MN Orchestra not in 'good-enough shape' as recording session postponed

Minnesota Orchestra
The Minnesota Orchestra, seen in an undated file photo, will not continue with plans to record the third and sixth symphonies by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in September.
Photo by Greg Helgeson, courtesy Minnesota Orchestra

Concerned that an ongoing lockout of musicians by the Minnesota Orchestra has left the orchestra unprepared, the Swedish recording company BIS has postponed a planned September session, orchestra officials confirmed today.

The Minnesota Orchestra was due to record the third and sixth symphonies by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in September under the baton of Music Director Osmo Vanska, a Finland native and world-renowned exponent of the composer's music.

The Orchestra's recording of the Sibelius second and fifth symphonies, released by BIS in early 2012, received a Grammy nomination.

BIS officials say they are withdrawing from the September sessions because they no longer believe the orchestra is "in good-enough shape" to meet the exacting standards the label requires, according to a document obtained by MPR News.

Orchestra President Michael Henson agrees with the Swedish label's decision, and said he hopes the session can be rescheduled for the spring.

"This seems a very logical thing to do, in terms of making sure the orchestra is fully prepared for these recordings and is allowed ample rehearsal time and preparation time," he said.

Vanska had set a Sept. 9 deadline for the orchestra to rehearse so it could be ready for the recordings and for upcoming Carnegie Hall dates.

Both management and musicians say they stand ready to negotiate, but have not been able to agree on a framework for talks. Management locked out the musicians on Oct. 1.

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