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  • Writer's pictureZach Finkelstein

The New Heroes of COVID-19: 179 Organizations Who Paid Artists and Counting...

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

(Editor's note: artists and presenters directly involved have submitted the following information with the promise of anonymity. Corrections to the record via the survey are welcome. We want to get it right.)

Please welcome the updated 'Heroes of COVID-19', the list tracking 179 presenters that, in our greatest hour of need, have paid artists.

Middleclass Artist wrote the original post on March 12th lauding two early allies: True Concord Voices & Orchestra and Chicago Opera Theatre. Based on the overwhelming reaction from the classical community, Middleclass Artist expanded the article into a significant research project including over 100 sources, with additional help from many researchers and writers, including Arwen Myers, Michele Kennedy, and Sarah Brailey (THANK YOU.)

'Hero' is a strong word.

Some people we thought were heroes, that started off the crisis with a bold action, disappointed us. Some of the groups on this list did not pay all artists involved. Some had a wide discrepancy of pay between contracted soloists, orchestra and extras, dancers, and choral artists. Some paid their orchestra in full, but not soloists; some paid the soloists 100%, but only a quarter-fee to orchestra.

We're not sure why.

But these companies are still on the list because, despite the inconsistency of their choices, we know by their actions that they are making some effort to help artists survive. And at this point in the global arts crisis, we need all the help we can get.

This is not a comprehensive list. But we're getting there. Consider the following information as an open-source, iterative collaboration among hundreds of artists and presenters guided by our platform. Github meets Wikipedia, not the Ten Commandments. If you have an addition or amendment to the list, please fill out the following short survey.

Now without further adieu, here are the 179 heroes of COViD-19:

Opera and Ballet

Middleclass Artist has confirmed 57 opera and ballet companies are paying their artists

  • In spite of having to cancel their world premier production of BOUND this coming April, Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre paid all artists and creatives 50% fees. Congratulations Founder & Artistic Director Joel Ivany and Executive Director Robin Whiffen for your inspiring care and leadership.

  • As reported by EarRelevant: As part of an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, The Atlanta Opera recently canceled the final two performances of its recent production of Porgy and Bess, in advance of local and regional government officials’ calls to do so. The company paid the cast, chorus, crew and orchestra responsible for preparing and performing Porgy and Bess for the entire run. All told, more than 200 people worked on stage, in the orchestra pit or behind the scenes to deliver the production. Additionally, TAO has partnered with Grady Health System to craft medical masks for use in area hospitals affected by shortages in personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Atlanta Opera has a fully equipped costume and wardrobe department ready to adapt during the current crisis. All Costume Shop employees will dedicate their working hours to the effort, as work on upcoming productions has ceased. Thank you, Atlanta Opera and Grady Health System CEOs Tomer Zvulun and John Haupert!

  • Austin Opera is offering partial compensation to the artists involved in its upcoming production of Turandot. Thank you to General Director & CEO Annie Burridge and Artistic Advisor Timothy Myers.

  • Dallas Opera is honoring 33% of artist fees for their contracted Barber of Seville. (Note: Middleclass Artist has heard conflicting reports about fees for the remaining production of the season, and will not post them until further confirmation is received.) Warm thanks to Artistic Director David Lomeli, who says that Dallas Opera staff and board are “worried about human kindness, not fiscal responsibility.”

  • New York City’s dell'Arte Opera set up an Alumni Artists Relief Fund and a first round of mini-grants have already been sent. Thank you, Artistic Director, Christopher Fecteau and Managing Director, Karen Rich for helping your alumni in this time of need.

  • Des Moines Metro Opera has guaranteed its artistic contracts for the 2020 Festival, which is currently still scheduled to go forward this summer with performances of Rameau’s Platée,Sweeney Todd, and Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades. Thank you to an artist-centric company, and especially General & Artistic Director Michael Egel and his board, for committing to pay artists regardless of the impact of COVID-19 on this year’s festival.

  • English National Opera emailed their artists within minutes of hearing the government decree, assuring the casts of their remaining productions through April that they would be paid their full fees. Thank you to head of casting Michelle Williams for your prompt communication with artists, and to CEO Stuart Murphy, Music Director Martyn Brabbins, and the rest of the ENO management team and board for your generosity.

  • English Touring Opera plans to pay both its performers and production staff full fees, despite cancellations. In a press release on March 19, ETO said, “Understand that every organisation will have different parameters and it may be much easier for one to do it than another. But it starts with an understanding of what 'we're all in this together' really means.” Thank you for standing with performers and production staff alike, Artistic Director James Conway, Executive Director Jane-Eve Straughton, and the rest of the English Touring Opera staff and board.

  • Fargo Moorhead Opera in Fargo, North Dakota will be offering half fees for their canceled upcoming production of Cavalleria Rusticana. Fargo Moorhead Opera plans to pay their Young Artists in full through the end of their contracts, even in light of the cancellation of most of their remaining performances and school shows. Thank you for looking out for these emerging singers, General Director David Hamilton and FMO staff and board.

  • St. Augustine’s First Coast Opera canceled their March 21-22 production of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince and gave the artists their full fee. Thank you Artistic Director Curtis Tucker and Board President Michelle Bova for supporting your artists in time of crisis.

  • Having asked its patrons to donate purchased tickets, Hawaii Opera Theatre is doing everything in its power to offer at least partial fees to the artists involved in their upcoming production of Strauss’s Salome. They are also refunding artists’ non-refundable airfare, and are going so far as to offer some of the artists involved in the production roles in the 2020-21 season. Thank you, General Manager Andrew Morgan and the HOT board and staff, for looking out for your artists.

  • The Bay Area’s Livermore Valley Opera will pay full fees for their abbreviated run of Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi. Artistic Director Erie Mills and the board are to be commended!

  • The Lyric Opera of Chicago made the difficult and necessary decision to cancel their upcoming production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which was scheduled to be performed three times this spring. When the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra members learned that only they would be paid for the remainder of the season, and that the per-call players would not be, they worked with management to donate a portion of their pay to be divided among the extra instrumentalists. (Note: Middleclass Artist is aware negotiations for soloists is ongoing at this time and will update payments in a separate post.)

  • Madison Opera, which canceled its April 17 and 19 productions of Orpheus in the Underworld, is committed to paying their independent contractors at least 75% of their fee, and possibly more, depending on public support. Contractors include principal artists, chorus, stage management team, wig and makeup team, props team, wardrobe team, designers, tech, lighting, carpenters, sound, among others. Hats off to General Director Kathryn Smith, Artistic Director John DeMain, and the Board of Trustees for supporting all of their independently contracted professionals!

  • Minnesota Opera is paying at least half fees for its canceled March 21-29 world premiere of Paola Prestini’s Edward Tulane. Thank you, General Director Ryan Taylor, CFO Steve Matheson, and the rest of the MO staff and board.

  • The New York City Ballet has canceled its spring season, but the company plans to pay its dancers, musicians, and other employees through season’s end. This includes 100 dancers and 62 musicians. Many thanks to Executive Director Katherine Brown and Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford.

  • The opera outreach company Northwest Opera In Schools, Etc. (NOISE), will pay its artists 30% of projected income from canceled shows. Thanks to General Director and Music Director Rhonda Kugler Kline.

  • London’s Opera Holland Park, despite finding itself in a precarious financial situation due to the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 season, has committed to paying all its performers, creatives, and musicians at least partial fees. Thank you to Director of Opera James Clutton, General Director Michael Volpe, and the rest of the OHP staff and board for your commitment to finding a way to do the right thing even in a most difficult situation.

  • Opera Memphis will be paying the cast of its upcoming production of Così fan tutte in full. Huge thanks to General Director Ned Canty and Music Director Michael Sakir for setting the bar high!

  • Opera in the Rock, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, canceled their May 28-31 production of La Traviata. Opera in the Rock’s board of directors voted to guarantee a 25% fee payment to every artist and crew member contracted for the production. They are also establishing the Opera in the Rock Artist & Crew Relief Fund to raise additional money in hopes of paying up to 50% of lost fees. Artists are also being offered preferential casting next season. Thank you Executive and Acting Artistic Director Kate Sain and Opera in the Rock’s board for their unwavering support of their artists and crew members.

  • Despite Opera Saratoga having to cancel the second half of its educational tour, they will pay all artists in full through the end of their contracts. In the event that further cancellations are required as the company heads into its summer festival season, the company is evaluating how it can ensure that at least a portion of all artistic, technical and production staff fees are protected. Many thanks to Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson and Opera Saratoga’s board and staff.

  • Opera Steamboat postponed their March 19-24 children’s opera school tour, yet have fulfilled half of the contracted fees. Thanks to Executive Director Melodie Querry and Artistic Director and Conductor Andres Cladera for their supportive leadership.

  • San Francisco Opera is continuing to pay full-time and extra choristers for all scheduled rehearsals through April 7th, while the "Shelter in Place" ordinance remains in effect. Well done, SFO Board of Directors Chairman John A. Gunn, SFO Association President Keith B. Geeslin, General Director Matthew Shilvock, Music Director Designate Eun Sun Kim, and all the SFO leadership!

  • Welsh National Opera is honoring its artist contracts in full through the end of the current canceled productions of Les vêpres siciliennes, Carmen, and The Marriage of Figaro. Huge thanks to General Manager Aidan Lang and the rest of the WNO staff and board for so generously supporting your artists, and for setting a strong example for others.

  • Houston Grand Opera is the first A-level house confirmed to pay its artists. It cancelled its Magic Flute before rehearsals began. One principal has confirmed they are paying out 50% of fees, despite force majeure. Bravi, bravi, bravi! Thank you for leading the way.

  • Arbeit Opera Theatre in the Twin Cities was forced to cancel its upcoming performances of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, but has offered its artists half compensation and is working to reschedule the production with its original roster. Artists will receive the remaining half of their fee upon completion of those performances. Thank you to Artistic Director Kelly Turpin and the rest of the staff and board.

  • Lincoln Center Theater had to suspend performances of Intimate Apparel through April 12 and has committed to continuing paying its artists. One of the artists involved said, “Along with Broadway we hope to return April 13. IA is their first opera and fortunately for all of us it was under their production.” Thank you, to Artistic Director André Bishop, Managing Director Adam Siegel, and the rest of the Lincoln Center Theater team!

  • Lyric Opera of Orange County had to postpone its March 27th production of HMS Pinafore until September. President and Artistic Director Diana Farrell says, “With nothing coming in for a long time we can only pay half of fees now - 4 rehearsals in - and half later plus a stipend increase in September. We are an organization run completely by volunteer staff and admin in the middle of our first full season as a nonprofit, but the singers who create with us are the reason we exist.” Thank you, Diana!

  • Pacific Opera Project in Los Angeles has offered each of its contracted artists at least half fees for their production of Così fan tutte, which was canceled after only one day of rehearsals. Thank you for your generosity, Artistic Director Josh Shaw and Executive Director Matt Cook.

  • Shreveport Opera has offered full fees to its singers for upcoming performances of The Marriage of Figaro. Huge thanks to General/Artistic Director Steve Aiken, Executive Director/COO Jennifer McMenamin, and the rest of the Shreveport Opera team.

  • Portland Opera was forced to cancel their full run of public performances of Vivaldi’s Bazajet due to concerns over COVID-19, three weeks into rehearsal. Portland Opera has committed to paying the full fees of the entire cast for the production. All members of the choir and orchestra were paid 50% for scheduled services on the Big Night concert and 25% for scheduled services of Pagliacci. A big thank you to Sue Dixon, General Director as well as Producing Director Laura Hassell and Interim Artistic Director Daniel Biaggi.

