Key West Symphony Stiffs its Musicians

Musicians who performed for the Key West Symphony (recently rechristened South Florida Symphony) in January have yet to be paid for their services. Additionally, many have not been reimbursed for transportation costs to and from Key West.

Since its inception in 1998, the Key West Symphony has relied on musicians from outside of south Florida to fill its chairs. Musicians have come from Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and other cities to perform three concerts per season in Key West. This season, the Symphony expanded to include performances at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. Not only were they unable to meet payroll for their January concert, they were unable to reimburse musicians for travel expenses, leaving musicians on the hook for their airfare. Additionally, some musicians have reported being contacted by collection agencies representing rental car companies the Symphony engaged to shuttle musicians between Key West and Fort Lauderdale.

Musicians had previously been told that the Symphony's April concert would be canceled, with hopes that the Symphony would resume operations in the fall. However, to add insult to injury, it is now being reported that the Symphony stands to lose grant money if they cancel the April concert, and is now asking musicians to perform for free in April to help dig the Symphony out of its financial hole.

Musicians who are approached to perform for the Key West Symphony/South Florida Symphony should contact Local 655 immediately to get an update on the situation before accepting any work for them.



has this been resolved?
As of the middle of September 2010, the musicians still have not been paid.
Have you notified Local 802 in NYC, and the national union so they will post the in formation in the monthly magazine?
What does union have to do with this orchestra? Union should be concerned about union orchestras such us Detroit. I'm playing with them and understand how difficult it is to operate in those very difficult times. For over 10 years the orchestra payed musicians and they all had a great time and enjoyed playing with the orchestra. I have no problem waiting for my money ... just give them some time.
Has this been resolved?
They cancelled quite a few concerts last year, didn't pay their musicians, an NOW, are trying to sell tickets for next season.
To our knowledge, musicians are still owed for past seasons.
No they have not been paid. Absolutely astonishing that an organization, artistic or any other kind, should still be trading in this blatant, bogus bona fide fashion, while still owing money to hard-working, honest people whom they have completely shafted. How can any decent-minded person sit in an audience and enjoy a concert by this lot?
They are selling tickets and looking for musicians for this year's season (2011 - 2012). How can this continue?
You should post this info on facebook and other social networks since most of the musicians currently offered a gig are non-union and are unaware of the situation.
I was disturbed to discover you have plans of leafleting the South Florida Symphony concert at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. I would like to make known that I have been playing with the SFSO since the organizationís beginning. I have never felt taken advantage of, abused, or treated unfairly. In addition, I was one of the musicians who was not paid in January 2010 when the orchestra ran into financial difficulties and found themselves needing to restructure as so many other musical organizations have had to do during these challenging times. I find myself surrounded by musical organizations that are collapsing all around me and I donít understand your determination in causing the demise of yet another group.

I want it to be known that my paychecks from the SFSO are comparable to any of my other union jobs. Transportation has always been provided by the SFSO to and from rehearsals and concert venues at no cost to me. My workload has not been increased and most importantly I received my check in the mail today from the SFSO with itemized details categorizing the original amount I was due in January 2010, amount paid, balance due, and the amount of the check I just received which was substantial in paying me for my services.

My concern is that you are not receiving accurate information and if you continue creating negative publicity for this organization, you will eliminate any chances of the SFSO making things right for all musicians involved which they are earnestly attempting to do.


Kimberly Valerio
Thank you for your comments. We have spoken to many musicians regarding the unpaid wages, and we have also received copies of their contracts with the Symphony. The wages the Symphony pays are significantly below Local 655 scales, and according to the contracts we have reviewed, the weekly rate was further lowered by $50 for the October 2010 set. Many musicians are concerned about the unpaid wages, and many are also concerned that the Symphony may be digging a bigger hole for itself by continuing to hire musicians and put on concerts despite the debts.
I am glad the union is keeping an eye on this situation. The union is in a better position to know the full story from a contractual standpoint and not rumors and comments from supporters or non-supporters.

Past comments from the leaders of the symphony have turned out not to be true, so that is an unreliable source.

I still don't understand why the Key West / SFSO doesn't hire locally. Have they burned so many bridges that people won't play for them? Is it so the maestra can have a vanity orchestra so she can continue to call herself an orchestra conductor? I saw recent comments from the orchestra about the number of concerts last year, but they were chamber concerts - not orchestra concerts.

To the union - Thanks for your updates.
Please is any update ?
Thanks so much

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