The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 14, 2013

For Ken Freed, moment of celebration doesn't overcome season of silence


Yet, the cause for celebration has been decidedly dampened by the Minnesota Orchestra’s continued silence. Now four months into a dispute that has prompted investigations, accusations and enough ill-will to go around, there still appears no agreement in sight.

For Freed, the Minnesota Orchestra represents a primary source of income. And though his work with the MSO continues — Freed spoke passionately and proudly about his optimism for this and upcoming seasons — he said the protracted contract trouble has taken a personal and emotional toll.

“It’s been hard on my family,” he said. “It feels pretty bleak.”

Even more, Freed is worried the dispute will sour the longstanding support from orchestra patrons. Building such support takes years, even decades, and it can crumble all too quickly.

“It can take a week to wreck all that,” he said. “If the relationship with the public is torn asunder, people will find other things to do. ... This all feels very un-Minnesotan. I would have never guessed it would come to this. It’s beyond anything I could have imagined.”

In response, Freed said he has devoted his time and energy to other pursuits, guest conducting for instance with the San Juan Symphony. He also said he’s enjoyed being able to focus on the MSO, which is preparing for its March concert, “Deconstructing Don Quixote.”

“It’s been liberating to focus on other work,” he said. “I’m very hopeful about some other things.”

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