MN Orchestra musicians say lockout must be lifted for new talks

  • Article by: Graydon Royce , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2013 - 6:39 AM

In 90-minute meeting with Minnesota Orchestra board, five negotiators drew line in the sand.

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hermajestyApr. 26, 1310:20 PM

Last night, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra came close to selling out O'Shaughnessy Auditorium and received several standing ovations, including some for just walking onto the stage. It's obvious which side the audiences are on.

The board and managers act all self-righteous and concerned, but they conveniently neglect to note that several of the points of contention are NOT about money but about artistic control and community outreach.

If the musicians agreed to management's non-monetary demands, such as taking hiring authority away from the music director or killing some of the outreach programs, they might as well fold.

Last night we learned that about 1/4 of the orchestra has already left or is about to leave (so much for the sneering comments I've seen about not having any choice but to stay).

So due to their own financial mismanagement (raising money for an unnecessary remodeling job instead of for stabilizing the orchestra's finances and stepping up marketing efforts), the managers are ruining an orchestra that is world-famous, has been nominated for a Grammy, and was scheduled to play Carnegie Hall next year.

I'm told that some of the board members don't even attend the concerts and have no interest in classical music. What are they doing on the board, then?

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DufferHApr. 26, 1310:34 PM

If the union continues to play hardball and makes a new demand such as this, the outcome isn't one they're hoping for.

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mchristiApr. 26, 1311:09 PM

If indeed there are board members that don't attend concerts and lack any real interest in classical music, they ought to step down. For that matter, they ought never to have been asked to be on the board, no matter how much money they or their corporations give to the orchestra. Maybe its time for the board to be made up of regular concert goers, holders of season ticket packages, rather than just people who give a bunch of money. Being on the board of the Minnesota Orchestra should be about passion for the orchestra not how much money they can fork over.

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gopher68Apr. 26, 1311:36 PM

I continue to be amazed at the union's insistence that there is money for them to continue to be paid the 25% raises they were given under different economic circumstances a few years back. This is a non-profit; there are no fat cat owners who are hiding all of the "profits". Selling out an auditorium proves nothing, unless they can repeatedly do it at ticket prices that support their wage demands.

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56stanApr. 26, 1311:39 PM

The Cleveland Orchestra has, thanks to a Board that cares about its wonderful orchestra, solved its problems. The Minnesota Board wants not a first rate orchestra but a hall that they can rent out for weddings, corporate banquets with just "background music" as accompanyment.

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ajnaguyApr. 27, 13 3:34 AM

Henson's constant comments about not having heard things is indicative of one thing: his unwillingness to listen. And it is deliberate, it is chilling, and it is already tragic.

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ajnaguyApr. 27, 13 3:51 AM

Sell out Orchestra Hall at 'market' prices? The Twins aren't selling out their new stadium, and their owners are once again crying that they have to live within their means. With the team payroll reduced, the quality of what they put on the field is diminished. This is a slap in the face to die-hard fans, and reduces attendance, but the owners don't care - they're making money from every other stream (food, merchandise, revenue-sharing, TV) - it's a shell game. Same goes for the Orchestra - we're going to wind up with an ensemble that nobody who appreciates good live music, skillfully played, will listen to, but will be 'sustainable,' because they'll be playing corporate gigs. Probably with a percentage of the revenue going to the dashing CEO who 'saved' the orchestra in one of those wonderful 'incentivized' contracts one hears so much about, especially when he bolts after his hatchet job is done and collects a fat severance package.

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mplsjohnApr. 27, 13 6:33 AM

If the orchestra thinks they are gaining new fans by their action they are not.....and I expect losing a few along the way. It is hard to take sides when not intimately involved, but zero, zip, no counter offer....get reasonable.

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jcinmnApr. 27, 13 6:58 AM

Watch the MN Orch invite the musicians back ONCE Orchestra Hall is completed. This was a poorly orchestrated move to keep costs down during the rebuilding of Orchestra Hall and nothing more. The musicians would do well to offer to RENT Orchestra Hall for their Disenfranchised Musicians concerts and leave the MN Orch in the lurch.

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jcinmnApr. 27, 13 7:03 AM

gopher68 "I continue to be amazed at the union's insistence that there is money for them to continue to be paid the 25% raises they were given under different economic circumstances a few years back. This is a non-profit; there are no fat cat owners who are hiding all of the "profits". Selling out an auditorium proves nothing, unless they can repeatedly do it at ticket prices that support their wage demands." They used to be able to do that but, due to management's heavy handed tactics,I doubt it for the future. I, for one, am not interested.

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