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Fans form group to explore feasibility of new orchestra in St. Paul

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Local fans tired of the ongoing lockout of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are examining the possibility of forming a new orchestra to take its place, the Pioneer Press reports.

The group, dubbed "Save our SPCO," announced the formation of an exploratory committee Tuesday in a press conference outside the home of the SPCO -- the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts -- in downtown St. Paul.

Organization chairwoman Mariellen Jacobson said it will examine how financially feasible it would be to form a new orchestra, how to funded and staffed, where it would play and "about 100 other things," the Pioneer Press reports.

The formation of the group comes less than a week after St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman intervened in the contract dispute between management and members of the SPCO in hopes of salvaging the rest of the orchestra's season. Coleman's intervention prompted management to make a new offer to the musicians.

The exploratory committee has attracted the involvement of state Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) and Roseville String Ensemble conductor and artistic director Jim Hainlen, who will both sit on the Save Our SPCO exploratory committee.

According to the Pioneer Press, Jacobson said the Save Our SPCO committee will not interfere with negotiations between the musicians and orchestra management.

Musicians with the SPCO have been locked out since Oct. 21 -- about three weeks longer than musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra have been locked out by management in their contract dispute.

Earlier this month, SPCO management canceled the orchestra's performances through April 21.

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