Symphony cancels first two weeks of new season

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on Saturday canceled the first two weeks of its new season, saying even a temporary extension of musicians’ just-expired contract would intensify the organization’s financial woes.

“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 symphony said in a prepared statement.

Shows scheduled for Sept. 14-15 and Sept. 21-23 were canceled, and officials said more performances could get the ax if an agreement is not reached soon.

Musicians’ previous contract expired Sept. 2. Representatives of the union and the financially strapped not-for-profit are at odds over a proposal to trim musicians' 52-week contracts to 38 weeks and cut salaries by 40 percent.  ISO also wants to reduce the size of the orchestra from 87 positions to 69.

ISO had said it would cancel performances if a deal was not struck by Friday, but union officials proposed a two-month extension of the previous contract—along with a 17-percent salary concession—to keep the season intact.

Symphony leaders said an extension “would only exacerbate the ISO’s already difficult financial challenges.”

Musicians were “stunned and saddened” by the organization’s harsh stance, chief union negotiator Richard Graef said in a prepared statement.

“While we have continued to negotiate in good faith and felt we were making some progress,” he said, ISO’s “unwavering commitment to cancel these concerts is simply baffling.”

 

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