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Smooth sailing at Symphony: Musicians agree to new contract with no drama, minimum salary to hit $97,240

Houston Symphony Andres Orozco Estrada
Houston Symphony music director designate Andres Orozco-Estrada. Courtesy of Houston Symphony

The last time the Houston Symphony and its musicians agreed to a new contract in 2010, it happened only days before the previous one was scheduled to run out and Houston Symphony executive director/CEO Mark Hanson admitted negotiations were contentious at times.

What a difference four years make.

With a more robust financial situation and a sexy new conductor on the way, the Houston Symphony Society announced Thursday afternoon that a new four-year labor agreement had been reached with musicians significantly ahead of schedule. The existing contract is set to expire Oct. 4.

 The minimum musician salary will rise from the current level of $86,840 to $97,240 during the 2017-18 season. 

Under the terms of the new contract, which was negotiated over a three-month period, the minimum musician salary will rise from the current level of $86,840 to $97,240 during the 2017-18 season, an average of a 2.85 percent increase annually. The musicians' weekly scale will increase from the current level of $1,690 per week to $1,870 per week in 2017 through the end of the new contract.

The new agreement will run from Oct. 5, 2014 through Oct. 5, 2018.

In a press release symphony officials noted that the organization is on budget for a fourth consecutive year, thanks to record setting ticket sales and contributions. The current fiscal year ends on May 31.

“The new agreement represents a further strengthening of the partnership between musicians, staff, and the board as we continue to enhance the performance and profile of our great orchestra,” Hanson said in a statement. “The terms will enable us to grow artistically, expand our engagement with Houston’s growing and diverse population and maintain a sustainable balanced budget.”

The symphony is currently closing out its centennial season and will welcome its first Hispanic music director, the dashing Andrés Orozco-Estrada, to launch the 2014-15 season in September. As music director-designate Orozco-Estrada will conduct the symphony Thursday night (April 17) through Saturday as pianist Yefim Bronfman performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.

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