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Musicians Rally Outside Orchestra Hall Fundraiser

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Friday night is the biggest fundraiser of the year at Orchestra Hall, and it’s taking place in the middle of a lockout that has gone on for nearly a year.

“This is devastating to all families and musicians to not be able to play for a year,” said principal cellist Anthony Ross.

Nearly all day, musicians have been holding signs outside Orchestra Hall asking for support from the public during the lockout.

Musicians rejected a recent contract offer made by management.

“Their vision is to have a smaller orchestra that plays infrequently in the Hall. Our vision is to keep the orchestra great as it is now.”

The musicians recently rejected a contract that called for a 24 percent paycut, putting the average musician’s salary at about $100,000. Ross said the offers proposed by management would take them from a major league orchestra to a training orchestra.

“We built a special culture here,” he said. “To see them try and tear it apart is very difficult to take. That’s why we are keeping our fight.”

The orchestra is set to perform at Carnegie Hall in November. If those performances are canceled, director Osmo Vanska has said he’ll quit. U.S. Sen. George Mitchell has been brought in to help negotiate.

“I’ve never had a situation where we haven’t received a counter-proposal from the other side,” orchestra board vice chair Doug Kelley said.

Kelley believes recent offers made to the musicians are fair. Kelley said the Orchestra is currently losing about $500,000 a month.

“We need to tailor the situation to what Minnesota can pay for its world-class orchestra,” he said.

That money raised is still intended for the musicians, and it won’t be used until a new contract is agreed upon. In the meantime it will sit in an escrow account.

What’s the weekend weather looking like? Matt Brickman reports ().

WCCO 4 News At 6 – Sept. 20, 2013

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