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We’ve renamed the orchestra Adminnesota

There are no musicians in the building. They’ve been locked out since October.

No concerts. They’ve been cancelled til end-April and beyond.

All that’s left of one of America’s premier orchestras is an administration ever more desperate to justify its self-imposed siege. They might as well change the name to Adminnesota.

A petition was launched on today to try to save something from Michael Henson’s ashtray. Click on the site, support them. This is as close as it gets to a black and white situation.


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  1. What is Obama doing?

    • Performing Artist52 says:

      What kind of question is that? What is Obama doing? Seriously?

    • More importantly, what is our Governor doing? The public money involved is mostly city and state. It’s not a federal issue and can you imagine if the President were to get involved – the comments about elitists and Libtards and . . . .

    • This is either brilliant snark or plain stupidity.

    • What would Jesus do?

  2. Society is changing in America. When average people learn what the orchestra player is making they are surprised:

    This amount is at least twice what top orchestras in the UK and France pay. They have a 21 hour work week and thus have the time (they already have the prestige) to give private lessons. Most do.

    • Russell Platt says:

      Musicians in France and the UK are long-suffering and doubtless underpaid. On the other hand, their societies have national health insurance, and higher education is substantially subsidized by the government. The Atlantic is very wide.

    • The salaries for the UK and France do NOT include the government-provided benefits like healthcare, which would bring them basically up to the same level.

      And what is this about a 21 hour work week? Have you ever heard of, like, practicing? That’s akin to saying that football coaches only work sunday afternoons and monday mornings.

      And a lot of people are surprised that the musicians make so LITTLE for being so expert and world-class.

    • Completely agree.

      Look at the audience during a concert and all you see are gray heads. Who will be buying concert tickets in 10-20 years? How will classic music attract a new, younger audience when ticket prices are so high? The days of Karajan are over and salaries need to adjust down

      • Performing Artist52 says:

        Sure Scott and Frank, neither of you have a clue as to what it takes to be a musician as is revealed by your statements. More education is needed but I will not waste my time to educate you. But perhaps you might be willing to change your work rules that create multiple problems in the work place and take a 50% pay cut. Meanwhile, the Executive Director’s salary is beyond what it should be. The administrative staff are all getting paid to do nothing right now with the Executive Director collecting $1,000 per day.
        By the way, I am not a gray head and there many others that are not as well. Of course the fact that the lock out has forced many of the programs in the schools cancelled does not help with attracting new, younger audiences. This is despite the fact the MOA was given money from the Legacy Funds for this purpose and it is not being used. Thanks to the musicians themselves for organizing and funding some of these concerts on their own.
        Enough said.

      • Maryann Goldstein says:

        Scott, those gray heads were young once. And the Cleveland Orchestra is thriving because of young audiences. You should have seen the twiiter feed after the MN Orchestra played for 1200 students in Forest Lake (on their own, btw—that is without any sponsorship by the MN Orchestral Association)—filled with comments from students who were blown away. Sorry, don’t buy your argument.

        • Paul D. Sullivan, Boston US says:

          Right you are Maryann. I may be a gray head now, but started attending concerts on a regular basis when I was 23. At last night’s Gatti led performance of an all Wagner performance with the BSO, I saw hundreds of young concert goers there, along with many, many more than that in their 30′s and 40′s. As the “old guard” changes, it seems to me that there are more than enough folks from the younger generation to fill our seats.

      • Michael Adams says:

        The “graying” of the audience is NOT a present-day phenomenon. It is easy to find references to this “problem” in print as far back as the 40′s and 50′s. The truth is, many people come to classical music in their later years, after becoming empty nesters, when they also have the most disposable income. Read on

        A focus group study dome by the MN orchestra circa 1995 found an alarming statistic: when a select group of classical music fans in the target age group of 30-45 was asked what barriers stood in the way of coming to more concerts, they replied that limited family time was the main obstacle, child care being the key. It was found that even if we were to offer FREE child care for this demographic, they still would not come. They just were too tired, too stressed, and too busy being parents to add another item to their schedule. Conclusion? You just have to wait them out about a dozen years and they will return, albeit a bit grayer.

