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Update - ISO players' latest proposal disapproved


ISO musicians Jack Brennan (left) and Rick Graef - SARAH KATE CHAMNESS

Here is the latest news on these protracted negotiations, as of Saturday evening, Sept. 8. This blog will be posted without comment. My personal views on what has happened so far will be communicated in a NUVO web feature early this coming week. First, we present the players'-union side, Local #3 of the American Federation of Musicians, in a statement by Lara Beck, president of Beck Communications, acting as the union's public relations consultant:


The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Musicians (ISO Musicians) announced today the Symphony Society rejected the ISO musicians' last ditch offer for a two month contract extension to keep the music on the stage while negotiations continue.

The two month contract extension that the Society refused would have allowed the ISO's Classical season opener on September 14th and 15th with Krzysztof Urbański and the Pops season opener on September 21-23 with Jack Everly and Time for Three to proceed.

"We are stunned and saddened that the Society refused our offer and cancelled these concerts, which ultimately punishes the people of Indiana by depriving them of a world class musical experience," said Richard Graef, chairman of the ISO musicians negotiating committee. "While we have continued to negotiate in good faith, and felt we were making some progress, the Society's unwavering commitment to cancel these concerts is simply baffling."

On Sept. 7, 2012 at 5:51 p.m., the ISO musicians made its most recent proposal for a short-term contract that would allow the musicians and the Society to "play and talk." This offer would have paid the musicians a weekly rate of $1250, which is 16.7 percent lower than their current weekly rate. The last offer from the Society was a weekly salary of $1,215. Had the Society approved this extension, it would have cost them less than $30,000 in salaries, overscale, and taxes.

The musicians also have provided 15 dates between September and November 8, 2012 to the Society so both parties can continue negotiations.

"Throughout this entire negotiating process, we have made it very clear to the Society that we want to be a part of the solution to their financial problems," said Graef. "That's why, using financial data the Society provided to us, we worked with a financial analyst to craft a sustainable financial model that puts the Society in a positive position both financially and artistically."

The negotiations between the Society and the Musicians have received national attention in the last twelve days. "The Musicians of the ISO are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support we've received both from our local community, and from around country," said Graef.

Earlier this week, Maestro Urbański conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, which served as his West Coast debut.

In his review of the concert, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed referenced the contract negotiations between the Society and the musicians, and noted that Urbańksi's opening concerts were threatened.

Swed wrote, "Urbański has already caught the attention of the music world, especially in Europe. He is on the radar of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic. The Indianapolis Symphony would be crazy to blow the opportunity Urbański presents. If it does, someone else will snap him up in a second. I would if I ran an orchestra."

The full article can be viewed here:,0,5763582.story

"As musicians, we want nothing more than to be on the stage with Maestro Urbański, Jack Everly and Time for Three, playing great music," said Graef. "To the people of Indiana, we are sorry the Society cancelled these concerts."

Now we present the ISS management side in a statement by Jessica Di Santo, ISO director of communications:


The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Musicians, Local #3 of the American Federation of Musicians Union failed to reach agreement on a new contract, despite two days of negotiations to try to reach common ground. The previous contract expired on September 2, 2012.

The ISO worked day and night on a new contract, but regrettably were unable to reach a compromise in last week's ditch effort to maintain the start of ISO's 2012/13 performance season. The gap between what the musicians' union is proposing and what is essential to economically sustain the ISO's future is just too great. The union's proposed extension would only exacerbate the ISO's already difficult financial challenges.

In order to have sufficient time to notify ISO subscribers and single-ticket buyers of the performance schedule, ISO is forced to cancel its first two weekends of performances for the 2012-2013 season (Sept. 14-15 and Sept. 21-23). Additional performances may be cancelled unless an agreement is reached soon.

The ISO's intent all along has been to maintain the artistic quality of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and to do that in an economically sustainable way. The ISO's proposal, which the musicians' union has rejected, would continue the Orchestra's key music series, including Classical, Pops, Symphony on the Prairie and Yuletide Celebration; aggressively manage all non-artistic expenses; grow the annual giving campaign by raising an additional $2.5 million per year; develop a more robust planned giving campaign to support the endowment; continue ISO's commitment to quality performances while matching both the orchestra size and performance schedule to actual needs; and ensure that innovation remains an ISO focus for the future.

The ISO will work with the musicians' union to select a new date for talks and is committed to push forward in the hopes of reaching a solution. The ISO board and staff treasure the Symphony Orchestra and all that it means to the City and State.


NUVO will continue to provide updates to the negotiation process as they are made available.


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