Embattled Minnesota Orchestra Unveils Renovated Concert Hall

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The Minnesota Orchestra unveiled its newly remodeled concert hall to the local news media on Thursday but don't buy your plane tickets to Minneapolis just yet — the orchestra remains silenced by a year-long labor dispute, with little sign of an immediate resolution.

The Orchestra Hall renovation, by KPMB Architects, cost $52 million and significantly modernizes the 1974 facility, according to reports in the Minneapolis-Star Tribune and on Minnesota Public Radio. It doubles the size of the lobby, adding escalators, new refreshment stands and a dramatic picture window that looks onto a nearby pedestrian mall. There are also new meeting rooms, backstage facilities and a glass-enclosed atrium for events. The remodeled auditorium has been given a new color scheme and better legroom.

The renovation has been a flashpoint in the lockout, which began last October. Musicians criticize the orchestra for having undertaken the project while demanding steep pay cuts; management contends that the funds raised for the remodeling could not be allocated to fill gaps in the operating budget.

The orchestra and its musicians have until Sunday to reach a contract agreement or the November 2 and 3 concerts at Carnegie Hall will be called off. Music Director Osmo Vänskä has threatened to quit if those concerts are cancelled though he later said that he's giving the two sides until Sept. 30 before making any decision on his future with the group.

On Tuesday, musicians made a counter-offer on a new contract, which management dismissed as a "vague framework." Former Senator George Mitchell was hired in July to mediate the talks.

KPMB Architects