Will the Minnesota Orchestra Continue to Shed Stars in Wake of Labor Dispute?

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March 18, 2014; Classicalite


As readers know, NPQ covered the lockout and subsequent resolution of the musicians with the Minnesota Orchestra fairly extensively, but tremors have continued around the orchestra concerning Osmo Vänskä, the orchestra’s popular conductor and artistic director who resigned in frustration during the extended lockout, making it clear that CEO Michael Henson needed to leave before a real end could be called to the dispute and healing could begin. Audiences have been loudly calling for Vänskä’s return. 

Now, Burt Hara, the orchestra’s principal clarinetist for 26 years, has announced his resignation in a letter to his colleagues. He wrote, “I am resigning now because I do not believe the current leadership has the vision to restore the Orchestra to its place among the great orchestras of the world.”

There are three other musicians currently on leave, with no indication whether or when they will return: Mike Gast, principal horn; Tom Turner, principal viola; and Peter McGuire, violin.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Amy Adams

    This board is has managed to remain stubborn, deaf and opaque in its process. The ensemble is no longer the “Minnesota Orchestra” – it is the “Sponsored By 70+ Wealthy Executives Orchestra” – and they clearly wish to keep it that way, trimming those unnecessary elements like fantastic players, top-notch conductor, appearances at the Proms, Grammy wins and nominations…
    As long as they have a comforting new lobby to toast their accomplishments in, that’s good enough for the Minnesota Orchestra.

  • David Assemany

    If the history in Detroit after the labor dispute there is any indicator, the answer is yes.

  • george jaquith

    Sadly, the lockout continues in a defacto way with the exclusion of participatory decision making by the publlic and the musicians. Repsonses are overwhelming that Osmo Vanska should return and Henson leave. This seems to make no difference to a MOA operating by its own hidden agenda. Many patrons have refused to donate, and some to even attend concerts, until there are major organizational changes in what is really a dysfunctional organization.

  • Adam T

    It’s worth adding that apparently Tony Ross, the principal cellist, was offered a position in Chicago, and the concertmaster Erin Keefe has been auditioning at other orchestras.

  • Bill B.

    Amy, David, George, Adam – I agree with you completely. But can we do anything besides post disparaging comments? This board’s not listening and they don’t care. Never did, never will.

  • Amy Adams

    Bill….how is calling out irresponsible stewardship merely “posting disparaging comments”? You are probably right, they are not listening. Can you think of any other way to apply pressure? How is the Minnesota Orchestra’s huge and loyal fan base supposed to react: meek acceptance of the decisions of the wealthy and powerful?
    I don’t buy it. If they can’t stand comments scolding their negligence, they should purchase a little backbone and resign from the board.