Category Archives: Uncategorized

The MOA Discusses Financial Review

Some of you have asked what I know about the upcoming audit, financial review, fundraising feasibility review, etc., etc., etc. Truth is, I know nothing more than what appeared in this WCCO article…and now, an email from the MOA that a friend forwarded to me. She always passes MOA emails along because I still never get them (or letters, or phone calls), despite the fact my family’s account with the MOA is still active and all our contact info is complete and up-to-date. But whatever. Here’s the note, with some of my interjections:

Dear [Patron],

Next week will mark one full year since the Minnesota Orchestra and the Musicians’ Union began contract negotiations. Our Board put forward a contract proposal (pdf) on the first day of negotiations—in order to allow time for active debate—and 12 months later we have yet to receive a counter from the musicians. This is an unprecedented action by the Musicians’ Union. Across the nation, musicians at other orchestras have respectfully submitted counterproposals to their boards, even in challenging situations where they have been asked for significant concessions.

Editor’s Note: According to industry expert Drew McManus, a counterproposal isn’t a prerequisite for negotiations.

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Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra, Uncategorized

Another Lockout Concert!!

Today the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra announced that they’re having another lockout concert!

All the cool kids online use reaction gifs to express their joy whenever they hear good news, so here’s one I found:



Details here. Program is Bruckner and Mozart. Tickets go on sale Tuesday at noon!

Will you guys be there? Maybe we should meet up beforehand (or after). Shoot the breeze. Celebrate our connections with one another. Vent. Bond. It’s really really tough being a locked-out patron, and feeling so powerless. Might be a cathartic uplifting thing for those of us who are feeling ignored and disrespected by management. What do you guys say? Feel free to brainstorm here. Where might be a good place to meet up?

Hope to see you there!!


Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra, Uncategorized

Some Dorky Musings on Endowment Sizes And Base Salaries

I worked up some charts yesterday, both to gain insight into the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s math, and to prove (once again) that I am a massive nerd with absolutely no life whatsoever. I used numbers gleaned from Wikipedia’s list of the population of American metro areas, this list the Strib published of orchestra base salaries, and a chart the Minnesota musicians made about other orchestras’ endowment sizes.

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Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra, Uncategorized

Minnesota Orchestral Association Scam Alert, Part 2


This issue at the Minnesota Orchestra has been completely resolved. At one point during the 2012-2014 labor dispute, my readers were concerned at the accuracy of some of what was being said in fundraising calls; hence the title. But nowadays, thank goodness, we are all on the same page and working hard toward a common goal. So please please donate to the MOA when they call or via their website at! I have.


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Minnesota Orchestral Association Scam Alert


This issue at the Minnesota Orchestra has been completely resolved. At one point during the 2012-2014 labor dispute, my readers were concerned at the accuracy of some of what was being said in fundraising calls; hence the title. But nowadays, thank goodness, we are all on the same page and working hard toward a common goal. So please please donate to the MOA when they call or via their website at! I have.


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A Brief Word From On High

From Alex Ross, the god of music criticism

A special citation for Quickest Plunge from a Great Height goes to the management and governing board of the Minnesota Orchestra.

My dear dear dear Mr. Ross, on the off-chance you’re keeping an eye on this blog….

*waves vigorously*

I wouldn’t have entertained the idea of even dabbling in music journalism if I hadn’t read The Rest is Noise. You showed me what was possible. Thank you.

Any readers of mine who haven’t yet read it, pick – up – a – copy. It will entertain and inspire you throughout the lockout. Promise.


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Some Historical Perspective

A reader passed along this lovely vintage piece from the Minnesota Historical Society archives… It’s an excerpt from John K Sherman’s “Music and Maestros: The Story of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,” which was published in November of 1952. Highly recommended reading! I was so entertained that I live-blogged my reactions to it on Facebook this morning. I want you to read the whole thing yourself, so I won’t spoil anything for you, but here are a few of my initial observations:

  • We’ve been discussing the fiscal sustainability of the Minnesota Orchestra since before the Minnesota Orchestra was even formed.
  • Minneapolis has been an orchestral leader since 1900. We have a long proud history of excellence to guard and preserve.
  • The violist story in this article is one of the most entertaining performance mishaps that I’ve ever read about. Way to reinforce violist stereotypes, dear Joseph Frank!

The thing I really wanted to share with you, though, is this very cool mention of soprano Olive Fremstad:

The first performance of the new orchestra needed a big and costly name, preferably a singer’s name, as an ace-in-the-hole guarantee of its success and as lure for that sizable portion of the populace that might be more name-conscious than symphony-hungry. The orchestra’s backers were willing to spend five hundred dollars for such a name. Minneapolis’ own Olive Fremstad, who in the last three years had become the darling of European opera-goers, would have filled all specifications. But she was not available for the opening night and could only be engaged for a later appearance…

The sixth and final concert of the first season, on March 23, 1904, reverted to the International Auditorium. Olive Fremstad, absent from her home city for ten years and now laureled with success, was the soloist.

Olive Fremstad was an amazing woman, with an amazing life story. In fact, she had such an amazing life story that Willa Cather used it as the basis of a novel:

The Song of the Lark.

Is your mind blown?

I chose this name for the blog way back in May of 2011 because of the connotations with Cather (a well-respected music writer), the story of the novel itself (a small-town Midwestern girl of Scandinavian descent fulfilling her artistic ambitions), and Vaughan Williams’s Lark Ascending (one of the most famous pieces ever dedicated to a female violinist). But it turns out there’s a pretty remarkable Minnesota Orchestra connection in there, too! I am a nerd, and I think this is very cool.

On a related upbeat note, our Ode to Joy concerts are rapidly approaching! I’m coming to the Sunday show. If you see me, please say hello. Forgive me if I don’t recognize you, because I’m absolutely terrible with faces. I’d love to thank you in-person for coming along on this crazy journey.


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Congratulations to the Minnesota Orchestra for their Grammy nomination for their recording of Sibelius 2 and 5.

There is no elephant in the room here. At all. So move along, folks. Nothing to see here.


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SOTL Christmas Calendar Announcement, Redux

This entry is republished from November 17, in case you missed it then…


It’s beginning to sound suspiciously like Christmas out there. I heard Santa Baby at a store the other day. [shudder]

Why was this necessary?


It’s been a…wild year, to say the least. As a thank-you, I’m cooking up a little holiday surprise for everybody involved in the Orchestral Apocalypse. Oh, yes, you heard me right: everybody! We may not be able to agree on anything, but we all have a part to play in the First (Annual?) Song of the Lark Celebratory Advent Calendar!


The details are going to stay under wraps for a while longer, so try to contain your enthusiasm for just a couple more weeks. ;) I can pull the gist of it off myself, but I need your help to make it extra-special.

Here’s what I’d like you to do:

Write me a paragraph about your favorite 2012 Minnesota Orchestra or SPCO memory. Lockout concerts, protesting, meeting cool people, whatever. OR if you’d just like to send your encouragement to those affected by the Apocalypse (musicians or listeners), you can do that, too. Sign your full name, sign a nickname, sign an initial; doesn’t matter to me.

Send that paragraph of love and warmth and hope to songofthelarkchristmasproject[at], exchanging the [at] for an @, obviously.

Remember: follow the example of baby Jesus, and don’t be rude to anyone…or else your paragraph will end up in the trash bin.

If selected, your paragraph will appear on a virtual Advent calendar, to be published on Tumblr. (If you don’t know what a Tumblr is, here’s an example. They’re sort of like online scrapbooks. They are awesome. And they’re the perfect platform to publish virtual Advent calendars.)

The deadline to send your memory or encouragement is Thursday November 29 at noon.

So get writing, folks. And mark your calendar for December first, when the Advent calendar will be going live. More details later. Thanks for the support. xx

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Minnesota Orchestra Lockout Concert Announcement

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are now selling tickets for their lockout concert at the Minneapolis Convention Center on October 18 at 7:30pm. The program will consist of the Dvorak cello concerto with Tony Ross soloing (……his last time doing so with the orchestra? wouldn’t surprise me) and Shostakovich’s fifth symphony.

You can buy tickets here. They range in price from $15 to $40.

This promises to be one of the most unique shows in the orchestra’s 110-year history. So you should really come. Because we don’t know when we’ll hear the Minnesota Orchestra again. Or how much of the Minnesota Orchestra will still be the Minnesota Orchestra by the time this is all over.

A visual representation of how I’m feeling right now

Anyway. Yesterday I made reservations at a hotel near the convention center. Would any SOTL readers want to think about getting together briefly before the show? I don’t know where yet, or even if it would be feasible, but it would be interesting to get a head count of who would be interested in such a thing. If you want, I can email you at the address you use to comment here and we can try to arrange something. Otherwise we’ll try to say hi at intermission.

Love to my readers.



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