CHICAGO (AP) — Renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti has joined striking members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, saying: “I am here with my musicians.”

Muti is the symphony’s music director. But instead of directing rehearsal Tuesday morning, he appeared with the striking musicians outside the Chicago Symphony Center in downtown Chicago.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that Muti called the strike that started Monday a “moment of crisis.” He says he’s trying to reconcile the two sides.

The musicians say management is trying to reduce their pension benefits after nearly a year of negotiations. The orchestra says the musicians are making demands that are “unreasonable and detrimental.”

Muti says he wants management to “listen more carefully” to the musicians. He says the collapse of the symphony would be a tragedy.

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