Say, did you hear that the 2014-2015 Minnesota Orchestra season has just been announced? The lockout era of 2012-2014 is now over, and it’s time to move on. In the recent words of Osmo Vänskä: “I think that there was a time to whine, but, it’s time to cry and then it’s time to stop crying and start to work again. And I think sometimes working is the best therapy for the mind, and I think that is right now happening.”
He’s right. In that spirit, I’m finishing and then archiving this “Lockout Stuff” directory. A link to this page will always remain under the Reference Posts page, and of course the articles themselves will always stay up, but the link to “Lockout Stuff” is coming off the main SOTL header. It doesn’t mean that the past will be forgotten, but it does mean that our energies should be focused on the future. New and better things await us all! So if you want, take a moment to breeze through this, relive old times, and then set your GPS for The Future!
Thanks for journeying along with me for the past two years. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.
In solidarity, Emily
(Please note that each article description below was almost always written at the same time as its accompanying article. And what was true when I wrote the summaries isn’t necessarily true today. For example, Facebook posts were indeed censored by the Minnesota Orchestra in February 2013, but they aren’t being censored anymore. Another instance: the Minnesota Orchestra used to lie during its fundraising calls; to the best of my knowledge, they are no longer doing that, either. Stuff like that. Despite the risk of confusion, I’m leaving those old article descriptions in place. They’re a little bit of orchestral history.)
If You Can Only Read One Article, Make It This One. The entry I wrote for blogger Norman Lebrecht in late November 2012, summarizing the situation for an international audience.
Introduction to My Coverage Who I am, why I’m doing this, how much I appreciate my readers, etc.
A Layman’s Guide to the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout, Part 1 The bare-bones basics of this complicated conflict. Covers events from August to mid-October 2012.
A Layman’s Guide to the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout, Part 2 More basics. Covers events from mid-October to late December 2012.
SOTL Glossary A glossary of names, terms, and blog in-jokes. Last updated toward the end of 2012.
What We Know About Minnesota Orchestra’s Finances – And What We Don’t, Part I Here guest blogger / local non-profit professional Mary Schaefle digs through various publicly available documents concerning the orchestra’s finances, and comes up with some questions for the Minnesota Orchestral Association. An excerpt: “So far we’ve confirmed the endowment decreased during the recession. But we’ve also looked at faulty estimates, endowment draws not matching tax returns, some bad investment advice, and an endowment draw where only half the funds go to the work of the Orchestra.”
What We Know About Minnesota Orchestra’s Finances – And What We Don’t, Part II Mary continues her series, this time looking at decreasing revenue. An excerpt: “After all these words about income and revenue, what do we know? Management’s statement that revenue has decreased is true. But I believe there are enough questions posed here that the Board needs to take another look at ways to increase revenue in addition to considering cuts.”
What We Know About Minnesota Orchestra’s Finances – And What We Don’t, Part III The series continues, this time looking at expenses. “The second and third cuts – guest artist fees and marketing – are troublesome to me. When you combine these with the decrease in number of concerts, it looks like a recipe for decreased income for the Orchestra. There may be other reasons for those changes. My previous posts suggested an outside expert review of the Strategic Business Plan, and this is one more reason for the review.”
AND HERE’S THE REST… (in more or less chronological order)
Addresses of Minnesota Orchestra Board Members As many as I could find.
Orchestral Apocalypse Index An index of (halfway intelligent) articles and blog entries discussing the Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO situations. After Matt Peiken from MNuet started doing this, I stopped doing it on 1 November 2012. Click here.
Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra 2012 Negotiations, Week -4 My day-to-day reactions concerning what happened from 30 August 2012 to 7 September 2012.
Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO 2012 Negotiations: Week -3 My day-to-day reactions concerning what happened from 8 September 2012 to 14 September 2012.
Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO 2012 Negotiations: Week -2 My day-to-day reactions concerning what happened from 16 September 2012 to 22 September 2012.
Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO 2012 Negotiations, Week (Gulp) -1 My day-to-day reactions concerning what happened from 25 September 2012 to 30 September 2012.
A Hundred-ish Questions for Minnesota Orchestra Management Here are a hundred questions I invited management to answer. On 19 September 2012 I sent three copies out: one to Michael Henson, one to Richard Davis, and one to Jon Campbell. I never heard back from any of the three men.
