Yesterday was a sad day for the Minnesota Orchestra. Still unable to truly negotiate a new contract, it was learned that the MOA, the orchestra management, had canceled the upcoming Carnegie Hall appearances for the orchestra that has been locked out and prevented from playing their formal concerts for over a year now.
As a result, long time Music Director, the much beloved Osmo Vänskä, tendered his resignation. Here’s the text of his letter.
1 October 2013
Press statement from Osmo Vänskä
Today I have given notice of my resignation as Music Director and Conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra Association, effective 1 October 2013.
It is a very sad day for me. Over ten years ago I was honoured to be invited to take up this position. I moved from Finland to the Twin Cities. At that time I made clear my belief that the Minnesota Orchestra could become one of the very greatest international ensembles. During the intervening years I have had the privilege of seeing that belief vindicated through the skill, hard work and commitment of this wonderful group of players and with the valued support of the Board of Directors, management and administration team, volunteers, as well as our exceptional community.
I send my deepest thanks to everyone involved for what we have achieved together and I wish the Minnesota Orchestra all the very best for its future.
Much has been written about this orchestra: their trials and tribulations, their year long lockout by management, their unsuccessful attempts at negotiating a new contract (even with former US Senator George Mitchell as mediator), the loss of nearly 1/4 of the musicians thus implying their sound won’t ever be the same again and finally yesterday’s resignation by Maestro Vänskä which essentially guarantees they won’t ever sound the same again.
A very sad day for classical music.
Here is what many orchestra professionals had to say yesterday about this latest turn of events.
Iron Tongue of Midnight: Put Me in Charge
Mask of the Flower Prince: Nothing Stays the Same Forever
The Rest is Noise: Vänskä Resigns
Song of the Lark: Fork in the Road
Sticks and Drones: Well…
This is what we’re losing.
Be sure to remember this because if we’re lucky, the Minnesota Orchestra will be like the phoenix and rise out of the ashes again to show us her beauty.
Last week I posted a lot of links about the Minnesota Orchestra in order to help myself better organize my thoughts about the entire situation, namely management’s seemingly never ending lockout of the orchestra musicians.
While, last week, I concentrated on articles, letters and blog entries posted about the lockout – as well as the site of the musicians themselves and the management (which is using the official website of the Minnesota Orchestra for its own message) I’ve since learned of one more – that of a website put together by patrons and donors who are trying to save their orchestra.
They have a very active facebook page as well.
The Minnesota Orchestra gave its inaugural performance back in 1903. This is an orchestra that is in its 2nd – yes, second – century of performing.
Only, it’s not performing, is it?
They’ve been locked out by a management that doesn’t want to start negotiating, or even sit at the same table, until the musicians agree to a ridiculously huge (about 35-40%) pay cut. Heck, management even agreed to use former US Senator George Mitchell as a mediator, but then proffered up something to the musicians (which they rejected) outside of the mediation process. Of course, it’s my understanding that the folks in management are still collecting their pay checks. (I’ll be honest – I’m not 100% sure there, so if you’re reading this and know for sure one way or the other, please confirm that for me!)
I buy tickets to concerts. I’m a season ticket holder to my orchestra here in central Ohio, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. It’s a damn good orchestra and I happily pay my hard-earned money to hear the musicians perform and create amazingly good music.
I don’t pay to see management. I pay to hear the musicians perform. I’ve only met 1-2 members of the CSO management team and they were quite friendly, but they’re not the ones I pay to see. I want to pay to hear those who play an instrument or sing. I’m lucky. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra was locked out for only about six months back in 2008. They’re still recovering from that lockout, sure. It’s been a long road and there’s still plenty of recovering yet to do, especially in terms of ticket sales, reputation repair and general knowledge of their existence, but they’re going in the right direction and oh man – are they ever good! They’re also essentially the same orchestra (albeit a slightly smaller version) as what they were in 2008 when the lockout occurred. They still have the majority of the same musicians.
Minnesota has already lost nearly a quarter of its musicians. This picture from their website depicts the already-lost musical brain drain. Here’s a link naming all the musicians who have resigned / moved on / retired.
And here’s a link I especially like. It names all the orchestras around the world that have hired Minnesota Orchestra musicians to perform with them. Bravo to all of them for their support!
Musicians want to play. Patrons want to hear them play.
Come on management. Put your desire for leverage aside and LET THEM PLAY!
To the reader, if you’re interested to see how management has most recently responded, I invite you to check out Does This Qualify as False Advertising? on Mask of the Flower Prince by Scott Chamberlain. Wow. Just – wow.
Other Minnesota Orchestra blog posts from today’s cross-blog event (actual links to be added / corrected as they go live / are posted today)
The Minnesota Orchestra cross-blog event is a collection of more than a dozen bloggers, musicians, patrons, and administrators writing about the orchestra’s devastating work stoppage. You can find all of the contributions in the following list and the authors encourage everyone to participate by sharing, commenting, or publishing something at your own culture blog.
- Bill Eddins (Sticks and Drones); The Cheap Seats
- Daniel Gilliam; MOA Cross-blog contribution
- Drew McManus (Adaptistration) Arrogance is a weed that grows mostly on a dunghill
- Emily Green (guest author); It’s Time to Make Music Again
- Emily Hogstad (Song of the Lark); “Patron Advocates”
- Frank Almond (non divisi) Calling the questions
- Henry Peyrebrune (guest author); The Holy Grail
- Holly Mulcahy (Neo Classical) A Journey Of Legacy, Appreciation, and Heart
- Jim Lieberthal (guest author); A quiet opinion
- Joe Patti (Butts in the Seats); Of Blogs and Boards
- Kevin Case; False Equivalence
- Lisa Hirsch (Iron Tongue of Midnight); Minnesota Orchestra: Down To The Wire
- Rolf Erdahl (guest author); Reflections on Robert Frost’s Mending Wall
- Scott Chamberlain (Mask of the Flower Prince) An Un-Strategic Plan
- Tom Peters (guest author); Baseball and Beethoven: The Minnesota Orchestra, the Marlins and the Perils of Market Correction.
Though I’ve occasionally shared a few links on my Facebook page, I wasn’t actually planning on addressing this topic here on Giocosity. But because there are so many articles out there from so many sources, I’ve been having a tough time getting my head around it all. So here’s my attempt to at least organize them. Please bear in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Not sure what’s going on? I think many can say the same. So many people have been talking about the lockout and occasional “negotiations” between the management and the musicians that it’s probably hard to keep track of what’s going on. Even Senator George Mitchell has been called in to help iron out a deal, though many say he had a much easier time with brokering a deal in Northern Ireland.
I lived in Spring Lake Park, a suburb of Minneapolis, when I was a kid. It was probably my favorite place to live growing up. Despite how cold it could be during winter, I have always spoken fondly of my time there. I was a kid though. Kids didn’t care about the cold. We just bundled up and went out to play.
Musicians with the Minnesota Orchestra – those who still remain – would also like to just go out to play, but they can’t. They’re locked out by management and have been for quite a while now. Based on everything I’ve been reading, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the orchestra management dug their trenches long before “negotiations” ever began, thus obviously planning for a very long and drawn out lockout.
All people want is for the musicians to be able to play again without having to be the only side making concessions, such as a 35-40% paycut before being allowed to the table. Isn’t bringing both sides to the table the whole idea between negotiation? Since when does one side have to give up everything before being invited in the door?
Negotiations, good faith negotiations, should be what’s required once both sides are at the table. THEN – and only then – will each side agree to what’s being gained and what’s being given up. One side should not require the complete capitulation of the other side just to meet them at the table to begin with – which is what seems to be more obviously the case here. It implies management is scared. They’ve already admitted to not wanting to give up leverage.
At what point will management admit that their power play is having a negative impact on the orchestra? Everyone else has already figured that out.
Here are links to various articles, letters and blogs by reputable folks who have written about this very long, and drawn out situation. What do you think?
Minnesota Orchestra Musicians – by the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians
Minnesota Orchestra - by the Minnesota Orchestra management
Mask of the Flower Prince by Scott Chamberlain
A FAQ That Raises More Questions Than It Answers – 11 June 2013
Sticks and Drones by conductor Bill Eddins
Dear Governor Dayton - 16 August 2013
Why Bother? – 12 August 2013
The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross, Music Critic of the New Yorker
There’s More – 22 August 2013
Alan Fletcher in Minnesota - 21 August 2013
The Eleventh Hour - 19 August 2013
NPR.org by Anastasia Tsioulcas
Iron Tongue of Midnight by Lisa Hirsch
More on Minnesota – 21 August 2013
Minnesota Orchestra on the Brink – 19 August 2013
Slipped Disc by Norman Lebrecht
Minnesota: The rights and wrongs of an ugly, endless confrontation – 04 December 2012
And if you’re looking for pretty much everything else that’s ever been written on this situation, check out Drew McManus’s website, Adaptistration, and Emily E Hogstad’s website, Song of the Lark. They have both discussed everything and everything about the orchestra business. While I only link a few specific articles below, it’s well worth your effort and time to either conduct a search of “MOA” within Adaptistration or visit the Chronological listing of Emily’s articles I’ve linked for you.
Adaptistration by Drew McManus
Disingenuous MOA - 26 August 2013
Link Love Friday - 23 August 2013
So Much For Good Faith Bargaining - 22 August 2013
Nothing But No In Minnesota - 19 August 2013
Is Minnesota the New AFM Line in the Sand? - 29 July 2013
Drew has been following this very closely for quite a while now. Here’s a link to more of his articles.
And saving the best collection for last… This is both very comprehensive and very well organized.
Song of the Lark by Emily E. Hogstad
How SaveOurSymphonyMN.org Was Named – 21 August 2013
Minnesota: The rights and wrongs of an ugly, endless confrontation - 04 December 2012 – yes, this was linked above with Slipped Disc, but in this article, Emily’s report of the Minnesota Orchestra’s goings-on thus far, requested of Slipped Disc, was cited. It’s worth a second mention.
Chronological listing of articles she’s written about the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout. It’s worth a look as there’s a lot of great information in here.
This entire situation is something that should never have happened, yet it has. Several musicians have already left so the orchestra is not the same as it was. The music director, Osmo Vänskä, has advised that he will leave in the next couple of weeks if an agreement is not reached. There are currently no job postings listed on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website, despite being short several musicians who have resigned in the last several months. I think that’s rather revealing in itself, don’t you?