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Some in MNO ‘exodus’ took leaves or left before lockout

A recent Community Voices commentary describes a “massive exodus” of talent from the Minnesota Orchestra. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

A recent Community Voices commentary by Jonathan L. Eisenberg inaccurately describes a “massive exodus” of talent from the Minnesota Orchestra. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

• Since the lockout began in October, two musicians have resigned and five have requested leaves of absence. In our field it is common for musicians to take a one-year leave during which time their position is held open while they try out a post in another orchestra.

• Three of the eleven musicians noted by Mr. Eisenberg actually left Minnesota in the 2011-12 season to try out positions in other orchestras. These decisions were made before our labor negotiations had even begun.

• Two musicians he describes as planning to leave have not announced that intention to us — one of whom has a husband who plays in the SPCO and just accepted a new position in that orchestra.

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• By way of comparison, in a typical concert season, an average of three musicians will depart to pursue other jobs as part of the natural ebb and flow of any organization (this average does not include retirements). It’s regretful to lose any talented musician, and debating the impact of difficult contract negotiations on musician departures is fair. But that debate is best accomplished with facts rather than exaggerations or distortions.

Esther Saarela is the director of Human Resources at Minnesota Orchestra.

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