Gratitude for a New Beginning

If it somehow escaped your attention, let me be the bearer of good tidings and announce that the lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra musicians has come to an end.  And better still, the ugly labor dispute that led to the lockout is also resolved—the musicians and the Orchestra’s management have agreed to a three-year contract that will bring great music back to our community beginning February 1.


I started writing a blog about my thoughts on the dispute and what I think should—and will—happen next.

But very quickly I realized that before I did any of that, I needed to say a few words of gratitude and admiration for those who made this turn of events possible.  Together, you all did something remarkable—you kept alive one of our community’s greatest cultural assets.  I recognize that here have been losses, and some of those losses may be permanent.  I know there has has been pain, and some of the pain will be slow to heal.  As a member of the community, let me offer my apologies for all that has happened.

But we have collectively emerged from this long night and into a brighter day.  And for that, let me acknowledge a few people who have my deepest respect and gratitude.

* * *

First, I want to thank the musicians for seeing this through.  Your actions before, during, and now after this terrible lockout have been exemplary.  You handled yourselves with grace and class throughout… but more than that, you behaved with determination.  What you went through was horrible; but your strength and determination to see things right has made it possible for other arts organizations to stand up as well, and will help ensure that others won’t go through this same ordeal.

I’ve also been gratified that through this whole sorry episode, you have shown that you were not fighting just for your own positions or your own personal gains, but to maintain the Minnesota Orchestra as a whole.  To maintain the Minnesota Orchestra’s position as the state’s flagship music group.  To uphold its traditions and preserve its historical memory.  To guard its artistic excellence.

To maintain its dignity.

And let me say how inspired I’ve been by your fortitude.  Unless I’m mistaken, few of you studied arts management at Juilliard or Curtis.  But without a formal, practical background in this area, you created and maintained your own concert season.  Remarkable!  As someone who has done arts management for many years, I commend you for your resourcefulness, your diligence and the quality of what you did.  Going forward, this will be such a valuable asset to the Orchestra.  I hope musicians in other ensembles follow your example and get more involved.

So thank you to Erin Keefe, Sarah Kwak, Roger Frisch, Stephanie Arado, Pamela Arnstein, David Brubaker, Rebecca Corruccini, Helen Chang Haertzen, Céline Leathead, Rudolf Lekhter, Peter McGuire, Joanne Opgenorth, Vali Phillips, Milana Elise Reiche, Deborah Serafini, Gina DiBello, Jonathan Magness, Taichi Chen, Jean Marker De Vere, Laurel Green, Aaron Janse, Arnold Krueger, Catherine Schaefer Schubilske, Michael Sutton, Thomas Turner, Richard Marshall, Rebecca Albers, Michael Adams, Sam Bergman, Sifei Cheng, Kenneth Freed, Eiji Ikeda, Megan Tam, Matthew YoungAnthony Ross, Beth Rapier, Eugena Chang, Sachiya Isomura, Katja Linfield, Marcia Peck, Pitnarry Shin, Arek Tesarczyk, Matthew Frischman, Kathryn Nettleman, William Schrickel, David Williamson, Robert Anderson, Brian Liddle, Adam Kuenzel, Greg Milliren, Wendy Williams, Roma Duncan, Roma Duncan, John Snow, Julie Gramolini Williams, Marni J. Hougham, Burt Hara, Gregory T. Williams, David Pharris, Timothy Zavadil, John Miller, Jr., Mark Kelley, J. Christopher Marshall, Norbert Nielubowski, Michael Gast, Herbert Winslow, Brian Jensen, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, Bruce Hudson, Manny Laureano, Douglas C. Carlsen, Robert Dorer, Charles Lazarus, R. Douglas Wright, Kari Sundström, Steven Campbell, Peter Kogan, Jason Arkis, Brian Mount, Jason Arkis, Kevin Watkins, Kathy Kienzle, Paul Gunther, Eric Sjostrom, and Valerie Little. 

I wanted to list you separately to remind us all that you are not “the union” or even “The Musicians,” but individuals who are valued for your individual gifts to the community.  Some of you have gone, but you all have my deepest gratitude for what you’ve achieved here.  Thank you.

