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Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Resigns

Updated: 10/01/2013 10:36 AM
Created: 10/01/2013 7:30 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson

Minnesota Orchestra conductor Osmo Vanska resigned Tuesday amid a labor impasse that has dragged on for more than a year as management pushed for deep cuts to musicians' salaries.
    
The renowned Finnish maestro released a statement saying he was giving notice of his immediate resignation from the orchestra he has fostered to world-class status and garnering critics' praise the world over.
    
In the most recent negotiations, orchestra managers last week asked for musicians to accept pay cuts reaching 25 percent by the final year of a three-year deal, plus a bonus of $20,000 per musician. Musicians unanimously rejected that plan on Saturday.
    
In his statement, Vanska said it was a "very sad day."
    
"I send my deepest thanks to everyone involved for what we have achieved together and I wish the Minnesota Orchestra all the very best for its future," he said.
    
The orchestra on Monday canceled performances planned for early November at Carnegie Hall due to the labor dispute. Vanska had threatened to resign if the orchestra and musicians didn't reach agreement with sufficient time to save the New York performances.
    
After seeing the Minnesota Orchestra play at Carnegie Hall in 2010, The New Yorker's classical music critic Alex Ross wrote that they "sounded, to my ears, like the greatest orchestra in the world."
    
Management has said that even as the orchestra's reputation grew, attendance at its performances has remained flat, corporate and individual support declined and it received poor results from its investments. Musicians' salaries rose 3 to 4 percent per year under the previous contract.
    
Gwen Pappas, an orchestra spokeswoman, didn't immediately respond to a call for comment. Blois Olson, a spokesman for musicians, also didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Statement from Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell

We are very sorry that Music Director Osmo Vänskä has announced his resignation, as it has always been our hope that he would see the Minnesota Orchestra through this challenging period.  

We will always be grateful to our generous foundation community for coming forward with additional funding over the last few weeks to enable a proposed contract resolution with musicians that represented our very best efforts to save the Carnegie concerts and Maestro Vänskä’s tenure.  The Board has done everything in its power to reach a compromise with musicians by September 30, and we are very sorry they have rejected all efforts.

Music Director Osmo Vänskä has been an extraordinary conductor, and we are profoundly thankful for his service to the Orchestra and our audiences, and our organization will continue to celebrate his many achievements. He will hold a distinguished legacy in the history of the Minnesota Orchestra.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä
Photo: Photo: Minnesota Orchestra

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