Associated Press,

Key information missing: What do Minnesota Orchestra musicians want?

  • Article by: Karen Bachman
  • November 4, 2013 - 5:35 PM

I’ve been a Minnesota Orchestra subscriber since 1964. I like classical music. I also like facts. In the case of the orchestra’s long-running labor strife, I am pretty clear about what the organization’s management wants. It’s been spelled out very publicly from the beginning.

What I don’t know is what the musicians want.

So far we know what the musicians don’t want. For starters, they don’t want whatever the board and management are offering. They don’t want the orchestra’s financial statements. They don’t want to make a counteroffer. They don’t want the $20,000 signing bonus raised by community philanthropists. They don’t want to play in Orchestra Hall (thus the last-minute move of last Sunday’s Vocal Essence concert to Central Lutheran Church).

And so I ask: What do they want?

I’m not talking about worthy intangibles like respect or a great orchestra. We all want that. I’m looking for specifics, not emotion. So let’s avoid hindsight about who did — or should have done — what when. May we also ignore the suspicion of plots (supposedly somebody didn’t want there to be a season at the Convention Center)?

Let’s set aside assumptions about the musical tastes of the board. Also, let’s not talk about what everyone else — the governor, the Legislature, people with a lot of money, people with not so much money — should do. Can we know the specifics of what the musicians are prepared to do so that the orchestra can be successful?

What do the musicians want? Do they want the current contract to continue with no change? Do they want more? Would they accept less? Do they want something completely different? Do they see any room for compromise? I would like to know, and I think I have plenty of company.

Even if the musicians don’t feel they are obliged to provide this information to the orchestra’s board and management, I believe they owe it to the orchestra’s patrons and donors. They also owe it to a community that supports the arts and wants the very worthy tangible goal of classical music back in Orchestra Hall.

The writer lives in Minneapolis.

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