Joshua Bell and Osmo Vänskä

An amazing evening with Joshua Bell, Osmo Vänskä and our great audience! Even the Grammy showed up!


Symphonic Adventures Concerts Continue

Manny Laureano

Manny Laureano

The lockout may be over, but the mission of the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians to deepen connections between ourselves and the community continues! We are thrilled to announce two upcoming Symphonic Adventures concerts for students at area high schools:

Friday March 21st | Wayzata High School
Manny Laureano conducts Brahms’ 2nd Symphony

Osmo Vänskä

Osmo Vänskä

Wednesday, April 16th | Minneapolis South High School
Osmo Vänskä conducts Pictures at an Exhibition

These hour-long concerts offer students involved in music programs at their high schools an opportunity to hear the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians perform live and up close in their own school. Great music is interspersed with informative and inspiring dialogue from the conductor on the podium. We thank our generous supporters and donors who make it possible for the Musicians to be able to provide these educational programs to deserving students.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We’re Back!


We are thrilled to be back on stage at Orchestra Hall playing great classical music for you, our beloved audience! It was wonderful to see many of you at the opening concerts on Friday and Saturday, and we hope to see many more of you at exciting upcoming concerts!

Single tickets are now on sale for Classical, Live at Orchestra Hall, and Sommerfest! For more information on programs, tickets and subscriptions, please visit:

To read more about the return of music and the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra to Orchestra Hall, we share these articles with you:

Minnesota Orchestra returns to Orchestra Hall
Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune Updated: February 8, 2014 – 10:31 AM

Minnesota Orchestra Returns After a 16-Month Lockout

Concert review: Minnesota Orchestra returns to Orchestra Hall
Article by: LARRY FUCHSBERG , Special to the Star Tribune Updated: February 8, 2014 – 10:36 AM

Minnesota Orchestra audience: ‘Bring back Osmo’
Euan Kerr · MPRNews – St. Paul, Minn. · Feb 8, 2014

New logo, website, board officers for MN Orchestra; One Minute Play Festival by Pamela Espeland | 02/04/14


Minnesota Orchestra Elects Gordon Sprenger to Serve as Board Chair

The Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors today elected Gordon M. Sprenger to serve as its chair.  Sprenger, who joined the Orchestra Board in 2006, is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Allina Health System.

Since joining the Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors, Sprenger has chaired the organization’s Architect Selection Committee and its Board, Development and Governance Committee, as well as serving on its Executive, Audit and Human Resources committees, and as a Campaign Vice Chair for the Building for the Future Campaign. As President and CEO of Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Allina Health System, Sprenger led the state’s largest not-for-profit health care system and additionally served as board chair for both the American Hospital Association and the Minnesota Hospital Association.  He has served on the boards of corporations such as Medtronic and St. Paul Companies and non-profits including St. Olaf College, Luther Theological Seminary and the Midtown Global Market.

“I am privileged to have been asked to serve as chair during this important moment in the life of the Minnesota Orchestra,” said Sprenger.  ”Our collective work is now to restore trusting, respectful relationships within the organization among musicians, board and administration and to build broad bridges of support to our greater community.  By focusing on collaboration, and our shared passion for world-class performances of the classical music that gives our organization its mission, I’m confident we will launch a positive new era for the Minnesota Orchestra and its audiences and supporters.”

Said clarinetist Tim Zavadil, “The Musicians of the Orchestra are optimistic that the new leadership of the orchestra board has a commitment to world-class music and a deep connection to our community. The Musicians are eager to return to the stage next week and begin sharing music with our audience and classical music lovers in Orchestra Hall.  We look forward to working with the new board chair, Gordon Sprenger.”

Minnesota Orchestra Wins Grammy!

Sibelius1-4We are thrilled to announce that the Minnesota Orchestra and former Music Director Osmo Vänskä have won a Grammy Award in the Best Orchestral Performance category! The album of Jean Sibelius’ First and Fourth Symphonies was produced and recorded by Swedish label BIS Records.

The announcement was made at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. In celebration of the award, the orchestra will perform Grammy Celebration Concerts at Orchestra Hall on March 27 to 29, 2014, featuring the same repertoire with Vänskä conducting.

The Musicians are deeply proud of our work with Osmo, and we congratulate him and our friends at BIS for this honor. We are elated to have been recognized among such incredible world-class orchestras, and we thank all who have supported the Minnesota Orchestra to make this Grammy win possible.

