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Road Trip
Sam Bergman on tour with the Minnesota Orchestra...

Road Trip chronicled the European tour of the Minnesota Orchestra (Feb 9-16, 2004) through the eyes of one of the orchestra's violists - Sam Bergman. The blog generated lots of interest, and was written about in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Sam was also invited on the BBC to talk about the tour and also wrote a piece about the orchestra's performance in London for the London Evening Standard. 

Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Post-Game Wrap: Vienna (second concert)

    Friday, February 13

    Musikverein, Vienna

    Joshua Bell, violin


    The Program:

    KERNIS Color Wheel

    TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto

    PROKOFIEV Suite from Romeo & Juliet

    Encores: Prokofiev, Massenet, Vänskä


    Sometimes, a concert can turn on the slightest stimulus, and the whole feeling of the room can change in an instant. This is a relatively rare occurrence – the tone of most performances tends to be established in the first few minutes – but when it happens, I never quite know what to think. I think it happened twice on Friday night, and I still have no idea what the larger result was.


    It was a somewhat unusual concert to begin with. When the marquee sports the name “Joshua Bell,” you can be sure of a full house, but you can also be sure of an audience that has come exclusively to see Josh play, and you therefore have some work to do to convince them to take an interest in whatever else is on the program. Often, orchestras use the presence of a major soloist as a way to throw a piece of difficult contemporary music on the playlist without stunting ticket sales, but I’ve never been convinced that this is a sound strategy. On our last European tour, the spectacular Peter Serkin was our soloist, and we were opening most of our concerts with a new concerto by Lukas Foss, which Peter assured me was not minimalist, but which certainly sounded minimalist to a non-musicologist’s ear. Essentially, it was fifteen minutes of tone rows, repeated over and over with tiny variations, and our audiences throughout Europe visibly hated it. In Vienna, in fact, a man in the front row got up less than a minute into the piece and banged his way out of the hall. To me, the fact that Peter then played a stunningly beautiful Mozart concerto never quite made up for what we had inflicted on the audience to begin the evening.


    But I’m wandering again. Back to Friday’s concert, which I don’t think can be said to have followed the bitter-medicine-backed-up-by-star-power strategy, since Aaron Kernis’s music is much more accessible for most audiences than is Lukas Foss. The hall had been full for our first concert on Thursday, but on Friday, it was packed to a near-dangerous occupancy level, with hundreds of last-minute ticket buyers crammed into the standing room area at the back of the hall. (It’s also worth noting that, although Viennese audiences do not tend to be young, the crowd was teeming with teenage and college-age girls, on hand to get a good look at Josh. He’s clearly used to this by now.)


    The Kernis seemed to go over fairly well. We’re playing it better now than we did in Minneapolis, although it’s the type of piece which never quite feels secure. The lines are beginning to emerge from the overall mass of sound, and rhythmic acrobatics which were an ensemble nightmare two weeks ago are slowly resolving themselves into some pretty cleverly jazzy passages. I haven’t had a chance to ask Aaron about his impressions of our performance, but I will when I see him next. I do know that I like the piece more each time we play it, and I’ve been told by several people on our staff that, while it may still occasionally sound like a tidal wave of noise on stage, it’s quite effective from the back of the hall.


    When Josh strode out, we had our first seismic shift of the evening. Where the first twenty minutes of the concert had been all about a very challenging and serious type of music, a Joshua Bell performance is always charged with boyish enthusiasm, even now, with the man himself well into his 30s. To be honest, the orchestra as a whole did not play well behind him on this night. The Tchaikovsky always feels like a piece that should play itself, but it never actually does, and there are endless traps into which the accompanying band can fall. Not everyone fell into them, (in particular, I feel the need to mention the consistently outstanding solo work of our stunning second oboist, John Snow, who is playing principal for the concerto,) but enough of us did that the accompaniment sounded, from my chair, at least, muddy and sluggish. Not that the audience full of teen girls were listening to anything we were doing, of course. Joshua Bell is one of the few soloists who commands the entire stage, and the attention of the entire hall. I honestly don’t think anyone would have cared if we had simply stopped playing. You might think that we in the orchestra would find this frustrating, but I don’t think many of us do. After all, we’re all entertainers, and there’s something awe-inspiring about seeing a performer so full of confidence that he can put such a spell on people. The highlight of Josh’s portion of the show was his encore, which was a selection from John Corigliano’s score to The Red Violin. It’s a showpiece, and Josh, as the violinist who played for the movie soundtrack, naturally plays it better than anyone. The teen girls went wild, and I found myself looking around nervously, in case I might have to start dodging any underwear which might be thrown to the stage.


    After intermission, our second shift happened the moment our bows hit the strings to begin the Prokofiev. If Tchaikovsky is a dance, Prokofiev is a 10-mile march, and Osmo’s own suite of pieces from Romeo & Juliet is ordered to reflect that fact. The suite which is most often played has the scenes from the ballet well out of order, and actually ends not with the tragic death of the star-cross’d lovers, but with the furious death of Tybalt and his resulting funeral cortege, which bristles with anger and promises revenge. Osmo’s version takes the story as a whole, and, I think, does a far more effective job of conveying the bitter tragedy of the tale. Too often, I’ve found myself wondering why R&J is always played as almost a lightweight drama, as if we are expected to see the result of the play and think, “Oh, what a beautiful love story, and what a shame that it had to end so sadly.” (Tchakovsky, of course, wrote a famous setting of R&J, which I’ve always thought treacly and annoying in this way.)  Prokofiev’s music takes what I like to think of as a much more Russian view of things: it didn’t have to happen this way, it only happened this way because of the stupidity and pigheadedness of two families unable to see past their absurd war, and it isn’t sweet, or sad, or tender, it’s absolutely maddening!


    Osmo conducts his suite this way, too. Whereas, in the Kernis and Tchaikovky, he tends to keep to a tight stick and a controlled motion, he nearly comes unglued during the Prokofiev. My friend Megan Tam, our newest violist, says that she can tell how a performance of R&J is going by how red Osmo’s face has become by the time we reach Tybalt’s funeral cortege, 2/3 of the way through the piece. She’s right. Throughout every performance of the Prokofiev, Osmo is more intense than I’ve ever seen a conductor. He spins, and jabs, and clenches his fists, and looks for all the world as if he would like to grab a sword and jump into the fray. It wouldn’t be an effective conducting technique if he used it all the time, but for this piece, it seems to have a transformative effect on us. As a matter of fact, we made a bunch of silly mistakes in the Prokofiev last night, the type of errors which make you want to smack yourself in the forehead and go hide under a xylophone somewhere. But in this piece, with this conductor, such things just don’t seem to detract from the overall effect of the music, and the audience at the Musikverein didn’t seem bothered in the slightest. On Thursday night, the crowd was streaming out the doors the minute we finished Bluebeard’s Castle, but last night, not a soul moved, and there were even a few cheers on Osmo’s return trips to the podium, which I don’t remember ever hearing in Vienna before. It was the first time that I can remember feeling as if I had earned the right to be standing on that famous stage.


    It feels as if we’ve been in Austria forever, and today, on our day off, Megan and I trekked around some of the city’s world-famous museums, taking advantage of the chance to see up close some of the most famous works of Klimt, Renoir, and Eybl which I had only ever seen in books. This city can take hold of you awfully quickly, and I’ll be sorry to see it behind us tomorrow. But Germany awaits us, and a quick stop in Frankfurt on Sunday sets us up for another hugely important concert in Berlin on Monday evening. In fact, as I look at my tour book, I see that we’ll play five concerts in five cities in five days, starting tomorrow. Big days ahead…
    posted by sbergman @ 11:46 am | Permanent link
Friday, February 13, 2004
    Post-Game Wrap: Vienna (first concert)

    Thursday, February 12

    Musikverein, Vienna

    Ildiko Komlosi, mezzo-soprano

    Michele Kalmandi, baritone


    The Program:

    BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4

    BARTOK Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

    Encores: Heitzeg, Moskowski


    Yesterday was a tough day. There are days like it on every tour, and on some level, you just have to learn to shake ‘em off and move on, but on another level, the fear and frustration stay with you, and make it incrementally harder to refocus for the next stretch of the marathon.


    This tour was almost guaranteed to fray everyone’s nerves early on, with four of our first five concerts scheduled for major musical capitals and big media towns. With New York safely under our belts, it was easy to feel a bit cocky coming into Vienna, but this is a city that can take a musician’s ego and crush it like a grape, so you’ve gotta be careful. The audiences here are famous for their stoicism, their intellectual bent, and their judgmental nature. No one comes to hear you play in Vienna – you come here to present yourself for their approval.


    With this in mind, we assembled at the Musikverein on Thursday afternoon to rehearse two pieces we hadn’t performed in two weeks: Beethoven’s 4th, and Bartok’s one-act opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. The Bartok is a good choice for Vienna – there is a huge Hungarian population here, and this opera isn’t performed nearly often enough in general – but playing Beethoven in this part of Europe is only a step or two short of issuing an open challenge to the local populace. The finest German orchestras in the world perform here regularly, and the audience at the Musikverein could probably write out a copy of any Beethoven score for you from memory, should you find yourself in need of one.


    The rehearsal did not go well. We sounded tired, frustrated, and without any real sense of where the music was going. The Bartok seemed unfamiliar in many key spots, and we didn’t have nearly enough rehearsal time to actually make any headway on the Beethoven. Worse, I gave in to the desperation of the moment by getting into a brief argument with my stand partner over something so profoundly silly that I won’t go into it here. The rehearsal didn’t seem to end so much as it stopped when the clock ran out. Afterwards, the whole orchestra seemed to be in a grand funk, with more than one person within my earshot questioning whether these lengthy rehearsals (a new feature of this tour, insisted on by Osmo) are actually helpful, or whether we ought to go back to mere “touch-up” rehearsals, which are quick half-hour shots of spot work, usually less than an hour before the performance.


    But one of the cardinal rules of orchestral playing is that you can never predict how a concert will go before it starts. As we filed onstage that evening, I took a look around the Musikverein, and reminded myself of how lucky I am to be playing concerts at (arguably) the greatest concert hall in the world. It’s a cornball method of self-motivation, but an effective one for me, and by the time I reached my chair (my stand partner and I having already profusely apologized to each other for our earlier altercation,) I was back in my usual pre-concert mood, which can best be described as cheerful defiance.


    I won’t say that the concert was perfect. It’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by your surroundings in Vienna, and the quiet scrutiny of the local crowd seems to suggest that they are a refined bunch, and expect to hear a refined orchestra to match them. We are most definitely not a refined orchestra – as I mentioned earlier, we pride ourselves on delivering an almost youthfully passionate sound – but to some degree, I felt like we deferred to the audience, and played their game, rather than our own. Still, there’s nothing wrong with variety, and I’d be lying if I said that the show didn’t go a lot better than I expected it to. The Beethoven was crisp if not flawless, with the slow movement in particular having a beautiful, easy flow. The Bartok, carried along effortlessly by our two soloists, had very few uncertain moments, and by the end, we were sounding more like the orchestra I know.


    I honestly have no idea what the audience thought of the concert. One of our other violists, Michael Adams, has described Viennese audiences as being “like performing for a roomful of really well-read intellectuals from St. Paul.” (This is a reference to our regular performances in Minneapolis’s twin city across the Mississippi River, where the crowds tend to be considerably more reserved than our home audience.) In other words, these are people of great knowledge and musical wisdom, but stomping, cheering, and loud clapping are simply not in their nature. We did receive sustained applause at the end of the evening, enough to get us through two encores, but afterwards, I had an intense desire to corner a few concertgoers, and ask them for a spot review.


