Tag Archives: St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

Transcription of Feb 12 Hearing, Part 4

Part 4 of the February 12 hearing…

Other websites have posted a transcription of the next portion of the hearing, so I won’t bother transcribing that myself…

Here is SPCO bassoonist Carole Mason Smith’s testimony over at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians’ website.

Here is Save Our SPCO chair Mariellen Jacobson’s testimony at SOSPCO’s website.

Both well worth reading! Fabulous job, ladies.

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Save Our SPCO’s Presentation to SPCO Management

While we await news from St. Paul…

Here’s a link to the PDF presentation that Save Our SPCO gave to St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Interim CEO Dobson West and various SPCO board members yesterday. I don’t really have much to say about it besides it’s absolutely fabulous, and I hope that eventually Minnesota management will agree to a similar kind of meeting with Orchestrate Excellence.

This should be a watershed moment in both these conflicts. Are Dobson West and Michael Henson more interested in actual problem-solving…or pouring gas onto the fires of their own ideologies? For too long, too many of us have feared they’re really more interested in the latter. But their responses to these passionate well-educated audience advocacy groups should let us know for certain.



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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 5: SPCO and SOSPCO Testimony

Here are links to testimonies given by Carole Mason Smith of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Mark Thoson and Sarah Nagle of Save Our SPCO.

And so concludes the transcriptions! I hope they were helpful to you in some capacity, regardless what “side” you’re on.

I’ll offer my thoughts…at some point. I’m not sure when. I’d like to let them percolate a bit first. In the meantime, what do you think?


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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 4: Orchestrate Excellence Testimony

This testimony was given by Laurie Greeno, co-chair of Orchestrate Excellence, in front of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives on 23 January 2013. Rep. Joe Atkins chaired. You can listen to Ms. Greeno’s testimony here. It begins at roughly 47:30.


LG: Chair Atkins, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, thank you for considering the impact of the lockouts on our communities and the state of Minnesota. I’m Laurie Greeno, co-chair of Orchestrate Excellence, an independent coalition of over a thousand community members, donors, and concertgoers. In the last few weeks, this group of concerned citizens has formed to give voice to the tremendous economic, educational, and artistic repercussions of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout.

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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 1: Rep Atkins’s Introduction

As just about everyone who has been following Orchestral Apocalypse ‘012-‘013 knows, the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives held a hearing on January 23rd in St. Paul to explore the impact of lockouts on our community. Everyone who was anyone was there: Minnesota Orchestral Association CEO Michael Henson! (this was a surprise; no one was expecting him) – Doug Wright from the musicians’ negotiating committee! – Carol Mason Smith representing the SPCO musicians! – representatives of Save Our SPCO! – representatives of Orchestrate Excellence! – heck, even Dobby was there! (although, rather bewilderingly, he chose to attend but apparently not to testify…? Odd.)

You can listen to and/or download the mp3 of the hearing here. Perhaps ironically for a musician, I absorb things better when I read them opposed to when I hear them, so I prepared a transcript of everyone’s remarks. I’m a fast typist and I had some spare time, so…yeah. I will devote one entry to each person’s testimony. I’m also planning a couple of entries devoted to analyzing what was all said (particularly by Mr. Henson), but those will come separately and later.

Rep. Joe Atkins, the chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, began the meeting with the following words.

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Hearing No 1: Date and Time

Many people have been asking when lawmakers will be holding hearings about the finances of the Minnesota Orchestra and/or St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Well, I have a concrete date for one hearing. This hearing will focus on the economic effect lockouts have had on the community. Here’s the press release describing it. It talks a lot about the NHL, but the Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO will be discussed as well…

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The Special Case of the SPCO

Well, on the heels of the disappointing cancellation of EVEN MORE CONCERTS at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, here’s an essay on the SPCO from SOTL reader Rolf Erdahl. You may remember him from his well-received guest-blog “What Can One Person Do?” (and if you have not read that already, I highly recommend you do so).


One of my favorite books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It imparts important ideas about understanding, taking responsibility, discovering inner beauty, and connecting with and caring for the people and world around us. The Little Prince has a single rose on his small planet, “unique in all the world,” which he cares for, protects from dangers, forges a bond with, and loves. He discovers his rose is ephemeral, which means “threatened by disappearance at an instant.” His subsequent actions are always colored by the responsibility he feels to protect and cherish his rose.

