Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Orchestra announced late Monday afternoon that the planned Carnegie Hall concerts have been canceled, a move which is widely expected to result in the departure of famed director and conductor Osmo Vänskä.
Vänskä originally set the Monday deadline, saying he would quit if there was not a deal that would bring musicians back to work.
The possible loss of Vänskä is widely seen as a significant blow to the orchestra’s reputation. Vänskä has not yet made a public statement as of early Monday evening.
The musicians have continued to practice and perform, but without Vänskä. Musician’s spokesperson Blois Olson places blame for lack of agreement on the Minnesota Orchestra Board.
“We are willing to compromise,” Olson said. “We have indicated that we voted on a proposal of a negative 6 percent cut and accepted it.”
But the board has asked for deeper cuts. Musicians this weekend rejected the latest offer of an 18 percent pay cut the first year, which would have put the average salary at $104,500, and included a $20,000 signing bonus and 10 weeks of paid vacation. After 3 years, the pay cut would increase 25 percent.
Musicians continue to say they should be paid at the same level of other top orchestras, citing the Cleveland Symphony as an example. Reports put the minimum salary in Cleveland at $120,000.
But the Board says the musicians are ignoring the reality that the orchestra has run a deficit of $22 million over the past three years.
Late Monday afternoon, Governor Mark Dayton — who for months has pushed for a breakthrough — offered a grim assessment.
“Time is running out. I’m hopeful but not optimistic,” Dayton said.
Tickets still remain for two concerts with the locked-out musicians without Vänskä, which will take place this Friday and Saturday at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall.
Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell said late Monday afternoon that a decision will be made soon on what to do about the orchestra’s 2013-2014 season, which is scheduled to start next week.