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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Communications
(714) 876-2380

Landmark Four-Year Contract Through Aug. 31, 2024 Ratified By Pacific Symphony Musicians, Management and Local 7 of the American Federation of Musicians

Orange County, Calif. — January 14, 2021

Agreement Includes Allowances to Offer Concert Programming,
Education and Community Engagement Work on Digital Platforms

Wage Concessions Provide Financial stability for organization
during pandemic, are restored as economy recovers

Pacific Symphony musicians, represented by Local 7 of the American Federation of Musicians and Pacific Symphony’s Board of Directors have ratified a new four-year agreement.

Covering work from September 2020 through August 2024, the complex agreement addresses conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and paves the way for musicians to return to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall stage to record a new series of Classical, Pops and Family Musical Mornings programs. Additionally, Pacific Symphony’s Frieda Belinfante Class Act program will launch an all-online version providing music education to thousands of elementary school children throughout Orange County; music and wellness programs will provide seniors, children suffering from autism and many other beneficiaries with programming designed specifically to provide therapeutic benefit; and Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles will continue to receive weekly lectures and coaching from musicians of Pacific Symphony.

Musicians agreed to a 30% reduction in overall compensation for 2020-21, reflecting their sensitivity to the financial ramifications of the pandemic. By the 2023-24 season, compensation will be restored to levels promised in the collective bargaining agreement that was set to expire Aug. 31, 2021.

To provide more predictable income during a time when their work in the region has been drastically reduced, musicians will be paid for the first two years of the agreement on a bi-weekly basis, rather than the current per-service basis.

The agreement provides numerous innovations including allowances to capture and offer through digital media platforms the Symphony’s concert programming, as well as expansive education and community engagement initiatives.

The agreement also formalizes COVID-19 health and safety protocols developed by a joint labor-management committee that worked with UC Irvine epidemiologists and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Elements include regular testing, masking, backstage entrance and exit restrictions, distancing on stage and plastic shields. The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall has an outstanding HVAC system, which mitigates the spread of aerosol droplets. 

The agreement also provides contingences to allow for changing conditions—such as COVID-19 health restrictions being lifted, partially lifted or reinstated.

Music Director Carl St.Clair said, “My heart is uplifted by the news of this agreement. I am grateful to the union, musician representatives, management team and Board for tackling this negotiation and finding solutions to complex issues. I know it was a very demanding process to consider so many different eventualities. I greatly look forward to the opportunity to return to the concert hall and make music with my colleagues in the orchestra. Now, more than ever, the community will benefit from spiritual and enriching experiences that strengthen our bonds as a community and diverse citizenry.”

As the representatives of the musicians of Pacific Symphony, the orchestra committee is pleased that we have ratified a contract that has provisions for us to return to work safely, when pandemic conditions allow, and also guarantees that we return to the full terms and conditions of the current contract which had to be modified due to COVID-19,” said Jeanne Skrocki, Pacific Symphony’s assistant concertmaster, Arlene and Seymour Grubman chair and chair of the orchestra committee. “We are proud of the musicians’ commitment to Pacific Symphony and their willingness to make necessary sacrifices in order to secure the future of live, orchestral music in Orange County. We are grateful to Pacific Symphony management and Board members for their steadfastness in working long hours with us to find solutions to weather these uncertain times and emerge even stronger once this pandemic has passed.”

Pacific Symphony President and CEO John Forsyte shared that “the elected musician representatives drawn from the 77 members of Pacific Symphony, in partnership with Local 7 of the American Federation of Musicians, spent countless hours working with us on a very detailed agreement that innovatively addresses the many issues that have arisen because of the pandemic. I appreciate their dedication and commitment to their colleagues.

“With the extraordinary loss of ticket revenue and other forms of earned income, the musicians thoughtfully recognized our institutional challenges and agreed to sacrifices and flexibility that will enable the orchestra to remain artistically vibrant and impactful for the duration of the contract,” he continued. “Many people in the community are anxious to hear the ensemble perform in various configurations and we are now able to respond to the changing pandemic conditions as they arise.”

Forsyte concluded, “At the same time, I am very grateful to the Board of Directors and other major donors for their generosity in supporting a multi-year agreement which will require significant fundraising efforts to successfully implement. In the absence of live performances, the investment on the part of the philanthropic community to support our digital content, musician compensation and supporting the staff infrastructure is really incredible, and we are grateful.”

Edmund Velasco, president of Local 7 of the American Federation of Musicians, remarked, "The musicians of Pacific Symphony are pleased to have ratified a contract extension through 2024 that includes COVID-19 provisions. We know this agreement will keep our musicians safe during this pandemic as well as ensure a healthy future for the musicians and the Symphony. In response to their work being adversely affected by the Coronavirus, the musicians agreed to reduced wage and service guarantees through the next season and a return to the full terms of the labor agreement by the 2023-24 season. The incredibly dedicated musicians were committed to working through this with management to find solutions during this challenging time. They look forward to working again, safely, and performing the much-needed music for the community.”

Pacific Symphony’s Board Chairman John Evans said, “Since the pandemic began last March, the Board has been committed to helping the musicians even as we have not had the great pleasure of hearing live performances in our concert venues. We have dug deep to make personal gifts to help bolster the finances of the organization and are grateful to the many donors, who have given to the Symphony’s annual fund and a new campaign called Sound Future, designed to assure the Symphony’s vitality and viability. We are pleased to have reached this agreement with the musicians and are very excited to hear their performances in the near future.”


About Pacific Symphony
Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair since 1990, has been the resident orchestra of Orange County’s Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall since 2006. Currently in its 42nd season, the Symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the U.S. in the last 50 years and is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scenes, as well as in its own community of Orange County. In April 2018, Pacific Symphony made its debut at Carnegie Hall as one of two orchestras invited to perform during a yearlong celebration of composer Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, and the following month the orchestra toured China. The orchestra made its national PBS debut in June 2018 on Great Performances with Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” conducted by St.Clair. Pacific Symphony presents more than 100 concerts and events each year and a rich array of education and community engagement programs, reaching more than 300,000 residents of all ages.

Under Carl St.Clair, who enters his fourth decade as music director, Pacific Symphony has achieved new heights of musical excellence while also diversifying its programming and expanding its community engagement activities. Through commissions, premieres, and recordings, the orchestra has become a champion of contemporary American music, with a discography devoted almost entirely to 20th- and 21st-century music by American composers, including William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty and Philip Glass. The orchestra has recorded for Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Koch International Classics, Reference Recordings, and Sony Classical, among other labels.

Pacific Symphony has been recognized with multiple ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and included among the country’s five most innovative orchestras by the League of American Orchestras. The Symphony’s education and community engagement activities have also been recognized by the League, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. These initiatives include community and youth concerts and ensembles, interactive events, masterclasses with guest artists, and classroom and summer programs for children.

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