Minn. Orchestra musicians plan to go solo

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 3, 2012 - 8:34 AM

The Minnesota Orchestra's locked-out union players are trying to rent a venue and put on a concert in mid-October.

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Minnesota Orchestra musicians -- locked out in a contract dispute -- rallied at 11th St and Nicollet Mall near Peavey Plaza In Minneapolis on Monday.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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Musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra will try to do it on their own. With the first six weeks of the fall season canceled and the union locked out in a labor dispute, musicians said Tuesday they are negotiating to stage a concert on Oct. 19.

"We are in talks with the Convention Center to present an opening-night concert on our own," said cellist Tony Ross, a member of the musicians' negotiating team. "We're also in discussions with former music directors to see if they would help."

The orchestra's 2012-13 season had been planned for the Minneapolis Convention Center because Orchestra Hall is being renovated. Because the orchestra canceled the first six weeks of the season on Monday, the musicians said they assume the center's auditorium would be available. If not, Ross said, the musicians will look at other possible venues. He mentioned the Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota and the O'Shaughnessy in St. Paul.

Orchestra management said in a statement: "We respect our musicians' decision to offer a concert. It doesn't change the fundamental issue the Minnesota Orchestra is facing: we need our players to accept the financial realities of 2012."

The musicians said Tuesday the concert would be free for those who already had tickets for opening night. Others would need to buy a ticket. Ross said the musicians are shouldering the cost of the effort, along with donors who support their cause. If they pull off the Oct. 19 concert, the musicians say they will attempt a series.

Gwen Pappas, an orchestra spokesperson, said that any concert the musicians perform should be considered unrelated to tickets that patrons currently hold for the nine canceled concerts in October and November.

"Regardless of whether a patron attends this newly announced concert, our ticketholders are still due a refund, or they can bank their tickets for a future Minnesota Orchestra concert," Pappas said.

Musicians were locked out after they rejected an offer from management that included steep cuts in salary and benefits. Management has said it needs the concessions to address structural deficits. Last year, the organization reported a deficit of $2.9 million, the largest in its history.

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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