A benefit concert by and for the musicians of the Spokane Symphony, who went on strike Nov. 3, was packed with supporters Saturday night.
The Shadle Park High School auditorium, which has a capacity of 700 people, was filled. Some stood along the walls and in the wings and sat in the aisles.
After the auditorium was full, many supporters waited in a long line to make a donation before leaving. Others sat in the hallways and in the cafeteria to listen over speakers.
At issue in the ongoing contract dispute are a 13.3 percent cut in salary imposed by the symphony society and a leave policy the musicians say restricts them from holding outside work.
In all, organizers said, more than 1,000 people attended the event. Proceeds from suggested donations went toward financial assistance and health insurance for the musicians during the strike.
At the intermission, Elizabeth Welty, a retired doctor and longtime Spokane Symphony supporter, spoke to the crowd.
“Without Spokane’s support there will be no music,” she said. “A great deal has to come from volunteer support.”
Musicians spokesman Adam Wallstein said the turnout was an overwhelming show of support. “It’s been great,” Wallstein said. “We’re totally floored.”
A town hall meeting to discuss the strike followed the concert. A panel of eight musicians spoke about the importance of balancing sustainability with professional musicianship and artistic quality.
Percussionist Brian Bogue said he’s seen the symphony grow over the 37 years he’s been in it: “I don’t want to go backwards. It means too much.”
Another benefit concert for the symphony musicians will be held today at 4 p.m. at the Millwood Presbyterian Church, 3223 N. Marguerite Road, in Spokane Valley. The concert will feature chamber music and an opportunity to discuss the status of contract negotiations.
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