Arts and Humanities Local News

Bourbon Baroque Pays Tribute to the Races at Free Friday Concert

If you hear the church bells ringing at St. John’s on East Market Street during Friday night’s Trolley Hop, consider it your call to post. The bells will ring about a minute before each short concert by Louisville’s Bourbon Baroque ensemble. There will be two 30-minute performances, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Bourbon Baroque stages their monthly cantata series concerts during each Trolley Hop. They’re casual, social and free—not your typical classical music setting.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Orchestra Woes Continue, Both Sides Face Difficult Futures

Neither side has blinked in the Louisville Orchestra labor dispute, and both the management and the musicians are facing difficult futures and the potential end of the orchestra.

The management now plans to follow through on threats to go against union wishes and hire a 50-member replacement orchestra. Finding 50 talented nonunion players will be difficult, but Chicago-based arts consultant Drew McManus says it’s not impossible.

McManus, however, says sustaining such an ensemble will be difficult. Guest players and conductors will be hard to book and community support for a new, potentially amateur orchestra may wane. Noted musician and Chairman Emeritus of the International Conference of Symphony Robert Levine says the plan is doomed to fail. He writes that auditions for new players will be picketed by union members. Further, he says conductors and guest artists will be hard to find for an ensemble made up of players who are persona non grata in the eyes of the union.

Local News

Update: Orchestra Board Rescinds Offer to Players, Calls Its Last Proposal “A Stretch”

The management of the Louisville Orchestra says a 50-member orchestra is necessary going forward, despite an offer to sign 55 players last week.

The management offered to sign any musicians who have not left town for other work, as long as enough players left by June 2013 to have a 55 member orchestra. On Friday, the musicians agreed to the concept of cutting the orchestra over time, but not other details in the contract. The board took that as a rejection. Today, the board’s attorney released a letter saying the 55 member offer was “a stretch which was made in good faith to accomodate the efforts of the mediators to reach agreement.” The letter goes on to say the maximum core of players the board will agree to is 50. A representative for the musicians says the players will not accept an offer for 50 full-time musicians.

The board met at noon today. Board chair Charles Maisch had no comment to WFPL about what was discussed. Calls to orchestra management have not been returned.

UPDATE: The management has released a statement saying the musicians rejected the board’s final offer on Sunday. Management will now seek new players. Current musicians will be offered first right of refusal for their former jobs. Since the orchestra is on the American Federation Musicians’ unfair list, any players who accept the offer will face fines and penalties from the union.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Orchestra Says Musicians Have Accepted Contract Offer

The Louisville Orchestra labor dispute is over, according to orchestra management.

The management had extended what it called a “final offer” to the musicians. The orchestra board agreed to sign any musicians who remain in Louisville to a contract for upcoming seasons. However, by June 2013, enough players would have to retire or leave the orchestra to bring the ensemble’s size to 55 players. The management gave the players until 4:00 to accept the offer, and if they approved, the current season would continue next year.

The musicians said the deal was scarce on details and high on threats. They wanted clarification on which players would have to leave and other details of the proposal. After a day of meetings, the orchestra management released the following statement:

The Louisville Orchestra confirmed, late today, that counsel for the Louisville Orchestra Musicians Committee (LOMC), Chris Sanders, called the Orchestra’s labor counsel, James Smith, affirming that the LOMC has accepted the terms of the Louisville Orchestra board’s proposal to return to work.  The Louisville Orchestra board is awaiting written confirmation to this effect.  No further details are available at this time.

The musicians and management did not immediately return requests for comment.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Audio: Musicians’ Negotiating Committee Chair Discusses Orchestra Impasse

The musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have turned down a contract offer put together by the mediator of the orchestra’s labor dispute. The offer fell between two previous proposals and called for the orchestra to be cut from 71 to 54 players, with one more to be added later.

Hours after the decision, orchestra management released a statement. It outlined the management’s previous offer, which was to have a 50 member orchestra for 30 weeks  in each season. It further mentioned both sides’ work with nationally-known consultant Ralph Craviso, who was hired with an anonymous grant secured by Mayor Greg Fischer. The statement concluded with:

“We appreciate the mediator’s work in attempting to help the parties reach an agreement, and the Orchestra thanks the Mayor for his efforts and resources devoted to assist in our process,” said [board chair Charles] Maisch. “This offer represents a cost limit that our board cannot agree to exceed.”

Maisch said the board now faces a challenging alternative to ensure the survival of the Louisville Orchestra.

But Henri Mangeot with the Louisville Labor Management Committee, who has been mediating the dispute, says talks will continue and Craviso remains involved.

“I don’t give up easily,” he told WFPL Thursday evening.

The musicians countered the management’s offer earlier this week with a plan that called for 57 players for a 30 week season at first, then an increase to 60 musicians for 33 weeks. The players say the plan would keep all of the musicians who have not left Louisville in search of other work.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Birman Discusses Orchestra Impasse

The already contentious talks between the Louisville Orchestra management and musicians have hit another snag. The musicians and management have rejected each other’s offers for a contract for the next five years, and neither side is eager to make further compromises.

Their dispute comes down to ten musicians and three weeks. The management says the city can only support an orchestra of 50 or so players for 30 weeks a year. The musicians want up to 60 musicians for 33 weeks.

