#1042 – Dick Bernard: Under Renovation: Two Flags, Two National Anthems, Two Nations, 56 years.

Here is the video we all saw at Orchestra Hall on Sunday afternoon (see below)
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Cuba flag at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis MN, July 5, 2015

Cuba flag at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis MN, July 5, 2015

July 1 found me heading east after a tiring three days in North Dakota. I stopped in Valley City, and decided to refresh by stopping at my alma mater, now Valley City State University, and walk around my campus from 1958-61 before getting back on the freeway. A major renovation of the old auditorium, in progress, which turned out to be accessible to this visitor, caught my eye.
Vangstad Auditorium under renovation, Valley City (ND) State University, July 1, 2015

Vangstad Auditorium under renovation, Valley City (ND) State University, July 1, 2015

Workmen happened to be testing lighting on the stage at the time I was there. Everything was a mess, as one would expect. One told me that their objective was to keep the auditorium appearance as it had always been. Back in my day, that auditorium was home for any college cultural event. I took photos, as I usually do, never expecting them to become relevant a few days later.
Then came Sunday morning, July 5.
Friend Bill Haring called and said they had two extra tickets to the performance of the the visiting Cuban group Coro Entrevoces, appearing with the Minnesota Orchestra*. Was I interested? No brainer. My wife couldn’t attend; so I asked if my granddaughter Kelly, who’s in chorus, would be interested. Sure enough, so off we went to what was an historic event, a real cross-cultural exchange between the U.S. and Cuba, brought about by a recent trip to Cuba by the Minnesota Orchestra back in May.
Core Entrevoces at Minnesota Orchestra Hall Minneapolis MN July 5, 2015

Core Entrevoces at Minnesota Orchestra Hall Minneapolis MN July 5, 2015

The performances, three sets by Coro Entrevoces interspersed with orchestral sets by the Minnesota Orchestra, was phenomenal, electric. During the performance I thought back to that recently visited auditorium in Valley City North Dakota. Back then, nearing the end of my college career in summer, 1961, a program called the Afro-Cuban Review came to the auditorium. It was written up in the college newspaper, the Viking News, on page one, and you can read the release here:
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Viking News, Valley City ND State Teachers College, July 5, 1961 page one
Remember, this was 1961, 56 years ago, and two years earlier revolution had brought Fidel Castro to power in Cuba. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion had happened a couple of months earlier. The Cuban Missile Crisis was down the road a year or so. We were in a war with our nearby neighbor. So, while the program was Afro-Cuban that day, there were no Cubans to be seen. One can never be too careful.
For 56 years that official animosity has continued. Now a welcome thaw is in progress.
We witnessed Sunday, and back in May, part of the beginning of a new relationship between two proud countries, the U.S. and Cuba. The diplomats: musicians and singers.
I’m a proud American, and have never been to Cuba, but the playing of the Cuban National Anthem with backdrop of the Cuban flag from the stage of Orchestra Hall was an emotional event for me, and I’d guess for others in the hall as well.
Yes, the Star Spangled Banner came first, equally rousing, but there was great symbolism present in Orchestra Hall on this pleasant day. It was good to see flags of peace on Sunday, rather than of war; anthems of pride complimenting, not condemning….
Friendship begins with engagement: you have to get to know a person as a person in person.
The same goes for countries. As a single citizen, I applaud what is happening now between Cuba and our country. And we need to continue similar rapprochements with other countries, Iran, North Korea, and on and on.
We are, after all, citizens of one planet, all of us on a single stage, depending on each other for survival.
U. S. Flag at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis MN July 5, 2015

U. S. Flag at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis MN July 5, 2015

* – The program notes can be viewed here: Core Entrevoces 7-5-15001

#965 – Dick Bernard: The Minnesota Orchestral Association Annual Meeting

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A brass quintet of orchestra members expertly closed out the public meeting.

A brass quintet of orchestra members expertly closed out the public meeting.

Pre-note, side comment, and recommendation: In light of current events it seems almost superfluous to write about a meeting of the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra. There is a great deal happening on the national scene, most recently the non-indictment of the policeman involved in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Ferguson, Mo and spreading unrest around injustice. And all signs suggest that the U.S. Congress will be even more dysfunctional and confrontational with President Obama in 2015 than it is now, attempting its own power play with no good ahead for our country.
We are a country at war within ourselves. Still, a few words about an Orchestra organization trying to heal after one of the worst lockouts in American labor history seems worthy of some time.
On the national scene, the best daily source I have found, (6 days a week), summarizing major contemporary national and international issues of the previous day and offering intelligent comment, is a blog called Just Above Sunset, published by a retired guy in Los Angeles, Alan, whose brief bio is at the end of each post. Today’s post is about the Eric Garner situation. Here, here, here and here are links to a couple of others. Subscription is free. It silently finds its way to my e-mail at about 2 a.m. most days. My personal bias is clearly articulated at right on this blog.
Personally, I’ve never been a quitter, though sometimes, like now, I feel whipped as an ordinary citizen. It is not a constructive attitute.
It was good to listen in on the Orchestra Board meeting Tuesday night, and maybe there is some hope. But as with everything, its up to me, and to you, to get anything useful accomplished.
The Minnesota Orchestral Association Annual Meeting Dec. 2, 2014.
Tuesday night I dropped in on the public meeting of the Minnesota Orchestral Association Board at Orchestra Hall. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a good summary of the one hour session which, apparently, included about 150 of us, only a couple who asked questions.
I came to listen, and took the photo at beginning of this post of a brass quintet of Orchestra members. For those interested, here is most of the 2014 Annual Report: MN Orch Ann Report 2014001
At Tuesday’s meeting, you would have to have been an “inside baseball” type to gather that between October, 2012, and February, 2014, there had been a bitter and near fatal dispute between the Orchestral Association and its Musicians, and ultimately, Music Director Osmo Vanska, with the Audience as unseen bit players off on the side somewhere, though I would guess that everyone of us in the room knew full-well what had transpired over that long period of time.
My “filing cabinet” of that dispute is here.
We are one of those ordinary people with more-than-ordinary interest in the short and long-term success of the Orchestra. For example, after the meeting, I met my daughter and 14 year old grandson, Ted, in the lobby. He’s a music guy at his high school, especially interested in Jazz, and I wanted them to have a chance to see Wynton Marsalis and Ensemble from Lincoln Center that same day, best tickets available. It will likely be a long-time memory for Ted.
My guess is that we’ll lay out about $1000 for assorted things at Orchestra Hall this first full season back – for us, it is affordable, but noticeable in our circumstances. There are endless other entreaties for contributions from other worthy agencies. The well is only so deep.
As I sat, listening Tuesday afternoon, I kept thinking that the real dilemma for the Orchestral Association Board is to truly come to understand who we in the seats, the audience, really are, and how we can best participate in the Orchestra’s long-term success.
And it will be a difficult task.