    After the concert, I headed back to our hotel on foot, got thoroughly lost, and spent nearly an hour wandering in Vienna’s beautiful museum district before recognizing my surroundings. When I finally reached our hotel, I hauled my laptop down to the piano bar in the lobby, and began work on an entry for the orchestra’s Virtual Tour site. As I typed, the bar filled with members of the orchestra, drinking, laughing, and otherwise blowing off steam from a tough day on the job. Osmo stopped by my table, and when I complimented him on his work that evening, he nodded and said, cryptically, “We are playing now, hm?”


    The revelry went on until well past 2am, when the bar closed, and I headed upstairs for some much-needed sleep. When I awoke on Friday morning, fresh snow was blanketing the city outside my window, a zamboni was firing up on the skating rink below, and I couldn’t wait for our next crack at the Musikverein tonight. Like I said, you’ve got to learn to shake off the hard days, or they’ll eat you alive. Consider me well-shaken.

    posted by sbergman @ 4:07 am | Permanent link
Thursday, February 12, 2004
    Detail Work

    My apologies for not posting anything new yesterday. As it turns out, overnight plane flights to Vienna suck horribly, and I spent most of Wednesday recuperating in my hotel room, and then desperately searching for easy and inexpensive internet access. (I could have sworn that I did extensive research on this subject before leaving home, but never mind.)

    The critical reaction to our New York concert is out, and seems to be generally quite positive. We've rarely gotten any actual bad press in New York, but the last two times we were in town, the reviews all carried a decidedly irritating "Awww, look at the cute little Midwesterners with their very own orchestra!" quality, and even complimentary passages seemed to suggest that while we might be doing our best, we were miles away from competing on New York's level. This time, however, the reviews are quite serious, and Anthony Tommassini went so far as to describe a "sense of on-the-edge involvement and the sheer joy in letting the music rip." This is the type of critical description that thrills me to read, because even when those of us on the stage are completely engrossed in a performance, it can be difficult to assess whether the audience has been able to catch the spark.

    This orchestra has always played with fire, at least since I've been around to observe it. But our new music director has brought a fresh element to the party, and one which has surprised me by enhancing our style, rather than reining it in. Osmo is a fairly well-documented precision conductor, meaning that we spend a great deal of rehearsal time slaving over intonation, rhythmic accuracy, and a general commitment to mastering the technical aspects of the music before we even begin to discuss stylistic issues. There are a lot of conductors who prefer to focus on such things, and, at the risk of generalizing, most of them tend to wind up with performances which lack passion, even if they crackle with technical accuracy. That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with precision work, only that one can easily lose sight of the forest while examining the bark on the trees.

    In Osmo's case, however, the micromanagement of his rehearsal style vanishes almost completely in performance, and is replaced by an unexpected flamboyance and determined verve. "This is not an orchestra given to lazy approximation," wrote Justin Davidson in Newsday, and that's good to hear, but at the same time, all the precision in the world doesn't mean a lot without some serious energy behind it, and it seems to be that energy which is making the biggest impression both at home and on this tour. In a way, there's something innocent about the way we play under Osmo: our best shows have the same frenetic, joyous quality that you often see in youth orchestras, and that is too often lacking among professional enembles, where concerts have become routine. The youthful-sounding vigor has served us well at home, and now it's been validated in New York, but I'll be curious to see what the reaction is here in Vienna, where concertgoers tend to be as jaded as most musicians.

    Tonight is our first of two shows here in the spiritual capital of the music world, and we're switching up the repertoire, playing Bluebeard's Castle and Beethoven's 4th tonight. One quick rehearsal this afternoon is all we get for this change, so it'll be a high-stress day. Still, it's Vienna, and it's the Musikverein, and if we can't get excited for that, well...

    posted by sbergman @ 12:11 am | Permanent link
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
    Correcting The Gray Lady

    The New York Times is a wonderful newspaper. I just want to stress that right upfront. I get it delivered to my door seven days a week, and recent scandals over accuracy aside, I trust its writers more than I trust any other media source out there.

    That having been said, there was a serious factual error in The Times' advance article about the Minnesota Orchestra which appeared this past Sunday. It's an understandable mistake, since it concerns a highly technical aspect of American orchestra contracts, but it is currently causing my e-mail box to fill up with panicky questions from other orchestra musicians wanting to know why the hell our orchestra is undermining national recording agreements, and I'd like to set the record straight.

