The Musicians celebrate the careers of three amazing individuals who have retired from the Minnesota Orchestra in recent months. Julie Haight-Curran, Personnel Manager, Tim Eickholt, Stage Manager, and Terry Tilley, Sound Engineer, are treasured members of our orchestra family who will be missed terribly. All three have served the orchestra and the music heard on stage with their myriad of talents, integrity, and dedication. They have stood by the Musicians during the lockout and helped us continue to bring music to our community. We honor them and wish them the very best in the future.
- Tim Eickholt retiring Head Stage Manager
- Terry Tilley retiring Sound Engineer
- Julie Haight retiring Personnel Manager
Our legendary Stage Manager, Tim Eickholt, retired September 1, 2013.
Tim was drafted into the U. S. Army in March 1969 and served in Vietnam. After 21 months serving his country, Tim was honorably discharged and returned home to Minneapolis and returned to his job with the Minneapolis Symphony.
Tim was Assistant Stage Manager until the retirement of long-time (and also legendary) Stage Manager Bob Gubbins. Tim was appointed Stage Manager at this time.
It would be impossible to list Tim’s immeasurable contributions as stage manager, but it is well known and acknowledged he went well beyond any job description.
Tim grew up in a family of stagehands, with both his father and uncle as fellow members of the trade. He has a unique and extensive history of the Minnesota Orchestra, show business in general, as well as managing a concert hall. One would be hard pressed to find a stage manager with more musical knowledge and a greater love of music. Tim especially enjoys Shostakovich.
Tim is a master designer, builder, and leader. The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have great comfort knowing their valuable instruments are transported all over the globe in trunks designed and built by Tim and his colleagues on the Stage Crew.
Tim was masterful when handling a huge crew – planning and setting up any kind of “show”, or dealing with music directors, guest conductors, choruses, stars and divas, every member of the orchestra, and all departments of the management. He anticipated and implemented all demands and potential problems, saving time and resources through careful planning, thus eliminating stress and heartache.
There have been the countless tours, from run-outs to major international tours with too many details to list. Suffice to say, Tim is respected worldwide, from London to Vienna, Berlin to Paris, Hong Kong to Sydney, New York to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and all concert halls in between.
In Tim’s words, “My job is to make it happen.”
Tim made it happen, and it was always with class, dignity and professionalism.
The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra stand up and applaud Mr. Timothy Eickholt – He will be missed by all!
The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra wish to honor Terry Tilley, our esteemed sound engineer, who retired under duress this fall. We have been lucky to work with Terry at Orchestra Hall since 1978, and we wish him well in the next chapter of his life.
Terry has led an impressively varied career, including work with artists as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Ella Fitzgerald, and Osmo Vänskä. A twin cities native, Terry was born in Minneapolis and raised in Bloomington. He grew up in a musical family with strong ties to the Minnesota Orchestra. In the mid-sixties, his family included no fewer than five professional bass players! Terry’s father, Lynn, played bass on the road with Minnesota Orchestra percussionist Elliot Fine in various big bands during the post-WWII years. Terry himself grew up playing bass, studying with both Art Gold and Jim Clute of the Minnesota Orchestra. He had quite a bit of success with the bass: in addition to playing in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and Minnesota All-State Orchestra, Terry started playing jazz and jobbing at age 12, making a living at this on and off the road for a decade starting in 1968. He recorded 4 albums as the bassist with the avant-garde group The Whole Earth Rainbow Band.
1968 also marked the start of Terry’s work as an audio engineer. A good sound engineer is hard to find, and is as vital to the finished product as any of the performers. In addition to overseeing audio equipment (microphones, monitors, amplifiers, and audio lines), responsibilities include creating the right balance between various instruments and/or voices, adjusting to the different acoustics of each new venue, making sure the musicians can clearly hear what they need in order to perform well, and communicating and collaborating with the musicians: a necessity in achieving a great performance.
In the early to mid-1970s, Terry ran a small recording studio in addition to working as a teacher and musician at the Guild of Performing Arts on the West Bank and with the Nancy Hauser Dance Company. He has also worked in theatrical sound design for shows at the Guthrie, Penumbra, and Frank Theaters. Over the years, he has collaborated with an impressively long list of artists, the variety and quality of which make clear his excellence across a broad array of styles. Besides the Minnesota Orchestra, Terry has mixed sound for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, Sarah Vaughn, Rosemary Clooney, John Denver, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, BB King, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, Rod Stewart, Dianne Reeves, Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Bob Hope, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, and many, many more!
