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Philadelphia Orchestra Strikes a Deal

By Michael Vincent on October 30, 2023

The Philadelphia Orchestra musicians have officially ratified a new three-year contract with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center (POKC).

This new contract succeeds the four-year contract that concluded on September 10, 2023, and will expire September 13, 2026.


The Philadelphia Orchestra was founded in 1900 and stands as the youngest member of the prestigious Big-5 Orchestras in the US. Nestled in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, call the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts home. With over 130 subscription concerts at Verizon Hall every year, they’re one of the central arts organizations in the city.

Currently, the baton is wielded by Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin as music director.

Tough negotiations

In August 2023, 95% of the orchestra’s voting members agreed to strike if a satisfactory collective bargaining agreement wasn’t established.

The negotiations in September presented their own set of challenges. The orchestra’s musicians declined the initial contract offer. Following this, the next month’s proposal also faced opposition, with 81 of the 89 musicians voting against it.

Nézet-Séguin has been a vocal supporter of  the musician’s union, writing a letter to the company’s leaders urging them to “find a solution to compensate our artists appropriately.”

Key figures

POKC initially tried to win them over with a 13% raise, then upped the stakes to 13.5%. The latest deal promises a 15.8% base salary boost over three years.

  • Year 1: 6%
  • Year 2: 4.5%
  • Year 3: 4.5%

By the third year, those stepping in as substitutes or extra musicians will earn as much as the full-timers.

Freelancers were also included in the new deal. Concerts that are cancelled with less than two weeks’ notice will see them receive payment in full.

How they compare

Data from press releases and news stories compiled across organizations.

The base salary of the orchestra musicians will go from $137,800 to $152,256, making them one of the highest paid in the country.

Michael Vincent
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