Glorious Grammy Celebration Concerts!

OsmoGrammyinORCHHALLcroppedThe Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra were thrilled to play three Grammy Celebration Concerts with Maestro Osmo Vänskä on March 27, 28, and 29. Sold out audiences gave Sibelius Symphonies No. 1 and 4 their rapt attention and thunderous ovations while gorgeous flowers from SOSMN adorned the podium. Orchestra Hall was filled with love for this great music and bond we share through it. MarchOsmo_003

We loved visiting with supporters decked in blue and white and sporting Finnish flags before and after the concert. The Musicians are grateful to Osmo for his extraordinary leadership for these passionate performances and to our dear audience members for their spirit and support. We will never forget these concerts!

Click on the photos for larger versions.MoMOFBCover

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra Announce Lake Harriet Concert

Last Year’s Concert Drew Nearly 4,000 Fans and Patronslakeharriet1

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will perform a free community concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, Sunday, September 15, at 5:00 p.m.

The Musicians are hosting this concert as a “thank you” to the community for their support of a world-class orchestra and musicians.

Orchestra member and principal trumpet player, Manny Laureano, will conduct Weber’s Overture to Der Freischutz and Tchaikovsky’s triumphant Symphony No. 5.

  • WHO:  Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra
  • WHEN:  Sunday, September 15th at 5:00pm
  • WHERE:  Lake Harriet Bandshell

Please join us! We look forward to playing for you!

Thank You to Musicians in Orchestras Around the World

Since the beginning of the lockout imposed by our management and board ten months ago, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our colleagues in other orchestras throughout America and Canada. As the lockout drags on, many of these orchestras (and individual members) have contributed again. We could not be more grateful and are genuinely moved by the generosity and solidarity of our colleagues in the orchestras listed below:

Alabama Symphony OrchestraMilwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Atlanta Symphony OrchestraNashville Symphony Orchestra
Baltimore Symphony OrchestraNational Arts Center Orchestra of Canada
Boston Symphony OrchestraNational Symphony Orchestra
Buffalo Philharmonic OrchestraNew Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Calgary Philharmonic OrchestraNew Mexico Philharmonic
Charlotte Symphony OrchestraNew York City Ballet
Chicago Lyric Opera OrchestraNew York Philharmonic
Chicago Symphony OrchestraNorth Carolina Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony OrchestraOrchestra London
Cleveland OrchestraOregon Symphony Orchestra
Colorado Springs Philharmonic OrchestraPhiladelphia Orchestra
Dallas Symphony OrchestraPittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Dayton Philharmonic OrchestraRochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Detroit Symphony OrchestraSan Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Florida Philharmonic OrchestraSan Diego Symphony Orchestra
Fort Worth Symphony OrchestraSan Francisco Ballet Orchestra
Grand Rapids SymphonySan Francisco Opera Orchestra
Hawaii SymphonySan Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Houston Symphony OrchestraSeattle Symphony & Opera
Indianapolis Symphony OrchestraSt. Louis Symphony
Kansas City SymphonySt. Paul Chamber Orchestra
Kennedy Center Opera House OrchestraSyracuse Musicians Association
l’Orchestre Symphonique de MontrealThunder Bay Symphony Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber OrchestraToronto Symphony Orchestra
Los Angeles PhilharmonicUtah Symphony Orchestra
Louisville OrchestraVirginia Symphony Orchestra
Memphis Symphony OrchestraWindsor Symphony Orchestra
Metropolitan Opera OrchestraWisconsin Chamber Orchestra

Quick Facts about the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout

  • The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have been locked out since October 1, 2012 with no salary or benefits.
  • We were never on strike, and in fact guaranteed that we would not strike if our management would participate in “play and talk” negotiations under our expired contract.
  • The contract proposal from management includes more than 25% pay cuts and a complete rewrite of all working conditions.
  • In 2012, our management and board completed a successful fundraising campaign which generated $97 million, including $52 million for a fully funded remodel of our hall, primarily the lobby spaces. Yet they continue to insist that there are inadequate funds to pay musician salaries, and refuse to submit to a comprehensive financial analysis by a third party.
  • We thank our colleagues in other orchestras, whose overwhelming support has enabled us to stand firm and united in resisting this attempt to recreate and severely diminish the Minnesota Orchestra. We know that the outcome of this lockout has ramifications for every professional orchestra in North America.

Catch Them While You Can – Encore and Photo Gallery

Thank you to all who attended our special Catch Them While You Can concert last weekend and for donating so generously.

We would like to share the encore from the concert, an excerpt of the Larghetto movement from the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, with Burt Hara, Erin Keefe, Gina DiBello, Thomas Turner, Anthony Ross. To listen: click here

Please enjoy the photo gallery of this special event. Photos by Courtney Perry.

Henson Faces Tough Questions from Legislators

Members of the House Legacy Committee yesterday delivered hard-hitting questions of Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson about the finances of the Orchestra and use of state tax dollars for bonding and Legacy funds.

“This seems like a cold-description of a balance sheet. It haunts me,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL). “It seems convenient that the lockout corresponds with the construction project.”

“This seems the opposite of preservation of the arts, it seems as if it is the destruction of the arts,” Hausman said.  Hausman is the chair of the Capital Investment Committee in charge of bonding projects.

“I see the Ohio orchestra is attracting record audiences,” said Rep. Joe McDonald (R). “So it seems as though other areas of the country are finding creative ways to make this work.”

