I was invited to speak at Save Our Symphony Minnesota’s rally “Ending the Lockout Will Be A Ball.” Details here. I mean it when I say it’s a tremendous honor to have been asked. I also mean it when I say it’s incredibly awkward to be asked to speak, when Michael Henson is going to be a few hundred feet away, not listening to any of us, and attempting to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a non-existent orchestra, and maybe coming up with a condescending soundbite to give to the press about us.
We have indeed entered The Twilight Zone.
This will be the weirdest Symphony Ball in human history. There will be no symphony. Michael Henson, Jon Campbell, and Richard Davis will be ensconced inside (obviously). There will be security personnel milling about to protect vulnerable donors from The Union. The tents have already sprung up in Peavey Plaza. Some of the wilder rumors circulating include suggestions that windows are being darkened and shrubbery is being rented to shield the people who are fundraising for the orchestra…from the orchestra. As I always say, what’s the use of a $50 million glass lobby if you can’t obscure it with shrubbery and dark window cling? Yeah, that’s right: there is no point.
Anyway, SOSMN is having a rally to show support for the…I don’t even know what to call it at this point. I want to say “the orchestra”, but there’s this idea circulating that the musicians aren’t the orchestra, so… We’re there supporting the people who play great orchestral music in Minneapolis; let’s say that. There will be musicians there, friends there, families there. Some people will be dressed in gowns and tuxes. Others will be in sweaters and sweatshirts. It’s not going to be that structured…just a fun time milling about in downtown Minneapolis with some really fabulous first-rate music in all sorts of genres. We’re not out to vilify anybody. Just want to have a great time, chatting, dancing, singing, and listening. If our presence makes the board uncomfortable, then that’s not our problem, frankly. It’s about time they remember there’s an audience out there, because they sure haven’t listened to us so far!
Here’s an approximate visual representation of how I’m thinking this party will go down.
- Arrhythmic dancing
- A band
- A guy in a suit
- A guy in a sweatshirt
- More dancing
- Random hugs
I can’t guarantee there will be scantily clad dancers, pyro, or an abominable snowman with Shake Weights, but other than that, I think it’ll be very similar!
“Partyin’ partyin’! YEAH! Partyin’ partyin’ YEAH! FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!”
Well, I’ve slipped in my token Colbert reference for the week. Hope to see you Friday night in Minneapolis.
10 responses to “Save Our Symphony Rally”
You have a wicked sense of humor, Emily! Love it!
Have a good time tomorrow. I would join you, but I’m in England for a family wedding.
Having watched this from afar, So you are going to attempt to disrupt and make uncomfortable the supporters who are the largest donors and pay for the musicians salaries.
According to financials this event raises over $1M, so with this little stunt you are going to hurt what you are trying to save, a pyrrhic in the truest sense.
So even if sucessful with this event, you risk the musicians as appearing ungrateful for the charity of the supporters along with the hostile nature of the union supporters who seem to want to turn this into a bankers vs. the people conflict.
Perhaps all this energy could be focused on selling more tickets and getting attendance to increase and then maybe ticket revenue would make up more then a third of revenue(according to the governmental filings).
What I am afraid of is, the inaction of the musicians over the last 18 months along with the nonsensical strategy of never making a real counter offer, actually will have hurt the future of the Minnesota orchestra and the donors will take their money and go home.
And then the musicians will truly be gone, and not just taking a market adjustment to their salary.
This has alway been an above average regional orchestra; a few blog posts, a recording and a tour seem to have elevated the group and it’s supporters to think they are on par with London or Boston and entitled to the equivalent pay. But to now vilify the donors for not wanting to donate more money for salaries that the current business model can’t afford isn’t proper and a bit mad.
Nope, we’re not actually going to disrupt the party. We’re just going to have our own simultaneously. If they are uncomfortable by FELLOW MUSIC LOVERS BEING ON THE SAME BLOCK AS THEY ARE, then they’re a little too sheltered from the real world.
I think each of us who is musician, professional or community, should wear a nametag to the rally including the instrument we play or voice part we sing. That way we can celebrate ALL the musicians in our community, including our friends who are members of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Who knows what evil lurks . . .? For those of us who were at the rally (yay!) who gazed at the gilded tower, and wondered if a conflicted Maestro Vanska was ensconced therein–we have it on fairly good authority that Osmo may not have been invited to the Symphony Ball. Oh, my . . .
If this is not solved by the end of the month, less than a week now, then we all have only tough choices.
I just don’t see any realistic prospect of getting enough donations to support the orchestra at musicians desired salaries and benefits under a new organization.
If there is no agreement, then I suspect the MOA will try and put together a freelance orchestral organization. I don’t discount the possibility of this working. A very large percentage of orchestras at the Proms this year were freelance. Government subsidies are drying up fast in Europe, and that is driving the change to freelance orchestras. They performed to a very high standard indeed.
The other option is that an organization my form that is essentially freelance and rents Orchestra Hall by the event.
I’m certain Minnesota will have a professional orchestra, but the organization will be very different from the past if everything falls apart in the next seven days..
The musicians who want to stay in this community, need to think long and hard this week as to whether they want job security at reduced salary or a hand to mouth by the job existence, and they pay their benefits and fund their pensions.
The MOA can’t put together a freelance orchestral organization. It’s on the international unfair list. No unionized musicians will come as long as the musicians remained locked out. And nearly all are unionized. If any musician took a job with a scab orchestra, their career with other orchestras would be over.
They tried replacing people in Louisville; it didn’t work. It definitely will not work in Minneapolis.
The musicians know exactly what they’re doing and they have the best legal advice in the business. They’ve had over two years to plan for this moment. They’re not stupid.
That’s a very tyrannical position. When I was a young doctor, in England many years ago, out conditions were not good. The Junior hospital doctors association formed, as they felt the BMA were ineffective. I refused to join it. The Junior hospital doctors called a strike. I refused to join it and crossed the lines. I never worked so hard in my life. Not many days passed before a 14 year old girl died in Birmingham of a acute appendicits for want of timely attention. The government caved in within about 24 hours. I was not popular, as the left was in a period of ascendency at that time. I left for North America within six months.
Scabbing people is not something this country should be about, and especially not professionals. It is at least equivalent and as heinous as racial discrimination.
If this is what this fight is coming down to then, then I’m for the right of any musician to work for any organization whether he is union or not. He should have the right to sue for discrimination for being excluded on the basis of former employment or contract.
If this is what it is about, then this is a bigger issue than the music, and I change my allegiance to the board, and would hope that all other orchestra associations make a stand. However in America, I have a hard time believing that is what this is all about.