Music

Here’s how much the BSO’s highest-paid musicians (all men) made in 2015-16

Malcolm Lowe (front left) and Steven Ansel (center), playing in Symphony Hall in April 2016, were two of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s highest-paid musicians in the fiscal year that ended that August.
Winslow Townson
Malcolm Lowe (front left) and Steven Ansel (center), playing in Symphony Hall in April 2016, were two of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s highest-paid musicians in the fiscal year that ended that August.

A lawsuit filed this week has focused attention on the pay of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s musicians. So how much do some of the city’s most prominent players make?

First, a little background. The principal flutist of the BSO sued the organization this week, under the new Massachusetts Equal Pay Law.

Elizabeth Rowe’s attorney said she was paid about $70,000 less than principal oboist John Ferrillo, a fellow woodwind principal, in 2017.

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Pay data for 2017 is not publicly available, but the data for the fiscal year that ended in August 2016 is, on the BSO’s Form 990, the annual report that nonprofits are required to file with the IRS. Nonprofits must report their highest-paid employees on the form.

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In the fiscal year running from September 2015 to August 2016, the five highest-paid musicians listed on the 990 form were all men:

 Malcolm Lowe, concertmaster and violinist, $415,402

 John Ferrillo, principal oboist, $286,621

 Thomas Rolfs, principal trumpet player, $279,073

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 Steven Ansell, principal viola player, $264,251

 Timothy Genis, timpanist, $255,324

According to a 2016 report from the Berklee College of Music, the starting salary for a BSO orchestral musician was $132,028. The report found that starting salaries for orchestral musicians nationwide ranged from $28,000 to $143,000.

The other BSO employees listed on the 990 form were managing director Mark Volpe ($770,527), chief financial officer Thomas May ($261,678), chief operating and communications officer Kim Noltemy ($252,768), and clerk of the board Bart Reidy ($215,860).