The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra mixed some Beethoven and
Mozart with what appeared to be a shot across the bow of the
Minnesota Orchestral Association at a unique Monday morning meeting
with the media and the public.
Although there were frequent comments from musician leaders that
their No. 1 priority is a contract settlement to end the 14-month-
old lockout, they also announced plans for as many as 10 concerts
for the winter/spring season.
This news was greeted by big cheers from an overflow crowd --
perhaps 200 -- who came to hear a status report from the musicians.
The gathering was at the Hilton Hotel, which, of course, is only a
few steps away from Orchestra Hall.
At the meeting, musicians announced that they had organized into
13 committees, which do everything from raise money -- to date, more
than $600,000 -- to organize concerts. The funds have come from more
than 1,200 donors, according to the musicians.
"We've learned so much about each other,'' said harpist Kathy
Kienzle, who heads their members committee. "This is a very smart,
The musicians' education committee has arranged a substantial
number of orchestra performances at metro-area schools -- which
always has been part of the orchestra's mission. Additionally, the
orchestra has performed in such unusual venues as a YMCA in north
Minneapolis and at a club, the Rodeo, on Lake Street, which is a
particular favorite of Hispanics in the Twin Cities.
At least one MOA board member reportedly was seen at Monday's
meeting, although she was not available for comment. It's impossible
to say whether her attendance shows at least a crack in the unified
position of the MOA board. That board, by the way, meets Wednesday.
The MOA responded to the musicians' meeting with a statement,
emphasizing its vast resources:
"We are pleased to hear the musicians referenced today their
desire to reach a negotiated settlement. The Minnesota Orchestral
Association raises millions of dollars each year to support the
musicians' salaries. It offers hundreds of performances in the
community to audiences reaching more than 350,000 people and
organizes outreach events for 85,000 music lovers each year.
Clearly, we are a stronger organization with much greater reach when
we are together. We very much hope the musicians will soon agree to
join us at the bargaining table."
Does the scheduling of a wide variety of school programs and full-
blown concerts mean that the musicians are moving toward a complete
break-away from the MOA?
"Our No. 1 goal is to come to a contract agreement," said Tim
Zavadil, clarinetist for the orchestra and the head of the
musicians' bargaining committee. "But short of that, we have to have
The MOA made a similar announcement via its report to the city of
Minneapolis last week. The MOA said that it had a Plan B, if a
settlement with the musicians is not reached.
Separating from the MOA -- starting with a new name -- is a huge