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More encores for MN Orchestra: Minnesota, make it so

It is criminally ironic that the supposed “executive” leadership of the Minnesota Orchestra Association is disenfranchising its own world-class talent and team: the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. Members of a top-tier orchestra are not “run of the mill” musicians. Instead, the enormously gifted musicians of world-class orchestras are disciplined, highly-trained and effective “executives,” each in their own sphere of the orchestra.

Many players in wind and brass sections, as well as percussion and lead strings, are soloists, meaning that as individuals and as cooperating elements of a larger artistic mechanism, they are genuinely responsible for the success or failure of every musical endeavor in every concert, whether in Orchestra Hall or in New York’s Carnegie Hall, or great halls anywhere. The classical music business is tough — criticism and critical assessments are constant. Only genuinely and unusually high performing musical organizations receive the consistently lustrous praise that the Minnesota Orchestra has reaped under the baton of Osmo Vänskä.

The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, whose compensations are well within industry standards, are a dynamic, first-class executive team who function and interact seamlessly to get “top of the world” results. It is brazenly ignorant for corporate leaders who profess expertise in executive management to trash such unique and effective talent. If they want to manage a B-level organization, there are many to choose from; let them go elsewhere.

I had the privilege of hearing the Minnesota Orchestra in Carnegie Hall not long after Osmo Vänskä began his leadership. After the final piece on a wonderful program, Vänskä and the orchestra were called back for FIVE encores — in New York City, a town saturated with great music. Five encores for Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra. May the people of Minnesota make it still be so.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/01/2013 - 02:43 pm.


    Well, fortunately irony isn’t a crime, at least not yet.

    Members of the Minnesota Orchestra are indeed highly skilled laborers. That doesn’t change the basic reality that they are not willing to work for what management is willing to pay them. That’s a problem, but it’s not a problem to which the skill level of the workers is relevant.

    • Submitted by Amy Adams on 11/04/2013 - 07:42 pm.

      Once again, you’ve over-simplified, Hiram.

      It is not the case that “they are not willing to work for what management is willing to pay them.”
      In order to make (yet more) sacrifices, the musicians would like answers to their questions, as would any group of people being locked out of the job they love and have trained for their whole lives.

      You have a real gift for slightly off-kilter summarizing.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/02/2013 - 12:00 pm.

    Labor matters

    Without labor you got nothing, it’s that simple. We keep hearing from Hiram that management’s perspective is the only one that matters no matter how ignorant or incompetent management is. This management team has essentially liquidated the very entity it was supposed to manage, yet “labor” is responsible for refusing to work.

    Three things:

    1) This is a Lock Out. Management is refusing to let the musicians play. The musicians have been playing, they are not refusing to play.

    2) If you want highly skilled labor, you have to pay it, it’s that simple. These are highly skilled musicians.

    3) We actually have labor laws in the United States. One would think that this management team would be aware of that fact, but apparently someone drank their own cool aid and decided that they could lock out a unionized labor force and dictate rather than negotiate terms of labor. Obviously this strategy has failed.

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