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Gov. Mark Dayton. Star Tribune file photo by Glenn Stubbe.
Gov. Mark Dayton made his first public comments on the Minnesota Orchestra lockout on Thursday. Dayton answered questions at the Star Tribune booth at the State Fair and said he's been involved behind the scenes, most significantly in helping to select Sen. George Mitchell as a potential mediator, as has been reported.
"I've met several times with both board members and representatives of musicians and asked them how can I be most effective, and both sides felt that it was behind the scenes out of sight, rather than a publicly prominent role." Dayton said.
The governor went on to say he believes the two sides are in their "last window of opportunity." The fall season would normally start soon, and music director Osmo Vanska has said he will resign if the orchestra is unable to get back in time to prepare for Carnegie Hall concerts in early November.
"I'm hoping, and this is just my own assumption, that they both want to get it solved and they have until basically Labor Day to do so," Dayton said. "When you have this kind of dispute, both sides have to want to resolve it. No mediator can force a resolution."
Orchestra management bought up domain names in 2012
Also Thursday, a new website was launched, called "Save Our Symphony Minnesota." Organizers said their intention is to end the 11-month lockout of musicians. The group announced its site on the same day that a post on the blog "Song of the Lark" reported that the Minnesota Orchestral Association had purchased 13 domain names that included the words "save, Minnesota" and "orchestra." The blog, written by Emily Hogstad, charged that the purchases were "deliberate, predatory name buying meant to outwit irritated patrons and donors."
Gwen Pappas, the orchestra's spokeswoman, said the association reserved the domain names in the spring of 2012, about six weeks after negotiations had started and it appeared they would be contentious.
"We purchased domains that we thought we might use to share messages or to protect the Orchestra name, based on counsel from others who had been in similar situations," Pappas wrote in an e-mail on Thursday. "On the same time line, Orchestra musicians were launching their own website. What this indicates from both sides is that we knew a tough negotiation was underway and we were seeking ways to share our messages."
John Budd, a labor expert at the Carlson School of Management, said this is the first time he's heard of this type of issue coming up.
"I imagine the rationale was more to protect the brand than stifle dissent since a creative dissenter should be able to come up with a 14th domain name, not to mention Facebook and Twitter," Budd said. "That this is an issue seems to reflect the bitterness of the dispute."
There was no news Thursday on what next step Mitchell, the potential mediator in the contract dispute, has planned to get both sides to negotiate.
(Staff Writer Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this story)
The community group Orchestrate Excellence, which describes itself as independent of management or the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, is hosting a free community forum Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
The event includes a talk by Alan Fletcher, president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival, as well as small breakout sessions to discuss the ongoing labor dispute that canceled the orchestra's entire 2012-13 season and that remains unresolved.
The forum is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1200 Marquette Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis.
Osmo Vanska conducted the orchestra in Amsterdam on the 2010 tour./Photo by Jeff Wheeler.
The Minnesota Orchestra will not record Sibelius symphonies and a Beethoven piano concerto as planned next month. The BIS label was scheduled to start shipping recording equipment this week for the sessions that were to start Sept. 16.
The parties agreed that without a musicians' contract, it didn't make sense to send the equipment.
"We know there is a week that work next spring," said Gwen Pappas, the orchestra's spokeswoman.
The Sibelius symphonies 3 and 6 were to be recorded in the session. Yevgeny Sudbin is expected to record the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2.
Still in question is the orchestra's date at Carnegie Hall in early November. Carnegie is getting close to imposing a deadline, Pappas said, for the Minnesota to confirm a definitive availability to play. Last April, music director Osmo Vanska said that if Carnegie cancels the November concerts that he would be forced to resign his position.
Manny Laureano, holding sign in a rally last fall, will conduct the free concert on Sept. 15./Photo by Richard Sennott.
Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will perform a free concert Sept. 15 at the Lake Harriet band shell in Minneapolis. The players did the same thing last September, when it looked like contract talks were headed for trouble. And what trouble. A year later, the musicians have been locked out since Oct. 1, and negotiations are practically nonexistent.
Manny Laureano, principal trumpet, will conduct Weber's Overture to "Der Freischutz" and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.
Last year's performance at Lake Harriet drew nearly 4,000 supporters.
Violinist Stephanie Arado has resigned as assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra. Arado, who has been with the ensemble since 1991, has accepted a position with the Interlochen Center for the Arts. According to an e-mail she sent to orchestra leadership, she will be one of two instructors of violin at the Arts Academy, located southwest of Traverse City, Mich.
"My decision to understake this career change now grew out of my sense that the institution that I have devoted my creative energy to for the past two decades -- the Minnesota Orchestra -- has lost its way," Arado wrote in her note.
Arado has been featured as a soloist and chamber musician in several programs with the orchestra. In 2006, she and Lydia Artymiw performed the Mendelssohn concerto for violin and piano.
Musicians at the Minnesota Orchestra have been locked out since Oct. 1 of last year in a contract dispute. The two sides are engaging in quiet talks to see if they can agree on ground rules for mediated negotiations with George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senate leader and diplomat.