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Sibelius and Bad News From Minneapolis

February 12, 2013

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra The Swedish label BIS Records has just released the second recording of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sibelius symphonies series, a disc that includes the First Symphony, the work that confirmed Sibelius’ status as a Finnish national hero, and the enigmatic, starkly emotional Fourth Symphony.

Conducting the performances is Music Director Osmo Vänskä, whose Sibelius interpretations have earned international acclaim. The album, the newest chapter of the highly praised collaboration between Vänskä, the Orchestra and BIS, is available now through the Orchestra’s website,

The Minnesota Orchestra, founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, issued its first recording in 1924 and has since recorded more than 450 works.

And now for the bad news: Continued labor problems in Minneapolis resulted in the cancellation or rescheduling of concerts through April. This is the management statement:

Contract talks between the Orchestral Association and its musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union (Local 30-73), began last April, and are currently overseen by a federal mediator. The Orchestral Association’s proposal offers a total package averaging $119,000 per musician, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician. The proposal also includes 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave. In December, the Orchestral Association posted an operating deficit of $6 million for Fiscal 2012, the largest in its history.

According to the union:

One week ago, the management illustrated that they have no interest in trying to overcome the crisis they have created. They gave the cold shoulder to Mayor R.T. Rybak and the Orchestra’s greatest benefactor Judy Dayton when these leaders asked Musicians and Management to set aside their differences for the Grammy celebration concert.

While continuing to build the $52 million Orchestra Hall lobby, with $14 million coming from taxpayer dollars, this latest set of cancellations through April 7, includes 10 Young People’s Concerts, as well as a week-long residency serving the community of Bemidji. Through these cancellations, Management has taken another step toward throwing away the entire Orchestra season, leading us to ask, "Was this the plan all along?"

Management has lobbied for and received nearly $1 million in state support for music education and outreach, and this latest round of cancellations brings the total number of lost Education concerts to 18. If Orchestra Management fails to keep its commitment to the community by continuing to cancel education and outreach concerts, we ask "Will taxpayers demand a refund?"