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St. Louis Symphony signs 5-year contract with musicians, ahead of schedule

Music director David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony.
Provided by the St. Louis Symphony
Music director David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony.

The St. Louis Symphonyand its musicians have a five-year contract that will increase the minimum salary for musicians to $100,000 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The agreement, signed seven months before the current contract expires, aims to improve flexibility with scheduling, make rehearsals more efficient, and update tour conditions for musicians.

It comes after several strong financial performances and a significant 2016 annual campaign that helped boost the symphony's endowment to more than $200 million.  The contract will establish a stable working environment over the next five years – one that helps attract top talent in classical music, according to Vicky Smolik, Musicians Association of St. Louis representative.

“You know, we’re going to be able to be in the ballpark with our peer groups — the orchestras in the big cities — and people are going to want to come to St. Louis because we have a good contract now,” Smolik said.

The contract also ensures the company will focus on performances, not labor disputes, going forward, symphony spokesman Adam Crane said.

“This news is huge, and to think that we have labor stability now through the 2021/2022 season is, it’s just such good news,” Crane said.

In a news release, St. Louis Symphony President and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard said, “This new contract is an investment in our most important asset — our musicians.”

Timothy Myers, principal trombone and chair of the St. Louis Symphony Musicians’ Negotiating Committee, agreed.

“We will now also see our economic standing among American orchestras rise as well,” he said in the release. “Besides the economic gains, we also achieved protections for our health and safety that were lacking in our previous agreements.

The higher salary will be rolled out over the next five years.

Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold