Conductors contracts – check the issues

To find a good conductor for a symphony orchestra is sometimes like a lottery. In these days the worldwide most observed job search is taking place at the Berlin Philharmonic. Since Simon Rattle has announced his retirement in Berlin a couple of months earlier, many rumors on successor candidates occurred. In 2014 the orchestra will have to make its wise vote for a new artistic chief as of the 2018/19 season.

Catching the right guy as band leader is of course important, but only one point. Bargaining and signing a good contract is the second. There are many tricky agents and lawyers representing conductors. Orchestra managers, board members, administrators who bargain contracts for the orchestral organizations are often in a weaker position. Once the new conductors name has been dropped in public, almost there is no way back.

What are the essentials? The number of concerts, operas, projects he or she has to produce with the orchestra, the fee per project and almost an additional lump sum fee, travel and housing allowances, health insurance etc.

The most important point is the question how many weeks or months the conductor really is in town. How long and intense is the working time together with the orchestra? Is the conductor available for board members, sponsors, donors and media? Is he or she open minded for networking? Is he or she doing chamber music or master classes in town? Finally: Will he or she accept these issues in a written contract?

Orchestra managements and board members should have a very clear idea and a detailed check list on what type of conductor they’re really looking for in advance.

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