* * *

Parallel to that, I want to thank the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra for making this deal happen.  By your actions, you have ended a painful chapter in the organization’s history, and allowed a new start that will allow the Orchestra to heal and rebuild.  Thank you for your leadership.  I know you have already given greatly to the organization in terms of your time, talent and treasure, and I take it as a hopeful sign that you are willing to take a stand to ensure this cultural treasure will survive and thrive into the future.  I’m also hopeful that like the musicians, you’ve seen a larger, even broader role for yourselves in the organization.

At the end of the day, I don’t know what role each of you played in the deliberations or in bringing this deal forward, so let me thank you all.  Thank you to Jon R. Campbell, Richard K. Davis, Patrick E. Bowe, James C. Melville, Nicky B. Carpenter, Kathy Cunningham, Luella G. Goldberg, Douglas W. Leatherdale, Ronald E. Lund, Betty Myers, Marilyn C. Nelson, Dale R. Olseth, Rosalynd Pflaum, Margaret D. Ankeny, Mari Carlson, Andrew Czajkowski, Dolly J. Fiterman, Beverly Grossman, Karen H. Hubbard, Hella Mears Hueg, Harvey B. Mackay, Joan A. Mondale, Susan Platou, Emily Backstrom, Karen Baker, Rochelle Blease, David L. Boehnen, Margaret A. Bracken, Barbara Burwell, Mark Copman, Ken Cutler, Jonathan F. Eisele, Jack W. Eugster, John F. Farrell, Jr., Ben Fowke, Paul D. Grangaard, Jane P. Gregerson, Susan Hagstrum, Karen L. Himle, William A. Hodder, Shadra J. Hogan, Jay V. Ihlenfeld, Philip Isaacson, Nancy L. Jamieson, Douglas A. Kelley, Steven Kennedy, Lloyd G. Kepple, Michael Klingensmith, James A. Lawrence, Mary Ash Lazarus, Allen U. Lenzmeier, Nancy E. Lindahl, Martin R. Lueck, Kathleen Lundeen, Warren E. Mack, Eric Mercer, Anne W. Miller, Hugh Miller, Timothy O’Brien, Liz O’Neal, Anita M. Pampusch, Eric H. Paulson, Chris Policinski, Teri E. Popp, Paula J. Prahl, Gregory J. Pulles, Judy Ranheim, Michael M. Roos, Jon W. Salveson, Sally Smith, Robert Spong, Gordon M. Sprenger, Mary S. Sumners, Georgia Thompson, Maxine Houghton Wallin, Tim Welsh, Wendy Wenger Dankey, John Whaley, David S. Wichmann, John Wilgers, and Paul R. Zeller.

Similar to the musicians, I wanted to list you separately to remind us all that you are not “the board,” but community leaders who have saved our orchestra through your individual efforts.  I’ve been strongly critical of some of your actions in my blog, so let me thank you just as strongly for accepting this deal.  You have my gratitude.

* * *

And of course, thank you to the community members who worked feverishly to save the Orchestra.  What an astonishing thing you’ve done!  With few resources, but an abundance of passion, you came together into coalitions, did research, worked as advocates, and ultimately created a campaign that changed the trajectory of the debate.  You all made points and took stands that the musicians couldn’t—or at least couldn’t without coming off as self-interested and entitled.  You changed a he-said-she-said dynamic into a broader conversation about what the community as a whole wanted and needed.  You were astonishingly resourceful and achieved the remarkable.

And along the way, you helped redefine what it meant to be a music-loving member of the community.  I mentioned in my review of Eiji Oue’s holiday concert that you have created something new here in the Twin Cities—the idea of an audience advocate.  Someone who isn’t just a ticket buyer or listener, but rather takes ownership in the organization, its processes and its final product.  Along the way you’ve created a sense of camaraderie that was exhilarating.  It’s been an honor to get to know you. Watching your success here gives me great hope for the future of the Orchestra, and classical music as a whole.

So for their tireless advocacy and their spirit of community, thank you to Orchestrate Excellence led by Laurie Greeno and Paula DeCosse, and Save Our Symphony Minnesota led by Maryann Goldstein, Jon Eisenberg, Nils Halker, Mariellen Jacobson, Linda Murrell, Michael McNabb, and  Bill Slobotski.  And of course, the Young Musicians of Minnesota led by Emily Green, Grant Luhmann, and Mary Alice Hutton.  Also, thank you to SOS OSMO, a group led by Mina Fisher that tried valiantly to keep Osmo in town, and Lee Henderson, who put his money where his mouth was and presented his own plans to keep the Orchestra viable. Behind the leadership teams of these groups are countless supporters and volunteers, who have been incredibly dedicated and done an enormous amount of work to end the dispute.