  • Edmonton Opera in Alberta cancelled all three performances of 'Candide', based on recommendations from Alberta Health Services. They paid all their performers the full fee. Thanks to Tim Yakimec for your courage.

  • Virginia Opera is leading the way out of this arts crisis. They cancelled their production of Aida before tech, but paid for 3 out of 6 (50%) performance fees as compensation to principals. Thank you Russell P. Allen and Adam Turner!

  • Opera Tampa was forced to cancel their production of Pirates of Penzance on the morning of opening night. Multiple principals have confirmed they ignored Force Majeure: they paid every artist their full fee. Thank You Opera Tampa for taking care of your artists!

  • Opera Southwest had to cancel their production of La Traviata but paid their artists a pro rated fee for time rehearsed. Bravi and thanks for your courage.

  • Opera Theatre of St. Louis announced on April 7th it would be cancelling its 2020 festival season: "thanks to the unwavering support of our donors and board of directions, we are able to honor 50% of the expected income for each of the 380 seasonal members of our company." Thank you so much to the team at OTSL, including Andrew Jorgenson and the board of directors.

  • Opera Grand Rapids cancelled their most recent production, but is making a professional video recording of the dress rehearsal, password protected for ticket holders. They will pay their artists the full fee for two performances, and changed flights out of their own pockets to ensure artists made it home to their families. As one artist describes, "they’re just wonderful, and I have the utmost respect for this company and their AMAZING Executive Director Emilee Syrewicze!"

  • Opera Birmingham is paying all contracted artists two-thirds of their fee for all the work done after cancellation. One artist says, "This is no small feat for them and I admire their dedication to trying to protect their artists. Larger companies should take note." Thank you to General Director Keith A. Wolfe for your generosity.

  • North Carolina Opera's latest run of Die Zauberflöte was cancelled after finishing first week of rehearsal. Eric Mitchko convinced the board to pay them 20% of their contract. Thank you, Eric.

  • Pensacola Opera latest run of Il Trovatore was cancelled. They “went the extra mile” by compensating 50% of artist fees (1 of 2 performances). Artists, as of today, have already been paid. Thank you, Jerome Shannon.

  • Opera San Jose, after cancelling its latest run, has asked ticket holders to consider changing their refunds to donations that will go directly to singers. They’ve also set up a crowdsourced fund called the 'Artists and Musicians Relief Fund' for their artist fees to ensure their singers survive. You can read their message and donate here. Thank you Khori Dastoor for your leadership.

  • Annapolis Opera is rescheduling performances of Susannah to the summer but are paying all artists for rehearsal time. Thank you so much, General Director Kathy Swekel and Ronald J. Gretz.

  • Lyric Opera Kansas City, after two performances has cancelled its final two performances of Lucia di Lammermoor. The company is paying for three of the four originally scheduled performances, or 75% of the original artist fee. Thank you, Deborah Sandler for your leadership.

  • San Francisco’s Pocket Opera paid its artists for a full run of Don Giovanni, despite having had to cancel the third performances. Thank you Nicolas A. Garcia for helping your artists survive.

  • Indianapolis Opera paid their singers 50% of their fees up front for Don Giovanni. They’re not sure if the show will happen next week, but one soprano says “no matter what, we have half our fee and they are being incredibly understanding and flexible”. The company is considering performing in a different, smaller space as a live stream instead of the entire run. Thank you, David Craig Starkey for your leadership.

  • Opera Bend, a small company based in Central Oregon, is currently livestreaming to an empty room for its production of L'Elisir d'Amore. Despite cancelling all three performances, all artists are being paid in full. Thank you Jason Stein for your courage.

  • Opera Omaha's 'One Festival' is postponed, but the company will "fulfill its contractual commitments to its artists and its crew". Much needed thanks for General Director Roger Weitz and Festival Artistic Director James Darrah!

  • Utah Opera was scheduled to open Rossini's 'Barber of Seville' on March 14th, but cancelled due to COVID-19. They paid out the full fee for 5 performances. That decision was led by Artistic Director Christopher McBeth and Interim President & CEO Pat Richards. Thank you!

  • Florentine Opera recorded its opening night performance to a limited audience, and sent ticket holders a link to the video so they could watch from home. According to my sources, they paid 50% of artist fees. Thanks to the leadership of General Director Maggey Oplinger and Artistic Administrator Lisa Hanson!

  • Tapestry Opera in Toronto (shoutout to my old stomping ground!) under the visionary direction of Michael Mori cancelled its Songbook X new music program. Instead of Songbook X, they will live stream a performance of Krisztina Szabo and Chris Foley on March 21st. All performers are being paid out in full. Tapestry is currently moving forward with its new music opera, Rocking Horse Winner. If that production is cancelled, all artists will be paid: "Many artists live paycheque to paycheque. In this destabilizing time of cancellations, Tapestry is committed to doing whatever we can to support our community of opera professionals". Class. Act.

  • Sarasota Opera cancelled the rest of their season and paid out all performers in full. According to multiple sources, the cast, chorus and crew members of all four operas of the season and some members of the orchestra ended the run with a rousing and tearful, 'Va Pensiero'.

  • Chicago Opera Theatre cancelled their scheduled Gala and, despite the financial hardship, Chicago Opera Theatre is ignoring the Force Majeure clause and paying its artist the full fee. One singer involved told me, she's "grateful they’re in a position to do so and made the choice to in an uncertain time". Thank you Ashley Magnus and Lidiya Yankovskaya for your leadership, COT!

  • San Francisco Ballet has promised the artists of Volti Ensemble, which it had contracted for its upcoming productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, partial payment. The company also set up a relief fund to cover expenses for its artists, staff, and musicians. Thank you to Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale for working with Volti Ensemble to compensate these performing artists.