Multiple times during his testimony, CEO Henson said he would like to “speedily” resolve the situation with the Musicians.

Henson’s testimony contradicts his actions since August.

–       The Musicians first proposed a “joint-independent financial analysis” in August. Management initially rejected the request and only agreed in principle in January to the analysis.

–       Management recently cited the time it would take for the joint independent study as the reason for cancelling concerts into April.

–       Management has rejected three requests by the Musicians to address the full board of directors since August.

–       Management rejected four proposals from the Musicians including binding arbitration.

“For the past four seasons a number of weeks have been left unscheduled. Musicians asked the management to schedule outreach and education concerts, offering specific ideas,” Orchestra violinist Catherine Schubilske testified.

“The answer was no. Essentially these were weeks where the musicians were paid to stay home and no concerts were produced. An estimated $2M was wasted on these unused services,” Schubilske said.

The Minnesota Legislature continues to examine the actions of the Minnesota Orchestra Management including two hearings calling CEO Henson to testify regarding the lockout, and most recently the use of Legacy funds.

Other legislative concerns include:

–         Henson misleading the Minnesota Legislature about the orchestra’s finances during his testimony in favor of the orchestra’s bonding request. LISTEN:

–       The revelations in the Star Tribune story of Monday, November 26th, 2012 which revealed that Henson’s strategy was to show “balanced” budgets when requesting state bonding funds, but show large “deficits” at the time of labor negotiations . STORY: MINUTES:

House Legacy committee chair, Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL) said the that Legacy Committee would likely meet again to discuss other options related to funding of the Orchestra. Henson left the committee without answering further questions from legislators or the media.

The Musicians issued a unanimous, secret-ballot “no confidence” vote on Henson in December.

ACME Benefit for El Sistema Minneapolis

Please join us for this very special concert with the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, Instrument Ceremony, and Silent Auction to benefit ACME.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
El Nuevo Rodeo, 2nd Floor
2709 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

On Wednesday, February 13th, Advocates for Community through Musical Excellence (ACME) will hold its first Annual Instrument Ceremony and Concert at El Nuevo Rodeo to benefit the children of the music-education program,
El Sistema Minneapolis.

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will perform a private performance of Vivaldi and Piazzolla Seasons, featuring Concertmaster Erin Keefe and Violinists Pamela Arnstein and Michael Sutton.

El Sistema Minneapolis is a program whose purpose is to help high-risk youth through community development and to inspire social change through classical music. ACME will celebrate its first class of students from Nellie Stone Johnson Community School and BEACONs of North Minneapolis with a performance on their hand-made cardboard instruments.  Following will be a ceremony where students are presented their hard-earned, real instruments. The event will include dinner by El Nuevo Rodeo and a silent auction.

Tickets are $35.00. To order,
please visit or call 952-465-4756.

Guests are encouraged to bring canned food items which will be contributed to the families of the El Sistema children. 

Silent auction prizes include an autographed home-made recipe from Amy Klobuchar and a private in-home dinner and performance from Ken Freed and a quartet of musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra.

To learn more about El Sistema Minneapolis,
please visit or
like on

A Special Gift From Japan

Gift of 96 Paper Cranes from Eriko

Read the story by Kristin Tillotson in the Star Tribune
Eriko Matsukawa, a blind English translator from Miyagi, Japan, sent a package containing the cranes (pictured at left) to the Musicians. She personally folded each crane (96 total) to represent each member of the Minnesota Orchestra. Included in the package was a letter as well as a large donation to the musicians fund. Orchestra member Sachiya Isomura brings the cranes to the full orchestra meetings each week as a reminder of her steadfast courage and hope. The Musicians responded to Eriko’s generous and thoughtful donation by flooding her email with thank you notes, recording voice thank you messages, as well as sending her hand written letters.

Link to the letter (original translation from braille)
Link to the letter (transcribed from the original translation) 

Here is another special thank you to our Japanese “Superfan”:

Dear Eriko,

We want to thank you so much for your very generous and spontaneous donation to our difficult struggle.  We fear we cannot write as eloquently as you do, but we very much want to thank you and to tell how much your contribution—and especially your words—have meant to us.

So often, after a concert, we leave the concert hall unaware of how our music may have affected listeners.  We always try to do our best for the great music we are privileged to play.  And we always hope that audiences are moved and their lives inspired by the music we love.  But rarely do we hear from someone who has been touched so directly and profoundly as you.

We are humbled by your kindness.  We cherish the letter you sent.  Your faith in us and in our ability to make music gives us strength to fight for our orchestra.

We will be thinking of you when we play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on December 15th and 16th.

With our deepest thanks and gratitude,

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra

Happy Thanksgiving

We are thankful on this day for all of you who have supported us so generously during the lockout. We are filled with gratitude for the love you continue to express for great music and for your belief in its power.

Good wishes to all,
The Musicians


You can make a tax deductible donation to the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra on give to the max day, and maximize your gift! You can even set up your gift right NOW in advance of give to the max day!

Here is the link to Working Partnerships, a non-profit group that has set up a fund for us: MMO Fund
After you enter a donation amount, the next page has an option for “Designate this donation for a specific cause”. Please click on that, and enter MMO.

One hundred percent of the amount donated to the fund will be used for our concert productions, events, educational and service-oriented projects, and an emergency relief fund for musicians (provisions to be set forth by the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Committee and Working Partnerships under 501c3 guidelines). This is a tax deductible donation.