As I am about to head back to Minnesota for another visit, I was heartened by the news that the Minnesota Orchestra, after a 15 month long labor conflict, is set to play again, to break its long silence. It’s about time!
The length of the conflict, as I wrote in an earlier posting on this blog, was not the Minnesota way of doing business, a state that prides itself in problem solving and pragmatism — “the state that works.” But there are no winners, as Doug Grow correctly writes on MinnPost, after yesterday’s announcement of a three-year agreement, and, he continues, we won’t know for months, maybe years, if the damage done from the 474-day lockout of the Orchestra’s members can be repaired.
Yes, there are many question marks, the biggest one being whether the prominent Finnish director Osmo Vänskä, who resigned in frustration during the lockout, will return. He masterminded the Minnesota Orchestra’s stellar reputation, but without him, what? His return is not part of the deal, so we will have to wait and see, but he is clearly needed.
The renovated Orchestra Hall, where the orchestra has never played, stands ready to receive the musicians as they go back to work on February 1 after the longest symphonic orchestra work stoppage in American history. But will the public that this conflict has so badly failed show up? That’s another major question mark in this dark chapter for culture and music and labor relations in the state of Minnesota.