On May 4, 2013, a sixteen-year-old girl messaged me via my Facebook page:
Hello Emily, my name is Emily Green and I am a Young Musician of Minnesota looking to do something about this lockout! I currently am in MYS [Minnesota Youth Symphonies] and a few of us students are forming a large group of young musicians to make a powerful video in regards to the lockout. Would you be interested in joining us? (Your articles are amazing, by the way!)
And that was my introduction to YMM, a group of talented young people determined to support the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra during their 2012-14 lockout.
YMM outside Ted Mann Concert Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, summer 2014.
Over the last year, under Emily Green’s leadership, YMM has done a lot more than just shoot a powerful video. In their own words:
The Young Musicians of Minnesota (YMM) is a student-led and operated organization, consisting middle school through college graduate music students from across the state who have bound together to preserve and promote classical music throughout the state. YMM is entirely student-led, with students taking on roles such as conductor, orchestra manager, logistics advisor, concert event manager, and as performing musicians. YMM serves as a gateway to the professional music world, believing in offering students opportunities to challenge themselves, grow in their musical leadership and technical abilities, develop a greater appreciation for classical music, and work alongside professionals, all for NO COST. YMM members have held a presence in the community through filming our own YouTube video, participating in rallies, performing at the Minnesota State Fair, Orchestrate Excellence forums, our own youth orchestra concerts, chamber performances in the Orchestra Hall lobby, and as well as at We Day Minnesota 2013 (which is an educational event and movement of our time—a movement of young people leading local and global change).
Not bad for a teenager!
Yesterday was quite the day: the Young Musicians of Minnesota made metro-wide news.
Yeah, unbeknownst to the locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians, the Young Musicians of Minnesota brought their instruments to Nicollet Mall to play a concert of Tchaikovsky 4 in front of US Bancorp. Their mission? To send a message to Richard Davis to end the lockout of their mentors and heroes. YMM members deliberately didn’t tell the musicians what they were up to. I’m sure there are rumors floating around the upper floors of US Bancorp and Wells Fargo that those damn musicians put ’em up to it, but to believe that would be to succumb to the worst kind of cynicism. (Hear that, Minnesota Orchestral Association monitors? Good.) Sadly, Richard Davis didn’t acknowledge the crowd, nor did he send anyone down to say hello, but they did get an awful lot of attention on the Mall.
Some of YMM at the US Bancorp gig
I couldn’t be there, but I was tipped off about the show beforehand, and so I shooed some dedicated Twin Cities Larkers to downtown Minneapolis, and I heard a couple reports of how the afternoon went. Well it turns out there was press there, and US Bancorp couldn’t really do much about any of it except watch uneasily and talk to people on cell phones.
Consequently the following three videos aired last night on KSTP at 4:30, 6, and 10. Kudos to YMMer Emily Green, who has more composure in a major interview than any other teenager I’ve ever seen.
I did notice, though…. There’s something in the first video that got snipped out of the second two. See if you can spot it!
In case you’re wondering, I’m still alive. Just haven’t had much to say, since nobody else has much to say. One hopes some kind of negotiations are happening behind the scenes. Not holding my breath on that, though.
Nonetheless, I wanted to mention that the Young Musicians of Minnesota are giving a concert on Saturday July 27. All details here. The program includes the feisty, rebellious Beethoven Egmont Overture and Tchaikovsky 4, as well as Mahler’s Adagietto. They’re still looking for string players to help fill out the section. So if you’re a musician around 25 or younger (or know any musicians around 25 or younger), check out the details in the link. More concerts are in the works. Check out their Facebook page for updates.
Also, just a friendly reminder that when I’m too lazy to write full-fledged entries on the blog, you should visit me on Facebook, too. I usually post something there at least once every couple of days. You don’t need to sign up for Facebook to look at the page. Bookmark that and check it just as often as you check the blog. You’ll get all sorts of little snippets of news there, such as the blow-by-blow of the mini-battle in MinnPost that’s been going on between MOA HR director Esther Saarela and reality – Jon Campbell’s insights on leadership (hint: he followed exactly none of them during the lockout debacle) – and the date of the upcoming Symphony Ball!! (Yes, this is a thing, that exists.) (Yes, the card promoting it was mailed to at least one musician family. Can’t figure out if it’s malice or incompetence on behalf of the MOA.) (Yes, musician supporters really need to have an alternate ball ourselves.) (And yes I’ve already caught myself looking at various dresses, trying to decide what look might be most ironically glamorous while hitting the pavement to protest outside the hall during the event…should it come to that.) (MOA, trust me: you do not want it to come to that.)
And you are checking the musicians’ Facebook page every day, right? Good.
Don’t bother with following the MOA’s. The other day they did yet another sweep-through, deleting all patron wall posts from the time the lockout began to 21 June. And they still won’t respond to anything I or my readers ask, unless they don’t know they’re my readers. But remember…as the MOA’s email blast from a few months ago said: “Your feedback is enormously valuable to us.” …
For many centuries, authors have written about the imminent death of orchestral music. The topic takes on a special urgency during economic downturns, labor disputes, and times of societal upheaval. The cause of death varies. Nonetheless, a refrain emerges: young people are apathetic about the loss.
Young people, shown here in their natural state of not caring about orchestral music
The conventional wisdom goes something like this… We attended schools that didn’t offer the musical education our parents received. Most of us listen to a lot of music on a variety of devices rather than listening to it live. We text and Tweet, and therefore don’t have the attention span to devote to Mahler. We can’t remember a time when we could watch performances of orchestral music on the major networks. (Actually, most of us have difficulty imagining a time when the major networks were relevant…) We don’t have the money or the stability to commit to the subscription packages that make up the reliable core of an orchestra’s ticket revenue. We’re not always interested in traditional forms of delivery of orchestral music. We don’t go to as many concerts as we could or probably should.
All those points have a certain validity.