With the lockout anniversary looming, a group backing Minnesota Orchestra musicians called for public pressure on management.
The signs were among many being brandished at a rally held late Friday afternoon by the recently formed group Save Our Symphony Minnesota (SOSM), made up of Minnesota Orchestra supporters including both loyal concert attendees and fellow musicians.
Orchestra musicians have been locked out by management since last October in a dispute over salaries and other contract issues.
The latest attempt to reconcile differences with the aid of prominent international negotiator George Mitchell has failed to break the impasse.
“It’s not just those with six-figure salaries who are affected,” said Rena Kraut, a freelance clarinetist who counts on filling in for the orchestra as part of her income. “This is hurting the greater economy, too.”
At the demonstration, which drew about 90 people, Nils Halker of Save Our Symphony placed a large key into a symbolic oversized padlock on a chain and popped it open. “It only takes a click of the mind to unlock the music,” he said.
Adam Kuenzel, principal flute for the orchestra, was one of several locked-out musicians at the rally. He said the enthusiasm of the SOSM group has given the musicians a boost at a time of concern about public fatigue over the dispute as the lockout drags on.
“It’s been so frustrating and disheartening, heading into one year, their support is priceless,” he said.
The dinner inside the hall was a private event for those who have donated $750 or more to the orchestra. Orchestra management issued a statement saying that the annual Symphony Ball and preceding patrons’ dinner raise “$1 million a year for musicians’ salaries and education initiatives.” It also stated that none of the funds raised by the ball and dinner will be accessed “until a contract resolution with musicians is resolved.”
This year’s Symphony Ball is scheduled to be held Sept. 20.
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046