In Monday’s (8/24) Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Claude Peck writes, “When a symphony orchestra announces guest-star cancellations, it’s usually because a pianist broke a finger or a visiting conductor got the flu. The Minnesota Orchestra has made changes to its 2009-10 season for another reason: to save money. When announced late last year, the upcoming season featured concerts on Oct. 29 and 30 with guest conductor James Conlon, and on a weekend next February featuring guest conductor Robert Spano and violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Those big-name guests have been canceled, and replacement concerts announced. The changes were made ‘for budgetary reasons,’ said Gwen Pappas, orchestra director of public relations. … While they don’t release figures for fees paid to celebrity guests, the orchestra applied what Pappas called ‘a pretty sophisticated calculus’ to determine that money saved by not bringing in outside conductors and soloists won’t be offset by cancellations or lower ticket sales for replacement concerts.” Assistant Conductor Sarah Hicks will now lead a program featuring Beethoven’s 6th Symphony on October 29 and 30, and Finnish conductor Esa Heikkilä, a former student of Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä, will lead a February 11 and 12 program of Grieg, Sibelius, and Mozart.

Posted August 26, 2009