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Latest: Minnesota directors take their names off the mast

The board of directors of the Minnesota Orchestra have removed their names and contact details from its website. See for yourselves.

Locally, folk are saying they have been besieged by orchestra supporters angry at the season’s cancellation. The chairman, Jon Campbell, reportedly disconnected his phone after finding his voicebox full of fury.

They can hide, but they’ve nowhere to run…

musicians for minn

UPDATE: After half a day, the list has been restored.

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  1. Tamara says:

    I’m getting error 404 when I try to follow the link.

  2. James Brinton says:

    I imagine that Google has cached the original page with their contact information.
    I find it interesting that while they are willing to trash the careers of 100+ musicians, additional staff, and willing to anger and inconvenience thousands of attendees and supporters, they are unwilling to hear from thousands that they might be wrong.
    Obviously, they are “much too important to be bothered by the little people.”

  3. Debbie says:

    There is a list with contact information for the Board Chair and Chair of the Negotiating Team on the musicians’ website at:

  4. Daniel says:

    Some classic Minnesota nice! Where’s my lutefisk?

  5. Should they be questioned (again) by state legislators, can they then claim plausible deniability?

  6. harold braun says:

    So they’re not only nitwits,but also cowards and sissies!

  7. Does Minnesota really need the money from the head if board Jon Campble, who is being reported as someone who does not even go MO concert? The money he spends a year on MN membership is likely to him as much as like I buy an DVD player. What a deal, getting all the respect and prestige in the community with such little price, sorry, I mean donation! Well, bankers are trained to get good deals, at the expense of everyone else. I call musicians in MO to collectively chip in and return the money Jon Campbel spends each year to buy his seat on this once truly arts loving board. The overt take over of public arts institutions by corporate-country club big wigs has to be resisted by artists and public.

  8. Skripach says:
  9. From the Minnesota Orchestra website:
    ‘Musician costs account for 48 percent of the Orchestra’s total costs. In 2011, Minnesota Orchestra musicians received an average annual salary of $135,000, plus $35,000 worth of benefits including a defined benefit pension plan and comprehensive medical plan. They receive a minimum of 10 weeks paid vacation each year and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave per year. We cannot resolve our financial problems without musician participation.”

    As the top orchestra in Europe (the world?) Berlin Philharmonic members get the equivalent of $118,000 per year. Other principal European orchestras make half or less than that of musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. America has suffered economic decline, lost a large part of the middle class and, in the last few decades, “culture” in general is less important yet I understand that no salary reductions discussions are allowed by the musicians.

    • First off, be careful of numbers from either side that are not independently verifiable. Base salary would be $78,000.

      Second, the culture in Europe is very different from the one in America, and Germany pays for a lot of things that America doesn’t.

      Third, this is less about money than it is about changes in working conditions, respect for artists, and an unwarranted re-imagining of the role of the Minnesota Orchestra, that was undertaken with zero community input, and created by bankers and executives who don’t have experience in arts and non-profit administration. If the only thing we were talking about was money, this story would have wrapped up a long time ago.

      • graeter says:

        It’s hard to respect “artists” who can’t negotiate a business transaction without demonizing the other side of the table. ( And once more, with feeling, I am not a member of the board)

        • Anonymous says:

          Putting the word artists in quotation marks is an insult. They are all true artists, your sarcasm notwithstanding.

          Secondly, what is there to negotiate? The board has insisted the amount of cuts are non-negotiable, and have cut off all salary and benefits in the meanwhile. In light of this thuggery, I’m amazed the artists have remained so civil.

          • Amy Adams says:

            Anonymous, “graeter” performs the function of a troll when posting comments on this site, and would very much like to re-direct the conversation…Don’t worry about her.

        • Puhleeze. Michael Henson can’t open his mouth without trashing the musicians.

        • With all due respect, graeter, the players were ‘demonized’ first. This created a slanted field, so the players have fought back. In the long run, it looks like taking that stance has also backed them into a corner.

          Overall, it seems to me the support is with the players, because they are the ones who were sandbagged and have been put at a disadvantage, even though everyone tacitly acknowledges that the MOA may think it is trying to keep the organization afloat. Nothing the players can say about MOA can possibly equal that imo.

