Montreal Symphony Chair Says 'Existence Is at Stake'

Classic Arts News   Montreal Symphony Chair Says 'Existence Is at Stake'
In a press conference yesterday, Montreal Symphony chair Lucien Bouchard said that the "very existence of the orchestra as we know it today" is at stake in the musicians' strike that began on May 9.

Bouchard, the former premiere of Quebec, reiterated the argument that MSO management made repeatedly during the 18 months of contract talks that preceded the strike: musicians' work rules must change for the ensemble to maintain its international stature.

Among the changes that management is seeking are:

—The ability to make recordings without paying musicians extra fees for their time, if the sessions are part of the normal 20-hour workweek (musicians would still receive royalties);

—The ability, while on tour, to occasionally travel on one of the musicians' mandated days off;

—The ability, while performing in Montreal, to shift the musicians' day off from Sunday to another day in order to accommodate the schedule of a guest artist or conductor.

"The recordings are like calling cards, and the tours consolidate the orchestra's reputation and solidify its international standing," Bouchard said. "The rrchestra must endow itself with the means to be able to produce these recordings and to organize tours, undertakings that require years of preparation. We need to create favorable conditions at once, that take into account the new reality of the music world."

The musicians' union has previously said that some of the proposed changes would violate Canadian labor laws.

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