Minnesota Orchestra's locked out musicians to play shows - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Minnesota Orchestra's locked out musicians to play shows

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Locked out musicians with the Minnesota Orchestra are planning to hold a concert, and possibly a concert series, thanks to donations and support from fans. The musicians said they will likely be able to honor Minnesota Orchestral Association tickets for the concerts -- even if it is at their own expense.

The next two months' worth of Minnesota Orchestra concerts were canceled by management as a result of the lockout, but unlike the NHL lockout cancellations, the orchestra is not automatically refunding ticket holders.

"It is very clear to us from the public and our audience that they would like us to play this fall," said Tony Ross, principal cello player and member of the negotiating committee. "Thanks to the support of donors and the audience we are announcing that we will have a concert or a series of concerts this fall where we will honor the tickets of the Minnesota Orchestral Association."

Concert dates will be announced as soon as the musicians can secure a venue, but they are aiming for the same opening night: Oct. 19. They may play at the Minneapolis Convention Center as previously planned because of construction at the Orchestra Hall.

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra wrapped up their own free concert on Tuesday night to raise awareness of the proposed salary cuts they face in their own union negotiations.

"Our base salary is 78, and they want to take it to 50," Carole Mason Smith told FOX 9 News. "That's a 36 percent cut."

Managers of the chamber orchestra say they are facing a million-dollar deficit for this fiscal year, but they agreed to play while continuing their contract talks -- for now.

The Minnesota Orchestra rejected two counter offers offered by the musicians on Sunday, triggering the midnight lockout. According to the musicians, the offer to play and continue negotiations was rejected along with an offer to enter binding arbitration to reach a new contract agreement and avoid a lockout.

Doug Kelley, vice chair of the negotiating committee for the orchestra board, said a play-and-talk option wasn't an option across the river.

"We didn't think that playing and talking was going to be fruitful if we have been at the table for six months and haven't gotten one proposal from them," Kelley said.

The musicians had unanimously rejected a proposed 30 to 50 percent pay cut on Saturday.

Kelley told FOX 9 News the Minnesota Orchestra is coming out of a $2.9 million deficit from last year, and a larger deficit is expected this year unless they find a way to save money. Otherwise, he says the Orchestra will have depleted its endowment by the end of the five-year contract.

The musicians argue that reducing salaries by up to 50 percent isn't fair -- especially since The New Yorker has dubbed the Minnesota Orchestra among the best in the world. If their pay is halved, they say the orchestra's quality will suffer.

Across the river, the musicians of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are continuing to play while negotiating new contract. They're holding a free public concert Tuesday night at Macalester College's Leonard Center.

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