On October 1st, 2012, the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout began. And, on October 1st, 2012, the music stopped. The concerts seized. The passion went missing, through the Management’s disownment of the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians. Our Minnesota Orchestra Musicians, the very ones nominated for a Grammy, the ones receiving a monumental opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall this year. So far, the Minnesota Orchestra has lost twenty-six musicians. And, as each day passes, more musicians continue to leave in order to find other work. Our Minnesota Orchestra is slowly disintegrating in front of our own eyes.
As the lockout pushed onward, the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians weren’t the only ones being affected. The community was locked out too—specifically the young musicians and students. Each of us has had our musical development impacted by the Musicians, whether it’s through private lessons, concerts, theory classes, musician-led sectionals, or side-by-side rehearsals. With the lockout, however, our musical growth has been obstructed. Every month, we lose our irreplaceable teachers and mentors as they undertake gigs with other orchestras across the nation. Their concerts, so important to our learning, have become nonexistent. The Musicians, our inspirations, are without work.
Students without their teachers and directors not only affects their musical capabilities, but it also affects their enthusiasm for classical music and the fine arts. Without Minnesota Orchestra concerts for students to attend, young musicians’ exposure to classical music will slowly dwindle away. Classical music will eventually become a lost art form in Minnesota. Music students will lose the ability to communicate and express themselves through music. Many music students will lose the hobby that their life revolves around. And, lastly, music students will lose the opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming a professional musician in the Minnesota Orchestra.
To preserve the Minnesota Orchestra’s 110-year legacy, the Young Musicians of Minnesota (YMM) formed in May of 2013 by a group of students wanting to show their appreciation and gratitude for the Locked Out Musicians, as well as make their voices heard in the current dispute. We have made it our mission to do everything we can to bring our Musicians back to the stage and make sure they are being compensated for their work. Our missions have included writing letters to elected officials, Board, Management, and Musicians, creating a student-run youth orchestra, hosting a flash mob concert outside of U.S. Bancorp Headquarters, having chamber ensembles perform at various events, and using the social media to create a presence.
The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are more than just a name on a concert program. They are our role models and they are whom we aspire to be like. The Musicians are our heroes: they are our celebrities. They are talked about only in the highest manner. Often, we music students make discussions about them at our rehearsals. We may dream about one day having a lesson with them. Or we may just mention how we simply got to congratulate them after an awe-strucking performance they put on. Destroying the Minnesota Orchestra may lead to the destruction of everything a young musician possibly lives for.
I, on the behalf of the Young Musicians of Minnesota, urge the Minnesota Orchestral Association Management to resolve the lockout. Save the orchestra that means so much to us students. Save the orchestra that us young musicians cannot possibly live without. Bring back the orchestra that we look forward to hearing at every concert they perform. Bring back the orchestra that creates such a centripetal factor in Minnesota. Bring back the orchestra that Alex Ross considers to be “legendary”.
As I am writing this, the Minnesota Orchestra’s recording of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony is playing in the background. I sat and listened to the horn section dominating the beginning of the piece. The perfect balance, tone, and intonation are the unmistakable sounds of our Minnesota Orchestra. The pizzicatos done by the strings are perfection. The grandeur and energy from the trumpet section is magnificent. The emotion expressed with each and every note played is indescribable. Incredible. Bruckner’s 9th is a reminder of why we need a Minnesota Orchestra. Bruckner’s 9th is a reminder of why I want to become a professional musician. And lastly, Bruckner’s 9th is a reminder of why this lockout needs to end. It’s time that our Minnesota Orchestra Musicians are brought back to doing what they do best: performing world-class music, under the direction of Osmo Vänskä, center stage at Orchestra Hall.
It’s time to make music again.
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The Minnesota Orchestra cross-blog event is a collection of more than a dozen bloggers, musicians, patrons, and administrators writing about the orchestra’s devastating work stoppage. You can find all of the contributions in the following list and the authors encourage everyone to participate by sharing, commenting, or publishing something at your own culture blog.