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Principal trumpet walks off over soloist’s anti-Trump tax rant

December 5, 2017 by norman lebrecht

101 comments.


During Rufus Wainwright’s guest performance on Saturday night with the Minnesota Orchestra, principal trumpet Manny Laureano was seen to be growing uneasy.

When the Canadian singer-songwriter prefaced his lyric, ‘I am so tired of you, America,’ with a short diatribe against the Trump administration’s tax reforms, Laureano got up from his back-row seat, put down his horn and walked off.

‘The evening was already too snarky,’ he told local media. ‘It got incredibly self-indulgent.’

 

 


Comments (101)

  1. Anon says:

    He should be fired for unprofessional behavior. We musicians are supposed provide music on stage and check our political allegiance in the locker. This Trump’s trumpter went over the line.

    1. MikeSchachter says:

      So the idea is that if you want to rant against Trump everything is permitted, if you object to that you are being unprofessional . Shame people like you missed out on the Soviet Union.

      1. Liz Brian says:

        No, the idea is that you do your job and Manny’s job is to play the trumpet. He is not the star.

        Rufus is the star and his job is to entertain the audience, most of whom are very familiar with Rufus and his life and support him because of it. If we are not afraid, living in the US today, we are not paying attention.

        1. Sue says:

          I feel confident you would have held this line if the singer had waxed lyrical on how wonderful Trump is. NOT.

          1. Liz Brian says:

            I wouldn’t be going to his shows if that were the case.

      2. Sue says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

    2. G.E. Stinson says:

      I agree. This is simple. If a musician is hired to do a concert as a member of an orchestra, they don’t get to voice their dissent after they’ve agreed to do the gig especially in the middle of the performance. If they do that then they’ve breached the contract and they should be fired or penalized in same fashion. This is not a free speech issue. If they don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t share their political views then don’t take the gig in the first place.

  2. Fran says:

    trump trumpeter hahahaaaa … I cant stand these self indulgent celebs always feeling a need to use their platform to down throats .:.I go for the music not politics in this situation.

    1. scott baker says:

      +1

  3. WhatareyoyafraidofAnon? says:

    Interesting double-standard, since you don’t seem to expect the same from the musical soloist.

    1. Rodrigo says:

      Word that. Totally agree. See my comment below.

  4. Rodrigo says:

    With all due respect to professional etiquette, my orch. has also accompanied Rufus Wainwright in a “symphonic” program and I concur that he’s very annoying. Riding on the fame from his interpretration of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah which was used in Shrek, he fancies himself to be some kind of Cohen musical heir. It’s not even his song. He is no where close to being another Cohen.

    His program choices are self indulgent and questionably performed. With us, he tried to warble through a couple of operatic arias for mezzo which were borderline painful. He appears arrogant and haughty on stage. As an orchestra, he’s a lot to have to sit through. Fortunately for us he didn’t go into any political diatribes.

    Is it any performer’s place to criticize a government of which they are not even a citizen to people who’ve paid for an evening of entertainment? I’d say that the trumpeter’s reaction was just about as professional as Wainwright himself was in this situation. Neither one did the right thing. Being an orch. player who’s had to sit thru a Wainwright concert onstage myself, I totally empathize with the trumpet player.

    1. Anonymous me says:

      +1

      1. Liz Brian says:

        Rufus is a US citizen. He has dual US and Canadian citizenship. He was born in the US and raised in Montreal. He lives in the US.

        1. Regina Notman says:

          When a person pays to see a football game, an opera, a artists masterpiece, a musical, we pay for the entertainment, we deserve to be entertained, not listen to people’s political perspectives.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Then don’t perform with him, but don’t stage a “self-indulgent” spectacle pretending YOUR political are more worthy of attention than his or anyone else’s in the world.

    3. Behind the scenes says:

      And yet this player was happy to get paid money by Rufus’ producers, which they get from Rufus’ audience, who know and like Rufus and come to see him perform and hear his views and who is the entire reason the player is getting paid that night and not at home on the couch.

      Millions wish they could walk off the job every time they heard something objectionable in the workplace. Only in the arts could this kind of prissy sensitivity considered defensible.

