Drew McManus’s Latest, and Popcorn

There aren’t many blog entries that I devote blog entries to, but here’s one I will: Drew McManus’s “The Empire Strikes Back.” (This was also the title of Robert Levine’s latest.) (Combine those two entries with my recurring popcorn GIFs, and it appears the Minnesota Orchestra blogosphere is now on a movie kick.) (But who can blame us? With every passing day, the conflict gets more and more theatrical.)

Here’s Mr. McManus:


A white snowscape races toward camera … the MAIN TITLE quickly recedes, followed by a roll-up. Episode V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK…

Although certainly not science fiction, the recent opinion piece co-authored by Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) board chair Jon Campbell and MOA negotiation chair Richard K. Davis and published in the 11/28/12 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune still managed to contain what some might consider a rather cinematic tone…

And it goes on, very entertainingly, from there.

Mr. McManus brings up an important point that I should have thought of earlier, but didn’t. If the musicians submit a counterproposal, they’re at risk of turning the conflict from a lockout into a strike, and losing unemployment benefits, thereby strengthening management’s position, all while guaranteeing the musicians (and the many patrons who support their cause) nothing. I actually knew all of those piece of information individually, and yet never connected the dots to think of how they might relate to one another. Sooooo, this is proof that you need to read as many media outlets as possible, because I’m not always going to make all the connections that need connecting. I’ll try to keep you as up to speed as possible, but I’m only one woman, going through her first orchestral labor dispute, and learning as I go along. So keep an eye on MNuet’s News & Reviews page. Be well-informed, folks!

Drew McManus is, as I’ve said before, the Nate Silver of the orchestra world. He’s calm, rational, level-headed, professional, uber-careful, always. So when he starts posting snark and parody………………….well. Crap is hitting the fan.

I think at this point the MOA should go on Stephen Colbert’s Absurd-U-Chart, which is reserved for things that are “offensively absurd, like rabbits with pancakes on their heads, and owls.” I think that’s about the level of crazy we’ve reached here. Let’s see how long it takes the MOA to figure that out and come back to earth.

I’d also like to repeat what Mr. McManus says, among other things, in the comment section:

I’ve also offered to travel to Minneapolis at my own expense to conduct a live interview with them which would subsequently be published here in audio format.

I hate to use more popcorn GIFs, but…


(Also, in case you were wondering, I have my own response to the Campbell/Davis editorial cooking. So stay tuned.)

Edit 1:30PM: Here Robert Levine discusses Drew McManus’s entry.


Filed under My Writing

11 responses to “Drew McManus’s Latest, and Popcorn

  1. Terry

    San Antonio Symphony president and CEO has resigned, effective immediately


    Where do you suppose he is going? Maybe DisneyWorld, for all I know.

    • Terry

      Since Emily mentioned POPCORN: Make of this what you will — maybe the two years of deficits in San Antonio did him in and that’s the end of the story. I have no inside information to share, but he would seem to be a good candidate to replace Henson or West at SPCO.

      From Texas Public Radio:

      “Under [Jack] Fishman, the San Antonio Symphony has made important strides towards long-term sustainability including signing a three-year contract with the orchestra players in September, attracting San Antonio Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing, seeing increases in symphony ticket sales, and working with community leaders to make the Tobin Performing Arts Center a permanent home for the symphony.”


      From My San Antonio:

      “Fishman made contributions to building the organization’s profile and helping its fundraising efforts, [Symphony board Chairman Dennert] Ware said. ‘I think Jack did a lot to communicate the value of music to the community, to the structure of the operations and to the trust among the board, management and the orchestra.'”


      From Plaza de Armas:

      “‘I’ve been doing orchestra my whole life and it’s time for me to move on,’ Fishman said. He said the decision was mutual and he believes the Symphony has an exciting future ahead of it. It’s too early, he said, to say whether he will remain in San Antonio.”

  2. Interview starts at 10:53 http://www.tpt.org/?a=almanac

    Emily, you NEED to watch this as soon as possible. Tony Ross and Doug Kelley.

    Wow. This is effing intense.

    I’ll try to leave a response later, but I have just a few initial reactions:

    1) Damn, Tony! he was on fire! Talk about getting his view across and blasting his opponent.

    2) Pathos. Doug tried to seem really knowledgeable and fact driven. It worked, but he was cold.

    3) Ethos. Tony killed it! Not only did he get his point across, he appealed directly to Kelley at least twice (not something usually done in debates like this, I think). Anyway, Tony expressed so much anger, frustration and indignation at the injustice and used personal experiences and examples to express those feelings. How can you NOT believe him?! Ka-POW, Kelley, Ka-POW!

    4) Kelley never properly answers the question about lying to the legislature.

    5) Best moment: “What are you afraid of, Doug?”

    6) aside, but I was slightly taken aback when Tony inferred he’d like a pay raise. I don’t know, is it just me, or is that maybe asking too much out of this situation? Obviously a 40% cut is absolutely absurd, but a raise? I don’t know the numbers well. Maybe with a decent CEO it would be possible (Hear that Henson!)

