Mpls Mayor calls for one concert truce in Mn Orchestra dispute

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak likens his invitation to the Christmas Truce portrayed in the Minnesota Opera Production of “Silent Night.”

“On one special night, we ask everybody to take the dispute and go into neutral and come together and have one celebration,” said Rybak.

He’s talking about a concert to be held February 1st at the Minneapolis Convention Center to celebrate the Minnesota Orchestra’s Grammy nomination for its recent Sibelius recording. The celebrations of the honor have been muted since it came after Minnesota Orchestra management locked out the musicians October 1st.

Rybak says he knows a lot of people just want the contract dispute settled, but says this will be a chance to take a breather and find some common ground.

“We obviously have a very complicated labor issue, but we also have a moment that should not pass in this community, where a great orchestra, with great musicians and great management is nominated for a Grammy. Let’s celebrate that,” Rybak said.

Rybak also sees it as an opportunity for the people of Minneapolis to show their support in very practical ways.

“This isn’t about signs or messages or anything other than saying we love this institution,” the Mayor said. “And I hope also have a call to all of us to say a relatively few people have held up this institution for literally generations, and now if we really care about this, and we do, more people who haven’t been buying the tickets, who haven’t been part of that, have to support this, because we want greatness and we want financial stability, and the only way for us to make sure that happens is for us all to make sure we support this institution.”

Details of the concert are still being worked out.

The musicians accepted the invitation they say on the understanding that Music Director Osmo Vanska has agreed to conduct the event.

In a statement musicians negotiator Doug Wright said “This is a tremendous gesture by the Mayor and Ms. Dayton. It will be the Musicians’ distinct honor to accept their invitation and join our Music Director on stage for a performance of these Grammy-nominated works for our community. It should be a concert to remember.”

Vanska is currently in Europe and management at the Minnesota Orchestra could not confirm or deny Vanska will take the podium on February 1st. Neither could the Mayors office, although Rybak says he hopes to build the event one element at a time.

The concert proposal comes as negotiations between the two sides recently restarted after months of standoff.

Orchestra President Michael Henson released this statement late in the afternoon:

“We share pride in this Grammy nomination and appreciate that the Mayor understands the importance of this cultural institution and the need for it to be financially sustainable in the future. In last week’s negotiations, all parties agreed to a fresh start and we are currently in discussions with the musicians about the parameters of an analysis that will seek to verify the Orchestra’s financial position. Following this review, we are hopeful that the musicians will put forward a counterproposal to help us resolve these challenges.”