an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Minnesota meeting today could decide maestro’s fate

There is a crunch meeting today at the Minnesota Orchestra that may determine whether Osmo Vänskä remains as music director.

The orchestra has been locked out for eleven months. In recent tentative contacts between the two sides, the players agreed to participate in mediation on condition they could go back to work for six months under the old contract in order to recoup some of their losses.

The board agreed to two months under the old contract  after which, if no agreement was reached, salaries would be slashed by 25 percent and other benefits would go. This counter proposal will be voted on by the musicians today. We hear from players that it will be rejected unanimously.

Such a decision would trigger the cancellation of the start of next season, including the first of four planned concerts at Carnegie Hall. Vänskä has said he would resign if the Carnegie dates were not honoured. That regrettable outcome now seems almost inevitable. UPDATE here.

That is a scenario which the board, run by the city’s two biggest bankers, has been trying to engineer. If Vänskä leaves of his own accord they won’t have to pay him wages while the orchestra is not working.

musicians for minn

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. *facepalm*

  2. Wing-chi Chan says:

    Probably banking gangster might have the experiences to replace a team of finance staff overnight and assumed that their power could enable them to buy another orchestra within a short period. So they plan to use contractual conspiracy for kicking out a group of faithful musicians, who have been breathing through a full orchestral repertory for multi decades, and then to replace another group of cheapies–Balance the budget!! Money can never buy the dignity of musicians and long-time-build-in stylistic co-ordination. Simple to say, Uncle Sam, federal government, would never allow this kind of idiots to fire the highly compensated scientist at any national laboratories and replace by cheapies!! Unfortunately, the Minnesota State government is now totally crippled in dealing such a simple issue–Why not set up an independent investigation committee for facts finding and disclosing of criminal activities if there is any.

  3. Jim Friedland says:

    Actually the damn choice that stupid board is intent on deciding is whether to rename the orchestra “Mini-sota” or “Micro-sota”. Damn banks will prolly opt for “Diet Sota”.

  4. Steve Foster says:

    I’m amazed he’s stayed this long. I can’t imagine the number of opportunities Vänskä passed up to stick around for this nonsense.

  5. I wonder if the board has any clue that NO ONE will want to conduct this orchestra the way they are running the show. Shameful.

  6. Ronald Price says:

    This board is a disgrace. They actually have the nerve to leave calls asking for contributions after all they have done to destroy this great orchestra.

    • Ronald: I seem to recall posts some time ago that the board and management, rather asking for the musicians to give up anything, should just go out an raise more money. That would take care of everything. Well, with responses such as yours, I don’t give that strategy very good odds
      I guess that leaves cost cutting as the only option…

  7. Does anyone know how much Jon Campbell and Richard Davis personally donate to MO annually and how much their banks give? Has anyone raised the question on how financial executives in US use the business presence of their companies to leach onto prestigious non profit organizations to gain personal social statues in the community while personally give very little their own money and effort to make things better? It is almost like buying a membership in a country club for them. I wonder if this is the same case.

    • Mina Fisher says:

      According to this year’s Star Tribune newspaper, Richard Davis earns $10 million per year. On Orchestra donor info he’s listed at $50,000 per year, and his bank sponsors the US Bank POPS program. Jon Campbell earns a bit less than Richard Davis, and reportedly gives $6,000 per year.

      • I thought I read that Davis pulled down $18 million last year. Bless his heart for donating 0.3% to the orchestra, his kindness overfloweth. And Campbell….. I will easily double his donation if that means his useless ass gets kicked off the board.

        • Bill: By all means, donate! And if you could tap a few or your rich friends to do the same, problems solved! Until you do, best to cut the sarcasm about some folks not forking over enough. This fellow Davis (I have no idea who he is) is under no obligation to do anything at all for the orchestra, you do realize.

      • From what I hear, Campbell doesn’t even attend concerts.

    • What an odd post. You write as if serving on the board of the orchestra (I presume that these two individuals do- I am not familiar with their names) is a privilege for which they owe the orchestra something. Or that whatever it is that they give– emphasis on the word give– it is not enough. That they thirst for this social status (I presume that what you meant), and reap oodles of it, for practically nothing. That they and their companies (the banks, font of all evil) are leaching off the orchestra for their own gain.

      Well, I say that you have it almost entirely backwards. I am no friend of banks, bankers, or rich people in general– I have plenty of resentments, but that it is the topic for another post– and I recognize that they and their companies look good associating themselves (board seats, sponsorships, etc) with arts and other charitable organizations. What you, and I think every post I’ve read about this sad tale, has failed to recognize is that these people and their companies serve. They serve the orchestra, they serve the cause of music, and they serve the Minnesota community. They give lots of their time as well as their prestige (for those who are impressed by labels) and they don’t receive any pay at all.

      You can claim that they have mismanaged this (that they don’t serve very well), and you may be right. But you cannot say that they have done this for their own benefit as has been repeatedly suggested on this site. I would also ask, if the orchestra is indeed destroyed (no conductor, musicians leaving, no east coast tour, no subscription concerts!) how exactly would this benefit these two people? How would their social status in the community increase? In other words, what possible good would it do them, their employees, or banks, corporations, and donors in general, if the orchestra failed?

      They may be bad managers, they may even be idiots, but they are not vaingloriously wicked.

  8. It is so easy to advance in Symphony Management- Wanabees who couldn’t make it as players or singers, rocket to the top, and their incompetence is at least partly responsible for DESTROYING orchestras and players .

  9. Mark T. Lundholm says:

    The main question here is how to get rid of the Management. Tar and feathers literally would be too good for them. This administration needs to be dissolved, if not prosecuted. Such a mismanagement should never again be put in power! Really, how can this be changed?!

    • George London says:

      The babble about management is amazing, these are volunteers helping to lead a non profit and cause they won’t overpay musicians they are criminal.

      How about grab some of the few hundred musicians that aren’t working for each open spot, it might take a year or two to gel, but it would work.

      Or better yet why doesn’t the board and all of their donations walk away. Say yup we are fault.

      Then the musicians can triple the ticket prices cause that is what would be needed to cover the donations from the evil board.

      And then when patrons don’t want to pay $100 for tier three back of the hall tickets to listen to the same tired presentations (cause the union is also unflexible about how music is presented), the musicians can then complain about the stupid customers who only want pops concerts and copeland instead of the evil bankers.

      Then maybe they will finally realize the business model is important and it is good we have grown ups leading the board.

  10. Performing Artist52 says:

    @Dave T, it is widely know that the board members of the MOA have an investment in Orchestra Hall otherwise why would they be on the board? Notice I said Orchestra Hall. Some members of the board may benefit financially from the renovation of the Hall as their companies gain more work as a result.
    It is fantastic that there are wealthy folks that give their time and treasure to various organizations but I would at least hope they are involved on a fundemental level such as attending concerts, Minnesota Institute of Arts events, attend plays at the Guthrie,etc. Otherwise, why be on a board that you know very little about.
    Perhaps you should get to know more about these two individuals, past articles in the media and other written information before you comment. Why did you read this article in the first place if you know little about what is actually going on?

    • George London says:

      Davis and Campbell are actually very generous with their time and donations, but that doesn’t fit the narrative of evil bankers that the union is pushing.

      This is a non-profit run by people who donate money, those donations go up an down, I guess according to the union thu should keep the same pay level and it is ok for the orchestra to go bankrupt in five years …cause at least the union got “their” money.

      Perhaps if the musicians were to think for themselves and not just be a pawn for union , the public could get back to hearing music.

      But hey if the union needs to destroy the orchestra, to make a national point the it is ok.

      It wouldn’t be the first time unions havent wanted to compromise or change with the time would ether just drive the entity into the ground.

      • It’s way beyond money. How about 250 changes to the work rules? The redlining was so ridiculous that the musicians did not offer a counterproposal – which, by the way, is not a requirement for negotiations.

    • “Perhaps you should get to know more about these two individuals…Why did you read this article in the first place if you know little about what is actually going on?”

      Umm… maybe because I actually want to know what is going on?

      “Otherwise, why be on a board that you know very little about..”

      Well, I don’t know, civic duty? enrich the community? take leadership? Ahhh, you’re right, that’s all a bunch a naive bull crap. It’s only about the money. Board, management, musicians, it doesn’t’ matter. Money is all anybody really cares about. Pardon me.

  11. George London says:

    Yes it is all the fault of evil management, where business leaders and the local wealthy all got together and said let’s tank the orchestra.

    Face it these business leaders and evil rich people donate 65% of the revenue, and one could say why donate at all and instead about feeding the homeless or clothing the needy.

    The attitude of entitlement and ungratfulness of the musicians is amazing. If I was one of the ultra wealthy donors I would be giving these handouts to more worthwhile parties.

    Life ebb and flows, business goes up and down and I guess according to the greedy union all the money should be theirs and if there isn’t enough more should be raised.

    So rather then be adults and say sorry we aren’t going to play for this salary and will go elsewhere, they are pitching a fit like a teenager at the mall who can’t get a $200 pair of jeans.

    The prattle and slander from these so called professionals is sad, and in the end they are bitting the hand that feeds them.

    They should realize they aren’t that much different from street corner musicians, except the guy playing accordion is more grateful.

    • Terry Carlson says:

      “where business leaders and the local wealthy all got together and said let’s tank the orchestra”

      Actually, that’s the view on the ground here in Minneapolis. Many of us will never forgive them for it.

    • Performing Artist52 says:

      Would you be able to survive on a 30% paycut Mr. London? I know for a fact these musicians appreciate what the board does for them and know many of them personally. I don’t think the musicians are against giving some consessions as they have done so in the past however when the board stipulates that their one offer is the only one and is the final one, there isn’t much to talk about.

      These musicians do not buy $200 pairs of jeans nor all live in fancy houses or send them to private schools. I know this as fact. Some of them have been in the orchestra for decades and did not start at their current salary level. It is the board members that have the sense of entitlement and think they can decide what great music is worth.

      When the directors and Mr. Henson take a 30% paycut, now we are talking! The board needs to prove to the musicians that the finances are in that much truble but have refused to do so.

      • George London says:

        The board actually doesn’t get paid, according to what is public they are all required to make a rather large donation.

        If you compare the board list to list of largest donors you will see this.

        Perhaps this is why the board doesn’t want to keep going down a money losing path, towards the end of the orchestra.

        All incomes are not flat, you have good years you have bad years.

        Now if I was in an industry that relied on the donations of the wealthy I would probably ask, what could maybe put my income at risk.

        • Performing Artist52 says:

          I was referring to the directors such as Lily Schwartz, etc., not the board members.

          Why should the musicians have to figure out what could put their income at risk? The musicians job is to play music and the boards job is to raise money to make that happen.

          Yes, the musicians do understand there are good years and bad years, hoewever if there is money to renovate the hall then there should be money raised to pay the musicans as well. Now the musicians will be subjected to playing for weddings. If that is the case, Mr. Henson should serve the salad!

  12. Larry Wheeler says:

    @George London- I find your profound ignorance in regard to orchestral musicians, unions, boards and managements, especially in this case, to be absolutely stunning.

    • George London says:

      Yes stupid math based business models where you can not spend more then you take in.

      It is called basic economics. If you have a service people don’t want or can not afford, that is the people speaking.

      Stupid people for not realizing the greatness of obscure Finnish pieces being played in a farm city in flyover country and give more money.

      • Performing Artist52 says:

        @George, if you do not have a stake in or care whether the Minnesota Orchestral Association even has an orchestra get off the pot. Ot maybe you are from the association.

an ArtsJournal blog