From all of the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra: Thank you, Terry, for sharing your time and talents with us! You will be missed!
“I make sure that the right people, are in the right place, at the right time, with the right music in the right clothes!” is the definition according Julie Haight-Curran, who retired in December of 2013, after 20 years as Minnesota Orchestra Personnel Manager. In reality, however, the extensive responsibilities of the Personnel Manager include just some of the following tasks:
She/he must have thorough knowledge of the master agreement, prepare and maintain payroll, scheduling of musicians, hiring of substitute and extra musicians, and coordinating auditions. The PM serves as a liaison between conducting staff and musicians; administrative staff and musicians; and the management and musicians’ union. In addition there is a myriad of professional interactions with the musicians on many levels including various committee meetings attended by both parties, coordinating and running auditions, monitoring recording sessions, and managing personnel for domestic and international tours, among many other duties.
Aside from all of this, Julie has consistently demonstrated so much more than the job description outlined above. The unique and special entity of the orchestra family was fully embraced by Julie. The individuals of the orchestra are a jigsaw puzzle of personalities and issues, many of which often appeared in the PM’s lap (not literally – hopefully). The potential for a perfect storm was always possible – and of course happened! It was always wise to peek into the small window in Julie’s door before knocking – better yet, make an appointment. From the moment a musician joined (her favorite task was introducing new players) or retired from the orchestra, she shared in the joy of births, and the grief of deaths and pain of illnesses. Everyone was treated with professionalism, respect, kindness and humor, the latter being one of the most essential qualities.
Her first day of work was the day after Thanksgiving, 1979, as secretary in the Artistic Department, working with Ron Balazs, violin (1954-1993), and PM for 29 of those years, and Ron Hasselmann, Associate Principal trumpet (1958-1999), and Associate PM for 12 years. On that first day of work for Julie, the orchestra was playing Johann Strauss’ Auf der Jagd, which calls for firing a pop gun (fortunately not by the Personnel Manager) coordinated with a rubber chicken flying through the air. Her first task with the Minnesota Orchestra required her to find conductor Leonard Slatkin’s rubber chicken. (One never knows the demands of the conductor.) It was a frantic search as she wondered what in the world she had gotten herself into….
“Ron Balazs was definitely one of a kind. He was always generous with his knowledge, patient with me when I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, inclusive and hard working. I loved double rehearsal days because Ron B and Ron H would include me in their lunches between services. The stories I would hear were fascinating, hilarious, scandalous and most amazingly, I found out later, true. Ron was addicted to the telephone. He rarely said hello, just started talking and rarely said goodbye – just hung up. There were no cell phones or voicemail in those days. Ron had a phone in every room of his house – and I mean every room of his house. I still consider it a privilege and honor to have worked with him. He taught me so much about the history of the musicians, the orchestra and the union struggles – why clauses were the way they were in the contract. The audition process and work hardening for musicians returning to work after injury are both models in the industry.”
Before Julie was hired as Personnel Manager in 1993, she had numerous jobs with the Minnesota Orchestra. She worked in the marketing department, was budget coordinator for non-classical concerts, ran YP concerts for one year, wrote advertising copy, and secured funding and locations for Symphony for the Cities performances. She also ran a telemarketing campaign for subscription concerts, which consisted of tables in the back hallway with about 20 black rotary phones and an order form and pencil at each station – that’s it! In 1988 she had left the MO to she attend the University of St. Thomas, receiving an MBA in 1990, and three years later returned to the Minnesota Orchestra in her new position.
Julie was supported through thick and thin by her late husband, Tom Curran, a great music lover and pianist. As an adult he studied with local classical players enhancing his lengthy jazz background. In another life, Julie was a double bass player studying at the University of Iowa. She and former Minnesota Orchestra bassist, Jim Clute, studied with the same teacher, Eldon Obrecht. Julie’s love of jazz goes back to her high school days starting when she was the bass player for the high school jazz band in Mason City, IA, home of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man! Archaeology has also been a long time interest starting with finding objects on the farm where she grew up in the newly plowed fields in the spring. Recent digs have been to the Mesa Verde area in SW Colorado. Nothing like digging up 1,000 years of history.
She will be greatly missed by everyone. Please join us in wishing her the very best in the next chapter in her life.
Tribute written by Julie Ayer, Minnesota Orchestra violinist (1976-2012) and author of More Than Meets the Ear – How Symphony Musicians Made Labor History