MINNEAPOLIS -- Days after resigning his post at the Minnesota Orchestra, acclaimed conductor Osmo Vanksatook the helm Friday night with locked out musicians at the University of Minnesota.
It was the first of his three final appearances with the ensemble he has led for the past decade.Many of thosewho came to the sold-out show at the Ted Mann Concert Hall were the now-familiar"Save our orchestra" buttons and T-shirts.
Vanska resignedwhen it became clear the musicians would not reach an accord with the orchestra's board by his deadline of noon on Monday. He told both sides in the year-long labor dispute that he would leave if the musicians could notbegin rehearsals this weekfortheir Carnegie Hall concerts, set for November.
Vanska moved to Minneapolis from Finland to take the post a decade ago, after making occasional guest appearanceswith the orchestra for several years prior.
"It is a sad day for me," Vanska wrote in his resignation letter, noting that he joined the orchestra in 2003 with the goalthat it would become one ofgreatest international musical ensembles.
"During the intervening years, I have seen that belief vindicated through the skill, hard work and commitment of this wonderful group of players and with the valued support of the Board of Directors, management and administration team."
The Board of Directors issuedthe followingstatement Friday night, in regard to the three concerts Vanska is taking part in at the University of Minnesota:
"We are very glad that audiences will have an opportunity to see Osmo Vänskä conduct in this community this weekend. Our audiences deserve this concert."
The most recent offer from the Board to the musicians would cut their base salaries by 25 percent in three steps over the next three years.The board is offering the musicians a one-time $20,000 signing bonus if they accept the deal and return to work.
They've been locked out of the Orchestra Hall by management since Oct. 1 2012, but have played several free concerts throughout the Twin Cities in the past year.
Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell has been working with both sides in hopes of brokering an agreement, but that has been elusive so far.
The orchestra board is attempting to restructure its costs over the long run and started talks by asking for a 32 percent pay cut. In the meantime, major renovations have been completed at Orchestra Hall, but the musicians and Vanska have not created any music there.
Vanska and the musicians will give theirfinal two performances Saturday, in the same venue at theU of M.Those shows are sold-out as well.