  • Blogger Doug Rosenthal, in response to Middleclass Artist's original list, is building his own, focused on opera orchestras. The following companies, according to Rosenthal, are paying their opera orchestras:

  1. "Arizona Opera (Sub/Extra parity)

  2. Austin Lyric Opera

  3. Washington Concert Opera (Not a tenured orchestra, no subs/extra), and

  4. Washington National Opera (Subs/extras not paid from management, but from voluntary contributions by tenured orchestra members)".


Middleclass Artist can confirm 68 concert, ensemble, and festival presenters are supporting artists.

  • In mid-March, TENET, a mid-size choral and orchestra presenter in NYC, paid out $25,000 in artist fees and services for cancelled concerts, which represented payment in full for TENET’s concerts as well as add on concerts by presenters that did not pay TENET. The organizers, including artistic director Jolle Greenleaf, did not pay themselves a fee for any cancelled concerts. Ms. Greenleaf personally emailed or texted every person involved in the projects cancelled and sent funds via Paypal immediately or check. Thank you Jolle Greenleaf and the TENET team for your leadership!

  • Bloomington Bach Cantata Project canceled a performance of BWV 12, yet artists were paid in full thanks to generous backing by Dr. Daniel Melamed. Cheers, Dr. Melamed, for your fantastic generosity!

  • Although the Bloomington Early Music Festival has been canceled, all artists have been paid 50% of their fee thanks to the board and donors. Thank you General Manager Paulina Francisco and Executive Board President Alain Barker for facilitating this support

  • Aepex Contemporary Ensemble in Michigan has committed to pay all of its featured artists half fees for its canceled performances in March & April - some five concerts in total. Thank you to Executive Director Garrett Schumann, Music Director Kevin Fitzgerald, and the entire Aepex team for supporting your performers in this difficult time.

  • New York City’s American Composers Orchestra was forced to cancel its April 2 concert in Zankel Hall after Carnegie Hall shuttered its doors until May. ACO is committed to paying its musicians half of the performance fee. Thank you Derek Bermel, George Manahan, and Frederick Wertheim for your admirable support and leadership.

  • Apollo’s Fire in Cleveland was forced to cancel its performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. They have offered to pay soloists 15% of their fee and are actively raising more funds. Cheers to Artistic Director Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire’s board for taking care of their artists.

  • After only one tutti rehearsal, Apollo Chorus of Chicago had to cancel their March 14 performance of Bach’s St. John Passion. Music Director and Conductor Stephen Alltop asked for and received assurance that all soloists were paid in full for the project. Thank you, Stephen Alltop and Apollo Chorus leadership!

  • Bach Society of St. Louis canceled their March 22 performance of Bach’s St. John Passion. Thanks to Artistic Director A. Dennis Sparger and Executive Director Melissa Payton, the Bach Society paid their professionals 50% of their fee. Maestro Sparger writes, “We are so glad that we were able to stand behind our orchestra and soloists, as well as our accompanist and assistant conductor, during this difficult time.” Bravo, Bach Society of St. Louis leadership!

  • Bach Society of Minnesota canceled two concerts hours before the first concert after the governor announced the ban on large public gatherings. The orchestra and soloist are being reimbursed fully for travel and will be paid the majority of their fee. Thanks to Andrea Leap, Matthias Maute, Marco Real d'Arbelles, and the BSM board.

  • The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus decided to cancel its concerts last weekend after one rehearsal (the first of five calls) and still paid everyone involved in the concert in full, not just the musicians but also the designers, tech and front of house staff. They had hired a medium-sized orchestra and commissioned a large, 50-minute work for this concert. Thanks to Craig Coogan and Reuben Reynolds for looking out for its artists.

  • Due to the generosity of the friends of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, the Board voted to pay all contract music and administrative staff, including their paid singers, artistic director, pianist, and logistics coordinator through the end of the season. Bravo to the BPC leadership for this fantastic committment!

  • Burning River Baroque had to postpone a week of performances and outreach events in the greater Cleveland area. The organization has offered half of its fee now and the second half at the future performance dates. Thanks to Malina Rauschenfels and Paula Maust.

  • Cappella San Francisco had to postpone its Russian program planned for mid-May, and the organization has paid approximately 40% of that fee to its artists “because we value you greatly, and want to provide some monetary relief in this time of difficulty.” The run has been rescheduled for October and will compensate singers in full. Thanks to Corty Fengler, Ragnar Bohlin, and the CSF Board for this generous gesture of support!

  • Chicago Chorale had to cancel their March 27 performance of Bach’s St. John Passion. Under the leadership of Conductor Bruce Tammen and Managing Director Megan Balderston, the Chorale is currently fundraising to pay its soloists and orchestra members. Thank you, Chicago Chorale!

  • CHAI Collaborative Ensemble in Chicago paid half fees to all artists involved in its postponed concert Found Objects: Repurposed, and intends to pay the balance once new dates have been established. Thank you Co-Directors Laura Perkett and Talar Khosdeghian and the entire CHAI team for setting the example and doing the right thing, even on a shoestring budget!

  • The City Choir of Washington has agreed to pay its soloists their full fee for the Duruflé Requiem and Bach B Minor Mass. Thanks to Bob Shafer.

  • Cleveland Chamber Choir will pay its contracted singers a partial fee for their program planned for May 4th. Thank you Artistic Director, Scott MacPherson!

  • Coro Allegro in Boston had to cancel its concert “Shofar: In Memoriam” immediately before the dress rehearsal in early March but has committed to paying its soloists half their fee. Thanks to David Hodgkins and Yoshi Campbell.

  • The members of Detroit Women’s Chorus, a volunteer chorus, unanimously voted to continue to pay their artistic director and accompanist in full for the remainder of their contracted performances, despite having to cancel the remainder of the season. Thank you for so generously supporting your paid staff members, women of DWC!