And of course there is a phalanx of bloggers who have given us much to think about, providing analysis and new perspectives. Among the many blogs covering the ordeal were Adaptistration (Drew McManus), Eyes on Life (Gina Hunter), Polyphonic Blog (Robert Levine), and Sticks & Drones (Bill Eddins).

I am amazed and humbled by all they’ve accomplished, and heartily thank them for their efforts.

* * *

And there is someone else who has my deepest gratitude and respect.

To fully explain, let me give a musical reference that I know well as a singer—the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the Ode to Joy.  This is a work that starts off in darkness, uncertain and in turmoil, embodying all the frustration and fear I think we all felt as the lockout unfolded. Against that, one man stands up and says, “Friends, enough of these sounds. Let us raise our voices up… to sing with joy.”  And he does so, and the other singers take up the song start to join him. Slowly at first, but with greater and greater purpose, and soon we won’t be denied. Together—all of us together—we take back our world.

This is the role Emily Hogstad played in this dispute.

At a time of much apprehension but little sense of what to do about it, she stood up and made a clear, eloquent stand.  Through her blog, Song of the Lark, she raised her voice in song, and one by one many others—myself included—joined in.  And together we took back our world.

I openly acknowledge the debt my blog owes to her, and thank her for everything she’s done.

So, to all those who helped to end this terrible labor dispute, I thank you.  You have brought music back to our community.



10 thoughts on “Gratitude for a New Beginning

  1. Absolutely and stunningly beautiful. Thank you for – once again – expressing through words what I merely felt and thought.


  2. Thank You, Scott! Time after time, your blog entries provided cogent analysis of a complex situation. I appreciate your taking the time to individually list the musicians and the board members. Indeed, they should be called out as individuals who played important roles in the past 15 months. I celebrate the end of the lockout, and I look forward to attending concerts with new friends I have made over the past 6 months.


  3. Okay… that was a shed’s load of work, Scott. But it is symbolic of what you and Emily did for us for the last 15 months,so, I guess you’re just not a stranger to hard work toward a noble end. Thanks for the posts that gave me so much hope. They made me feel as though someone was listening and cared.


  4. As I’ve followed this saga and unfortunate situation; I am happy for the community and also for the musicians of the MN Orch. to continue playing… making a living and also providing an Art to the lack of musical Art in our brilliant America. – Tell me the importance of a Football, Baseball, Basketball, boo Ball bla’ … as the seasons go
    So Important ?

    How long does a beautiful song take?, How long does a beautiful song last?, How long does a beautiful song heal … the pain?

    With Love,


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  6. Really there is nothing more profound to add, but I simply feel a desire to simply add my voice of gratitude, not just for Scott’s perfectly eloquent and complete accounting of gratitude, but for the important voice and perspective he raised through this blog.

    It has been astonishing and heartening to see this travesty suddenly drawing media attention once again to the august MN Orchestra and SPCO (as the STrib and Pioneer Press both discontinued any type of regular classical music coverage). It’s been MinnPost, MPR and the blogs that reopened the discussions — not just of the issues at hand, but more broadly discussing the issues of art in society. Today MinnPost shared an important piece on all the administrative holes created by the MOA to their own organization, and in turn I fervently hope that the dearth of media attention to our venerable classical music organizations these last few years might change out of this situation, so that we can again see public, meaningful coverage of classical music in our community. Perhaps it is going to be MinnPost + blogs that will provide it in this new world instead of the corporately managed traditional media outlets. Whatever it needs to be, I pray that as a community we keep meaningful discussions on arts events and arts topics central to our moving forward.


  7. I’ve been following this saga from afar (I live in Baltimore and have never been to Minnesota), and I am beyond joyous that this horrible chapter is behind you.

    With Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, though most observers would not rank it with the pre-Henson MOA, I’ve been lucky to attend concerts over the past year or so where the only drama was on stage.

    I wish you all the best of luck at putting together the pieces, and thank your for fighting so hard for the chance to do just that.


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