Frequently Asked Questions
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Is the symphony your full-time job?
We are all professional musicians; some of us are paid an annual salary, and some of us are paid for each rehearsal and concert we perform. The Richmond Symphony currently employs 37 musicians full time and 32 musicians part time or per service. Musicians can be scheduled to work for the symphony at any between 9:00 am and 11:00 pm, six days a week!
Are most musicians in the symphony from Richmond?
Only a few of our musicians are originally from this area, but almost all of us have made Richmond our home. Our musicians come from all over the Unite States and some from beyond. We have received educations at some of the best conservatories and music schools in the nation, including the New England Conservatory, The Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and Rice University, to name a few. Most of us moved to Richmond when we won a job in the Richmond Symphony. Some of us didn't know much about Richmond before we moved here, but we all enjoy living in this thriving community.
How does one get into the Richmond Symphony?
All musicians in the symphony had to endure a rigorous audition process before being hired. Vacancies in the symphony are advertised nationally, and those who want to audition for the job are given a set time to play on a certain date. Applicants are also given a pre-determined list of music to prepare, and play the same pieces behind a screen for a panel consisting of musicians from the symphony and the conductor. The panel listens to multiple rounds of applicants, gradually narrows down the pool, and ultimately chooses the candidate they feel is most qualified.
What is the difference between the Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Philharmonic?
The Richmond Symphony is a professional ensemble, meaning that its musicians get paid and consider the symphony their full-time or part-time job. The Richmond Philharmonic is a group of musicians who are committed to playing music, but who are doing so without pay.
What are the musicians paid?
Under the current contract, the base salary (the pay for full-time players not in titled positions) of the Richmond Symphony is $33,002 for the 16/17 season. The RSO also employs a number of part-time musicians who earn considerably less for their work in a given season.
Musicians don't work 40 hours a week, can't they just go out and find other work to supplement their income?
The Richmond Symphony requires full-time musicians to be available for 8 or 9 services a week. Each service is a 2.5 hour block of time to be used for rehearsals or performances, and does not include travel time to and from the service. These 20 hours can happen on any day of the week (although Monday is technically a day off), can happen anywhere in the state of VA, and can be scheduled at any time of day between (AM and 11PM. A single 2.5 hour service in Danville, VA includes a bus ride that begins at 4PM and ends at 1AM! Musicians have no set schedule, and each week is different. Management can change the schedule with only 28 days of notice. It's nearly impossible to find other employment that will allow such flexibility to be able to also work for the Richmond Symphony. And then of course, one must consider that working another job prevents the musician from taking the time to practice the necessary hours a day to maintain their skill and to prepare the music for the RSO. The typical musician in the Richmond Symphony spends 2 to 5 hours practicing outside of rehearsal each day to be able to perform their duties as a musician.