While today's big classical news story is the Minnesota Orchestra's lockout, it's certainly not the only story out there.
And Matt Peiken has created a new website aimed at being a one-stop destination for all that's going on in the Twin Cities classical music scene.
MNuet.com is what Peiken calls "the community of classical music online."
It's a new online magazine that's created in partnership with the classical music institutions in the Twin Cities. They are paying members, and their content becomes the core of the site. Around that I create podcasts, I produce videos and I have a live performance showcase every month at Bryant Lake Bowl, all featuring MNuet members.
A video profile of One Voice, Mixed Chorus, produced by MNuet.com creator, Matt Peiken. Peiken was once the man behind "Three Minute Egg," a local video series covering the Twin Cities arts scene.
Peiken says while the Twin Cities has its big players - the Minnesota Orchestra, SPCO, Minnesota Opera - MNuet.com also features the lesser known community orchestras.
One of the things I like about MNuet is that the design is such that all the headlines are the same size, all the text is the same size, and all the photos are the same size, so there's no sense of heirarchy. Now because the SPCO has a full season, they're going to have more stories - just by virtue of the fact that their calendar is fuller - but no story has a higher placement on a page because of the size of the orchestra.
Peiken says not many classical groups have robust websites, nor have they figured out a way to effectively incorporate social media into their schedules. MNuet seeks to bring all of their content together into one place and do the social media work for them, and expand their audiences in the process.
Even Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and the SPCO... none of them has a destination website. They're not drawing fans to their website on a daily basis to see what's going on in the classical music community. So on MNuet, Minnesota Orchestra gets the eyes of the SPCO audience, the Minnesota Opera gets the eyes of the Minensota Orchestra audience, and so on.
Equally, Peiken hopes audiences will find in MNuet an easy means of exploring the riches of the local classical music scene.
Most people if they're plugged into anything it might be one institution that they support or two. They might have season tickets to the SPCO, but they don't know what's happening in the broader sense. It's really hard to find what's happening, to sift through the morass of what's happening in our gorgeous art scene here to find out what's going on in classical music. So for an audience I know that my site chiefly is going to serve as a calendar. That will be their entry point.
Peiken say he won't review concerts, but he will aggregate the coverage of online news organizations.
As for the timing of the launch of MNuet.com, Peiken admits he could not have picked a worse time, given the contract negotiations of the two major orchestras.
But by my estimate there are 65 - 70 classical music organizations in this town, if you include college level choirs and music groups. So it's not just about SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra. There's Nautilus Music Theater, Mixed Precipitation, Minnesota Symphonia and Accordo, just to name a few. So MNuet will still thrive because there's still so much happening.
The next MNuet showcase is tomorrow night at 7pm at Bryant Lake Bowl. With a "back to school" theme, it features graduates of the U of M's School of Music (known as The Renegade Ensemble) along with musicians from the Minnesota Youth Symphonies and Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.
This morning the Minnesota Orchestra announced it has cancelled all its fall concerts through November 25.
This, after a weekend of meetings between musicians and management failed to reach a new contract settlement.
The lockout means musicians will receive no pay or benefits until a new agreement can be negotiated.
The Minnesota Orchestra's final proposal offers an average annual salary of $89,000, as opposed to the current average salary of $135,000.
In a release, Minnesota Orchestra Association Board Chair Jon Campbell explained the cuts this way:
The Orchestral Association honored the musicians' 2007 contract even though, in the midst of the recession, it placed unsustainable pressure on our endowment. We cannot continue on this course, and our Board is united in the belief that, in order to protect the Minnesota Orchestra for the long term, we must address our financial challenges now, rather than push them forward and allow them to multiply.Meanwhile, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have released a video asking why management wants to silence the music, when musicians were willing to "play and talk" - in other words, continue to negotiate - and perform - while extending the current contract.
In the above video musicians state:
We didn't build Target Field for a minor league team. If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, they don't take a pay cut. When we built the new Walker [Art Center] we didn't expect art of less significance. The new Guthrie wasn't built for Minneapolis to become mediocre in theater. So why would the orchestra management raise $110 million to build for the future, but tell musicians to take a 30 - 50% pay cut? Why would they spend $50 million for a new lobby at orchestra hall?
The musicians will hold a rally today at 1pm at the corner of Nicollet Mall and 11th in downtown Minneapolis.(2 Comments)