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Minnesota Orchestra's Osmo Vanska calls for return to negotiations

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Osmo Vanska
Music director Osmo Vanska, in this file photo from 2009, is credited with elevating the Minnesota Orchestra to one of the best in the world. Vanska is calling for parties in the labor dispute to return to the negotiating table.
Photo: Ann Marsden

Both sides in the Minnesota Orchestra lockout are welcoming a letter from music director Osmo Vanska calling for a return to the negotiating table.

Deeply concerned about the future of the orchestra, Vanska's letter to management and musicians says that he fears "we may be on a path to diminishing greatly, if not destroying, the Minnesota Orchestra as an artistic and cultural leader."

Management locked out the musicians Oct. 1 after the two sides were unable to reach a new contract. Vanska is credited with elevating the Minnesota Orchestra to one of the best in the world, but has been noticeably quiet about the dispute until now.

But after weeks without negotiations or orchestra rehearsals, Vanska is breaking his silence. In the letter he writes, "I am desperately anxious about the risk posed to the quality and spirit of the orchestra for the future."

Vanska also said he may need to consider canceling proposed recording projects and an upcoming European tour.

Musicians representative Doug Wright believes Vanska's letter may be pivotal and says the musicians will discuss the letter, but the initial management proposal includes such large cuts that musicians feel they can't make a counterproposal.

"I am very hopeful that it is. I'm hoping that this breaks the log-jam," Wright said.

Wright hopes managementwill make another offer, but Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell said that won't happen.

"[Vanska] clearly is maintaining his neutrality, but asking both parties to really get back to real discussions," Campbell said. "And so I think his encouragement is helpful."