Locked-out orchestra musicians to play December concerts

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2012 - 11:35 PM

Players at the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO announce dates and guests, as labor dispute continues.

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will play two concerts in December at Ted Mann Concert Hall. And the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians also have placed a concert date on their calendar, with conductor Pinchas Zukerman.

Representatives of the locked-out union made their announcement in the wake of Thursday's news that orchestra management had canceled all December dates because there has been no progress in talks over a new labor contract.

The locked-out musicians performed Oct. 18. That program, conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, sold out the 2,100-seat Minneapolis Convention Center auditorium.

"Our last concert was an enormous success," said principal cellist Tony Ross, a member of the players' negotiating team. "Our audience, through these hard times, has shown incredible respect for the music."

Edo de Waart, the orchestra's music director from 1986 to 1995, will conduct the concerts Dec. 15 and 16. Jorja Fleezanis, the longtime concertmaster, will return to play the Bach Double Violin Concerto with current concertmaster Erin Keefe. De Waart will lead the musicians and a chorale of 80 to 90 voices in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Soloists will be soprano Ellie Dehn, mezzo Adriana Zabala, tenor Thomas Cooley and bass Timothy Noble. All artists are waiving their fees.

"It means the world to us to have Edo supporting our cause," Ross said. "He is a brilliant interpreter of Beethoven."

Ross said he did not know the financial results of the Oct. 18 concert. He said several donors have helped with expenses, and the musicians' goal with these concerts is to break even. He did not identify the supporters, and said he could not speak to whether any of them are orchestra board members.

In a statement, Michael Henson, the orchestra's CEO and president, said Friday's announcement "doesn't alter the fiscal realities we face or the status of our negotiations."

The musicians have been locked out since Oct. 1, after they rejected a board proposal that would have cut minimum salaries by about 33 percent. The two sides have not met since then, and there are no negotiations scheduled. Several musicians have taken temporary jobs during the lockout, although Ross said he hopes they will all be in town for the December dates.

Ross also said that if management lifts the lockout, the musicians would still play the concerts and donate the proceeds to the orchestra's endowment fund.

Ted Mann Hall, on the University of Minnesota campus, seats about 1,100, so two concerts would yield about the same capacity as the single October date in the Convention Center.

The SPCO musicians, also locked out in a labor dispute, said they would perform Dec. 2 at Wayzata Community Church. The all-Mozart show is to be led by celebrated violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman, who was music director of the chamber orchestra from 1980 to 1987. Musicians and management of the SPCO met Thursday, but "no progress was made and no further dates have been set," said musicians spokeswoman Lynn Erickson.

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

  • MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS

    When: 8 p.m. Dec. 15, 2 p.m. Dec. 16

    Where: 2128 4th Av. S., Mpls.

    Contact: 612-624-2345 or www.minnesotaorchestra musicians.org.

    SPCO MUSICIANS

    When: 3 p.m. Dec. 2

    Where: Wayzata Community Church, 125 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata

    Contact: www.musiciansspco.org

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