As a former subscriber and sometime Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert attendee, I suggest that the PSO musicians need to consider how very fortunate they are that their terms of employment are far more generous and enviable than those of most Pittsburghers. Anyone else would jump at the opportunity to work for a $107,000 base salary for nine months of performance and to receive 10 weeks paid vacation and 12 weeks paid sick time, in addition to fully paid trips to Europe and other foreign countries.
The annually increasing budget for salaries, benefits and pension costs have necessitated the need for management to increase ticket prices to the point where a standard PSO concert ticket is the most expensive in comparison to those of other Cultural District dance and theater groups. Pittsburgh is blessed with many outstanding musical organizations (Pittsburgh Camerata, Chatham Baroque, Bach Choir, Renaissance and Baroque Society, among others) whose ticket prices are half of the PSO’s. I have seen many of the same players, especially the section leaders, throughout most of the 25 years I have lived here, so the argument that they would leave for other orchestras is questionable and probably doubtful.
I hope the PSO management stands firm in protecting the long-term financial sustainability of the institution, It would be a true shame for the Orchestra to fold due to the exorbitant cost of supporting the current musicians.