Philadelphia Orchestra, musicians’ pension fund settle

The Philadelphia Orchestra has cleared the last major hurdle in its bankruptcy proceedings. It has negotiated a settlement with the musicians’ pension fund, which had opposed the orchestra’s withdrawal from the fund.

Talks between the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and the American Federation of Musicians pension fund had broken down to the point where each side was preparing for a trial Monday.

The fund claimed the orchestra owed it more than $35 million. The orchestra said it owed only a few million.

A week before trial was to begin, both parties agreed the orchestra would pay $1.75 million to the pension fund. In return, the fund would drop all claims against he orchestra.

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“As trials get closer and people look at the risks on both sides, they come into clearer focus — you start to realize what could happen if things go wrong,” said Larry McMichael, representing the orchestra. “It takes two to settle. Without both sides making movement, we couldn’t get there.”

A representative of the pension fund could not be reached for comment.

Had the disagreement gone to trial, the orchestra would not have been able to exit bankruptcy proceedings until a ruling. Now, McMichael predicts the orchestra will finish its bankruptcy by June or July.

He says a preliminary rental agreement with the Kimmel Center has been reached, but not yet finalized.

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