The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra hires musicians; Contract negotiations begin

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra Winds and Brass | 1 credit

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra has announced the addition of four musicians to the orchestra list, which was understaffed during much of the pandemic.

They are principal cellist Rainer Eudeikis, violists Katarzyna Bryla-Weiss and Leonid Plashinov-Johnson, and associate principal and E-flat clarinet Matthew Griffith.

– Born in Texas, Eudeikis holds the Philip S. Boone Professorship, succeeding Michael Grebanier, who died in 2019. Eudeikis was previously principal cellist of the Atlanta Symphony and the Utah Symphony, as well as the Mainly Mozart Festival and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Newly appointed principal cellist Rainer Eudeikis | Courtesy of SF Symphony

— Bryla-Weiss, joining the viola section, was born into a musical family and has won over two dozen awards and prizes in the United States, France and her native Poland. In 2019, she became co-principal violist of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and a member of the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. She was also a member of the New York City Ballet Orchestra and the New York Pops.

– Plashinov-Johnson, who also joins the viola section, was previously a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and is the winner of several competitions, most recently the Primrose International Viola Competition and the New England Concerto Competition Conservatory. He has appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, NEC Philharmonic, Sofia Chamber Orchestra and AIMS Festival Orchestra.

– Matthew Griffith, associate principal and E-flat clarinet, previously served as acting associate principal clarinet with the North Carolina Symphony and Nashville Symphony and was a member of the Bard College-based training orchestra, The Orchestra Now.

In some ways, the changes and problems of the SF Symphony are only part of the vertiginous “musical chairs” around the world, but there is also unreported news in the SFS administration’s review of its personnel list.

As an SFS spokesperson put it SFCVin response to a published articlepersonnel changes were made at the beginning of the month, but no precise information was communicated to the press:

“The marketing and communications departments have been merged to better support the organization’s work in audience development and concert promotion. The in-house video department has been dissolved in a strategic move to work with independent contractors with specialized skills, meeting the bespoke needs of future digital projects. The changes were part of a strategic internal restructuring and will not affect the audience experience or any of the organization’s audience-facing programs.

Now that the staff list is updated, these members of the “disbanded” Digital Innovation Department are no longer listed by the Symphony, and their SFS emails are responding with automated messages that they have “left the San Francisco Symphony”. They are:

Oliver Theil is one of the directors who is no longer with the Symphony

Oliver Theil, Head of Digital Innovation
Elizabeth Dreeson, Project Manager
Krysten Richardson, Post-Production Supervisor
Zach Schimpf, associate producer
Jeanette Yu, Curatorial Director

Apparently other personnel changes involve these staff members in marketing and sales, among others:

Jason Koo, Associate Director, Revenue
Matt McWalters, Digital Marketing Manager
Charles Pickford, Marketing Manager
Alexandra Llamas, Senior Director
Joy Smith, Executive Assistant, Marketing

Meanwhile, negotiations continue in contract talks regarding the players’ labor agreement expiring in November, and Musicians’ Union Local 6 will have a general meeting of members July 25 at 1 p.m.

A year before the pandemic hit, closing Davies Hall for months, the musicians of the SF Symphony approved a four-year collective agreement ahead of schedule. The contract maintained the Symphony Orchestra’s position as one of the highest paid orchestras in the United States. The weekly base salary, previously $3,200, rose to $3,263 under the new deal, only to rise again to $3,570 in the final six months of the contract. Musicians were to start contributing to health insurance premiums, but pension benefits were to increase.

An empty Davies Hall as SF Symphony performances made a slow comeback after the worst of the pandemic | Courtesy of SF Symphony

With the closure of Davies Hall and the cancellation of performances, the orchestra’s financial situation changed dramatically and the contract was revised, in an unprecedented move, in October 2020. Ratified Symphonic Musicians the modification of the 25-month contract, from October 18, 2020 to November 26, 2022, reducing salaries retroactively to April 2020 and fixing regular salaries (differently for bonuses such as main actors receive) at 65% of the contractual rate from September 2021.

(Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and city-imposed restrictions on live performances, the Symphony Orchestra has renegotiated all of its collective agreements reducing compensation for the remaining period of the existing respective agreements.)

In financial year 2019, the SF Symphony’s revenues were $93.6 million against expenses of $79.7 million. In fiscal year 2020, those numbers grew to $65.3 million in revenue, $73.2 million in expenses.

Priscilla B. Geeslin, President of the SF Symphony

Preliminary figures for FISCAL YEAR 2021 showed total revenue of $29.6 million and expenses of $55.3 million. In 2020-2021, the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act programs contributed millions of dollars to the Symphony in the Paycheck Protection program (up to 2½ times average monthly payroll expenses), the tax credit for retention of employees and others. In PPP alone, SFS received $7.7 million and $2 million in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

SFS Endowment Totals in 2021 were $14.3 million unrestricted and $364.5 million restricted.

As of August 31, 2021, approximately 65% ​​of SF Symphony employees were covered by collective bargaining agreements. The collective agreement with the American Guild of Musical Artists covering members of the San Francisco choir expires August 31, 2023.

The agreement with the Theatrical Employees Union, Local B18, of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada, covering ticketing employees and ushers, expires May 31, 2023, and the collective agreement with Local 6, American Federation of Musicians, expires November 26, 2022.


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