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San Francisco Symphony cancels East Coast tour amid ongoing musician strike

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“The negotiating committee met with the orchestra and presented the federal mediator’s suggested proposal. After a thorough review of the options, the orchestra voted down the cooling off period.” - — A statement from San Francisco Symphony musicians - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • “The negotiating committee met with the orchestra and presented the federal mediator’s suggested proposal. After a thorough review of the options, the orchestra voted down the cooling off period.”— A statement from San Francisco Symphony musicians

The San Francisco Symphony has canceled this week’s long-planned East Coast tour after efforts to end a musician strike failed.

According to management, musicians have rejected a federal mediator’s proposal to resume playing concerts during a cooling-off period while negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement continue. Management was willing to abide by the federal mediator’s recommendation, based on developments over the past several days of talks.

At the end of the fourth consecutive negotiating session, management and musicians remained deadlocked Sunday morning. A matinee performance at Davies Symphony Hall was canceled, but the tour remained on the table. Later in the day, talks resumed, apparently with new offers from both sides.

However, at 5 p.m. the symphony announced the cancellation of the East Coast tour.

“The negotiating committee met with the orchestra and presented the federal mediator’s suggested proposal,” read a statement from the musicians posted on their website. “After a thorough review of the options, the orchestra voted down the cooling off period.”

Michael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra were scheduled to perform four concerts beginning with shows at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Wednesday and Thursday, then Saturday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J., and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Saturday March 23. The tour repertoire was to include Mahler, Brahms and Beethoven, and a new work by Samuel Carl Adams. Yuja Wang was to be the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.

The next scheduled Davies Hall concerts are March 29 and 30, with Bernadette Peters and Bobby McFerrin respectively. Neither requires the orchestra, but are doubtful to be performed if the strike is not resolved. The first subscription concerts next month are scheduled for April 5 and 6.

Further negotiations are expected, but both sides appear pessimistic about a resolution in the near future.

“We feel we have done everything we could to work with the administration to reach a deal that would have allowed the tour to proceed,” said the musicians, who went on strike Wednesday.

Symphony management said its latest offer included “increases in musician compensation to achieve a new annual minimum salary of $145,979 with annual increases of 1 percent and 2 percent for the latest two-year proposal.” Currently, San Francisco musicians make a base pay of $141,700 but extras boost the average take to $165,000 a year.