WFPL’s Gabe Bullard talked with orchestra CEO Robert Birman about the orchestra’s future, and what the dispute means for the audience.

Audio MP3
Arts and Humanities Local News

Orchestra Musicians Voting on New Contract Today

The musicians of the Louisville Orchestra are voting today on a contract for the current and upcoming seasons.

The musicians and management have been at odds over the contract for months, and the impasse has resulted in the cancellation of three months of concerts. The management had previously pushed for a tiered system, with musicians signing contracts for 10, 20 or 30 weeks. The musicians countered with a proposal to cut the number of full-time players from 71 to 60 and the season length from 37 to 35 weeks.

The management had insisted on a tiered contract, saying it was the only affordable option after emerging from Chapter 11. But sources close to the deal tell WFPL the proposal being voted on today calls for 50 full-time players at the current pay rate for 30 weeks each season. It allows for more musicians and higher salaries to be added over the next five seasons. The contract will expire in 2017.

The deadline for the cancellation of December concerts is looming, and the voting on the contract will close today. If the contract is approved, the orchestra season would continue.

The contract also increases the maximum temperature under which musicians can perform and cuts the number of portable toilets the management must provide at outdoor concerts.

Both sides are under a press blackout and have declined to comment.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Orchestra Likely to Decide on November Concerts This Week

Louisville Orchestra management is expected make two decisions regarding its ongoing labor dispute this week.

After months of talks with no agreement, Mayor Greg Fischer joined contract negotiations with the management and musicians. Last week, he announced that an anonymous donor had come forward to pay for a nationally-recognized consultant to work with mediators. The mayor is encouraging both sides to welcome the help.

Orchestra CEO Robert Birman says the management will decide this week whether to accept the offer. The musicians had previously sought to bring in an outside expert, but Birman says the management turned down the proposal.

“Cost was a consideration,” he says. “Other considerations were the fact that we have a lot of expertise at the table already between the musicians, the board and the staff. And we’ve had many people from all over this country with extensive knowledge of the industry that have already inserted themselves in the process.”

The chair of the musicians committee welcomed the donation.

Orchestra management will also decide this week whether more concerts need to be called off. Performances for this month and next month were canceled due to the lack of a contract, and a 60-day notice must be given for further cancellations.

“In a sense it’s a rolling deadline,” says Birman. “It varies month to month based on the date of the first rehearsal for each month. We don’t think of it as a hard and fast deadline for external purposes.”

The management has sought to establish a tiered system, where musicians would be signed to contracts ranging in length from 10 to 30 weeks. The musicians have countered with an offer to cut the number of full time players from 71 to 60 and to cut the season down to 35 weeks. The number of musicians would then be increased in subsequent seasons.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Anonymous Donor Agrees to Pay for Consultant in Orchestra Talks

Another party may soon enter the Louisville Orchestra contract negotiations.

The management and musicians have been in talks for a new contract for over a year. Last week, concerts for this month and next month were canceled due to the lack of a contract. Both sides met with Mayor Greg Fischer, who today announced that an anonymous donor has come forward to pay for a national consultant to work with mediators.

“I strongly encourage both sides to take advantage of this opportunity,” says Fischer in a statement. “I urge the parties to continue talking and be creative as the orchestra is an important part of Louisville’s cultural footprint and all options for preserving it should be pursued. My hope is that a sustainable financial artistic solution can be achieved.”

The musicians committee chair welcomed the decision, saying the players had long sought to have someone with expertise join the talks. Orchestra CEO Robert Birman says outside consultants previously weighed in on the contract already and didn’t help broker a deal. He’s pleased the mayor found a donor to pay for a new consultant, but hasn’t decided whether to accept the offer.

“We just heard about it an hour before the mayor put out a statement urging the parties to do it. And that’s great. We will be discussing it and we’ll get back to the mayor next week,” says Birman.

The orchestra management will also decide whether it must cancel performances in November next week. Cancelation notices must be given about 60 days in advance.

The two sides are currently working with the Louisville Labor Management Committee. The management has sought to sign musicians to contracts of various lengths, ranging from 10 to 30 weeks. They say that’s the only workable financial model. The musicians have offered to cut the orchestra from 71 to 60 full time musicians, each signed for 35 weeks. The number of players would then be increased in subsequent seasons.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Director Expects Agreement on Opera Musicians Today

An agreement between the Louisville musicians union and the Kentucky Opera for upcoming performances could be in place today.

The opera typically hires musicians from the Louisville Orchestra, but orchestra management and players do not currently have a contract in place for the season. Orchestra concerts for this month and next month have been canceled.

The opera has been in talks with the union for several days to secure live musicians for performances on the 23rd and 25th and for rehearsals that must begin on the 12th. General Director David Roth says those talks have gone smoothly and he expects to secure an agreement for 45 musicians today.

“The negotiations that we needed for this were held directly with the union as an independent organization and independent of any ongoing negotiations between the Louisville Orchestra and its musicians,” he says. “There might be a few T’s to cross and I’s to dot by Monday, but we’re fairly confident we’ll get that contract in hand from the union and that’ll allow us to go ahead and start contracting individual musicians for the Kentucky Opera Orchestra for Carmen.”

Due to demand for tickets, the opera has added a third performance of Carmen on the 30th.