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Musicians at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are mulling a "talk and play" proposal from management. The union has until Monday to formally respond.
If accepted, the proposal is intended to preclude more canceled concerts in the SPCO season. In an e-mail, Carole Mason Smith, head of the musicians bargaining committee, said her group is studying the proposal and asking for some clarifications.
Should the musicians approve the proposal, negotiations would still continue toward a new contract. According to the management offer, the "talk and play" period would extend to June 30.
The terms of the package include a 28-player ensemble, a retirement program for players 55 or older, and a guarantee that no current musician would lose his or her job.
On salary, the SPCO offered two alternatives:
1) A guaranteed annual amount of $50,000 with $1,000 bumps in each of two subsequent years. And a guaranteed overscale of $12,500 for current musicians.
2) A guaranteed annual salary of $56,000, again with $1,000 bumps, but with no mention of the guaranteed overscale. Of course, individual musicians can negotiate overscale.
The distinctions are intended to address musician concerns that a two-tier wage system was being set up in which new players would receive a lower rate of pay, without the overscale guarantee. The choice is whether current musicians want to accept a lower overall guarantee.
The full proposal is at:
Osmo Vanska, center, recently conducted a concert with the locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra to clelebrate the ensemble's Grammy nomination. Photo by David Joles.
"Realistically, we are all aware that it will take some time to complete this review....If we are able to come to an agreement within a timeframe that allows us to reinstate some of these concerts, we will make every effort to do so," board chair Jon Campbell said in a statement released Friday.
“There is absolutely no reason we could not return to the stage under some sort of temporary agreement and continue to perform while and simultaneously doing the independent financial analysis,” said musician spokesman Tim Zavadil. “Certainly we hope they have not agreed to the analysis so they can prolong the lockout.”
Cancelled performances include Beethoven's "Eroica," the Gershwins' "Here To Stay," "Four Last Songs" by Strauss and Josefowicz Plays Stravinsky. The announcement comes two days before the Grammy Awards. The orchestra's recording of Sibelius' Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5 is one of five nominees under best orchestral performance.
In a response statement, the musicians said the concert cancellations have "further eroded the public trust" and challenged management's intentions: "While continuing to build the $52 million Orchestra Hall lobby, with $14 million coming from taxpayer dollars, this latest set of cancellations through April 7 includes 10 Young People’s Concerts, as well as a week-long residency serving the community of Bemidji. Through these cancellations, Management has taken another step toward throwing away the entire Orchestra season, leading us to ask, 'Was this the plan all along?'
The statement continued: "Management has lobbied for and received nearly $1 million in state support for music education and outreach, and this latest round of cancellations brings the total number of lost Education concerts to 18. If Orchestra Management fails to keep its commitment to the community by continuing to cancel education and outreach concerts, we ask 'Will taxpayers demand a refund?' "
Concerts rescheduled to be presented during the 2013-14 season beginning in September are YP: Supersonic Sounds, Common Chords: Bemidji and Trey McIntyre/ Preservation Hall.
Max Raabe and Palast Orchester, scheduled to play April 7, will now do so on that date, but at the Dakota Bar and Grill.
All ticketholders to concerts through April 7 will be contacted by the orchestra to go over several options. They may also handle it online at minnesotaorchestra.org/change.
A story in the New York Times today brings national attention to the Minnesota Orchestra musicians' lockout, now four months along with no quick resolution in sight.
Critic James Oestreich wrote that the orchestra, which performed the Sibelius symphonies nos. 2 and 5 for which it is nominated for a Grammy award, "played like the truly great ensemble it has become in nine seasons under Mr. Vanska."
As for the nominated disc, he called it "superb" and "easily among the best of 2012." The Grammy award for best orchestral performance will be announced Sunday afternoon, before the televised ceremony.
Read the story here:
Violinist Daria Adams will perform with several other SPCO members at a benefit concert Sunday. Star Tribune photo by Marlin Levison
A concert and fundraiser by and for the locked-out musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will take place at the University Club (420 Summit Ave., St. Paul) from 2:30-4:30 p.m, with a 40-minute set of music beginning at 3 p.m. Participating musicians include Daria Adams, Christopher Brown, Steven Copes, Kathryn Greenbank, Joshua Koestenbaum, Sarah Lewis, Alicia McQuerrey,Brenda Manuel Mickens and Carole Mason Smith.
A $50 donation is suggested by hosts Margot and Fran Galt, Carol Connolly, Helena Kriel, Ray Hathaway and Michael Stoughton. Please RSVP at email@example.com.