Is Minnesota Orchestra Management Lying To Us? Here I muse aloud about how management is expecting to heighten artistic standards while simultaneously disrespecting and alienating musicians. My conclusion? They can’t do both.
Is Minnesota Orchestra Management Lying To Us?: Part II: Michael Henson Edition Here I ask some questions about endowment draw numbers and an interview Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson gave to the British press in 2010, in which he sounded bizarrely confident about the organization’s fiscal future. (This interview, by the way, is still on the Orchestra’s website.) (Edit in mid-October 2012: whoops, not any more…)
Comparisons of Minnesota Orchestra Management’s Two Proposed Contracts Here I check out the differences between Minnesota Orchestra management’s two proposed contracts. Quick summary: there aren’t many differences, and it’s pretty disingenuous for management to imply there are.
Ten Obfuscations from Minnesota Orchestra Management’s Oct 1 Press Release Here I break down what specific issues I had with the now-infamous 1 October 2012 press release that canceled all Minnesota Orchestra concerts through November 25.
A Red Letter Day for the Redline Express My reaction to the announcement that Drew McManus and other bloggers have been granted access to the 2007-12 contract, and will be analyzing the differences between it and management’s proposed 2012-2017 contract.
Musings on the Campbell/Davis Minnesota Orchestra Editorial My reaction to management’s 11 October 2012 Strib editorial, where Jon Campbell and Richard Davis admitted to drawing from the endowment at a 17% rate in 2012. To the best of my knowledge, I actually was the first one to raise this percentage, way back in Is Minnesota Orchestra Management Lying to Us?: Part II: Michael Henson Edition.
Violinist Jill Olson Moser Writes About Minnesota Orchestra Subs A lovely heartfelt essay from a guest blogger about the importance of sustaining a strong sub pool in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Please read this.
The Mysterious Disappearing Michael Henson Article! In which things start getting too spy-novel-ish for my taste. Sometime between 12 and 15 October 2012, management took down a 2010 article from their website in which Michael Henson speaks about how wonderfully the Minnesota Orchestra is doing financially. Of course this article directly contradicts what the Orchestra is now saying was happening in 2010 (as I detailed in Is Minnesota Orchestra Management Lying To Us?: Part II), so it’s obvious that someone somewhere was (is?) lying.
The Key and the Lockout: The Minnesota Orchestra Musicians In Concert, Oct 18 The concert heard round the world! The Minnesota Orchestra musicians put on their own show at the Minneapolis Convention Center on 18 October 2012, and what a heckuva once-in-a-lifetime show it was. This is a “long, impassioned account,” according to Alex Ross, critic at The New Yorker. So you’ve been warned.
Matt Peiken’s SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra Podcast Matt Peiken from MNuet talks to Ellen Dinwiddie Smith and Carole Mason Smith about the conflicts from the POV of the SPCO players and the Minnesota Orchestra players. Highly recommended stuff.
Endowment Draw Rates and Other Numbery Things In which I try to analyze Minnesota Orchestra endowment draw rate numbers, and get confused.
Misrepresentation, Reality…Misrepresentation of Reality Sometime around 1 November 2012, Minnesota management put up a stupid chart on their website called “Misrepresentation vs. Reality.” Spoiler alert: none of patrons’ concerns are addressed! So in this essay, I try to unpack the chart, getting increasingly frustrated and unhinged as the paragraphs go by, because my concerns and the concerns of others ARE NEVER ADDRESSED. This leads to FRUSTRATION and CAPITAL LETTERS and SARCASM. In the process I quote Tolstoy, Reagan, Colbert, Shakespeare, and Barney Frank, and link to the work of Mark Gatiss, Aretha Franklin, and Unskewed Polls Guy.
Even MORE Obfuscations from Minnesota Orchestra Management! In the dangerously sarcastic tone of the “Misrepresentation, Reality” essay, I unpack the Minnesota Orchestra’s maddening press release canceling concerts through Christmas.
Response to Management’s Response to Osmo’s Letter In mid-November 2012, Osmo wrote a letter about this whole mess. It went public, and, bizarrely, ended up being a freaky Rorschach test. People saw whatever the crap they wanted to see in it. I was positive the letter was pro-musician. Management believed the letter was pro-management, or at the least, neutral.
A Michael Henson Retrospective A compilation of Michael Henson’s greatest hits of incongruity! Click here to read such eyebrow-raising Henson quotes from 2010 and earlier as “We’re being fiscally prudent” (while also employing a 10%+ endowment draw rate and not telling anyone) – “There is no point in having a great building without having great art inside it” – and (I am not making this up) that orchestras are in a “golden period.”
Richard Davis Debates Richard Davis In June 2012, Minneapolis Orchestral Association immediate past chair Richard Davis had some things to say about how to run a business that (to put it mildly) contradict how Richard Davis is handling the lockout this fall. Here the two Richard Davises debate one another, in the most blatantly satirical entry I’ve yet written here.
Is Minnesota Orchestra Management Lying To Us, Part 3: Yes On 26 November, Strib reporter Graydon Royce wrote a bombshell article that changed the dynamics of the lockout. In the article, he reveals that in 2009, the board planned the organization’s finances over the next four years. They’d raid the endowment and post balanced budgets in 2009 and 2010 so they could get $14m from the state for the hall renovation. Then in 2011 and 2012 they would post deficits so they could “reset the business model” (i.e., pay musicians a lot less). This essay is my reaction to Mr. Royce’s masterpiece of orchestral investigative reporting.
Mr. Henson Goes to St. Paul, Part I A transcription of Michael Henson’s January 2010 testimony to the Minnesota State Legislature, in which he says, “On the financial front, we have announced balanced budgets over the last three consecutive years, and we are facing the current economic downturn with stability.”
Mr. Henson Goes to St. Paul, Part II My thoughts on Mr. Henson’s testimony. Spoiler alert: they include a picture of the Hindenburg.
Michael Henson’s Advent Calendar I made an Advent calendar for Michael Henson. More exciting details here.
Doug Kelley V. Tony Ross On Almanac Doug Kelley from management’s side and Tony Ross from the musicians’, went at it on Almanac on 30November 2012. I transcribed the interview for your reading pleasure. FYI, if the phrase “frolic and detour” becomes a catchphrase on SOTL – as I believe it’s going to – then this is the entry that phrase comes from.
On Cheap Publicity Stunts My angry response about Mr. Campbell and Mr. Davis’s 29 November 2012 Strib editorial. I’m trying to keep things civil, but…it’s hard. Very, very hard.
More Misrepresentation, More Realities…..More Misrepresentations of Reality Here I take a look at the brand new “Misrepresentations” and “Realities” on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website. They’re all very easily refutable. Especially if you’ve been following this conflict for more than five minutes.
Analyzing the Almanac Interview It took me a while, but eventually I got to analyzing in great detail Doug Kelley and Tony Ross’s joint appearance on Almanac. Not to spoil it, but here’s my summation of the analysis: “With that, I come unceremoniously to the end of the longest live interview a representative from MOA management has yet given. And it wasn’t even that long: ten minutes and six seconds, according to the Almanac website. And about half of that was Tony Ross speaking. And within the space of those five minutes, I had to sort through Doug Kelley’s misrepresentations, weak excuses, non-answers, logical fallacies, a paragraph of complete gibberish…and I was even forced to email MPR to fact-check one of Mr. Kelley’s statements. That’s…not good.” Dear Mr. Kelley: please step it up. You’re not cutting it.
The Musicians’ Letter from Japan Get a box of Kleenex and read.
Some Historical Perspective Proof that we’ve been discussing the Minnesota Orchestra’s fiscal stability since before the Minnesota Orchestra was even formed. Also, I uncover a pretty cool link between The Song of the Lark and the Minneapolis Symphony.
What Can One Person Do? Feeling helpless? Don’t. Read this guest blog entry from Rolf Erdahl about concrete steps you can take right now to help end the lockout and restore orchestral music to the Twin Cities.
Invitations and Hearings and WCCO Reports, Oh My Here’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: on 6 December 2012, politicians reached out to the MOA and asked them to explain themselves, making five very specific requests.
Analysis of the MOA’s 12/21 Letter to the Legislature In which the MOA makes a wholly unsatisfactory reply to the legislature.
Review: Minnesota Orchestra in Bach and Beethoven, December 2012 Lockout Concert Number Two: a remarkable Ode to Joy.
Some Observations on Charts Incontrovertible evidence that the MOA manipulates charts to advance a preordained narrative.
SOTL on MPR Incontrovertible evidence that the MOA knows I and this blog exist.
Analysis of the MOA’s 1/2 Press Release Ahead of public hearings, I examine the MOA’s sudden change of heart over financial analyses and their possible motivations for making the lockout last until summer of 2013…or at the very least, as long as possible.
Some Economic Impacts Some economic impacts of the lockout. FYI, Minneapolis is losing millions of dollars thanks to all these cancelled performances. The MOA, however, is making out considerably better.
Minnesota Orchestra Sibelius Grammy Concert On 9 January 2013, longtime Orchestra supporter Judy Dayton and Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak invited the musicians and Osmo Vänskä to come together to celebrate the Orchestra’s Grammy nomination by mounting a public concert, in which all sides were asked to put down their rhetorical arms and agree to a one-night truce.
One Night for Art: An Open Letter to Michael Henson Surprise, surprise, I was underwhelmed – and angered – by the MOA’s tone-deaf response to the Rybak Dayton concert. I let off a bit of steam in this open letter.
Woods Bowman’s Amazing Article on Non-Profit Ethics Lots to think about here. What is an ethical non-profit? Is it one that follows the letter of the law, or one that goes above and beyond to be accountable to all stakeholders…including patrons?
My MPR Commentary. I wrote a commentary for Minnesota Public Radio on 15 January 2013, and you can read that here.
Transcriptions of testimonies at the 23 January 2013 Hearing for the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives
- Introduction from Rep. Atkins. “In Minnesota, as well as across the country, we’ve seen something akin to a flu epidemic, with the number of employee lockouts that have been occurring. It used to be a relatively infrequent occurrence. Now it seems to be becoming more and more frequent. So we’re going to learn a little bit about those.”
- Michael Henson’s testimony. “My family and I were drawn to Minnesota and to this great orchestra because of its outstanding reputation. Along with our board of directors, I see it as my duty to ensure the Minnesota Orchestra remains artistically excellent and financially solvent for the future.”
- Musician Doug Wright’s testimony. “It is becoming increasingly clear just how isolated our current leadership has become through these tactics. In a year-end list of most notables, the aforementioned New Yorker critic Alex Ross wrote, and I quote, ‘A special citation for Quickest Plunge from a Great Height is handily won by the management and governing board of the Minnesota Orchestra,’ end quote. This lockout is not only irreparably damaging the trust between this community and our organization, it is severely tarnishing our image throughout our own industry.”
- Orchestrate Excellence testimony. “We encourage management and musicians to end the lockout, to share the facts broadly and transparently, to engage in a productive dialogue, and to engage the broader community to begin to work together to build for the future.”
- SPCO and Save Our SPCO testimony. “We believe that the use of this lockout is an unfair and callous abuse of the trust the state has conferred on the SPCO as a non-profit entity.”
Rebuttal to Michael Henson’s Testimony, Part 1/2. “Mr. Henson believes that pre-planning deficits four years in advance so that your organization will be better positioned to secure millions in public and private money, as well as major concessions from musicians…without telling your stakeholders what you’re doing…while also raising tens of millions of dollars for a major campaign…is an ‘appropriate’ and ‘responsible’ way of maintaining ‘stability.’ Do you agree with him?”
Rebuttal to Michael Henson’s Testimony, Part 2/2. “Why, Mr. Henson, are you failing to provide us the product we’re clearly paying the Minnesota Orchestral Association to get? They’re getting the product in other cities. So why can’t you deliver it here?”
An Old Showcase and Some Censorship. Proof that once upon a time – in the halcyon days of 2008 – Michael Henson was eager to answer our questions. I wish he still would be! Also, I come to the depressing realization the MOA is censoring its Facebook wall, taking down the vast majority of anti-management comments, while still (bewilderingly) leaving some recent ones up.
Minnesota Orchestral Association Scam Alert. Just FYI, the Minnesota Orchestra is lying during its fundraising calls. Details here.
