I have tried to write this eloquently, but I am so distraught and angry, I can barely keep a civil tongue.
“Without music, life is a journey through a desert.” – Pat Conroy
The Twin Cities is blessed with two internationally renowned orchestras: the
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) and the Minnesota Orchestra. Currently, both orchestras are fighting for their lives, literally. I am watching efforts to systematically dismantle each orchestra, monitoring postings from orchestra members and management on several websites, in addition to reading commentaries, newspaper articles and blogs, listening to radio programs, etc.
The arguments are complex, so I will not attempt to reiterate them here. Rather,
you can follow these on the following websites:
Musicians and supporter perspectives:
http://musiciansspco.org/claim-reality-truth/ http://musiciansspco.org/category/negotiations/ http://sospco.org/about/ http://sospco.org/uncategorized/musicians-publish-facts-about-spco-negotiations http://www.minnesotaorchestramusicians.org/?page_id=3469 http://www.OrchestrateExcellence.org
The musicians of each orchestra have been locked out of their concert halls, and their concerts cancelled by their managements.
- MN Orchestra musicians have been locked out since Oct. 1, 2012. The orchestral concert season is cancelled through Dec. 31, 2012.
- SPCO musicians have been locked out since Oct. 21, 2012. Concerts
are cancelled through Feb. 8, 2013.
- The Parker Quartet, which has a concert series in partnership with the SPCO, has had to cancel its November concerts in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Management proposals for both orchestras call for permanent reductions in the size of the orchestras and significant cuts in salary and benefits.
“…When any financial problem emerges, the first reaction of most boards and staff is to reduce expenditures. The easiest expenses to cut are the most discretionary areas of spending: artistic ventures and marketing….However, when arts organizations cancel artistic and marketing initiatives, they begin to lose the
interest of their supporters, both donors and audience members. As a result,
less revenue is received and further cutbacks are made. This begins a vicious
spiral that cripples arts organizations.”
Michael M. Kaiser, President, the Kennedy Center, in The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations.
During the lockouts, both orchestras have repeatedly played sold out benefit concerts. Musical superstars, who all have wonderful histories with the orchestras, have donated their services to support the musicians.
- Jorja Fleezanis (concertmaster Minnesota Orchestra, 1989-2009)
- Pinchas Zuckerman (Music Director SPCO, 1980 – 87)
- Edo de Waart (SPCO Artistic Partner 2010 – present; Music Director Minnesota
Orchestra, 1986 - 1995)
- Hugh Wolff (Principal Conductor SPCO, 1988 – 92; Music Director SPCO, 1992 – 2000)
- Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (Music Director Minnesota Orchestra 1960 to 1979; Interim Music Advisor SPCO, 1987 – 88; Minnesota Orchestra’s artistic staff 2011-2012)
For those of you who are not classical music aficionados, think Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Miles Davis, etc.
What can one person do?
Attend as many benefit concerts as possible.
- Handel's "Messiah" - Musicians of The SPCO, MN
Opera Soloists, MN Chorale, Hugh Wolff
- http://sospco.org/ ticket information and link
- December 20, 2012, December 21, 2012
- Location: Central Lutheran Church - 333 S 12th St, Minneapolis
Write your Governor, your legislators, the management of each orchestra, your newspapers:
Find your State Senator and Representative at: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/
Contact Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman: Phone: 651-266-8510
Online posting: http://www.stpaul.gov/FormCenter/Mayor-Forms-2-2/Contact-Mayor-Coleman-37-37
Snail mail: Mayor Chris Coleman, 390 City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55102 Contact Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak: Phone: 612-201-3400
Online posting: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/mayor/contact/index.htm
Snail mail: Mayor R.T. Rybak, 350 S. 5th St., Room 331, Minneapolis, MN Contact Governor Mark Dayton: Phone: 651-201-3400
Online posting: http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/
Snail mail: Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155
Write letters expressing your opinion to members of the SPCO Board and staff. http://www.thespco.org/about-us/governancehttp://www.thespco.org/about-us/staff
Write letters expressing your opinion to members of the Minnesota Orchestra Board, Management and Administration. http://www.minnesotaorchestra.org/about/board-management-and-administration/board-of-directors
Sign the online audience petition addressed to the SPCO
Donate money to the musicians' funds.
And please, consider the following:
- Calls to merge the two orchestras demonstrate ignorance of the enormous differences in the composition of the orchestras, their repertoires, and their functions within the universe of classical music. Loss of either of these orchestras will have repercussions that significantly impoverish the Twin Cities and the entire international audience. You would never merge a bandy team with an ice hockey team, even though they are both played by skating on ice.
- Professional musicians spend years learning and honing their musical skills. Musicians also have made significant financial investments to purchase their instruments. Salaries paid to musicians are relatively paltry, considering the effort and investments they exert to be professional musicians.
- As taxpayers, through our legislators, we have funded stadiums for football, baseball, basketball, hockey. If we are willing and able to fund venues for sports teams, isn’t it appropriate to explore state-sponsored funding of venues for the arts: concert halls, theaters, etc.?