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New deadline set for the Minnesota Orchestra labor talks

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The make-or-break moment for the Minnesota Orchestra, which canceled its 2012-13 season after management locked out the players because of labor strife, is now Sept. 15.

The New York Times reports that without a new contract agreement by then, the orchestra’s management said Wednesday, it will not be able to call the musicians back to work in time for them to prepare adequately for a pair of crucial concerts at Carnegie Hall in November.

Music Director Osmo Vanska said in a press release, reports the Pioneer Press, that the musicians must be back to work and in rehearsal the week of Sept. 30 in order to give them enough time to prepare for performances at New York's Carnegie Hall on Nov. 2 and 3. Management set the Sept. 15 deadline based on Vanska's request.

Earlier Wednesday, an original date set by Vanska was the source of some dispute.

Sept. 9 has been widely reported as the date musicians and management of the Minnesota Orchestra must solve their contract dispute by or face the resignation of conductor Vanska.

However, after an analysis of the so-called deadline by the Star Tribune, Sept. 9 may turn out to be just another day in the 11-month-long lockout.

That's because Vanska never formally said he was quitting on that date, the paper says.

In May, Vanska issued a letter to orchestra management that stressed the consequences of the dispute not being settled.

"The Carnegie Hall project represents for me one of the most significant goals of my entire Minnesota Orchestra tenure. I wish to do everything possible to ensure those concerts go ahead," Vanska wrote. "But at this time I must make it clear, that in the case Carnegie Hall chooses to cancel the Minnesota Orchestra’s concerts this November, i.e. if they lose confidence in our ability to perform those concerts as a result of the extended lockout, then I will be forced to resign my position as Music Director."

The Star Tribune notes that the letter was carefully crafted as such to say that he wanted the orchestra back last April, and "at the latest 9 September 2013.”

As a result, the date was interpreted as a deadline for Vanska's departure, and the idea is being pressed by the Facebook page SOS: Save Osmo.

In a post Monday, the administrators of the page likened the departure to the U.S. financial crisis by saying, "14 Days until we fall over the Osmo cliff."

In addition, Gov. Mark Dayton noted the Sept. 9 deadline date in his first public comments about the dispute when corned about it by the Star Tribune at the Minnesota State Fair.

The Star Tribune notes that Vanska's letter also referred to having the orchestra back so it could prepare for some recording sessions with the Swedish company BIS.

The sessions, however, were cancelled last week, and the paper observed that the Sept. 9 date -- whether it's a deadline or otherwise -- doesn't carry as much leverage.

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