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St. Paul Chamber Orchestra returns to the stage

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The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra held their first concert Thursday night since ending a six-month lockout late last month.

MPR News reports the performance inside Shepherd of the Valley Church in Apple Valley drew about 800 people.

There was a little evidence that the musicians had just returned from a punishing contract dispute. Some wore black armbands with the number 34--the current size of SPCO. Under the new agreement that includes significant pay reductions and personnel cuts, the number will be reduced to 28.

The musicians lead by concertmaster Steven Copes and conductor Thomas Zehetmair seemed to have found their stride and received standing ovation that lasted several minutes, according to MPR.

However, the Pioneer Press says the atmosphere wasn't very "electric" and the audience seemed conflicted about showing too much enthusiasm so orchestra management wouldn't assume that all was forgiven after locking musicians out for almost the entire season.

Locked-out musicians with the Minnesota Orchestra won't return to the stage this season--it was cancelled on Wednesday due to their ongoing contract dispute.

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Locked out musicians with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra were unanimous in their rejection of a four-year contract offer. Musicians say the pay cuts contained in the offer would reduce salaries by one-third, although management says they amount to only 14 percent. Concerts through this weekend have already been cancelled and more cancellations will follow Wednesday's vote.