Business Cards for Locked Out Patrons. Business cards with web addresses to hand out to curious friends, family, and acquaintances.
Another Hearing and a Lockout Flier. On 9 February 2013 we got word that the Legacy Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives wanted to hold a hearing to discuss the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s use of state funds. When I announced that hearing on the blog, I also included a flier discussing the bare-bone facts of the lockout. Feel free to distribute that however you wish!
Transcriptions of testimonies at the 12 February 2013 Hearing for the Legacy Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives
- Michael Henson’s testimony, along with some questions from legislators. “Um, we have three income streams which are, uh, contributed revenue, which we continue to fundraise for. Uh, we have earned revenue, which is box office revenue, which, uh, we quite clearly are not collecting at the moment, and we are refunding any tickets that we have sold. And we are still reliant on, ah, the investment income from, uh, the endowment. Um, first of all, I want to say that we want to get the orchestra back to work as soon as poss – we want to negotiate a contract that is sustainable for this community with its generosity, and I think the – it’s balanced on two equations, the money that we haven’t actually taken, so obviously box office, and then the money, uh, that we haven’t paid – unfortunately – because of the lockout.”
- Musicians’ testimony. “The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra couldn’t be more grateful to the state for its tremendous support. It’s living up to this every day that challenges us to the level of excellence Minnesotans expect in the arts, and that we feel our state deserves. It gives us hope for the kind of thriving musical organization we think this state expects.”
- Orchestrate Excellence’s testimony. “We are an independent coalition of over one thousand community members, donors, concert-goers, and organizations giving voice to the economic, educational, and artistic repercussions of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout. New groups are joining each week, evidence of the deep impact the Minnesota Orchestra has had on the community and what we’re missing this year.”
- Legislators ask further questions of Michael Henson. “Uh, Madame Chair, Representative. Um, first of all, we are in a stage of negotiations that whatever the cuts that we actually finally agree, we’ve not agreed, as part of that negotiation process with, uh, the musicians – uh, we uh, have effectively frozen salaries across the administration, uh, for the, uh, last five years while the musicians received a nineteen percent increase. We’ve cut pension contributions by forty percent; we’ve laid off twenty percent of, uh, of the management, and medical costs, uh, cost the staff twenty-five percent more than they currently cost the musicians.”
Michael Henson on a Call-In Program! For no apparent reason, Michael Henson suddenly saw it fit broke his public silence about the Minnesota Orchestra situation. He and Tony Ross went toe-to-toe on MPR. Few questions, if any, were answered, but new ones were certainly raised.
I Answer Some Questions for Michael Henson. In the aftermath of Michael Henson’s rather disastrous testimony in front of the state legislature, I share some facts and figures to help them get a better picture of what exactly is going on at the Minnesota Orchestral Association (namely, brutal incompetence). If you’ve found this blog helpful, you may want to pass on any relevant points to your legislators.
Minnesota Orchestral Association Scam Alert, Part 2. Surprise! The Minnesota Orchestral Association is still scamming people and telling them false things! This time it’s that management has taken a 40% cut, which contradicts everything Michael Henson said this past week. If you’ve been the victim of one of these misleading calls, here’s a link to file a complaint with the state attorney general’s office.
Some Dorky Musings on Endowment Sizes and Base Salaries. We all agree that the Minnesota Orchestra needs to be sustainable. But when do we get to a point where the orchestra is so sustainable that we sacrifice quality? In this entry I meditate a bit on the relationship between orchestral endowment sizes and base salaries.
The MOA Can Afford To Play and Talk. A short entry in which I run some numbers and ask, “Why can’t the MOA play and talk?”
Putting Michael Henson Under the Microscope. Many people have asked me if Michael Henson has taken a 30-50% cut. Short answer: he hasn’t. Longer answer: read this entry.
What Michael Henson Doesn’t Want You To Read. A collection of quotes from outside observers, all of whom are stunned to see such a cultural tragedy unfolding in Minnesota.
Investment Income Excitement. Was the MOA’s endowment mismanaged during the recession? It’s tough to say, but I delve into the question here.
Audit Time On 7 March 2013 over 40% of the Minnesota state legislature wrote the state auditor, asking him if he’d consider auditing the organization about its use of public funds. More information here.
Orchestra Hall: Orchestra Optional, Part I. Here I begin a series of entries devoted to analyzing the Orchestra Hall portion of its website. Want a swanky place to hold your next holiday party? Hall might be just the ticket…
Musings on Marketing. How does an orchestra go from 65% capacity to 80% capacity, without any work? Easy: you embark on a $50 million renovation of your hall and rip out a couple hundred seats.
Detroit, Minnesota, and Funhouse Mirrors. Minnesota Orchestra management took its inspiration from the way Detroit Symphony management treated its employees and customers during the six-month-long strike. Here I compare the attitudes of the two organizations in-depth.
Mr. Henson Talks to MinnPost. In the wake of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra settlement, Michael Henson gave a rambly fact-challenged interview to MinnPost, that, much to everyone’s rage, included zero follow-up questions. Here I parse it sentence by sentence.
Balancing the Scales. Here I point out the MOA pulled the number they say they need to sustain current salaries completely out of their butts. There is no other orchestra that has the base salary / endowment size ratio they’re looking for besides Boston, and that’s because Boston has by far the largest endowment in the United States.
Review: Minnesota Orchestra Musicians, Bruckner and Mozart. My most popular entry to date, this is a review of what turned out to be Burt Hara’s last solo performance as principal clarinet with the Minnesota Orchestra. I was lucky enough to sit next to him after intermission and will treasure the memory forever.
Huh? Trying to figure out the MOA’s motivation for a “summer lineup” in 2013. It was all canceled anyway, so it’s a moot point.
The Minnesota Orchestra Thinks You’re All Idiots. The bankers at the MOA try to pull a fast one on the public by insinuating there has been no inflation over the last thirty years. Thank goodness, after this article and another one by musician supporter Scott Chamberlain was published that brought up this same point, the MOA removed that part of its website, but the insult still lingers.
MinnPost Editorial. I wrote a well-received editorial in MinnPost in late May, raising several important questions the MOA has refused to answer about financial projections, endowment size, and other numbery things. It was widely read, including, presumably, by the folks at the MOA and at least some of the board. None of them acknowledged the article or any of the questions therein.
Introducing the Young Musicians of Minnesota. Here I discuss the formation of a group of young people who are excited to support their heroes and teachers who are members of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Summary of Recent Negotiations at American Orchestras. What the title says. Hopefully the MOA’s absurd proposals are put into context here.
Picketing. I let folks know in an MPR segment that there will be picketing outside Hall if the conflict is not ended.
Notes on Richard Davis. Many people have wondered why lockout architect and US Bancorp CEO Richard Davis has been allowed by his colleagues to stay on the board. I try to answer that question here. One possible answer is very political and has to do with Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota Republican politics.
Young Musicians and Munchkins. Young Musicians of Minnesota played a concert of Tchaikovsky outside US Bancorp to protest Richard Davis’s involvement with the orchestra. That same day I found out that Richard Davis began his involvement with the performing arts playing a tap-dancing Munchkin who got paid $28,000 for two weeks’ work in a Christmas production of The Wizard of Oz. Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.
The MOA and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fundraising Email. In advance of the end of its fiscal year, the MOA made the decision to send out a fundraising email…
How SaveOurSymphony.org Was Named. In the summer of 2013, I made the shocking discovery that the Minnesota Orchestral Association was desperately trying to block the community from organizing on behalf of musicians…in May 2012, months before the lockout ever began. The purchase of several domain names prove it. Those of us with sick senses of humor call this little kerfuffle “DOMAINGATE.” Domaingate brought this blog widespread international attention, secured me a half-hour guest slot on WQXR, and served as a fabulous launching pad for audience advocacy group Save Our Symphony Minnesota. Thanks for the memories, MOA! Hope you enjoyed your lesson in unintended consequences…
Demaingate Reax. Here’s my reaction to all the reactions of Domaingate.
On “Patron Advocates”. On Labor Day 2013, various writers gathered together to contribute entries to the blogosphere in defiance of MOA President Michael Henson’s assertion that blogs are “senseless” and “must be ignored.” It ended up being quite a popular series! Here was my contribution, where I ranted and raved over how the MOA has left patrons out in the cold and refused to advocate for them.