  • Early Music Voices in Calgary, Alberta, has offered artists in its upcoming canceled concert The Althorp Virtuosi, featuring the Luchkow-Stadlen-Jarvis Trio, at least [75% fees]. In addition, the artists have agreed to record their concert program, to be made available to EMV ticket holders and subscribers. Thank you to Artistic Director Julie Harris and Board President Keith Courtney both for your generosity and for giving these performers a platform through which to bring their artistry to your patrons.

  • Elm City Consort in New Haven, CT, has committed to paying its singers for its May 9 concert Come, My Beloved. This included an offer to pay in advance if any of the artists are experiencing financial hardship. Thank you, Elm City Consort Director Michael Rigsby!

  • The Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra had to cancel their March 15 performance of Bach’s St. John Passion. Music Director and Conductor Stephen Alltop and Executive Director Cynthia Krainc insisted on paying fully all professionals involved. Thank you both and the ESO board for supporting your artists in these trying times!

  • Handel & Haydn Society has paid its chorus and orchestra in full for the remainder of the season. Thank you to Board President David Snead, Artistic Director Harry Christophers, Senior Manager of Board Relations and Artistic Planning Rebecca Sullivan, and the H+H staff and board for working to support your artists

  • Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra was forced to cancel its April concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, but the board has elected to pay all of the musicians their full fees. Huge thanks to Leela Breithaupt and Barthold Kuijken for their humanity.

  • Lyra Baroque Orchestra in the Twin Cities was forced to cancel its March performances of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and Jommelli's Requiem due to the travel ban on European citizens that prevented its conductor from traveling to the US. The organization is working to reschedule the program for next season. They have promised to pay the majority of the soloists' fees regardless of whether or not the program is rescheduled. Huge thanks to Tami Morse, Jacques Ogg, Mark Levine, Lyra Baroque's board, and to the many generous members of the orchestra who offered to donate their fees in order to make this possible.

  • The Kansas City Symphony has guaranteed its musicians that there will be no changes to musician salaries or benefits through the current season, even though the KC Symphony has had to cancel or postpone more than 20 concerts. KC Symphony’s executive director Danny Beckley said, in a press release, “We are receiving a tremendous response from our patrons, offering new and increased philanthropic support for the Symphony during this unprecedented time by way of new gifts and donating unused tickets back to the Symphony.” Bravo, Kansas City Symphony leadership and community!

  • La Fiocco in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, received refunds from several of its advertisers despite Force Majeure clauses for its canceled upcoming concert Fantasticus! and used the revenue generated to pay its artists partial fees. Bravo to Artistic Director Lewis Baratz for your dedication to paying your performers!

  • Lubbock Symphony Orchestra has committed to paying its musicians full fees despite the cancellation of their upcoming concert featuring Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Thank you, Music Director David Cho and President & CEO Galen Wixson for your generous commitment to supporting your artists.

  • The Madison Symphony has committed to paying its musicians for their canceled subscription concerts. Thanks to Music Director John DeMain and all the MSO leadership!

  • Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia will continue to pay its 12 core professional singers and accompanist through the end of April, despite the cancellation of their May concert, a “Mendelssohn Medley.” The concert fundraising event will now be held virtually. Thank you, John Leonard and Mendelssohn Club leadership!

  • The Metropolitan Chorale (of Brookline, MA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to pay their soprano soloist, sound engineers, and narrator in full for their canceled World’s Fair concert on March 15th. They also will pay their three Artists in Residence, collaborative pianist, music director, and administrator in full for the rest of this season.

  • Piano Cleveland, after having canceled their programming at local schools and nursing homes, has started a concert series to raise money for their roster of artists who have lost income due to COVID-19. Their first concert raised around $4,000 for their artists!

  • The Cleveland Institute of Music cancelled its May 21st Art Song Festival Recital. The CIM will pay 50% of artist fees now and the remainder upon completion of the concert next season. Thanks to the leadership of CIM for your generosity.

  • Pacific MusicWorks in Seattle has offered its artists partial fees for their canceled performances, and they will be working with their contracted artists to reschedule these concerts for the 2020-21 season. Thank you to co-Artistic Directors Steven Stubbs and Henry Lebedinsky, Interim Managing Director Philip Tschopp, and the Board of Directors.

  • Portland Baroque Orchestra in Portland, Oregon, was scheduled to play a three-concert set, five shows with Portland Opera, and a gala over the course of three weeks this March. All of these projects were canceled, although the first of the three-show run was converted to a livestream on YouTube. PBO paid its players their full fees for that concert set, in addition to rearranging travel plans on its own dime and donating the full three weeks of per diem money, which had already been distributed, to its musicians. Details for the collaboration with Portland Opera and for the gala are still forthcoming. Thank you for setting the bar high, Executive Director Abigail McKee and Artistic Director Monica Huggett!

  • Princeton Pro Musica in Princeton, New Jersey, paid soloists their full fees and have already rescheduled their remaining concerts this season. The organization acknowledged that while the cancellation of two concerts will be a financial hit, it feels strongly that its guest artists should be paid. Thank you, Artistic Director Ryan James Brandau and Executive Director Mary Trigg, for your generosity.

  • The San Francisco Symphony has ensured full compensation for the soloists involved in its upcoming performances of Bach’s Magnificat. Thank you, CEO Mark C. Hanson and the entire SFS staff and board, for so generously honoring these contracts. Negotiations with AGMA are ongoing to determine compensation going forward for full-time SFS players and singers.

  • Miami’s Seraphic Fire is committed to paying 100% of their musicians’ fees for their April performances of Handel’s Messiah, whether they perform or cancel, and has offered to advance that fee to their artists in need. Artistic Director Patrick Dupre Quigley writes, “Thanks to the generosity and diligent oversight of our Board of Directors, Seraphic Fire has been able to set aside financial resources for a rainy day. While these resources are not infinite, they do leave Seraphic Fire in the position to be thoughtful and measured in our response, safeguarding both our artists and our art-making.” According to Eric Rubio, their finance manager, the organization will also pay full base fees to all contracted musicians through May 2020. Thanks to Patrick Dupre Quigley, Executive Director Rhett Del Campo, and the Board of Directors for their unwavering support and leadership during this uncertain time.