    In the penultimate paragraph of the article, Cori Ellison is speculating as to why we are about to record a Beethoven cycle, when most observers agree that there are quite enough of such sets already available. (I do not concede this point even a little bit, and frankly, it infuriates me that critics today seem to believe that they have somehow outgrown Beethoven, but I'll leave that aside for now.) After tossing out a few potential reasons why Osmo may actually be daring to believe he has something unique to say through Beethoven, Ellison concludes that "the real answer may be that the orchestra is recording a Beethoven cycle just because it can. An unusual loophole in the players' contract gives management the right to record and broadcast without additional payment."

    I'll say it as simply as I can: There is no loophole. We get paid for recordings, and we get exactly the same amount of money for our recording sessions as every other American orchestra gets for theirs. Our management does not have the right to release recordings without paying us, nor have they ever asked for such rights. We are paid through a complicated system known as the Electronic Media Guarantee (EMG), which is designed to allow our management to roll our annual recording payments into our weekly paychecks, while guaranteeing that it will always be in the orchestra's best interest to make recordings. (In other words, since the EMG is guaranteed, the organization would have to pay us even if we didn't make any CDs, so they might as well go to the trouble of making them.) Musicians (not all musicians, I should stress,) like this system because it keeps us in the recording game at a time when many orchestras have lost their record deals, or are trying to self-release and self-market their discs. Managements like it because it makes our weekly base pay appear to be a bit higher than it would be without EMG rolled in. Our orchestra happens to make a lot of recordings, and we're working with two different labels at the moment, so our EMG is quite high, compared with other major orchestras. The amount of EMG any orchestra receives (and nearly every full-time orchestra has some level of EMG,) is hammered out at the negotiating table. This is the way our orchestra's musicians have chosen to use the system right now. It's a perfectly legitimate, above-board way to operate, and we are hardly the only orchestra using EMG to supplement our base pay. It's not a loophole, and we aren't getting gypped by some evil, shadowy management figure.

    I'm sure that most people reading this blog aren't even remotely interested in this subject, and I won't harp on it any longer. But believe me, anything regarding recordings, EMG, national agreements, or money in general is a huge deal within the industry at the moment, and when a paper as well-respected and well-distributed as the Times suggests that our band is trying to slip in under the radar, the rumor needs to be quashed, and fast.

    posted by sbergman @ 12:52 pm | Permanent link
    Post-Game Wrap - New York

    Monday, February 9
    Carnegie Hall, New York
    Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin

    The Program:
    STRAVINSKY Symphonies of Wind Instruments
    SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto
    PROKOFIEV Selections from Romeo & Juliet
    Encores: Prokofiev, Massenet, Traditional arr. Vänskä

    I've never believed that the musicians in an orchestra are necessarily in the best position to issue verdicts as to whether or not a concert went well. What we hear from the stage is often not what the people in the seats hear, and it's what they hear that matters. So I don't intend to use this space to write my own reviews of our concerts. But there are aspects of any performance that are equally measurable to everyone in the room, and so, to the degree that I can, I'll try to scratch out some post-game analysis on how I think our concerts are going, starting with tonight's Carnegie kickoff.

    There is a great scene from an episode of the brilliant but cancelled Aaron Sorkin sitcom Sports Night, in which anchorman Casey McCall mentions in a staff meeting that a certain kicker has just been cut from the roster of the NFL team he plays for. Two assistant producers are aghast, and ask Casey why the kicker was cut. "Because he can't kick," Casey replies. "But he's such a good guy!" protest the producers. "He can't kick," says Casey. One of the producers says that he's sure the kicker will catch on with another team soon. "No, he won't," says Casey. "Know why? 'Cause he can't kick." The other producer says that he's seen the guy kick in practice plenty of times. Casey's reply: "At this level, they pretty much expect you to be able to kick in the game."