      Trump would fire this guy and stiff him the fee.

    4. James Thimas says:

      Dude. Give us a break. Why were you there?
      Rufus is as honest politically as he is socially and musically. You may not share his viewpoint ( and for that, I’m truly sorry for you) but he is a contemplative, honest artist.
      I fully agree with his assessment of the current U.S.A. tragedy. We are in deep doodoo. Reference the end of the roman republic and perhaps you will gain some understanding of where many of us feel we are at.

    5. Jim says:

      Manny’s contract requires him to suffer through badly written compositions, bad conductors, and bad soloists. He should not have to endure attacks on himself, his politics or his religious views. Rufus W. was contracted to perform, not pontificate. He should not be asked back.

  5. May says:

    He should be disciplined. He’s also a conductor: would he tolerate a musician walking off stage during his performance? If he had a problem with Wainwright, he could have dealt with it in advance. It doesn’t take more than a few clicks on youTube to realise that Wainwright is an overrated blowhard. The audience certainly knew what to expect that evening, since you don’t go to a Wainwright concert to hear good music.

    Since the orchestra must have had a few rehearsals with Wainwright, Laureano knew what he was getting into. I wouldn’t be surprised if he planned it all in advance.

    1. J. Story says:

      His actions should not be without consequences, yes, but his protest is a commendable example of civil disobedience, which features protest with the full knowledge and acceptance of the consequences of protesting.

  6. Michael says:

    Bravo Mr. Laureano. I would have done the same thing. I’m about tired of these blow hards coming on stage and giving their rants. It’s a concert. Play your damn music and get off the stage. Nobody wants to hear your lousy negative opinion.

    1. V says:

      I agree. I’m a Buddhist and and I always walk out every time they sing about Creation. I love the Haydn music but can’t stand it when they try to impose their Christianity on me. Just play the damn music sonny, spare me the Milton creation stuff. Don’t they get it? Music is suppose to make us relax after a hearty meal I don’t want to hear lousy negative opinion when I’m trying to digest.

      1. Steve P says:

        Not sure if serious….

  7. Una says:

    It all happens in America! Wait for one of our Brits to do something like that! And a partridge in a pear tree!

  8. harold braun says:

    Manny is one of the best Trumpet players in the world.Rufus Wainwright…well,I don’t know.

    1. Liz Brian says:

      You should perhaps learn.

    2. Anonymous says:

      You should perhaps listen more carefully to ML’s trumpet playing, and perhaps you would understand exactly why he is under so much pressure that he exploded on stage and in public. Thank goodness Chuck Lazarus and the others are there to save the section.

      1. David says:

        I agree. We’ve been attending MN Orchestra concerts for several years and Manny’s playing has left me disappointed (with one exception for last year’s Zarathustra).

        I’m guessing that the conference between union and management will be interesting and will find a solution. Until then I’d suggest Manny keeping his head down and practicing more.

  9. Ungeheuer says:

    I would have walked away too, long before the performance. After all, this Rufus Wainwright person is nothing but an amateur and dilettante and an ungifted incompetent at that; a charlatan and an imposter. That he is “appreciated” by his own gay community is absolutely no excuse for serious music organizations to hire him.

  10. Barry says:

    I think I have a new favorite orchestra musician. I’ve fortunately never had to sit through any political statements at a classical concert, and I’ve been a regular concertgoer for many years.
    But the intrusion of politics into arenas where people have traditionally been able to put aside partisan differences and enjoy music (or a sporting event) has been a peeve of mine for a while now. It’s difficult for me to see how it accomplishes anything other than further contributing to what is obviously already a poisonous environment, at least in the U.S. Unless, of course, you’re someone who enjoys endless partisan bickering everywhere you go.
    The people who support things like Wainright’s speech in such settings almost always are supportive of the speaker’s political bent. I’m not saying I’d be fine with it if I agreed with Wainright. I just think he should keep his political views to himself when he’s got a captive audience that paid a lot of money to hear him sing.

  11. Brian says:

    Come on – people know what they’re getting with a Rufus Wainwright concert: You get the high-strung personality, the saucy opinions, the politics, everything. The Minnesota Orchestra was his backing band in this case. If individual members didn’t like Mr. Wainwright they could have called in sick or requested a sub for that night.

