The conflict between the Minnesota Orchestral Association and its musicians is obviously a hugely complicated one. Consequently, it’s full of lots of names, specialty terms unfamiliar to lay audiences, and even the occasional in-joke (popcorn?). So if you’re ever confused about a name or a term or an in-joke, let me know, and I’ll add it to the SOTL Glossary.
Bold phrases indicate names or terms that are explained elsewhere in the glossary.
990s. Forms the Minnesota Orchestral Association (or MOA) has to file with the IRS. More information about 990s here. Thanks to Drew McManus, we have the MOA 990s from FY 1998, 2000-6, and 2009-2010. The 2011 990 is available on the website Guidestar. I’m still waiting on a copy of the 2012 990.
Advent calendar. I sent an Advent calendar of questions to Michael Henson in December of 2012. He didn’t acknowledge it. (I also sent Christmas cards to Jon Campbell and Richard Davis; I never heard back from them, either.) You can read about my foray into Advent-calendar-based-activism here.
Almanac. A news program on Twin Cities Public Television.
Annual meeting. On December 6, the board of directors of the MOA met for their annual meeting at the swanky Minneapolis Club. The public wasn’t invited, and despite outcry over the board’s recent actions, no meeting with the public has been scheduled. Reader Rolf Erdahl described the view from the outside here.
Binding arbitration. From Legal Dictionary: The submission of a dispute to an unbiased third person designated by the parties to the controversy, who agree in advance to comply with the award—a decision to be issued after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard. The musicians offered to go through binding arbitration before the work stoppage ever began. This was an offer historic in its generosity on the part of the musicians. However, Minnesota Orchestra management immediately declined it, saying they did not want to cede control of the process to an outside arbitrator.
Board. The Minnesota Orchestral Association Board of Directors is made up of 80+ community leaders. They are not paid; on the contrary, they are expected to pay quite a bit of money for the honor of a seat. (How much, we don’t know…) We’re not quite sure how the current group was nominated or selected, or why, or what exactly their qualifications are; there’s no information about this on the Orchestra’s website, and nobody has explained it in the press. Based on the limited information we have, it seems likely that not all of the members understand the complexities of what is happening here, or what is all at stake. I have all publicly available addresses of board members here.
Building for the Future (BFF). The $110 million fundraising campaign that the MOA has embarked on over the last few years. The centerpiece of it is a $50 million renovation of Orchestra Hall; the centerpiece of that is a lobby (the auditorium will remain largely unchanged). There is also $30 million devoted to “endowment support” and $30 million devoted to “artistic initiatives.” Many patrons are now upset about the BFF campaign; when they donated to the Hall construction effort in 2011 and earlier, they had no idea the MOA was formulating a Strategic Plan that would slash musicians’ compensation by 20-40%+.
Jon Campbell. Executive Vice President and director of Government and Community Relations for Wells Fargo. Current board chair of the MOA. Co-architect of the lockout.
Comment section’s open! A phrase I often employ. Referring to my open-door policy when it comes to comments. Everyone is encouraged to post comments here, no matter what they think about me or my work.
Counterproposal. What the MOA is insisting the musicians offer. The musicians say they don’t have the financial information they need to give a counterproposal. Then the MOA refuses to do a financial analysis. Then the MOA insists on a counterproposal. Then the musicians say they don’t have the financial information they need to give a counterproposal. Then the MOA refuses to do a financial analysis. Then the MOA insists on a counterproposal…
Richard Davis. CEO of US Bancorp, dubbed the “golden boy of Wall Street” by the New York Post. He hasn’t been interviewed about the conflict for a couple months now, but make no mistake: he’s still one of the three legs of the stool in charge at the MOA (Campbell, Davis, and Henson). He’s immediate past chair of the MOA. I wrote a satirical entry about him here, called Richard Davis Debates Richard Davis.
Rep. Jim Davnie. The Democratic state representative who appears to be spearheading the effort to investigate the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s use of public funds.
December lockout concert. On December 15 and 16 the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra put on a concert of Bach’s double violin concerto and Beethoven’s ninth symphony at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota. They were extraordinary events. Both sold out within days.
“Easily walkable” / “easy to get around.” In a November 8th MPR article, Michael Henson explained to the public that world-renowned musicians will always want to live in Minneapolis, regardless of the terms of their contract, because Minneapolis is easy to get around. I mock this assumption frequently on the blog.
Bryan Ebensteiner. CFO at the MOA. In 2009 he said something that would later resurface in Graydon Royce’s Bombshell Article: “‘Balances in 2009 and 2010 would support our state bonding aspirations,” Bryan Ebensteiner, vice president of finance, told the orchestra’s executive committee in September 2009, “while the deficits in 2011 and 2012 would demonstrate the need to reset the business model.” Suddenly, in a single sentence, the motivations of the MOA were unmasked.
