Nearly 100 Composers Call for End to Minnesota Orchestra Lockout

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The longest labor dispute in U.S. orchestral history witnessed a new salvo on Thursday as 91 composers sent an open letter to the Minnesota Orchestra’s musicians, administrators and board urging a “call for immediate resolution” to the nearly year-long lockout. Among the signatories are John Corigliano, Philip Glass, David Lang, Nico Muhly and Kevin Puts.

The letter, which was also sent to Minnesota’s governor and the mayor of Minneapolis for good measure, was prompted by, among other reasons, the cancellation of the 2013 Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute, an annual event that gives young composers a chance to work with the ensemble. The institute, which is co-sponsored by the American Composers Forum, is in its 12th year.

“We know – with certainty – that the cancellation of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute will have a lasting and negative impact on American music,” the composers wrote, “and we urge you to act now to resolve the lockout and reinstate this essential training ground for the cultivation of talented composers.”

The two sides have been fighting for more than 10 months, resulting in the cancellation of the orchestra's 2012-13 season and its summer season. Fourteen musicians have left the ensemble during the lockout, including two that were announced just this week: assistant concertmaster Stephanie Arado and principal horn Michael Gast, the latter of whom is requesting a one-year leave of absence to play with the New York Philharmonic.

In May, music director Osmo Vanska threatened to resign if the dispute was not settled soon. Last month, George Mitchell, the former U.S. senator from Maine, was enlisted as a peacemaker.