During his journeys, The Little Prince meets people who can only see the world through narrow, skewed prisms, highlighted by how they view the stars. He meets a King who can only relate them by ruling them, a Businessman who wallows in owning and counting them, and a Geographer who catalogs stars and planets, but never visits them.

The SPCO is “unique in all the world,” it has a special bond with its community, it is ephemeral, “threatened by disappearance at an instant,” and we all are entrusted with the responsibility of its nurture and preservation. We must perceive it without biased eyes, see this miraculous ensemble for what it is and can be, and protect and preserve it.

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Woods Bowman’s Amazing Article on Non-Profit Ethics

Here’s an article called “Nonprofit Accountability and Ethics: Rotting From the Head Down,” by Woods Bowman. I’ve heard snippets here and there since it was posted in October but didn’t actually sit down to read the whole thing until yesterday. This was a mistake on my part. Go read it now – go, go, go.

Here are selected passages and my reactions.

The article starts off:

Arguably, the public holds nonprofits to higher ethical standards than government or businesses. Over 25 percent of Americans report having “a lot” of confidence in charitable organizations compared to 9 percent for government and 7 percent for major corporations,1 but do nonprofits deserve that confidence?

Interest: piqued.

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Michael Henson’s Advent Calendar

Well, the two weeks of breathless anticipation have finally passed, and the First Annual (?) Song of the Lark Advent Calendar is now live on Tumblr!

Our primary theme this year is “Michael Henson’s Advent Calendar.” Our secondary theme is “a gaudy chintzy glitter-based aesthetic.” Our tertiary theme is “accountability to patrons and taxpayers.”

For more information on the project, visit


You can get all the sparkly details there. Watch me! In a jerky Youtube video! Adorned in a silky red shirt and a glittery garland! Yammering into a webcam for twelve whole minutes! While giving dramatic readings of three of the Christmas cards I sent this year! And showing off my holiday crafting project! And explaining for the unenlightened what an Advent calendar is, and how generally awesome they are! (There also may or may not be some Alex Ross fangirling.) (Spoiler alert: there’s Alex Ross fangirling.)

As the MOA is fond of saying, we all have a part to play! Jon Campbell, Richard Davis, Michael Henson, every reader of this blog. Let’s all come together in this celebration of the holiday spirit. Bookmark the calendar. Follow michaelhensonsadventcalendar on Tumblr. Check back daily. Answer my questions. It’s a veritable cornucopia of accountability! Yay!

If you have a memory or encouragement to share, you can email me it at songofthelarkchristmasproject [at] gmail.com. We still need more.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season.


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Two Approaches to Governance…indeed

I’ll just leave this here…

From the League of American Orchestras’ 2011 conference schedule

Two Approaches to Governance

The Minnesota Orchestra and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are both very successful institutions, offering strong programs to their communities in differentiated ways. Both are characterized by high-functioning boards, and, like their orchestras overall, their approaches to governance are distinct from one another. They exemplify two very different approaches to governance, and both styles are represented throughout our industry. This session will offer two views of governance, exploring what works about each, and what challenges and opportunities are embedded in each approach.

Michael Henson, president & CEO, Minnesota Orchestra; Jon Campbell, chair elect, Minnesota Orchestra; Sarah Lutman, president & managing director, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Dobson West, board chair, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

Moderator: Sally Sterling, consultant, Spencer Stuart

Pity time-travel isn’t possible. Because I’d love to attend this session and learn how high-functioning boards operate, and see what challenges and opportunities are embedded in each orchestra’s approach.

(The Minnesota Orchestra’s Michael Henson, president and CEO, and Osmo Vänskä, music director, invite you to join them at Conference 2011)

I see the “Minneapolis is easy to get around” talking point had its origins many months ago.


(And yes, I have some opinions on today’s rather explosive front page Strib story. But they’re not quite yet ready for public consumption. Hold your horses. In the meantime though I found this and thought, especially in light of today’s revelations, that it was…interesting, shall we say, in hindsight.)

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