By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the Philly Pops tries to work its way out of bankuptcy (see related stories), it is threatening to end its 33-year relationship with its founding artistic director and conductor, Grammy award-winning musician Peter Nero.

The dissonance centers on Nero’s current contract, which has two years remaining on it.  The Pops’ lawyers are drafting motions to file in US Bankruptcy Court to nullify it.

Pops CEO Frank Giordano says that last year Nero’s $500,000 salary ate up a third of the Pops’ ticket revenue.  Giordano says they are now trying to negotiate a lower number with their conductor.

“The offer that we’ve given him is about a 40-percent reduction,” Giordano tells KYW Newsradio.

He maintains that the change would still provide Nero with a salary about twice as high as the industry standard.

“The board’s goal is to reach an agreement to recognize the financial challenges that confront the Pops while also continuing to reward Peter’s outstanding contribution to our orchestra,” he says.

The Pops says it has 24 concerts planned for next season, and Giordano is hoping Nero will be at the podium and the keyboard.

Nero has hired attorneys to fight the move.

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