A little letter to Michael Henson

Dear Mr. Henson,

I have a simple four word message for you:

The game is up.

We can pretend that you don’t know who I am. We can pretend that you and Jon Campbell and Richard Davis never got the three massive manila envelopes with my hundred questions in them that I sent to Orchestra Hall last month. We can pretend that while you were looking up your Industry News, you came across a Huffington Post blog entry and thought it fit to link to, then somehow had a case of temporary blindness and missed mine.

But that would be pretending. Because everyone knows you know now. As of this afternoon, several bloggers’ opinions are featured very prominently on MPR’s website, and this one is among them. And you cite MPR in Industry News. (Actually, as of this writing, it was the most recent source you cited. Eek. Awkward.) Therefore, you know who I am and what I’ve been asking, and, with all due respect, Mr. Henson, you simply don’t have an excuse to ignore me – or any of us bloggers – anymore. If you choose to keep denying our existence and our questions, you choose to come across as the orchestral CEO version of Jerry Lundegaard.

To quote IMDB:

Jerry Lundegaard: I told ya. We haven’t had any vehicles go missing.
Marge Gunderson: Okay! But are ya sure? ‘Cause I mean, how do you know? Do you do a count, or what kind of a routine do you have here?
Jerry Lundegaard: [growing uncomfortable with this questioning] Ma’am, I answered your question!
Marge Gunderson: [long pause] I’m sorry, sir?
Jerry Lundegaard: Ma’am, I answered your question. I answered the darned… I’m cooperatin’ here!
Marge Gunderson: Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me, I’m just doing my job here.
Jerry Lundegaard: I’m… I’m not arguing here! I’m cooperating. So there’s no need to… we’re doin’ all we can here.
Marge Gunderson: Sir, could I talk to Mr. Gustafson?
[Jerry gives her a glassy-eyed look, knowing full well that Gustafson is dead]
Marge Gunderson: Mr. Lundegaard?

Look, I’ll even take out the filtered profanity in my “Hello, Minnesota Orchestra Management!” post to entice you further. How’s that? See? You’re all set. Despite whatever angry words I may have bandied about in the past few weeks, you and the clear, concise, honest answers you’ll no doubt bring to me will be oh-so-welcome in these virtual pages. I promise. As I’ve said so many times before, my first loyalty is not to the musicians, or to unions, or to an artistically excellent orchestra set to deplete its endowment in 2018. No; it’s to a strong, transparent, fiscally sustainable, artistically excellent symphony orchestra…which I hear is a goal rather similar to the one you have!

So answer us, and answer us quickly, or you risk MPR being only the first of many mainstream news sources to actually start reporting the discrepancies and obfuscations (and maybe even lies) you’ve let slip. And we’re only…*checks calendar*…five days into the lockout. If you make enemies with bloggers as thoroughly as you’ve appeared to make enemies with your musicians, it will be very very very hard to win us back over. Who knows what we might write, what we might speculate, what we might dig out of the Star Tribune archives, what Google might yield, what Facebook links we might make go viral, if you refuse to set the record straight? I don’t think it would be wise to choose to leave anything in your grand strategic plan to chance, would it? No. It wouldn’t be fitting for a man so clearly fond of chess…who loves to control every little detail of his orchestra that he possibly can…down to which auditioning musicians are extended offers of employment, and which are not.

So…talk to us! We’re here, and we’re waiting!

Yours sincerely,



Filed under My Writing

3 responses to “A little letter to Michael Henson

  1. Mama-san

    Dang, Emily, the presidential debate would have been SO much more interesting if you had been the moderator!!

    Well done.

  2. While I applaud your persistence and encourage you to stay after Henson, Campbell and Davis, I suspect your sarcasm is completely lost on them, much like poor Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory” who cannot discern the difference between sarcasm and non-sarcastic comments. However, I do believe that attracting people is more successfully accomplished with honey — also a lesson the Board and Management could learn — rather than so much vinegar. It’s incredibly entertaining to read, but if you’re truly serious about opening a dialogue here with them, it might help to tone it down a bit. Right now it doesn’t look like you’re too interested in listening to them…..(smile)

    • Unfortunately, they are not listening, and it doesn’t matter what I say, or what tone I say it in. By management’s own admission, this was all was planned months and months ago (if not a couple years ago), and they are not interested in patron feedback, point blank. I have to respectfully disagree that any snark from a non-threatening disabled 90-pound 23-year-old is going to keep them from responding to me. If a little poking at them is the only thing that keeps them from answering, then they honestly don’t have the organization’s best interests at heart. They could always say “look, I think you have good questions, and I’d like to enter into a dialogue with you, but beforehand, I’d appreciate a change in tone, and let’s move forward from there…” At which point I would drop ALL sarcasm and enter into earnest conversation (a point I’ve made clear again and again and again here). So I’m going on the assumption that management isn’t listening, and I’m trying to rally the troops, so to speak, to encourage them to see the ridiculousness of management’s behavior, and take action to support the musicians.

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