Comments are at the end of this post
Ninety years young Stanislas Skrowaczewski led a marvelous Minnesota Orchestra concert at the Ted Mann Theatre last night. Maestro led the Orchestra from 1960-79, and during his tenure the Orchestra changed its name from Minneapolis Symphony to Minnesota Orchestra, and Orchestra Hall was built in downtown Minneapolis.
More after a few important announcements:
(click to enlarge. Printable pdf here: Save Our Symphony Nov 20001
Special Event Honoring Stanislas Skrowaczewski Feb 20, 2014: Skrowaczewski Gala 2-22001
Musicians Fact Sheet about the current status of Negotiations: Musicians Reality Check 001
The Musicians website is not yet updated but according to an announcement from the stage by an Orchestra member last night, their goal at Give to the Max on Nov. 14 was far exceeded, and they are grateful. Check the website for more information, including upcoming special events, including the Christmas season concert with Eiji Oue in December.
Comments included at the end of this post. My blog “file cabinet” for the Orchestra Lockout can be found at August 30, 2013, here.
The concert on November 15
Here is the program booklet for the concert: Orchestra Prog Nov 15 13001
I am not an expert in music; I simply love orchestral music, and have great affection for the Minnesota Orchestra for over 30 years now.
Last night was no exception to a long run of quality performance. Maestro Skrowaczewski and the Orchestra were in synch and I marvelled at his endurance at, now, age 90 (October 3 was his birthday). We had seen him about a year ago at the first locked out concert, about two weeks into this unreal conflict. I wrote a bit about it then. You can read it here. Back in those naive days, I think we all felt that this would be a short conflict, none of us imagining 411 days and counting.
I was more attentive to age, last night, than usual. A few days earlier, on Monday, I had to help move my near-89 year old Uncle into Nursing Home quarters in North Dakota. This was not easy. And here was a 90-year old man leading a premier Orchestra.
To my left, last night, were two young women, probably college students, rapt with attention.
To my right was Don, an 84 year old neighbor we’d brought with us, who was absolutely enthralled. He said he had first seen the Minneapolis Symphony under the baton of Dimitri Mitropoulos (1937-49), and he had the autograph of the conductor framed on his home wall. He doesn’t drive, and depended on a ride to get to the concert.
My Uncle, on the other hand, will never see this Orchestra, or any large Orchestra for that matter. But in no way does this diminish him. Last time I saw him, he was playing a little tune on the piano in the Nursing Home, and he has a particular love of music generally, including a still strong and in-tune singing voice.
His Dad, my Grandpa, was a farmhouse fiddler who, for a time, had a small country band. Grandpa had received some training in the violin and used sheet music to play tunes. For as long as I can remember their farm house had a piano, and Grandpa often played his “fiddle”.
One of the most moving moments of my life came 20 years ago at a family reunion, when a cousin played Grandpa’s actual fiddle, and one of my other uncles, now deceased, broke down listening to the music of his father, played on his fathers instrument.
I really don’t know where this is all going to end up, but I applaud the musicians for standing for upholding a tradition now 113 years old.
My “mantra” remains: where does the audience fit into this matter? That old man who was our guest; those students; myself and my wife? People like my Uncle who’ve never been and never can…. It is an important question, and seems to be ignored by the big money and power interests. We are ignored at their peril.
We weren’t supposed to take photos last night, and I followed the rules.
Here are three snapshots taken during “legal” times!
During the past few weeks the Minneapolis Star Tribune has carried a number of items relating to the Orchestra situation. If interested, most if not all of the following are accessible simply by search of the Star Tribune archives. Click here to begin.
Nov 5: Short Takes editorial comment
Nov 6: Letter from Mary McLeod
Nov 9: Front Page article by Graydon Royce
Nov 10: James Lileks column
Nov 11: Musicians Marcia Peck, Tony Ross, Tim Zavadil write op ed column
Nov 12: Letter from Karen Bachman
Nov 13: Op Ed column by Lee A. Henderson
Nov 15: Op Ed column by Board member Nicky Carpenter
Nov 16: Three letters, from Rep. Kahn, Patricia Borman, Jeff Becker
Madeline S, Nov. 16: I was at the Thurs. eve. concert. It was fantastic! I remember in my undergraduate music student days 1964-1968 at the UofM, the Minneapolis Symphony directed by “Skrovie” was changing to the Minnesota Orchestra. The Symphony rehearsed and performed in Northrop Auditorium; the University Symphony rehearsed in a large room downstairs in Northrop and performed on the same stage as the Symphony. There were open Symphony rehearsals we could attend. Some of the Symphony musicians practiced in the same practice rooms we music students used in Scott Music Hall. My cello teacher, former principal cellist, Robert Jamieson, gave me private lessons in a practice room in Scott Hall. Many students studied with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and still do. It is so unbelievable that this lockout is happening.
I also recall the first time I heard the Minneapolis Symphony in a live performance. The Fergus Falls, MN, public school orchestra director drove a few of us advanced string players down to Mpls for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Northrop. We drove back in a car in a snow storm. Those were the days when public schools, even in a town of only about 13,000, had orchestra and band programs from late grade school through high school, and classes in art. The orchestra director also directed the local civic orchestra, and the band director played oboe in the civic orchestra.
Greg H, Nov. 16: Read especially third orchestra letter.
Dick, Nov. 17, responding to Greg: Presumably Greg refers to the Jeff Becker letter in the Nov 16 Minneapolis Star Tribune (above). In his letter, Jeff complains about news attention to the Orchestra, because he has no interest in the Orchestra, and most people don’t care either. Essentially, “the only things that matter are what matter to me….” Unfortunately, this is a pretty typical response about most anything by most anybody in today’s U.S. “Me. Now.” is all that matters.
I agree with Jeff to some degree. In fact I wrote about this dynamic on October 1, 2013. Since few care, those of us who care more need to do much more to assure the survival of this Orchestra.
Actually, if Jeff could get past his “me, now” attitude, he would find that his world is full of things that he cares about, that wouldn’t exist had not some small group of people, sometime, persisted in their vision for whatever-it-was that he’d miss if it disappeared.
Margaret Mead said it very well years ago: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” I used that quote to headline a website that is a tribute to two people who were committed to making a difference, and have…. There’s another quote at that page, from Gandhi, which also applies to us as individuals. Take a look.
UPDATE from Dick Nov. 19: There was a particularly interesting and pertinent letter in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune responding to the Jeff Becker complaint referred to above. I say again, as I’ve said often, the key to all of this is the audience.
Here is the letter:
If only the paper would be tailored just for me
I relate to the Nov. 16 letter writer who doesn’t want to read articles about the Minnesota Orchestra because he doesn’t care. Here are the things I don’t care about and would therefore like eliminated from the Star Tribune:
• Sports that I don’t follow (pretty much all of them).
• News of the weird, especially anything about Congress.
• Articles about celebrities I’ve never heard of (or wish I’d never heard of).
• Food articles — I am not a cook.
• 80 percent of the comics.
• Hunting sections.
• Automobile sections. (My car runs. That’s all I care about.)
• Articles about fancy homes I can’t afford.
• Articles about entertainment (except for things I might attend).
• Sunday NY Times Crossword Puzzle — I can’t do it.
• Crime articles — they’re all downers.
• Obituaries — I’m not dead.
• Weather — I just don’t care.
• Letters to the editor by people who disagree with my opinions.
ALICE WILLIAMS, Plymouth