Symphony musicians agree to four-year pact; orchestra’s full-time roster to grow to 41 players

The Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Musicians’ Association, Local 123 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the symphony players, have agreed to a contract that will run through August 2022.

Under terms of the pact, symphony musicians will receive pay raises of 1.5 percent in each of the first two years, 2 percent in the third year and 2.5 percent in the final year. By the final year, section musicians will earn $36,847.20 annually, associate principals $42,010.80 and principals $47,901.36.

Four positions will be converted from per-service to “core,” enlarging the orchestra’s full-time complement from 37 to 41 musicians. The first added core positions will be second horn and principal tuba.

The pay increases and new full-time positions are among the results of a $12 million capital campaign, which is nearing completion. Funds already raised include $500,000 to create the Kenneth and Bettie Christopher Perry Foundation cello chair, formerly a part-time position.

The remaining $1 million to be raised in the campaign will build the new John R. Warkentin Fund to underwrite salary increases for musicians and to assist them in emergencies; match a $250,000 challenge grant from George and Luzi Wheeler, for whom the second horn chair will be named; and establish a new endowment fund to expand the orchestra’s full-time roster.

The new contract “provides a lengthy and stable environment for the symphony and its musicians,” said Leon Roday, negotiating committee chair of the symphony board. Alison Hall, the violinist who chaired the musicians’ negotiating committee, lauded the increase in full-time positions and anticipated “changes that will enhance both the music-making and the working relationships” within the organization.

“We feel very hopeful that this is the beginning of a renewed confidence and cooperation among our musicians, management and board,” Hall said.

As part of the contract, the musicians have agreed to formalize and expand their role in supporting the orchestra’s fundraising and marketing.

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