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Hawaii News

Symphony accord reached

The show will go on.

Yesterday the Symphony Exploratory Committee announced a three-year agreement was reached with musicians of the former Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

Committee members said under the new contract, approved Monday, 64 full-time musicians will get paid $30,000 for 30 weeks in each of the next two years. Their salary will increase to $31,250 in the third year.

"We’re very happy with how things turned out. This is a great step. We’re looking forward to this three-year contract," said Brien Matson, president of the Musicians Association of Hawaii Local 677.

Committee members have been meeting for months to find ways to revive the symphony, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2009.

Several musicians who left Hawaii to seek work abroad expressed interest in returning to the state after they heard about the agreement.

"After a dark and difficult two years for the musicians and our fans, this agreement represents a light at the end of the tunnel," said Jonathan Parrish, spokes­man for the musicians, during a news conference yesterday in front of the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Committee members hope musicians will be able to return to performing sometime in the fall. "We’re just anxious to go back to doing it as soon as possible," Parrish said. A new name and venue for the symphony are yet to be determined. The exploratory committee has been in communication with several venues that include the Hawaii Theatre and the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Committee members and musicians noted they are late in booking artists as bookings are usually done at least a year in advance. "We’re going to have to rely on good will and rely on the community to be flexible and experience us in new venues and new places," said Parrish.

Musicians expressed hope to return to the Blaisdell Concert Hall. "It was built to be the home of the symphony. We hope it will be once again," said Parrish.

Sidney Quintal, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services, which manages the Blaisdell Concert Hall, said the city is awaiting an application to find out who it is going to contract with and the organization’s viability. "That’s very critical," said Quintal.

Former Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra President Steven Monder, who has helped the committee create a business model for the symphony, said, "We’ve come a long way in a very short time. We have a lot yet to do."

The symphony’s overall budget is almost $6 million a year. Committee member Vicky Cayetano said it intends to cut costs by being efficient with staffing. The committee will embark on fundraising from individuals, businesses and organizations.

Last month the committee acquired the orchestra’s assets with a $210,000 bid at an auction. Assets include about 70 musical instruments, a music library of more than 2,700 classical and local orchestral works, and office equipment.

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