SPCO pulls plug on 2012 concerts

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2012 - 11:01 PM

Concert cancellations follow "No" vote by locked-out musicians.

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The musicians of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, entrenched in contract talks with management, were looking to drum up public support by presenting a free concert last month.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has canceled concerts through the end of the year, it was announced Thursday by Dobson West, SPCO president.

Management locked out musicians Oct. 21, and the union on Wednesday unanimously rejected the current contract proposal.

"Knowing how far we are from an agreement, and in consideration of the needs of our audience and guest artists to plan ahead, we have made the decision to cancel concerts through December 31st," West wrote in an e-mail.

Ticket holders for canceled concerts will be contacted and information will also be posted on the SPCO website.

After the musicians' vote Wednesday, West had said concerts would be canceled for the weekend of Nov. 8-10. Thursday's decision affects three more weekends: Roberto Abbado conducting Haydn and Stravinsky, Nov. 15-17; Ruggero Allifranchini leading Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" Nov. 23-25 and Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, Dec. 6-9. The Bach program is not part of the regular subscription series. In addition, there are two smaller programs that were to be held at the SPCO music room.

Musicians have made it plain that they would rather continue to play during negotiations. Management has said it cannot afford to continue on the terms of a contract that expired June 30.

The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table next Thursday. A spokesperson for the musicians said they are working on a new proposal.

Meanwhile, musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra rallied Thursday at Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis to mark one month since they were locked out in their contract dispute. The musicians urged management not to cancel any more concerts and return to the bargaining table. When it locked out musicians Oct. 1, management canceled concerts through Nov. 25.

"We, too, would like to resume the season as soon as possible, but the reality remains that the union has yet to put a single proposal on the table since negotiations began in April," said president and CEO Michael Henson.

Musicians contend that they have proposed to put the dispute to binding arbitration and to continue playing while the two sides talk. Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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