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Thursday, September 27, 2007


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Bob Lee

Very interesting but IMO you paint an incomplete picture of the musician salary structure in the orchestral world without including the relevant opera and ballet orchestars in the database.

Thank you for your comment, but could you give an example of what you mean and which ballet and opera orchestras do you consider "relevant"? Given the fact that all symphonic ensembles are included in the list, why would some ballet and opera ensembles not be included? Finally, what exactly is incomplete about the picture? I think this could be a useful discussion but without some more parameters it is difficult to assume what you are referring to. ~ Drew McManus


I think he's referring to the opera/ballet orchestras that are in ICSOM (Met, NYC Opera, NYC Ballet, Kennedy Center, Chicago Lyric, SF Opera, SF Ballet.)
Although only one (Met) comes near the big 5+2 in terms of salary.

Bob and I exchanged a few emails since his comment and it seems that his thoughts were leaning more toward how much influence the base pay at ISCOM opera/ballet orchestras had on their symphonic counterparts.

My observations tend to lead me to believe that it's mostly a one-way street. I know of opera/ballet orchestras where the musicians compare their weekly salary to their orchestra peers in the same city, but I don't see many symphonic musicians looking at annual salaries as a factor in determining what they ask for at the bargaining table.

Another point is one you mentioned, the only opera/ballet orchestra to come close to top level annual pay is the MET opera orchestra, as such, there simply aren't enough groups earning the same level of annual salary as their symphonic peers to really impact the overall picture. ~ Drew McManus

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