Financial analysis. The musicians want outside experts to come in and look at the MOA’s finances. On their website, they say: “Audits do not cover an institution’s viability, stability, business plan, strategic plan, the quality of its management, comparative performance, or present and future prospects. A joint, independent financial analysis would review all of these things, and would assess current and future trends, opportunities and risks.” The MOA has refused again and again to do this, citing “delay” and “duplication of efforts.”
Frolic and detour. A bizarre phrase that Doug Kelley used in his November appearance on Almanac. Twice over the course of the interview he said that further analysis of the Orchestra’s finances would be nothing but a “frolic and detour.” The phrase was just so hilariously odd that I’ve been using it whenever I discuss management’s penchant for sidestepping the truth or avoiding public accountability.
FY. Fiscal year. The Minnesota Orchestra’s fiscal year runs from September 1 to August 31. The number of the FY is the January to August portion of the year. This is important to remember when looking at 990s.
Golden Period. Before the MOA wanted state money, its leaders frequently referred to the fact that they were in a “golden period.” So whenever I find any mention of management using the phrase “golden period” or “golden age”, I post this picture, which is a painting by Jean August Dominque Ingres, from 1862, called “The Golden Age.” It’s become a bit of a joke on the blog.
GIFs. Little animated pictures I like to sprinkle throughout my blog. This is a rather unprofessional habit I picked up from frequenting the website Tumblr, where bloggers’ reactions to events or other entries are often accompanied by GIFs.
Guidestar. A website that you can sign up for free at, and receive the last three years of the MOA’s 990s. If you want to see any more, you’ll have to go through Drew McManus’s blog, or pay for them.
Hall. The not-so-affectionate nickname given to Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall by Minnesota Orchestra lovers. Sometimes referred to as
Orchestra Hall. For a variety of reasons, many in the community feel that MOA leadership has focused their attention on the hall renovation, when they should be working on sustaining the quality of the core product offered within.
Michael Henson. The former head of the Bournemouth Symphony, Henson became the CEO at the Minnesota Orchestral Association (or MOA) in 2007. In 2010, when seeking $14 million for the renovation of Orchestra Hall, he testified to the State Legislature, “We have announced balanced budgets over the last three consecutive years, and we are facing the current economic downturn with stability.” One could argue over the semantics of the first clause, but the second is point-blank inaccurate. Henson never gives live interviews or engages directly with the public; he prefers instead to deploy Doug Kelley to interviews, and nobody to the public. He knows that I and my readers are here, but he refuses to acknowledge our existence, our questions, or this blog. He has faced widespread criticism from around the world for his role in the lockout and the lead-up to it. As icing on the cake, if the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2011 990 is any indication, he earns roughly $1100 in total compensation every single day the lockout churns on.
Emily E Hogstad. 23-year-old 90-pound broke uneducated me.
Hundred Questions. In September 2012 I sent out three packages to Jon Campbell, Richard Davis, and Michael Henson, including digital and paper copies of roughly a hundred questions about the labor dispute. I asked if they didn’t have time to answer all of them, if they could please answer even just a few. None of the men ever answered me. As a reminder to them, I keep this entry posted at the top of my blog. If they’re keeping an eye on this blog – and I know that they are – then they should see the questions every time they visit. I occasionally use these hundred questions as an example of the three men being allergic to accountability.
Industry News. A portion of the MOA’s website that purports to provide an unbiased general overview of what the media is saying about orchestras in general and this conflict in particular, but which in reality actually only includes articles about conflict and sad things. (For instance, they only have articles that mention the Chicago Symphony going on strike; they don’t have any describing how they came to a peaceful settlement a few days later.) The Industry News section has largely fallen silent since Graydon Royce’s Bombshell Article, because even mainstream coverage has become increasingly unfriendly to the MOA’s cause.
Lockout. From Wikipedia: “A lockout is a temporary work stoppage or denial of employment during a labor dispute initiated by the management of a company. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.” The lockout began on October 1st. Since then, musicians have had no pay and no health insurance.
Drew McManus. An arts consultant based in Chicago who has been offering consistently thoughtful commentary on the Minnesota implosion on his website Adaptistration. I often quote him on the blog. For weeks, he has had a standing offer to travel to Minneapolis on his own dime to interview Jon Campbell and Richard Davis. So far, neither man has taken him up on his offer.
“Mary” – Mary Schaefle, a local non-profit professional who has written a three-part series for the blog analyzing the Minnesota Orchestra’s 990s.
Misrepresentations Versus Realities. A sad, easily refutable chart the MOA has posted on their website. I fact-checked their Realities here and here.