“The winning of a Grammy award for Best Orchestral Performance confirms where the Musicians and our leader Osmo Vänskä were as a symphony orchestra before the lockout.  We were a great orchestra enjoying a special relationship with our music director, Osmo Vänskä, that brought worldwide acclaim to Minnesota. This is also why we need him to return and carry on with the projects and partnership that have brought this orchestra to great heights.  We know this community deserves an orchestra of that level of distinction,” said Tony Ross, Principal Cellist.

We encourage everyone to attend our Homecoming Concerts February 7 / 8 and February 14/15 where attendees will receive a free copy of the Grammy-winning album!

The Musicians wish to congratulate our colleagues and friends in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for their recording collaboration with Maria Schneider and soprano Dawn Upshaw: “Winter Morning Walks” won Grammys for best contemporary classical composition and classical vocal solo.


With thanks, as we move ahead

The lockout has been an emotional and tumultuous journey. Despite the struggle and difficulty of this process, it is remarkable just how often the overwhelming emotion for us has been gratitude. We would like to try to thank the people who have helped to get us to where we are today, though it would be impossible to mention every individual who has contributed to this moment, nor could we fully express how much their efforts have meant to us.

First of all, we thank our families. They endured the uncertainty and hardship with us, often separated from each other for weeks or even months at a time.

We thank our colleagues in other orchestras throughout the world. They hired us and welcomed us into their orchestras as honored guests, time and time again. Their financial generosity was stunning – from the beginning to the end of these 16 months, they never stopped sending us substantial donations. What’s more, the American Federation of Musicians and the International Conference of Symphony Orchestra Musicians (ICSOM) provided a seemingly inexhaustible supply of emphatic advocacy and assistance. We owe particular gratitude to our own Local 30-73 in the Twin Cities for their incredible efforts.

We thank everyone who made our self-produced concerts possible, especially the phenomenal conductors and soloists who shared their musicality and passion so that the voice of this orchestra was never silent and never alone. We are deeply grateful to Osmo Vänskä for a farewell concert in October of 2013 that none of us will ever forget.

We thank our tireless volunteers. So many were eager to help any way they could, whether that meant writing letters, selling those green mugs at intermission, or offering their homes for concerts and fundraisers. There was a daunting amount of work to be done, but there was never a shortage of hands to willingly share the load.

We thank the organizations that formed in response to this situation. Orchestrate Excellence continues to offer thoughtful insight into what the orchestra is and how it can be more. Save Our Symphony Minnesota lit a fire under thousands of supporters looking for a way to make their voices heard and advocate for the Minnesota Orchestra. The Young Musicians of Minnesota hearten and inspire us as no one else can.

We thank those who kept the orchestra present in the media, especially the writers at MinnPost who dug deeply into the many issues at hand. We are so grateful for the bloggers, who exhaustively researched and dissected this process. Their insight and writing is invaluable.

We thank our civic leaders and legislators who used their influence to help bring about a solution. They recognize that the Minnesota Orchestra is important, not only as a treasured element of our cultural identity, but because an orchestra with an international presence serves as Minnesota’s cultural ambassador to the world. Special thanks to Mayor Betsy Hodges for speaking out on many occasions and in many forums.

We thank the board of the orchestra. For months now, we have all been hearing that this was a dispute that might never be resolved, that might actually end the Minnesota Orchestra. Both musician and board member negotiating teams continued talking and looking for creative ways to move forward and compromise. Despite our differences, both sides ultimately collaborated on an agreement that would allow us to move forward. Now we are at the beginning of a new era, and we look forward to continuing our work together with the board that supported us as we reached the height of our achievements in 2012.

Finally and most importantly, we thank you, our audience and our community. Without you, we simply would not be here today. Your generous donations, your kind and encouraging emails, and your love of this orchestra – these are the things that got us through the last 488 days. You were tireless and persistent, and you’ve made it clear to everyone that great orchestral music is valued and cherished in Minnesota. Each concert that we performed during the lockout began the same way: we entered the stage together and our audience responded with a thunderous and sustained standing ovation. You will never know just how much that meant to every single one of us, every single time, and the strength that you gave us through that generous gesture.

