Musicians said in a statement that the concessions are intended to help the orchestra establish financial stability. The VSO has posted balanced budgets for the last two seasons, after more than a decade of deficits.
"It is very difficult for the orchestra to be asked to give up salary, even on a temporary basis, as the musicians of the Virginia Symphony are not compensated at a level consistent with their years of training and dedication to providing music to the community," trumpeter David Vonderheide said. "That being said, we have to address the realities of the past financial history of the symphony and create a new dynamic that will help ensure our common future."
The base salary of the musicians will drop from $23,500 to $22,128.
"The musicians of the Virginia Symphony deserve all the credit for taking a proactive leadership role and finding a creative way to help foster a stronger financial future for the organization," said Carla Johnson, the orchestra's president and executive director. The contract extension also allows the ensemble to focus on increasing revenue, she said, "rather than participating in a time-consuming, full-blown negotiation."
Management agreed to a 2.9 percent salary increase in 2005-06, in exchange for the participation of musicians in a "community engagement" program that will send small groups into schools, churches, and hospitals. "When these audiences are exposed to the talent and commitment of the people making the music and are personally moved by the performance," Johnson said, "they may in turn be moved to experience our more traditional concerts and may see the need to financially support the quality of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra."