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Contract pending for orchestra

By JOHN FLEMING, Times Performing Arts Critic
Published October 2, 2004

Florida Orchestra musicians will "play and talk" and extend terms of last season's labor contract as this season's masterworks series gets under way with a concert tonight at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Negotiations on a new contract have been held sporadically since the end of last season.

"We haven't reached an agreement, but we're still talking," said Harold van Schaik, bass trombonist and chairman of the orchestra committee that represents musicians.

Orchestra members have received two weekly paychecks so far this season, and they have reflected last season's salary scale, which had a base of $23,870 for 31 weeks of work.

Musician and management representatives declined to provide details on the negotiations.

The "play and talk" option has become common, with four of the top American orchestras - those in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland - all continuing their contract talks while seasons began. Minimum salaries in these orchestras exceed $100,000.

"I can't remember a time when so many orchestra contracts were up at the same time," said Leonard Stone, executive director of the Florida Orchestra.

[Last modified October 2, 2004, 01:04:19]

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