Yesterday was quite the day: the Young Musicians of Minnesota made metro-wide news.
Yeah, unbeknownst to the locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians, the Young Musicians of Minnesota brought their instruments to Nicollet Mall to play a concert of Tchaikovsky 4 in front of US Bancorp. Their mission? To send a message to Richard Davis to end the lockout of their mentors and heroes. YMM members deliberately didn’t tell the musicians what they were up to. I’m sure there are rumors floating around the upper floors of US Bancorp and Wells Fargo that those damn musicians put ‘em up to it, but to believe that would be to succumb to the worst kind of cynicism. (Hear that, Minnesota Orchestral Association monitors? Good.) Sadly, Richard Davis didn’t acknowledge the crowd, nor did he send anyone down to say hello, but they did get an awful lot of attention on the Mall.
I couldn’t be there, but I was tipped off about the show beforehand, and so I shooed some dedicated Twin Cities Larkers to downtown Minneapolis, and I heard a couple reports of how the afternoon went. Well it turns out there was press there, and US Bancorp couldn’t really do much about any of it except watch uneasily and talk to people on cell phones.
Consequently the following three videos aired last night on KSTP at 4:30, 6, and 10. Kudos to YMMer Emily Green, who has more composure in a major interview than any other teenager I’ve ever seen.
I did notice, though…. There’s something in the first video that got snipped out of the second two. See if you can spot it!
Yeah, the whole part about Richard Davis; in other words, the whole reason for the concert.
I’m about to go all conspiracy-theory on you, so hang on.
KSTP is owned by billionaire broadcaster Stanley Hubbard. His wife Karen is a director emeritus at the Minnesota Orchestral Association. The Hubbards are big donors to various right-wing groups, including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, and as you can imagine, they aren’t sympathetic to labor. (Or, I imagine, the Young Musicians of Minnesota…) Were the KSTP reporters asked to tone their coverage down? Or was there an angry phone call from US Bancorp – or any of the other major companies represented on the board of the MOA – to KSTP? Or are these, as Stephen Colbert is fond of saying, the insane ramblings of a syphilitic brain? Was it a mere coincidence that Mr. Davis was excised from the later reports? Am I going nuts? What do you think? Judge for yourself.
Oh, politics. Must you worm your way into everything?
Speaking of politics! One of the gentlemen who was present at the impromptu show yesterday was a former chair of the Minnesota Republican party. He got into a discussion with one of my readers about the lockout, and he was apparently very frustrated at her inability to realize classical music is dead and Minneapolis is Detroit. I’m so thrilled this conversation finally sparked yesterday. The community hasn’t had a chance to debate one on one, eye to eye, soul to soul, and we deserve to have that chance. I guess we need to take it to the streets. In any case, this gentleman has been telling board members that they just ought to resign. And very suddenly, very unexpectedly, the gentleman and my reader found themselves in complete agreement.
Then, just as the YMM excitement was settling down, another reader emailed me. During some routine Googling, she’d found an amazing article about Richard Davis. This is the only article I’m aware of in which Mr. Davis discusses his relationship to the arts. And it was quite illuminating. Apparently as recently as 2010, it was his dream to be a bass player in the Minnesota Orchestra. (They do have a principal bass spot open….just saying…) He also describes how he got into the performing arts himself.
Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal breathlessly sets the scene:
It was the mid-1960s. Davis, who was not yet 10, had accompanied his mother, Neva, and sister, Patricia, to a cattle call for a Christmas production of the “Wizard of Oz.” On a whim, and without his mother’s knowledge, Davis tried out for a singing part in which he had to tap dance.
“I could tap dance like nobody’s business until I was 10, and I could sing. So I tried out,” Davis said.
When the aspiring Munchkins were called into the auditorium and the names of the ones who had won parts were being called, Davis’ sister uncharacteristically didn’t get a role. But they called the name “Ricky Davis” for a part in the Lollipop Guild…
Davis earned $28,000 for his two-week job, and that money helped get him through college years later. But Davis, who is judicious about telling this unlikely story about himself, said the event illustrates one of his greatest strengths in the business world.
“I must have been very comfortable. I was on that stage for two weeks. I could get in front of anybody,” Davis said. “I don’t remember the last time I was uncomfortable in a setting that I couldn’t figure my way through.”
Yes. Richard Davis has never been uncomfortable in a setting he couldn’t figure his way through. Awfully good to know.
In any case, I think it’s safe to say the lockout is a circus, and the ringmasters – and/or the tap-dancing Munchkins; not sure which – are losing control. Maybe they already have.