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Musicians approve SPCO offer but still worry about orchestra's future

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The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is set to return to the stage next week. Musicians ratified a three-year contract Monday, ending a six-month lockout and a labor impasse that dates back 16 months.

But even as the Musicians Negotiating Committee announced the ratification and expressed its excitement about performing again beginning May 9th, the group also underscored its worries about the future of the SPCO.

The committee chair says the quality of the orchestra will suffer unless management brings in a new president who can increase revenue. Musicians say the large salary reduction they've just agreed to will make it difficult for the SPCO to attract and keep top-flight players. The Star Tribune puts the salary reduction at 18.6 percent, although the musicians say it's more than 22 percent with other compensation also reduced.

Since Sarah Lutman stepped down as SPCO president in 2011 the orchestra's board chairman, Dobson West, has been interim president.

In a statement Monday West said the new contract puts the SPCO in position to eliminate its deficit and balance its budget. The chamber orchestra also announced a concert schedule that begins with performances May 9th, 10th, and 11th at churches in Apple Valley, Eden Prairie, and St. Paul, respectively.

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