Email Writing Time

Email writing time, guys. The musicians want us to email and/or call Jon Campbell and Richard Davis. Click here for details. So…you should probably do that.

For the record, here’s the email I sent:

Hello Mr. Davis – Mr. Campbell –

If you’ve been following media coverage of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout, you know exactly who I am. My writing on the lockout is read internationally, and has been cited by MPR, the Pioneer Press, and the most widely read blog in the classical music business, Slipped Disc. I unfortunately have not heard back from you, despite repeated requests to talk to you, so I contact you again. It certainly does not speak well for Wells Fargo or US Bancorp that their leaders are so unresponsive to impassioned community outcry.

Alex Ross, the critic at the New Yorker, whose words you used to trumpet on old season brochures, wrote about you the other day… He is the most influential music writer in the business, and he does not lightly write something like what he writes below.

“The Minnesota Orchestra, whose musicians have been locked out since the beginning of the season, is veering toward catastrophe. A number of players have departed for other ensembles; the orchestra’s use of state funds has raised serious questions and is under review; powerful board members have created a fearful atmosphere; and, as Graydon Royce reports, Osmo Vänskä, Minnesota’s brilliant music director, is threatening to resign if the situation is not resolved soon. In his latest piece, Royce alludes to a column I wrote in 2010, in which I said, “For the duration of the evening of March 1st, the Minnesota Orchestra sounded, to my ears, like the greatest orchestra in the world.” The idea was not to issue a hard-and-fast superlative but to undercut the entire business of ranking orchestras. Still, I stand by the statement, at least as far as the musicians themselves are concerned. As for the board and the management, I am tempted to apply a superlative of a quite different kind. I’ll simply say this: do the board and management actually wish to destroy the Minnesota Orchestra? So far, their actions seem to be moving steadily toward that end.”

Until you demonstrate a renewed commitment to dialogue with both musicians and patrons, I will continue to share Mr. Ross’s views. As you are no doubt aware, not a single person in the music business supports your position. A counter-proposal is not and never has been necessary for negotiations; indeed, in November, independent industry expert Drew McManus called your insistence upon a counterproposal a “trap.” Other orchestras with more dire financial problems have agreed to submit to binding arbitration. I’d hope you’d never make a major investment, as you are asking the musicians to do, without knowing how the board and staff of the companies you invest in performs in comparison to other boards and staff (especially if said board and staff were simultaneously and independently being investigated by the state legislature for potential mis-use of funds). And despite what you have heard, the musicians are not going to cave any time soon. And even if they eventually do, by that time, there will be so many vacancies, it will take literally years to hire replacements…and good luck hiring any subs with the pay you’ve proposed. The orchestra will be comatose and paralyzed, if not liquidated altogether. This is not the teachers’ union, and you are not Scott Walker. Today you face two options: stepping away and letting others try for even a little while, or driving the orchestra – Minnesota’s orchestra – over a cliff. There are no alternatives.

If you destroy the Minnesota Orchestra, I can promise you, as a historian, that it will be a legacy that will long outlast any donations you made to the lobby. This community – in fact, this country – will never forget your names, or what happened on your watch. There would be absolutely no harm in stepping aside…or at the very very least, soliciting ideas from others about how to proceed. I urge you to consider doing so.

Emily E Hogstad

Well, that was therapeutic.

So. Write Richard Davis and Jon Campbell. They won’t reply to you, but it will feel good. Share your emails in the comment section as an inspiration to others. And if you call Davis or Campbell, do let me know who you hear from, and what you said, and what their secretaries said to you in return. Remember, be firm, but be polite. We don’t want to stoop down to other people’s level…no matter how angry we are. Best wishes in your activism…


Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

7 responses to “Email Writing Time

  1. Tom Foley

    So very well done, Emily. A strong, no-nonsense get-it-together fella kinda writing. I can’t equal your prose, but Mr. Campbell will have my thoughts before the day is out.

  2. Michael Wunsch

    Emily – Very nice letter. You asked for an update on what type of reception we got when calling. The phone number for Jon Campbell was a cell phone; I left a voicemail message for him yesterday. I called again just before starting work this morning, and his voicemail was full; I tried again just now, and the number was disconnected (I guess he didn’t appreciate all of the calls). The phone number for Richard Davis is a work line, so I don’t anticipate that it will be disconnected. I left a voice mail yesterday, and I spoke to his receptionist this morning. She was very polite and promised to give Mr. Davis my message. I would encourage you and others to call Mr. Davis as well.

  3. Rachel Swerdlow

    I’m starting to think that the only thing that will have any effect at all is a nation-wide boycott of the 2 banks.

  4. Cynthia Ahlgren

    In addition to writing to the legislators regarding extending unemployment benefits, here is what I sent today:

    Dear Mr. Jon Campbell:

    As a former season ticket holder of the Minnesota Orchestra I am well aware of the rare and prestigious asset our community has built up over the decades. It never occurred to me that anyone who would deign to sit on the board of such a noble artistic jewel would not be a true orchestral music fan and would not dedicate himself to its excellence. I am saddened and outraged by your lack of respect for the institution entrusted to your leadership. Your leadership has brought us to a catastrophe.

    It is a shock to see this magnificent orchestra undone by a corporate mind-set that views it as merely a business. The Minnesota Orchestra is not just a business! (Even as “just a business,” you have mismanaged that). And the Twin Cities are not just any metropolitan area. We are a community of musically-astute and sophisticated patrons-of-the-arts. We know great music when we hear it and we have become accustomed to the best from the Minnesota Orchestra. Michael Henson may have an excuse for being sorely mistaken about the musical sophistication here in the boondocks, but you, as a Minnesotan, certainly do not.

    You and Mr. Henson and Richard Davis may believe that we are unable to tell the difference if you switch out the world’s greatest instrumentalists and replace them with young graduates, as long as we can brag about our great, new lobby! But Michael Henson and you and Richard Davis are quite mistaken. You have underestimated the orchestra, the patrons, the public and the great Osmo Vanska. You will be held accountable for the damage you have done and continue to do to an invaluable asset that belongs to the state of Minnesota and to classical music lovers everywhere. This travesty has caught the attention of fans from Japan to New York to London. Shame on you!

    I add my voice to the growing chorus demanding that you resign from the board. You are guilty of not only disrespecting and devaluing the artistry you should be nurturing, you have misrepresented and mismanaged the finances of the orchestra and lost the trust of the public. You have not been negotiating in good faith and should no longer be representing the interests of the orchestra association.


    Cynthia Ahlgren

  5. Cynthia Ahlgren

    What is the email for Michael Henson? All I can find is a generic

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