SPCO and MNOrch: two orchestras at the top of their game

As contract negotiations near for both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO, MPR’s Euan Kerr asked some pointed questions, including whether the Twin Cities can afford to support both organizations.

Bruce Ridge, president of the International Conference of Symphony Orchestra Musicians, or ICSOM, sees it this way.

“The question is not whether or not the Twin Cities can continue to afford to support both organizations,” he said. “I think the question is: how can you afford not to support them?”

The orchestras are part of Minnesota’s cultural legacy, Ridge said, and can’t be simply cast aside.

Orchestras, like sports teams, bring prestige and people, to a city. They are an integral part of a thriving arts community.


Photo by Greg Helgeson, courtesy Minnesota Orchestra

The sports metaphor continues with Dobson West, the SPCO’s interim president, who says the two orchestras don’t necessarily compete for the same audience:

“The Minnesota Wild is a professional sports team,” he said. “The Vikings are a professional sports team, but the game that they play is entirely different. And so there is nothing that says they steal from each other.”

So it is with the orchestras, he said. There is some audience overlap between the two, but not much. Some people prefer the intimacy of the SPCO’s 34-member ensemble, others the majesty of the Minnesota Orchestra with three times as many players. And some cynical classical fans might point out that both orchestras have been at the top of their games for a lot longer than any Minnesota sports team.

You can read the entire story here.