COMMUNITY VOICES | “Musicians Exit,” a poem about the Minnesota Orchestra


Did we know what we had?

Could we recognize what was growing

in our Midwest midst?

Greatness may have caught us

off guard. Was this


to be ours? a community of musicians—our guys—waking up

to this instant, this note, playing it as if

for the first time—

hearts exploding with magic and effort, never mind


Steady, relentless keenness for the work, responding

to a call to beauty, life

form taking shape in each heart

con brio? Knocking the socks

off the Proms, making them weep

at Carnegie—


What do we know of birthright? deep-rooted tradition? of old-world

jewels, expectation—assumption

of the finest?  This is not, after all, the court, the country, the century

of the Pear Garden,

of Sundiata Keita,

of Esterhazy.

We were not, after all, born 

entitled. How were we to know we would experience transcendence

in the flesh?


We do, though, have evening wear

in closets—

however much our Facebook photos tend toward baseball caps.

We can clean up, play the big leagues.


You know, maybe it isn’t important whether

we knew—we can listen. Recognize. Respond

ourselves. We can decide

what matters. Greatness isn’t its own defense. It takes defending.

Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.