    I’m waiting for Fox News to pick this up and make this trumpeter a hero.

    1. Rick says:

      The Trumpet player never heard of him and no one the Trumpet player knew had ever heard of either . Trumpet player went on stage having no clue Rufus was a petulant titty baby

  12. Barry says:

    I had no idea who Rufus Wainright was or what his political views are before reading about this. No; I wouldn’t seek out one of his concerts. But I could go along with someone who invited me and I’d be pretty unhappy if I did (of course, that won’t happen now).

  13. Fred says:

    Bravo Manny,
    You are a man of principle. Let’s keep the political rhetoric on the afternoon and evening news and reserve the beauty and excitement of live music untarnished by these issues. Not only are you one of the worlds best artists on the trumpet, but you also have the love for your art to make your feelings known when someone invades its purity. thank you sir.

    1. Michael says:

      Exactly. People go to entertainment events to get away from this stuff and have fun and unwind. Complaining about tax cuts at a concert is ridiculous. And it was billed as a Holiday concert too. Political rants at a Holiday concert…give me a break…

    2. Deidra says:

      There was an interview with Manny Laureano, that was on the radio on Dec 6th. Rufus Wainwright made sexually suggestive and lewd comments, laughing and winking while he did so, during his French language rendition of O Holy Night. That was what upset Mr. Laureano. Then, when Rufus Wainwright went into his anti-Trump rant, Mr Laureano had had enough. He said that he was sorry that he had to walk off the stage, but felt it was necessary to show that he objected to the singer’s lewd conduct.

  14. NYYgirl says:

    I never heard of any of these people. But- I am a longtime union member & when I’m hired for a job I play it, no matter how much I’m rolling my eyes inside or having my own internal monologue going on (silently). I get paid for showing up and playing, doing the job I am fortunate enough to earn my living to do. Believe me, I may not be quiet once I am home talking to my spouse/parents/cousins/friends about whatever bad words, bad lighting, bad playing, bad attitudes, bad conduct(ors), etc. which I may or may not have had to endure or witness, but I do not just get up and leave. I could see it if there was a direct personal attack directed at me or any of my equally hardworking colleagues, but any other way no. The fact that the person who walks out may be really a good person or a great player – and they may well be- isn’t the point. As horrible as it feels at times, we are not usually being paid for anything other than being a “team player”; in this case the team = the orchestra. I totally sympathize with feeling both ashamed and angry with having to be in this situation, but having been both section player & section leader, walking out just can’t happen unless there is some kind of emergency, real or genuinely perceived, and I’m not seeing it here. For better or for worse, it’s just not what is in our job description.

    1. Steve P says:

      He felt violently ill and decided not to spew his barf all over the stage like the ranting doofus was doing tonthe audiences’ ears.

      1. Anonymous says:

        The audience which gave Rufus a standing ovation? That audience? ROFLOL

  15. Liz Brian says:

    Many of you people are trashing Rufus when you know nothing about him. He is a 44 year old father and married gay man who Elton John has called the best song writer on the planet. He has a beautiful voice and works very hard, traveling extensively and always putting on a great show. He has hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world. Give him a listen.

    1. Rick says:

      Give him a listen ? I would rather take an ass beating .

      1. Liz Brian says:

        Your loss.

  16. Steven Honigberg says:

    Keep your political thoughts and rants to those closest to you, NOT to an audience. I think it is egregious arrogant behavior for an artist to pontificate from the stage. Totally inappropriate no matter what slant on politics you may have.

  17. Bruce says:

    Been a fan of Mr. Laureano since his days in the Seattle Symphony. Kind of disappointed, in an abstract way, to learn that he’s a pro-Trump conservative, but whatever. People’s politics no longer surprise me.

    Didn’t know anything about Wainright before reading this, except that I knew he’s a gay singer/songwriter and son of a famous father. So I might have gone to this concert not knowing what to expect, especially since it was apparently sold as a holiday concert. (If they advertised it as “an evening of music with an angry liberal slant” I would not have gone.) I dislike political rants of any stripe, even if I agree with the politics, and I really dislike the fact that he was whining about having to sing a Christmas song. If it was that much of a problem, he should have refused to do it (maybe they’d have hired him anyway), or asked to perform at a different time of year.

