MN Orchestra musicians locked out as SPCO’s ‘talk and play’

MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
Trumpet players Douglas Carlsen, left, Manny Laureano and Robert Dorer stand in front of their own images on the front of Orchestra Hall.

By now, you’ve heard that the Minnesota Orchestra is in lock-out mode – meaning no salary or benefits for its musicians – and has canceled all concerts through Nov. 25. The affected performances are Garrick Ohlsson Plays Rachmaninoff, Dvorák’s Cello Concerto with Anthony Ross, Mozart and Schumann with Anthony Hale, the entire Clarinet Festival (Anat Cohen and Evan Christopher, The Klezmatics, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Martin Fröst Plays Copland), The Matrix Live, and Jim Brickman. If you’re a ticket-holder, you’ll soon be notified (or have already been) about your options. 

The SPCO continues to “talk and play,” at least for now. No concerts have been canceled, but management has cautioned that this can’t go on forever. Meanwhile, the musicians of the SPCO are giving a free public concert tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 2) at the Leonard Center Gymnasium at Macalester College. Garrison Keillor hosts; the program includes works by Rossini, Mozart, and Beethoven. Doors at 6:30 p.m., with concert at 7:30. The Gymnasium is at 125 S. Snelling in St. Paul. Seating is limited, so arrive early.

The contracts for both orchestras expired at midnight on Sunday. Negotiations have been contentious and more public than usual, especially at the Minnesota Orchestra, which earlier launched a web page about the contract talks. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Musicians of the SPCO each have their own web pages, and the musicians of the MNOrch have made a scrappy video.

At 1 p.m. Monday, musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra gathered in front of Orchestra Hall to put a public face on the recent news. MinnPost spoke later that day with Tim Zavadil, clarinetist/bass clarinetist and head of the negotiating committee.

“We wanted to be together, with each other and our fans, to convey our disappointment in management’s decision to lock us out and cancel five weeks of concerts,” Zavadil said. “We got a very good crowd, especially since we announced the rally at 11 that morning.” What happens next? More rallies? Free concerts? “We’re exploring ways to keep in touch with our fans. We had a very good turnout when we performed at Lake Harriet.” (Orchestra musicians gave a free concert there on Sept. 16; Zavadil estimates that some 3,000 people were in attendance.) “We’re asking our fans to stay tuned and stay connected.” Zavadil suggests checking the musicians’ website and liking and sharing their Facebook page. And he wants people to know that “we will miss our fans. That has not been lost on us.”

In case you’re wondering, none of this affects Accordo’s new season. (The chamber group Accordo is composed of musicians from the MNOrch and the SPCO, but is independent of both.) Nor does it affect the Minnesota Opera. The Opera issued an official statement: “Although there are many musicians in the Minnesota Opera orchestra who freelance with the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO, none are regular members of these ensembles.”

Since we’re already grumpy about the cancellation of the Clarinet Festival, we might as well share a recent arts alert from the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Which Minnesota members of Congress earned an “F” in the arts, according to the Americans for the Arts Action Fund? No surprises here: Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Sixth District; Chip Cravaack, R-Eighth District; and John Kline, R-Second District. View the complete Congressional Arts Report Card 2012 here.

On a sunnier note, nominations for the 2012 Sally Awards are now open. If you know someone who has made a significant contribution to the arts and arts education in Minnesota, tell the selection committee. Last year’s Sallies honored a diverse group including visual artist Ta-Coumba Aiken and audio describer Rick Jacobson. Nominations are due on or before Nov. 12. 

The tornado car
MinnPost photo by Pamela Espeland
The Tornado Intercept Vehicle

We got up early (for us) on Saturday to see the new film at the Science Museum’s Omnitheater. “Tornado Alley” blew us away. Filmmaker Sean Casey is so obsessed with tornados that he built the Tornado Intercept Vehicle so he could drive into tornados, not away from them. On display in the museum’s lobby, the TIV is a 14,000-pound beast with a top speed of over 100 mph and 40-inch steel spikes that anchor it to the ground during strong winds. The film features Casey, his crew, and the equally nutty, um, committed researchers of VORTEX2, a field program funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s part heart-pounding, adrenaline-junkie, science-geek fun, part sobering look at the devastation tornadoes leave behind. FMI and tickets

Graywolf Press and its authors keep winning awards. Most recently, poet Catherine Barnett took home the James Laughlin Award, given for an outstanding second book of poetry, for “The Game of Boxes” (Graywolf, 2012). The award includes a $5,000 cash prize. Barnett teaches poetry at The New School in New York City.

In other poetry news (we’re guessing that’s a seldom-used phrase), Minnesota native David Wojahn has won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for “World Tree” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), given for “the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year.” Wojahn was born in St. Paul and educated at the U. Let’s bring him back home for a reading.

Tonight (Tuesday) at the Roseville library, Colin Meloy, lead singer of The Decemberists, and his illustrator wife, Carson Ellis, present their new novel for young readers, “Under Wildwood.” 7 p.m., 2180 N. Hamline Ave., Roseville. 

October is Teen Read Month at all Hennepin County Libraries. Special events and classes are planned, including an art exhibit by students from the Perpich Center for Arts Education, an Open Mic Poetry Night, and workshops on maskmaking and anime music videos. Plus (heads up) teens’ overdue fines will be forgiven (up to $10 per teen) and lost library cards will be replaced for free. FMI.