Unveiling the Minnesota Orchestra’s Full Strategic Plan. Prepare to be blown away by its stupidity.
Idearaising. Here I put on my naive idealist cap and describe a future where even poor patrons are valued and appreciated for what they can bring to a performing arts organization. Crazy idea, I know, but we’re living in crazy times.
Prairie Fires. As Osmo’s resignation became more and more likely, I started turning an eye toward the post-Osmo era. This was my first musing on the topic.
Speech on Peavey Plaza. At the 2013 Symphony Ball, I had the honor of giving a speech on Peavey Plaza as millionaire donors dined within Orchestra Hall, musicians forbidden from entering. Lots of people wanted to read the text of the speech, so here it is.
2013 Symphony Ball. My impressions of the ball…from the outside. I also giggle at the hilarity of Michael Henson being locked out of Orchestraless Hall.
In Search of a Plausible Story. Lots of people want to know what the future holds. Here’s my best stab at prognosticating. The crazy thing is, I still have hope for the future. I’m not sure if I’m delusional or a visionary; at this point the pendulum could swing either way. In any case, the story isn’t over.
An Announcement. The announcement that, after a year, I’m getting tired of covering Campbell, Davis, and Henson’s mind-numbing stupidity. I will view them as irrelevant until somebody knocks some sense into them.
Michael Henson’s Massive Bonuses. Of course days after I deem Michael Henson irrelevant, word surfaces in the 990 that Michael Henson took home $202,500 in bonuses…in a single year. As his organization was supposedly facing fiscal calamity. Not sure if these folks can be any more cartoonishly inept, but…
Minnesota Orchestra Musicians in Wagner, Mozart, and Brahms. The most joyful concert of the lockout took place after everything had seemingly fallen apart. Go figure!
Happy Fun Exciting Hall Operations Analysis. In the fall of 2013, the City of Minneapolis became skeptical that the Minnesota Orchestral Association was holding up its end of its terms of the Orchestra Hall lease agreement. Documents were issued by the MOA to make the case it was. And lo, they provided great fodder for the blog…
- Part I: “So is the endowment available to cover deficits or not? What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate, and it’s a bit of a conundrum whose fault it is. The City of Minneapolis, for not digging deeper into the MOA’s financial plan and economic ideology? The MOA, for not being completely clear with the city that they were refusing to manage deficits with large endowment draws? Both? (Probably both.) (But more the MOA’s than the City’s.)”
- Part II: “Yeah, artists won’t cancel just because of the labor dispute and in solidarity. They’ll cancel ‘in response to anticipated pressure’ of the brutal hardball tactics of…Save Our Symphony Minnesota?”
- Part III: “Your strategic plan is no more. It’s dead. The last year killed it. Literally about half the things in there, if not more, are now impossible to achieve. So draw up a new plan. And do it right this time.”
Well. Lots of things churned behind-the-scenes late December 2013. The end result was that an agreement was reached in January 2014. And this is my dumbfounded first entry after hearing the news.
Minnesota Orchestra Predictions. My informal predictions of where the orchestra was headed in January 2014. As of June 2014, a lot of the predictions have come true. I’m not saying I can predict the future, but…I can predict the future.
The Osmo Question. Only one man could come back to finish Osmo’s job…and that man was Osmo. Here was my essay attempting to explain why we couldn’t settle for less than The Man Himself. And if it meant pushing Henson out, well…
Henson Out. His seven dimensional chess game over, Michael Henson eventually gave notice of his resignation from the Minnesota Orchestral Association, effective the end of summer of 2014. As I say in the entry: “I’ll be watching your career with ~great interest.~”
We Finnished It. My report from a historic night at Orchestra Hall in March 2014, when the audience came decked out in our loudest Finnish blue and white in an attempt to convince the Minnesota Orchestra board that we wanted Osmo Vänskä back on the podium. Happily, the right decision was eventually made, and Osmo ultimately returned. This entry ends:
Every single musician present in that beloved orchestra made a musical vow to every single audience member present in that unforgettable night:
No matter the tribulations — our great Minnesota Orchestra will survive.
The brass blared their final chords, and the promise was sealed.
Then came the last two notes, pizzicatos plinked out: