MN Orchestra cancels more concerts

Still mired in a contract dispute with its musicians, the Minnesota Orchestra on Wednesday cancelled or rescheduled concerts through April 27.

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra say they are frustrated by the cancellations. In recent weeks the musicians have claimed it's always been management's intention to cancel the entire season. Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson said the Wednesday announcement proves that wrong.

"We've intentionally not cancelled the rest of the season because we want to send a very clear signal to the public and to our musicians and the union that we really want to negotiate and find a settlement," Henson said.

Musicians have been locked out since Oct. 1.

Henson said it's been almost a year since contract negotiations began and musicians have not yet made a counter offer. He said discussions continue about how to do an independent analysis of the orchestra's finances. Musicians say they need this before making a counteroffer.

Musician negotiator Tim Zavadil said the musicians want to get an independent analysis of the orchestra's finances underway so they can negotiate a contract.

"But the reality is we keep coming up against roadblocks and actions that are being taken that seem to be leading to the cancellation of an entire season," Zavadil said. Zavadil accuses management of dragging its feet on the analysis, and then making things worse with this round of cancellations.

Henson, however, says orchestra management is eager to get the analysis done and talks underway.

Meanwhile, the locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will present two free concerts on Saturday afternoon at the Wayzata Community Church.

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