Huh?

So this is just…weird.

You are now entering a dimension not of sight or of sound but of mind. Seriously, there's no sound. The concerts are canceled.

You are now entering a dimension not of sight or of sound but of mind. (Seriously, there’s no sound. The concerts are canceled.)

First off, the MOA canceled the rest of the season today. (No surprise there; we were all expecting it.) Here’s the truly bizarre press release making the announcement.

Second, the MOA has offered dates to talk with musicians in late May. Absent the introduction of a new variable into the equation, I’m not sure what there is to talk about…but whatever.

Third, they’ve scheduled three new concerts that apparently aren’t Summerfest, but are in the summer. These new concerts have no title (go, marketing team!), so I will quote the MOA’s press release and call it “The Summer Lineup.” In a totally classy move, tickets are $45 apiece, general admission, thereby alienating poor students like me even further. Hip hip hooray; good on you, MOA. (At their concerts, musicians have always made sure there’s a $20 price-point, which is greatly appreciated.)

Fourth, The Summer Lineup is just fricking bizarre. There’s no overarching theme to it, besides too much Rachmaninoff. (It’s “The Excess of Rachmaninoff Festival,” everybody! Woo!) The first program is the Enigma Variations, The Fountains of Rome, and Rachmaninoff third piano concerto on July 20 and 21 – the second is the 2012-13 season finale program of Sibelius and Dvorak rescheduled to July 26 and 27 – and the third is Prokofiev 7, Rachmaninoff second piano concerto, and Stravinsky on August 2 and 3. The MOA doesn’t make clear if this is Summerfest, or a replacement for Summerfest, or if they once had a Summerfest scheduled but have now canceled it, or if this was going to be their Summerfest all along, or in general what the actual living freaking crap. Why three concerts? Why this particular repertoire? Why these particular soloists? Who knows? It’s almost…like it was all thrown together willy-nilly at the last minute and nobody actually believes the concerts will take place!

In one indication they kinda sorta maybe care about Carnegie (or at least want to give the impression they care about Carnegie), they’ve retained the concert with the Carnegie rep on it…just moved it from late May to late July. Will Osmo be placated? In his recent letter threatening resignation, he wrote that he thought it was “vital” that the orchestra play that repertoire in Minneapolis the week of 27 May…and that he also wanted Sudbin to play with the orchestra the week of July 22. (The MOA scheduled Osmo’s Carnegie rep that week instead.) However, Osmo did leave a bit of an escape clause in his letter, saying that as “an emergency option”, the orchestra could return to work in early September. So it appears the MOA may have skirted Osmo’s resignation (maybe) (possibly) (for now). Eyes now turn to Carnegie…will they de-invite the Orchestra from their November Carnegie shows? When?

Fifth, the Inside the Classics concert on July 25 was canceled, even though The Summer Lineup extends over July 25, and it wouldn’t have been a problem to present it during that time. A few possibilities here…

  • The powers that be have it out for ITC host Sam Bergman post-barnburning-speech.
  • This particular show was actually meant to be the culmination of a season-long project which actually never materialized, so they figured they might as well scrap it, anyway, while they were scrapping things.
  • The concert has been marketed for months and months to align with the re-opening of Orchestra Hall…and apparently the hall is not going to be opened in July.

Which brings us to Sixth… You’ll notice: all three Summer Lineup concerts are at Ted Mann. So you know what that means. Apparently Hall isn’t going to open this summer. Wow, I’m absolutely shocked at this…in that, I’m not shocked at all, and actually saw this coming last October (although I didn’t write about it…you’ll have to trust me, I was assuming this would happen).

So I guess two questions: Is this delay because the construction is experiencing some…hiccups? Or is it because there’s no product to put in the hall? My money’s on the former. If they were positive the hall would be done by early July, wouldn’t they schedule The Summer Lineup there? It would save on rent at Ted Mann.

Anyway. Who knows at this point what the MOA is doing. I feel like I’m watching a horse stuck in quicksand. Get your crap together, guys. Get it together.

12 Comments

Filed under My Writing

12 responses to “Huh?

  1. Sarah

    They just want your $45 in cash.

  2. Lawrence

    My bet: the summer concerts are the MOA’s equivalent of “vaporware”. The actual repertoire doesn’t matter because the concerts aren’t going to happen anyway.

    And why schedule talks with the musicians for late May? Why not right now? I mean, is everybody so busy they can’t pencil this vital activity into their respective schedules within the next few days or a week?

    Lookin’ like smoke-n-mirrors to me….. At least I am relieved to see in that press release that Celctic Woman and Bill Cosby have been rescheduled. Load off my mind there. Very sad. Gotta get my letters off to those bankers now.

  3. WTF ??????????????????????????

  4. Marilyn

    Not to seem too obtuse, but which musicians are playing? Why would anyone purchase tickets to concerts when there is no agreement with the musicians seemingly even on the horizon. Truly bizarre.

    • They’re apparently betting that the musicians will cave before July. I don’t really see that happening, but… The MOA and reality have a rocky relationship.

      Right now I’m thinking this is probably a fundraising or stalling stunt for the MOA, more than an acknowledgement that concerts are likely to occur. This way they can still fundraise through July by telling gullible folks – or folks who aren’t connected to the Internet – that concerts are scheduled. It also has a chance of keeping Osmo from resigning and Carnegie from canceling…for now.

      • Marilyn

        And in the mean time the Association will have the use of the money sent in for tickets. It seems utterly unlikely to me that these concerts will be held.

      • Vipunen

        And, to be frank, to keep from returning any grant money or sponsorship dollars.

  5. This sounds really cynical but with the nasty people in charge at the MOA, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were saying they were putting on these concerts to 1) try to make some money as Sarah says above and/or 2) when no one buys tickets right away (because they don’t trust that the concerts will go on, or because we don’t trust the powers that be at the MOA and don’t want to give them our money) Michael Henson or Jon Campbell will say that this “proves” that no one cares about the MN Orchestra or wants to hear classical music and that is why their original contract offer will have to still stand. UGH.

    • Old Man and the C

      Well, as we might suspect, almost certainly “there’s more hear than meets the eye” and there may be some method carefully imbedded in this madness. My three kids all study with MN Orchestra musicians, so I flatter myself by thinking that sometimes I have “inside info.” Part of what is happening with the summer concerts almost certainly has to do with the fact that Carnegie Hall requires that the music performed there have been played by the ensemble in a public concert, prior to the Carnegie performance. So–who knows who has talked with whom about what–BUT it looks like oerhaps contingency planning to be able to put the necessary components in place for Carnegie–perhaps via some limited negotiated “pay and play” arrangement (probably to be negotiated at these proposed late-May pow-wows?) As for the $45 ticket price, the board has said that they can’t afford pay and play (and Ted Mann is not a large hall)–so they probably figure the $45 pricepoint is a break-even for this limited purpose.

  6. Kim Munholland

    Let’s see, there’s the little problem of the sequestered 14 million from the State of Minnesota that represents 27% of the budget for Orchestra-like Hall. What are the terms of sequester? If truly sequestered, they cannot use the money, as I understand it. When does the final bill for the work on this hall come due? Does it require some action from the State’s review to get the cash released? I have never heard of the conditions. Is there a penalty if Mortenson does not meet its deadline for completion? How much extra has been paid for unanticipated overtime? I am now thinking that all of this is like watching a slow motion train wreck.

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