Thank you to our audience members for attending our concerts and supporting the Young Musicians of Minnesota! Throughout the two nights, a large sum of donations was collected, and we enthusiastically thank our donators--the YMM will now be able to function in bigger and better ways!
YMM would also like to extend its fondest thanks to the following individuals, groups, and organizations:
The Breck School, for lending use of Cargill Theater.
The MacPhail Center for Music, for lending use of Antonello Hall
Ferguson Hall at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, for lending rehearsal space.
Emily Hogstad, for her brilliant networking, wisdom, and program notes.
Take Action Minnesota, for working with us on projects to end the lockout.
Manny and Claudette Laureano, for leading an intensive side-by-side rehearsal with the Musicians.
MaryAnn Goldstein, for her donations and help involving YMM in community events.
Special thanks as well to the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra who performed with us on July 26th and 27th, and also thank you to those who served as sectional coaches during rehearsals:
Marni J. Hougham
Additionally, we would like to thank the Musicians simply for inspiring us to do what we do on a daily basis. Words cannot express our gratitude. You are why we love music, and for that, we thank you.
Below is Andy Troska's speech, read to the audience at our YMM Orchestra performances.
Working and rehearsing and playing together, we have begun to understand the Minnesota Orchestra lockout a lot better. I would like to share some of these insights with all of you. We’re not here to make any direct accusations against the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s board of directors or anyone else involved in the issue, though I will say that many of the recent negotiations have been rather dubious. You can and should check out Emily Hogstad’s brilliant blog Song of the Lark to get a detailed, compulsively-readable account of the Orchestral Apocalypse, as she has recently dubbed the lockout. But we’re not here to do that. We are here instead to show you just how important music is to the fabric of a community, how important a world-class orchestra is to a first-rate city like Minneapolis. Summer youth orchestras like ours are great, but they cannot compensate for the loss of an ensemble of the caliber of the Minnesota Orchestra. So what exactly is the value of classical music today? Why should we care about a fight which seems to be taking place behind closed doors between stubborn musicians and wealthy board members? Well, for starters, we’re talking about the reputation of our city here. And we’re talking about some very serious violations against the most basic principles of music making. Here we go:
Listening is the most essential skill for being a successful musician. You can have all the technique in the world, but if you are incapable of following your fellow musicians, matching tone, vibrato, phrasing, and tempo, creating something beautiful and cohesive is impossible. In successfully building, managing, marketing, and maintaining an orchestra, a similar style of listening is paramount. The management, the musicians, and the community all have to work together while listening to the concerns of the others in order to ensure the orchestra’s survival. This is clearly not happening, and I think this stems from the fact that certain individuals are unwilling to listen. People with great influence sit on the Orchestra’s board of directors. Some of them have enough pull – at two of the biggest banks in the country, for example, that they find catering to musicians’ concerns unnecessary. That is a problem. Since when should the most valuable parts of an orchestra – the musicians – have the least say in the matter? Is it sensible to have a board larger than the orchestra itself?
In a recent article, Michael Levine, president of the Milwaukee Musicians’ Association and Principal violist of the Milwaukee Symphony, claims that “every bad orchestra negotiation is a battle with the community’s power structure” and I think that that is exactly where the problem lies. In making music, especially orchestral music, there cannot be an imbalance of power. We need to recognize that creating orchestral music is a team effort. You just can’t argue that any one part is more important than another – sure, some players have the melody more frequently, and some players are always stuck on the offbeat, but can you imagine an orchestra without violas? Or French horns? I’m sure that your answer will be no after listening to the Tchaikovsky. But the point is, in order to do the music justice, to accomplish the goal of making music in the first place, we have to work together and value everyone involved in the process. When I say “everyone involved in the process,” I’m not just talking about musicians. I mean everyone who works to bring orchestral music to the community – including administration and board members. But as I said, nobody in an orchestra can truly be considered more essential than another. So doesn’t it seem strange that the musicians, those most directly involved in accomplishing the principal goal of any orchestra – to make music – are getting the short end of the stick? Doesn’t it seem strange that the Minnesota Orchestral Association went so far as to remove the orchestra itself from their mission statement? This is the kind of imbalance of power that inevitably leads to a musical disaster, whether we’re talking shrieking piccolos who aren’t watching the conductor or a 10-month-long lockout of one of the most wonderful ensembles in the country, if not the world. At this point, I would like to return to the idea of listening that I mentioned earlier. In finding the solution to this problem, all of us – the community, the musicians, and even the board – are going to have to balance making ourselves heard with listening to work in concert to find a solution.
As I said previously, listening is the backbone, the foundation of all good music making. And listening isn’t happening on any level in this situation. Negotiations – reliant on one side listening to the other – have effectively stagnated despite Osmo Vanska’s impending resignation. Media attention has died out as the conflict intensifies, and the board isn’t responding to musicians’ requests. And clearly, if we are not incensed about recent events, we are not listening closely enough either. All over the world, the Minnesota Orchestra has been heralded as a brilliant ensemble. They have been invited to play more than once at Carnegie Hall and the BBC Proms. Esteemed music critic Alex Ross called one of their lock-out concerts “already legendary.” We are talking about some seriously talented musicians here – Musicians who spent years and thousands of dollars on honing their craft, often playing difficult and expensive-to-maintain antique instruments. In my opinion, listening to the amazing sounds they can produce is argument enough, but if you can’t buy that, an immense respect for their achievements should suffice. These professionals cannot be expected to accept a pay-cut to compensate for an ill-planned renovation backed by questionable financial management. We should value them for the enormous asset that they are to the entire community.
Many things make a city great - food, sports, theater, and music, among many others. And I would definitely say that the Twin Cities are pretty great. But I would not say that we can afford this kind of loss. We could have it all – we are definitely on our way to becoming a truly first-rate metropolitan area. A constant stream of projects continues to improve the Twin Cities, from the light rail extension to the new Vikings stadium. I know pretty much nothing about football and don’t much care to, but I am all for new developments that bolster our reputation as a happening, interesting place. Unfortunately, I think that the destruction of an internationally acclaimed symphony orchestra would probably mar that reputation a bit.
It’s okay to be a little selfish: why should we care about the precarious state of the Minnesota Orchestra? For our own good and for the good of the city we live in! I’ve talked about the importance of listening in playing music and in negotiation, but really the most wonderful type of listening is hearing live music. Clearly, Minnesotans agree. The Minnesota Orchestra’s lock-out concerts have been sold out, and performances by other ensembles, such as the Minnesota Sinfonia’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth have been totally packed. We thrive on music, as appreciators and musicians alike. So go and get involved. Write letters, send emails, and voice your support. After you listen to our concert, go home and tell everyone: It’s time to make music again. Enjoy the show!"