Conductor Vänskä, composer in residence resign from Minnesota Orchestra


It's officially over for Minnesota Orchestra director Osmo Vänskä.

WCCO-TV and The Associated Press report that Vänskä submitted his resignation Tuesday morning, which also marks the one-year anniversary of lockout of the orchestra's musicians by management.

In a prepared statement, Vänskä said it was "very sad" day. His resignation is effective immediately. Vänskä's departure comes a day after the orchestra announced it was cancelling a pair of prestigious dates at Carnegie Hall in New York City Nov. 2 and 3.

On Tuesday afternoon, MPR reported that the orchestra's composer in residence is also leaving. Aaron Jay Kernis, a Pulitzer Prize winning composer who founded and directs the orchestra’s Composer Institute resigned. In a letter, he decried what he termed the "dismemberment" of the distinguished orchestra, blaming both sides for the stalemate.

“I have personally never seen two sides that show such unwillingness to sit down together and attempt to tackle the major challenges that confront the orchestra,” Kernis wrote.

On Saturday, the musician's union unanimously voted down the orchestra board's latest offer, which included a $20,000 signing bonus and up to 10 weeks vacation -- but a cut in average pay from $136,000 a year to $104,000.

The Star Tribune reports that hopes for a last-minute settlement came Monday when both sides met in person for the first time since January. The paper says that talks ended abruptly when management rejected two new proposals from the musicians union, leading to the cancellation of the Carnegie concerts.

According to the Pioneer Press, Vänskä, who is Finnish, told the Helsinki-based newspaper Helsingin Sanomat Monday that he would resign at midnight Minnesota time if management and musicians didn't come to terms.

The director was under contract until September 2015.

The resignation doesn't come as a surprise. The director long-threatened to resign if the dispute wasn't resolved in time for his musicians to rehearse for the concerts.

In his last declaration, Vänskä said the musicians would have to start rehearsing again by the week of Sept. 30.

The musicians are reportedly still practicing despite the departure of their director.

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