Minnesota musicians add extra concert with Vänska. The first sold out in minutes.

Minnesota musicians add extra concert with Vänska. The first sold out in minutes.


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2013

They may refer to it in future as the day the music died, but this weekend’s concerts by the locked-out  musicians are the hottest date in the state. Read more here.





  • James Brinton says:

    Contrary to the propaganda and beliefs of Henson and the board, there is a strong demand for classical music in Minneapolis.

  • Amy Adams says:

    Here’s what the Cretinous Executive Officer said to Euan Kerr at MPR:

    “We remain deeply disappointed that our musicians’ unwillingness to negotiate with the Board led to the Music Director’s resignation,” Henson said. “However, we are very glad that audiences will have an opportunity to see Osmo Vanska conduct in this community this weekend. Our audiences deserve this concert.”

    Yes. Michael Henson graciously allows that the locked-out musicians and forced-out conductor should play for the community. Just unbelievable.


  • MpR says:

    It’s nice Vänskä can conduct these musicians one more time. I’m sure he’ll get some closure with these shows. However, it should be understood that before it was announced that Vänskä was going to conduct this concert instead of the trumpet player (there was only one scheduled originally), the tickets were only 80% sold. It was when Vänskä became a part of the performance did the 1st show sell out and they added two additional shows.

    • Amy Adams says:

      Sure. The supporters adore Osmo and the Minnesota Orchestra. This is a poignant moment, and the people who recognize that acted fast.

    • David says:

      MpR, get your facts straight. There were already two concerts scheduled, not one. They added the Sunday matinee after Osmo agreed to conduct. And where did you hear that “the trumpet player” was conducting? Manny Laureano has been conducting youth and park concerts, but was never scheduled to conduct this concert.

  • Lawrence says:

    Too late! Sold out already. They have to have posted the notice about the extra concert early this morning – I know it wasn’t up when I checked the site just before I went to bed ca. 1:00 AM local Midwest time.

    Incredible! Under the circumstances, this is the best possible send off for Osmo. He gets to say au revoir (let’s not call it “good-bye”) to *his* orchestra and the Twin Cities AND shows the MOA board and management for the deluded mopes they are.

  • George London says:

    However the demand is just enough to cover one third of expenses , so hopefully the demand is there when they triple ticket prices or some of those mean evil

    Board members and rich people donate the other two thirds.

    Too bad that strong demand doesn’t cover all the operating expenses, or too bad people want to ignore the unsustainable business model that is close to collapsing.

    • Amy Adams says:

      George London, how do you arrive at that figure (one third of expenses)?

    • MWnyc says:

      Has demand – meaning ticket revenue – ever covered the expenses of operating a symphony orchestra?

      Not in my lifetime, and not, I would guess, since the early 20th century if not earlier.

      Symphony orchestras have ALWAYS relied on plentiful contributions from rich people or a government. Without those contributions, ticket prices would be so high that only rich people would ever get to hear symphony orchestras.

      But George London’s comment adds fuel to my speculation that what the Minnesota Orchestra Association board wants is an orchestra that will earn its own way and stop asking them for money.

      • Janey says:

        I believe the Boston Symphony Orchestra has found what may be the best balance. By owning their own facilities, charging rent, and also having good support from the community and media, they seem quite stable.

        • MWnyc says:

          Well, it also helps that the Boston Symphony has the largest endowment ($413 million as of last March) of any orchestra in the world.

  • Stereo says:

    Simply sack the board and Henson. Sounds like music will thrive without them.

    • Amy Adams says:

      The board is volunteer…they’d have to remove themselves, or be removed by Henson…I’m not sure what the bylaws state.

      • MWnyc says:

        I don’t think Henson can remove Board members. They (as a body) employ him, not the other way around.

        So yes, they have to remove themselves. The MOA Board controls all of the orchestra’s tangible assets, and there seems to be no way to forcibly remove Board members or to pry the assets away.

  • Terry says:

    Saturday night’s concert (8PM Central Time, 9PM New York, 2AM Sunday in London) will be broadcast LIVE by Minnesota Public Radio:


    Also: iTunes/Radio/Classical/Classical Minnesota Public Radio

  • Sarah says:

    This third concert is a matinee with family-friendly pricing. It sold out in 30 minutes. Guess classical music fans aren’t restricted to the over-50 set either . . .

    Stay tuned for a November set of concerts with Stan . . .

  • Sarah says:

    BTW the Saturday 8 pm concert will be streamed at http://www.classicalmpr.org.

  • Bob Thomas says:

    Interesting that it took so long for the musicians to do this. Of course, nobody is saying what they’re getting paid for these performances.

    • Amy Adams says:

      Bob Thomas, so long for the musicians…to do what, exactly??

      • Bob Thomas says:

        Organize concerts on their own and find out whether this ensemble can make it without current management.

        • Amy Adams says:

          Bob, the locked out musicians began organizing concerts immediately, presenting one last fall, and in December and again in February….there have been outreach concerts in the community, including one attended by over 7000 people at Lake Harriet. They’ve gone to heroic effort.

