Mayor Rybak participated in a program with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2006./Photo by Richard Sennott.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Judy Dayton, a longtime arts benefactor, are hoping that both sides in the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute will set down their arms for one night and celebrate the ensemble’s Grammy nomination.
Rybak and Dayton have invited the players and music director Osmo Vanska to perform the Sibelius Symphonies No. 2 and 5 on Feb. 1 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The orchestra’s recording of those two pieces have been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance. The Grammy winner will be announced Feb. 10.
"We are obviously in a complicated labor issue right now,” Rybak said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “But it would be a tragedy in my mind if the dispute prevented this community from celebrating the fact that we have an institution that is up for a Grammy.”
Rybak said that he and Dayton informed all parties in the dispute, but did not ask permission to put on the event. A spokesman for the musicians said later that they would accept the request. Vanska’s position is more complicated, in that his appearance could be seen as supporting the musicians in their bargaining standoff with management. As the chief artistic officer and public face of the institution, music directors generally take no position in such matters.
The mayor, however, stressed that he and Dayton would be the hosts of such an event and that it would be a cease fire of sorts.
“We’re asking everyone to put down the dispute for that night and come together to celebrate the accomplishment,” he said.
Rybak, who has expressed concern several times recently about the labor difficulty, said that the event could help convince a broader base of people to support the orchestra.
“As a community leader, many of us haven’t done enough,” he said. “This orchestra has been held together for generations by relatively few people and if we care about this institution, more of us need to put our money where our mouth is.”
Musicians and management this week are exploring options aimed at completing a financial analysis of the orchestra. It is one part of an agenda the two sides agreed upon last week to restart negotiations that stalled after musicians were locked out on Oct. 1. Locked-out musicians have played three concerts on their own, with the clear intention of generating support and publicity for their position. Rybak and Dayton insist the Feb. 1 event would be a neutral ground.

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