Osmo Vänskä extends deadline for Minnesota Orchestra contract talks


Though still locked in a contract dispute, the Minnesota Orchestra is holding on to music director Osmo Vänskä for the time being.

Back in May the conductor set a deadline of September 9 for the restart of rehearsals - both for a recording session for BIS and a November Sibelius residency in Carnegie Hall. Calling on the dispute between management and musicians to be resolved, Vänskä declared that he would be forced to resign if the orchestra were not prepared for the Carnegie concerts.

Though the lockout continues, Vänskä has now changed the deadline to September 30 for rehearsals for the New York appearances, while the recording session has been postponed until next year. In practical terms, an agreement must therefore be reached by September 15, said orchestra president and CEO, Michael Henson.

For their part, the musicians are happy to return to playing, while simultaneously negotiating, as proposed by mediator George Mitchell. In the last day they have also offered a counteroffer in the pay dispute – the first time they have done so during the course of the standoff – although there is some debate as to whether the offer constitutes an official proposal.  

The Minnesota musicians have been locked out by the orchestra’s governing body, the Minnesota Orchestral Association, since October 1, 2012, after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. As a result the entire 2012-13 concert season was cancelled. Due to a number of financial challenges the board is proposing cutting the average annual musician salary from $135,000 to $89,000.

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