SPCO former director optimistic on labor dispute

Amid a contentious labor dispute, locked-out musicians of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are bringing their former music director back for a performance of Handel's Messiah on Thursday and Friday.

Hugh Wolff, who was the chamber orchestra's conductor and music director until 2000, said he believes that the union and management can resolve the dispute.

"Each side has a narrative, it's not like you're going to convince the other side that you're completely wrong and they're completely right," Wolff told Tom Crann of All Things Considered on Thursday. "The thrust of what people from the outside, I suggest, should be doing, is getting people to listen to each other."

Wolff said the labor dispute threatens to debilitate the orchestra by driving away talent.

"I always felt this was a community that had a special relationship with the arts and culture and valued it, and understood the value it presented to the community," Wolff said. "It behooves us to examine who we are and what kind of culture and society we want here."

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians were locked out by the orchestra's management in October.

Orchestra management have said the orchestra needs to reduce the costs of the musicians' contracts through pay cuts.