San Antonio Symphony Facing Impasse With Musicians on Eve of Tricentennial

The San Antonio Symphony, which has been chronically beset with financial problems, despite several 'agreements' over the years which were guaranteed to put the symphony 'on a sound long term financial footing,' is again facing labor issues that could end up silencing the music right at the start of the city's Tricentennial celebration, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Craig Sorgi, a violinist and head of the association that represents the musicians, says their contract expires at the end of this month, and the new organization that manages the Symphony has not made any serious offers.

"Symphonic Music for San Antonio has made several contract demands which would cut the musicians' pay, and make it even more difficult to recruit and retain the talent that San Antonio has come to expect," Sorgi said.

Sorgi says the average musician in the San Antonio Symphony, who has a college degree and in many cases years of experience in symphonic music, earns less than $34,000, but most supplement that income giving music lessons.

Sorgi says right now, there appears to be no urgency by SMSA for a new contract.  He says at one point, SMSA even walked out of negotiations, saying the group does not have the authority to negotiate with the musicians.

"Symphonic Music for San Antonio needs to deliver on its promises to create a strong new institution and provides the world class performances that San Antonio expects and deserves," he said.

The Tobin Center was built, largely with tax money to provide a permanent home for the San Antonio Symphony, and tax money has even been appropriated to the symphony, which, under world renowned Maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing has become one of the most respected orchestras in the country.

Many musicians called on San Antonio's major foundations to do more to create an endowment that will insure the Symphony's financial future.  The Symphony went through a bankruptcy in the early 2000s, and has a thirty year history of financial instability.The Symphony is expected to take a major role in several Tricentennial events over the coming months.

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