Columbus Symphony A Leaner Orchestra

The contract approved by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra board and musicians makes the CSO a leaner operation. The number of musicians remains at 53, but their pay is cut by more than 25 percent.

The new CSO contract is a compromise between the board of trustees and the orchestra musicians. The board wanted to reduce the size of the orchestra but the musicians prevailed. Board chairman Robert Trafford:

“We will have the same number of full-time musicians, 53, as we did last year and the years immediately preceding that.”

But those 53 musicians are taking cuts in salaries and benefits amounting to about $1.3 million – about 25 percent. Another $1.4 million is being cut from a variety of areas including marketing and development and administrative staff.

“They include a smaller staff, they include some reduced compensation in certain of the staff positions, some savings in what is known as the other artistic category which is where you would find guest artists and things of that nature,” Trafford says.

Left unchanged is the status of the Orchestra’s popular conductor Junichi Hirokami. Hirokami’s contract as music director remains in effect for another year. After that, the board might explore other options.

“I think it’s fair to say that one of the concerns that we have going forward is that there are significant costs – travel costs among them – associated with having a music director who lives in Japan,” Trafford says. “And that’s one of the things that we’re struggling to deal with.”

The board and management will also be working to repair relations with the orchestra’s musicians. Douglas Fisher is a CSO musician and the president of the Central Ohio Federation of Musicians.

We’re perhaps hoping that we can put this long period of strife behind us and hopefully build a more positive relationship with the board and management because our best chance of succeeding in the years to come is for us to walk down the same path in the same direction. And it will take some work to achieve that but I think it’s a goal worth pursing,” Fisher says.