Carnegie Hall Cancels Opening-Night Gala

A strike by stagehands leads management to cancel concert featuring violinist Joshua Bell and the Philadelphia Orchestra

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Peter Kramer / Getty Images

Carnegie Hall on Dec. 29, 2004, in New York City

The Carnegie Hall stagehands timed their strike to inflict maximized impact on their bosses: The Hall’s opening night.

Launching a strike on Wednesday forced Carnegie Hall to cancel its annual opening-night gala performance, which was slated to bring jazz musician Esperanza Spalding, violinist Joshua Bell an the Yannick Nézet-Séguin-conducted Philadelphia Orchestra to New York City. Not tonight.

With discussions on a new contract in the works for “some time,” according to a statement by Carnegie Hall officials, the dispute centers around future operations of the Hall’s new education wing, scheduled to open in fall 2014, and union jurisdiction within these facilities.

The Hall’s management did not want to “divert significant funds away from the Hall’s music education programs and into stagehand fees,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local One union disagrees with that position and chose now to force the hand of Carnegie Hall leaders.

With the concert cancelled and not postponed, the gala dinner is still a go at the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom.

As of now, Carnegie Hall says “all future performances remain on Carnegie Hall’s schedule, pending resolution of this work stoppage.” Up next at Carnegie? A performance by the American Symphony Orchestra on Thursday, with a giant pending attached to it.

Of course, one performance at Carnegie Hall was already scrapped earlier this week when the Minnesota Orchestra dumped a planned November visit. Orchestra leaders in Minneapolis have locked out their musicians amid a labor dispute. It seems labor disputes in New York City and Minnesota share a similar timbre.