  • Shelter Music Boston, an organization that provides classical music in homeless shelters, canceled its March and April concerts and has issued partial "hardship payments" to the musicians involved. The company aims to reschedule the concerts within the year and will evaluate further payment in the months ahead. Thank you Virginia Sapiro and Julie Leven for your vision and empathy.

  • While The Thirteen has not yet canceled its May 2020 world premiere performances of Scott Ordway’s The Outer Edge of Youth, it has already assured its artists that they will receive full compensation whether or not the performances are canceled, thanks to the tireless efforts of the board to raise funds to do so. Thank you to the staff and board of The Thirteen for working to support your artists during this difficult time.

  • Three Notch'd Road - The Virginia Baroque Ensemble is cancelling all its Praetorius shows at the end of April and is able to give the artists half fee. Thank you Fiona Hughes, Dominic Giardino, and Timothy C. Jacobson.

  • Tippet Rise Art Center has not yet canceled their fifth summer season, but has guaranteed fees if they do. Thank you founders Peter and Cathy Halstead and the Tippet Rise team.

  • Victoria Baroque has committed to pay its performers full fees for its upcoming concert Evening Hymn, in large part thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor. Thank you to that donor, and to Artistic Director Soile Stratkauskas and the rest of the staff and board for working tirelessly to secure funding to compensate your players.

  • Volti, a small professional vocal ensemble in San Francisco, is paying its 20 professional singers 50% of the fees for canceled rehearsals and performances in March and April, and the board is investigating ways to do more.

  • Washington Bach Consort had to cancel two St. John Passions. Per a Facebook post by Artistic Director Dana Marsh: "The Washington Bach Consort is doing its best to look after all musicians involved in these canceled concerts, knowing that performers have hit hard times financially. I'm proud to say that base fees for all rehearsals and one performance will still be paid out." Bravo Dana Marsh and all of the WBC leadership!

  • Women’s Voices Chorus of Chapel Hill, NC canceled the rest of their season in mid-March, but their Board voted to pay the Vida of Raleigh string quartet (contracted for their April concert) in full, and to continue to pay their salaried artistic director and accompanist in full.

  • Vocal Essence in the Twin Cities cancelled its April concert without plans to reschedule but the organization has committed to paying its artists 50% of their fee. Thanks Philip Brunelle and Mary Ann Aufderheid

  • New York-based Voices of Ascension was forced to cancel a Brahms Requiem on March 26. In a touching note to singers, they empathized about living "paycheck to paycheck" and offered 50% of fees up front, the rest to follow upon reschedule. Bravo Maestro Dennis Keene!

  • The Dearborn Symphony cancelled a series of Children's concerts scheduled next week. All musicians will be paid. Thank you to the board, Sandy Butler, and Music Director Steven Jarvi for your solidarity.

  • Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal has cancelled its series 'Miserere en quatre temps' and has paid all their artists. Merci de votre générosité, SMAM!

  • Cappella Romana in Oregon under the leadership of Mark Powell will honor their fees to professional singers for the cancelled concert of Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy, and will livestream the concert for the public without an in-person audience.

  • Conspirare has rescheduled its April Robert Kyr concerts to next season, and, thanks to generous donors and additional fundraising, has paid us 100% of our cancelled fees, with a personal note of gratitude from leadership, who told artists that they are "thinking of you all at this most unusual and difficult time". Thanks Craig Hella Johnson for your commitment to artists.

  • Westmoreland Festival Chorus is a community chorus that partners with DC ensembles and soloists to offer benefit concerts. Their administrator Alec Davis offered a full advance to his performers on a series he had to postpone. Thank you, Alec Davis.

  • Bella Voce of Chicago announced two donors stepped in to honor all artist fees, despite the postponement of ‘Lost Objects’. One soloist says “she is feeling stunned and deeply grateful”. Thank you, Andrew Lewis.

  • Dryden Ensemble’s most recent three concerts at Princeton are all cancelled. Artists are getting the full fee. They’ll be making a video and audio recording for everyone who purchased tickets. Thank you, Jane McKinley.

  • The Cantata Collective in Berkeley, California is cancelling their March 22nd concert and has agreed to pay its artists 50% of all fees. Thank you to the musicians of the Cantata Collective.

  • Coro Allegro in Boston cancelled its March 8th performance of Robert Stern's Shofar right before the dress rehearsal, and paid its soloists 50% of their artist fee. Thank you, David Hodgkins for your integrity.

  • True Concord Voices and Orchestra postponed their Mass in B Minor this month,. Not only has the organization committed to programming the concert next season in addition to their normal full season, but despite a potential deficit for the year, they committed in the email to paying an advance of half the artist fee through additional fundraising. The artistic director had a "passionate discussion" with the board, and they all decided to create a fund for artist relief, to go back to their donors to explain the situation and ask for additional funds to help artists. Thank you Eric Holtan and staff for your leadership!

  • The Henry Purcell Society of Boston has cancelled its most recent program of English baroque music, but is paying a partial fee to all performers. Thank you so much to Jessica Cooper and William Chapman.

  • Orchestre symphonique de Drummondville in Quebec has cancelled its most recent program and will honor its commitment to the musicians for the full fee. Merci beaucoup pour votre générosité, Julien Proulx.

  • Princeton University Chapel's March 28th performance of the Mozart Mass in C Minor has been cancelled, and all artists have been paid in full. Thanks for your commitment to artists, Penna Rose.

  • Bitterroot Baroque out of Montana has committed to paying its most recent recital artists full fee and travel, despite cancellation of its most recent program of Monteverdi and Strozzi. Alex Schaffer, you have our thanks.

  • Early Music Vancouver (British Columbia) has cancelled their Beethoven's 50th celebration concert series, but is paying 50% of all artist fees. Thanks Matthew White for the beautiful music you bring to the Northwest and your generosity.

