This is addressed to you, the excellent musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra! Don’t be a rhinoceros. Try instead the part of a gazelle. Yes, I know: gazelles are brought down by big cats, and rhinoceros can stand as long as they like in their wading pools without worry. They’re covered with horny plates. But, consider this: gazelles can run forward. They can mauenver quickly. And they are not endangered. For all their vaunted impregnability, the fortress-animal rhinoceros is as easily shot from a distance with a high-powered rifle as a gazelle. And there are far fewer of them.
But this is not Africa, you say. True, and musicians with their bows and horns are not four-footed African animals. However, in the dark of night, it may interest you to know these are the comparisons that occur to me.
Your counterparts and competitors across the river in Saint Paul have not only bargained and settled with their management, but they are beginning a new season with a reputation burnished by their flexibility and by the outstanding support of their audience, personified in the organization Save Our SPCO! You, beloved musicians of the sister city, have just been offered a quite reasonable (my opinion, of course) proposal by your management. It’s time to come out of your wallow and take action.
In the tides of public opinion, you musicians have received a great deal of compassion and concern. But tides turn (ok, now I’m onto another metaphor, I admit it!). And with such changes, you stand to lose audience members — after all, they now can cross over to the other side, and it is not a dark side at all.
Yes, the SPCO is a changed organization, smaller and younger. Ten of its older musicians have retired on the package offered by management. But it has emerged from negotiation with two musicians on the leadership team (whoops, another metaphor), and a return of a former president, giving management a broader leadership base. My family is eager to return to our favorite fall/winter/spring arts activity: sitting in the audience and enjoying the SPCO sound.
You too have a loving audience, very eager to see you take up your instruments and play. It’s time to bow to reality. Change will occur, with, or without you. If you care about the organization that has nurtured you for many years, and for the audience who have made your talents a high priority in their lives, it is time to negotiate and PLAY!