You have shared our vision of a world-class orchestra for our community, and we are ready for the hard work of rebuilding trust based on that common vision. As the path of the lockout comes to an end, we embark with hope on a new path of creativity, growth, and collaboration. We couldn’t be in better company than yours as we begin this journey.

A letter to our friends and community:

The Musicians and the Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, effective February 1, that brings the lockout of the Musicians to a conclusion. The Orchestra’s first concert performances back on stage at Orchestra Hall are anticipated in early February and will be announced shortly.

“The Musicians are pleased that we have come to a solution with our board, and we are ready to begin the hard work that lies ahead together. We are eager to perform for our community at home in Orchestra Hall once again. We have seen firsthand the deep love for this orchestra, and we are confident that this community will, in fact, continue to support a world-class symphony orchestra,” said Tim Zavadil, clarinetist and negotiator.

Keeping salaries in the top ten was a critical issue as it allows the orchestra to attract and retain the finest musicians in the country, building on the tradition of excellence that has been cultivated by the community over many generations. The agreement achieves this priority.

With this agreement in place, we look forward to working with new board leadership to rebuild our relationship and the trust within the organization. We take heart that our treasured relationship with our audience will continue at Orchestra Hall.

The Musicians thank each and every individual and organization that has supported maintaining a great orchestra for Minnesota over the past 16 months. We have been strong because of you and we will need your continuing strength and passionate voices as we move forward together.

We are excited to work with you, our engaged community partners, as we re-vitalize the Minnesota Orchestra. Reuniting all who love great music and this orchestra, we can fulfill our mission of preserving this 110-year old institution and taking it to new heights.

We will keep you informed of details as they become available in the coming days.

With our gratitude,

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra

Retirement Tributes

The Musicians celebrate the careers of three amazing individuals who have retired from the Minnesota Orchestra in recent months. Julie Haight-Curran, Personnel Manager, Tim Eickholt, Stage Manager, and Terry Tilley, Sound Engineer, are treasured members of our orchestra family who will be missed terribly. All three have served the orchestra and the music heard on stage with their myriad of talents, integrity, and dedication. They have stood by the Musicians during the lockout and helped us continue to bring music to our community. We honor them and wish them the very best in the future.

  • Tim Eickholt retiring Head Stage Manager
  • Terry Tilley retiring Sound Engineer
  • Julie Haight retiring Personnel Manager

Tim Eickholt

Tim Eickholt

Our legendary Stage Manager, Tim Eickholt, retired September 1, 2013.

Tim was drafted into the U. S. Army in March 1969 and served in Vietnam.  After 21 months serving his country, Tim was honorably discharged and returned home to Minneapolis and returned to his job with the Minneapolis Symphony.

Tim was Assistant Stage Manager until the retirement of long-time (and also legendary) Stage Manager Bob Gubbins.  Tim was appointed Stage Manager at this time.

It would be impossible to list Tim’s immeasurable contributions as stage manager, but it is well known and acknowledged he went well beyond any job description.

Tim grew up in a family of stagehands, with both his father and uncle as fellow members of the trade.  He has a unique and extensive history of the Minnesota Orchestra, show business in general, as well as managing a concert hall.  One would be hard pressed to find a stage manager with more musical knowledge and a greater love of music.  Tim especially enjoys Shostakovich.

Tim is a master designer, builder, and leader.  The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have great comfort knowing their valuable instruments are transported all over the globe in trunks designed and built by Tim and his colleagues on the Stage Crew.

Tim was masterful when handling a huge crew – planning and setting up any kind of “show”, or dealing with music directors, guest conductors, choruses, stars and divas, every member of the orchestra, and all departments of the management.  He anticipated and implemented all demands and potential problems, saving time and resources through careful planning, thus eliminating stress and heartache.

There have been the countless tours, from run-outs to major international tours with too many details to list.  Suffice to say, Tim is respected worldwide, from London to Vienna, Berlin to Paris, Hong Kong to Sydney, New York to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and all concert halls in between.

In Tim’s words, “My job is to make it happen.”

Tim made it happen, and it was always with class, dignity and professionalism.

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra stand up and applaud Mr. Timothy Eickholt – He will be missed by all!

Terry Tilley

Terry Tilley

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra wish to honor Terry Tilley, our esteemed sound engineer, who retired under duress this fall.  We have been lucky to work with Terry at Orchestra Hall since 1978, and we wish him well in the next chapter of his life.

