Locked out musicians get gigs elsewhere

Updated at 4.30 pm

There are no negotiations currently scheduled between the locked out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and management - but the war of words continued unabated.

The musicians today released a list of 10 orchestras, including the Sao Paulo Symphony in Brazil where Minnesota Orchestra musicians will be performing in coming weeks.


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"Obviously we would prefer to be performing for our audiences here," said lead musicians negotiator Tim Zavadil (left). "We've got a world class roster of musicians. Since the management has locked us out, so we have no salary and benefits and musicians have got to be able to go earn a living. So it was really remarkable that within the first week of the lock out musicians have been invited to perform with such a world class roster of orchestras."

It is an impressive list: the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Sao Paulo Symphony, the Orpheus at Carnegie, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Zavadil says the list represents different kinds of temporary engagements.

"Some of them are short term, from maybe perhaps one week," he said. "There are some mid-terms you know one to two months. Then there are some people who have left for permanent positions in other places."

This of course has been one of the rallying cries of the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, that talented players are likely to leave because of the major salary cuts being proposed by the orchestra. Zavadil declined to give exact numbers of people who are leaving, saying that some of them are still in the final stages of negotiation. But he can confirm at least one.

"Probably the most significant one is Peter Maguire who is a fabulous violinist in our first violin section will be leaving to take the concertmaster position in Zurich, Switzerland."

Maguire, who is acting first associate concertmaster with the Minnesota Orchestra is headed to the Zurich Tonhalle Orchester. When asked if Maguire's move might have been in the works for some time Zavadil said he didn't know.

Zavadil returned repeatedly to the idea that the musicians want to live and play in Minnesota.

"The Minnesota Orchestra has always been a destination orchestra," he said.


Locked out musicians protesting at Orchestra Hall (MPR images/Euan Kerr)

Zavadil says the musicians are still seeking an independent financial analysis of the orchestra. He indicated he believes the next move belongs to Minnesota Orchestra management.

"Currently we have no salary and no benefits, so we need to go out an earn a living wage. When the other side is ready to meet, we'll be ready to meet," he said

No-one from the orchestra management was available to immediately respond. However in recent weeks managers have repeatedly said they are awaiting a counter-proposal from musicians so they can begin negotiating.

Update: late this afternoon Minnesota Orchestra management issued the following response:

"We anticipate that musicians will find work as substitutes in the weeks ahead, as it is one of the benefits of an orchestral career that freelance work is readily available. This doesn't alter where our negotiations currently stand: we are waiting for our musicians to return to the table with a realistic counterproposal, so we can work to resolve our differences, and musicians can perform in our Orchestra again."