save our symphony!

Last week I was busy shooting video, once again for Barbara Britain and her documentary program featuring Elden Lawrence, a Dakota Elder, which I have written about in a previous post.

One of the places I filmed Elden was at the Minnesota History Center, at a new exhibit called ‘Then Now Wow!‘ This exhibit contrasts how things used to be in Minnesota with how they are today. It’s the first exhibit the Center has designed especially for children.

I also had the opportunity to make this video for Save Our Symphony Minnesota, a group formed just a couple weeks ago to give voice to all who want to see the end to a management lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra musicians, which has lasted for nearly a year (coincident with a similar crisis at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra). The Orchestra’s board, after raising $50M for a renovation of Orchestra Hall, has been seeking to make radical cuts to musician compensation, shrink the size of the orchestra, diminish the Conductor’s artistic authority, etc., and musicians have been scrambling to make ends meet during protracted contract negotiations. There’s a lot more not to like about this situation and I refer you to SOSMN’s website and Facebook page for more of the ugly details.

When I reflected on what I was capturing this past week, I realized that, with orchestras facing an uncertain fate in Minnesota as well as many other places globally, our two world class orchestras in the Twin Cities could be candidates for inclusion in the ‘Then Now Wow!’ exhibit in the not-so-distant future.

Imagine that: Two orchestras in Minnesota that used to regularly perform classical music of the highest caliber, allowing the public to hear major works played by the best soloists and interpreted by the best conductors in the world, both live and through recordings. Two orchestras with musicians that served as teachers for those who wanted to learn to play the violin, the bassoon, the tympani.. and experience the pleasure given and received in playing. Imagine that they are a thing of the past. Gone. That all we have left are recordings from 20 years ago, and that there are hardly any musicians left who are able to play the great classical works of music.

I can’t quite believe this is really happening, but it is.


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