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Minnesota musicians offer childcare and French lessons to raise cash

The frozen-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are auctioning their alternative professional skills in a bid to raise cash for their self-funded concert series. It’s a resourceful response to a conscienceless employer.

Here’s what’s coming up for auction. Click here to bid and support.

minnesota state fair




Celine Leathead – Childcare or infant care
William Schrickel – Portrait photo
TaiChi Chen – Chess game
Quilting lesson with Marni Hougham
Celine Leathead – Coffee or lunch with French conversation


Chris Marshall – Swim, or run
Individual or group watch Herb Winslow coach a power wheelchair soccer team practice on a Saturday afternoon – maybe even try playing
Tennis lesson with Tony Ross
“Walk & talk around Lake of the Isles w/ Kate Nettleman
Manny Laureano – Martial arts workout
Adam Kuenzel – cross country ski lesson
Peter Kogan – walk in local park

Jean DeVere – Coach adult chamber group
Ellen D. Smith – Experiment with the Alphorn
Talk on how to take an audition “The Five Minutes that can Change Your Life!” with Wendy Williams
Peter Kogan – My “Cornucopia” CD as gift
House Concert with Tony Ross and Beth Rapier
An evening of chamber music with Catherine Shaefer at her home. Experiences

2 Dozen of Milan Reiche’s famous homemade cupcakes
Pam Arnstein – 2 doz or her original Zesty Lemon Cookies
Dave Williamson – homemade beer making lesson/brew session
Dave Williamson – Beer & Pizza at Pizza Luce
Jason Arkis will take you out to lunch – your choice

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  1. In the end these Minnesota musicians do look like losers. Their inability to negotiate with the management of Henson cause them very negative impact

  2. Performing Artist52 says:

    Shame on you Norman! This is for the Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota! All arts organizations participate in this from the opera, music and dance! The are not auctioning off services to raise money! That is absurd! Look it up Norman……..This is a yearly opportunity to raise money for the arts organizations.
    And to Kirill, the musicians are not losers! They have offered 11 proposals the Henson and managament. Obviously you have not been following this complicated lock out and all the details within.

    • No, my dear, the shame is yours. It is clearly stated: ‘The musicians, who have been locked out since October 2012, are hoping to raise $25,000 in 24 hours to bump them just over the long term goal of $150,000 to support their Fall Concert Series.

    • Norman wrote “alternative professional skills” and said nothing about “services”, which in the world of musicians’ contracts can mean actual rehearsals and performances, so I don’t think he belittled their fundraising effort in any way.

      The “Give to the Max Day” computer system (a company called Razoo, based in Washington D.C.) was down from 1 PM until 6 PM due to the overwhelming response. The musicians are still calculating the day’s contributions, but estimate the total to be $60,000, which puts them well over their fall fundraising goal of $300,000 (which includes a $150,000 matching grant contribution).

      The concert last night was beautiful — Skrowaczewski was in fine form and the orchestra played marvelously for him. Bravo!

  3. Richard Crampton says:

    I don’t know all that much about the Minnesota situation but I can’t imagine it to be very different from the Louisville Orchestra scrum which was finally settled in early 2013. I can sympathize with orch members who are asked to give up any gains ( salary, benefits, etc ), or to accept a significant reduction in the size of the group . . . . but what if their status quo was simply unsustainable?

    • bratschegirl says:

      The MOA has yet to provide credible evidence that the status quo was in fact unsustainable. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that they manipulated the books to show either balanced budgets or poverty when it suited them. Salary cuts of 40% hardly constitute “giving up gains.” I highly recommend Emily Hogstad’s blog “Song of the Lark” for some excellent investigative journalism on the subject.

    • Richard Crampton says: “I don’t know all that much about the Minnesota situation but I can’t imagine it to be very different from the Louisville Orchestra scrum”

      Imagine it, Richard. Or learn about it. It is a very different from the situation in Louisville.

      For instance, the Louisville Orchestra board and management, as far as I’m aware, never lied to the musicians or the Kentucky legislature about the state of the organization’s finances.

      They never deliberately manipulated its finances to show balanced budgets or deficits from year to year on the advice of public relations professionals.

      They never refused the musicians the opportunity to review the books independently so as to be sure that the Louisville Orchestra’s financial situation really was dire. (Though perhaps the musicians never asked; I don’t know.)

      They never tried to impose a contract on the musicians requiring that the musicians play upon request at private events, receptions, weddings, etc. – as well as at Board members’ homes – for no extra pay.

      They never rejected, out of hand, settlements proposed by the mediator they themselves appointed.

      And the Louisville Orchestra board did not amend the organization’s mission statement, well over a year before the players’ contract expired, to delete any reference to operating a symphony orchestra.

  4. Performing Artist 52 says:

    Give to the Max Day – November 14th, 2013
    Posted on November 11, 2013 by momc-editor
    You can make a tax deductible donation to the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra on give to the max day, and maximize your gift! You can even set up your gift right NOW in advance of give to the max day!

    Connect With Us on Give to the Max Day 2014!
    The Minnesota Orchestra Musicians are dedicated to providing orchestral performances and educational programs of unsurpassed excellence.We need your help. Ticket sales only cover about 1/3 of our expenses, but Giving To The Max on November 14 with your tax-deductible donation will help fund our concert productions and educational programs that will continue the legacy of great music in Minnesota.
    To Give To The Max to our 501(c)3 organization, click here. Please note that while our 501(c)3 status is pending, we are using Springboard for the Arts as our fiduciary sponsor for Give to the Max Day donations. All funds collected with go directly to the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra.
    Thank you in advance for your support!
    The Minnesota Orchestra Musicians

    From the Musicians website Norman

    • bratschegirl says:

      I think you misread the initial post. You seem to be saying that Mr Lebrecht claimed that the musicians were raising funds for themselves individually, for rent/groceries/etc, but the post clearly states that the fundraising is in support of their concert series, which is exactly what the text you’ve copied from the website says. I’m afraid I don’t see the alleged conflict.

  5. No, my dear, the shame is yours for picking and choosing. The source clearly states:

    If you’ve ever wanted to perform martial arts with a trumpeter, chug beer with a bassist, or speak French with a violinist, get yer TCF Bank checkbooks out. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are auctioning themselves off for today’s Give to the Max Day, a single day non-profit fundraising blitz that raised over $16 million in Minnesota last year.

    It is also not an auction – these are PRIZES to be given in drawings of
    whoever donated each hour. Their Facebook page clearly states:

    Give to the Max Day is less than 24 hours away and we have some AMAZING new prizes to announce:

    A gift of any amount enters you in a drawing to win a one-on-one with a Minnesota Orchestra Musician! That’s right, all day we’ll be giving awa…y truly one-of-a-kind experiences.

    Maybe it’s a martial arts workout with Principal Trumpet Manny Laureano or a tennis lesson with Principal Cello Tony Ross. We have nearly 60 amazing experiences to give away, but there’s only one way to win; by making a gift to support the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians!

    Winners get to choose their prizes, so give early to get your first choice (giving today means being entered into the first drawing tomorrow). In addition, the 25 donors who give the most will be entered into our Grand Prize drawing at the end of the day!

    Every dollar that comes in goes directly to supporting the mission of the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians: to ensure that orchestral music is alive and well for the audiences and communities in the Twin Cities metro and around the state of Minnesota.

    Your source clearly bungled its wording.

  6. Years ago, when he was principal trumpet in Seattle, Manny Laureano offered in a radiothon to go outside a friend’s (enemy’s?) house to play Reveille at some early hour. Maybe he could post an offer to do that outside the house of Michael Henson or one of the board members.

  7. I don’t think I’d want French lessons from any of them. They can barely play Messiaen.

    • Are you a character in Pamela Brown’s almost-published novel? Can’t imagine why a real person would come here just to say that…

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Agree, that was a totally lame comment. Of course, I have a hard time picturing anyone in Minneapolis wanting to take French lessons. That would be so un-American…

        Actually, the MO made a series of rather good recordings of Ravel orchestral works with Skrowaczewski, although that was a generation ago.

  8. Dean Williams says:

    Kirill, I invite you to read the following page. The musicians have made offers which most people, myself included, believe to be very constructive. The MOA, however refuses to admit that these are valid counteroffers and maintains the fiction that the musicians are refusing to negotiate. I’ll tell you this. I am not a professional musician. But if I were a member of the Minnesota Orchestra, I would never have signed the contract that they put before me. The changes that were demanded in the working conditions are so draconian that I would have refused and started looking for work elsewhere.
    The truth of the matter is that the MOA is refusing to negotiate, and more and more people are realizing that. Perhaps you should study the situation a bit more before you make statements such as the one you posted above.

    • Just an outsider, but none of these proposals actually address the financial situation. I have no idea what the musicians and their advisors are hoping to achieve.

      • Richard Crampton says:

        I too am an outsider, but I have ties to Louisville and their Orchestra who underwent a similar strike/lockout which was eventually resolved by the managing organization taking bankruptcy. I get the impression that some of the musicians feel that they are ” entitled ” to their gig . . . . with no consideration at all where their pay came from or how it is derived.

        I wonder how much influence ICSOM has had in all this? They were instrumental in keeping the pot stirred in Louisville, appealing to a handful of militant musicians who were convinced that the ultimate purpose of management was the destruction of the organization!

        So what IS the end game in Minnesota?

      • The only proposal that mgmt has to “address” the financial situation is to slash musician salaries and the size of the orchestra.

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