When John Koen was on vacation in China after a performance as a cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he got an idea of the impact that the orchestra has on the world.

That and the Liberty Bell.

Koen said that when he told people where he came from, they replied, "Oh, I heard you have a great orchestra and the Liberty Bell."

"Philadelphia was represented by the Liberty Bell and the orchestra," Koen said. "It didn't matter where someone was from, they knew that Philadelphia was represented on the world stage for classical music."

So, Koen was among those who were happy when Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra Association jointly announced yesterday an agreement on a 4.8 percent pay cut to help the famous organization through these tough economic times.

Musicians Union Local 77, with Joseph Parente, president, agreed to modifications in the orchestra contract.

"It was remarkable," said Frank P. Slattery, orchestra executive director, who was part of the effort to ask the musicians for the money-saving move.

Slattery added that orchestras in other cities are facing the same difficulties, but none had been as willing as Philly's musicians to help out.

"I don't know of any group of musicians that have helped their organization as much as Philadelphia," Slattery said. "It was extraordinary."

Koen, chairman of the orchestra members' committee and the lead negotiator for the musicians, said that the 107 members of the orchestra ratified the modifications yesterday. The pay cut will be effective from this Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2010.

The total package will result in savings of over $4 million to August 2011. The deal also includes agreements waiving compensation for overtime and extra concerts or rehearsals, the pension-funding obligation will be reduced and payments for appearances, recordings and television broadcasts will be eliminated, the orchestra said. *