Those who are the Orchestral Association Board are, I would guess, from a very comfortable economic class, well connected in the upper echelons of business and society, and influential in their circles. Indeed, this is a main reason they are appointed to this board: they not only have a passion for the music, but have both money and access to other important sources of money and power. The rest of us (once well described to me by head of a major twin cities Charity as “the poor ones”) don’t bring enough “value added” to effectively serve on such a Board, much less be listened to.
So, the only “power” the general audience possesses is whether we enter the doors or not, and keep this magnificent institution, this legacy of past benefactors, in business. It behooves the people on the Board to know us very, very well, and to talk with and about us as equals – not an easy task.
“During the meeting, a point was made of some “anonymous” donor who contributed $10,000,000 in the last few months to the Orchestra Endowment. Simply stated, that is 10,000 times our paltry $1000.
The big money is very important, granted, but it is people like ourselves who must fill the seats long term, and who must choose where to spend our discretionary income (if we’re lucky enough to have that).
The way this Orchestra (and most similar large cultural institutions everywhere) are structured, the sole responsibility for understanding the common folks in the seats rests with the uncommon folks who sit on the Orchestra Board and cannot really understand less privileged realities. And that $10,000,000 donor on any given night can occupy only a single seat as can I….
Put another way: Money most certainly talks, but that doesn’t mean it understands; to paraphrase the liquor ad, “with great privilege comes great responsibility”….
Understanding those of us come to the hall will help bring long term success. Without such understanding, long term recovery will be difficult.

Grandson Ted at right, Grandson and Ted/s cousin, baseball guy Parker, at center, Nov 29, 2014.  Both Ted and Parker's Moms were good at piano.

Grandson Ted at right, Grandson and Ted/s cousin, baseball guy Parker, at center, Nov 29, 2014. Both Ted and Parker’s Moms were good at piano.

#942 – Dick Bernard: Another delightful night at the Minnesota Orchestra.

We went to our subscription season opener on Saturday evening, and it was, as always, a delightful experience.
Andrew Litton conducted a program of Richard Strauss: Don Quixote: Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character; Salome’s Dance (Dance of the Seven Veils); Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.
It was a marvelous, fun program.
Through the program I kept thinking of a bookend someone gave me once, that sort of reminds me of Don Quixote, for some odd reason. Here it is (yes, it badly needs a dusting):
We’ve now been to several performances of the Minnesota Orchestra post-lockout (the lockout began two years ago, September 30, 2012, and ended in early February, 2014.) We’re glad to be back, and the people we see seem to be so as well.
Lurking not far in the background, reasonably, is the long impasse. But we’re moving on, it seems.
These days, I have begun to make sure I look at every page of the program booklet, just to make sure I don’t miss anything.
In Saturdays Showcase, for Sep-Nov, 2014, came a most interesting article, “a continuum of contributions”. You can read it here: MN Orchestra Oct 2014001. It speaks for itself.
Doubtless much effort and edit and review and revision went into the article. One can look for what is said, and what isn’t, and in what order of emphasis (which is as meaningfilled as the text itself)
I felt it a reasonable representation of the current reality.
One wonders, however, how the gap between the $10 million anonymous donor, and the equally anonymous $1 donor, will be bridged.
Money talks, the more money, the more the listening.
But the small folks are now, as before “the franchise” that is the Minnesota Orchestra. None of these folks are on anyone’s address book, but in the long run they will make all the difference.
As for us, we’re glad we’re back, and looking forward to a great season ahead. Yes, I’m a Guarantor (I think about $500 worth over my career). Nonetheless, we’re invited to a special performance led by Osmo Vanska next weekend. Quite likely we’ll go….
Nice touch.

#887 – Dick Bernard: "What's up, Doc?" Warner Brothers Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

NOTE: The “Filing Cabinet” for items regarding the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout, including far more than past posts, can be found here. Supplements to the below post can be found at May 25, 2014, at the end of the Filing Cabinet.
Feb 14, 2014, very shortly after the lock-out ended, I wrote a brief e-mail to ticketing at the Minnesota Orchestra: “We are ticketed for Saturday evening Feb 15, but cannot attend due to a family funeral in ND on the same day.” A most gracious ticketing representative wrote back: “I am sorry for your loss. This concert was a non-exchangeable purchase, but I made an exception due to the circumstances. I have placed the value ($120) of the tickets onto an exchange voucher for you to use for a future performance.”
We looked at the options, and decided that “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II” sounded like fun.
Thus, last night found us at a packed Orchestra Hall with the real maestro, ever self-assured Bugs Bunny, assisted by on-stage stand-in Maestro George Daugherty.
I cannot imagine a more enjoyable evening. The entire program is here: Bugs Bunny MN Orchestra001 (The usual prohibition on photography, etc., was not recited, thus the couple of photos (sans flash) which appear below.)
If Bugs Bunny comes to your town, see him!
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May 24, 2014, Orchestra Hall, Bugs at the Podium.

May 24, 2014, Orchestra Hall, Bugs at the Podium.

