Can the Twin Cities support two professional orchestras?

Both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are facing large deficits, and both are in the middle of difficult contract talks with their musicians. Today’s Question: Can the Twin Cities support two professional orchestras?

  • Gary F

    Something the article should have included was how many other metro areas of our size have two orchestras?

    We are about the 14/15/16(depending how its measured) largest metro area in the country. How do we compare?

    There is only so many dollars to go to a wide variety of entertainment out there.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The question is not can, but will. Judging by the numbers of expensive SUVs pulling expensive boats to “the lake” for the weekend, the Twin Cities certainly could. The only point of doubt is whether there’s enough generosity to support institutions that make the community a better place to live. That goes for lots of things, not just arts organizations.

  • GregX

    The logic that says this “market” can support a (1) hideously boring professional baseball team, (2) a historically pathetic professional football team, (3) a catatonia inducing pro-mens basketball team, and (4) a badly run professional hockey team …. MUST, THEN , clearly dicate that we could have FOUR overpaid , underperfoming orchestras’ AND that every 2-10 years we should tear down their aging facility and rebulid them a new one at taxpayer expense. But … that’s just the pure MBA analyitic in me.

  • Jim G

    Yes, we can support both, how can we not? The classical musical traditions of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minneapolis Orchestra are treasures which make our northern cities livable during our long winters. Each has it’s own personality and musical legacy. Even with climate change our northern latitude guarantees short daylight hours and long winter evenings and nights. If you fill some early evenings with a professional musical performance from either of these organizations you’re always watching winners. You can’t say that about any of our any of professional sport teams. This former viola player ( It’s in the closet. ) says we can preserve our musical heritage.

  • Leonard

    It is NOT the government’s role to subsidize any of these groups. In the old days, cities had orchestras that were purely supported by private citizens and business, a charitable thing. Do we have such a surplus of revenue to ask property owners to fund orchestras while roads are in need of real repairs and illegal aliens still get IRS tax refunds?

  • Craig

    Socially, the intermission scene would be hard to replace, especially in winter. The music clears a space for stimulating people to gather, discuss, ply and flirt without hebetudinous human cooling rods standing amongst them.

    The SPCO does some good pre-concert Q and A’s with luminaries, they might increase revenue by extending the bar hours to before the start of the concert, serve better stuff, and reduce the lines at the bar.

  • Jonathan

    Can the Twin Cities support two professional orchestras?

    When we legalize the growing of hemp/Cannabis for industrial, nutritional, medical, recreational, and sacramental purposes, we’ll be able to support any worthwhile project and public resource.

  • GregX

    Question for Gary – based on the city size metric – Which two of the mens pro sport teams should we get rid of ??

  • GregX

    Leonard – asks a fair question ….. but to “return” to those halcyon days – would require the wealthy taking on a role they have abrogated in the name of even grander personal wealth. The wealthy are competing with each other and …. its easier to jet off to NYC to see a “truly” world class orchestra or symphony than it is to go through all the bother of building something locally. The wealthy have left the issue, question and bill to the public. The boomers chose taxes as a way to fund their “likes” and now – in retirement – they are DONE DONE DONE paying taxes for “that” stuff.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Just to be clear, GregX and Leonard, the orchestras are not government entities (nor are they for-profit companies like pro sports franchises), and the vast majority of their revenue does not come from taxes.

  • georges

    The wealthy stopped building orchestras and halls and swimming pools in poor neighborhoods, etc., etc., etc………

    But they didn’t stop doing those things willingly… was taken from them……by government.

    I like to get on my JD lawn tractor and mow my lawn. It is an enjoyable pastime. Sometimes I mow the neighbors lawn too, just for the fun of it.

    But if the government started mowing the lawns, and extracted 5 times the money necessary to do the job from my back pocket, I would not go out and mow my lawn. Or anyone else’s lawn.

    Why would I when the government is taking my money and hiring one person to do the mowing, and 6 others to administrate the process?

    But, if the government then stopped mowing lawns, and quit taking my money for it, I would then rediscover the pleasure of mowing.

    Likewise, if the govenment would stop supporting the arts, etc., and quit taking peoples money for that process, the wealthy would rediscover the pleasure of building and supporting the arts. And swimming pools for the poor.

    The nature of compassion is always……always……ruined by government intrusion.

    Get the dam govt out of the business of compassion and philanthropy. Leave it to the wealthy and the Corporations. They are much better at it, and vastly more efficient.

  • Craig

    GregX, I don’t disagree with everything in your comment, but in response to the notion of jetting off to see another orchestra I would point out that when the MNOrch performed at Carnegie hall in 2010 the New Yorker described the performance as the kind you only hear once or twice in a decade. In 2005 the New Yorker described the Minnesota Orchestra as ear-cleansing. And when Osmo is asked what secrets he has used to turn the orchestra a major player he generally replies “hard work”. People come here to listen to our orchestras.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Ah, yes. Just return to the good old days of the Gilded Age, robber barons and all, and America will once again be a blissful paradise. (The things people believe– sheesh!)

  • kevins

    Congrats georges on one of the more obtuse analogies I have come across in some time. let’s hope that both private and public entities continue to support the really is not the government’s fault if someone does not like the music.

  • Kurt Nelson

    The dam government, I thought our government was about governing people, not dams, har har har.

    The area has supported two orchestra’s for many decades, and probably will well into the future. Both our orchestra’s are world class, and as someone else pointed out, the recent tour by MNO, was praised as one of the best in the world. Rather than just complaining about them receiving money from the gubment, take in a concert and show some support.

  • Eric Prindle

    I have not seen too many empty seats at recent concerts by either orchestra, so clearly people are interested in what they have to offer. And the combined budgets of both orchestras are less than 0.02 percent of the GDP of Minnesota, so clearly the money is there to support them. So I have to agree with Steve; there is no question of “can,” only a question of “will.”

  • georges

    “it really is not the government’s fault if someone does not like the music.”

    No, but it is the government’s fault for forcibly taking money from middle class people who do not like the music in order to pander to the smarmy few who do.

    If any kind of musical conveyance (delivery system) cannot make enough money from selling tickets to willing buyers, then it is not viable in the live concert format, and will sell what it will sell CD and DVD formats.

    I am a classical music lover. I have an extensive LP, CD and DVD library, which I enjoy. I used to go to live performances and, indeed, I facilitated and promoted (volunteer work) the Minnesota Orchestra more than 30 years ago in performances in rural areas of Minnesota.

    It is fun, now, to see the smarmy nose-in-the-air crowd put out because the Labor Union is demanding ridiculous pay for these musicians. I have known more than a few of them quite closely. A more pompous bunch of arrogant weed blowers would be hard to find. Most of them think they are doing the world a favor when they put a bassoon in their mouth instead of the usual bong.


  • Ann

    Minnesotans are happy to pay taxes and to pay for arts. They latest tax that they voted in is paying for events that are poorly attended. I went to a few and there were two to twelve people there–usually about two to four. We get to pay the tax whenever we buy something! Minnesotans love to build stadiums and to pay taxes!

  • Steve the Cynic

    Pompous– takes one to know one, georges.

  • Diana

    More than 30 years ago? Geez georges, I thought you were like 26 or something.

    I think the Twin Cities could support some more Botanical Gardens… and fruit trees in the parks as well as perhaps 3 or 4 orchestras.