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JIM STOKES describes how the Minnesota Sinfonia offers
classical music accessible on-location to all


Traditionally, concert-goers listen to musicians perform in a grand orchestral 'home'. Built into your ticket price are not only musicians' fees but also building overhead and administrative costs. In sharp contrast, the Minnesota Sinfonia performs concerts on-location in such diverse venues as inner-city churches, school auditoriums, and parks throughout the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. And there's no admission charge to their average of eighty performances a year. However, there's a pitch for voluntary contributions during the concert.

Comprised of twenty seven professional musicians drawn from the area's freelance pool, the Sinfonia is a non-profit organization. Basic funding comes from Twin Cities-based major corporations and the Minnesota State Arts Board. According to founder/artistic director Jay Fishman, the bulk of the Sinfonia's finances go to 'performers and performances' rather than administration and building expenditures. Obviously Fishman has found a formula that benefits both the orchestra and the community at large, since the organization is in its thirteenth year of operation. According to annual audits, the Sinfonia spends 75 to 80 percent of its financial resources on the artistic product.

In a personal note, we re-discovered the Sinfonia during a family reunion on a hot and humid June (2002) weekend. Although we had attended the Sinfonia's winter concerts at the huge Basilica of St Mary, we were astounded to hear a symphony orchestra playing in the Lake Harriet bandshell, just over the hill from our gathering. Thus the Sinfonia performs year-round. Once our throng, spanning grandparents to babies, got to the benches; we were greeted to a program of pops favorites including Dvorák's Slavonic Dance No 6 Op 46, Kabalevsky's The Comedians Suite, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. In the latter, we were treated to Yuri Merzhevsky's violin solos. The Sinfonia is fortunate to have his talents. Back in his native Russia, Merzhevsky was a frequent soloist with many orchestras, among them the Leningrad Philharmonic.

Copyright © 12 July 2002 Jim Stokes, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA



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