Virginia Symphony furloughs reflect general U.S. workers wages

Posted on: May 4, 2009

In Sunday’s (5/3) Washington Post, Annys Shin places the cutbacks at orchestras within the larger economic context. “In December, Timothy Owner, a trombone player with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, called his landlord to tell her he might have trouble paying rent around May. He and the orchestra’s 53 other full-time members, many of whom are paid less than $30,000 a year, had agreed to a month-long furlough. The furlough, which ended yesterday, was rough, Owner said. But he and other musicians acknowledged that the alternative could have been worse. … Across the country, workers’ earnings are stagnating or, in some cases, declining. For many Americans, the setbacks are all the more troubling because they have lost so much wealth in recent months, with the value of their homes and retirement packages plummeting.” Shin discusses overall trends in U.S. workers’ wages, including statistics showing that many Americans say they or someone in their household has had their hours or pay cut. “Nearly everyone with the orchestra has had to make adjustments. … Owner, the trombone player, called friends around the country in search of gigs in April to make up for his lost income. … While the musicians don’t relish the idea of more financial hardship, the orchestra members said they will find some way to keep performing.”

Posted May 4, 2009

Photo: Virginia Symphony trombone section, courtesy of the Virginia Symphony