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RPO Musicians Bank on Orchestra's Future

October 07, 2014

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For Immediate Release: October 6, 201
Media Contacts
:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, sally@sallycohenpr.com; Katie Sejba, 585-399-3645, ksejba@rpo.org
RPO Info
rpo.org, facebook.com/RochesterPhilharmonic, twitter.com/RochesterPhil, rochesterphilharmonic.blogspot.com

 

RPO MUSICIANS BANK ON ORCHESTRA’S FUTURE

Board aggressively pursues financial stability & sustainability
as it welcomes new Music Director Ward Stare

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announces that its musicians and board have mutually ratified changes to the RPO’s 2014-15 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The changes address the orchestra’s challenging financial situation, and include a salary freeze as well as a reduction in work weeks for the musicians.

“We are very grateful that the musicians of the RPO continue to show great faith in the future of this phenomenal orchestra,” says RPO Board Chair Dawn Lipson. “The best way that we can repay their faith is to continue to aggressively pursue every path to a more stable and sustainable financial future and I am confident that we can succeed.”

The new changes affect the third year of a four-year agreement that was ratified in the fall of 2012, a contract that itself began with significant concessions. Gradual recovery was to take place over the course of that agreement. These changes amount to about $250,000 in concessions, and include:

·         elimination of a work week that was to be added this season

·         elimination of a scheduled increase in the weekly wage scale of the musicians, which has been at the same rate since the fall of 2011

·         benefit concessions in health insurance and pension

The sacrifice is shared with the administrative staff, who continue to have mandatory furloughs, even as the board and honorary board increased their financial support to the tune of $1.235 million last year. The RPO board and administration are addressing the recurring deficit in specific ways:

·         exploring an intensive effort to raise community awareness and significant funds to solidify the RPO’s future

·         creating an entrepreneurial culture that focuses on revenue generation

·         examining and re-examining each and every expense

·         pursuing collaborative opportunities that will cut expenses while at the same time increasing opportunities to enlarge the RPO’s footprint

·         creating new programming such as this season’s independent specials (non-subscription concerts that repurpose former Philharmonics and Pops Series weeks): Video Games LiveTM, Beyond the Score®: Scheherazade, Kaddish, Audra McDonald, and La Traviata)

·         being responsive to community wants in tweaking the standard subscription model

·         investing in the future by upgrading technology (equipment, software), embracing social media and adding development (fundraising) staff

“In so many ways, it is no longer business as usual at the RPO, and we are confident that this collaborative effort will help to pave the way for a secure future for this world-class orchestra,” adds President and CEO Charles Owens. “Even as Rochester celebrates the beginning of an exciting new era under Ward Stare, our community deserves to know the enormity of the sacrifices our musicians and staff are making, and hopefully, to understand the community’s shared interest and the role they can play in keeping the RPO alive for future generations.”

“In order for this investment by the musicians to be fruitful and the promise of Music Director Ward Stare to be realized, the Board and our community must see to it that a substantially increased permanent funding stream is achieved,” states David Angus, president of Local 66 of the American Federation of Musicians. “The employees of the RPO—musicians and staff alike—cannot continue to shoulder the financial burdens.”

“The enthusiasm that the Rochester community has shown for the RPO at the start of our new season has been tremendously gratifying,” notes Ward Stare, who began his new role as the RPO’s twelfth music director on September 1.  “More importantly, it demonstrates how deeply this community cares about the RPO. I am confident that, working together, we can parlay this excitement into increased financial support for Rochester’s orchestra—and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure its success.”

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The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 200,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Recently appointed 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 20-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 13,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

 

Media please note:  High-resolution images for Phils concerts are available at:  https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8FkJzlaIpThcVY4TS1ScWhlcDQ&usp=sharing; Pops at: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8FkJzlaIpThNUxERDVDUkdmM0k&usp=sharing. Interviews and photo and footage opportunities can also be arranged.

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