Two new musicians join NSO: Baltimore musicians still without a contract

Fri Jan 04, 2019 at 11:53 am

Lin Ma

Two new players are joining the National Symphony Orchestra, the appointments announced by music director Gianandrea Noseda and executive director Gary Ginstling on Thursday. Violinist Malorie Blake Shin is already on the job, and has been playing in the second violin section since late last year. 

On January 8, Lin Ma takes the position of principal clarinetist, a post left vacant since Loren Kitt retired in 2016. With these appointments, Noseda has added eight musicians to the NSO roster since he became music director in 2017. Ma comes to the NSO from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where he has served as assistant principal and E-flat clarinetist since 2015. 


The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has been engaged in negotiations with its musicians’ union over a new contract since last November.  Management claims that “it is not feasible to maintain our current business model as a 52-week orchestra,” proposing a reduction to a 40-week season. According to a statement, the BSO has lost an average of $1.6 million per year over the last 10 years.

The musicians counter that this reduction would have “disastrous effects.” They argue that musicians’ costs have remained relatively flat, increasing by less than 7% from 2010 to 2016, while the BSO’s total operating expenses ballooned by 46% in the same period. Management claims that the BSO has seen $16 million in losses just over the past decade.

The orchestra is currently working via an extension agreed to by both sides, which continues the current pay and benefits structure. The extension is scheduled to end on January 15.

2 Responses to “Two new musicians join NSO: Baltimore musicians still without a contract”

  1. Posted Jan 04, 2019 at 3:13 pm by George Drastal

    This simply shows everyone which of the two orchestras is well managed, and which is being led down the garden path to disaster. While no one would do that intentionally to the BSO, it nevertheless is the behavior emergent from the coupling of an executive director who is defending his narrow interests, and a compliant and unimaginative board.

  2. Posted Jan 04, 2019 at 11:39 pm by Odin Rathnam

    Wishing all my colleagues and friends at the BSO solidarity, strength and resolve.

    Unless the numbers above are misleading, they speak for themselves- a 46% hike in admin costs, compared to a 7% cost of living adjustment for musicians in the same period. Hmmmm, how about a 30% cut to the admin budget – that ought to cover the 12 weeks they are gouging from both the city of Baltimore and the musicians….. SMDH.

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