Locked out musicians get gigs elsewhere

Updated at 4.30 pm

There are no negotiations currently scheduled between the locked out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and management – but the war of words continued unabated.

The musicians today released a list of 10 orchestras, including the Sao Paulo Symphony in Brazil where Minnesota Orchestra musicians will be performing in coming weeks.

zavadil_orch_hall.jpg“Obviously we would prefer to be performing for our audiences here,” said lead musicians negotiator Tim Zavadil (left). “We’ve got a world class roster of musicians. Since the management has locked us out, so we have no salary and benefits and musicians have got to be able to go earn a living. So it was really remarkable that within the first week of the lock out musicians have been invited to perform with such a world class roster of orchestras.”

It is an impressive list: the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Sao Paulo Symphony, the Orpheus at Carnegie, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Zavadil says the list represents different kinds of temporary engagements.

“Some of them are short term, from maybe perhaps one week,” he said. “There are some mid-terms you know one to two months. Then there are some people who have left for permanent positions in other places.”

This of course has been one of the rallying cries of the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, that talented players are likely to leave because of the major salary cuts being proposed by the orchestra. Zavadil declined to give exact numbers of people who are leaving, saying that some of them are still in the final stages of negotiation. But he can confirm at least one.

“Probably the most significant one is Peter Maguire who is a fabulous violinist in our first violin section will be leaving to take the concertmaster position in Zurich, Switzerland.”

Maguire, who is acting first associate concertmaster with the Minnesota Orchestra is headed to the Zurich Tonhalle Orchester. When asked if Maguire’s move might have been in the works for some time Zavadil said he didn’t know.

Zavadil returned repeatedly to the idea that the musicians want to live and play in Minnesota.

“The Minnesota Orchestra has always been a destination orchestra,” he said.

locked out orch hall.jpg

Locked out musicians protesting at Orchestra Hall (MPR images/Euan Kerr)

Zavadil says the musicians are still seeking an independent financial analysis of the orchestra. He indicated he believes the next move belongs to Minnesota Orchestra management.

“Currently we have no salary and no benefits, so we need to go out an earn a living wage. When the other side is ready to meet, we’ll be ready to meet,” he said

No-one from the orchestra management was available to immediately respond. However in recent weeks managers have repeatedly said they are awaiting a counter-proposal from musicians so they can begin negotiating.

Update: late this afternoon Minnesota Orchestra management issued the following response:

“We anticipate that musicians will find work as substitutes in the weeks ahead, as it is one of the benefits of an orchestral career that freelance work is readily available. This doesn’t alter where our negotiations currently stand: we are waiting for our musicians to return to the table with a realistic counterproposal, so we can work to resolve our differences, and musicians can perform in our Orchestra again.”

  • I hope the management will see very soon the folly of destroying the Minnesota Orchestra in a misplaced search for “savings.” Look to your management, and look to your board, for the solutions to the problems, and don’t put it on the backs of the musicians. Poor manageement caused this mess, and there is a PRICE FOR EXCELLENCE. Do you really want to downgrade your world class orchestra to a third rate regional hobby orchestra? For shame! And once it’s broken….

  • Amy Adams

    Take note of management’s wording “…in the weeks ahead.” Sounds like they are settling in for the winter, at the expense of those who provide the art they sell.

  • david

    This statement from the management demonstrates a shocking level of ignorance about the profession which might begin to explain (but not excuse) their unwillingness to bargain in good faith.

  • J

    I can’t speak for everybody, but as a 25 year old who received instruction from several of these musicians (congratulations Peter!), MinnOrch management seems to be out of touch on both a musical and generational level.

    Tickets are already pricey, although I’m not one to complain when the talent matches the price, but still, I doubt I will attend if they lose the talented musicians who have shaped the Orchestra to be the force it is today.

    I might point out that several of these orchestra members teach on the side and are engaged in passion projects (look at Manny Laureano and what he’s built with the Minnesota Youth Symphony), so the impact of losing high-caliber players can certainly extend beyond the concert hall.

  • Q

    By forcing the wonderful musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra to find substitute work elsewhere across the world, there are local freelancers everywhere who are missing opportunities for lucrative and satisfying work that they might have otherwise had. So the effects of the MO lockout, and the lockouts in other orchestras across the country, are starting to be felt by freelance musicians as well. Young conservatory graduates who are patiently waiting for orchestral auditions to be held will now have to compete against the experienced, seasoned, orchestral musicians who are fleeing lockouts. On behalf of orchestral musicians everywhere, freelance musicians everywhere, young musicians everywhere, and MO fans everywhere, I ask the management of the Minnesota Orchestra to please step up and be a leader in solving what is rapidly becoming a national crisis. Negotiate with the musicians, and do whatever it takes to keep the Minnesota Orchestra the Minnesota Orchestra. It is your job to do so, and it is the right thing to do!

  • Mary N

    Re: management update: What exactly would “our orchestra” refer to without musicians. Just wondering…

  • H

    The comment by management at the end is short-sighted and naive. While freelance work may be “readily available” to many locked out players, it is also bumping other freelancers out of work to make room for these players. Not to mention substitute rates are generally much lower than contracted core players. Not only are the M.O.musicians taking a huge pay cut this way, but other freelancers are losing work.

    An implication that Minnesota players will be fine during the strike is way off base. Not only do they suffer, but many other musicians suffer in the wake of this lock-out. I do support the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra 100% and hope for a fair and speedy end to this lock-out.

  • Christina

    So the musicians haven’t submitted a counterproposal? How can negotiations happen without one?

  • Matthew B. Tepper

    What this shows is that the MUSICIANS of the Minnesota Orchestra could easily get jobs anywhere in the world. They have shown their own merits and abilities. If they were to resign en masse, there would be some hardships, to be sure, but they would come out on top.

    The ADMINISTRATORS, on the other hand, would then be out of jobs. There is no way in the world that they could put together a professional-level orchestra all by themselves. Not only that, but they would forever be stained with the mark of failure and incompetence.