It’s a fools errand to try to summarize Bugs Bunny and ensemble, including a magnificent Minnesota Orchestra filling in for the Hollywood Studio Orchestras so common in the olden days in which Bugs Bunny and his many colleagues came to be well known. Competitors like the Roadrunner, Elmer Fudd and many others shared the screen at one time or another in the evening.
It brought me back to the now old days. In my childhood we very rarely saw a movie, but when we did, the 7 or so minute cartoon was always part of the preliminaries. Over 50 years ago, in college, I spent a year and a half as doorman and assistant manager at the Omwick Theatre in Valley City ND, so saw at least bits and pieces of many cartoons from that era.
The Orchestra music was snuck in on unsuspecting younguns back then, and what a delightful fallout it had. Who in my age range doesn’t remember The Lone Ranger theme from the William Tell Overture?
Creator/Conductor George Daugherty gave extended comments at two points in the concert. Our mostly adult audience was heavily laced with kids, and we were all having fun, but he said we were no match for a packed house of elementary school kids on Friday afternoon.
We’re still very early in the healing time from the 488 day lockout of the Orchestra, just ended Feb. 1, 2014, so that was on my mind too. Back in January, we were faced with the possibility of a permanent parallel season funded by the members of the Orchestra itself. A full line-up of stellar concerts were planned. Last nights program booklet was a clue that Bugs Bunny had been scheduled as an alternative concert before the lockout ended. It is not the usual Showcase edition we now receive; rather the more simple booklet we received during the lockout concerts.
Maestro Daugherty was effusive in his praise of the musicians on stage with him, and presented to them a print by Chuck Jones, the animator and director who built the Bugs, etc. empire.
In his bio (linked above), Jones recalled the power of children imagination: “Jones often recalled a small child who, when told that Jones drew Bugs Bunny, replied: “He doesn’t draw Bugs Bunny. He draws pictures of Bugs Bunny.” His point was that the child thought of the character as being alive and believable, which was, in Jones’ belief, the key to true character animation.”
Later in his life, Jones created paintings of his characters which are now in the Smithsonian Institution. One of them became a limited edition print, and at his appearance in Minneapolis, a print was presented to the members of the Orchestra for hanging in their break room.
It was a neat touch.
I’ve been an activist in the Orchestra situation since it began so long ago, and I recall an early on comment by a retired band and orchestra director in a Twin Cities public school, lamenting the diminished attention to the Arts. She said this June 21, 2013: “As a retired … music teacher, I am aware of the cuts to grades K-12 vocal and instrumental music, that started about 1980. As public schools eliminated music classes, so disappeared the process necessary to build an audience base-development for the MN Orch. If instrumental music is reinstated in grades K-12, today, it will still take 20 years to rebuild the arts tourism community that will purchases season tickets to the MN Orch.”
In so many ways, kids are the future.
Presentation of the Chuck Jones art work to the Minnesota Orchestra musicians May 24, 2014

Presentation of the Chuck Jones art work to the Minnesota Orchestra musicians May 24, 2014

POSTNOTE: Todays Minneapolis Star Tribune carries an interesting perspective by Bonnie Blodgett: Diminuendo: the dying sound of stewardship among the ruling class.
Earlier this week I was at the ancestral farm in North Dakota, a place now going to seed because its occupants have all passed on, save my Uncle, who is now in a Nursing Home and will no longer make his frequent trips to the home place. I brought back a couple of boxes of photo albums, just for inventory and safety purposes, and in the same closet found in a ramshackle weather-beaten case the Clarinet my Uncle once learned how to play as a youngster. In the same collection was a newspaper column sent from my Uncle’s older sister, Mary, dated June 17, 2002: Cousin, Violin maker001 Carl, the subject of the article, played Grandpa’s fiddle with much feeling and expertise at a family reunion over 20 years ago.
My family, like most, is not one of substantial means; like only some, however, it has a very strong musical tradition.
The wealthy, who seem to run things (including into the ground), and are more dominant than ever, need to pay close attention to their real “base”, which is people like us.
from Shirley L, May 25:
A delightful report about a wonderful experience! We all need a little Disney in our lives now and then. Thanks!

#880 – Dick Bernard: A Magic Afternoon with Minnesota Orchestra at Northrop Auditorium

Today, May 4, is my birthday. We attended a long anticipated performance of the Minnesota Orchestra at the newly renovated Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota.
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If you were actually at the concerts on Friday or Sunday, I’d be delighted to add your comments.
The Minnesota Orchestra “filing cabinet” is here.

Northrop Auditorium University of MN May 4, 2014

Northrop Auditorium University of MN May 4, 2014

The Program was identical to the program of the inaugural concert October 22, 1929. For 40 years thereafter, Northrop was home to what was then called the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. so in a real sense this was a homecoming. Here is the program, very interesting in itself: MN Orch Northrop My 4 14001 A bit more about the program, etc., here, here. Take a moment to read the wikipedia entries there.
We thought the presentation was superb; I’ve looked for evidence that this might be archived, but nothing so far. This was one of the “lock-out” concerts, sold out many months ago. Probably those of us lucky enough to attend will have to be custodians of the memory of what actually happened within the hall: the cannon sounds shaking the seats; the combined choirs of the University of Minnesota; the UofM Marching Band; the encore which brought tears to my eyes, even though I’m not a UofM alumna. Of course, the Minnesota Orchestro, maestro Vanska, and pianist William Wolfram too.
It was a memorable afternoon
The renovation of Northrop was well done; the acoustics very good. We were in the second balcony, sightlines excellent. The essence of the massive structure – its character – was retained; the many deficits of over 80 years corrected.After the final number I took this picture from my seat:
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Mn Orch, May 4, 2014, Northrop Auditorium

Mn Orch, May 4, 2014, Northrop Auditorium

There are times when an event is much, much more than the sum of its parts.
It was a nice sunny cool day in Minneapolis, perhaps about 60 degrees at show time, so we could take our time walking to the hall, and sit enjoying the sun on the plaza.
We passed a bunch of college kids playing some weird kind of team game, sort of like football, using some balls sort of like basketballs, running back and forth with what seemed like plastic pipe between their legs. At each end were what appeared to be three hoops on sticks – like goals.
What in the world…?
John, the library guy, the youngest of the four of us, said quite matter of factly: that’s Quidditch, ever seen a Harry Potter movie? Indeed, Quidditch….
So, we went from the world of imagination revered by kids of all ages – Harry Potter – to the pieces-de-resistance of classical music remembering significant pieces of the 1800s in America and Russia inside a revered Northrop Auditorium.
What an afternoon!
Quidditch, outside Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota, May 4, 2014

Quidditch, outside Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota, May 4, 2014

