Minnesota Orchestra board noncommittal about leadership

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2014 - 8:08 PM

The board said it reached agreement, but gave no word on the fates of CEO Michael Henson or former director Osmo Vänskä, who has said Henson should go.

If there is movement afoot to change the leadership of the Minnesota Orchestra, the board of directors on Friday gave very few clues.

After a long midday meeting, the board came “to very strong agreement on leadership and a positive direction for the organization,” new board chairman Gordon Sprenger said in a statement. “However, we have more work to do before we are able to make a detailed public statement. We will share further news as soon as we are able.”

Speculation before the meeting was that the board would push forward to resolve the fates of President and CEO Michael Henson and former music director Osmo Vänskä.

“The musicians eagerly await news from the board,” said Blois Olson, a spokesman for the orchestra’s musicians, after seeing Sprenger’s statement.

Leadership has become the key question for the orchestra, which is performing again at Orchestra Hall after a bitter labor dispute and 16-month lockout.

Vänskä said previously that for the orchestra to begin healing, Henson should depart, the implication being that Vänskä would return only if Henson leaves.

Musicians, who accepted a 15 percent pay cut in a new pact in January, have called for Henson’s ouster and the return of Vänskä, who quit in October after 10 years as music director.

Sprenger, the retired CEO of Allina Health Systems who became board chair in January, has strongly endorsed Henson. In a public-radio interview in late January, Sprenger said Henson had provided “very, very good, outstanding leadership for the orchestra.”

Vänskä, who continues to maintain a home in Minneapolis and keep up with a busy guest conducting schedule around the world, is scheduled to lead the orchestra in Minneapolis March 27-29.

 

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

 

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