A determined young blogger, Emily Hogstad, has uncovered evidence of advance planning by the Minnesota Orchestra to silence public protest at their intended long lockout of the musicians.
Apparently, Michael Henson (pictured), the president, took a prior trip to Detroit, where online uproar had been instrumental in forcing both sides to a settlement. On his return, he bought up all domains with ‘save’ and ‘orchestra’ in their title. He then told a closed meeting: ‘Blogs are senseless and must be ignored.’ Emily has blown the whistle on his furtiveness and duplicity.
Michael Henson is British. Before crossing the pond to a sixfold salary increase, he was the moderately unsuccessful manager of two perpetually troubled UK orchestras, Ulster and Bournemouth. His predecessor in Minnesota, Tony Woodcock, also British, was more spectacularly unsuccessful at Liverpool and Bournemouth, leaving a trail of deficits. The Minnesota Orchestra must have failed to conduct due diligence. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is – and has been for some while – an organisation which has lost touch with temporal reality.
The problem at Minnesota is not musicians’ wages, which were freely negotiated, signed off by Woodcock and well known to Henson when he took the job. Nor is the issue the cost of refurbishing the hall, which must be met by private donations in a separate budget. It’s a case of half-blind managements leading a tone-deaf board into a dead end from which, as far as any realist can see, there is no escape without more pain and loss.