    Every professional orchestra knows how to kick. Every collection of professional musicians is capable of having a truly transformative musical moment at some point in their collaboration. But the difference between a good orchestra and a great orchestra is, to me, their respective abilities to create such moments on command. Every ensemble will have its off nights, but to be one of the best, you'd better make those nights rare.

    I've played Carnegie Hall with this orchestra twice before, and both times I sweated my way through the show, hoping against hope that everything would go right. But tonight, I knew from the first notes we played that things would be just fine, and that we were locked in for a very good ride. Part of that confidence comes from the podium, part from our personal preparation, and even a small part comes from luck. But to me, the lion's share of it comes from knowing, deep in your heart, that you can kick in the game.

    posted by sbergman @ 2:31 am | Permanent link
Monday, February 9, 2004
    The NYC Runaround

    NEW YORK - Concert day.

    Well, so much for pacing myself.

    The problem with coming to New York, of course, is that everyone in the music business has at least 67 friends living in Manhattan alone, and given that a touring orchestra wishes to sweep into town with as much advance press and noisy fanfare as possible, all 67 of them know exactly when you're going to be here. So, with social obligations stacked on top of professional duties, the New York stop is always the most hectic on any tour. I've stopped trying to count the number of friends with whom I'm supposed to grab either a cup of coffee or a beer before we blow town on Tuesday, and on top of that, my mother - never one to miss an orchestra concert of any sort, and certainly not one in which her eldest son is playing at Carnegie Hall - just arrived from Pennsylvania. We've been in town less than 24 hours, and I'm already sleep-deprived.

    But enough whining from me. Today is a jam-packed day, with an open rehearsal at Carnegie from 1.30-3pm, and the concert tonight at eight. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is joining us, and I suspect that we'll need to spend the bulk of our rehearsal time hitting spots in her Shostakovich violin concerto, which we haven't seen in three weeks. It's also a good bet that, with limited rehearsal time available, many players will be lobbying Osmo to hit spots they weren't comfortable with when we last performed the Prokofiev on Friday. In the viola section, we'll be begging for a few cracks at a particularly exposed passage in the third movement of the suite, which we blundered our way through last week. (It's not so much that we can't play it, it's that, on our home stage, we can't hear each other terribly well, and all it takes is one person playing too loud or too fast, and the whole thing goes straight to hell.) But whether we actually get to go over the passage in rehearsal will depend on Osmo's plans, and on our principal's ability to make himself heard over the bleat of everyone else's requests.

    The fact that this is an open rehearsal may add a few more layers of chaos to the mix, although I doubt it will make that much of a difference. Osmo is not the type of conductor who feels a great need to play to the audience, and I can't imagine him changing his style simply because a few hundred people are watching. (This is a marked change from our previous music director, Eiji Oue, who saw open rehearsals mainly as an opportunity to run the entire concert in front of a test audience, which is flatly exhausting and, in my opinion, not terribly productive.) Osmo's rehearsal style may not be terribly exciting to the folks who show up to watch, since it consists mainly of quiet, intense conversations with principals, followed by extensive repetitions of a few bars at a time, until he hears exactly what he's looking for. (The joke that has made the rounds of every orchestra Osmo has ever led is, "This guy's never gonna give up. We might as well do it his way, or we'll never get to go home." That line makes him sound a lot more authoritarian than he actually is, but there's no doubt that our music director is a man who knows what he wants out of his orchestra, and he does not generally accept excuses about the specific difficulties of playing certain passages on certain instruments. There are orchestras that chafe under this sort of leadership, but at the moment, ours isn't one of them.)

    I always get nervous for Carnegie Hall shows, and I'm starting to feel the butterflies. It's an intimidating stage, even when you're used to playing on it, and the power of the New York press to make or break an orchestra's East Coast image is always in the back of my mind. But nerves aside, this is a show that I know we can play well, and on the most basic level, I can't allow myself to worry about anything but my own performance. Apropos of that, it is now 90 minutes before the start of the rehearsal, and I havn't practiced in more than 48 hours. So you'll excuse me as I go cram in a few minutes of warming-up time. I'll try to post some initial post-concert reactions late tonight.

