Next one out: Minnesota Orchestra loses its pops director

Next one out: Minnesota Orchestra loses its pops director


norman lebrecht

November 26, 2013

Lilly Schwartz is leaving the Minnesota Orchestra for a new position as associate producer at SFJAZZ in San Francisco. More here. No future there. Last one, please turn out the lights.

lilly schwartz


  • Performing Artist52 says:

    No love lost here. She was part of the problem in the musicians having to play more pops concerts and less classical concerts. The Minnesota Orchestra was a symphony orchestra not a Pops Orchestra like the Boston Pops.

    • reidmc says:

      wrong. . .sorry

    • MWnyc says:

      It’s no good holding her responsible for the programming decisions of the management. It would seem she was simply doing the job she was hired to do.

      Question for the Minnesotans here: How well did the MinnOrch’s pops concerts sell?

      • Performing Artist52 says:

        Yes, she did do her job well. She was part of the management as Director of Pops. But the fact is there was less classical music being offered in the subscription series. Therefore the revenue brought in was much less than it had been previously. The concerts did sell well as there was only one night of pops being offered in a given weekend. I guess the high buck stars were an attraction but I am not sure how much more money was made as these stars cost a pretty penny.

  • R. James Tobin says:

    The Boston Pops is not an orchestra separate from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, if I am not mistaken (and I lived in Boston for several years) but the BSO in more informal guise, minus the principal players, who perform mostly in May following the regular season.

  • Performing Artist52 says:

    Hmmmm, I see. the Mn Orch musicians could take those concerts off and many principal players did not play any pops concerts. But musicians as such were not listed any differently in the program. The MOA was playing fewer and fewer classical concerts and more and more pops concerts since Ms. Schwartz joined the staff.

  • Mark Carter says:

    Henson, laments her leaving as someone who “broadened the audience.” This is the MOA board’s euphemism for pop music galore. I bet they will try and replace her before the music director and the missing principals.

    By the way Osmo Vanska will conduct the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra on May the 2 as part of re-opening celebrations of the remodeled Northrop Auditorium. Tickets went on sale 10:30 AM CST Saturday. The auditorium holds 2,700. Tickets sold out immediately. I was on line right on the nose, and just managed to get four of the better seats, the cheaper seats sold out faster than my fingers could get to them.

    We really do have a bunch of clowns running the MOA. Their annual meeting is December 2, and we will see if there is any split among the rank and file. The soundings seem to indicate the board is in lock step with the leadership, but their are rumors of defections to come.

    The Board are fairing very badly in the public relations war. Every time any of them, especially Henson, say something really stupid and dig a deeper hole.

  • Paul says:

    Ms. Schwartz did not control pops/ classical balance, that was Henson’s perverse effort to raise revenue by reducing # of classical concerts. Despite being the failed CEO’s puppet, she had a creative and productive partnership with pops conductor Sarah Hicks, which produced several original , cost efficient shows that entertained the audience without damaging their hearing. She is one of several high level staff to leave, including Education Dr, personnel mgr , etc.

    The MOA Board will soon find itself with CEO Henson as its only employee, while the rest go on to healthy, functional organizations.

  • All orchestras everywhere should lose their pops programs. It is wrong to make people think that the music of geniuses is supposed to come to them. It is enough that it is not denied them if they are interested. But they are not going to learn about what they are denied by going to pops concerts.

    To James Tobin, the Boston Pops is historically and with exceptions a retirement orchestra of the BSO.

    • R. James Tobin says:

      What do you mean by “retirement orchestra”? I was never inclined to attend a POPS concert, although when I was fourteen or fifteen, I collected some of Arthur Fiedler’s recordings, like the Moldau and Peer Gynt Suites,which I still think were suitable for my age. All I knew is that they took the floor seats out of Symphony Hall and put in tables with, I think, refreshments.

      • I don’t understand why you are confused. A “retirement orchestra” is an ensemble that retired players can play in if they wish to. Like any orchestra lacking players here and there for particular performances, which happens all the time since few concerts have identical personnel requirements, and not all players may even wish to play, particularly if they are retired, the orchestra management hires ringers to complete the compliment as needed. So not all the players at a given concert are retired players. However you may notice the relatively high percentage of gray-haired players in the Boston Pops orchestra. The relatively low performance requirements of the pops repertoire is compatible with the preference of retired players to keep the work easy, to keep the stress down. It is an exit orchestra just as youth orchestras are entry orchestras. Most orchestras don’t have that much going on, and are more concerned to have a youth orchestra than a retirement orchestra. I am speaking only about what I thought everybody knew about the Boston Pops, at least the last time I looked. I am not trying to generalize about other Pops orchestras.

        A full orchestra program would include a youth orchestra, the main orchestra, a retirement orchestra, chamber ensembles of various kinds to allow players to shine as soloists, and section ensembles, like the Chicago Brass. There are also the choruses to think of and their entry and exit ensembles, and the regular use of the halls’ organ by a resident organist. Colleagues of all these components of the orchestra should be hosted often enough to keep everybody aware of the larger world. And there could always be more.

        • R. James Tobin says:

          Thanks. Never knew that. What I did hear was the Esplanade orchestra, which played free concerts at the hatch Shell in the summer, beginning on the Fourth of July, when the BSO was at Tanglewood.

  • Alvarus says:

    She did a good job helping create shows that built a loyal audience to whom the MO meant something.

  • Bonnie West says:

    Now she’ll ruin SFJAZZ

  • John says:

    More important than a pops conductor, it’s looking like the MSO may be losing their concertmaster.

  • PK Miller says:

    I think Norman said it best: last one out turn off the lights. Unless they create a new orchestra with the Minnesota name, pretty soon the Board will have NO Minnesota Orchestra. Greed glorious greed….