Houston Symphony takes weeklong furlough

Posted on: August 3, 2009

In Saturday’s (8/1) Houston Chronicle , Tara Dooley reports, “The Houston Symphony announced Friday that it will shutter administrative offices next week, furlough musicians and reduce conductor’s salaries next season to save nearly $900,000. The cuts will not change the concert schedule for next year, said Matthew VanBesien, the symphony’s executive director and CEO. … The symphony’s administrative staff of about 50 had been told last spring to expect the unpaid week. Symphony management and the musicians’ union Friday morning signed an amendment to their contract. It requires the 86 musicians to take two unpaid furlough weeks between October and May. In addition, Music Director Hans Graf, Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski and Associate Conductor Robert Franz agreed to an 8 percent to 10 percent pay cut that will result in more than $45,000 in savings. … The salary cuts are the symphony’s effort to face the … economic downturn that has gripped the U.S. since last fall. Market downturns hit the symphony’s endowment with about a $20 million loss, VanBesien said. … The new contract amendment keeps in place a scheduled 1 percent increase in the musicians’ weekly pay to a $1,575 minimum. Most musicians, because of seniority or title, earn more. The players also agreed to allow symphony executives to leave two jobs unfilled, including the influential concert master position.”

Photo of Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony by Chris Lee

Posted August 3, 2009