Remodeled Orchestra Hall (
by Steve Timmer
May 23, 2013, 7:00 AM

Comparing apples and oranges

The lockout of the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra continues while the work on the new palace also continues apace. By the time the museum is complete, there won’t be any paintings left.

It is hard — nay, impossible — to imagine a more giant clusterfuck than the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Orchestra, and especially its chair and immediate past chair, Jon Campbell and Richard Davis. They are the two frontmen on negotiations with the musicians.

Unsurprisingly, they are both bankers.

Neither one of them can probably play Happy Birthday on a tin whistle. But they hold one of the most valuable and revered cultural institutions in Minnesota in their hands. And they seem happy to piss it away like a couple of sailors after payday.

If they were trustees, we could sue them for breach of trust. What a pity, because they really are the trustees of a lot of people’s money and community interests. If either one ran his company this way, endangering the viability of the talent pool that made the company run, he’d be summarily ousted.

In recent days, the Board has published an apologia explaining how nice it is being to the musicians. Among the points made is that the Board is proposing to pay more than the average Ph.D. makes to the musicians. Well, big whoop. Apples and oranges.

One wonders whether Campbell or Davis has a Ph.D. And whether their compensation exceeds the average. One suspects that it does. For a couple of guys who usually pledge fealty to the market, it is a surprising argument to make.

Unless, of course, they are just a couple of union busters.

World class musicians command world class compensation.

The Minnesota Orchestra is bleeding key talent and is on the brink of losing its director.

The Board has inflicted a serious wound on the Orchestra that will take a long time to heal, if it does.

Perhaps Orchestra Hall will be renamed Campbell and Davis Hall, and it will feature  a subscription season of the best high school bands Minnesota has to offer.

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