Remainder of Minnesota Orchestra’s 2012–13 season is cancelled

Thursday, 09 May 2013

The management of the Minnesota Orchestra has announced that the remaining five concerts of the current season have been cancelled. This means that the musicians, who have been locked out since 1 October 2012, will have played none of the scheduled concerts by the end of the 2012–13 season.However, the management announced in a statement that three concerts have been scheduled for the summer.

The move comes after the musicians’ negotiating committee refused to continue talks with the management until the lockout was lifted. The board has offered three dates this month for negotiation, pending the completion of an independent financial review and fundraising feasibility studies. So far, neither the negotiating committee nor the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union has commented on the offer.

Pointing to the resolution of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s industrial dispute in April, board chairman Jon Campbell said, ‘Members of that excellent orchestra, also based in this community, acknowledged the need to reset costs in order to ensure their organisation’s financial stability. In that situation, board and musicians came together and bargained throughout a long lockout in order to reach a resolution that the community can afford. We again ask our musicians to return to negotiate in good faith so that we can do the same.’

On 30 April, music director Osmo Vänskä wrote to the board threatening resignation if the dispute was not resolved soon. He also said that violinist Erin Keefe, who has been concertmaster since 2011, had been offered two positions at other orchestras. 'Although she does not wish to leave… she will be compelled to do so if the labour dispute remains unresolved,' the letter stated, concluding: 'It is my duty to advise you that under these circumstances, my own position as Music Director may become unsustainable.'

Although it is rare for an orchestra to see its entire season cancelled, the most recent instance occurred just twelve months previously, when a contractual dispute at the Louisville Orchestra saw the cancellation of all its 2011–12 concerts.

photo: Greg Helgeson

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This is a great lesson...that all the big money arts donors do not necessarily know a great orchestra from a hole in the ground. Obviously, management and the board were expecting to have no season this year.

23:28 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Amy does Jon Campbell know that the SPCO is an excellent orchestra? He's known to not attend MO concerts.

23:31 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Scott Chamberlain

I am not a musician in the Mn Orch, but I have been following the developments in the labor dispute quite closely over the past few months. I have to say this story strikes me as somewhat odd. I'm astonished that no one from their side was quoted here. Were they asked? Instead, we're left with a lengthy quote by the Board Chair about how since the SPCO musicians agreed to a deal, the Mn Orch members should do the same. But the situations aren't at all similar, except for geography. The size of the endowment, number of musicians, pay scale are all very different, plus the extensive changes to the labor contract and the issues surrounding the expensive renovation of Orchestra Hall. So no, the situations aren't alike, and there should be a more compelling reason to resolve the dispute simply than "Well, the neighbors did."

15:13 - Thursday, 16 May 2013
Scott Chamberlain

The musicians could also offer their own rebuttal as to why a counteroffer hasn't been submitted. Numerous music and labor reporters have offered clear reasons--and legal warnings--of why such a counteroffer would be detrimental. Plus, the musicians did respond with an offer to submit to binding arbitration--something for which the management hasn't offered a counter to, by the way. Or Osmo "threatening" to resign. It was been reported elsewhere that he was threatened with immediate termination if he spoke out on the dispute; I think his words now are a sad realization that his position is untenable and if a series of Carnegie concerts and the upcoming recordings are canceled, he'll have to choice but to resign. I would hope you'd agree with me that journalistic balance requires equal space to the musicians' position. Otherwise, this article feels like an uncritical, unexamined re-publication of the management's talking points... many of which have already been debunked elsewhere.

15:17 - Thursday, 16 May 2013
Marcia Peck

Thank you for your attention to the lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra audience and musicians, currently in its 9th month. The Musicians realize that it was perhaps not your intent to cover the Lockout in full, yet we are disappointed that you reprinted what is clearly a one-sided press release. The Musicians, readily available for comment at, were not contacted for input into this article. This contract dispute has at its core the Association’s “new business model,” which removed the word “orchestra” from its mission statement and presented the Musicians with a first and final contract proposal that includes 30-50% cuts in salary and hundreds of changes to a contract crafted by both sides over 40 years of collective bargaining. Devised without input from the musicians or public, the new business model reduces a top orchestra at the height of its powers to a “house orchestra” for an entertainment venue, the newly remodeled Orchestra Hall. We invite you to add balance to your coverage. Marcia Peck, on behalf of the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra

19:06 - Thursday, 16 May 2013


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