Local artists say they continue to bring the music to life through their own concerts.
SAN ANTONIO — After months of canceled concerts and a prolonged strike by musicians, the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra will soon no longer exist, making Alamo City the largest in the United States without an official symphony or philharmonic band.
It had been in operation since 1939, operating out of several local locations during that time, but most recently in downtown Tobin Center.
In a Facebook post on Thursday evening, the organization – in the throes of collective bargaining that could never find common ground – announced its “dissolution”, claiming that “the absence of a labor contract has effectively forced the Symphony to close its operations”. He plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Mary Ellen Goree, president of the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra (MOSAS) which began hosting its own concerts this spring, said she and her colleagues received the news the same way the public did, while contesting that there was no Contract.
According to her, an existing agreement ratified by the two parties in August 2019 was not due to expire until later this summer.
“For them to pretend there is no collective agreement is wrong,” Goree said. “This situation is entirely their fault.”
“It was very clear that the board was not going to take the actions that musicians believe – and continue to believe – would have preserved the Symphony Society as a professional orchestra in San Antonio,” she added. , saying their attention is now turning to the potential for a “successor organization” to keep the music on a more stable footing.
In a full statement published on its websiteMOSAS said, in part, “We have not forgotten the students of San Antonio and also plan to continue our acclaimed educational concerts for students from all corners of the city and from all educational backgrounds.”
Deadlock was declared in September between musicians and members of the symphony orchestra’s board, sparking the strike after a season in which artists agreed to take an 80% pay cut to end scheduled performances. Symphony executives had presented what they called “their latest, best offer”, which would have reduced the band from 72 full-time musicians to 42 while cutting their salaries by a third. They would have been accompanied by a contingent of 26 part-time musicians.
The musicians’ union rejected the offer, even though the symphony’s executive director said it was part of a long-term plan to make the organization more sustainable. A stalemate ensued.
“We extend our sincere thanks to all of the many volunteers, former board members and donors who have served our organization and our community,” the symphony’s board said in a longer statement. posted on the organization’s website, which has been cleared of all other information. “Your powerful support over the years has meant the world to all of us.”
The news was met with heartbreaking messages online, where one Facebook user responded to the post saying, “There are wonderful musicians who are great people affected, and the cultural loss of music and the art is heartbreaking.” Another user said it marked “a tragic day for the arts and the community in San Antonio.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg added his voice to the chorus of disappointment, while saying a “sustainable financial foundation” is essential to having a “life-size, world-class orchestra”.
“I’m confident our community is up to the challenge of figuring out what that structure will be,” he added.
Since September, musicians have staged rallies outside the Tobin Center and staged silent protests outside the homes of symphony directors, while giving private lessons and performing with orchestras across Texas.
Meanwhile, deals have remained elusive in recent meetings between union representatives and symphony executives, and in May the hold was halted for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.
Meanwhile, the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra plan to continue playing.
“I’m excited for the future,” Goree told KENS 5. “I’m not happy with what happened today, but I’m optimistic for the future.”