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Springfield Symphony hires another interim director as musicians call for board members to resign

A view of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in better days. The last time the SSO performed was in March 2020.
Steven E. Nanton
MassLive / MassLive.com
A view of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in better days. The last time the SSO performed was in March 2020.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra in western Massachusetts hired its second interim executive director in less than a year. That's as an extended contract dispute continues between the SSO and its musicians.

Paul Lambert said he was about to retire as a vice president at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame when SSO board members contacted him.

The news of Lambert's hiring came as the National Labor Relations Board settled charges musicians filed against the symphony. The SSO was ordered to pay its musicians more than $270,000 in lost wages and produce two concerts in early 2022.

The musicians said they'll pass on the money if key symphony board members resign.

The board is going to continue its work, Lambert said, starting with the NLRB settlement.

"Part of that settlement is to offer the SSO musicians the opportunity to play at least two classical concert performances this spring," Lambert said, "and that's one of the obvious things that we'll start to work on quickly — while rebuilding the organization.”

For the past several years, even before the pandemic, the SSO has been using money from its endowment to compensate for diminishing ticket sales.

More recently, over the past year, musicians frustrated with the ongoing contract dispute started performing as a new entity, known as the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra or MOSSO.

SSO board members say the group's performances and fundraising activities have resulted in "the splintering of our community and inviting symphony lovers to take sides."

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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