest in the nation and also in the world today.

  2. John Dole says:

    I’m no commenting on their ability, quality of music, or appreciation of orchestras in general. I’m commenting from a business perspective, of which I have extensive experience. And even someone without much experience knows that when you’re projecting a deficit, you need to either cut spending or increase revenue. It’s a logical approach that shouldn’t be clouded by emotional attachment to the topic being discussed.

  3. tspark63 says:

    A deficit is a reality in the business world. A leader with a vision, commitment, and passion–passion to make a fine symphony orchestra as the PSO strive as a whole and to make music lovers happy, too,–can raise $20 million easily. While 99 musicians are on strike, fighting for their jobs and financial security for their families, do the members of the management lose anything, a portion of their salary or their pension contribution? And how about the number of the staff?

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