Gordon Sprenger named Minnesota Orchestra's new board chair

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2014 - 11:30 AM

Gordon Sprenger, the retired Allina CEO, vows to “restore trusting, respectful relationships.” Orchestra president Michael Henson takes pay cut.

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First look at the New Orchestra Hall.

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Sprenger joined the board in 2006 and has served in several key roles. He succeeds Jon Campbell, who at December’s annual meeting agreed to continue as chair until a contract was ratified with musicians. A new labor deal was passed on Jan. 14.

Sprenger, 76, is the retired CEO of Allina Health Systems.

“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,” Sprenger said in a statement released by the orchestra.

Sprenger chaired the organization’s architect selection committee, and was a campaign vice chair for the Building for the Future Campaign — an effort to add to the organization’s endowment.

Also at Friday’s board meeting, president and CEO Michael Henson reaffirmed that he would take a 15 percent reduction to his overall compensation. The cut fulfills a pledge Henson made last fall to take the same reduction as musicians did in the new contract.

The full slate of officers ratified on Friday includes vice chairs Karen Himle, Nancy Lindahl and Marilyn Carlson Nelson; treasurer Patrick Bowe and secretary James Melville.

The orchestra will play for the first time in a newly remodeled Orchestra Hall on Feb. 7. That “welcome-home” concert will be led by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. It is expected that Sprenger will address the audience that night.

The new contract cut salaries by 15 percent and increased musician contributions to health care. There are raises in the last two years of the three-year deal. The board’s original proposal, delivered in April 2012, sought cuts in base salary of roughly 30 percent.

Of immediate concern for Sprenger and the board is the issue of artistic leadership. Osmo Vänskä resigned as music director Oct. 1. He has indicated informally that he might entertain a return to Minnesota if he were asked.

Save Our Symphony Minnesota, a citizens group that raised issues during a 16-month lockout, issued a statement congratulating Sprenger on his election. The group also advocated for Vänskä’s reappointment.

 

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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