More Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Move On

Management’s lockout and lack of a realistic offer continues to damage our community’s reputation as a leader in the arts.

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are heartbroken to announce the loss of more of our amazing and talented colleagues. We congratulate them on their new positions, and thank them for sharing their abilities with our orchestra and our community. We wish them well in their musical journey ahead. They will be deeply missed.

Musicians who have left:

Gina DiBello, Principal Second Violin since 2008, has won a section violin position with the Chicago Symphony. Highlights of Gina’s career with the Minnesota Orchestra have included solo performances of Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos. 3 & 5 with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Andrew Litton conducting. Known for her gentle leadership and lyrical playing, Gina was previously a member of the Detroit Symphony and is married to percussionist, Ian Ding.

Violist Kenneth Freed will move to Seattle this summer with his wife, Gwendolyn Freed. While continuing his position as the Music Director of the Mankato Symphony, Ken will take this opportunity to pursue new career options. Both Ken and Gwen have been significant leaders in our community, in both arts and education. In addition to his contributions to the Mankato community, Ken was the Founder and Board Chair of the Minneapolis non-profit, Learning Through Music. Other board service included the Yale Alumni Association of the North West, St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, the McNally Smith College of Music Foundation and the American Composer’s Forum. Ken played 2nd violin in the McKnight-winning Rosalyra String Quartet. Gwen served as the Executive Director of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, Vice President for Marketing and Communication for Gustavus Adolphus College, and most recently as the Executive Director of Wallin Education Partners.

Matthew Young has been granted tenure for his position as violist with the San Francisco Symphony and has resigned from the Minnesota Orchestra. A winner of the Grand Prize in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and as a recipient of a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, Matt visited many Minnesota and Wisconsin public schools, teaching and talking about his love for music and the Minnesota Orchestra.

First Associate Concertmaster Sarah Kwak has assumed the post of Concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony and has resigned from the Minnesota Orchestra. She served as the acting concertmaster for two seasons and performed numerous lauded solo works with the Minnesota Orchestra. Sarah has also performed as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and was awarded a McKnight Artist Fellowship as a member of the Rosalyra String Quartet.

Vali Phillips served the Minnesota Orchestra as Principal Second Violin for eleven seasons before joining the first violin section. Vali was featured as soloist on many occasions, including performances of the Bruch First Violin Concerto, the Dvorak Romance, and Bach Double Violin Concerto. He has resigned from the Minnesota Orchestra and has joined his wife, Sarah Kwak, in the first violin section of the Oregon Symphony.

First Violinist Peter McGuire has begun his position as Second Concertmaster with the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, under the direction of David Zinman. Solo performances with our orchestra included works by Kreisler, Massenet, and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. A native Minnesotan, Peter moved with his family to Switzerland in February.

Cellist Pitnarry Shin will move to New York with her husband, Kyu-Young Kim, who is leaving his position as Principal Second Violin with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to join the New York Philharmonic. A Fulbright winner and accomplished chamber musician, Pitnarry has the unusual distinction of having won two national auditions for the prestigious cello section of the Minnesota Orchestra; when she first joined the orchestra in 2001 and when she returned as a member in 2012. Pitnarry and Kyu had planned to raise their two young children in Minnesota.

As the Musicians and legislators continue to wait on a full-disclosure of the financial status of the Orchestra, most Musicians are continuing to find work in other orchestras throughout the world.

Legislative Investigation:

“It has been nearly one year, and management still has not shared all of the financial information we have requested. Endless delay followed by regular canceling of entire blocks of concerts cause us to suspect they never wanted a season. Now, of course, 100 legislators are asking those kinds of questions as well,” Tim Zavadil chair of the Musicians negotiating committee and clarinetist.

The Musicians have offered binding arbitration to the board and management as well as three other counter proposals to try to break the stalemate created by management’s October 1st, 2012 lockout of the “world’s greatest orchestra”.

“Perhaps the Henson scheme to move the Minnesota Orchestra out of the Top 10 to a regional minor league Orchestra is acceptable to the Board,” Zavadil said. “We know it’s not what Minneapolis leaders want, and is totally unacceptable to our dedicated fans.”

While each side has agreed to the independent financial analysis, the scope and depth of the review will now be explored by outside parties. The Musicians have been trying to come to an agreement since January with management about which outside party will conduct the joint-independent financial analysis. The Musicians first asked for the joint-independent financial in August 2012 and management finally agreed to discuss the agreement in January 2013.

