Orchestra members will adhere to a plan established in previous lean times: they will give up two weeks of work and the bulk of two raises stipulated in their current contract.
Base salaries will thus fall to $34,770 from this season's $36,000, according to the paper, which points out that most most players do actually earn more than that. The reductions will reportedly save the orchestra around $400,000.
This new agreement alters the five-year contract negotiated in 2003 and stipulates new terms that will be effective through the 2009-10 season, according to the paper.
The orchestra has struggled with rising deficits since the 2002-03 season; the renegotiation of the contract was suggested by a consultant. Orchestra board members, following another of the recommendations, increased their donations by about $60,000, according to the Observer.
When the orchestra fell on similarly hard times in the early 1990s, the players also took a paycut: in 1996 they agreed to a 10 percent reduction in their income in the form of fewer weeks of work, an arrangementwhich remained in effect for three years.
Under the new agreement, salaries will reach the level they would have achieved next season (had the contract had not been altered) during the 2009-10 season.
Late last year, out of frustration with the orchestra's continuing financial problems and what he saw as a lack of sufficient community support, Charlotte Symphony music director Christof Perick announced that he would not renew his contract when it expires in 2009. "It's hard to understand," he said at the time, "that in a place with so much wealth and so much money, it seems to be a big problem" to support an orchestra. Charlotte is North Carolina's largest city and the largest banking center in the U.S. after New York.