Minnesota Orchestra Ends 15-Month Work Stoppage

Feb 10, 2014

Credit roibu/iStock / Thinkstock

After a 15-month lockout, the longest work stoppage for any symphony orchestra in U.S. history, the Minnesota Orchestra performed its first homecoming concert last week.

Robert Anderson, who grew up in Connecticut, and joined the bass section in the 1970s, said the dispute centered on a new board of director’s approach to running a symphony orchestra. "They may have been looking at it more like businesses do today," he said. "Where can we save money? Do we have to have all these people on the stage? But for us, it’s an orchestra; you have to have all those players, or you’re not going to have a major symphony orchestra."

Anderson said he had set aside money to prepare for the lockout, and was able to freelance and teach during the work stoppage. Other musicians took jobs with symphonies in other cities. Anderson said Minnesota’s musicians were grateful to players across the country who chipped in to support them.

"Every once in a while," Anderson said, "there’d be a $10,000 check from the members of the Boston Symphony, or the New York Philharmonic. Orchestras all over the country were sending us money."

The Minnesota Orchestra won the Grammy award recently for best orchestral performance. Demand for tickets to last week’s concert crashed the orchestra’s website the morning they went on sale.