Pinchas Zukerman leads SPCO in intense all-Mozart concert

  • Article by: WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2012 - 12:40 PM

REVIEW: A concert by the locked-out orchestra sparkled with intensity.

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tmanzellaDec. 2, 1211:37 PM

I was at this concert, and I am amazed that the review mentioned nothing about the struggle going on between the musicians--who just want to be able to play and receive respectful treatment--and management, who seem to understand nothing but numbers. There was a reference to the sadness that accompanied today's performance, as well as the statement that "enthusiastic execution reminded what a magnificent ensemble these musicians truly are," but nothing more about the conflict that is at the foundation of today's performance. If we who live in the Twin Cities value our cultural assets, we ALL need to send loud messages to the boards and management of both the SPCO and the MSO, letting them know, in no uncertain terms, that we will not sit idly by as they denigrate our beloved orchestras. We need these musicians to be given the opportunity to play. By doing so, they fulfill their purpose in life and enrich ours at the same time. It's time to end the lock-outs and get the talks going again.

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benedict636Dec. 3, 12 3:05 AM

Tmanzella, How much do you want to donate? It is no good putting pressure on the boards. They can't print money. So expenses have to be reduced, more revenue raised or both. The problem is the income/expense gap for both orchestras, is large and widening. So apart from useless hectoring of the boards, what are your suggestions? And don't just tell be the board members just have to dig deeper into their own pockets, when they have generously donated for years. With all the negative comments directed at the boards, if I were a major donor, I would be closing my wallet, and advising my friends to steer clear of this thankless task. I love these two orchestras, but I'm realistic and not prepared to bite the hands that feed these orchestras. I really do invite sensible suggestions, not feigned outrage. I have a season ticket to the Berlin Philharmonic season, and I don't have to leave my home to enjoy the season in HD. Do you get the hint? New solutions are required my friend.

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lee4713Dec. 3, 1210:35 AM

benedict 636, it's not entirely about the money. Both boards have locked the musicians out of any sort of participation in the artistic process. The MOA has gone so far as to remove the word "orchestra" from its new mission statement. The SPCO mgmt. has lowered ticket prices to ridiculously small amounts, making its revenue plan unsustainable. And it's not about the major donors either - it's about all of us. But you don't seem to want to participate in the local community. Have fun watching in HD. I would much rather get the entire "picture". Do you get the hint?

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chuckulleryDec. 3, 1210:56 AM

As an SPCO musician, I was thrilled at the turnout at yesterday's concert, and even more thrilled to get to play with all of my wonderful colleagues! I have sympathy for what benedict636 has written. I also have a lot of appreciation for the SPCO board, all of whom are donors, with an average individual donation of over $30,000 during our 2011-2012 fiscal year. All of them give their time for many committee and board meetings, in addition to making many in-person fundraising calls to individuals, corporations, and foundations, in conjunction with, or on behalf of, our organization. My colleagues also have been very generous in modifying their master labor agreement several times over the last decade in order to help our organization stay in the black. We do have a difficult time ahead of us working together to find solutions, but I have confidence in the abilities of people on both sides of the table (all of whom I consider to have in mind the best interests of the SPCO, i.e. its long-term artistic and financial health) to come up with sensible solutions. After this is all over, what we will really need is for our donor base to grow. We need to turn all our passionate supporters into annual contributors. One-time contributors are ALWAYS appreciated, but our lifeblood is our precious group of annual, ongoing, dependable contributors, large and small.

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benedict636Dec. 3, 1211:26 AM

chuckullery. That is the most encouraging comment I have seen so far since the lockouts began. The SPCO gave the best performance of the Beethoven No.7 I have ever heard recently. As well as growing the donor base, embracing new media is vital. If Google have their way, Internet speeds of a Gig/sec will be common place in five years or less. That would download an SPCO concert with superb video, and loss less multichannel audio in at most 7 sec. The trick is educating the public on how to set up a proper AV system and preferably an AV room. By the way lee4713 a good AV system does give you the whole picture. I can play you a Blue Ray concert and it will be better than all but the best seats in the house. It really is on a par with the best seats. For opera I actually prefer it to the opera house. It is a better experience and my friends agree. The problem is very few have heard a really high tech state of the art AV system, let alone know how to go about setting one up. However setting one up is probably the most rewarding thing, the classical music and opera fans can do.

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kesummDec. 3, 12 3:21 PM

And why do we not see such stirring coverage of the Hot Rod Truck and Tractor bash at the Metrodome this past Saturday? One event is attended by hundreds the other by tens of thousands and not a word: "And the performance by Gravedigger was among the best ever seen in its' 20 year history, jumping over 7 cars with a definitive squashing of the eighth". No respect for the common folk by the Strib...

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member23131Dec. 3, 12 6:52 PM

Benedict636 Agree with your endorsement of proper home blu-ray experience. I love it. I also want better PBS delivery to homes. I think the theater HD experience is less likely to promote opera. I have been whining to Ch2, and PBS about how they often fail to provide proper HD when it's available. I am convinced that very few fans of opera and classical music know how good home HD arts can be. I also want a national arts channel so that SPCO & Mn Orchestra & Guthrie can be shared all over country. What good is a country without arts for all? I want our arts to be funded by taxes. Depending on gifts from the 2% is wrong. Of course they too should be happy to be taxed for art. I am a union guy. I would not have been able to enjoy arts were it not for my union. I think that musicians should be compensated for their education, their practice, their expenses, and their level of skill and their dedication. They are not over paid. I want to pay taxes for arts. I want PBS and NPR to be supported by taxes. I want every American child to have arts at school. I expect more from the 2%. This country was built by millions of people... before any of us were born. Membership in the 2% club requires dues. Don't we all want a population that has access to art, music, education, health care, shelter, food, job security, and old age security? The answer is yes you and I do want that. We all want it. We will all be happier and more secure when we think of everyone. And, without the music, everyone loses so much. We must have music.

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lee4713Dec. 3, 12 9:43 PM

benedict636, what you suggest is beyond the means of many people who attend these live concerts (including me, and I make a decent living). I donate what I can and I buy tickets. There is NO substitute for live performance. As for the Berlin Philharmonic, it's a "public foundation" supported in large part by the city of Berlin. How about THAT for a new solution?

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benedict636Dec. 3, 1211:20 PM

I don't like the idea of tax subsidies for anyone, and especially not the Vikings. That is something I'm still fuming about. We need generators in the economy not dead weights. You might be surprised at how good a system you could put together, with a little research and knowledge. The idea of an arts streaming channel is an excellent one, and one I have been pondering. The time for it is now. We need to hit the ground running by the time 1 Gig/sec is common place.

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tmanzellaDec. 4, 12 7:33 AM

benedict636: there is nothing "feigned" about my outrage--it is genuine. When boards can raise $50 million + to fund improvements to the buildings (and both boards have done so in the last 2 years), certainly--if they were truly committed to sustaining the artistic element--they could raise the $1 or 2 million needed to pay the musicians what their artistry commands. I make modest contributions--including baking cookies for the SPCO to sell at intermission--and there are many who do the same. If the SPCO management is not willing, however, to even consider making modest increases in ticket prices (which are entirely too low),then they are, in management parlance, "setting the organization up to fail," no matter how many of us small, consistent contributors they have. The current model of ticket pricing is not a reflection of the artistic value we are lucky to have here. If people like "kesumm" above don't appreciate it, or if people like you are content to experience it through the filter of television, so be it. But top-shelf live orchestral music is a long-standing tradition in Minnesota. I would hate to see it brought to its knees by bean-counters in orchestra management who don't understand that which they presume to direct.

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