Osmo Vänskä threatens Minnesota resignation

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Music director will step down if Orchestra does not settle its disputes soon

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Osmo VanskaConductor Osmo Vänskä (right) has indicated that the Minnesota Orchestra’s industrial stalemate must be resolved by the end of September or he will leave his post as music director.

The current stand-off between the Minnesota Orchestra musicians and its employers has resulted in a ‘lockout’, meaning a work stoppage imposed by the management. Negotiations between the orchestra and management, which began 13 months ago, broke off last October when the musicians rejected a 32 per cent cut in annual salaries.

In a letter to the Minnesota Orchestra’s board, Vänskä said the orchestra needs to be playing by late May or, at the latest, early September to achieve the proficiency needed for its Carnegie Hall appearance in November. The Minnesota Orchestra is booked to perform Sibelius’s seven symphonies, over four days.

‘I must make it clear, that in the case Carnegie Hall chooses to cancel the Minnesota Orchestra’s concerts this November, ie, if they lose confidence in our ability to perform… then I will be forced to resign,’ wrote Vänskä.

In his letter Vänskä also expressed concern about a recording project with pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, which is scheduled to take place on 16 September.

Since arriving in 2003, the Finnish conductor has transformed the orchestra with a notable complete set of Beethoven’s symphonies recorded on the BIS label.

In response, the board’s chairman, Jon Campbell, has indicated that he needs ‘the musicians’ participation to make this happen. It’s now been more than a year, and the musicians’ union still refuses to make a counterproposal’.

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Neil McKim

Neil McKim

Neil McKim is production editor of BBC Music Magazine

Neil McKim