    posted by sbergman @ 10:29 am | Permanent link

ROADTRIP archives

About Sam Bergman
I'm a violist, mostly. A writer, sometimes. There's more (a lot more,) but that's really all you absolutely need to know to understand this blog... More

About RoadTrip
Road Trip chronicled the European tour of the Minnesota Orchestra (Feb 9-27, 2004) through the eyes of one of the orchestra's violists - Sam Bergman. The blog generated lots of interest, and was written about in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Sam was also invited on the BBC to talk about the tour and also wrote a piece about the orchestra's performance in London for the London Evening Standard. You can see all of the blogs entries by going here. More

About This Tour
From Feb. 8 to 27, The Minnesota Orchestra will be on tour. First stop is Carnegie Hall, then on to 11 European cities. To see the complete list of soloists, venues and repertoire, click here --> More

Write Me:

Search RT


Minnesota Orchestra
Tour Concert Schedule
February 9-26, 2004

2/9 - New York
2/12 - Vienna
2/13 - Vienna
2/15 - Frankfurt
2/16 - Berlin
2/17 - Düsseldorf
2/18 - Cologne
2/19 - Stuttgart
2/21 - Leeds (England)
2/22 - London
2/24 - Birmingham
2/25 - Glasgow (Scotland)
2/26 - Lahti (Finland)


What They're Saying...

Complete Set of Translated Tour Reviews - courtesy Minnesota Orchestra

Fascinating Notes - Washington Post 02/27/04

Osmo, Master of Beethoven - The Guardian (UK) 02/25/04

That Same Old American Sound - Financial Times 02/24/04

In Waiting No More - The Times of London 02/24/04


Minnesota Orchestra
The official web site. C'mon, buy a ticket. We need the money. More

The Virtual Tour
The orchestra's European tour in multimedia, for students and teachers. More

Minnesota Public Radio
They'll be broadcasting the final concert of the tour live from Lahti, Finland, and webcasting it from their site. I'll also be writing brief virtual postcards for the MPR site throughout the tour. More

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Strib reporter Kristin Tillotson will be jetting around Europe with us for a few tour stops. More

St. Paul Pioneer Press
The PiPress's intrepid arts editor Matt Peiken is tagging along, too, and experience suggests that he will have a unique take on things. More


Other Stuff I Like...

eighth blackbird.
If classical music needs saving, and I'm not saying it does, these six musicians are the ones to do it. I'm biased, since they're old friends, but it's a fact that there aren't a lot of contemporary music ensembles out there with serious chops and a dead-on sense of what makes music exciting. If there were any justice in the world, 8BB would be as well-known as the Emerson Quartet.

The Mischke Broadcast.
Every weeknight at 10, T.D. Mischke takes to the airwaves of KSTP-AM, and radio is worthwhile again. The only unique voice on an otherwise worthless right-wing talk station, Mischke is a legend in the Twin Cities, capable of comforting an elderly cancer patient in one breath, and launching into an improvised song about the dangers of Black & Decker toasters in the next. The station airs a live stream, and you can catch Mischke from 10pm to midnight Central Time.

Eddie From Ohio.
Greatest band on the planet. Truly. If orchestra concerts were half as fun as EFO's live shows, we'd be beating off ticket-buyers with a stick.

St. Paul Saints.
The Twin Cities' "other" baseball team has gotten endless media attention for its gimmickry and quirky ownership group (which includes Bill Murray and Mike Veeck.) But in their decade of existence, the Saints have brought a love of the summer game back to thousands of Minnesotans who had despaired of ever again seeing a double play turned outdoors. Every musician's gotta have an addiction of some sort, and the Saints are mine.



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    on the future of music
  Tommy T
    Tommy Tompkins'
    extreme measures

  Midori in Asia
    Conversations from the road
    June 22-July 3, 2005

  A better case for the Arts?
    A public conversation
  Critical Conversation
    Classical Music Critics on the 
    Future of Music
  Sticks & Stones
    James S. Russell on
   In Media Res
    Bob Goldfarb on Media
    Sam Bergman on tour with 
   the Minnesota Orchestra

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