SPCO lockout comes to an end

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians have voted to ratify a new three-year contract with management. The vote means the seven month musician lockout will end at 12:01 Tuesday morning. The SPCO will also resume its concert schedule on May 9th.

“We really look at this now having the SPCO positioned where we will be financially sustainable and we will be able to be artistically vibrant as we move forward,” said SPCO Interim President Dobson West. West says the agreement puts the orchestra on a more sustainable path.

The new contract reduces musician pay by approximately $15,000 a year, cuts the size of the orchestra from 34 to 28 players, and offers a voluntary retirement buyout to musicians 55 and older.

Musician negotiating committee member Carole Mason Smith says the musicians voted in favor of the settlement because they knew how important it was to resume the concert schedule before this season ended.

“If we didn’t get back on the stage this spring, it would cause even more harm to the organization down the road. And because we care about the future of the orchestra, the negotiating committee strongly recommended this agreement, and the orchestra voted to approve it.”

Meanwhile, musicians say to move beyond the bitter lockout, the SPCO needs to find a new leader with proven orchestra management experience who can greatly increase revenues.