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The Minnesota Orchestral Association’s Annual Meeting today celebrated milestones of the Orchestra’s 2014 season, a year in which a new musicians’ contract was negotiated, a six-month concert season was organized in record time and performed to enthusiastic audiences, the Orchestra won a Grammy Award, and Osmo Vänskä was reinstated as Music Director.  The Minnesota Orchestra ended Fiscal 2014 with an operating loss of $650,000, a slightly better result than an anticipated $1 million deficit, due to strong year-end ticket sales and donations.

“The Minnesota Orchestra has experienced a remarkable year of rebuilding,” said Board Chair Gordon M. Sprenger.  “We began the year facing a great deal of uncertainty but over time the Orchestra’s story has been one of resurgence.”  Mr. Sprenger, who was elected to a one-year term as chair last January, also announced at the meeting that he will continue to serve as chair until Chair Elect Allen Lenzmeier assumes the leadership position; Mr. Lenzmeier, who first needs to fulfill some personal commitments, is expected to do so early next year.

Artistic highlights of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2014 concert season included four sold-out Homecoming concerts that heralded the ensemble’s return to the renovated Orchestra Hall in February following a 16-month lockout; three March performances featuring Sibelius symphonies led by Osmo Vänskä to celebrate the Orchestra’s 2014 Grammy for “Best Orchestral Performance”; the April announcement of Mr. Vänskä’s return to the organization as Music Director; extending relationships with Andrew Litton (Sommerfest Artistic Director) and Sarah Hicks (Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall); welcoming composer Kevin Puts as the new Director of the Composer Institute; and the return of education and outreach programs for students across the state, including a May Common Chords residency week in Hibbing.

“The past season was a notable time for rebuilding relationships and trust,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Kevin Smith, who joined the Orchestra as an interim leader in July and was appointed by the Board to the official role last month. “Many of us saw the efforts of our Community Task Force as symbolic of what the organization can achieve through collaboration—and this group’s formation marked an important turning point in our year.”  The Task Force, comprising community volunteers, musicians, staff and board members, was an ad hoc committee that met over the summer to pursue a common purpose: increasing Fiscal 2014 fundraising and ticket sales for the Orchestra. Its members planned fundraising House Parties and hosted young audience focus groups, among other initiatives.  A community challenge fundraising campaign that grew from the Task Force ultimately raised more than $300,000 from nearly 900 individuals in four weeks.

“Another significant turning point occurred last summer,” said Mr. Sprenger, “when a philanthropist stepped forward to contribute $10 million to the Orchestra, followed by three additional donors offering a total of $3.2 million. The contributions represented a giant step forward, helping to build the Orchestra’s endowment and, maybe most important, the community’s faith in the Orchestra and its future.” The contributions, given by donors who wished to remain anonymous, were offered primarily in support of the Building for the Future endowment, with some smaller portions designated for artistic support beginning in Fiscal 2015.

Financial Report

Fiscal 2014 saw the return of more normalized operations for the Minnesota Orchestra when a new three-year musicians’ contract began on February 1, 2014, and the Association quickly launched an abbreviated six-month concert season.  The Fiscal 2014 net operating result due to the shortened concert season was a deficit of only $650,000.  The Orchestra posted a $1.1 million deficit in Fiscal 2013 and a deficit of $6 million in 2012, its last year of normal operations.

Total revenue for the year reached nearly $21 million. Operating revenue of $5.8 million, which exceeded budget by $375,000, reflected strong income from both concerts and rentals of the newly renovated Orchestra Hall. In general, classical concerts achieved 78 percent of paid capacity, essentially holding steady with per-concert paid attendance for the Orchestra’s last regular season in Orchestra Hall, 2011-12.  In total, 116,000 tickets were sold to 83 Orchestra events during the six-month season and total attendance (including complimentary tickets and free performances) reached more than 150,000 individuals.

Total contributions, including the annual Guaranty Fund, Symphony Ball, the Oakleaf Trust distribution and gifts released from restrictions, reached $10.5 million for Fiscal 2014, exceeding the $8.3 million total of Fiscal 2013. Fiscal 2014 gifts increased over 2013 levels in all donor segments.

The Orchestra’s expenses for the season totaled $21.5 million, an increase from the prior year’s $13.1 million that reflected the organization’s return to regular operations. Meanwhile, the Association’s total invested assets for Fiscal 2014 increased from $146.9 million to $164 million, due to strong investment returns and new contributions donated to the Building for the Future endowment.

“Looking ahead, Fiscal 2015 will bring new challenges as the Orchestra returns to normal year-round operations. We will need to carefully monitor expenses and do everything possible to raise contributed and earned income,” said Mr. Smith. “Our community remains absolutely critical to these efforts. As an organization, we need to continue transforming the passion for the Orchestra that was so clearly demonstrated by individuals in the midst of the labor dispute into regular concert attendance and contributions. The past year has demonstrated that this is a community that is deeply connected to its Orchestra—and all of this offers a great deal of hope for the future.”


Directors elected to a first term: Joseph T. Green, Laurie Hodder Greeno, Michael Langley, Christopher J. O’Connell, Matthew Spanjers, Aks Zaheer

Re-elected Directors (second term):  Emily Backstrom, Karen L. Himle, Michael Klingensmith

Re-elected Directors (third term):  Karen Baker, David L. Boehnen, Nancy E. Lindahl, Warren E. Mack

Retiring Directors:  Patrick E. Bowe, Ken Cutler, Jack W. Eugster, Ben Fowke, Douglas A. Kelley, James C. Melville, Jon W. Salveson, Sally Smith

Executive Committee:  Karen Baker, Rochelle Blease, David L. Boehnen, Nicky B. Carpenter, Mark Copman, Kathy Cunningham, Luella G. Goldberg, Jane P. Gregerson, Karen L. Himle, Lloyd G. Kepple, Michael Klingensmith, Douglas W. Leatherdale, Allen U. Lenzmeier, Nancy E. Lindahl, Martin R. Lueck, Ronald E. Lund, Kathleen J. Lundeen, Warren E. Mack, Anne W. Miller, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Anita M. Pampusch, Michael M. Roos, Kevin Smith, Gordon M. Sprenger, John Wilgers

Chair   Gordon M. Sprenger
Chair Elect  Allen U. Lenzmeier
Vice Chair  Karen L. Himle
Vice Chair  Nancy E. Lindahl
Vice Chair  Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Secretary  Jane P. Gregerson
Treasurer  Martin R. Lueck
President and CEO Kevin Smith


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