Terry has led an impressively varied career, including work with artists as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Ella Fitzgerald, and Osmo Vänskä.  A twin cities native, Terry was born in Minneapolis and raised in Bloomington.  He grew up in a musical family with strong ties to the Minnesota Orchestra.   In the mid-sixties, his family included no fewer than five professional bass players!  Terry’s father, Lynn, played bass on the road with Minnesota Orchestra percussionist Elliot Fine in various big bands during the post-WWII years. Terry himself grew up playing bass, studying with both Art Gold and Jim Clute of the Minnesota Orchestra. He had quite a bit of success with the bass: in addition to playing in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and Minnesota All-State Orchestra, Terry started playing jazz and jobbing at age 12, making a living at this on and off the road for a decade starting in 1968.  He recorded 4 albums as the bassist with the avant-garde group The Whole Earth Rainbow Band.

1968 also marked the start of Terry’s work as an audio engineer.  A good sound engineer is hard to find, and is as vital to the finished product as any of the performers.  In addition to overseeing audio equipment (microphones, monitors, amplifiers, and audio lines), responsibilities include creating the right balance between various instruments and/or voices, adjusting to the different acoustics of each new venue, making sure the musicians can clearly hear what they need in order to perform well, and communicating and collaborating with the musicians: a necessity in achieving a great performance.

In the early to mid-1970s, Terry ran a small recording studio in addition to working as a teacher and musician at the Guild of Performing Arts on the West Bank and with the Nancy Hauser Dance Company.  He has also worked in theatrical sound design for shows at the Guthrie, Penumbra, and Frank Theaters.  Over the years, he has collaborated with an impressively long list of artists, the variety and quality of which make clear his excellence across a broad array of styles.  Besides the Minnesota Orchestra, Terry has mixed sound for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, Sarah Vaughn, Rosemary Clooney, John Denver, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, BB King, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, Rod Stewart, Dianne Reeves, Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Bob Hope, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, and many, many more!

From all of the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra: Thank you, Terry, for sharing your time and talents with us!  You will be missed!

Julie Haight-Curran

Julie Haight-Curran

“I make sure that the right people, are in the right place, at the right time, with the right music in the right clothes!”  is the definition according Julie Haight-Curran, who retired in December of 2013, after 20 years as Minnesota Orchestra Personnel Manager. In reality, however, the extensive responsibilities of the Personnel Manager include just some of the following tasks:

She/he must have thorough knowledge of the master agreement, prepare and maintain payroll, scheduling of musicians, hiring of substitute and extra musicians, and coordinating auditions. The PM serves as a liaison between conducting staff and musicians; administrative staff and musicians; and the management and musicians’ union. In addition there is a myriad of professional interactions with the musicians on many levels including various committee meetings attended by both parties, coordinating and running auditions, monitoring recording sessions, and managing personnel for domestic and international tours, among many other duties.

Aside from all of this, Julie has consistently demonstrated so much more than the job description outlined above. The unique and special entity of the orchestra family was fully embraced by Julie. The individuals of the orchestra are a jigsaw puzzle of personalities and issues, many of which often appeared in the PM’s lap (not literally – hopefully). The potential for a perfect storm was always possible – and of course happened! It was always wise to peek into the small window in Julie’s door before knocking – better yet, make an appointment. From the moment a musician joined (her favorite task was introducing new players) or retired from the orchestra, she shared in the joy of births, and the grief of deaths and pain of illnesses. Everyone was treated with professionalism, respect, kindness and humor, the latter being one of the most essential qualities.

Her first day of work was the day after Thanksgiving, 1979, as secretary in the Artistic Department, working with Ron Balazs, violin (1954-1993), and PM for 29 of those years, and Ron Hasselmann, Associate Principal trumpet (1958-1999), and Associate PM for 12 years. On that first day of work for Julie, the orchestra was playing Johann Strauss’ Auf der Jagd, which calls for firing a pop gun (fortunately not by the Personnel Manager) coordinated with a rubber chicken flying through the air. Her first task with the Minnesota Orchestra required her to find conductor Leonard Slatkin’s rubber chicken. (One never knows the demands of the conductor.) It was a frantic search as she wondered what in the world she had gotten herself into….

