Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rebuttal to Michael Henson’s Testimony, Part 2/2

You can read the first half of my rebuttal here. Here’s the second.

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Music and musicians are the very center of our organization,

Interesting! Mr. Henson could prove this by addressing musicians’ concerns about sustaining artistic quality in a substantive public fashion, something he has not yet done.

and we are seeking to negotiate a contract with our musicians that is aligned with what our community can afford. This point is worth emphasizing. The Minnesota Orchestra is entirely supported by the generosity of this community, and our expenses need to be based on what this community is willing and able to give. That is the issue at the center of our talks.

No. It’s not.

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Rebuttal to Michael Henson’s Testimony, Part 1/2

Well, it took months, but we’ve finally heard more than a sentence or two from Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson.

On 23 January 2013 Mr. Henson testified in front of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in a hearing dedicated to exploring the impact of lockouts on communities.

And as you can imagine… I have some things to say.

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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 5: SPCO and SOSPCO Testimony

Here are links to testimonies given by Carole Mason Smith of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Mark Thoson and Sarah Nagle of Save Our SPCO.

And so concludes the transcriptions! I hope they were helpful to you in some capacity, regardless what “side” you’re on.

I’ll offer my thoughts…at some point. I’m not sure when. I’d like to let them percolate a bit first. In the meantime, what do you think?

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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 4: Orchestrate Excellence Testimony

This testimony was given by Laurie Greeno, co-chair of Orchestrate Excellence, in front of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives on 23 January 2013. Rep. Joe Atkins chaired. You can listen to Ms. Greeno’s testimony here. It begins at roughly 47:30.

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LG: Chair Atkins, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, thank you for considering the impact of the lockouts on our communities and the state of Minnesota. I’m Laurie Greeno, co-chair of Orchestrate Excellence, an independent coalition of over a thousand community members, donors, and concertgoers. In the last few weeks, this group of concerned citizens has formed to give voice to the tremendous economic, educational, and artistic repercussions of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout.

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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 3: Musicians’ Testimony

This testimony by Minnesota Orchestra musician Doug Wright was given to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives on 23 January 2013. Rep. Joe Atkins chaired.

You can listen to Doug Wright’s testimony here. It begins at 28:10, directly after Mr. Henson’s testimony. Mr. Wright appeared in front of the committee with his coworkers Tony Ross, Cathy Schubilske, and Burt Hara.

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DW: Thank you, Representative Atkins and committee members for your public service and your attention to the impact of lockouts in our region. My name is Douglas Wright, and I am proud to have been the principal trombonist of the Minnesota Orchestra for the past eighteen years. During that time, I, along with my team here, have played literally thousands of concerts for millions of people here in Minnesota, throughout the nation, and around the world. From Minneapolis to Bemidji, St. Paul to St. Cloud, and Pipestone to Roseville, the Minnesota Orchestra has had the privilege to bring world-class performances of great music all over our great state. The Minnesota Orchestra has also had the honor of representing our fine state throughout the United States and abroad, and we’ve been proud to bring home critical acclaim and recognition for our efforts. After our 2010 performance with Osmo at Carnegie Hall, one of the most respected critics in our industry, Alex Ross of The New Yorker, went so far as to call the Minnesota Orchestra the greatest orchestra in the world.

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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 2: Michael Henson’s Testimony

For part one of this series, click here.

This was testimony given to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives on 23 January 2013.

You can listen to Mr. Henson’s testimony here. It begins at 22:15.

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Rep. Atkins: There was I think a good reference to the fact that there are other lockouts taking place. Each time this issue seems to be talked about it’s in the context of the NHL lockout. Whenever I’ve spoken about it, however, I’ve talked about there’s a number of additional lockouts involving musicians, involving American Crystal Sugar up in Moorhead, and we’ve been joined next by Michael Henson, who’s the President of the Minnesota Orchestral Association. I appreciate your joining us this afternoon. Look forward to hearing your testimony, as well.

Michael Henson: Mr. Chair, and Representatives. Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee today, and I will offer a brief statement.

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Jan 23rd Hearing, Part 1: Rep Atkins’s Introduction

As just about everyone who has been following Orchestral Apocalypse ‘012-‘013 knows, the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives held a hearing on January 23rd in St. Paul to explore the impact of lockouts on our community. Everyone who was anyone was there: Minnesota Orchestral Association CEO Michael Henson! (this was a surprise; no one was expecting him) – Doug Wright from the musicians’ negotiating committee! – Carol Mason Smith representing the SPCO musicians! – representatives of Save Our SPCO! – representatives of Orchestrate Excellence! – heck, even Dobby was there! (although, rather bewilderingly, he chose to attend but apparently not to testify…? Odd.)

You can listen to and/or download the mp3 of the hearing here. Perhaps ironically for a musician, I absorb things better when I read them opposed to when I hear them, so I prepared a transcript of everyone’s remarks. I’m a fast typist and I had some spare time, so…yeah. I will devote one entry to each person’s testimony. I’m also planning a couple of entries devoted to analyzing what was all said (particularly by Mr. Henson), but those will come separately and later.

Rep. Joe Atkins, the chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, began the meeting with the following words.

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Hearing No 1: Date and Time

Many people have been asking when lawmakers will be holding hearings about the finances of the Minnesota Orchestra and/or St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Well, I have a concrete date for one hearing. This hearing will focus on the economic effect lockouts have had on the community. Here’s the press release describing it. It talks a lot about the NHL, but the Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO will be discussed as well…

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The Special Case of the SPCO

Well, on the heels of the disappointing cancellation of EVEN MORE CONCERTS at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, here’s an essay on the SPCO from SOTL reader Rolf Erdahl. You may remember him from his well-received guest-blog “What Can One Person Do?” (and if you have not read that already, I highly recommend you do so).

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One of my favorite books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It imparts important ideas about understanding, taking responsibility, discovering inner beauty, and connecting with and caring for the people and world around us. The Little Prince has a single rose on his small planet, “unique in all the world,” which he cares for, protects from dangers, forges a bond with, and loves. He discovers his rose is ephemeral, which means “threatened by disappearance at an instant.” His subsequent actions are always colored by the responsibility he feels to protect and cherish his rose.

During his journeys, The Little Prince meets people who can only see the world through narrow, skewed prisms, highlighted by how they view the stars. He meets a King who can only relate them by ruling them, a Businessman who wallows in owning and counting them, and a Geographer who catalogs stars and planets, but never visits them.

The SPCO is “unique in all the world,” it has a special bond with its community, it is ephemeral, “threatened by disappearance at an instant,” and we all are entrusted with the responsibility of its nurture and preservation. We must perceive it without biased eyes, see this miraculous ensemble for what it is and can be, and protect and preserve it.

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My MPR Commentary

I’m a contributor to Minnesota Public Radio now!

Minnesota Orchestra’s ‘fresh start’ needs to go beyond talks with musicians

So – yeah! A big thanks to everyone at MPR who helped to make this happen. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.

If you feel moved to, please share my article via the social network of your choice. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email, or printing it out and actually sharing it with someone when you speak to them face to face.

And if you want to get news and links like this RIGHT AS THEY HAPPEN, feel free to like SOTL on Facebook.

And Mr. Henson, or Mr. Campbell, or Mr. Davis…any time you want to contact me, feel free… We’re waiting… *checks watch* *smiles politely*

Once again, I reiterate: I am not a scary individual. I am ninety pounds, 5’5″, and disabled. You would win in a fight. What are you afraid of?

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