Springfield Symphony musicians will livestream their Oct. 15 concert

  • The Springfield Symphony Orchestra performs in a past show at Springfield Symphony Hall. Musicians from the orchestra have organized an independent concert there on Friday. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Kevin Rhodes, the former musical director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, has flown in from Europe to lead the Oct. 15 concert in Springfield that’s been independently organized by musicians from the group. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/14/2021 12:58:47 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO), an independent group of players from the city’s orchestra, will stage a free concert on Friday, Oct. 15 in Symphony Hall — their first full live performance since early 2020.

The concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., has already sold out. But the response from orchestra patrons has been so good, MOSSO members say, that they’ll now stream the concert online at the same time. A free link to the performance, and to the music and personnel involved, is available at springfieldsymphonymusicians.com.

It’s an exciting moment for the musicians, as they’ll be reunited with their long-term conductor, Kevin Rhodes, who has flown in from another job in Europe to lead a program that includes music by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and more.

Rhodes, who had served as conductor of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) for 20 years, is not currently affiliated with the organization; his contract was not renewed this spring, and the SSO has no music director at present.

SSO’s lack of a music director, and the fact that the musicians have formed an independent group to stage their Oct. 15 concert (and previous smaller performances), reflect a prolonged contract dispute between orchestra management and the musicians’ union; the previous contract expired in August 2020.

At issue over a new deal is, among other things, SSO’s call for a short 2021-2022 season. Orchestra officials say financial losses in recent years, especially during the pandemic, mean the SSO needs to take things slowly this year.

No new concerts have been announced, and management says they can’t be scheduled until a new contract is in place.

Thomas Bergeron, principal trumpet for the SSO, and other members of MOSSO dispute that reasoning, saying management is demonstrating little commitment to the orchestra. MOSSO members have called for a new season of 10 concerts, as in past seasons, whereas management has only offered five.

In addition, SSO officials said last month that if no new contract was signed by Oct. 1, the entire 2021-2022 season would likely be canceled.

In a recent phone interview, Bergeron said that hasn’t happened: “We think that was basically a scare tactic to try to force us to the table.”

The union and SSO management did have a recent meeting, Bergeron noted, “though unfortunately nothing really happened. There wasn’t much movement. We hope the talks will continue.”

In the meantime, he says MOSSO is focused on the Oct. 15 concert — as is Kevin Rhodes.

As Rhodes recently told MassLive.com, “The point of this concert is to focus on what really matters, which is the music and the art… for this one single evening, let’s put the music in the foreground — all of us artists, and all our wonderful listeners, and remind ourselves what it’s all about.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.


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