What a day….
from Shirley L, May 5: Hurrah!
from Dick May 5:
Tschaikovsky’s signature 1812 Overture, the highlight of the concert, is about the Russian defeat of the French in the year 1812: a victory in war. So it was ironic to see the main headline in today’s paper: “Mayhem wracks Ukraine Seaport” and, for me, to read about the “spread of the violence to Odessa”.
On Saturday I got a birthday card from our friend, Sandy, whose ancestors, Jews, came with other Germans from Odessa to North Dakota in the early 1900s settling in the long-disappeared southwest North Dakota town of Odessa (between New Leipzig and Mott). I believe her given name was Odessa.
We came to know Sandy and others when 40 of we Christians and Jews traveled together to visit sites of the Holocaust, and on my 60th birthday on May 4, 2000, I was honored, along with the youngest member of our group, Sandy’s grandson, Ben, to light a candle in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, near the ruins of the ovens at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
That time at Birkenau on a pleasant Spring day was one of the most powerful moments of my life.
In her note, Sandy “realized [on that trip that] my generation in Germany and the other countries was completely decimated.”
Her note added considerably to my listening to the 1812 Overture.
Our generation must deal with our inhumanity towards others. The practice of War is at the point where we will destroy our future.
from David T, May 5: It’s great that the University and the state decided to rehab Northrup. Back in the late sixties, when I was a U of M student I worked part time as a school bus driver. Getting charter gigs was always great in that it brought in extra cash and often took me to interesting venues. One of the easiest trips to get was “concert patrons.” We’d pick up Minneapolis Symphony (as it was then called) concert goers (or “oldies” as the college-age drivers referred to them) at various restaurants and clubs around the metro and drive them over to Northrup. They had a spot to park the buses and the drivers (still on the clock) were free to do whatever. Usually, once the concert started I could slink into the hall and find an empty seat in the upper reaches of Northrup. Getting paid to listen to a great orchestra was pretty cool. I really thought Northrup was a terrific place. In fact, it’s where I established my claim to have slept with thousands of women as a college student. Psych. 1 was held in Northrup, on TV, at 8:00 am. Many times after a bit too much partying, er, studying, I’d doze off during one of the lectures surrounded by thousands of coeds. Hence, my claim was established.
from Michelle W, May 5: Hi Dick! Happy Belated Birthday! I was waving away at you at the concert, but you didn’t see me 🙂 I was on the same mezzanine level with you, with my mom, but house left.
Indeed, the concert was superb! I graduated in Northrup in 1987, and our commencement speaker was US Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder – remember her?? I also saw the B-52s there, back in the day 🙂
I also sang in the UM Symphonic Chorus during college, and my daughter Libby plays in the UM Marching Band. So…many emotions and memories. I could hardly breathe during the 1812 Overture – the wall of sound was unbelievable and completely intense. Reminded me of how I often felt when singing with the MN Orchestra back in college – immersed in wonderful music!
Add to the music a spectacular sunny day and wow – it was a winner!
I thought the Northrup remodel was very well done. Glad they kept the original entry foyer and love all the new lounges for sitting about before and at intermission. Excellent idea. The only misstep in the redesign, I would have to admit, are the mezzanine sight lines. We were first balcony, house left, and really the entire lefts and rights in the balconies have obstructed views, which is too bad for a concert like last night. So I would advise people to sit orchestra or mezzanine center for full stage views. Wonderful afternoon – birthday hugs Dick! (you can post this wherever!)
from Madeline S: a pre-concert op ed she saw in the Mpls Star Tribune.

#842 – Dick Bernard: An Evening with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall; and watching a family wind down….

The “filing cabinet” on the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout is here.
Thursday, February 11, 2014
We attended the first post-Lock Out Concert at Orchestra Hall on February 8, 2014. This was an evening of immense emotional energy, with the Orchestra led by the father of Orchestra Hall, Maestro-Emeritus Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. The entire program, eight pages, is here:MN Orch Feb 7-8 2014002 This concert, and the one to follow this weekend (we attend on Feb. 15) seem to be “bridge” concerts between the 488 day Lock Out and a to-be determined future of this “family”, which is the Orchestra Management (MOA), the Orchestra itself (including the Conductor), and we in the Audience.
The Minnesota Orchestra is the essence of the perfection of a team sport: excellent players, outstanding conductor and an engaged audience make the team. The team was cooking on Saturday night.
On Feb. 8 all was in resonance.
I hope the good feelings continue, but….
I didn’t write immediately after the concert as the last three days have been devoted to family matters in ND. My Aunt is, as I write, near death in a fine nursing home. She is 93. In the next room is her 89 year old brother. Neither ever married. They are the last living members of Grandma and Grandpa’s family of 9.
There’s was a musical family, as country families often were. Their Dad was a school-trained fiddler and had a small band for local dances. To this day, Vincent is an excellent singer. Many of the kids and descendants of my grandparents are musical.
For their entire lives until 2006 Vince and Edith lived and worked together on the pioneer farm built by their parents, and when heart problems ended the farm career for my Uncle in 2006, they moved into Assisted Living, and then into the Nursing Home in nearby LaMoure ND. [Note 9:20 a.m. Feb 12: Aunt Edith passed away at 1:05 a.m. The funeral is Saturday. We’ll have to miss the Saturday concert, 5th row center. Anyone interested in the tickets at cost? Inquiries welcome. dick_bernardATmeDOTcom.]
My Uncle and Aunt are very familiar people to me. Often I would spend a week or more at the farm in the summer, helping out with whatever.
They were like all families: connected, yet disconnected. They had different personalities and different skills and different interests. They had their resonances and dissonances.
In other words, they were like the rest of us, regardless of what relationship we might have with some significant other.
With all the magnificence of the evening inside the hall on Saturday night, my thoughts following the concert have more focused on what recovery from the long lockout will ultimately look like for the big “family” that is the Minnesota Orchestra community.
Most of us with any seniority in living a life in any “community”, be it marriage, employment, brother and sister (like Vince and Edith) etc., etc., have at one time or another experienced peaks and valleys. I don’t need to be specific. Think of some instance where you, personally, experienced some huge hurt, followed at some point, and for some reason, by reconciliation.
The reconciliation is its own temporary “high”.
But it is a very temporary high; and to maintain and rebuild and improve requires a huge amount of work and compromise by all parties to have any sense of permanence at all.
So it is going to be with the three-legged stool that is the Minnesota Orchestra: the musicians/conductor, the management, the audience.
If last weekend, and the coming one, are considered to be the end of the past, everyone is sadly mistaken. They are only the beginning of the beginning of a new era with the Orchestra, and everyone will be on edge as this progresses…or not.
There can be no “business as usual” if this enterprise is to succeed long term.

In Saturdays program booklet, I was most interested in the words on the “Welcome” page (page two), pretty obviously written by committee consensus, and I read with even more interest page seven, about Beethoven’s Eroica. Whoever chose Eroica to highlight the first concert back in Orchestra Hall probably chose this work intentionally. Read especially the second paragraph of the descriptor, and the last.
The power of the Minnesota Orchestra to come is going to depend on a true spirit of working together by all three legs of the stool: orchestra, management, audience.
We’ll see how it goes.
And Peace and Best Wishes to Aunt Edith, and to Uncle Vince, in this time of transition for them both.
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Uncle Vince "fiddles" with his Dad's farmhouse fiddle, Oct 1992.  Grandpa had a country band and learned violin by use of sheet music.

Uncle Vince “fiddles” with his Dad’s farmhouse fiddle, Oct 1992. Grandpa had a country band and learned violin by use of sheet music.