    7) Where is Michael Henson? Lol when has he ever shown his face to the public?

    8) I can’t wait until Henson is fired and big wigs are kicked off the board

    9) I really hope the musicians (and the public) are correct about everything we’re saying management and the board are doing. I believe we are right and either way management has been disrespectful and disingenuous, but I really hope they have been doing all the subversive and slimy things they’ve been accused of, or else there’s going to be trouble.

    10) When it was released that management had been lying about finances earlier this week and the musicians released their “No Confidence” statement I skipped around happily saying “How can you be sad when Michael Henson is going to be fired?!” I thought everything would be ending soon, but I think we’re still in this thing for awhile.

    “I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

    • Thanks so much for sharing. Watched this this morning instead of coffee.

      “4) Kelley never properly answers the question about lying to the legislature.” Exactly. Or about misleading the public. He’s slick, though, so a lot of people probably didn’t notice.

      “6) aside, but I was slightly taken aback when Tony inferred he’d like a pay raise. I don’t know, is it just me, or is that maybe asking too much out of this situation?” I interpreted this as he was talking about how peer orchestras – Chicago, National, even Cleveland – have been able to offer pay increases, so it’s comparatively bad management in Minneapolis if they can’t have pay raises, as well. That was my interpretation, leastways. It might not have been the best PR tack, though. Dunno.

      “7) Where is Michael Henson? Lol when has he ever shown his face to the public?” Never. I’m wondering if he’s terrible in interviews. He must be. He’s terrible in print interviews. He must be even worse in public. Maybe he’s concerned about his public safety? Doesn’t want to show his face? I know that sounds paranoid, but I get the distinct vibe he’s a paranoid sort. And we know fans are angry.

      “8) I can’t wait until Henson is fired and big wigs are kicked off the board” It would be nice. I was confused by Kelley saying he had the full confidence of the board; that they had just had a meeting and discussed it…I believe he was referring to a **committee** meeting, correct? To the best of my knowledge, they haven’t taken a full vote. Unless I misinterpreted that. A truly unified board unafraid of Mr. Henson, Mr. Davis, and Mr. Campbell would have held a secret ballot vote and made the results very clear, no?

      “9) I really hope the musicians (and the public) are correct about everything we’re saying management and the board are doing” We are. What are you thinking might not be true? Graydon Royce staked his reputation on it. He would not have written the article he did otherwise.

      “I thought everything would be ending soon, but I think we’re still in this thing for awhile.” I believe you’re correct. To be honest, I’m not betting on a resolution until the hall renovation is complete, if not later.

      • 9) that’s just me being overly paranoid and cautious of everything happening. I certainly believe management is completely and disgustingly wrong to have done what they did, but all the high tensions and pressures make me nervous.

        I guess I can describe this by using the election as an analogy. It was unclear if Obama would win the popular vote, but it was the icing on the cake when he did. I have no doubt that there will be some kind of government/board/management restructuring in MO, but if all the nasty details are completely and utterly true about Henson, Campbell, Davis and Kelley, that’s just the icing on the cake.

        I don’t know if that makes sense or not? My complete faith is in the musicians, I just want this to turn out as best as possible for them.

        • To continue the analogy… if you were reading Nate Silver (who I referenced in this blog post as Drew McManus’s political counterpart), who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what he was talking about (just like Drew does), you knew for the entire election cycle that Obama almost certainly walk away with at least 2-3% of the popular vote when those who knew less about polling and politics were saying IT’S A TIE IT’S A TIE because of divergences between state and national polling.

          ;) I’m just ribbing you a little. I understand the hesitancy.

  3. Also, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more news on Henson’s lying to the state and using its money through deception. Maybe an investigation is going on now, but if I was part of the state government I *definitely* would be pretty pissed about losing $14 MILLION on a failing project. I can’t imagine someone in authority to do something about this will just “let it go”. No. $14Mill is a crap ton the gov can’t afford to just throw around. I think it’s just a matter of time before we get more info about this.

  4. I too, thought Tony did an amazing job of informing and using his anger very constructively. I heard his comments about the other orchestras getting raises as a means of highlighting the tired and dishonest lines used by the MOA to justify outrageous pay cuts. As for Michael Henson, he did hire a body guard. Apparently, he must have mistaken a viola case for a machine gun or confused the brass section with the Teamsters. He has to be feeling the collective rage of patrons and musicians and that must be a little unsettling. He can’t really open his mouth; every time he does (MPR a few weeks back) he strengthens the musicians’ case and another few thousand classical music loving locals find out what a hack job he is.

  5. It seemed to me from Tony’s statements that the players have been put in the middle of a situation they don’t have control of and told ‘you’re the ones who have to make this right.’ He spoke also for those like himself who have been with the MO for a number of years. During that time the MO has moved from one level of critical acknowledgment to another. He referenced that when he said that the orchestra should not be compared to Detroit, but to Cleveland. Both sides need to be willing to give. The bills need to be paid, the endowment needs to be protected, and the players deserve to be treated with the utmost respect.

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