    I’d have probably walked out too. (I doubt I would have walked offstage if I was in the orchestra, but I admire Mr. Laureano for doing so.)

  18. David Assemany says:

    I am shocked by how many commenters here think it is ok for an orchestra musician to walk off stage in protest. What Mr. Laureano did was unprofessional, and reflects badly on orchestra musicians everywhere.

    1. Steve P says:

      Unprofessional yes; appropriate, yes.

      1. Deidra says:

        I agree!
        There was an interview with Manny Laureano, that was on the radio on Dec 6th.
        Rufus Wainwright made sexually suggestive and lewd comments, laughing and winking while he did so, during his French language rendition of O Holy Night. That was what upset Mr. Laureano. Then, when Rufus Wainwright went into his anti-Trump rant, Mr Laureano had had enough. He said that he was sorry that he had to walk off the stage, but felt it was necessary to show that he objected to the singer’s lewd conduct. By the way, Laureano didn’t throw his arm up in the air in disgust, like some news articles stated, he just quietly gathered his music and instrument and walked off.
        He didn’t know what the repercusssions would be to his walking off the stage, but that he felt it was the right thing to do.

    2. Rick says:

      Here is where it is different .Player who walked off is not going to the union to fight any fall out be it termination or suspension. If the tables were reversed there would be pink pussy hats descending on the Hall and Antifa would be burning and pillaging . He made a choice and is going to live with it .nuff said.

  19. Robert Holmén says:

    When the bottom 98% are all foraging for discarded take-out food in the refuse dumps and living under plastic-wrap tents in Wal-mart parking lots, Mr. Laureano will be able to proudly say, “I stood tall (and walked off stage) for Donald Trump against a gay pop singer!”

    1. Stephen Munslow says:

      98% of the population of the USA have to live under plastic sheets and scavenge for food in garbage dumps? Blimey! They’ve got it easy – come to the UK, and you’ll see that, according to left-leaning commentators here, most of whom live in somewhere called London, that 50% of the population died of starvation last year – and that includes me.

      1. Robert Holmén says:

        “But try to tell that to young people today and they won’t believe you!”

  20. Justin says:

    I don’t know if I would have done the same thing. But, I have sat through political diatribe before and if you are conservative, you just sit there and take it in the arts world. Sometimes, these artists have no idea how the audience feels, they live in a bubble. They get hired to play, not preach. Manny, in the star Tribune article said he initially got mad when Rufus belittled the French version of oh holy night. Rufus made light of the fact that he was told to play a Christmas tune and made fun of it. However, this article points to anti trump comments……..there is always more to the story. I’m in Mannys camp though.

    1. Steve P says:

      RTR!!!!

  21. Bill says:

    Does this mean any professional musician is now allowed to walk off stage when being payed to play, no matter which side of politics they are on, if they disagree with the politics of the soloist that the audience payed money for, and knows full well what said soloist will likely say, and said audience is also paying said musician to keep their political views to themselves while they pay that musician’s salary for the evening with their ticket purchase?

    1. David Assemany says:

      Exactly. Audience members get to walk out in protest. Employees don’t, and if they do they should keep on walking in my view.

    2. Anon says:

      It’s not about money only, even though people groomed in the US tend to have that mental deficiency more often.

  22. Stephen King says:

    So a political protest was done by yet another professional in another profession. He didn’t take a knee, he walked out. As a musician myself, I agree he should have played the job regardless of what the political spectrum was being portrayed. I believe Manny is a great trumpet player who in his opinion made the right move. However, will he be treated like Kapernik and be black listed? I don’t think so because the big difference is Manny has talent. Hollywood continues to push a political statement, and people are getting fed up with it. I hope that doesn’t happen in the music industry.

    1. Steve P says:

      Music industry stated it with their refusal to participate in any election events for President Trump. Hope they all go bankrupt and have to work for a living.