Aunt Edith's flowers August 1994

Aunt Edith’s flowers August 1994

The Busch family 1927 "PIE-ann-o" (Vincents pronunctiation) August 1998

The Busch family 1927 “PIE-ann-o” (Vincents pronunctiation) August 1998

Aunt Edith August 4, 1989, in the old farm house.  She is at peace: July 20, 1920 - February 12, 2014.

Aunt Edith August 4, 1989, in the old farm house. She is at peace: July 20, 1920 – February 12, 2014.

#812 – Dick Bernard: The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra "Christmas Party"

The Musicians Website: here
The “filing cabinet” for all previous posts about the Orchestra Lock-Out here.
Sunday, we attended “A Tschaikovsky Spectacular, Eiji Oue Returns with Jon Kimura Parker, piano and the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra” at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium. Here is the entire program for this marvelous event: Mn Orch Dec 15 13001
At the conclusion of the afternoon, I tried to “catch” Maestro Oue at 1/30 of a second with my camera.
Such a feat was impossible. This was the best I could do:
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Maestro Oue recognizes the musicians at the conclusion of the program Dec. 15, 2013

Maestro Oue recognizes the musicians at the conclusion of the program Dec. 15, 2013

Reflecting on that poor photograph, it probably catches the exuberance of the moment and, indeed, of the concert itself.
Maestro Oue was glad to be back in Minneapolis and Minnesota, visiting from the Orchestra he currently leads, the Barcelona Symphony in Spain, and the Orchestra was in great form.
Words tend to get in the way of the feelings of yesterday afternoon.
At one point, I was remembering the first “Locked Out” concert, in the exact same auditorium of the Minneapolis Civic Center, October 18, 2012.
That date seemed so long ago and far away. Then, near 14 months ago, I think all of us thought this absurd Lock Out would quickly be resolved and the season would resume soon, but it continues, with no end in sight.
For a moment, yesterday, I thought of titling this post, “A Concert by an Orchestra in Exile”, but that isn’t accurate: the Prisoner, now, is the entire Board of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, bunkered down in their fancy, newly renovated Orchestra Hall three blocks from where we were sitting, watching their beloved Pot of Money supposedly to guarantee the unknown future.
Perhaps, I thought, the Board had, rather than locking their orchestra out, locked themselves out, the end game as yet unknown. The band plays on….
At the end of intermission, Principal Cellist and Negotiator Tony Ross, rose to give what has become a customary report on where things stand at the moment, including the schedule of programs for the winter and spring, 2014: Mn Orch Wr-Spr 2013001
He noted that attempts to reach a path of resolution are ongoing, and every day something happens, much (as he said, “thank god”,) not appearing in the media.
Towards the end of his talk Tony said that Maestro Oue had asked him to stop by his dressing room before the previous evenings concert, and, he noted, that such appointments are seldom relished by musicians, who steel themselves to be reminded of some sour note or other…like being called into the Principals office!
This time, though, the meeting was different. Maestro Oue had a gold bracelet, given to and worn by Barcelona’s own Pablo Casals over 50 years ago at a White House concert. Casals daughter had (I seem to recall) given Oue the bracelet as a gift. The Maestro, in turn, loaned the bracelet to Tony Ross for the concert: a charm for the performances. Tony brought the bracelet out of his pocket for all of us to see. It was a magic, totally unexpected, moment, in a magic afternoon.
I wondered, as I have wondered before, where the exalted Orchestra Board would be now if they had decided, some years ago, to have intermission visits with we in the audience about their supposed financial plight, rather than doing their best to keep their real plans a secret from us in those crucial recent years.
But this would presume that they had an interest in saving their world-class orchestra, rather than replacing it with unknown fancies of their privileged imaginations.
The last chapter of this conflict is not yet written, and I am hoping that Tony’s suggestion that there are back-channel and serious talks going on between Orchestra negotiators and the Board is not a fantasy of mine. As witnessed by upcoming programs, the titans of the music world are wanting to come here, and perform with the Locked Out Musicians.
We have a treasure worth keeping; and these Orchestra members who are now doing double and triple duty, only one part of which is making beautiful music, are to be commended.
Play on!
And, audience members, contribute and support in all the many ways that you can, the restoration of this beloved Orchestra as an icon of this community.
Maestro Oue caught at a reasonably quiet instant at the conclusion of the concert Dec 15

Maestro Oue caught at a reasonably quiet instant at the conclusion of the concert Dec 15

