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Strike puts CSO show in doubt

Chicago Symphony Orchestrmusicians go strike Saturday evening thled CSO cancel tonights performance. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians go on strike Saturday evening that led the CSO to cancel tonights performance. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 25, 2012 6:22AM

A second Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance might get canceled if striking musicians and management don’t reach a deal before showtime Wednesday.

There are no bargaining talks scheduled and each side says they are waiting for the other side to call. Ticket holders planning to attend Wednesday night’s performance of “Muti Conducts Respighi” might have to rely on iPods for their classical music fix.

More than 100 CSO musicians went on strike Saturday after negotiations broke down — upsetting famed Italian conductor Riccardo Muti and infuriating patrons who had arrived at Orchestra Hall ready for a show.

If a deal is reached before the show Wednesday, musicians could take the stage that evening with minimal rehearsal because they are already know the music and performed it live last week.

Money is the main sticking point.

The current average salary of CSO musicians, who have a base salary of $145,000, is $173,000, according to CSO association President Deborah Rutter.

Bassist and union spokesman Steve Lester said an increase offered in base pay would be offset for some musicians by a “tremendous increase” in health-care contributions.

“Management sent a clear message they were not looking to make a deal,” Lester said Sunday night. “They engaged in regressive bargaining . . . but we’re still willing to negotiate and we want to get back to rehearsals and playing concerts for our audience.”

The strike is the first by CSO musicians since 1991.

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