Orchestra and Musicians agree to salary reductions and contract extension through 2022-2023 season

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2020

PITTSBURGH, PA—The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra today announced that it will implement new cost-saving measures this month that will directly affect its workforce, including a new agreement with its musicians, in order to preserve its financial survivability that has been threatened by the cumulative and ongoing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning in March and through the end of 2020, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has had to cancel 115 concerts and events due to the pandemic, and it estimates that these cancellations will result in a $5.6 million shortfall in earned revenue. To mitigate these losses, the Orchestra says that it must now take additional steps beyond the measures announced in May to address the continued devastating financial impact of the pandemic.

  • The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Musicians of the orchestra have amended their current trade agreement for the current and next two seasons. In 2020-2021, the Musicians have agreed to a 25% reduction in base salary, and a 50% reduction in overscale. All vacant positions in the orchestra shall remain vacant for the 2020-2021 season. In 2021-2022, the reductions taken in 2020-2021 will be removed and the salary rates from 2019-2020 pre-pandemic will return. In the 2022-2023 season, the Musicians’ base salary will increase to the level that was to have taken place in the 2020-2021 season. (Earlier this year, the Musicians volunteered to take a 10% salary reduction for the months of May and June, and a 20% salary reduction for July and August.)
  • Overall, 75% of the Pittsburgh Symphony staff have been affected by reduction in compensation. The Pittsburgh Symphony administration is changing the status of 30% of its full-time staff through a combination of reduction of hours, furloughs, layoffs and position elimination through attrition. All staff holding part-time status in March were furloughed then and will continue in this status until regular concert activity can resume. The Pittsburgh Symphony has worked to reduce all non-essential expenses and will maintain the staff salary reductions that were instituted in May and July, coinciding with the end of the Payment Protection Plan loan funding period that ended at that time and allowed the orchestra to continue its operations over the summer without changes in the status of its workforce. Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO, will increase her voluntary reduction in compensation from 25% instituted in May, to 30% beginning in September. Music Director Manfred Honeck will have a compensation reduction of 30% due to the lack of concert activity in the fall.

“Each and every person at the Pittsburgh Symphony puts their heart and soul into the creation of unforgettable concerts and events that are life changing. It is with deep heartache that we make these changes in our workforce that, unfortunately, are necessary due to the severe financial stress that is a direct result of this global public health crisis,” said Melia Tourangeau, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “Our guiding principles must continue to be threefold: to ensure the safety and health of our staff, musicians and audience; to continue to deliver our mission of great music in every life; and to preserve the financial survivability of the orchestra.”

“We have never been in this situation, and these are both uncharted and stormy waters. What is certain, though, is that there is nothing like the spectacular sonic and emotional experience that our virtuoso musicians share with our community,” said Tourangeau. “I am grateful to our remarkable staff and musicians for the sacrifices they are making to help ensure our future. We are all thankful for the continued support of our community as we continue to use all of our creative and innovative abilities to push through this difficult time. We truly can’t wait to be back together at Heinz Hall.”

“The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is in the center of any conversation about what gives our region great energy and vitality. Concert to concert, the orchestra is dedicated to playing at the highest level, with deep care about the ideas and emotions they are communicating with music. Though these are deeply challenging times, we are unabated in our commitment to the vision of our founders 125 years ago that Pittsburgh deserves a world-class orchestra now and for generations to come,” said Anthony L. Bucci, Chair, Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

“The Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra remain united in our commitment to bringing the transformative power of music to our community. This modification to our trade agreement will give our organization some breathing room as we navigate these difficult times together, so that we can provide, through classical music, the joyful sense of community we all need more than ever,” said Susanne Park, Violin, and chair of the Orchestra Committee.

In August, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra announced it would move forward with a reinvented 2020-2021 season, the 125th in the orchestra’s history, that will begin in the fall with newly created digital programming that will be free to the public, as previously announced concerts from September to December 2020 were cancelled due to public health guidance and government restrictions responding to the pandemic.  

The fall 2020 digital series will build on the strength of the digital initiatives launched during the pandemic. Since March, more than 100 videos, including concerts, have been produced and posted on the orchestra’s digital platforms, with a reach of more than two million impressions, and more than 500,000 views.

The fall digital series will include ensembles of the orchestra and incorporate community artists and partners when possible to create meaningful musical experiences during this time of shutdown of normal concert experiences and limited human interaction. Details are expected to be announced in mid-September.



Media Contacts
Julie Goetz | Director of Communications
jgoetz@pittsburghsymphony.org | 412.392.4866 or 412.905.9058 (mobile)