Comment from Jim F. Dec 16:
Sorry, Dick, but I think the musicians themselves have condemned themselves to failure. their last missive, at that meeting, said they are committed to working it out with the present board and getting back to work under that same leadership.
It will not happen. Will not. Will not.
The orchestra itself could be saved, but only if they recognize that fact — that there is no possibility of continuing a first-rate orchestra under that board and that leadership. That board and those leaders will accept nothing other than unconditional surrender, and failure to recognize that and to turn away from that leadership means the orchestra as we know it will die. Or has died.
It’s part of a syndrome that has overtaken the people of this country and is taking the entire country down. It is the belief that nothing can be done without the leadership and approval of the very rich rich. The whole damned population has become dependent on them, is paralyzed without their approval. “Oh, no. We can’t do anything without them.”
from Charles A, Dec 16:
Good morning Dick,
The view here is the the MOA [Minnesota Orchestral Association] and Mr. Henson have encountered a resistance stronger then they anticipated. This resistance might be an immovable force in the form of a musicians union. I have only encountered one published piece that addressed the broad union influence, but I think that it certainly deserves more attention.
I do not think that the MOA truly understood the collective and broad reaching influence of this form of labor organization. In this case, the union is not just a local seeking a contract, but a national and international organization representing artists world-wide.
Because of this lock-out, and until an agreement is reached …
… There will never be a union musician on the Orchestra Hall stage. This “never” includes jazz, Broadway, classical, international soloists and free lance musicians.
… Starting another MOA sponsored orchestra would not be possible should the current ensemble be disbanded. Any young and promising classical musician that would play for such an ensemble would be forever black-listed in a traditional hiring process elsewhere.
As the struggle has continued, this unexpected union presence has brought, and will continue to bring pressure on the MOA, and their ability to meaningfully sustain the newly renovated Orchestra Hall.
It is in this way as audience members that our support of the musicians is a major influence. Selling out their “indie series” concerts is a must!
Thank you for your continued comments and support.
a satirical piece from someone who wishes to go by “a Friend”, Dec 16:
A Satire (probably) (we hope)
Today, the Orchestral Association Management and Board responded to concerns of City Hall that they are not fulfilling their obligations to provide cultural programming per promises made when they successfully petitioned for a multi-million dollar bonding bill to renovate the Hall.
After months of locking out the professional Orchestra musicians because unionized labor would not agree to proposed radical artistic changes plus 30% salary cuts, Management announced a contract with a new orchestra. The Alt Kuhschwanz High School Band is eager to begin what will be a short season on January 10th and 11th. This breakthrough will allow music fans to hear the music they love once again! For their inaugural concert, the musicians are preparing a program made up entirely of the works of John Phillip Sousa, the respected American composer.
The Mayor and the City Council of Alt Kuhschwantz, a farming community in the Red River Valley, enthusiastically joined their School Board in supporting the offer to the High School Music Department. In a show of civic pride, the Council committed pay the Band’s school bus expenses for transportation to the Metro area for the entire concert season.
Rumors continue to swirl around the selection of the Alt Kuhschwanz musicians. Some critics wonder why a contract was not offered to one of the larger high schools or community colleges in the Greater Metropolitan Area–perhaps one with a music department large enough to support an orchestra, or perhaps one which had actually won some awards in the recent past.
In response, online social media sites indicate that directors of several orchestras from metropolitan high schools were, in fact, approached about possible contracts. However, deals fell through when directors insisted that they retain artistic control of the programs, rather than leave selection of music to the current Orchestral Association Management. In a Q & A on its website, Management stated, “We’ve already made that mistake with the previous Orchestra. We will design our own concerts to maintain our current audience, and to reach out to younger groups as well. Of course, maintaining artistic integrity is absolutely paramount. It’s the core of our commitment to our community, our patrons, and especially our donors. Our upcoming schedule and reset business model will also assure our return to a positive revenue stream.”
The January concerts will be followed by 4 more performances: February (Music of Rent), March (Miley Cyrus and Friends), April (Prince: A Retrospective), and April (Rap and Hip-Hop: Their Roots in the Baroque Tradition). Concert dates will be announced on New Year’s Day. Barring complications, a full 2014-2015 season is also foreseen.
The Orchestral Association Board has strongly endorsed Management’s solution to the ongoing, sometimes acrimonious impasse. “The money we save on travel, instrument maintenance, full-page newspaper ads of justifications, and soloists will easily allow us to schedule another season, beginning in September,” stated their spokesperson. Management and the Alt Kuhschwantz Band are already soliciting ideas for concert themes.
The Orchestra’s website has information regarding tickets, donating, or suggesting a theme for a 2014-15 concert. Photos & bios of the Alt Kuhschwanz young musicians will be posted soon.
from Maryann G of Save Our Symphony MN, Dec 16:
Thanks Dick. A wonderful, beautiful blog post. We will be posting your blog about the concert on our SOSMN FB page today. Thanks again.
from Andrena G, Dec 16: Wasn’t certain if you knew about this gig tonight.
from David T, Dec 16, re Andrena’s comment, etc: We were at the Dakota last night and the guy who introduced last night’s group was really talking up Peter Kogan. I’ve heard that one of the things that makes the Twin Cities a desirable place for classical musicians in the SPCO, the Minnesota Orchestra as well as other smaller classical ensembles is the opportunities to play other styles of music. Also, there are a lot of commercial opportunities due to the area’s advertising firms.
You just wonder how the whole Minnesota Orchestra thing is going to shake out. Clearly, a big step forward would be for the head of the association to step aside. He’s become the symbol of intransigence. You’d think he’d want to avoid becoming known as the guy who helped kill the orchestra.

#804 – Dick Bernard: SOS Mn (Save Our Symphony MN) speaks out on day 415 of the Lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Roughly 100 of us attended a most interesting and informative presentation earlier this evening.
Presenters were from the recently formed organization SOS MN, Save Our Symphony MN. Mariellen Jacobson, MBA, Treasurer, and Johnathan Eisenberg, JD, Vice Chair presented a well produced power point presentation “The MOA Debacle: Unlocking the Truth”.
The entire presentation is accessible here and speaks clearly for itself. At the end of the presentation are a number of Conclusions and Call to Action requests.
The over 90 slides are worth at least a quick look and were accompanied by little editorial comment this evening. I believe the presenters attempted to be even-handed and in this they succeeded.
Here is a photo of the group in attendance this evening. We were glad we came. Consider making a donation to help this group continue its work. And stay in action yourself.
(click to enlarge)

SOS Mn presentation November 20, 2013

SOS Mn presentation November 20, 2013

The “filing cabinet” for all posts about the Minnesota Orchestra during the lock out can be found here.
UPDATE Nov. 21 Here is the Minneapolis Star Tribune news report on the meeting. The response is essentially as one would expect. Personally, I thought the presentors were very credible, and acknowledged that they were presenting on the basis of facts that they know (which were considerable). But one of the main problems, here, is the unknown: the information orchestra management has refused to divulge.
From Shirley L in Chicago: Alex Ross in the Nov. 25 edition of the New Yorker: The Minnesota Orchestra cancels and Hillary Hahn stages a festival: here.
From John G: Dick, I cannot thank you enough for this report. It is “spot on.” In my letters to the Musicians’ website, I had reached a few of the conclusions made by these two who are equipped (MBA and JD) to give us the best insight into financial and legal issues and options.

#802 – Dick Bernard: Another Special Evening with the Minnesota Orchestra on the 411th Day of the Lockout.

