Bergman Speaks

Shortly before the Minnesota Orchestra (MO) initiated what would become a season killing work stoppage, MO violist Sam Bergman used to co-author a very popular blog with the orchestra’s Principal Conductor of Pops and Presentations, Sarah Hicks, built around the MO’s Inside The Classics outreach program. Unfortunately, the blog was cut off on 8/27/2012 following an admin notice stating that section of the MO website was being redesigned.

Eight months later, Bergman had the opportunity to reach out to patrons via a pre-concert speech for an event presented by the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. Conductor Bill Eddins published a transcript of Bergman’s speech on 4/26/2013 at his blog Sticks and Drones.

Those inside the field have always known Bergman to be an eloquent writer and an extraordinarily level headed and fair minded individual so it was a genuine surprise when the MO decided to let Inside The Classics go fallow during the work stoppage. Fortunately, the time away hadn’t dulled Bergman’s skills, as evidenced by the following excerpt from his speech:

You know, no one has been more outspoken in opposition to this lockout and the destructive plan that accompanies it than the man who got Orchestra Hall built in the first place. It was Stan Skrowaczewski who, way back in the 1960s, when this orchestra was only 60 or so years old, worked with visionary Minnesota leaders to chart a course of growth and expansion for the orchestra he loved. And it is Stan who has been reminding us all of what is at stake all along the way. When we began rehearsals for this concert earlier this week, Stan jumped up on the podium with an energy that, frankly, I didn’t have when I was 20. And the first thing he said to us, just before we began to play, was this: “It is so good to be with you. And I mean that not only musically, but morally.”

[ilink url=”http://www.insidethearts.com/sticksanddrones/2013/04/26/billeddins/13901/” style=”note”]Read the entire transcript of Bergaman’s speech.[/ilink]

Here are a few photos of the concert event from the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra Facebook page (photos: Nate Ryan LLC).

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About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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4 thoughts on “Bergman Speaks

  1. “This lockout is destroying the Minnesota Orchestra, musician by musician by musician.” This one sentence in a most eloquent speech says it all. It tugs at my heart strings.

  2. The speech itself was extraordinary but a transcript doesn’t do it justice. I hope somebody somewhere got audio or video because the audience’s reaction said just as much as Sam did.

    At this part:

    “Under their plan, the base salary of a Minnesota Orchestra musician would plummet, overnight, to a figure that, adjusted for inflation, equates to what our predecessors were making in 1983. Under their plan, untold numbers of public orchestral concerts would be scrapped and replaced with musicians being farmed out to play private corporate rental events at Orchestra Hall. Under their plan, the final authority on the hiring of new musicians for our orchestra would be stripped away from our Music Director, and given instead to the corporate management team.”

    The audience literally cried out in shock, pain, and horror after each sentence. It was a beautiful, terrible thing. I will never forget it.

  3. I would say that it’s a throwback to Haydn and the patronage system, but it’s even worse. It’s musican serfdom. I certainly was crying out during the speech.

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