Management Rejects Two Musician Counter Offers

Today, the management of the Minnesota Orchestra rejected two counter offers by the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, who made the offers in order to prevent a damaging lockout at midnight tonight. Management appears determined to lock out the “Greatest Orchestra in the World,” as Alex Ross of the New Yorker wrote in 2010.

The first offer, to enter into binding arbitration to reach a new contract agreement, was rejected.

The second offer, to “Play and Talk,” was also rejected.

Last week, orchestra management touted $97 million in new fundraising for its Building for the Future campaign, including $14 million in taxpayer funding for the $50 million lobby renovation project.

Yesterday, the Musicians unanimously rejected a management proposal including 30-50 percent pay cuts and over 200 changes to the existing contract. They also unanimously passed a motion urging the Minnesota Orchestra management to “Play and Talk” while negotiations to a new agreement continued. “In the spirit of Minnesota where people work together to solve problems, the musicians also want to work while the negotiations continue,” said Douglas Wright, Principal Trombone and member of the negotiating committee. “The Musicians are very unified and resolved to maintain a world-class orchestra.”

Negotiation Update from September 24, 2012

On September 24, the Musicians met with the Board and Management in separate morning and afternoon sessions totaling six hours. The parties were also joined by a Federal Mediator.

In the morning session, Musicians renewed their concerns that Board and Management’s proposals would irreparably damage the artistic quality of the orchestra.  In a presentation lasting one hour, each musician from the negotiating committee spoke about the orchestra Musicians’ dedication to the community and the orchestra, highlighting the high level of artistic achievement that the orchestra has achieved, and reminded the Board and Management that it should be our common desire to grow and nurture the institution. Musicians further argued that successful organizations do not ‘cut’ their way to success, and that, in fact, budget cuts only lead to more budget cuts.

After a short caucus, the parties returned to the table and received a presentation from the Board Chairman on the state of the orchestra’s endowments. Board Chair Jon Campbell expressed regret at the Board and Management’s handling of the endowment funds over the past ten years, noting that they had been unhappy with the advice they had acted upon and had to change investment advisers. Campbell also admitted that the Board and Management had been wrong in 2007 regarding their investment predictions.

After lunch, Musicians asked questions related to the most recent endowment charts, with the main question being: Where does the $97 Million that the Board has raised thus far (in the Building for the Future Fund) fit into the total endowment structure? The Board and Management did not answer, but said they would provide that information later.

Further questions were asked pertaining to conflicting information contained in the endowment report.

The meeting proceeded with an assurance from the Board and Management that the Musicians would receive answers to these questions later, as well as a revised proposal.

Given the number of outstanding unanswered questions, combined with the inconsistencies found within the Board and Management’s financial information, the Musicians again renewed their request for a joint independent analysis of the orchestra’s finances.

Finally, Musicians requested to speak to the entire Board of Directors at that evening’s meeting, and be given an opportunity to offer their morning presentation. The Board and Management rejected that request.

Benefit and ACME Concerts

Benefit Concert for Community Emergency Service

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra want to thank all of the audience members at our Colonial Chamber Series concert today that donated so generously to the Community Emergency Service fund. With your support, we were able to raise over $5,450.

Community Concert with Advocates for Community through Musical Excellence

On September 24th, the Musicians were involved in a project that partners with el Sistema, the well-known, highly successful program that seeks to achieve social justice through classical music. We presented a free community concert at the North Community YMCA Youth and Teen Enrichment Center. This concert was hosted by Advocates for Community through Musical Excellence (ACME).  The Musicians were delighted to have the opportunity to serve  this community and to feature the children who are benefiting from this wonderful program.

Lake Harriet Concert

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra want to thank the thousands of audience members and families that filled the benches and lawns around the Lake Harriet Bandshell Sunday for our “Thank You” concert.

“Once again the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has shown it loves its arts, “ Tim Zavadil, Principal Bass Clarinet said.  “We are grateful for all of the support we have received and we will continue to negotiate in good faith to keep world-class orchestra music by world renowned musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra.”

A highlight from the concert was the reading of a statement by Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “When I arrived in Minneapolis in 2003, I set many lofty goals for the Minnesota Orchestra. I knew that with hard work and dedication to our art, we would be able to achieve them and take our place among the greatest orchestras in the world. Our musicians have met every challenge I set out for them, and I could not be prouder of what we have achieved. And I also believe that, if we stay focused on our mission of bringing great music and great musicians to Minnesota and the world, we can have even greater days ahead of us.”

We share his belief in our mission of keeping great music and and great musicians in Minnesota.

Why Not the Best? by George Slade

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are thankful once again to our long-time fan and gifted writer, George Slade for contributing another insightful essay for our website and your enjoyment. Why Not the Best?

“Whatever you do in this world, you’ve got a responsibility and a privilege of doing it the very best way you can. And whether it is architecture or cooking or drama or music, the best is none too good for any of us.”
-J Irwin Miller

What is the Price of Orchestral Excellence?

From the Sunday Star Tribune VERBATIM: “Davis said there are two kinds of American orchestras: those that have gone through painful restructuring, and those that are going to go through it. Exceptions might be Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago — organizations with greater endowments or income streams.”

We disagree, and we believe that keeping the legacy of excellence is worth it, especially since that’s what Osmo Vanska asked of us, and we delivered.