As lockout drags on, community group ponders forming new orchestra

Mariellen Jacobson, chair of Save Our SPCO, announces plans to explore forming a new chamber orchestra in St. Paul.

Mariellen Jacobson, chair of Save Our SPCO, announces plans to explore forming a new chamber orchestra in St. Paul.

A community group working to end the five-month lockout of St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians is exploring the possibility of forming a new group to replace the SPCO – and prevent any further losses of SPCO musicians to other orchestras around the country.

Save Our SPCO, a grassroots group of patrons and audience members, announced its latest effort at a press conference today outside Ordway Center for the Performing Arts – the SPCO’s home.

SOSPCO Chair Mariellen Jacobson listed several SPCO musicians who have taken jobs with other orchestras since the lockout began. “We want to keep our world-class orchestra together,” she said, rather than watch as it is “dismantled piece by piece.”

To that end, an exploratory committee of “arts, philanthropy, education, business and political” leaders – including two influential state legislators – will consider whether “a new arts organization could house a world-class orchestra,” she said.

One of the two lawmakers on the exploratory committee, Minneapolis Rep. Phyllis Kahn, chairs the House Legacy Committee, which oversees the process by which conservation and arts organizations – including the SPCO – receive public funding from the Legacy Amendment, a sales tax approved by voters in 2008.

Kahn, a DFLer, said she was interested in efforts to “set up something so that the (Legacy) funding would go to musicians to play music, as it is intended to do.”

Inver Grove Heights Rep. Joe Atkins, another DFLer, is also a part of the exploratory committee.

Learn more about the exploratory committee, and audience-driven efforts to end the lockout of 34 St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians, at www.sospco.org.

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