Grand Rapids Symphony Announces Contract Extensions

The orchestra contract extension includes a 3% salary increase for the 2023-24 season, beginning on September 1, 2023 and more.

By: Dec. 16, 2022
Grand Rapids Symphony Announces Contract Extensions
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The Grand Rapids Symphony has announced the extensions of both its current contract with the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians, as well as that of Music Director Marcelo Lehninger.

The Grand Rapids Symphony and the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians have agreed to a one-year extension of the current two-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the orchestra, which was set to expire August 31, 2023. Music Director Marcelo Lehninger's contract will now extend through the 2029-30 season, keeping him at the helm through the orchestra's centennial celebration during the 2029-30 season.

"The Board of Directors has unanimously approved a one-year extension to the agreement with our musicians' union that is both fiscally responsible and ensures that the Symphony's tradition of musical excellence will continue," said Luis Avila, Grand Rapids Symphony Board Chairperson. "We are excited to be able to support our talented musicians in this way. Securing an extension on Marcelo's contract will allow Marcelo to continue cementing his vision of musical excellence and establish a legacy within our community. As I step down from my chair position, I am thankful to be a part of putting these extensions in place."

These contract extensions strengthen the foundation for the continuation of the Symphony's mission even as the organization transitions to new Board and administrative leadership. Board Chairperson Luis Avila's two-and-a-half-year term ends December 31, 2022, and Board Chairperson Elect Renee Tabben will assume the role of Board Chairperson effective January 1, 2023. Mary Tuuk Kuras, Symphony President and CEO, previously announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2022. Chuck Frayer, Immediate Past Board Chairperson, has been appointed Interim President and CEO upon Tuuk Kuras' retirement while the President and CEO Search Committee completes its search process.

"I have great passion for the Symphony's mission in this community, having served first as a Board member from 2012 to 2018 before assuming my current administrative leadership role," said Mary Tuuk Kuras, Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO. "Propelling forward the Symphony's artistic excellence, stability and wellbeing in a fiscally responsible manner is paramount during this time of leadership transition. Upon my retirement, my husband Patrick and I look forward to continuing our engagement with the Symphony as patrons, donors, and singers in the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus."

The orchestra contract extension includes a 3% salary increase for the 2023-24 season, beginning on September 1, 2023, as well as the significant expansion of two orchestra positions-continuing a commitment to the growth of the orchestra. The contract also includes the development of a committee that will create the framework for the implementation of a Diversity Fellowship.

Orchestra Negotiation Committee co-chairs Chris Martin and Jack Latta provided the following statement on behalf of the committee. "The musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony are pleased that we have achieved a positive result for the 2023-24 season. We're looking forward to focusing on sharing our amazing music with our community and redoubling our efforts to share why the Grand Rapids Symphony is an integral and necessary part of making West Michigan such a special place to live."

Brazilian-born Marcelo Lehninger is in his seventh season as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony. His initial contract was extended through the 2025-26 season, and this additional contract extension ensures that the orchestra's tradition of artistic excellence under his baton will continue through the Symphony's centennial anniversary season.

"I am extremely humbled that the Grand Rapids Symphony is extending my contract through the orchestra's 100th anniversary during the 2029-30 season," commented Marcelo Lehninger. "This continued long term collaboration will allow the organization and me to explore new ways to implement my artistic vision in a post pandemic world. In addition, I feel grateful for the opportunity to be a part of our wonderful community for many more years! I would like to thank the Grand Rapids Symphony musicians, the board and administration for their trust. I am honored to be the Music Director of our superb orchestra."

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts, the breadth of its educational programs, and the innovation of its initiatives to support diversity, equity and inclusion as well as to serve the wider community in non-traditional settings. Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, and Assistant Conductor Duo Shen, West Michigan's largest performing arts organization is affiliated with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, and the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival. GRS collaborates annually with Opera Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Ballet and biennially with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo