Belying a recent history of animosity, the musicians of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra have reached a deal with management on a new four-year contract agreement that takes effect Sept. 1, 2011. On the heels of the addition of new music director Jean-Marie Zeituoni, this marks another significant step to the positive for the orchestra.

The Beat is on deadline as this news breaks. We'll have additional reaction early next week. Below is part of the text of the press release.

The Columbus Symphony Board, Columbus Symphony Orchestra Committee, and the Central Ohio Federation of Musicians Local 103 have agreed on a new, four-year contract that will go into effect September 1, 2011. Under the new agreement, the current $35,000 base salary for full-time musicians will increase to $40,000 by the 2015-16 season. The guaranteed weeks of employment will also increase from 25 to 26 weeks.

“The institution of a multiple-year agreement with the musicians, within affordable cost parameters, provides a firm foundation for the stability of this organization. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the future of the Columbus Symphony,” stated Martin Inglis, CSO Board Chair.

"I am truly impressed by the cooperation of all parties to accomplish such quick and efficient negotiations," stated Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Columbus Symphony Music Director. "I am very pleased that the new agreement gives better financial conditions to the musicians and secures a foundation for the hard work which lies ahead in bringing the Columbus Symphony to the best artistic level possible."

The current union agreement with the musicians is not set to expire until August 31, 2011; however, the health insurance policy expires February 28, 2011. Since negotiations were necessary in order to renew and/or modify health insurance coverage, the decision was made to undertake negotiations of the collective bargaining agreement concurrently.

“To agree on terms six months ahead of time heralds a new culture of cooperation and trust between the players and management,” said Doug Fisher, President of the Central Ohio Federation of Musicians, Local 103. “We are hopeful about the future of the Columbus Symphony.”

“This new agreement presents us with a framework for growth and excellence and the opportunity to continue to make the Columbus Symphony competitive artistically,” said Betsy Sturdevant, Principal Bassoonist and Chair of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Committee.

The new agreement also provides a more flexible structure for the Symphony to create additional employment on a per service, per orchestration basis. This will allow musicians to craft new ensembles and new employment opportunities for the musicians.