Notes from the future: a story in the Star Tribune, Nov. 11, 2023 …
As the Minnesota Orchestra lockout drags into its second decade, let us revisit the important events in this dismaying tale.
2014: After a worldwide search, a new conductor is chosen. It’s a cardboard cutout of Leonard Bernstein. The choice was praised by local critics, although a few grumbled that it was a safe, “crowd-pleasing” choice; a cardboard cutout of a younger conductor might signal a new direction. Others pointed out that there were, in fact, no crowds to please anymore.
Periodically, the cutout was leaned up against the wall outside Orchestra Hall with a cigarette stuck in its mouth, as per Bernstein’s old habits.
When the orchestra finally announced the first season under Cardboard Lenny, as he was affectionately known, it was remarkably ambitious: In addition to not playing the entire Ring cycle by Wagner, the orchestra would not be playing seven Bruckner symphonies, four Beethoven piano concertos and the entire works of Alan Hovhaness.
“You’ve never not heard anything like it,” said someone crouched down behind the cardboard cutout of Bernstein, after which it wobbled in a sudden gust from the heat-duct above and fell over on its face.
2018: With only two members of the orchestra left in town, a local composer is commissioned to write “Concerto for Triangle and Timpani.”
2019: The Minnesota Orchestra, consisting now of a CD player on a stool on stage, cancels its season when contract talks break down with the fellow who points the remote from the wings and presses PLAY. Meanwhile, a new fundraising campaign kicked off to build a new Orchestra Hall. The estimated cost of $267 million did not include money for batteries for the remote, which the guy who operates the CD is expected to provide.
2022: An opera about the lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra, Uff-Das Rheingold, was premiered in New York.
Plans are underway to bring it to the new Orchestra Hall, where it will find the doors locked and the lights out.