The extension is the third since the contract originally expired on September 12, on the eve of the CSO's season-opening concerts. On September 3, management and musicians agreed to extend the contract through October 31, and asked former federal judge Abner Mikva to mediate talks. Late last week, according to press reports, musicians said that there had been little progress in recent weeks, and a strike seemed likely. But on October 30, the two sides extended talks through Monday, November 1, and issued a statement declaring that "both parties feel that good progress has been made."
The latest statement, released last night, did not characterize the status of the talks, saying simply that performances would continue and that musicians and management had agreed to extend a media blackout. Mikva continues to mediate the negotiations.
The CSO has posted multi-million-dollar deficits for three of the last four years, and may be asking musicians to accept a pay freeze or cut. According to an article published in the Chicago Tribune last week, which cited unnamed sources, there is a philosophical divide between players and administration on "the role and function of the Chicago Symphony as an institution and how the orchestra should go about reducing its deficit."
The CSO is one of several major orchestras at which contracts expired this fall. The New York Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony have reached agreements with their musicians; contract extensions expired on October 31 at the Philadelphia Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra, but both groups are continuing to perform while talks continue.