There are no winners in the the Minnesota Orchestral
Association's 474-day lockout of musicians of the Minnesota
What remains to be seen is whether losses can be minimized now
that the two sides have ratified a three-year contract.
What will the mood of the public be? Will superb musicians who
left, or took leaves of absence, return or be replaced by equally
talented players? Can that chemistry that helped propel the
orchestra into one of the best in the country somehow be
And will Osmo Vanska, the conductor/chemist who seemed to bring
it all together, be brought back?
The lockout may officially be over, and terms of the contract may
be agreed on. But it will be at least months, perhaps years, before
we'll know if the damage done can be repaired.
Orchestra's return not simple
Just bringing the orchestra back together under the Orchestra
Hall roof will not be simple.
It took four and a half hours for the musicians to vote on the
contract, which was tentatively agreed to in written form by
management and musicians last Friday, following an oral agreement
reached last Tuesday.
Part of the reason for the long vote process is that musicians
have scattered across the globe since being locked out. On Tuesday
votes were coming from the Canary Islands, Japan and all parts of
Even now, with the contract ratified, musicians will have
commitments to fulfill elsewhere before returning full time to
For example, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, French horn player in the
orchestra, spoke of how she has engagements ahead with the Kennedy
Center Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Many other members of the orchestra are in a similar situation, she
"We had to plan out as far as we could because we had no idea if
this was going to end," she said.
Even when all -- or at least most -- performers are back in
Minnesota, it's hard to know what sort of frame of mind they'll be
in. Being locked out of the workplace for more than a year doesn't
help most people's attitudes.
Tensions, too, don't end the moment the ink dries on a contract.
Of course, leaders of the musicians' negotiating team were trying
to be as positive as possible at Tuesday's late-afternoon media
event announcing the contract ratification.
"We took care of business,'' said Tim Zavadil, clarinetist and a
negotiating leader. "We need to work as hard as we can with
leadership to make sure the orchestra thrives."
But there was a "minder" at the musicians event Tuesday. It
appeared to be her job to remind musicians who were watching the
media event that they had agreed to let negotiating team leaders do
all of the talking on their behalf.
Presumably, there was concern that, if left to their own devices,
some musicians might have some off-key comments to make about the
long, long process.
Emotions still running high
There were other indicators that emotions are running high among
The MOA, whose board members had ratified the contract earlier in
the day, opened the doors to the Orchestra Hall lobby around 6 p.m.
Tuesday. Musicians were invited to cross the street, from their
meeting room at the Hilton, to join the MOA in issuing a joint media
That offer was rejected by musicians. They explained that they
chose not to go to Orchestra Hall because they were under tight
timelines. (At least a couple of members of the musicians'
negotiating team had flights to catch to other cities for
More likely, though, it was too soon for an all-is-forgiven
moment with the MOA.
'Good old days' may be elusive
The final indicator that transition to the "good old days" will
not be easy was the simple reality that the vote to ratify the
contract was not unanimous, though musician negotiators would not
say what the final vote was.
In the past, all rejections of MOA offers had been unanimous. …