“Ron Balazs was definitely one of a kind. He was always generous with his knowledge, patient with me when I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, inclusive and hard working. I loved double rehearsal days because Ron B and Ron H would include me in their lunches between services. The stories I would hear were fascinating, hilarious, scandalous and most amazingly, I found out later, true. Ron was addicted to the telephone. He rarely said hello, just started talking and rarely said goodbye – just hung up. There were no cell phones or voicemail in those days. Ron had a phone in every room of his house – and I mean every room of his house. I still consider it a privilege and honor to have worked with him. He taught me so much about the history of the musicians, the orchestra and the union struggles – why clauses were the way they were in the contract. The audition process and work hardening for musicians returning to work after injury are both models in the industry.”

Before Julie was hired as Personnel Manager in 1993, she had numerous jobs with the Minnesota Orchestra. She worked in the marketing department, was budget coordinator for non-classical concerts, ran YP concerts for one year, wrote advertising copy, and secured funding and locations for Symphony for the Cities performances. She also ran a telemarketing campaign for subscription concerts, which consisted of tables in the back hallway with about 20 black rotary phones and an order form and pencil at each station – that’s it! In 1988 she had left the MO to she attend the University of St. Thomas, receiving an MBA in 1990, and three years later returned to the Minnesota Orchestra in her new position.

Julie was supported through thick and thin by her late husband, Tom Curran, a great music lover and pianist. As an adult he studied with local classical players enhancing his lengthy jazz background. In another life, Julie was a double bass player studying at the University of Iowa. She and former Minnesota Orchestra bassist, Jim Clute, studied with the same teacher, Eldon Obrecht. Julie’s love of jazz goes back to her high school days starting when she was the bass player for the high school jazz band in Mason City, IA, home of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man! Archaeology has also been a long time interest starting with finding objects on the farm where she grew up in the newly plowed fields in the spring.  Recent digs have been to the Mesa Verde area in SW Colorado. Nothing like digging up 1,000 years of history.

She will be greatly missed by everyone. Please join us in wishing her the very best in the next chapter in her life.

Tribute written by Julie Ayer, Minnesota Orchestra violinist (1976-2012) and author of More Than Meets the Ear – How Symphony Musicians Made Labor History

Community Meeting held with overflow crowd

We thank everyone who helped make our Community Meeting today a remarkable success, especially those in attendance as well as the numerous supporters here and around the world who have made our accomplishments and concert productions possible. We are truly blessed to live in a vibrant arts community.

Reaching an agreement with the Minnesota Orchestral Association remains our top priority, but in the meantime we will continue to make plans to fulfill our promise of keeping great orchestral music alive here in Minnesota.

The mission of our 501(c)(3) organization, the Minnesota Orchestra Members, is to inspire an ever-widening audience to seek a lifelong relationship with great symphonic music. Our plans in the new year will reflect this vision, and we feel energized and appreciative as we move forward, hand-in-hand with our community.

If you missed the meeting, read Keeping the Music Alive – A Community Report here.


Stay tuned for more details about our upcoming concerts!




Press coverage of the Community Meeting:

Overflow crowd cheers locked-out Orchestra musicians — and plans for more concerts By Doug Grow | 02:38 pm

MnOrch musicians want deal, but ready to go it alone
Euan Kerr · MINNEAPOLIS · Dec 9, 2013

Minnesota Orchestra musicians raise $650,000, vow to play on
Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune Updated: December 9, 2013 – 8:12 PM

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra to hold Community Meeting

The Musicians will release a Community Report summarizing the past year and previewing a new vision for the Musicians in the Community

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will hold an open public meeting next Monday, December 9, 2013, 10:30 am at the Hilton Minneapolis, to present a report to the community about their progress and activities in sharing classical music with citizens of Minnesota during the past year. The Musicians will unveil a new mission statement that they will work to fulfill in the years going forward.

The Musicians, who have formed a new 501(c)(3), raised over $60,000 on Give to the Max Day and over $300,000 since August. Locked-out since October 1, 2012, the Musicians have produced over 20 sold-out concerts and more than ten educational programs for nearly 30, 000 people.

We invite and welcome you to join us!

WHO: Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, Community Leaders, and all interested members of the Community

WHEN: Monday, December 9, 2013, 10:30 am (should conclude by noon)

WHERE: Hilton Minneapolis, Duluth Room

1001 Marquette Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55403