    • Wow, they’re concerned about the middle class? Is this intra-class warfare going on here? Stay classy, MOA.

    • The San Francisco Symphony recently made a mockery of this problem by going on strike over a temporary pay freeze on their own $160,000 annual salaries.

      The big problem in Minnesota is that management’s first offer was a shockingly huge pay cut. The musicians have essentially refused to negotiate with that as a starting point.

    • German orchestras have a base pay, but then they add “Zulagen” based on location, the orchestras status, seniority, cost of living, and other things. The musicians usually make a good bit more than their base pay.

      • another orchestra musician says:

        Not to mention that cost-of-living factors related to the level of public service provided, such as public safety, public transit, and quality of public education, are far less of an issue in Germany than they are in the US. There is certainly some economic segregation in Germany, but incomparably less than exists in the US.

    • This is also a dangerous comparison because European orchestras generally have lower retirement ages, so whatever shortfall that may exist in salary is likely made up for by earlier pensions. Not to mention better health insurance. Second, principal players, at least, in Berlin and many of these orchestras usually split the job (Berlin has 3 concertmasters), so there’s plenty of time to do other work; Manny Pahud manages to be both principal flute in Berlin and arguably the world’s leading flute soloist, substantially bolstering his Berlin Phil income, I’d imagine.

      • another orchestra musician says:

        I think it quite safe to say that top European orchestras, overall, pay significantly less than top US orchestras. And while musicians in Europe do enjoy freedom to pursue supplementary employment, so do musicians in the US. What weighs heavily to the advantage of european orchestras is the comparatively far superior quality of life in major European cities. Compared with Vienna or Paris, Chicago and Los Angeles are hardship postings.

  10. UPDATE: Thankfully the page has been restored, albeit with a strangely defensive paragraph, and at a different address.

  11. Performing Artist52 says:

    Quoting from the website: “This generous group of volunteer leaders and the corporations they represent have contributed $60 million in the past five years to help the Orchestra achieve and maintain excellence.”

    $60 million dollars in the past five years?! Where does that amount fit into the equation of the numbers that have been reported? And are going to give 20% more? And there is a money shortage?

    • The first question is how much has gone to the orchestra and how much to rehab buildings?

      The second question is – If they care so very much, how can they allow this lockout to happen? Past financial support means nothing when the thing they say they supported is being dismantled. Shame on them.

  12. Stefan Hersh says:

    In the main, compensation in nearly every field is about competing for the best talent. In order to be viable, a sports team must compete for the talent against the rest of the league, regardless of the specifics of market conditions or the market in which they reside. The same is true of orchestras as well.

    The current Minnesota Orchestra board and admin seem focused on fiscal conservatism to the exclusion of artistic competitiveness. We should make no mistake about it that the artistic health of the Minnesota Orchestra has already been seriously damaged during the lockout by the exodus of many of the best payers in the orchestra. If the compensation proposals under discussion prevail in Minnesota, the artistic health of the orchestra will not recover in the forseeable future and we will all witness a once-great organization in decline become a pale shadow of it’s former self.

    For more than 50 years Minneapolis has been a town that committed to competing for the very best available talent and produced an ever improving world-class orchestra. The board and admin seem now to have unilaterally decided that Minnesota can no longer compete. Even the most jaundiced conservative should wonder if they are selling Minnesotans short. The dismantling of the cutting-edge engine of such a successful, durable, and irreplaceable arts organization is a deplorable tragedy that all sentient music lovers should mourn. Those who would preside over such an initiative owe it to Minnesotans to step aside and let more courageous individuals lead.

    • Yes, totally. If they don’t pay competitively, they will fall quickly back among the pack of pretty good second tier orchestras, and this decade they spent as one of the nation’s top ensembles will just be a memory. This is highly highly tied to pay. There is nothing intrinsic about any orchestra that makes it great. If they started paying $70K a year in Boston, that orchestra would quickly lose its quality and reputation. A great orchestra is made up of great players, and you don’t get great players if you don’t pay competitively.

  13. Oleg Sherstiucoff says:

    Run, run for your lives

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