Many years ago I made the difficult decision to move to industrial Pittsburgh for a junior faculty position largely because the Pittsburgh Symphony was here. In recent weeks, I have become increasingly distressed, dismayed and discouraged by the sequence of events leading to the current strike by PSO musicians and cancellation of the orchestra’s fall concerts.
I believe that the Pittsburgh Symphony is the crown jewel among our city’s performing arts and presenting organizations; it serves as our city’s most recognizable cultural icon around the country and around the world.
Over the years, I have come to know many musicians of the symphony as well as some members of the PSO board and its management team. During previous contract negotiations, I had been struck by the spirit of cooperation among the musicians, management team and board that enabled them to work together to find the common ground that would enable the orchestra to survive and even thrive in difficult times. Indeed, musicians have provided substantial givebacks in salary and benefits in the past, and PSO management and board members have contributed generously to support the organization when the need had been greatest.
Sadly, this spirit of cooperation appears to be totally lacking this year, based on published reports. I implore the PSO management and board to return to negotiations as custodians of our most precious cultural asset rather than as managers seeking to achieve a balanced budget merely by trimming costs (“PSO Talks to Resume With Federal Mediators,” Oct. 22). I am sure that we can do better.