The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra won’t deck Bass Hall with Christmas music this year. Symphony management announced Monday it has canceled concerts through Dec. 31 as a result of the ongoing musicians’ strike.
Management and the musicians union met Saturday for the first time in almost two months to try to reach a new contract agreement for the musicians. They were unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately, talks with the musicians’ union over the weekend did not yield the results necessary to ensure the orchestra’s survival in the short term while we implement plans to secure the long-term future of the institution,” FWSO President Amy Adkins said in a statement. “Therefore, we must cancel these performances in consideration of our patrons and ticket buyers, artists and presenters, to give them ample time to make alternative plans.”
The performances canceled include the popular “Home for the Holidays” program Nov. 25-27, the Dec. 2 presentation of Handel’s Messiah, a night with trumpeter Chris Botti and the “New Year’s Eve: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald” concert to end the year.
A holiday concert in Southlake and performances in Mansfield and Stephenville also have been canceled. And a performance of Prokofiev’s third concerto with pianist Vadym Kholodenko that was to have been recorded for CD release also will not take place.
Union President Stewart Williams said the union feels that management has prematurely canceled concerts that are more than two months away.
“We are very disappointed that they wouldn’t speak in a constructive way on Saturday, and the cancellations show that they are not interested in and not overly concerned about the damage this is doing,” Williams said in an interview Monday.
The musicians went on strike Sept. 8 and have performed small community concerts, asking for donations for the union. Represented by the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, the Fort Worth musicians have received money from the national union’s strike fund during this seven-week strike, Williams said.
The musicians and FWSO Association have been trying to negotiate a new contract for more than16 months. In September, the musicians rejected a contract proposal from management that included a pay cut in the first year of the contract followed by smaller raises in subsequent years. The union has asked for pay raises, while symphony management has said it is operating with a $700,000 annual deficit and cannot afford to increase musicians’ salaries.
Williams said the union wants to discuss possible solutions to fixing the symphony’s ongoing deficits, including holding a benefit event to bring more audiences to the symphony.
“Our goal is to create a situation where the symphony does not need to impose cuts on the orchestra,” Williams said.
There are no negotiation meetings currently scheduled between the union and symphony management.
The symphony said it may reinstate some of the canceled performances if the strike ends before Dec. 31. It is notifying ticket holders about their refund options.
Although the orchestra will not perform its holiday concerts, Bass Hall will host other festive performances throughout the season, including the musical Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Nov. 22-23), pianist Jim Brickman (Nov. 30), “Cirque Dreams: Holidaze” (Dec. 3-4), Texas Ballet Theater’s Nutcracker (Dec. 9-24) and Mannheim Steamroller (Dec. 29).
“We are looking at opportunities to utilize these newly opened dates in Bass Hall,” said Dione Kennedy, chief executive of Performing Arts Fort Worth, which owns and operates Bass Hall. Kennedy declined to comment further on the labor dispute.
FWSO concerts canceled
Nov. 11-13: The Sounds of America
Nov. 18-20: Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3
Nov. 25-27: Home for the Holidays
Dec. 1: Chris Botti, trumpet
Dec. 2: Handel’s Messiah
Dec. 22: Sounds of the Season (Southlake)
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald