Tag Archives: Minnesota Orchestra

Minnesota Orchestra is dwindling…SD reply…

What if there is even more to this situation than what has been said? What if a misconception is being uprooted? Is it possible that there is an elephant in the room?



Hmmm…need to rephrase it seems….

The Strib declined to post my comment on this article:


I will post it here instead….

Ironically, the long-tenured musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, such as Bill Shrickel (who is quoted in the article) in even the worse-case-scenario, might be offered a handsome retirement package.  However, those musicians of similar, or even equal ability, who are outside the orchestra, would not have such an option open to them.  One of them, in fact, who was acknowledged to be a supremely talented player named Eric, died homeless recently on the shores of the Mississippi River; ironically, almost at the doorstep of the MO iconic director’s condo.

Pre-Grammy concert coda…

Let me add one note to my mini-review of the pre-Grammy concert — with the repeated callbacks and standing ovations, not to mention the tumult of sound following the S5, everyone knew there would be an encore. We might even have anticipated that it would be — Sibelius! The really astute might have realized that “Finlandia” would work perfectly — an ideal length and a lot of punch.

So when the chords of “Finlandia” were briskly sounded, my first reaction was, “Oh good! I haven’t heard this live in a while.” My second reaction was, ‘Oh no, this piece can really be murdered through overplaying! EEK”. So I slumped down a bit in my seat and waited with nervous anticipation. I need not have worried, for Maestro Vanska sped through the piece, pulling out its very heart and essence, without an insincere or trite beat. It was, in fact, the finest reading of the piece I have heard.

Risk being mobbed…

William Osborn said, “Another problem is that students and colleagues often form a collective identity around the status of star musicians in their circle. They see an attack on those stars as an attack on their own status and identity – as even this discussion shows. One result is that those who speak up are often mobbed.”

Indeed. By daring to demonstrate my lack of illusions about orchestras and their players on another thread, my credibility was called into question. Those some players consider on the ‘outside’ are only supposed to have a rosy-glow obsequiousness, it would appear.


Thank you Don Lee, comment to his MInnpost article…

In all of the angst and distress of the last two months plus over the lack of communication between players and management of both the MO and SPCO, it is refreshing to hear a voice of sanity. This paradigm — this ‘business model’ has failed everyone; and in this case, it has failed the players who trusted management to look out for them. How is this situation any different than, for example, what Mozart had to suffer over 200 years ago? One can easily envision the same sort of frustration in the voices of the players and in the agonizingly honest letter of Maestro Vanska.

The NYPhil began as a player-coop. It is not impossible to think outside of the box. Nobody expected the players to have to be money-crunchers and financial analysts as well as musicians, but they have stepped up to the plate and are looking at more than just having their needs met. They want to know how the mission statement of the MO was changed behind their backs, and they want to know exactly where the money went. They will never relax into complacency again. All this struggle can be used for good for the future — to find alternatives that work for everyone.

Let’s find a working model…players turned number-crunchers and financial analysts…

@Anon said, “Or has management been put in a difficult position by players demanding salaries that are not commensurate with the audiences they are pulling in?”

I might have thought that at the start of this dual lockout in the TC, but now my thinking has changed. It seems to me players have every right to ask for the best for themselves. If they are not the orchestra, then who is? What good are soloists or conductors without them? What good is management without them (unless they want to change the focus from having a critically acclaimed symphonic orchestra to just managing a hall with acts passing through it — oh wait, the MO mission statement has just been changed, hasn’t it? :-0).

That doesn’t mean, however, that, under the current ‘business-model’ (that is failing them) they have the right to bankrupt the orchestra with their demands. Nor can they — they have to be agreed upon by management.

Negotiations should be made and at the very least cuts should be made across the board – management and players alike. A working model needs to be found in an agreement already made by another comparable orchestra with a similar financial situation (having nothing to do with artistic acclaim). Drew suggested Pittsburgh.

I am not an expert and could be wrong; this is just my impression at the present time.

Apples and oranges, anyone? Reply on SOL blog…

I appreciate Tony Ross’ preference for the MO being compared to Cleveland rather than to Detroit.  However, he seems to be basing his preference on the level of artistry and critical acclaim (which is totally fair) when the real issue is that Cleveland seems to have more revenue coming in and a larger endowment, due to their owning property and buildings.  

Time for a new paradigm…

Fair enough, Chris. After the terrible position the players have been put in, one would hope they will always be proactive and take nothing for granted. Nevertheless, they did their job, and it was the job of management to bring in funding and protect the endowment. This is where the failure lies, it seems to me; but nobody is asking that they take pay cuts.

Obviously, the paradigm has failed. Something that will work in the 21st century with all of its new technologies, markets, changes in the public’s tastes and access to entertainment needs to be developed. The NYPhil, for example, was originally a player-cooperative orchestra. If everyone agrees that the players are the orchestra, or that, surely, without them, there is no orchestra, then I don’t think an evolution of a new ‘business model’ is an impossibility at all.

In fact, maybe there ultimately is no other choice.