  • The Washington Chorus has committed to paying all professional choral singers 100% of all contractual rehearsal and performance fees for all performances and rehearsals, even when cancelled due to COVID-19. Bravo and thank you for your solidarity.

  • Atlanta's Kinnara Ensemble cancelled their March 20-22 'Immortal Bach' and are paying artists 50% of their fee based on board and donor contributions. Shoutout to friend and colleague J.D. Burnett for his heart and dedication to singer.

  • Skylark Ensemble, a mid-sized, Boston-based chamber choir, will be mailing all artists this week a 50% check for all cancelled April concerts. Over the next six weeks, they aim to close the gap through additional fundraising. They are also looking to hire underemployed artists in temporary admin roles next season, according to Ensemble Manager, Sarah Moyer: "We know that some of our artists may be looking for additional income sources over the coming months. We may be able to raise some funds to support some remote work on behalf of Skylark’s 2020-2021 season over the next few months. Likely activities could include writing personal thank you notes to subscribers, making phone calls to ticket buyers, etc. Contact us if you would like to explore this, and we can discuss further." Thank you to going to bat for us, Matthew and Carolyn Guard and Sarah Moyer!.

  • Music Friends, a classical music house concert series in Vancouver, BC, has cancelled one show and paid out the artists 50%. Thanks for the update, Bing Dai!

  • Choral Arts NW in Washington State is paying out 25% to artists for all cancelled contracts. Thanks, Philip Tschopp!

Church Staff Musicians

54 Churches are doing their part to support their staff and concert artists.

  • Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity in NYC canceled the rest of its Bach vespers series through April. The last 2 performances, Easter (conducted by Avi Stein) and Palm Sunday (Julian Wachner) are canceled. All 34 musicians will be paid.

  • Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis will continue to compensate the paid members of the Cathedral Choir, with a goal of 100% of calls paid through the end of the season, despite closing the Cathedral until further notice. Thank you to Interim Music Director Christopher Caruso-Lynch for your generosity and humanity.

  • The Church of the Advent in Boston has committed to paying its staff singers through the end of April. Thank you to Organist and Choirmaster Mark Dwyer and to The Reverend Douglas Anderson.

  • Emmanuel Music in Boston will pay musician full fees for canceled weekly cantatas through the end of the season, and has paid full fees for the postponed Britten Chamber Music Festival (March 2020). Half fees for the upcoming Late Night concerts in May will be paid. Thank you to Artistic Director Ryan Turner and the board of Emmanuel Music for safeguarding Emmanuel Music musicians' livelihood.

  • First Baptist Church of Lexington, MA has committed to paying their 4 section leaders through April. Thank you Rev. Dr. Mark C. Jackson and Dr. Robert P. Eaton.

  • St Clement’s Polyphonia Society Choir in Philadelphia has committed to compensating its professional choir through March. Thank you Peter Conte, Bernard Kunkel and Father Richard C. Alton for your generosity.

  • St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City has a preliminary plan to pay the Choir of St. Ignatius and the cantors for the next several weeks, but it does not carry them through to the end of the season. Leadership says, “Many of our folks have gone from living paycheck-to-paycheck to having almost no income at all, and it's too soon to have any idea when we'll re-open.” Thanks to Scott Warren and the clergy for encouraging donations to this fund in order to help support its musicians.

  • St. John’s UMC, Albuquerque has taken steps to support its staff singers while the church is closed by hiring its musicians to perform in videos that it plans to stream through its Facebook page. Thank you to Music Director Matthew Greer for offering a creative solution to bring music to your parish while continuing to compensate your paid musicians.

  • The Church of St Luke in the Fields in New York City has committed to paying its staff singers through the end of its season, in June. Thanks to The Reverend Caroline Stacey, Rector and David Shuler, Director of Music.

  • The Riverside Church in NYC has committed to paying its choir, regardless of whether they sing, through the end of the season. Thank you, Music Director Christopher Johnson.

  • Trinity Cathedral Cleveland just announced that they will pay their Sunday staff singers 50% of what would have otherwise been earned, and will pay their professional Evensong choir 100% of their stipend for the season. Thank you Todd Wilson, Bradley Upham, the Dean BJ Owens, Wardens, and Vestry.

  • Trinity Episcopal Midtown Church in Houston will pay its staff singers and choral scholars in full during the COVID-19 closures. Director Collin Boothby wrote: "The church is very appreciative of the work you do to enable corporate worship. While it is in everyone’s best interest to suspend that for the time being, we know that bills will not be suspended. I hope that this puts at least one concern away for each of you."

According to Canadian musician Christopher Dawes' research, the following 19 Ontarian churches have paid section leaders during the suspension of choir and worship meetings:

  • Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Hamilton

  • College Street United Church, Toronto

  • Eglinton-St George United Church, Toronto

  • Fairlawn Heights United Church, Toronto

  • First Unitarian Church, Toronto

  • Humbercrest United Church, Toronto

  • Lawrence Park Community Church, Toronto

  • Leaside United Church, Toronto

  • Metropolitan United Church, Toronto

  • St. Andrew's United Church, Toronto

  • St. George's-on-the-Hill Anglican Church, Toronto

  • Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, Toronto

  • Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto

  • Knox Presbyterian Church, Guelph

  • St. Paul’s Bloor Street (Anglican), Toronto

  • Rosedale United Church, Toronto

  • Grace Church on the Hill, Toronto

  • VOCA Chorus of Toronto: supporting artistic staff (including leads) for rehearsal fees

  • Islington United the four section leads sang paid services via online streaming.

  • Trinity Wall Street, arguably one of the top choirs in New York City, has agreed to continue to pay its staff singers and two orchestras, Trinity Baroque and Novus NY, through June despite cancelled services. In addition, Trinity's p r i s m Kennedy Center performance was cancelled- Trinity paid full fees to the choir and orchestra. Thanks to the clergy leadership and music director Julian Wachner for providing for your artists in their time of need.