Mission statement. Bewilderingly, in 2011, the MOA changed and shortened their mission statement, in the process removing the word “orchestra.” After pressure, in late December, the MOA changed the mission statement back to the old longer version, while also inserting additional language about community outreach. The community is now waiting to hear the official wording.
Norman Lebrecht. A widely read British writer who has been following the Minnesota conflict on his blog “Slipped Disc.” I wrote a short guest blog for him here, providing a primer about what’s been going on.
Robert Levine. Principal violist at the Milwaukee Symphony. On the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras. Blogs about orchestras at polyphonic.org. Has written many scathing articles about the Minnesota Orchestra’s management; in one memorable blog entry, he said the current leadership of the MOA had “ethical standards” of “those at the bottom 20% of used car dealerships.”
Market reset. The MOA’s euphemism for decreasing musicians’ compensation by 20-40%+.
Matt Peiken. The reporter who started up the wonderful website MNuet. He has had a standing offer to interview Michael Henson for a couple of months now. At MNuet, he curates an invaluable list of news articles about happenings in the Twin Cities music scene.
October lockout concert. A concert that the musicians put on by themselves in the Minneapolis Convention Center auditorium on October 18. The program consisted of the Dvorak cello concerto and Shostakovich’s fifth symphony.
Orchestrate Excellence. A group begun by patrons in late 2012 to help facilitate an end to the lockout and maintain the world-class quality of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Perplexed. An adjective that management has enjoyed using again and again and again.
Popcorn. On many websites, especially those frequented by teens and twentysomethings, “popcorn” is referenced whenever a post, conflict, or story is playing out in a particularly interesting way. Used when you just want “to sit back and enjoy the show.” Has become a recurring theme at SOTL as the entire music world watches the MOA’s incompetency unfold in real-time.
Alex Ross. Esteemed critic at the New Yorker, who in 2010, called the Minnesota Orchestra the greatest in the world. He has taken a scathing view of management’s behavior during the conflict. He called the October lockout concert “legendary,” and in December, he wrote on his blog, “A special citation for Quickest Plunge from a Great Height is handily won by the management and governing board of the Minnesota Orchestra.”
Graydon Royce. The Star Tribune reporter who has been writing the most about the Minnesota Orchestra conflict. He wrote “Graydon Royce’s Bombshell Article.”
Graydon Royce’s Bombshell Article. Appeared on 11/26 in the Star Tribune. It was published under the less dramatic headline Minnesota Orchestra’s board walked thin line on finances, but I refer to it as the Bombshell Article for brevity’s sake. It was a real turning point in the conflict, and encouraged state legislators to get involved.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski. Director at the Minnesota Orchestra from 1960-1979, who has come out hard against management’s proposals. He led the musicians in an extraordinary performance at the October lockout concert. He was also in the audience at the December lockout concert.
SOTL. Song of the Lark; my acronym for this blog.
Strategic Plan. A plan for FY2012-2015, adapted in November of 2011, that will dramatically change the Minnesota Orchestra. The full Strategic Plan has not been released to the public. However, we have been treated to a glossy thirty-page summary full of shiny pretty pictures, so there’s that! Unfortunately, the summary of the Strategic Plan is chockablock with misleading information, not to mention misleading charts. By the MOA’s own admission, the public was never included in any aspect of the formation of the Strategic Plan. However, we’re supposed to swallow it without question.
Strike. What the musicians are not on right now. See “lockout.”
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I reference this movie whenever the goings-on at the MOA start feeling like a le Carré novel.
Vote of No Confidence. On November 27, the day after the story broke that Michael Henson had misled state legislators with his testimony, the musicians held a unanimous Vote of No Confidence in him. The vote is more symbolic than anything, but it does send a message to the public and management about the musicians’ unity of purpose. Doug Kelly countered on TPT’s Almanac by saying that the board of directors has full confidence in Mr. Henson; however, he never backed up that statement with any evidence of discussion or a vote. Weeks later, the board still has not held a vote of confidence, suggesting that there are maybe fractures within the board.
Edo de Waart. Music director at the Minnesota Orchestra from 1986 to 1995. He has also come out against management’s ideas and tactics. He conducted the December lockout concert.
The “winning” article. In the summer of 2010, Michael Henson was interviewed in Gig Magazine. The article starts out: The former Bournemouth Symphony head is strategising his way through the recession – and winning. [Of course, this was a long time before Charlie Sheen made the word (in)famous.] In the article, the Minnesota Orchestra was referred to as a “beacon institution among the bad [economic] news.” Henson also – amusingly hypocritically – gave advice to non-profits on how to weather the economic downturn (!). I found this article on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website in late September; after I publicized it, it vanished. Fortunately, I had screenshots. I use often use the “winning” article as an example of the MOA’s duplicity and untrustworthiness.