Baltimore Symphony Orchestra | WYPR

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

It’s been months of uncertainty for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and all those who worry about the future of the city's cultural icon. But after a 14-week labor dispute, the musicians and orchestra management announced a one-year contract Monday.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians have voted overwhelmingly to reject what a union spokesman called an “unacceptable” contract. As a result, the musician’s work stoppage will continue and management will have to cancel upcoming shows. 

Graphic courtesy BSO

Despite the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s financial straits, Baltimore County is reducing the amount of money it usually gives to the orchestra. 


Nevertheless, County Executive Johnny Olszewski said the BSO still has the county’s full support.



Emily Sullivan/WYPR

When violent unrest spread through Baltimore’s streets after the 2015 death in police custody of Freddie Gray, the Orioles did something unprecedented. For the first time in Major League Baseball history, the team played in an empty stadium, citing safety concerns.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra chose to send a different message. Its musicians stepped outside of the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and into the streets to play a free outdoor concert.

For the last few weeks, those same musicians are back on the same stretch of Cathedral Street. This time, they’re walking a picket line, after management abruptly cancelled all summer concerts and locked the musicians out with no pay.   

The BSO: No contract, But They're Still Talking

Feb 14, 2019
Graphic courtesy BSO


The musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have been working without a contract since mid-January, when a temporary agreement expired. And while that could have meant a strike with other unions, the musicians have agreed to stay and play.

Brian Prechtl, a percussionist and co-chair of the orchestra’s Players’ Committee, says they’re making progress in the contract talks, but it’s been slow going.

photos by Wendel Patrick

This is quite possibly the first time ever that a musical score for a podcast was written for, and performed by, a full symphony orchestra.   Here’s how it happened:  Out of the Blocks collaborated with the BSO for a special concert series called, “Baltimore Voices.” The concerts featured recordings of four Baltimore City teenagers sharing beautiful and honest stories about their lives.  Wendel Patrick composed an original score for each story.  And The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed Wendel’s scores live, while the stories aired on the sound system in the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.