James Levine's High Standards Cost the BSO $1.5 Million a Year

Classic Arts News   James Levine's High Standards Cost the BSO $1.5 Million a Year
The Boston Symphony Orchestra spends an additional $1.5 million per year under music director James Levine, the Boston Globe reports.

Some of the costs are incurred by a weekly salary increase of $220 for each of the orchestra's 100 musicians for the weeks Levine is at the podium; the extra money, negotiated by musicians, covers the increased rehearsal time that Levine demands.

In addition, the large-scale works and big-name soloists that Levine favors require additional spending, including the costs of extra choristers and musicians and stage extensions.

These extra costs, which will in future be paid for out of a $40 million endowment fund set up by the orchestra's board in order to support Levine's programming, are not yet being made up in ticket sales and subscriptions. The BSO board is currently raising money for the endowment fund, and has reached the halfway mark.

Mark Volpe, the orchestra's managing director, told the Globe, "It's the cost of not just Levine, it's the cost of a commitment to take an incredibly talented orchestra and somehow, even starting from a high level, building on that."

Last season, musicians began to complain about their exhausting schedules, with many of Levine's concerts, and their long programs and intensive rehearsal requirements, all scheduled in a row. Although the pace of this season's schedule is, according to flutist Fenwick Smith, chair of the players' committee, more judicious, there is still the question of what will happen when the musicians' contract expires next September.

Smith said, "During this contract negotiation, no one can predict what will come out the other end. Will we continue in the same vein or go back to the scheduling and programming pre-Levine? I doubt that will happen, but we may end up somewhere in between."

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