Standoffs silence orchestras in Minn. [UPDATED]Published 9:38am Wednesday, October 3, 2012 Updated 12:40pm Wednesday, October 3, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Orchestra was called the world’s greatest not long ago, welcome recognition for musicians outside a top cultural center. Now its members are locked out of Orchestra Hall, stuck in the same kind of labor-management battle recently afflicting teachers and football referees.
Across the country, symphony and chamber orchestra executives have cited flat ticket sales and slumping private support as they seek major pay concessions from musicians, who warn about a loss of talent and reputation. In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Orchestra has already cancelled concerts through Nov. 25 as negotiators argue over a proposal to trim the average musicians’ salary by $46,000 a year.
A similar standoff is underway across the Mississippi River at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has canceled the first month of its season in a labor impasse, and labor troubles are also rumbling at orchestras in Richmond, Va., Jacksonville, Fla., and San Antonio, Texas.