Each year since 1965, Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter has hosted an annual Nobel conference with a science theme. This year’s topic is “Our Global Ocean.” Today and tomorrow, scholars and researchers are meeting before an audience of 5,000 to discuss what we know and don’t know about the seas. All eight lectures are being streamed live. Tonight (Tuesday), the public is invited to a free concert, “Come Colorful See,” featuring pianist Yumiko Oshima-Ryan, images by Dave Ryan, poetry by current Minnesota poet laureate Joyce Sutphen, and dance. 8:15 p.m., Christ Chapel.   

Tickets go on sale today (Tuesday) for the first-ever fall season of “Wits,” the live public radio show hosted by John Moe with music direction by Semisonic’s John Munson. Friday, Nov. 2: Dave Foley (“The Kids in the Hall,” “NewsRadio”) and Mike Doughty. Friday, Nov. 16: Julia Sweeney (SNL) and Martha Wainwright (daughter of Loudon and Kate McGarrigle, sister of Rufus). Friday, Nov. 30: Maria Bamford (“Arrested Development”) and Brandi Carlile (“Bear Creek”). Friday, Dec. 14: Henry Rollins (spoken word artist, Rollins Band and Black Flag frontman), Lissie (“Catching a Tiger”). Season package presale starts today at noon for MPR members and previous “Wits” show ticket holders; go online or call 651-290-1200. Season package on sale to the general public Friday at noon. Single tickets available starting Tuesday, Oct. 9 at noon. All shows start at 8 p.m. at the Fitz. “Tweet-up” at 7. 

Karita Mattila
Courtesy of IMG Artists
Finland’s Karita Mattila opens the Schubert Club’s International Artist series

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Ordway, the Schubert Club 2012-13 International Artist Series begins with lyric dramatic soprano Karita Mattila and pianist Martin Katz. Grammy winner Mattila is a favorite at the world’s great opera houses; to see her in recital with only a pianist is a rare treat. (The New York Times has called Katz “the gold standard of accompanists.”) This is what the Schubert Club does so very well. Here’s Mattila singing the Sibelius tone poem “Luonnatar.” Her program includes music by Alban Berg, Brahms, Debussy, and Richard Strauss. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Wednesday at the O’Shaughnessy: Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca. Spain’s most successful touring company is also today’s most authentic flamenco touring company. Sensual, beautiful, passionate and fiery, flamenco might be the most exciting dance form in the world. See for yourself. The company recently finished a sold-out New York run at the Joyce Theater. This performance, which includes a world premiere, is part of the “Women of Substance” series presented by Northrop Dance and the O’Shaughnessy. Tickets online or call 651-690-6700. 7:30 p.m. Stay for a post-performance Q&A.

Soledad Barrio
Photo courtesy of Noche Flamenca/Andres D’Elia
Spain’s most successful touring company, Noche Flamenca, is also today’s most authentic flamenco touring company.

The new music group Zeitgeist launches its 35th season on Thursday with fresh chamber music by Anna Clyne, Narong Prangcharoen, Brooke Joyce, Mark Mellits, and Lee Hyla and guest artists Kyle Hutchins (soprano sax) and Kirsten Whitson (cello). Enjoy the sounds and sample dishes prepared by Lowertown restaurants. Zeitgeist is one of the Twin Cities’ most consistently excellent and affordable ear-openers. Oct. 4-6, 7:30 p.m. at Studio Z. FMI and tickets.

Artists, you are needed. Art Buddies is an after-school program that pairs artists with inner-city kids to make magic, costumes, and journals while discovering the joy of self-expression. The application deadline has been extended to next Tuesday, Oct. 9, which means they’re not getting enough volunteers. FMI and application.

I’m a bit late on this (blame vacay), but you should know that the Pillsbury House + Theatre has announced its 21st mainstage season. Feb. 8 to March 3, 2013, Tracey Scott Wilson’s “Buzzer” moves to the Guthrie – remounted, revised, still directed by Marion McClinton, with Namir Smallwood, Sarah Richardson, and Hugh Kennedy reprising their roles. April 13-21: “River See,” starring Ivey winner Sonja Parks. Sept. 27-Oct. 27: Marcus Gardley’s “The Road Weeps, the Well Runs Dry.” 

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/02/2012 - 09:08 am.

    Why?

    Several members of the SPCO play the winter series of orchestrated Mass at St. Agnes. Their contributions help create the most awe inspiring spiritual experience I’ve ever had.

    Why doesn’t the SPCO just raise the price of their tickets to meet the demands of the musicians?

    If the public deems them worthy, they will gladly pay.

  2. Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 10/08/2012 - 08:45 pm.

    Dunno

    This may be one of the few times I agree with Thomas. The SPCO musicians have asked for a modest ticket price increase – ticket prices are unsustainable, in my opinion. Management won’t budge on this. Yes, it is nice to have low prices so that those of modest means can experience this world-class orchestra (and I see quotes about this in the programs etc. etc.). And from what I can tell from articles, conference reports, and other info I’ve gleaned, it is to “build loyalty” so that those who can afford it will donate in order to make concerts affordable.

    Yet I feel that it also builds complacency on the part of many ticket-holders, and I know a lot of people in those $10 seats can afford to pay more. Sure, some of them may donate, but not all do. And mgmt has admitted that it may take years to build loyalty – years which the SPCO doesn’t have. If, in the meantime, the quality of the orchestra and the “product” diminish, people like me, who do donate (and I donate a lot for my circumstances), won’t continue to do so, nor will tickets be sold like they are now. I was considering including the SPCO in my will but now I am holding off until I see what happens.

    I believe that the mgmt is underpricing concerts to the detriment of the budget. If they want to “hold out” on raising prices until they have reaped loyalty donations, they need to find the money to pay for the product until the anticipated revenue stream kicks in. The musicians deserve every penny they are paid AND MORE, considering that they are world-class and consistently hit it out of the park.

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