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Skrowaczewski to lead Minnesota Orchestra musicians in opening night concert

Minnesota Orchestra clarinetist Tim Zavadil has announced that the musicians will hold a concert on Oct. 18 at the Convention Center.

The news that Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will lead the Oct. 18 concert is loaded with symbolism.
Photo by Toshiyuki Urano

Minnesota Orchestra clarinetist Tim Zavadil dropped a bomb on Friday’s “Almanac,” announcing that the musicians will hold a concert on Oct. 18 at the Convention Center – and that Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will conduct.

Zavadil, lead negotiator for the musicians, appeared on “Almanac” with Doug Kelley, vice chair of the management negotiating committee. It was the first meeting between Minnesota Orchestra management and musicians since the lockout, and it was tense, with each side standing firm.

Kelley called the musicians’ request for an independent financial analysis a “delaying tactic.” Zavadil termed the fundraising for Orchestra Hall’s extensive renovations a “bait-and-switch.” “Were those donors told when they gave money for the hall that the budget for the musicians would be slashed 30-50 percent?” he asked. Kelley countered, “The rest of the country has had to retool [due to the recession]. That’s what we need to do for the orchestra.” 

Kelly pointed out something that few people seem to understand and (to our knowledge) the musicians have chosen not to include in their public statements: Money raised for the renovations must by law be spent on the renovations and cannot be diverted to musicians’ salaries. A capital campaign is not an operating budget. On the other hand, no one expected draconian salary cuts. There’s no way around the fact that out-of-work musicians carrying hand-written signs in front of a costly construction site make management look bad.

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The news that Skrowaczewski will lead the Oct. 18 concert is loaded with symbolism.  The 89-year-old conductor laureate was here in mid-June for the triumphant season finale concerts, leading Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-minor. Host Brian Newhouse reminded us that the Bach was the first piece the orchestra played when Orchestra Hall opened in 1974. Skrowaczewski was 51 then, and the new hall was his dream. That the maestro is now siding with the musicians while his hall is being rebuilt cannot be ignored. Also, Oct. 18 was the original opening night for the 2012-13 season, one of several concerts canceled by management. That the show will go on under Skrowaczewski’s baton turns up the heat.