    • yeh shen says:

      I hear sour grapes…

    • Um, that 21 hour work week is just the time they spend rehearsing and performing. There are hours and hours of practice that go on every week at home.

      Saying the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra only work 21 hours a week is sort of like implying an Olympic athlete only works a few minutes every four years.

      • Oleg Sherstiucoff says:

        You are absolutely right here and speaking about salaries – since when being a musician and a player in one of the best of the world-class orchestras became a common job???

    • Mike Hess says:

      This has gone beyond simply salary. It appears the musicians (and many patrons) do not have faith in the orchestra management to successful manage the organization. Cutting expenses short term may balance the budget but this is the same organization that drew down the endowment without public acknowledgment until it the lobby funding was secured from the state and it was time for the planned deficits kicked in to leverage against the musicians. A recent Star Tribune letter to the editor listed a handful of suggestions to improve the top line, instead of cutting. Has management tried those? Any of them? If they are working for other organizations why not here? Also the foot dragging by management on the independent financial assessment gives credibility to the perception that the goal was to lock out the entire season and save the expenses perhaps with the thought that the season’ wouldn’t be as good in the convention center anyway so why not pocket a year of salary savings.

  3. Maryann Goldstein says:

    Dear Mr. Lebrecht,
    Thank you for promoting the petition—am very grateful. But I must clarify. I started it with the help of some friends. We are not in any way professionally affiliated with the MN Orchestra—we are not musicians in the orchestra. One of us is a music teacher, and I am just a retired physician who cares about the arts and has been a long term donor and patron of the orchestra.
    Please correct your blog entry to make this clear. I would not want the MN Orchestra Board to use the erroneous idea that this petition came from the locked out musicians to use against them.
    Thank you very much.
    Maryann Goldstein
    Edina, MN

  4. The petition and play-and-talk campaign was actually not launched by the players, it was launched by a single locked out patron (who is actually one of my readers! I was so happy to see a reader taking this initiative). Musicians had nothing to do with it (although they did post it on their Facebook page a day after it was launched to help get the word out). We locked out patrons ask management to involve us in a solution, and to give us at least one month of concerts this year.

    Also, concerts have only been canceled until April 27. More cancellations will undoubtedly be coming, but for now, it’s only until April 27th.

    Minnesota Orchestra board of directors: are you listening? Contact Minnesota Orchestra audience advocacy group Orchestrate Excellence as well as the experts in the American orchestra world, and ask them what you should do to save the season and move forward.

  5. Maryann Goldstein says:

    THANK YOU, Mr. Lebrecht!

  6. The latest news is that Gina Dibello, the current principal 2nd violin of MO, just won the violin audition of Boston Symphony Orchestra this week. I heard that she is beautiful and a great player. Jon Campbell and Michael Hensen are succeeding driving away their talents.

  7. Robert Edwards says:

    There is a national effort going on of which the general public is unaware. It explains the actions of this board, the one in San Francisco and others. There is a virulent campaign among right-wingers in this country to destroy all unions. The Teacher’s Union and Municipal Unions are at the top of the list. Near the bottom is the American Federation of Musicians because they have been so strong for so long.

    Make no mistake about it. If you doubt this, visit some right-wing blogs and you will see the hatred and blame for society’s ills being placed on unions. If you think I am wrong, then find out the political slant of the administration of this orchestra and your questions will be answered.

  8. Gary Hede says:

    I see the Orchestra board still has Mr Henson from Wells Fargo Bank and Richard Davis from US Bank on the board negotiating team. It should be noted that both these bank have had to settle out of court for fraudulent behavior and in the case of US Bank they just lost a case in civil court for fraud. Why are these members of a banking community, that is to big to fail or jail, still negotiating for the board members. The other board members should remember the old saying ” if you sleep with dogs you will get fleas.

  9. Performing Artist52 says:

    For the record, Mr. Henson is the CEO of the Minnesota Orchestral Association and Jon Campbell is with Wells Fargo. I completely agree with your comments.

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