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Now Minnesota loses its principal clarinet

We hear that Burt Hara, principal clarinet of the locked out Minnesota Orchestra, has won the audition for Associate Principal Clarinet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It will mean a sunnier life for Burt and his family, but it’s another sickening for Minnesota, which is shedding more and more of its best players in the unending lockout by a roughshod board and its lapdog president. They are literally dismantling the orchestra.

burt hara

Here’s Burt at work:

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Comments

  1. Before now, I thought that, however dreadful the lockout, most of the people who were leaving for other jobs were in fact leaving for better jobs, and they likely would have left even without the lockout. But leaving a principal job in Minnesota for associate principal in LA – or anywhere, really – is (no disrespect to the fine LAPO) a step down. I can only hope the situation resolves itself soon enough that Burt Hara changes his mind and can stay in Minnesota (I guess he’d have his whole probation period in LA to consider it).

    • Anonymous says:

      At least four of the departed have taken steps down, in my opinion (although they are all perfectly justified in doing so). But even those that may have upgraded–who knows how many of them would have taken auditions in the first place? Preparing for an audition is extremely expensive and unfathomably grueling, especially if you’re already working. You end up playing 10-12 hours a day for months, and hardly see your family during that time. It is certainly not a decision one makes lightly.

      • Tamara says:

        Seriously. The audition lifestyle is for the young, hungry, and childless. It’s a big sacrifice for the whole family when one of the parents is preparing for an audition.

        • MacroV says:

          True, but other players have left Minnesota in recent years for other orchestras. One can well make the point that Minnesota is losing good players and in an existential crisis without making the fairly questionable assertion that every one of the departures is the result of this dreadful lockout.

          • Amy Adams says:

            The lockout was not the first signal of a bitter atmosphere at the Minnesota Orchestra. Some players knew they would do well to leave before things got even worse.

          • Anonymous says:

            Some musicians who left before the lockout have hinted that they saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to go down with a sinking ship. If your assertion is true, MacroV, that the lockout has little bearing on the mass exodus from the Minnesota Orchestra’s ranks, then please find me a supporting example of another major orchestra with the same number of vacancies (currently 25+). Tell you what–I’ll spare you the research. There are none even close to that number. Ten vacancies would be a red flag for major ensembles.

            I should also tell you that I am close to many members of the orchestra, and can absolutely state: most members would not be on the audition trail if the lockout was not in place. The fact that some members have upgraded positions is merely a testament to their quality, not to their ambitions. Minnesota used to be considered a destination job, but sadly this once great orchestra will be seen by many as a stepping stone gig.

          • Tamara says:

            I know MO players, and am a professional orchestra musician myself; people started auditioning over a year before the lockout began because they saw what was going to happen.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Typically, a tenured player like Burt can take a year-long leave-of-absence in MO until he gets tenure in LA. He chose not to stay with Philadelphia Orchestra for family reasons and returned to MO. Although the chair is called Associate Principal, they have a long history of co-principal winds in LA (but most sections no longer have this post). It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It’s possible that his LA salary as Associate will be greater than his compensation as Principal in MO (before the current lockout; but certainly greater if and when MO returns to the stage) This is truly a staggering blow for MO. This might even get the attention of the luddites in charge.

      • Carole Isseks Bailis says:

        Don’t bet on it, Bob. They’re tone deaf.

      • Burt Hara’s prospects with the LAPO are in no way diminished from his previous duties. For a family man with responsibilities, the LAPO represents a stable operation with topnotch artistic leadership and visionary management. There are opportunities for solo outings in the greater Los Angeles music scene, including occasional work in Hollywood studios, that a performer in Minnesota could only dream of. Eventually there will be good prospects for promotion within the ranks of the LAPO. This move is as step up, not a step down, for Hara. It is, however, a step down for the Minnesota Orchestra under its current hostile management.

        • Rodney-

          You said almost exactly what I was about to post. Anybody that thinks a move to the LA Phil is a step down doesn’t know what the arts situation is here in LA. There are plenty of opportunities for the players outside of the orchestra, both in solo and chamber music as well as a ton of good university music programs that would probably kill for a teacher of his caliber. (I took a couple lessons from him many years ago and he’s a fantastic teacher).

          What also isn’t being said here is that Burt grew up in Los Angeles. I can’t imagine that an opportunity to play in such a good situation back at home didn’t play at least a small part in this as well.

      • I don’t dispute what you say, Bob, except that the word “typically” no longer is enough to guarantee or even suggest anything in our world of the performing arts.
        btw- I loved hearing Burt when he was in Philly and I knew him to be a warm and caring fellow. I’m sure he and all his colleagues and friends in Minnesota are torn up by the choices they are continually faced with as all of us who are giving our professional lives to music should be for them and about their terrible situation.

        • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

          I retract the word “typically” Phil, and agree that all bets are off in the profession.

      • David Naden says:

        Your comment is spot on and succinct. Thank you for posting…

    • Elizabeth Erickson says:

      How is having your salary cut in half and playing background music for corporate events and bar mitzvahs BETTER than playing for one of the best orchestras in the country? Who cares about what your title is. It means nothing in the Minnesota Orchestra. I wish you well Burt. I hope I’m lucky enough to hear you play again.

      • Tomas2 says:

        You seem to be unfamiliar with the LA Philharmonic

        • Elizabeth Erickson says:

          Tomas2 Oh, I am familiar with some of LA’s problems. I would say the exact same thing about you not knowing how bad it is to be a world class musician playing for a kid’s bar mitzvah party and having the powers that be completely clueless about how valuable you are.

          • Elizabeth- are you not aware that the LA Phil is one of the highest paid orchestras in the world?! Under the leadership of the great Gustavo Dudamel??? This is a BIG STEP UP.

            “kid’s bar mitzvah party” are you crazy?

          • Evan, Elizabeth’s talking about the Minnesota Orchestra. Under their proposed contract, musicians would be farmed out to bar mitzvahs and holiday parties. Not kidding.

    • David Naden says:

      For Burt Hara to accept the position of Associate Principal of the LA Phil and leave the principal position is Minnesota is actually a step-up. The LA Phil is ranked in the top 8 US Orchestras, and has traditionally had two co-principal wind players in each section. Burt’s initial position as associate principal could very well be upgraded to co-principal in the very near future.

    • Better jobs?? There are not many around better than a position in the Minnesota Orchestra.

      • Right now there are hundreds, if not thousands.

        • Yes, Emily – you’re right: at present, there are, but my point was that it was not a stepping-stone orchestra. It was one of the better jobs and one of the great orchestras of the world, now decimated by an incredibly blind, arrogant board of directors. I read the comment to which I was responding as implying that the orchestra was not on the level of, say, the LA Phil.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is beyond tragic. You don’t just replace artists like Burt Hara.

    • Tamara says:

      And it’s not only his artistry. A good friend of mine was excited about going to Minnesota Orchestra in part because of the great working atmosphere in the section that the principal fostered.

    • Tragic is rather over the top. Great artists leave top orchestral positions every so often. When they do so without this sort of background, no one makes this much fuss – they get on with looking for who might replace them. Sure, here that’s trickier because the situation makes the position less attractive for a replacement; but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be possible to fill this position with a top candidate, just like other positions in both this orchestra and every other top orchestra. I’m sure Burt is an important person in this orchestra – but he is replaceable.

      • “He is replaceable” – You sound just like management. Actually, what top candidate in his or her right mind would sign on to this terribly listing ship?

      • Terry Carlson says:

        “tragic” is absolutely the right word — some Minnesotans are proud of the baseball Twins or the football Vikings, but others have been extremely proud to call ourselves Minnesotans in no small part because of the world-class Minnesota Orchestra. The great tradition of Music in Minnesota is now under threat because the orchestra’s board has been taken over by conservative, non-musician union-busters who do not even attend orchestra concerts. That is indeed tragic.

  3. Patrick says:

    Amazing that there is not enough pressure from the community as a whole in MN to end the craziness and resume concerts. Very sad.)

    • Maryann Goldstein says:

      Patrick,
      There has been TONS of pressure to resume concerts—-people have been withholding donations (telling the MOA they won’t until there is a reasonable resolution), the legislature is investigating the possibility of withdrawing funds given to the MOA for arts education and holding hearing into potential MOA malfeasance, and there have been two separate petitions with resounding numbers sent to the management. There have been people who have made it their life mission to expose the MOA”s mismanagement and lies and make sure the public knows.
      The problem is that the MOA WANTS to dismantle the orchestra no matter what. They don’t care that they are the laughingstock of the musical world. This is a union busting move and the powers that be do not care about ANY type of pressure—NOTHING matters to them other than preserving their egos now. If you have any ideas on how to do something that will make a difference to these arrogant, incompetent people (i.e. Michael Henson, Jon Campbell, and Richard Davis), believe me, we here in MN would love to have further, more effective ideas.

      • ^This.

        The problem is that the means that Maryann describes for exerting pressure simply don’t move very quickly.

        • Elizabeth Erickson says:

          yes, that’s true –things can move slowly especially when you have to move through solid rock

      • Susan Larson says:

        This is so true, Maryann. Thank you for posting this. It is a union busting tactic and also, a race to the bottom. We’d rather substitute “cheap” for “quality”. This happened in the public education sector and it will continue to happen as long as the rich in power have their way.

  4. Sam said at last week’s concert that three musicians were playing for the last time. This was just after Burt had played the Mozart concerto. I am just sick hearing this.

  5. Mike Hess says:

    Second in a functioning playing orchestra vs principal in a locked out orchestra in organizational decline? Maybe not a step down…

  6. Carole says:

    This is beyond tragic. What the board has done, in it’s destruction of a great artistic organization and cultural destination, is akin to the Nazi’s destruction of art and culture in Europe. Yes, hopefully, some day, the MN Orchestra will be what it once was, but I fear not in my lifetime. I don’t blame anyone for taking a job, any job, elsewhere. I know others who are contemplating finding ‘other things’ to do rather than go back to what’s left, given what the board and management have done. It’s not just who wants to play under lesser conditions, but who wants to work with them? What’s next in the Twin Cities … the Guthrie? The Walker? Better start looking at who is on the boards at those places as well.

    • Oh dear. Carole has just Godwin-ed.

    • Terry Carlson says:

      “Better start looking at who is on the boards at those places as well.” That is exactly what I wrote to the folks at Minnesota Public Radio, who have been particularly lacking in their support of the locked-out musicians, in my view. They did not publish my comment, needless to say.

  7. Lisa Ragsdale says:

    Maryann G. hit the nail on the head. There has been tremendous pressure on the managements of both orchestras to settle and it is a near miracle that the SPCO has finally agreed to get back to playing. But the management of the MO is a whole different story. All they are doing will come back to bite them in the butt because soon there will not even be a Minnesota Orchestra and we will ALL be the losers. The remaining Orchestra members should all give notice that they will not be returning if there is no resolution before June.
    No we do not accept the dissolution of the union and we do not accept incompetent greedy and stupid management.. Either the current management leaves and we have an Orchestra or they stay and we have nothing.

  8. Mike H says:

    I suggest we all look at the board members and send letters to their companies suggesting we will no longer do business with them. I’d start with Richard K. Davis of US Bank who was responsible for hiring Michael Henson.

    • Maryann Goldstein says:

      Great idea Mike H—to take our funds out of both Wells Fargo and US Bank. Maybe this might make a difference.
      However, sadly, I don’t think that this will faze them. What are a few thousand orchestra supporters to them?

      I’ve been looking carefully at the MOA website for further statements that could be half-truths and the answers about the acoustics in the hall caught my attention. They are so definitive that the “acoustics will be preserved”!! But I’ve heard that MH likes to refer to Orchestra Hall now as a Performing Arts Center. ???? And it is clear that this one of the goals is to make it more pops concert friendly. We know what the acoustics are like at the Ordway… So while it’s sheer speculation, it would not surprise me if the sound in the hall has been fooled around with to not be the magnificent acoustic space it was before (despite all the references to renowned acoustical consultants in the UK on the MOA website—in fact, on the consultant page, they state that one of their goals was to make the space more financially viable for pops concerts http://www.soundspacedesign.co.uk/project/orchestra-hall/). Sadly, we might be a long time before we find out what has happened in the hall for orchestral music because the musicians aren’t likely to go back for quite some time… In any event, I’m skeptical of these MOA pronouncements…

      So between the horrible management, the union busting, the ridiculous proposed contract, the need to get rid of not only one but likely four people at the MOA in order for things to get turned around (Henson, Campbell, Davis, and Ebensteiner—he was hired apparently for his union busting expertise and of course, the famous comment about drawing down the endowment to support the bonding bill came from him), and the distinct possibility that the hall no longer will (despite assurances) be what it was for orchestra concerts makes me think that we just need to give up on the MOA.—that is our efforts to “save” our MN Orchestra should now be imagining them without the MOA and without Orchestra Hall. Something akin to what the Save Our SPCO people did.

      I’m tired of arguing with the fools at the MOA and would like to put my energies now towards making sure that the Musicians can play here in MN without them until the time that serious MOA changes occur.

  9. W.A. Morzart says:

    hit the play button:
    http://www.sadtrombone.com/

    • Amy Adams says:

      er…not the best of taste, “Morzart”.
      People are anguished about this lockout and the slow-motion destruction of the Minnesota Orchestra.
      Comical trombone sounds go with funny things.

  10. Minn. “best/last” offer was a 50% cut of its Principal’s Salary.
    No thanks….

  11. Tomas2 says:

    I know this isn’t the answer anybody wants to contemplate, but just consider how many fine musicians out there can’t get a permanent job to save their lives. When this catastrophe has finally played out, I don’t think the orchestra will have any problem refilling its ranks with excellent players. It’s a bit of a bummer to consider this, but nonetheless I think it will work out.

    • Amy Adams says:

      Sure, Tomas2. Excellent (younger, inexperienced) players. All grateful to be there, to perhaps catch a glimpse of what it used to be. All properly grateful to be earning a salary doing what they love.
      But players at the top of their game? No.
      Players that not only qualify to audition, but to WIN a spot based on their perfect suitability to blend with their section? …No.
      See, that’s a huge and subtle thing that non-musicians don’t get.
      The crop of musicians that audition for Minnesota won’t be like the ones they have. (..I mean, had…)

      • Ah, yes, because the younger, relatively inexperienced players of, say, the Simon Bolivar are just so inferior… er…

        • Anon: the players of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra are indeed great. The point made, with which I totally agree (I’m a professional musician in two of the world’s most renowned ensembles, so I have first-hand experience with this), is that there’s a lot more to being qualified for a position in a great orchestra than just how well one plays. The Simon Bolivar players amaze me, but what’s needed in a seasoned orchestra are players with certain skill sets that go beyond just the instrumental skills. I’ve seen and heard too many great instrumentalists who, when placed in a section without having had “seasoning”, just don’t work out so well. These musicians of an orchestra such as the Minnesota Orchestra are not easily replaceable, in spite of what you may think. Building a great orchestra is a process, not something which can be done solely by plugging someone new in, no matter how well they play.

          • graeter says:

            Much to your chagrin, most players get “seasoned” after a couple of years. You sound threatened by new talent, frankly.

          • I would laugh out loud at that comment if it weren’t so gratuitously aggressive. I don’t have to defend myself against such comments, since I’m doing quite well in my profession and have no fears of being “replaced”. By the way, I encourage new talent all the time and do everything I can to help support them and to get them started in the profession. I’m sorry you’re so bitter about your professional experience (I’m assuming you may be a professional musician), but there’s a world out there that experiences the profession in a different light.

      • graeter says:

        I am a musician, Ms. Adams. I can tell you, for a fact, that classical musicians are easily replaceable. and I will guarantee you that you won’t be able to tell the difference musically after the musicians are replaced. Anyone who argues otherwise has an agenda to maintain the status quo.

        • Hm.

          Graeter, you assure us for a fact that if all the Minnesota Orchestra musicians were replaced with newcomers, the result would be music-making as good as the previous orchestra and perhaps better.

          Suppose another professional musician – using an assumed name, as you are, to keep things equivalent – comes here and assures us for a fact that a newly-assembled orchestra, of even first-rate virtuoso musicians, would not perform as well as the current Minnesota Orchestra musicians, the bulk of whom have been playing together under Osmo for nine years.

          Which of you should we believe and why?

          • graeter says:

            First of all, I didn’t posit a scenario where “all” MO musicians would be replaced. So I “assured” you of no such “fact”. Continuity is important for an orchestra. That said, if 20 of 50 musicians leave, then I’m confident the 20 replacements would contribute and develop a fine orchestra in short order.

            As to the question, why should you believe me? Look at the number of conservatories and conservatory graduates in the US. attend a few senior recitals. Look at the number of accomplished ringers who were runner ups for the major orchestras and continued to develop their playing over the years. Or just stick your head in the sand and insist that oNLY the musicians who were already the MO are capable of maintaining their musical standards, and NO ONE ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE. You’ll sound ridiculous, and no orhcestra management anywhere will take you seriuosly anymore, but go for it.

          • Amy Adams says:

            MWnyc, Graeter’s words are designed to bait us down a rabbit hole. I think I know who this is.

          • Yes, I realized when I finished my long response to him/her just now that I’d been feeding a troll.

            Sorry, everyone.

          • As it happens, ArtsJournal just ran an article about research suggesting that the most effective way to argue with an extremist is simply to ask him/her to explain how the policy he/she is espousing would work.

            Unfortunately, the tactic doesn’t always seem to work.

          • Graeter, this entire conversation is about potentially replacing all of the current Minnesota Orchestra musicians, because – in refusing reasonable negotiation practices, refusing arbitration, refusing to allow an independent audit, and locking out the entire orchestra – that’s what the Minnesota Orchestra now appears to want to do.

            So when you wrote, on this thread, “I can tell you, for a fact, that classical musicians are easily replaceable. and I will guarantee you that you won’t be able to tell the difference musically after the musicians are replaced”, you were talking about all the musicians – though I’ll take you at your word now that this isn’t what you meant.

            That’s why you got the sharp rebukes you did from several of us.

            All of this said, I must disagree that “you won’t be able to tell the difference musically” (as you wrote) between a post-lockout MinnOrch that’s 40% new musicians – that’s what the 20 out of 50 that you explicitly posited amounts to – and the pre-lockout MinnOrch where all but about half a dozen musicians had been playing together under the same music director and the same guest conductors for nine years. And the difference will be even greater when the departed players include half a dozen principals or associate principals.

            I don’t disagree that “dead wood” can be a problem in professional orchestras that offer tenure, as it can be a problem in any organization that offers career-long (let alone lifetime) tenure.

            But, frankly, sniping about that problem belongs on posts like Norman’s series on longest-serving orchestra musicians, not on posts about the catastrophe that the Minnesota Orchestra management has been manufacturing.

          • graeter says:

            In the MO photo posted by Mr. Lebrecht, it shows about 20 of 70 players moving on to a different orchestra. That is the basis for this discussion, not a wholesale dismissal of the entire orchestra. So let’s argue in good faith, shall we?

            Also I’m glad to finally see someone admit that orchestra deadwood is an issue.

          • If I recall, in the ‘good old days’, when the MO was considered more a regional than world-class orchestra, many of the players, my teacher included, seemed more interested in continuing their poker games in their lounge when they weren’t onstage than the pieces they were performing. I have no doubt things have significantly improved since then…still, at the time I was so discouraged by the lack of quality of what I was hearing that I sincerely wondered why they all weren’t asked to re-audition every few years. :-0

        • With all due respect, Greater, your statements seem to be politically incorrect, in that there appears to be one mindset the orchestra players present to the public and another that they actually live with. You seem to be speaking of the latter.

          Ironically, don’t we have to wonder how anyone at the MOA, and perhaps even without realizing it, OV, could allow this unbearable situation to continue without, to some extent at least, embracing the idea that players are entirely replaceable, that there are far more qualified people available than there are positions, and that they feel certain they can get these players to perform at a level even those at Carnegie Hall will accept as the ‘new and improved’ MO, whether through actual musical coaching or a brilliant media campaign?

          • graeter says:

            never underestimate the ability of musicians/people to lie to themselves when it suits them. They will do so for as long as they can get away with it . Alas, reality finally rears its ugly head.

          • I agree, Greater. It came as a complete shock to me to realize the dichotomy between the image that is projected of music as having such a youthful and healing influence on the players when in fact a number of them break down physically and/or emotionally from the strain of living their dream in an orchestra.

            I watched my teacher, who was a Principal Flute, go through a near-fatal heart attack that nearly destroyed his extraordinary sound that then led to substance abuse that eventually caused him to be terminated.

          • Amy Adams says:

            This may be the most surreal conversation on this entire comment thread.

          • graeter says:

            Surely not more surreal than you, Amy Adams, claiming to “know who I am”.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Really…Tomas2, an orchestra is about artistic chemistry; it’s like creating a fine wine; new grapes, old grapes, a bit of cabernet sauvignon, some merlot, a touch of cabernet franc depending on the year…Burt Hara is Mouton Rothschild 1961 (roughly the year of his birth). the 2013 vintage is not ready to drink…we need them all but in the correct balance and at the right time.

      • graeter says:

        and the orchestra deadwood, i.e. the players protected by the union who practice just enough to not totally suck and get fired outright? are they part of the “fine wine” mix too? please.

        • Graeter, in your experience, how many such players are there in the current membership of the Minnesota Orchestra?

          • graeter says:

            they are in every orchestra, unfortunately

          • Graeter, you’re answering with something other than the question posed. By the way, from seeing some of your posts, I think that in order for your comments to be taken seriously, it would also be best not to go on a personal attack.

          • Elizabeth Erickson says:

            Graeter, I would be really interested in where the weak links are, in your expert opinion. Our horn section is one of the best in the country, our low brass section is incredible. Our trumpet players are playing all over the world with back to back gigs. Where are the weak players in the woodwinds? There are none. They are all gigging around the country in other orchestras. The percussion section is spot on ALWAYS. They are playing all over the country in NY, SF, Atlanta, Dallas, etc. etc. The string players— they too are playing all over the world in other orchestras. A few years ago I attended a Minnesota Orchestra rehearsal. In the middle of one of the Sibelius pieces, Osmo stopped everything and turned to the viola section and said “Someone is playing too close to the bridge” Nobody hit a wrong note. Someone had their bow a mm or two away from where he wanted it to be. Are you trying to tell me that Osmo would not be on top of someone immediately if they were not holding their own? Fat chance. The orchestra would be fine with a few new replacements. But your assertion that I could not tell the difference if 40 new players came on the scene is simultaneously arrogant, naive, ignorant, and hostile.

          • graeter says:

            A personal attack requires identification. I’m merely pointing out that largely because of union rules, every orchestra has deadwood. If you construe this well-known fact as personal attack, that is unfortunate.

        • The dead wood comment, besides being cruel, really does show a lack of understanding regarding the balance of seasoned playing with youthful chops. There is a story about a marathon length performance where by the end the old guard was ‘physically’ drained and the young studs were ‘mentally’ wiped out. There is a spectrum of humanity to consider and our kind of music performed artistically requires balance and appreciation of everyone’s strengths. One can put together a group of recent perfection driven audition winners but without performance and Life experiences the sound will lack that certain something which is the essence of our art. One recognizes it when one hears and feels it. It can’t be quantified and, unfortunately for business mavens and those who believe them, it isn’t quantifiable.
          Leaders in Minneapolis, do what you must and rededicate yourselves to sustaining and nourishing your musical treasure.

          • graeter says:

            every healthy insituttion has personnel turnover. you make it sound like the minute an MO musician dies the orchestra is forever lacking.

          • Say what, Graeter? That’s not at all how Phillip’s comment comes across to me, and I’m sure to most people reading it. It seems you have completely missed the point he was making.

          • graeter says:

            perhaps you should reread it then, Nardo. the only constant in life is change. That precious unquantifiable alchemy of a particular orchestra is always being destabilized by all sorts of circumstances — death, injury, age, a spouse’s job change, etc. Sometimes the economy screws things up too. It’s life, we must deal with it.

          • Grater wrote: <>

            Let’s not miss the point you made: you said the orchestra would sound better with so many replacements. Of course there will always be change, but a change of so many members of the orchestra all at once does not bode well for artistic continuity.

          • graeter says:

            your side seems hell bent on exaggerating the number of replacements we are discussing. Why are people so intent on mischaracterizing my argument? Again, I base my arguments on the photo posted by Mr. Lebrecht, which shows no where near “40″ impending vacancies, let alone the whole orchestra.

          • Perhaps it’s time for you to read your own posts carefully.

    • Amy and Robert, Tomas2 isn’t disagreeing with you

      He’s just saying that, if all the current MinnOrch musicians simply left, there are enough young, hungry, poorly-paid players out there to completely re-staff an orchestra, even if those players were effectively scabs.

      Obviously, such an orchestra wouldn’t be nearly as good. Just as obviously, the current Minnesota Orchestra Association bosses, shame be upon them, don’t care about that.

      • And just as obviously a lot of audience members would no longer buy tickets. So much for “financial stability”.

      • graeter says:

        there is a good chance the orchestra would not only be “as good”, but significantly better.

        • Yes, maybe after ten years or so of playing together …

        • graeter, good to hear such a non-anonymous expert chiming into the discussion.

          • Amy Adams says:

            Emily, I believe we know who this is.

          • So tell us, Amy, don’t be shy!

          • graeter says:

            You know who I am ? I assure you, you have no idea who I am. I have never set foot in Minneapolis. I hear it’s a nice place, though.

          • Graeter says he never set foot in Minneapolis, yet feels free to comment on the orchestra’s quality. Interesting.

        • Ah, yes, graeter – you seem to have the answers to everything. It’s obvious you are the troll that everyone here is figuring out. There could be no other reason for such ill-informed comments. You say you are a musician, but everything you say belies that “fact”. How on earth you can claim the orchestra would be significantly better with so many people leaving shows a total lack of understanding how an orchestra functions and becomes a great ensemble. I can only imagine you must be a board member of the Minnesota Orchestra. That would explain your lack of knowledge of how all this works.

          • graeter says:

            I’m speaking of orchestras generally. Many are in the same boat as MO, you may have noticed?

          • Yes, graeter, I have noticed, but none of the reasons have to do with your original comments. As for actinng like an adult, I refer you to your gratuitous comment regarding my being threatened by the younger generation of players.

          • graeter says:

            You claim that my arguments “shows a total lack of understanding how an orchestra functions and becomes a great ensemble. I can only imagine you must be a board member of the Minnesota Orchestra.” Listen to yourself. You make the MO board sound like villains from a comic book. How do you expect to conduct reasonable negotiations with people when you disparage them this way? The adult world does not behave like this, or if they do they don’t get away with it for long.

            In any case, I am not anti-musician, just pro-reality. Therefore, I strongly recommend you not accuse any MO board members of being “graeter” on this board. It will make you look quite ridiculous. I grew up in NY and live in PA now. PROMISE.

          • Amy Adams says:

            Nardo, if you review the deliberate distractions and sub-threads that ‘graeter’ baits commenters with, you’ll see a narcissistic personality who is not in fact interested in the Minnesota Orchestra, but in personal attention.
            Most commenters here, it seems, genuinely care about the locked out MO musicians, and are not continually re-directing attention to their own ego, via insults and pompous opinion and always-slightly-inaccurate argument… Most commenters here are the ones trying to help, and expressing frustration and anguish at the loss of their orchestra.

          • graeter says:

            Now I’m a narcissist? LOL. “deliberate distractions and sub-threads”? Ms. Adams, if people want to reply to me, that is their own prerogative. I do not have any more ability to distract than you do. And by the way, I would certainly file armchair psychoanalytic diagnoses of commenters under “baiting” and “distraction”.

  12. MacroV says:

    I wonder if the time is coming that Osmo Vanska should threaten to resign if they don’t resolve this, saying that the he can no longer stand by and watch his beloved orchestra destroyed like this. I know he has spoken in the past – but mostly in the “can’t we work this out?” sense. Really, what does he have to lose at this point?

    • This season probably can’t be salvaged, but there’s still next season. And if/when the Minnesota Orchestra does start playing again, I presume that Osmo wants to be there to rebuild what can be rebuilt. (If he doesn’t, he’s probably making other plans already.) And if Osmo wants to be there, he can’t make threats like that now, because one should not make a threat one isn’t prepared to carry out.

    • I don’t think he’s ‘hired’ in the sense that union members are. ‘Resignation’ would amount to negotiating himself out of his contract somehow, or to breaching it, which would likely involve sanctions. The contract probably includes a clause or two about (not) getting involved in labor disputes of the orchestra musicians, too.

  13. Susan Larson says:

    Congratulations, Mr. Hara! And I, for one, am so sorry that you had to suffer through this year. California is lucky to have you!! I’ve given up thinking that anything constructive will be done. I have utter distain for the board and, as I said before, “it will be a cold day in hell” before I set foot in their new lobby! I have been attending concerts for 35+years. Regardless, the music will outlive these people and their ilk!

  14. S in Jämtland says:

    Burt Hara is a crown jewel. Terrible loss for Minnesota. Perhaps this is an ignorant question . . . is there no other business model that can work for an orchestra in the U.S.? Are the players really stuck in a situation where they are beholden to boards of directors comprising ignorant, power-hungry money-janglers who are only out to impress each other by wielding metaphorical, but highly destructive, machetes? Is there any orchestra in the U.S. that “owns” and runs itself? I am reading that the Minnesota Orchestra musicians are organizing their own concerts, hiring conductors . . . could this be done on a larger and sustainable scale?

    • The Louisiana Philharmonic is musician-owned and -run. From what I know (which isn’t all that much), the LouPhil* is organizationally stable, though it is neither as prosperous nor as admired musically as the MinnOrch under Osmo, and I believe the LouPhil plays fewer concerts overall and has (proportionally) more non-core classical programming in its mix. (Granted, much of that difference can be explained by the differences between the communities of greater New Orleans and the greater Twin Cities.) Certainly the LouPhil could not afford to hire a music director of Osmo’s stature.

      The major difficulty with the MinnOrch musicians forming their own self-governing orchestra is that many of the existing assets that the new group would need – the sheet music library, the percussion battery and other instruments, ownership of or leasehold on Orchestra Hall, the existing endowment – legally belong to the Minnesota Orchestra Association. The MOA would likely not be eager to hand those assets over to a new rival orchestra.

      *Hey, I can’t exactly refer to it in print as the LAPhil, now can I?

      • That’s fascinating, Matthew. I’d like to hear from the LaPhil* about whether their model can work elsewhere.

      • S in Jämtland says:

        MWnyc, agree with Mr. Lebrecht. It would be good to know more about this model. Sadly, unless the model changes, the Minnesota musicians will be working for the same clueless people with the same warped motives even if a contract is ratified.

        From what I can gather from many, many facebook posts (I know, hardly a scientific sampling) from my friends in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, big donors have been screaming as loudly as anyone at the board. If self-governance is basically a big money question, is there enough big, smart money in Minnesota to redesign the system? Or is that hurdle so great given that musicians could more easily move to other attractive places where the board has a clue and the quality of the orchestra is excellent?

        Another question: Since all the shouting and emailing and stunningly written pleas and tears from the outside seem to have no impact, is there no way of working from inside of the board? Is there really such complete solidarity within that very large group? In amongst the list of envelope-manufacturing moguls and money magnates, I see a small number names of people who actually have some musical know-how. Why aren’t they resigning?

        • Well, if those board members resign, then they can’t vote to fire Michael Henson or replace the board chairman.

          As for the LouPhil, I said I don’t know much and I’ve written what I do know (and I’m not even sure about all of that).

          All I can suggest is to google “Louisiana Philharmonic self-governing” or something like that.

          • Amy Adams says:

            I’m concerned/curious about who the board would perceive as qualified to be an interim CEO when Henson goes away. (I realize I’m counting chickens that haven’t hatched yet…) But whoever that will be will be a conciliatory, make-no-waves kind of person, stuck with the thankless task of variations on the theme of “Healing” and “Moving Forward”.
            The ones to watch are on the executive committtee. That would be all board officers, all “Life Directors”, and sixteen of the board members listed on the MOA website, for a total of 26 people.
            I would think a subset of the group sways influence…and a smaller yet group makes the actual decisions.
            That’s just me guessin’ here….

    • In response to S: it is being done in some ensembles in the US (Louisiana, Syracuse, for example) and has been the model in Europe for the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, perhaps even the Deutsche Kammersymphonie (I’m not 100% sure about the latter). The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of which I’m a member, has a hybrid model: we have a board of trustees, on which there are three of the musicians, and musicians are on staff in certain key positions and are liasons between the orchestra and board.

      • S in Jämtland says:

        Thank you, Nardo. You’ve named a few of the great orchestras, including your own. That’s encouraging.

  15. harold braun says:

    Mhmmh.I think both orchestras are on the same fantastic level,and Vaenskae is the more interesting conductor.But LA is economically more safe. Mr.Hara already has been Principal Clarinet in Philadelphia and became so homesick that he went back to Minnesota after a year or so.I really,really hope things will sort out soon in Minnesota

  16. I wish him well. It serves them right. How many more talented people will we lose ? What is it about Minnesota that makes us so cheap and foolhardy ? Is the bottom line always the most important thing?

  17. I have read all too many comments about “taking a step down.” It doesn’t seem that way to me at all (and yes, I am a music educator and professional conductor). Simply put, these folks need to eat, and any position (within reason) may be much better than what awaits the MO if the lockout ever ends…

  18. Congratulations to Burt Hara on his new position in L.A! As a member of the MN Orchestra Chorale, I listened to him play for many years in many concerts. As a former clarinet player, I’ve always enjoyed his beautiful tone and musicality. I look forward to meeting him backstage in his new venue someday, where I will play a few long notes for him on my clarinet as we spoke about doing so in Minneapolis.

    This administration should be embarrassed . . . They are decimating this renowned orchestra – instead of working on how best to support their incredible musicians, they will soon be left with a beautiful hall, empty of that most uniquely beautiful sound. This administration has regressed back to the older times when insensitive monarchs would dismiss high quality musicians with a snap of a finger for playing “too many notes”.

  19. How about a better source than “We hear…” next time? :)

    Really a shame about Burt. I studied with him in grad school and heard the Minnesota Orchestra dozens of times. I hope he’ll find fulfillment in his post-MO lockout life, whatever he decides to do.

  20. Concerned for MNORCH says:

    In a new article in the Minneapolist Star Tribune, board chair Jon Campbell essentially tells Music Director Osmo Vanska after raising the prospects of resignation in a letter to Mr. Campbell, to talk to the musicians about his concerns, rather than the Board or management. From the Strib:

    “Campbell said that when Vänskä signed a contract extension in 2009, he was given a heads-up that the business model was changing — in short, contract talks would be tough. Minnesota is one of many orchestras nationally that have been pinched financially. (Campbell) “I’m disappointed because he agreed to the new business model and he’s in a way not really able to stick with the plan we all had,” Campbell said. “We’ve been pursuing a strategy to get serious negotiations going and I don’t think there’s anything in the letter that alters the plans we’re working on.”

    A sad day in Minnesota to lose Burt Hara. One of the Minnesota Orchestra’s hallmarks has been not only the talent of its musicians, but the heart of many long-time dedicated musicians who have given so much to the community and the organization. I’m pained to see it dismantled.

    • Amy Adams says:

      I doubt (what an understatement!) greatly…that Osmo was given a “heads-up” that all this would occur.
      Campbell and Henson’s words don’t line up from 2009 onward, though they are pretending all is aboveboard.

    • So management gave Osmo a heads-up in 2009 that “the business model is changing”.

      What do you want to bet is that “changing” is all they said to him, with little or nothing specified as to how?

  21. Anonymous said, ” Minnesota used to be considered a destination job, but sadly this once great orchestra will be seen by many as a stepping stone gig.”

    Ironically, toward the end of Sir NM’s somewhat-troubled tenure with the MO, he was known to have said something to the effect, “The MO is a good place for players on the way up or on the way down.” That was said some time ago. It would certainly be a shame for this to be the case ever again…

    • Joshua Vanz says:

      It is the case now. How can one ever trust the Management or Board after this spectacular disaster? Unless something dramatic happens (Davis, Campbell and Henson are kicked to the curb), no one with any talent would ever consider the Minnesota Orchestra as a destination job.

      • If I were in the shoes of the MO players I would never trust anyone in their management again, no matter who they are. Even if the Board replaces Henson, Davis and Campbell, there is no assurance, unless the players get to choose them, that they will have any focus other than the nebulous concept of keeping the ‘organization’ viable (as though it doesn’t even have human components).

        The MOA seems to think it will have its pick of starving but brilliant young graduates of the best schools, with which they can ‘plug-and-play’ their way to a ‘younger and better’ orchestra. This sort of thinking is, of course, sheer insanity; but then, so is the prolonged agony of this lockout.

        • David Naden says:

          Pamela Brown:

          A very concise, accurate and well-written analysis of the situation in Minnesota. Thank you for posting this…I do NOT think I or anyone could have said it better…

          • Thank you, David, for your kind words.

            I would also add that, if I were in the MO players’ shoes, and return to the orchestra after the lockout I would take the stance of ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst.’ I would not consider it a permanent gig, regardless of assurances that might be made, and I would look for at least one other good source of income, just in case. It seems, at least in Minnesota, that the age of the entitled and protected orchestra player may have come to an end…

        • graeter says:

          But where are the remaining MO players to go? Unless they start their own group, they have no choice in the matter, trust or no. In which case the MO players better hope, fervently, they get some “young, brilliant” players.

          • Agreed. One of the suggestions the players have made is that they create a new organization. That would, of course, be challenging, but surely not impossible.

            They might want to keep “Minnesota” out of the new name.

  22. Lisa Ragsdale says:

    Yes there are possibilities. If I had a say in this I would suggest either of these two: 1) The current remaining players of the MO tell the Board and Management to take its Lockout and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. And just state that they are never reporting back to Hensen & company ever again under ANY circumstances. Then 1A) Openly recruit new Board members through connections in the arts and business communities who are willing to work WITH the current members of the Orchestra to form a new Minnesota Orchestra (or in order to skirt legal issues for the immediate future call it the Minnesota Symphony (without the name Orchestra)).
    2) Or current remaining musicians take a vote on whether to form a new ensemble, completely disband and leave Hensen with nothing (which is what he deserves).

  23. Jaakko Kuusisto says:

    I think what this thread of comments shows clearly is that you cannot have a serious debate if everyone is not required to use their own name.

    Relating to comments made by “graeter” I would only say that a real orchestra is more than just a bunch of very good players appearing simultaneously on stage. That can work pretty well too, but in order to achieve real excellence, you need to get a sense of each other – to actually function as a group, to breathe together, come together, and play in the same way. It is a process of years and years. Could the MO achieve excellence over the years even if a major part of the current lineup leaves? Yes, but why in hell would you want to do that when you already have such a great group? The biggest concern of the MOA should be to keep its musicians – they are the entire “product”, if you will. There’s nothing of interest there if it is not THE Minnesota Orchestra.

  24. Greatly missed but what an enormous gain for The LA PHIL! Blessings in your new journey from all of us at Koelnmusik!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Worth noting that Yun-Ting Lee of the Minnesota Orchestra has now won a position with the Cleveland Orchestra. This is a hemorrhage of talent.

  26. John M. Degner says:

    I cannot read more than two or three posts without either becoming VERY angry, or so sad I cannot continue. I’m a retired music educator and a LONG TIME (yeah, I’m “mature”) orchestra supporter. The current situation with the Minnesota Orchestra seems to me to be typical of corporate America in general. “How can we get you buy our stuff? We don’t care if it’s any good, ie: planned obsolescence, or if we can be proud of the product,. We’re ONLY interested in the bottom line!

    I have had the Minnesota Orchestra call me for financial support and I have told them what others have told them, no thank you! You folks don’t get it! Mr. Hensen hasn’t a clue. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Davis? Well let’s see, when did you last have a meaningful conversation with a banker!

    I find the situation so totally unbelievable that it’s beyond words. We’ll pay football players and basketball players and hockey players hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) but NOT musicians. Most European governments support their fine orchestras. Can you imagine the howling here in Minnesota?

    I am amazed by the comments here, but we need a ton more! Yes, most players can be replaced, is THAT what we want? For once I applaud the involvement of the legislature. I think they were lied to by Mr. Hensen and the entire board!

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