Musicians of Philadelphia Orchestra Fire Back at Management After Latest Stalled Negotiations

By David Salazar

The Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra are firing back at the company’s management over lack of pay equity.

The Philadelphia Musician’s Union Local 77 released a statement noting that they are “under protest” as they make their way toward the North Carolina tour. The musicians noted that following a failed negotiation session on Monday, they would embark on the tour out of respect for hosts in North Carolina. However, “musicians have gotten no good faith in return from management, which continues to stall on key bargaining points around fair compensation, retirement benefits, and cost of living pay increases.”

Among the major points of conflict is the fact that Matias Tarnopolsky, the CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra Kimmel Center Inc., saw a 111 percent pay increase between fiscal years 2019-2022; per the 2019 990 form, Tarnopolsky was paid $343,850, while in the 2022 990 form, he was reportedly paid $725, 529. Meanwhile, orchestra members had to take paycuts totaling $4.6 million to help the organization make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tarnopolsky took on the role of CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association in 2018 and was then appointed to be the CEO and President of the Philadelphia Orchestra Kimmel Center Inc in 2021 following a merger of both organizations.

“In order to make music at the highest level, we rely a good deal on our substitute musicians, freelance musicians who are paid per service. Since the orchestra is currently 15 percent understaffed, we rely on these temporary workers now more than ever to make up the difference,” said Carol Jantsch, principal tuba for the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006. “I’m going on tour under protest because for over a decade, management has paid a lower rate for substitute musicians, and this practice is unjust. These are our friends and colleagues. They play the same notes, and they deserve the same paycheck.”

Editor’s note: Due to an unfortunate error in the text of an earlier advisory to the media, a previous version of this article misattributed part of a statement from Carol Jantsch. The correct statement is already in the current version of the story.