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Springfield Symphony Orchestra Strikes Two-year Labor Deal with Union Musicians

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) announced, in a joint statement with the union representing musicians of the Springfield Symphony, Local 171 of the American Federation of Musicians, that they have reached a labor agreement with musicians on a two-year collective bargaining agreement. The new agreement starts in the upcoming 2023-24 season and extends through the following season.

According to Paul Lambert, president and CEO of the SSO, the new labor agreement guarantees six classical concerts and two pops concerts, a total minimum of eight concerts, for each of the coming two seasons. If additional funding can be identified, other community and educational concerts will be produced as well.

Lambert said musicians will receive a raise over each of the two years of the contract, and the agreement calls for an average of 64 musicians at each of the classical concerts.

In a separate agreement with the union, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO), the organization formed by musicians, will transition into an entity called the Springfield Chamber Players and will assume the role of creating chamber-music concerts, including the longstanding Longmeadow Chamber Series. The Springfield Chamber Players will provide outreach that will bring elements of the Springfield Symphony to the community. Under the agreement, Springfield Chamber Players will not compete with the SSO on fundraising. The SSO will continue to produce full symphony concerts and chamber orchestra opportunities.

“This is a great day for Springfield and for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra,” Lambert said. “For the SSO to survive and thrive, we need all parties working in harmony and in the same direction to bring this magnificent music and our talented musicians to the entire community. The agreement will result in the SSO and our musicians working together to grow our audience and build the philanthropic and business support we need in order to be sustainable.”

According to Beth Welty, president of Local 171, “the SSO musicians are very happy to begin a new chapter in our beloved orchestra’s history. Local 171 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the SSO members, congratulates all involved for their hard work in securing this new agreement. The musicians are eager to collaborate with the board and SSO staff, under the inspired leadership of Paul Lambert, in order to realize our shared dream of an orchestra that fully serves Springfield and Western Massachusetts. The SSO belongs to everyone, and we are committed to making our music available to all.”

Tony Falcetti, board chair of the SSO, added that “this is a great day for the SSO, for the musicians who play in the Springfield Symphony, and for all in our community. Working together is the only way to assure that live orchestral music is sustainable into the future. On behalf of the board of directors of the SSO, I look forward to our future success together in presenting musical programs and performances that are embraced by all of Springfield and Western Massachusetts.”

As part of the agreement, a pending unfair-labor-practice complaint by the musicians’ union registered with the National Labor Relations Board will be dropped by the musicians.

Since returning to the stage in the current 2022-23 season, the SSO has held eight concerts — six classical and two pops concerts — and has drawn old and new, increasingly diverse audiences to Symphony Hall. Since the beginning of the year, the SSO has also expanded its board of directors, and Lambert has moved from interim director to the permanent new position of president and CEO of the organization.

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