Newfoundland Symphony is paying its musicians for rehearsals cancelled due to blizzard

Orchestra joins growing list of employers compensating staff for days missed.

Orchestra joins growing list of employers compensating staff for days missed

Snow is piled up in St. John's, where a state of emergency remains in effect after an epic blizzard hit eastern Newfoundland on Friday. (Gavin Simms/CBC)

In the aftermath of the blizzard that hit Newfoundland on Jan. 17, dumping a record-breaking 76.2 cm of snow on St. John's and resulting in a state of emergency being declared, staff at the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra have been scrambling.

The storm has complicated the orchestra's plans to give two sold-out pops concerts at St. John's Arts and Culture Centre on Jan. 24 and 25 featuring local singer Jodee Richardson performing the music of Bruce Springsteen.

"The NSO, in preparation for each concert cycle, does a run-up of rehearsals in the five to 10 days prior to the concert," explained Hugh Donnan, the orchestra's CEO, to CBC Music. "We were scheduled to rehearse this past Sunday night and also tonight, but due to the ongoing state of emergency these rehearsals had to be cancelled."

Cancelled, yes, but the musicians' pay cheques will not take a hit, as Donnan explained.

"As is our practice, and also part of our agreements with players, we are paying for each of these rehearsals even though they did not occur. Of course, our players will be doing some preparation in their homes and have their music for the concert which they have been rehearsing."

The NSO joins a growing list of employers who are paying their staff for days missed due to the state of emergency.


"Happy to do this for our amazing musicians — keep practicing everyone!," responded the NSO on Twitter.

If the state of emergency is lifted imminently, then Donnan says rehearsals will resume. "We will have rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday nights and players have agreed to slightly lengthen these rehearsals to give us some extra prep time."

The NSO is a professional symphony orchestra with a core of seven contract members and a large roster of fee-per-service musicians. Marc David is its music director. The next concert in the NSO's Masterworks series is A Night at the Opera, featuring tenor David Pomeroy, on Feb. 7.