Comments are at the end of this post
Ninety years young Stanislas Skrowaczewski led a marvelous Minnesota Orchestra concert at the Ted Mann Theatre last night. Maestro led the Orchestra from 1960-79, and during his tenure the Orchestra changed its name from Minneapolis Symphony to Minnesota Orchestra, and Orchestra Hall was built in downtown Minneapolis.
More after a few important announcements:
(click to enlarge. Printable pdf here: Save Our Symphony Nov 20001
Save Our Symphony Nov 20001
Special Event Honoring Stanislas Skrowaczewski Feb 20, 2014: Skrowaczewski Gala 2-22001
Musicians Fact Sheet about the current status of Negotiations: Musicians Reality Check 001
The Musicians website is not yet updated but according to an announcement from the stage by an Orchestra member last night, their goal at Give to the Max on Nov. 14 was far exceeded, and they are grateful. Check the website for more information, including upcoming special events, including the Christmas season concert with Eiji Oue in December.
Comments included at the end of this post. My blog “file cabinet” for the Orchestra Lockout can be found at August 30, 2013, here.
The concert on November 15
Here is the program booklet for the concert: Orchestra Prog Nov 15 13001
I am not an expert in music; I simply love orchestral music, and have great affection for the Minnesota Orchestra for over 30 years now.
Last night was no exception to a long run of quality performance. Maestro Skrowaczewski and the Orchestra were in synch and I marvelled at his endurance at, now, age 90 (October 3 was his birthday). We had seen him about a year ago at the first locked out concert, about two weeks into this unreal conflict. I wrote a bit about it then. You can read it here. Back in those naive days, I think we all felt that this would be a short conflict, none of us imagining 411 days and counting.
I was more attentive to age, last night, than usual. A few days earlier, on Monday, I had to help move my near-89 year old Uncle into Nursing Home quarters in North Dakota. This was not easy. And here was a 90-year old man leading a premier Orchestra.
To my left, last night, were two young women, probably college students, rapt with attention.
To my right was Don, an 84 year old neighbor we’d brought with us, who was absolutely enthralled. He said he had first seen the Minneapolis Symphony under the baton of Dimitri Mitropoulos (1937-49), and he had the autograph of the conductor framed on his home wall. He doesn’t drive, and depended on a ride to get to the concert.
My Uncle, on the other hand, will never see this Orchestra, or any large Orchestra for that matter. But in no way does this diminish him. Last time I saw him, he was playing a little tune on the piano in the Nursing Home, and he has a particular love of music generally, including a still strong and in-tune singing voice.
His Dad, my Grandpa, was a farmhouse fiddler who, for a time, had a small country band. Grandpa had received some training in the violin and used sheet music to play tunes. For as long as I can remember their farm house had a piano, and Grandpa often played his “fiddle”.
One of the most moving moments of my life came 20 years ago at a family reunion, when a cousin played Grandpa’s actual fiddle, and one of my other uncles, now deceased, broke down listening to the music of his father, played on his fathers instrument.
I really don’t know where this is all going to end up, but I applaud the musicians for standing for upholding a tradition now 113 years old.
My “mantra” remains: where does the audience fit into this matter? That old man who was our guest; those students; myself and my wife? People like my Uncle who’ve never been and never can…. It is an important question, and seems to be ignored by the big money and power interests. We are ignored at their peril.
We weren’t supposed to take photos last night, and I followed the rules.
Here are three snapshots taken during “legal” times!

Maestro Skrowaczewski and Orchestra respond to the audience standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert.

Maestro Skrowaczewski and Orchestra respond to the audience standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert.

In the lobby at intermission November 15

In the lobby at intermission November 15

Still no resolution after over a year.  Signboard in lobby November 15, 2013

Still no resolution after over a year. Signboard in lobby November 15, 2013

During the past few weeks the Minneapolis Star Tribune has carried a number of items relating to the Orchestra situation. If interested, most if not all of the following are accessible simply by search of the Star Tribune archives. Click here to begin.
Nov 5: Short Takes editorial comment
Nov 6: Letter from Mary McLeod
Nov 9: Front Page article by Graydon Royce
Nov 10: James Lileks column
Nov 11: Musicians Marcia Peck, Tony Ross, Tim Zavadil write op ed column
Nov 12: Letter from Karen Bachman
Nov 13: Op Ed column by Lee A. Henderson
Nov 15: Op Ed column by Board member Nicky Carpenter
Nov 16: Three letters, from Rep. Kahn, Patricia Borman, Jeff Becker
Madeline S, Nov. 16:
I was at the Thurs. eve. concert. It was fantastic! I remember in my undergraduate music student days 1964-1968 at the UofM, the Minneapolis Symphony directed by “Skrovie” was changing to the Minnesota Orchestra. The Symphony rehearsed and performed in Northrop Auditorium; the University Symphony rehearsed in a large room downstairs in Northrop and performed on the same stage as the Symphony. There were open Symphony rehearsals we could attend. Some of the Symphony musicians practiced in the same practice rooms we music students used in Scott Music Hall. My cello teacher, former principal cellist, Robert Jamieson, gave me private lessons in a practice room in Scott Hall. Many students studied with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and still do. It is so unbelievable that this lockout is happening.
I also recall the first time I heard the Minneapolis Symphony in a live performance. The Fergus Falls, MN, public school orchestra director drove a few of us advanced string players down to Mpls for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Northrop. We drove back in a car in a snow storm. Those were the days when public schools, even in a town of only about 13,000, had orchestra and band programs from late grade school through high school, and classes in art. The orchestra director also directed the local civic orchestra, and the band director played oboe in the civic orchestra.
Greg H, Nov. 16: Read especially third orchestra letter.
Dick, Nov. 17, responding to Greg: Presumably Greg refers to the Jeff Becker letter in the Nov 16 Minneapolis Star Tribune (above). In his letter, Jeff complains about news attention to the Orchestra, because he has no interest in the Orchestra, and most people don’t care either. Essentially, “the only things that matter are what matter to me….” Unfortunately, this is a pretty typical response about most anything by most anybody in today’s U.S. “Me. Now.” is all that matters.
I agree with Jeff to some degree. In fact I wrote about this dynamic on October 1, 2013. Since few care, those of us who care more need to do much more to assure the survival of this Orchestra.
Actually, if Jeff could get past his “me, now” attitude, he would find that his world is full of things that he cares about, that wouldn’t exist had not some small group of people, sometime, persisted in their vision for whatever-it-was that he’d miss if it disappeared.
Margaret Mead said it very well years ago: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” I used that quote to headline a website that is a tribute to two people who were committed to making a difference, and have…. There’s another quote at that page, from Gandhi, which also applies to us as individuals. Take a look.
UPDATE from Dick Nov. 19: There was a particularly interesting and pertinent letter in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune responding to the Jeff Becker complaint referred to above. I say again, as I’ve said often, the key to all of this is the audience.
Here is the letter:
If only the paper would be tailored just for me
I relate to the Nov. 16 letter writer who doesn’t want to read articles about the Minnesota Orchestra because he doesn’t care. Here are the things I don’t care about and would therefore like eliminated from the Star Tribune:
• Sports that I don’t follow (pretty much all of them).
• News of the weird, especially anything about Congress.
• Articles about celebrities I’ve never heard of (or wish I’d never heard of).
• Food articles — I am not a cook.
• 80 percent of the comics.
• Classifieds.
• Advertisements.
• Hunting sections.
• Automobile sections. (My car runs. That’s all I care about.)
• Articles about fancy homes I can’t afford.
• Articles about entertainment (except for things I might attend).
• Sunday NY Times Crossword Puzzle — I can’t do it.
• Crime articles — they’re all downers.
• Obituaries — I’m not dead.
• Weather — I just don’t care.
• Letters to the editor by people who disagree with my opinions.

