This article was updated on July 31, 2012.
Peter Nero will conduct the upcoming season of the Philly Pops. It will be his last.
The Pops’ presenting organization, Encore Series, Inc., has settled a contract dispute with Nero, which will end his contract after the 2012-2013 season. The agreement the final hurdle that will pull the Pops out of bankruptcy.
When Encore Series began considered how to re-organize itself to survive bankruptcy, it looked at the salary of Nero, its conductor, founder, and the face of the organization for 33 years. He earns about $500,000.
Encore attempted a salary cut, and then to nullify the existing contract. Nero fought back.
The two have reached an agreement, to be filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday, wherein Nero will be paid the same amount of money per performance, for fewer performances. He will helm the Pops 18 times during the 24-performance season. The remaining six concerts (the “Evening with Lennon and McCarthy” and “Bond and Beyond” series) will be handled by guest conductors.
Nero had two years left on his contract. Encore Series bought out the final year.
“I’ve always said I want Peter to remain our conductor, as long as we can be within the financial realities that we face,” said Encore president Frank Giordano. “This agreement recognizes this, it’s done within the framework of what we need to do for Encore, dealing with the transition.”
Paul Rosen, an attorney representing Peter Nero, argued that Encore Series, Inc, could not reject Nero’s contract, as it was not a employer contract. As an agency agreement, it rejection would have opened Encore Series to additional claims filed by Nero, likely canceling the 2012-2013 concert season.
“Under bankruptcy law, if his contract was rejected, they would have had to pay damages,” said Rosen. “With that looming at the forefront of this season, Peter Nero made the decision that winning wasn’t as important as presenting the concerts he wanted to present.”
During the upcoming season, Nero will hold the title of artistic director. At the end of the season, Encore Series will be able to present concerts under the name “Philly Pops” and Nero will be free to compete against them with his own pops concerts.
Nobody will be able to use the name “Peter Nero and the Philly Pops,” save one exception: the annual free concert on the 4th of July, on Independence Mall, will be presented ongoing as “Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.”