Philadelphia Orchestra schedules free concerts, contract talks

After a triumphant tour of Europe, the Philadelphia Orchestra is back home, planning a pair of free public performances.

On Oct. 4, the Fabulous Philadelphians will play at the Navy Yard; on Oct. 9, the orchestra will perform at Penn’s Landing. Last year the orchestra performed three free shows.

The Navy Yard is home to the headquarters of Urban Outfitters, the hip retail chain famous for its shabby-chic design. Located about a mile south of Citizens Bank Park, in a former industrial shipping warehouse, Urban Outfitters has offered its cavernous, concrete space–in the shadow of an aircraft carrier–to the orchestra.

The orchestra is scouting locations for its performance on that corporate campus.

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“We’re looking inside, we’re looking outside, we’re still talking, that’s the fun of making decisions with partners who have great ideas,” said orchestra president Allison Vulgamore. “We’d love to get out on that aircraft landing, but it’s not decommissioned, so that won’t happen.”

The orchestra is also involved in a bankruptcy process, fighting with its own musicians over a new contract. Previous negotiations had been overseen by the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. A third round of talks is set to begin with a bankruptcy judge appointed to act as mediator.

“One of the parts of this process is to have someone who knows the bankruptcy law look at all of us–all of us–very much in the eye and say, ‘How do you expect to have plans work, dollars work, how does law interface with the solutions you’re trying to find?'” said Vulgamore.

A spokesman for the musicians says their current contract has been extended until November, and neither side wants to deal with the repercussions of having nothing to replace it.

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