#794 – Dick Bernard: Thoughts at the end of the 13th month of the Lock Out of the Minnesota Orchestra

The “filing cabinet” for Minnesota Orchestra matters is found at August 30, 2013, here.
This post also appears in the Blog Cabin Roundup of MinnPost for Nov. 1, 2013

A friend in Chicago area wrote today about the Minnesota Orchestra situation: “WHAT A TRAGIC TURN OF EVENTS for all concerned!!” Along with her note came an article about the Chicago Symphony, which is on a distinctly different trajectory than, apparently, our own Orchestra, now in the second year of lock out. She added: “Not to make you feel bad….but perhaps some clues here for symphonic success!?”
So goes the conversation, and yes, it continues, perhaps quietly, under the surface, but not far below the surface, and internationally.
We will probably never know exactly what drove powerful elements of the Orchestral Association Board to attempt to destroy the musicians union, and thus help destroy themselves. They will have a polished narrative, which they will hold to, slavishly, blaming everyone but themselves.
In my opinion, two continuing actions of the Orchestra Board led us to where we are now: 1) to the best of my knowledge, they refused to open to the Orchestra their financial records for independent review; 2) they hired a law firm known for expertise in union-busting lock outs (strikes in reverse, by management against labor).
Absent the two above actions, we may still have been going to the Orchestra while negotiations continued. From the beginning I had no sense whatever that the Orchestra expected to get everything it wanted. It expected more than what it got, however, particularly respect. Best as I can gather, management proposed the destruction of the union contract, and had no interest in bargaining.
There is a third in-action by the Board: excepting its courting of large donors, I’ve found almost zero evidence that the Board really did any marketing to even its audience to raise funds. The emphasis was on large donors. Yet this is a Board full of corporate types of people with access to all manner of marketing expertise.
I did achieve a small success in the past few days. Several documents I had requested from the Board in August, 2013, were finally received October 25, in response to my third request. One publication, the Orchestra’s “Vision for a Sound Future” strategic business plan published Nov. 2, 2011, emphasized data from its own point of view (Chicago Symphony is not mentioned, for instance.) Apparently we in the audience learned of this new Vision through the December, 2011, Annual Report, which was the Showcase publication we all receive when we come for a concert.
A copy of this report was included in the packet I received. After showing the programs for December, 2011, (none of which we had attended), there is a letter to us all on page 39 – near the end of the booklet – from Richard K. Davis and Michael Henson – and a message from the then-Treasurer Jon Campbell on page 49. What seem to be the relevant pages of this report are here: MN Orch Report Dec 2011001 (From long experience, I exercise great caution in accepting at face value any representations of data. Funny things can be done with numbers….)
It can be proven, I suppose, that the Orchestral Association did tell us through this program booklet, but we were told in such a way that almost no one would have reason to notice, especially given that it was distributed during the hubbub of December. I surely don’t remember it. Maybe it was also included in the January program booklet as well. I suppose there are people who read every page of those programs and got the news. Unless my attention is called to something, like the concert I’m attending, I’m certainly not one of those kinds of readers.
I think I’m typical. I remember nothing calling my attention to the letters from management to us.
While very important, the Orchestra was only one part of our busy lives.
Given the history of the past twelve months, it was enlightening to see the Key Targets for FY2014 (2013-14) as articulated in the Vision on p. 18
Achieve 80% paid capacity
Achieve $8.7M concert revenue
Achieve $0.9M in hall rentals & community performance fees
Achieve $0.4M in tour fees
Achieve $1.10 per person in concession spend.

Of course, now there is no orchestra, no music director, no audience, and (I would guess by now) a largely hostile arts community not very inclined to support the current management.
Back to the drawing board to update the Vision.
In this big-league town, we’re now not even little league with the Orchestra, and this is going to be a big loss for the Twin Cities and Minnesota in the short and long term. And this was to be a premier year for the Minnesota Orchestra in all ways.
Orchestra Hall was a busy place. In a front page article in the October 21, 2013, Minneapolis Star Tribune, former Governor Arne Carlson, a man who would likely know his facts and not throw them around carelessly, noted “The [Minnesota] Vikings bring 502,000 people downtown eight times in one season. The orchestra brings 305,000 people downtown over a whole year.” (At least it did.) The Minnesota Orchestra was by no means a small economic entity in Minneapolis.
But it seems to have violated a cardinal rule of Big Business: it didn’t make money, at least not directly. It was a community asset more than a business entity.
A couple of days ago came a most interesting commentary about the Minnesota Vikings, published in Pittsburgh Magazine. It was sent to me by a friend who has no apparent interest in the Orchestra dispute, but it speaks volumes about priorities as envisioned by big business, and, by implication, how something like the Minnesota Orchestra does not fit the downtown big business model as a source of funds.
Until there is an Orchestra League, where Orchestras can be bought and sold and moved at will, they will probably be hard for the big business community to grasp…in more ways than one.
The article is just an article, but worth your time and reflection.
Keep on, keeping on.
COMMENTS from Madeline S, October 31, 2013
1) Been thinking: The right-wing think tank that had a recent fund-raiser at Orchestra Hall got a State Rep. questioning if the Board was in compliance with their obligations under their lease–the Hall is owned by the City of Minneapolis–this was in a Startribune published article. Frankly, I think the Minnesota Orchestra issue may be settled by it becoming a “community asset” of some sort as suggested in a bill being introduced by Phyllis Kahn; and/or the Board’s replacement as indicated by the other legislator.
I have been thinking that perhaps at least at some point the Board may have decided that to get this, pardon the term, big elephant off their backs, they had to endure a lot of public anger and criticism in order to create the crisis that may make that change.
2) Dick, you sent me the link to this article.
Social justice requires work on issues like homelessness, poverty, racism, and lack of adequate funding for our public schools. Shouldn’t we find a way to oppose this kind of racketeering? The city of Minneapolis has a law which forbids the spending of more than a certain amount without voter approval. Apparently, the state gave a pass to the city to not abide by that ordinance/law. Perhaps this should be brought to the state’s Attorney General. Or perhaps there should be some kind of protest.
Minnesota is getting snowed. Millions for Wilf et al; not likely to help the local economy. The Bengals’ stadium has effectively bankrupted Hamilton County, which is now slashing public services and laying off police to make up for a $20 million budget deficit.
“The most comprehensive study done on the economic implications of sports stadiums found that they do little to bolster local economies. In some cases, local economies actually shrank. In a 30-year study of 37 metropolitan areas with pro sports franchises, sports economists found that the real per capita income of city residents decreased on average after the construction of a new stadium.”
Because of the stadium deal, Wilf could sell the franchise for a $375 million profit. This was recognized by Arne Carlson in a Strib article earlier.
Much more in this article: