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Symphony's new chief has played similar parts before
When the Minnesota Orchestra's musicians went on strike in October 1994, one of them produced a facetious "Top 10" list of reasons for the strike.
Steven Ovitsky, the orchestra's vice president and general manager, made the list for his decision to shave off his beard earlier that year.
The "Top 10" list was a light moment in an otherwise tense situation. Ovitsky's inclusion on the list was a sign of the high regard in which the musicians held him - they never believed he was the source of the symphony's hard-line position - and a sign that they liked him.
Seven months later, Ovitsky moved from the No. 2 job with the Minnesota Orchestral Association to the top job with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO).
His positive relations with musicians were a key reason for his hiring as executive director of the Milwaukee Symphony, which had its own serious labor issues from late 1993 to early 1994.
"He understands union contracts and the legitimate concerns of musicians," said Milwaukee attorney Allen Rieselbach, an MSO board member who headed the search committee for a new executive director. "And with that understanding, he's able to assist in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement." …