Maestro Riccardo Muti Speaks Out As CSO Musicians Walk The Picket Line

Bernie Tafoya
March 12, 2019 - 1:25 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Striking Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians played Tuesday morning outside Orchestra Hall giving passersby a treat before the CSO’s famed conductor spoke about trying to reconcile the two sides in the labor dispute. 

CSO music director Riccardo Muti said the orchestra was supposed to be rehearsing Tuesday morning for a program this week. Instead, musicians were walking the picket line.

"I’m not against the board, the trustees, the donors. I just would like that they understand and listen more carefully to the needs of musicians," he said.

Muti said he was trying to "reconcile" the two parties in the dispute, although he pointed out that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra must remain at a premier level and be able to compete with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic. 

"A collapse in quality of the Chicago Symphony would be such a tragic thing that can affect not only the musicians, but will affect generations from now," he said.

Muti said he is proud of his musicians and that the CSO is a "priceless treasure."

Striking Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians
WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Meg Munaretto of Western Springs stood across the street on the steps of the Art Institute and heard members of the CSO play. She called it, "absolutely lovely and support everything they’re trying to get."

Munaretto goes on to say, "Love their music. Go when we can. Listen to them in the park. It’s just a wonderful piece of Chicago that we’re lucky to have and I hope we can keep them satisfied."

Musicians said the CSO is an international jewel and should be among the highest paid in the world. 

Their current minimum salary is $159,000 a year. They said musicians on the West Coast already earn more than they do.

Statement from Riccardo Muti via the CSO Association:

Dear Media Colleagues,

I wanted to be in touch to provide a statement issued by our Music Director Riccardo Muti this morning.

“I had a scheduled 10 a.m. rehearsal today. Due to the strike, this rehearsal has been canceled. However, I am  going to meet my musicians and colleagues anyway. I am not participating in the picket line, but I wish to listen to what the musicians have to say. 

I intend my position not to be neutral, but I am trying to help the two parties reconcile for the benefit of the great Chicago Symphony, for the entire community in Chicago and the world.”

--CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti