All Classical Radio James Depreist

Portland Opera set to move; Symphony and musicians OK a new contract

The opera will sell the Hampton Center and look for a new home; the symphony and its musicians agree on a new three-year contract.

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Tesia Kwarteng as Marcellina, Matthew Burns as Bartolo, Leela Subramaniam as Susanna, and Jesús Vincente Murillo in Portland Opera's production of "The Marriage of Figaro." Photo by Philip Newton.
Tesia Kwarteng as Marcellina, Matthew Burns as Bartolo, Leela Subramaniam as Susanna, and Jesús Vincente Murillo in Portland Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro.” Photo by Philip Newton.

Portland Opera on the go!

Portland Opera is selling its headquarters – a handsome 44,835 square-foot building – and the associated parking lot. They are part of the opera company’s 1.9-acre parcel situated on the east bank of the Willamette River next to the Tilikum Crossing (which accommodates light rail, cycle, and pedestrian traffic).

Known as the Hampton Opera Center, the building contains a costume shop, rehearsal spaces, a performance space, and administrative offices. Its second floor has been the home of All Classical Radio (89.9 FM), which is moving to a new location downtown. According to KGW news, Portland Opera bought the building, the former home of KPTV, in 2003 for $5.7 million.

“Like much of Portland, our building is significantly underutilized with 70% unleased commercial space. The unused space climbs to 80% when we’re not in production,” General Director Sue Dixon said via email. “Sale of the building will free Portland Opera from the debt of a $2.4MM lien on the building, increase our cash reserves and endowment, support a move to new location. This decision does not impact the current opera season and the upcoming season, which is Portland Opera’s 60th Anniversary,
and will be announced later this winter.”

“The lien was used to restructure existing debt to obtain better rates,” the company’s Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Silja Tobin, said in a separate email.

So the Portland Opera will be vacating the entire bundle: administrative offices, costume shop, rehearsal space, parking lot and all. It will be on the lookout for new quarters. Portland has a lot of vacated space at the moment; so there’s got to be something out there…


Symphony, musicians agree on a new labor contract – Ta Da!

Oregon Symphony performs Beethoven's
Oregon Symphony performs Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, Nov. 7, 2022. Photo by Jason Quigley.

After five months of negotiation, The Oregon Symphony and its musicians have announced the ratification of a three-year collective bargaining agreement that takes effect immediately and runs through the 2025-26 season. The musicians will see wage increases of 6% in the contract’s first year and 3.5% in the second and third years under the terms of the new agreement.

The musicians, who are members of American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 99, and the Oregon Symphony Association came to a mutual agreement that includes additional sick time for COVID-related illness, expanded break times, a reduction in services, flexibility in the scheduling of rehearsals, and an increase in the annual instrument maintenance allowance.

“We engaged in a process founded on mutual respect and open communication around the shared goal of securing a sustainable future for the Symphony and were able to expeditiously negotiate a contract that lays the foundation for a thriving future,” said Oregon Symphony President & CEO Isaac Thompson. “We are pleased to have come to an agreement that includes wage gains and added benefits for our musicians, who are the foundation of the Oregon Symphony and its future.”

“On behalf of the Oregon Symphony’s Negotiating Committee, we extend our thanks to AFM Local 99 staff and the Oregon Symphony Association for a smooth, collaborative bargaining process, and to the musicians of the OSO for supporting our work,” said Martha Long, member of the musicians’ negotiating committee.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

James Bash enjoys writing for The Oregonian, The Columbian, Classical Voice North America, Opera, and many other publications. He has also written articles for the Oregon Arts Commission and the Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition. He received a fellowship to the 2008 NEA Journalism Institute for Classical Music and Opera, and is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America.
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