Deadline comes and goes in Minnesota Orchestra dispute

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A management-set midnight deadline came and went overnight in the nearly year-long Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute – but there are new signs of progress in the negotiations.

The orchestra board offered "further revisions" to its most recent proposal – which had been rejected by the musicians – and there were ongoing discussions this weekend through a mediator, MPR reports.

Musicians, who last week had made a counteroffer to the one they rejected, saw that as a hopeful sign, a spokesman said Sunday afternoon, when the orchestra played the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis.

Management's offer was made Sunday through former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is mediating the dispute, the Star Tribune reported. Managers said they were awaiting reaction from musicians Sunday. In a statement, management said it might have more to say Monday.

The Sept. 15 "deadline" was in effect created by renown director Osmo Vanska. Vanska had said that the dispute would need to be settled by then in order to get rehearsals under way by Sept. 30, so that the group would be ready for two concerts in early November at Carnegie Hall. The high-profile conductor has said he'd resign if those concerts were canceled.

The orchestra played to about 4,000 who gathered at the bandshell Sunday. The group still sounds good, despite having lost some players, a review in the Pioneer Press notes: "The strings still had that lush, full timbre they've developed in recent years, and the winds still displayed an admirable chemistry, considering that most of the section leaders were missing."

MPR has a slideshow of the event.

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