The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra has canceled more concerts as a strike by its musicians continues for a second week.
The cancellations include three concerts scheduled Sept. 30-Oct. 2 that featured pianist Stephen Hough performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
“We regret that we had to cancel these performances due to the ongoing strike. The continued and loyal support of patrons and ticket holders during this difficult time is truly appreciated,” said Mercedes Bass, chairman of the FWSO board of directors, in a statement. “The management and board are steadfastly committed to operating in a responsible manner to secure the future of this orchestra.”
Ticket holders are being notified by e-mail and have several options for refunds or future concert tickets, said FWSO President Amy Adkins. The ticket office is also calling each ticket holder individually to discuss their options, she added.
The musicians went on strike Sept. 8 after rejecting a proposed contract that included pay cuts and higher costs for health insurance. The orchestra association has since canceled three weekends of concerts due to the strike.
“We continue to be disappointed at the management for these cancellations when all they have to do is return to the table and discuss a plan for the future of the FWSO that doesn’t go backwards,” bassist Paul Unger said in a union statement.
The musicians, who are represented by the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, said they plan to play a David Bowie tribute party at 4 p.m. Sunday at Shipping & Receiving Bar with donations collected to benefit their strike fund. Management canceled the “Music of David Bowie” concert that been scheduled for Saturday.
The union has also scheduled a free performance for students at Fort Worth’s Southwest High School to replace an educational performance canceled at Bass Hall.
Musicians and management have been in contract negotiations for more than 15 months with both sides far apart when it came to wages and benefits. The proposal that musicians recently rejected included a significant pay cut in the first year with small, incremental raises during the next three years of the deal.
FWSO management has said the organization continues to deal with annual budget deficits of more than $700,000 and cannot afford to increase musicians’ pay. The union has maintained that the rejected contract would keep musicians at pay rates lower than what they earn today.
In a letter sent to 38,000 FWSO ticket holders and donors Monday, orchestra management detailed the company’s financial position, revealing that it has lost $200,000 in regional corporate giving and $190,000 in cuts from artistic partners such as the Fort Worth Opera that have reduced performance schedules.
“There is no doubt that we are in the delicate position of wanting to provide our musicians with pay increases, while also being limited by our financial constraints,” the letter said.
Although the union has said it is willing to meet with management, Adkins said there were no negotiations scheduled.
“The union has not requested a meeting with us, and they have said their position will not change,” Adkins said.