Minnesota Orchestra Works to Rebuild and Regain Public Support

Updated: 01/15/2014 8:09 PM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough

The ink is barely dry on an agreement between musicians and Minnesota Orchestra leaders, and plans are already in the works to rebuild the orchestra to its former world class status while regaining public support.

After traveling around the country to play in orchestras in other cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, Doug Wright is back at his Minneapolis home. He's practicing solo, knowing soon he'll reunite with other performers at Orchestra Hall. "We're going to do everything we can to get the orchestra in tip top form as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

During the lockout, the orchestra lost musicians. Seventy-seven of the musicians remain in the orchestra.  

The new, three-year deal increases the size of the orchestra. They will be adding seven members to bring the total to 84. There will be a minimum of 20-weeks worth of classical concerts.

What about recruiting a conductor with the world class credentials Osmo Vanska brought to Minnesota? Out of frustration, he stepped down last fall.

"Hiring a conductor and solving that issue is a thorny issue," according to Doug Kelley, the chief negotiator representing the Orchestra Board. Wright, the trombonist, goes on to say, "he's a big ticket item and we've got to do whatever we can to get him back if he's interested."

KSTP stopped by Vanska's home to ask him that question in person. But when we buzzed him to get let in, he didn't answer.

Ticket holders who felt abandoned during the lockout formed their own support group and website: Save Our Symphony. It has 9,600 followers and wants to be heard as the orchestra recovers.

"It needs to have greater openness and transparency with stakeholders especially on the financial front," according to Jon Eisenberg.

The orchestra plans to win back an audience by outreach efforts, like taking a small group of performers into schools, hospitals and other community events.

Musicians return to work the first week of February. It's likely the first concert will happen by the end of February.