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June 22, 2011

Adaptistration releases 2011 reports on pay for music directors, orchestra executives

Given all the discussion in this country about executive salaries and bonuses in the corporate world, it's a particularly good time to look at the situation in the symphony orchestra portion of the nonprofit sector.

Thanks to Drew McManus' invaulable orchestral watchdog site Adaptistration, which keeps tabs on such things so efficiently that some of us get too lazy to do the digging ourselves, you can see what the financial picture looks like here in Baltimore and across the country.

People on the podium are still doing quite well, regardless of the recession, according to ... 

the 2011 Compensation Reports: Music Directors, released Wednesday -- the data comes from the 2008-2009 season (it typically takes a couple years for public record information from orchestras to make it into the open).

From my quick glance, it looks like a lot of music directors of the biggest orchestras are getting more or less 10 times the base salary of the players. That includes the Baltimore Symphony's Marin Alsop, whose compensation was reported to be $711,626 (base pay for BSO players, $78,500).

At a time when private sector CEOs are bringing home 400 times the average wage of their workers, the symphony scene doesn't seem out of line -- not that rank-and-file musicians would necessarily agree, of course.

As for orchestra executives, that picture is quite varied. Given the sad state some orchestras are in financially, I well imagine that compensation on the management side is a particularly sore issue for players -- the Adaptistration report on executives, released Tuesday, shows those salaries rose on average about five percent over the previous year.

Baltimore Symphony CEO Paul Meecham's salary is reported at $294,481. The CEO's at the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics continue to lead the pack with $1 million-plus compensation packages.

Posted by Tim Smith at 1:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: BSO, Clef Notes


Your article on compensation of Alsop & Meechem was interesting. It would be nice to have comparisons to other comparable orchestras. (e.g., Cincinnatti )

Just click on the links and you can compare dozens of orchestras. TS

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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