      1. Stephen King says:

        You are correct in the fact that some musicians declined to perform at the White House. However, not all musicians declined. Music is an art form that takes years to perfect. One won’t jeopardize an opportunity to advance because that opportunity comes once in a life time. Those that are established have that luxury to state their idealism’s. I personally know several musicians who have different political views and voted for different candidates who have performed at the White House since Trump has taken office. It’s a paying Gig that was paid as such. Politics do not belong in musical performances just as actors opinions don’t belong in politics. That include professional athletes. Do the job you have been graciously gifted with and make your political statements on your own time not the stage you have been hired to perform on.

  23. Greg says:

    Mr. Laureano leaving the stage (for which I applaud him) is a far better way to handle dissent than shouting down the performer or lobbying to get his appearance banned, as so many on the left do whenever a conservative speaker or artist is engaged. His quiet disapproval is certainly preferable to making a spectacle that is often intended just to get attention. Yes, perhaps he could have been more proactive and just sat this one out, but he is no more obligated to suffer objectionable speech than anyone else. Can’t have it both ways, snowflakes.

    1. Sue says:

      It’s when nobody does or says anything about bad behaviour that creates problems….oh, wait…..

  24. Stephen Munslow says:

    I’m not a musician, and obviously the trumpeter should have stayed where he was, but it is irritating when musicians use their position to promote a particular political opinion, which is invariably the opinion of the chattering classes. At the Proms this year Daniel Barenboim used his position to voice his opinion about those who voted Brexit in 2016, and he’s not even a citizen of Britain, to my knowledge.

    1. Mik Schachter says:

      But his ego encompasses the globe, if not the solar system.

  25. William Osborne says:

    The trumpeter used the concert for a political statement just as much as Rufus Whathisname. In fact, his was probably more instrusive…

      1. Steve P says:

        Yahtzee!

    1. Mark Henriksen says:

      Read the trumpeter’s explanation. He felt personally insulted, it wasn’t a political statement. Dufus whathisname made a political statement.

  26. John says:

    The more interesting question is, how does an orchestra musician be pro-Trump, anti-union when, if Trump had his way, the orchestras would not receive any funding? These guys would likely be out of jobs if Trump had his way.

    1. Justin Phillip Bartels says:

      What proof do you have of that? Since when have we seen any political party give a crap about the arts? The assumption that the left is somehow the savior of the American orchestra is absurd. Look at the Devos family. The left sure eats Betsy for lunch, yet their family has given millions to Grand Rapids and the Kennedy Center. I once had an argument with a development director in my orchestra when she found out I was conservative. She made some comment about how great Obama was in front of one of our conservative donors at a party. She assumed that because she’s in the arts, EVERYONE must be liberal. This way of thinking is why you leave politics out of it. Assuming things makes an ass out of people. I’ve been telling my friends since college that if you shut off a group of people and alienate them, then don’t be surprised when they don’t want to donate to your group.

      1. John says:

        We’re talking about Donald Trump not some run of the mill Republican. Big difference.

        1. Mark Henriksen says:

          If you think orchestras in the US have any significant funding from the government, you are completely wrong. They sell tickets to concerts and they have donors. Its virtually all private money except for an occasional pittance from the government to support an educational program. Trump, Obama…none of them have had any impact of symphony orchestras.

  27. Pacer1 says:

    +1

    Many years ago when we were both scrambling to earn a living, my wife was hired to play in an orchestra to back up Sammy Davis Jr. It was a political rally for the re-election of Richard Nixon. She found the idea abhorrent, but played anyway having decided in advance to donate her entire fee to the Campaign to Elect George McGovern. I think this was a classier gesture than walking off a stage.

    1. Pacer1 says:

      .p.s. The +1 is for my agreement with Mr. Osborne’s post.

  28. Bill says:

    Actually, the audience was paying good money to see Rufus Wainright, whose political positions are well known, and Wainright gave them what they surely expected. They were not paying to see the Principal Trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra. In fact, most of the audience probably doesn’t even know who the Principal Trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra is, and could probably care less. If he took the night off and the Associate Principal played instead, it’s unlikely the audience would have felt they had gotten less than they paid for.