Meanwhile, on March 7th, 100 legislators wrote to Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles:

“Therefore, in representation of the state’s interests and assurance of the value of and return on its investments we the undersigned members of the Minnesota legislature request that the Legislative Auditor audit the books of the Minnesota Orchestra Association, including a review of its feasibility study for the remodeling of Orchestra Hall, a review of the use of all public funds, and of testimony of Orchestra principals before legislative committees for and about securing of those funds.”

Negotiations Update

After agreeing to a ‘fresh start’ to negotiations on Jan. 2, Musicians and Management entered into discussions determining how to proceed with the joint independent financial analysis. These initial discussions resulted in a late January proposal by the musicians of a highly qualified individual to perform the analysis. Management responded in mid-February by submitting a different name for consideration. After researching management’s suggestion, Musicians responded in late February by submitting a proposal for the analysis to be performed jointly by management’s suggested person as well as an additional individual put forth by the Musicians, each having a different skill set and qualifications that would complement the other.

As of March 19, Management has yet to respond to that proposal.

Free Family Concerts!

Saturday, March 23
Family-friendly performances at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will present two family-friendly performances on Saturday, March 23 in the Sanctuary of Wayzata Community Church. Enjoy a lively afternoon with selections of Beethoven, Mozart, and Bizet! Between performances, meet the musicians at a reception. These concerts are free.

Wayzata Community Church
125 Wayzata Boulevard East 
Wayzata, MN 55391
Phone: (952) 473-8877



Boom Island Brewing Company created this special beer to support the Locked Out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra (LoMoMO). The proceeds from the sale of this beer will help to fund the educational concerts that the Musicians are currently self-producing to make up for the loss of educational concerts cancelled this season by the Minnesota Orchestral Association. The beer was named by Orchestra fan Nikki Bodurtha from Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a Facebook competition. Boom Island will donate $1 from the sale of every bottle for the Musicians education fund. A special thank you to horn players  Kevin and Qiuxia Welch of Boom Island Brewing for supporting music education for Minnesota’s youth during the lockout.

Find Boom Island’s LoMoMOPalooza in local
restaurants (on tap) and stores (in bottles) here
Have LoMoMoPalooza (or any of Boom Island’s fabulous brews) shipped to you here
Courtesy of South Lyndale Liquors

A review of the brew in the Heavy Table
The Toast: March 2013 03/06/2013 by JOHN GARLAND



The following letter was sent to Jim Nobles, Office of the Legislative Auditor from 100 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

The Minnesota Orchestra is a world class performing arts organization. It adds immeasurably to the quality of life in Minnesota through its performances both at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and in school and communities across the state.

The State of Minnesota invested significantly in a fact and future of the orchestra as a world class entity. It places Minnesota on the map nationally and internationally and adds to our region and state’s economic competitiveness. In recognition of that status, the State of Minnesota invested $16 million in public monies though bonding dollars to assist in the remolding of the lobby of Orchestra Hall and provides operating funding through ongoing Legacy dollars. We now find the return on those investments threatened by the lockout of the musicians and the logjam that the orchestra management and musicians’ representatives currently find themselves in.

News reports and review of the Orchestra President Michael Henson’s 2010 legislative testimony raise questions about the Orchestra’s financial situation with the public and legislators when requesting and receiving $14 million in bonding for a new lobby on Orchestra Hall. After the House Legacy hearing of February 18, 2013, there remains concerns about the public’s investments in the state’s largest arts organization.

The request and subsequent granting of Legacy funding for the 2012-2013 biennium was contingent and assuming that there would be an Orchestral season, since the current season has not begun and is cancelled through the beginning of April, gives us pause and concerns about the state’s investment. A portion of the State Arts Board of funding is to probide educational and community concerts throughout Minnesota. We understand that the lockout has denied youth from across Minnesota exposure to the Orchestra, as well as cancellations of concerts or events in the following communities: Bemidji, Osseo, Chanhassen, Forest Lake, St. Cloud/St. Joseph, and Winona.

It is in the State of Minnesota’s interest that this lockout be resolved in the quickest possible manner. Resolution of the lockout, the securing of a new contract between management and performers will allow the Minnesota ORchestra to return to its core mission of performing and educating across the region. A quick resolution will act to assure the preservation of the current corps of Grammy-nominated musicians, as assure a return on the public’s investment in this important cultural institution, its capital needs and operating budget.

Therefore, in representation of the state’s interests and assurance of the value of and return on its investments we the undersigned members of the Minnesota legislature request that the Legislative Auditor audit the books of the Minnesota Orchestra Association, including a review of its feasibility study for the remodeling of Orchestra Hall, a review of  the use of all public funds, and of testimony of Orchestra principals before legislative committees for and about securing of those funds.

Link to letter with signatures of the Minnesota House of Representatives