March 16, 2013 / 8:18 PM / 5 years ago

Third concert canceled as San Francisco Symphony strike continues

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The San Francisco Symphony canceled a Saturday night concert, the third since the orchestra’s musicians went on strike earlier in the week.

Both sides said they were negotiating to try to resolve differences before the 103 symphony players are scheduled to leave next week for a U.S. East Coast tour featuring recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington.

With no deal reached, management canceled a Saturday night performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, said symphony spokesman Oliver Theil.

The strike, which began when the musicians failed to show up for a Wednesday rehearsal, forced the symphony to cancel two concerts earlier in the week.

Symphony management and union representatives met with a federal mediator for marathon bargaining sessions on Thursday and Friday. Neither side would comment on Saturday about the progress of talks except to say they were continuing to work toward a new three-year contract.

“Talks are ongoing,” said musicians’ spokesman Nathan Ballard.

Theil told Reuters negotiations went past midnight on Saturday.

The musicians say that to retain the most talented players, they must be compensated as well as their peers in the country’s top orchestras. Base pay for musicians in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic is slightly higher than base pay for San Francisco Symphony musicians.

San Francisco Symphony musicians earn an average annual salary of $165,000, with a minimum salary of $141,700, Theil said. The union has said management was out to freeze musicians’ wages.

Brent Assink, symphony executive director, said concert production, healthcare and pension costs were rising nearly four times as fast as revenues.

The symphony’s musicians have been working without a contract since February 15, five days after the ensemble received its 15th Grammy Award for best orchestral performance.

Editing by James B. Kelleher and Peter Cooney

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