    Wainright was the soloist and star, Mr. Laureano was the paid back up musician. As such, it was probably best to keep his feelings to himself, the way the rest of us paid sidepeople do when we’re on a gig. It’s called being professional. This would apply to anyone’s politics, left or right.

    Just my .02

    1. Andrew says:

      Best comment I’ve seen so far. I guess Manny didn’t research the gig in advance. Maybe if he’d pieced together that Rufus (and presumably his audience) strongly oppose his own delicate political views, he would’ve subbed out on this occasion and avoided making a spectacle of himself and a punchline of his employer.

      1. Sweethomechicago says:

        Agreed completely!

        You are correct about his not knowing much about the artist. According to his own blog post, he casually asked around but didn’t do his due diligence to research the artist. If he had, he might have sat the gig out instead of putting his opinion in front of his professionalism.

        Maybe some of this audience hasn’t attended enough non-classical shows to understand what a pop show audience expects. The performance includes music and a piece of the artist’s personality. You learn different bits, such as how the piece came about, how the album was recorded, and yes, even the artist’s perspective and politics. If you don’t agree with their viewpoint you’re fully free to not buy tickets or attend.

        The musician who’s hired to play has options too: either get paid to play, or don’t take the gig. What Manny did was unprofessional, period.

  29. Andy says:

    This reminds me of attending a kd lang concert in June 2004 in Winnipeg. The opening act was Pink Martini, and Thomas Lauderdale indulged in a passionate, angry and remarkably tone deaf verbal assault on then President Bush (43).

    To an audience of baffled Canadians.

    I wondered how many votes he hoped to sway in the upcoming US election.

    Then I wondered whether he thought his diatribe was enlightening (it wasn’t) or entertaining (it wasn’t) or what the audience paid for (it wasn’t). And then he sat down, terribly satisfied with himself, and imposed a mediocre solo piano rendition of Rhapsody in Blue on the audience. It felt like we were being punished.

    Thank goodness kd lang showed up in the second half to redeem the evening. To quote Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah”.

  30. Interested Bystander says:

    My favorite Rufus story was in 2002 when I saw a concert he performed before he had enough material to do a whole show on his own. I can’t recall who he was paired with. Anyway things were going swimmingly, and then he started to talk about Al Gore, and how much he loved him. He loved him so much he wanted to suck his cock. I looked over at the sponsor of the show and his guests and thought – well, we did promise you the unpredictability of a live performance. Mission accomplished!

  31. William Sperber says:

    I have no direct knowledge of this incident, but I do remember that during the unfortunate lock-out of the MN Orchestra and the resignation of Osmo Vanska several years ago, Mr Laureano was one of several Orchestra leaders who held the locked-out musicians together, thus preserving this outstanding Orchestra that has been a civic treasure for an entire century. For this alone, he, along with his colleagues, deserves our continuing gratitude.

  32. P Diddy says:

    A diatribe? Y’all make it sound like it went on for 30 minutes. Bottom line is that people go to see performances for a variety of reasons and sometimes that includes getting to know a performer better thru those moments where their identity and opinions can shine through. Whoever the person is that left abruptly owes everyone in the audience and Rufus an apology for acting like a petulant child and he also needs to be fired.

    1. Mark Henriksen says:

      You ever heard him play? He got game, diddy.

  33. Bola De Nieve says:

    First of all – kudos to Rufus for speaking truth to power. If you don’t piss someone off, than you aren’t punching hard enough. You succeeded, like Stravinsky, in sparking a fucking ruckus, and the chump trumpeter should have his ass fired for not doing his job – which is to shut up and blow. Any time you see art, it has political content – even if not intended. And there is an abundance of explicitly political art — there’s two plays on Broadway now that are vocally anti-Trump. Michael Moore’s show, and House of Cards creator Beau Willemon’s update of The Parisienne Woman, set in the Tr*mp era. If someone in the crew at one of these plays disagreed with the show’s message, and walked out, there would be consequences. Think about how many television shows glorify police. Black actors or crew members might not agree with the message, but if they stormed off the set? They’d be fired. Rufus – good work. When you piss people off it’s because you hit a nerve, because you spoke the truth. The real depressing thing about the incident is the number of trolls in the comments. The idea that the classical world is more educated and sophisticated has been revealed to be a facade. As far as those reactionary haters, we just need more modern, provocative programming like this to scare their bourgeois asses away.

