This letter was published in the September 6th edition of the Winona Daily News
Dear Mr. Hugh Miller,
Member, Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors
As a professional musician, I realize how privileged I was as a child growing up in Minnesota that there were music supporters who provided me the opportunity to attend some extremely inspiring performances in Winona. I remember the first time I heard the Minnesota Orchestra, I was very young, but the musicians performing inspired me to become a symphonic musician.
In college, I would compare my past teachers and performance experiences with those of my colleagues. My comparisons fared very well with those of much larger metropolitan areas. In high school I had the opportunity to study with a cellist of the Minnesota Orchestra. My parents recognized the need for me to work with a mentor who would train me to become a professional musician.
Over the years, many people have taken great pride in having the Minnesota Orchestra performing in their home town. However during a recent visit to Winona, I heard many residents fear that this was the beginning of the end of the Beethoven Festival in Winona, as they observed the 2014 season will be void of the Minnesota Orchestra.
The people of Minnesota identify the Minnesota Orchestra with the musicians who comprise the orchestra. They cherish those artists who have built the Minnesota Orchestra into a world class ensemble.
It appears that the Minnesota Orchestra board has been influenced by a national agenda that is not consistent with desires of the people of Minnesota. The data in the strategic plan of the orchestra cites the bleak financial data of the 2008 recession. Please recognize that hand picking negative facts and informing investors that their product is a risk is not a sound business practice.
Orchestras were built by visionaries like you who anticipated the best. I urge you and the board of the Minnesota Orchestra to work with the musicians, mediator and the community to bring back the vision rather than a downsized dream that a few individuals have inflicted upon the organization.
Please value the musicians who comprise the Minnesota Orchestra as past leaders have. Please advocate for the quick return of the Minnesota Orchestra to our communities and concert halls.
Carla Lehmeier-Tatum is a professional cellist and a former student in Winona Area Public Schools.