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Conductor calls Minn. Orch. lockout 'ugliest labor dispute' in U.S. orchestra history

Above: Conductor Leonard Slatkin (Photo by Nico Rodamel)

When he’s not busy conducting orchestras, Leonard Slatkin writes books. His second, with the terrible title “Leading Tones,” has just been published by Amadeus Press. In it, the founder of Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest and a principal guest conductor of the MO devotes one chapter to "the ugliest labor dispute in the history of American orchestras.”

That would be the lockout that silenced Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis for 15 months until it ended in January 2014.

Slatkin criticizes management and musicians about equally in his overview. The former remained quiet for too long about its mounting financial troubles, and the latter failed to pose early questions about funding when times were flush. The musicians’ side issued misleading statements, Slatkin charges. Management should have granted the demand for an independent audit of its books.

Slatkin, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, includes a none-too-subtle scolding of MO’s longtime music director, Osmo Vänskä, who ditched his neutrality and eventually sided with the locked out musicians. Advises Slatkin: “If you are music director, stay out of it unless both sides ask you for advice. Even then, mostly listen.” (page 151)

Overall, Slatkin argues that as the two sides hardened in their opposing positions they too easily lost sight of what was most important: performing music for the public.

Counting Crows' Adam Duritz halts Treasure Island show to lecture fans

Counting Crows closed with its 1995 hit "The Rain King" Saturday at Treasure Island Casino, but not before its lead singer threw down some thunder of his own.

The band, opening up for Matchbox Twenty, had just kicked off its encore with "Palisades Park" when Adam Duritz signaled for the musicians to stop playing and glared towards the right of the stage where fans with backstage passes were starting to line up for post-show photos.

The eager beavers had left their seats near the front of the outdoor venue early, which means Duritz was performing in front of at least a couple dozen empty seats.

Duritz boomed some obscenities into his microphone and insisted that the spectators with special laminated badges return to their seats until the band was done. He even threatened not to continue.

"Don't make me exert authority," he said.

To be fair, an encore didn't seem like a given after the band's main set, which had already included a cameo from Matchbox's Rob Thomas. And an impending REAL storm must have had the special-access spectators worried that they may miss their opportunity to get selfies with the Dreadlocked One.

Most complied with Duritz's wishes and got back to the front rows. Duritz then finished "Park," followed by a mesh-up of "The Rain King" and Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road."

Matchbox's set was delayed by thunder and lightning; Hopefully, the added time gave Duritz the opportunity to cool down and pose for pics.

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