    1. Kenny says:

      Insert giant eyeroll emoji here

  34. Wallis Giunta says:

    The main point people are missing here (probably because most have never heard Rufus’s music, or been to a concert) is that Rufus is a composer who crafts songs that address important issues of our time – he writes powerful, often politically-charged lyrics, and the people that went to that concert were there because they love him, and what he stands for. He knows his audiences. He was speaking and performing to a group of people that support his beliefs, like many performers before him. The orchestra was providing back up, and making a profit off of Rufus’s performance to his fans. Now, if it were a guest soloist hired to sing some Mozart or Rossini, for example, and they interrupted the concert to make a political statement, that’s a different story. But this was Rufus’s night, and his introduction of the songs is an integral part of his whole performance. The (brief) “offending” comment came as an introduction to one of his most popular songs, about the distressing current state of America, and could hardly be introduced without relevant commentary. I think it’s important to make this distinction – this was not a typical orchestra concert, and it was not a typical symphony audience…it was Rufus’s devoted fans, and as the reported cheering and standing ovations attest, he delivered what his audience wanted.

    1. john says:

      perfectly stated. not mention the broader context that artists have a long-standing role in our society of expressing dissent to government…especially issues that effect the arts, the poor, education and more.

    2. Andy says:

      I betcha Rufus was an invited guest soloist of the Minnesota Orchestra. If so, then the audience were patrons of the Minnesota Orchestra, which owns and operates the hall, produced the performance, organized rehearsals, hired the conductor, advertised the concert, sold the tickets, ensured the musicians had music, oversaw sound and lighting, had Rufus’ piano tuned and ready, secured sponsorship and donations to make the performance possible, and paid for Rufus’ airfare and hotel. Oh, and paid Rufus.

      Now if Rufus produced the concert, and hired the Minnesota Orchestra to “provide back up”, the story would be different.

      Which brings me to a separate matter: Is that what an orchestra is to you, Ms. Giunta, a back-up band? Not partners, not collaborators, but rather accompaniment, whose impetus is to make a profit? Imagine! Wanting to make money! When you employ 86 professional musicians and have been around for 114 years before Rufus’ little rant, and who will continue to provide music for their community until long after he has had his big, self-indulgent party and made his own profit.

      You’re a professional singer, who expects opera houses and orchestras to hire you. You’ve not done yourself any favours with your revealing comments here.

      1. Wallis Giunta says:

        Hi Andy, I appreciate your reply. I think it’s important to note that context is everything. While you’re correct, in essence (Rufus was a hired guest of the orchestra), they invited him to draw a different kind of crowd, and presented it as his concert. I have been to see Rufus twice, in this same program, with two different orchestras, and the people in the audience are (mainly) not regular orchestra-goers. They are there for him, and any orchestra that hires him knows and expects that will be the case. When I, myself, do a concert as a guest soloist, it’s very different, as I am an interpreter (more of a “hired-gun”) and not a songwriter, composer, or creator in my own right. I am not there to present myself and what I have created, rather I am there to interpret someone else’s work, which is a very different thing. As I said in my comment, in my situation, it would not at all be appropriate for me to make political or personal commentary of any kind.

        Also, I do believe, in Rufus’s situation, that the orchestra was providing accompaniment. Of course they were collaborating, but as I said, I’ve seen this concert and it really is Rufus leading the show, with the orchestra accompanying. You make the assumption that this is how I view all orchestra-singer relationships. Of course not! 🙂 Context is everything. When I am hired to sing with an orchestra, I consider myself very lucky to be able to collaborate with them. And I’m sure Rufus appreciates it very much, too…but in his case, it really is his show, in the sense that that’s what his audiences want – they want him, his full personality, with all his quirks and comments. That’s what makes his shows so special.

        And I most definitely do not mean that an orchestra should not be interested in making money off a concert. But if they hire Rufus and present his concert, with full knowledge of what he represents, and what his performances are like (as I’m sure they knew), then in essence, as an organization they endorse his right to perform and say what he wants, knowing everyone involved will profit from it. His shows are always very well sold.

        It’s really that simple. They invited him because he is who he is, and he draws a certain crowd, and he delivered exactly what that crowd wanted, and what the organization was expecting of him – he always does. One can see countless clips on Youtube of his live performances, and he is consistent in his style and open discussion of topics that are important to him, both in his song lyrics, and his on-stage commentary.

        If the principal trumpet can’t tolerate it, then I agree that’s his prerogative. Since the majority of soloists and guests of the orchestra are interpreters, like myself, and not singer-songwriters, perhaps the musicians are not as used to hearing soloists speak their minds? It happens all the time in the popular music world, but in classical, I imagine it’s very rare. I can understand that he wouldn’t have been expecting it. It’s a tricky situation, but hopefully next time it happens, he can agree to disagree if someone says something on stage that he does not support…

  35. jimmie says:

    So far missing from the commentary on this incident is the key factor that this was a trumpet player. The trumpet, sometimes together with the tympani, owes its status as the most important, and only heroic, orchestral instrument to the fact that it was historically (a) representative of monarchs and exclusively played in the presence of such people of quality, and (b) a creature of the military and of war. From that special status necessarily flows higher values than demanded of the lesser instruments of the orchestra, and those include the values of duty, loyalty, fortitude, and subordination. Expression of individual political or other views is incompatible with these values, even it could be tolerated in frivolous civilian instruments like the flute or guitar.

  36. Deidra says:

    Obviously most of these responders didn’t actually hear the interview with Manny Laureano, that was on the radio on Dec 6th. Rufus Wainwright made sexually suggestive and lewd comments, laughing and winking while he did so, during his French language rendition of O Holy Night. That was what upset Mr. Laureano. Then, when Rufus Wainwright went into his anti-Trump rant, Mr Laureano had had enough. He is the lead Trumpet in the Minnesota Orchestra, and a professional musician. The Minnesota Orchestra was providing the music for this performance.
    He said that he was sorry that he had to walk off the stage, but felt it was necessary to show that he objected to the singer’s lewd conduct.

    1. V says:

      I would love to live in a world where satire is defined as lewd conduct. Should be lovely and carefree. You should come to my neighborhood (lack of a refined concert hall) and see what lewd conduct really is.

  37. ME 2 says:

    Should a gifted actress have to do something during a performance she is not comfortable doing, or have to take verbal or physical abuse from some deviant, against her beliefs, or listen to offensive language? Should she just roll over and spread ’em and not say anything and just go along for the ride, and should she not have the right to walk out without retribution when she is abused? Or be threatened with loss of job and opportunity by standing up for what SHE believes? DUH!

    Shouldn’t a gifted musician, highly skilled in his/her craft be afforded the same rights when subjected to abuse by someone they are not comfortable being around? Bravo Manny, for standing up against that lewd deviant. Heck, all musicians have been abused before, and it is time for the employers to respect the moral convictions of their musicians. It is the responsibilities of the symphony to provide a non-hostile, non-threatening environment. No one should have to be anyone’s whore or whipping boy!

    Again, Bravo Manny! Me2

    1. V says:

      Mozart and Beethoven were whoring their talent to earn commissions from aristocrats. Whoring has been a great tradition in the arts. Don’t feel sorry for poor Manny. I wonder what his salary is? Maybe 80K-130K (the average for tenured chair for a non Big 5 band?) He should have known what he was getting into when the orchestra booked Rufus–a great talent and may I say a whore too? His adoring fans happily pay for his services. Manny was getting paid to be there on stage. How was he abused? Did Rufus personally attack Manny? Rufus did not rant. He didn’t spew hate speech. He was performing political satire. Manny should have just stayed away instead of walking out. I hope Manny gets a reprimand or fine. I would have demanded a portion of my money back for Manny’s missing service that night. If I had the dough, I will commission an opera from Rufus, with Michael Moore as librettist. I used to wonder why classical music is dying. Reading these trolls, I have a better idea now.

  38. Alexander Platt says:

    You get paid for the gig, you play the gig.


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