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Springfield Symphony Orchestra announces two spring concert dates

Paul Tuthill
The city of Springfield spent $2 million on lighting, sound, and other major improvements to Springfield Symphony Hall in 2020.

Contract still lacking with orchestra's musicians union

Amidst an on-going contract dispute with its musicians union, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra has announced two spring concerts.

The concerts on April 22nd and May 13th at Symphony Hall will be the first ones produced by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in more than two years because of COVID-19 and the impasse with the musicians union over a new contract.

“We’re very excited to get back on stage and we look forward to this beautiful music coming to life once again here in downtown Springfield,” said Paul Lambert, the new interim executive director of the SSO.

Former Music Director Mark Russell Smith will be the guest conductor. Details about the musical program for the two concerts and information about when tickets will go on sale will be announced soon, said Lambert.

“There is a whole flurry of jump-starting from the pandemic situation we have been in to actually producing concerts again,” he said. “So, we are really looking forward to very positive news in the near future about the beautiful music and looking forward to people coming, hopefully by the thousands, to join us for those concerts

The two concerts were ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to settle an unfair practices complaint by the musicians’ union, Local 171 American Federation of Musicians. The SSO was also ordered to pay the musicians more than $276,000.

“We are very happy to be able to play again in Symphony Hall,” said Thomas Bergeron, principle trumpet with the Springfield Symphony.

It remains to be seen how many musicians will be available to play the two concerts on what is relatively short notice. Typically, the dates for the concert season are set a year in advance.

“Unfortunately, I am not available for either of them,” Bergeron said.

The musicians have put on concerts under the banner of the Musicians of Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO) and plan to use the payment ordered by the NLRB to put on more performances, said Bergeron.

“We really do not want to be paid to not play, that was never something we wished for,” said Bergeron.

The NLRB also ordered both sides back to the bargaining table, said Lambert.

“ I’m really focused on these two concerts upcoming and hopefully to produce two wonderful concerts as the ( contract) negotiations continue on another rail,” Lambert said.

Last week, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno met with members of the SSO’s board of directors in hopes of finding a way to end the contract dispute. In a statement, Sarno said the meeting was “productive.”

The city owns Symphony Hall and in 2020 spent almost $2 million on improvements.

There is new theatrical lighting with LED bulbs and a state-of-the-art digital sound system.

The dressing rooms have been renovated and other improvements made inside the historic Greek Revival performing arts venue.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.