  • St. Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York City has agreed to pay the gentlemen of the choir for all missed liturgical services (5 calls/week, plus one paid rehearsal) for the foreseeable future. At the moment, all regular services have been canceled, with the exception of Sunday mornings. Sundays will involve a quartet of singers, plus 4-5 clergy, to keep total numbers involved to 10 people total or less. Staff singers who are not part of this quartet will still be paid. Warm thanks to Father Carl Turner and Jeremy Filsell.

  • St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City has committed to paying its staff singers in full through the end of the season. Thank you, K. Scott Warren.

  • 5th Avenue Presbyterian in New York City has cancelled its Lent choir concert, but will stay pay its staff singers in full. Thank you for your generosity, Dr. Ryan Jackson and to the Perper Foundation for underwriting. All professional singers will continue to be paid by the church for cancelled services.

  • Church of the Holy Trinity in New York and Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church cancelled services due to COVID-19 and paid their staff singers in full. Thanks Rector Rev. John F. Beddingfield and Cleveland Kersh at Holy Trinity, and Rev. Jenny M. McDevitt, Dr. Andrew E. Henderson, and Mary W. Huff at Madison Avenue Presbyterian for your support.

  • The Church of Ascension's 18 singers and St. John the Divine's musical staff in NYC are paying their staff despite cancellations. Thank you to Reverend Kearney and Preston Smith at the Church of Ascension and The Right Reverend Andrew Dietsche and Kent Tritle at St. John the Divine for your compassion and service to the music community.

  • Rockefeller Chapel in Chicago has suspended services until April 15th and made a commitment to pay its music staff. Rockefeller Chapel has also allocated funds to pay its pick-up orchestra for a canceled Mozart Requiem (in addition to regular Sunday services and Holy Week), so all musicians affected by this crisis have been made whole. Thank you Dean Charles and Matthew Dean for your generosity.

  • Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago will continue to pay its 24-voice choir, organist, and music director while public worship is suspended. Thanks to Shannon Kershner, John Sherer, and Chris Norton.

  • Grace Lutheran cancelled two performances of St. Matthew Passion at the end of March. Bach Cantata Vespers in River Forest, IL, has chosen not to enact the “act of God” clause fully in the contracts. All contracted soloists and orchestra members are receiving 50% of their fee. Thank you to director Michael D. Costello for your courage.

  • Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida will continue to pay all its employees their full salaries, including its eleven staff singers, which will not count against their paid vacation time. Thanks goes to The Rev. Charleston Wilson, Senior Priest Associate for Evangelism & Parish Development, and to Dr. Ann Stephenson-Moe, Organist and Choirmaster.

  • The Cathedral of St. John Albuquerque in New Mexico has committed to paying its four staff singers and four choral scholars through the rest of the season, regardless of cancellations. Thank you, Maxine Thevenot for doing right by your musicians.

  • Washington National Cathedral had to cancel its performances of the St. Matthew Passion scheduled for April 5 but will pay the artists in full. Thanks to Director of Music Michael McCarthy and Dean Randy Hollerith, who said, “Our musicians are among our greatest blessings at the Cathedral. We will stick together and make our way through this.”

  • The Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston is switching to televised services, allowing paid singers to continue to serve despite recent restrictions on large gatherings. Thank you to the Very Reverend Monsignor Kevin J. O’Leary and Richard J. Clark for your commitment to the arts.

  • Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland will continue to compensate its full roster of 12 musicians for the remainder of the choir season in June, despite having closed to the public and reducing musical forces for streamed services to four singers maximum to facilitate necessary social distancing. Singers are not required to be in the streaming rotation in order to receive payment through June. Thank you for your humanity, Canon for Cathedral Music Bruce Neswick and Cathedral Dean Nathan LeRud.

  • Trinity Lutheran on Whidbey Island has suspended all services, but is keeping music staff on the payroll. Thank you for your grace and courage.

  • First Baptist Church in Lexington, MA is paying its 4 section leaders for 1 rehearsal and 2 services, despite shutting down for 2 weeks. Thank you Pastor Mark Jackson and Music Director Robert Eaton for valuing your singers.

  • First Congregational Church in Greenwich CT is paying their section leaders for rehearsals and worship during our indefinite closure. Thanks, Craig Scott Symons!

  • St. James Cathedral in Seattle has more than 20 paid staff singers. They’ve recently had to close due to a ban on Mass from the Archdiocese and a ban from the state on groups of 250 people or more. St. James is paying its staff singers for all Thursday rehearsals and Sunday calls during this crisis. Bravo Joseph Adam and Father Ryan for seeing my friends and colleagues through this disaster.

  • The following Boston churches are confirmed to pay their singers through the COVID-19 crisis: Parish of the Epiphany and King's Chapel. What an overwhelming show of support from the Boston sacred music community. Thank you.

  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, PA, was due to present Trio Eos in late March. The church is reimbursing travel and will pay the artists most of their fee, even though they have to postpone indefinitely. Thank you to Music Director Andrew Kotylo.

Thank you to these 179 organizations who understand the value of arts and culture to society and are fighting to save our artists.


3,787 views9 comments


May 23, 2020

Beth Morrison Projects also paid their artists for canceled performances!


Apr 10, 2020

First Coast Opera in St. Augustine paid in full for our cancelled production of The Little Prince! Many thanks to Curt Tucker and the board for respecting their artists.


Apr 09, 2020

St. James Episcopal Church in Manhattan is also paying their singers through the lock down. :)


Zach Finkelstein
Zach Finkelstein
Apr 08, 2020

Thanks will add Gotham to the list on the next update, appreciate it!


Apr 08, 2020

Zach, GOTHAM EARLY MUSIC SCENE canceled its entire remaining concerts (14) on its Midtown Concerts series. We are paying all artists in full (100%) their contracted fees.

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