  • PK Miller says:

    I think theyre on the right track: incorporate under a different name–Musicians of the MN Orchestra or whatever–get the funding that otherwise would have gone to the MN Orchestra (again, whatever its legal name) Maestro Vanska conducts and everyone lives happily ever after except the overpaid, petulant bigshots of the MN management. I don’t know how practical all this is. I know little of orchestral management or legalities of same, today. I was Artistic Director of an opera company eons ago, did everything but run the casting couch (I had no interest in the women & was too deeply closeted then to approach the men!) but it was a long time, far away from today. But anything would seem better than the intractable impasse with powers that be. Break a leg, folks!

    • MWnyc says:

      The casting couch? PK, did they even have barihunks back then? I thought barihunks were a ’90s invention. 😉

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Thanks to Terry and Sarah about the broadcast! The thought flitted through my mind yesterday, after the Saturday 2PM concert sold out in 36 minutes (according to MPR), “Wouldn’t it be great if MPR broadcast it?” Seemed logistically out of the question – plus the public radio station probably gets some of its income from the same wealthy people on the MOA board who wouldn’t be happy with the station broadcasting those evil, ungrateful, rogue musicians…. But MPR came through. The regular announcer of the orchestra’s radio broadcasts, Brian Newhouse, handled the occasion beautifully and in his commentary didn’t shy away from *why* this concert was being held.

    How did the orchestra play, despite going through the same, quite long concert program for the *third* time in 24 hours? Spectacularly! It was hard to believe that they hadn’t been performing regularly for 14 months. Sure, everybody was amped up on adrenaline – and knowing that this really may well be their last concert with a well-loved and respected music director – but the playing was incisive, plangent, polished. I remember why I love this orchestra so much!

    Despite the loss of important players, there is still a marvelous ensemble there – it certainly CAN still be recovered. I hear there’s a newly renovated concert hall in downtown Minneapolis that needs a world-class orchestra……

    Vanska addressed the audience after the final piece on the scheduled program and before the encore – Sibelius’s Valse Triste. His voice kept breaking as he thanked the audience for their vociferous applause all evening, then asked them NOT to applaud after the Sibelius because of the sadness of the occasion. Just hearing the audio feed was heart-wrenching. I started tearing up, as did, according to Mr Newhouse, many of the people on the stage and in the auditorium.

    A review of the Friday night concert: http://blogs.mprnews.org/state-of-the-arts/2013/10/standing-os-tears-for-vanska-as-conductor-begins-waving-his-baton-goodbye/

    Some photos: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/10/05/vanska-waves-baton-goodbye

    These three concerts were a truly rousing rebuke of the MOA and its board. As if they didn’t look idiotic enough before….. The history for self-governing orchestras in the U.S. is not good, at least among the majors, but I really, REALLY hope these players can keep riding the wave of the energy from this weekend and give back to the Upper Midwest its world-class orchestra.

  • nancy bakker says:

    please… they turned down over $100k to play classical music in this day and age?

    Let’s see how they enjoy giving private lessons for $20 bucks an hour.

    Sorry but I can’t imagine supporting these “artists”.

    nancy bakker (interlochen, eastman grad, retired orchestra player)

    • Amy says:

      Thank you for joining the discussion, nancy bakker (interlochen, eastman grad, retired orchestra player)…

      It’s really a surprise that someone who went through those institutions would be so disdainful of high salaries for highly qualified musicians. Some even pay…more!

      What I’m curious about is why you put the word “artists” in quotes…that’s the first thing I noticed in your remark. Is there something about the artistry of the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra that makes you feel sarcastic?

      • nancy bakker says:

        not at all,sorry to have given that impression…. my point is that in these days of tough bucks, it’s hard to understand that an orchestra would reject a 6 figure income that enables them to remain playing… i know so many qualified players who would run to the jobs…

        • Amy says:

          I’m sure you do know many qualified players. But from that pool of musicians, how many really want to pick up their things and move to this now toxic environment? “Come and audition for the Minnesota Orchestra! As soon as we’re not locked out, we’re assured of more cuts down the road, because our board chair has told us so! Also, look forward to no seniority, increased service area and more holiday work!”

          This argument of salary has been going on all year on numerous sites and stories. Something about the high compensation for highly qualified artists really enrages certain types of people…I suspect that envy plays a significant part.

    • Brian Bell says:

      As an Interlochen grad, an Eastman grad, and as a retired orchestral player, I find your comment tough to comprehend, especially in light of the extensive coverage in this blog, as well as in other blogs. From my perspective, the degrading work rules, and the MOA’s lack of accountability would make it difficult to accept any contract from this management. And I truly believe that musicians of this caliber deserve a six figure salary.

      They manage to make it work in other major cities, Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, San Francisco. Obviously the management and board in Minnesota

      were not up to the task. Too bad they weren’t the ones who were locked out.

      • Amy says:

        Exactly. There’s no way to lock out the board. They enjoy a restful night’s sleep every night, assured that this is not their fault in any way…