Saturday, September 20, 2008

News from the Oregon Symphony's annual meeting

Yesterday's annual meeting of the Oregon Symphony contained a lot of interesting news. Music director Carlos Kalmar said that last season was the most successful artistically, because the orchestra is paying at its highest level. He referred to the evaluations that president Elaine Calder began last year with the orchestra members, asking them to assess each concert. The orchestra players felt that Mahler's 9th Symphony was the best concert series of the year. Several remarks from the musicians noted that it was the silence before the audience clapped at the end of the piece that affect them as well.

Kalmar also noted the new musicians who will join the orchestra's ranks: two new horn playhers, a new second flutist (in the Martha Herby chair), and a new second clarinetist. The orchestra will also announce a new member of the trumpet section very soon. The have just auditioned 68 trumpet players and decided on the person.

Kalmar said that he was looking forward to all of the concerts that he will be conducting, but he did note that he was especially anticipating concertmaster Jun Iwasaki's concerto debut with the orchestra early next year and the Brahms, Prokofiev, and Svoboda concert in March.

Jason Schooler, bassist and orchestra committee chair mentioned the musicians new 2-year contract that was just signed. He also said that in the past three years, thirteen new players have joined the Symphony. Schooler also noted that the orchestra roster has shrunk, but that everyone hopes that it will increase to the levels that it had a few years ago.

Walt Weyler, board chair, talked about how everyone is pulling together to solve the budget woes of recent years. He noted the increase in ticket sales and attendance, and that things are looking up.

Elaine Calder gave more specifics: the box office revenue is up $1 million (which means 30%) over last year at this time. To date 16,000 more tickets have been sold than last year.

Calder also noted the change in the business plan for the Pops series. That is, fewer Pops series and more Pops specials. She hinted that the Classical series will be closely looked at this year and reexamined.

Calder also talked about the pay for the musicians - that the Symphony wants to offer the musicians pay that is equal to their peers in other orchestras.

Sidenote: I found out from Carl Herko, the Symphony's PR man, that the musicians will receive a 5% salary increase for this year and a cost of living increase afterwards.

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