In reference to the non-competition and pay-scale issues for Lexington Philharmonic musicians related to the Lexington Singers, several issues need to be addressed.
The Lexington Singers performed the Messiah annually with the Philharmonic for many years at Singletary Center until maestro Scott Terrell arrived four years ago. The Philharmonic chose to terminate that arrangement and to use other, smaller groups and to perform at a smaller church venue.
The Lexington Singers wanted to continue its large chorus performance of the Messiah on its own and engaged an orchestra, which included some musicians who played with the Philharmonic, to perform the work at Singletary Center, an event that has been highly successful and has continued every year.
The Lexington Singers and the Philharmonic performed the Lexington Christmas Chorus together for many years on contract with the Urban County Government. Three years ago, the Philharmonic decided not to participate, and the Downtown Lexington Corporation asked Lexington Singers music director Jefferson Johnson to continue the tradition.
Johnson agreed and arranged for an orchestra to be put together for the event.
The Lexington Singers also has long performed other choral concerts annually at the Singletary Center, the Lexington Opera House, the Norton Center in Danville and local churches, and engaged an orchestra for many of these performances.
For those events requiring orchestras, the musicians were engaged by local contractors who are members of the American Federation of Musicians. Many of the musicians hired for these performances were members of the Philharmonic. Others played with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra or were professors and teachers at regional universities.
All were paid at the prevailing Philharmonic pay scale established by the American Federation of Musicians.
The Lexington Singers is a 150-voice choir of volunteer professional and amateur singers who actually pay dues for the honor of singing. It is one of the largest and longest continually operating community choirs in the United States. It is a nationally known, world-traveled chorus and has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice and the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
The Lexington Singers are invested in education through the highly successful Lexington Singers Children's Chorus. The Lexington Singers have partnered with UK choruses to present several performances. The Lexington Singers Children's Chorus annually sings with the UK Christmas Collage. The Singers have also organized an annual Festival of Choirs, which is performed in collaboration with several African-American church choirs at Shiloh Baptist Church.
The Singers have always strived to be collaborative and inclusive and to do what is best for the community of musicians and music lovers of all sorts.
The Lexington Philharmonic now appears to want to do otherwise.
March 8 Herald-Leader article "Musicians, management not in harmony; Philharmonic contract negotiations stuck on several issues"