Unity, Healing and Gratitude: The Work of Classical MPR’s Bridge of Song

More than 1,000 gathered at Bridge of Song, a community singing event held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Steven Cohen for MPR

More than 1,000 gathered at Bridge of Song, a community singing event held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Steven Cohen for MPR

There’s a culture of gratitude at APMG.

It often shows up in the form of an all-staff email from one of our leaders, calling out a team or an individual’s great work. While many of us have a love/hate relationship with email, our employees are spread all over the U.S. (and beyond). We work 24/7. We can’t always connect in-person, so we use the available tools.

Below are two great examples, highlighting Classical MPR’s Bridge of Song, an evening of song and reflection after recent violence in the Twin Cities, Dallas, Baton Rouge and other communities. Our work touches many lives… and of course, our own. We are emotionally involved and we hope this translates to the audience.


All-Staff Email From Dave Kansas, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer on July 15, 2016:  Earlier this week, Brian Newhouse, head of our Classical Music group, saw that Dallas planned to do a community sing July 14 to bring people together as that city tries to come together following the recent shooting of police officers. He immediately imagined that our own community, grappling with the police shooting of Philando Castile, could potentially join up with Dallas and create an event that connected two places and their people at a crucial time. Brian wrote: “Music and beauty are powerful agents of unity. And if enough of us make that so, if enough of us declare that we seek to make the world a better place with the tools at hand… that’s what we need now. So…”

G. Phillip Shoultz and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu led the assembled choirs at Bridge of Song, held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Steven Cohen for MPR

G. Phillip Shoultz and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu led the assembled choirs at Bridge of Song, held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Steven Cohen for MPR

Following that “So…” Brian and many others across the organization came together to pull off a great event in short order. Similar to how we responded to the untimely passing of Prince, we moved nimbly to provide an important space and moment for our community.

All that effort culminated when Classical MPR packed Westminster Presbyterian last night with nearly 1800 people who wanted to join our “Bridge of Song” event. The event provided time in these tumultuous days for our community to rest, grieve, seek hope, and connect through singing. We fed it to Facebook Live as well, and thousands from all over the country and beyond joined in via that feed.

All this to get at the essence of the MPR mission:

“…to enrich the mind and nourish the spirit, thereby enhancing the lives and expanding the perspectives of our audiences, and assisting them in strengthening their communities.”

The magic moment in the evening was a literal ‘bridge of song’ in which the Westminster crowd – linked via audio/video – sang the same song of hope with the crowd gathered at the companion event in Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. If you missed it, it’s all here:  http://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2016/07/15/bridgeofsong-helps-create-community-bonds

Along with thanking Brian, I want to thank and recognize for extraordinary, high-speed work:

  • Classical: Vaughn Ormseth, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu
  • The entire Operations team, especially Zack Rose, Erik Stromstrad, and Corey Schreppel
  • Digital: Brett Baldwin, Luke Taylor, Dan Nass, Nate Ryan
  • Marketing and PR: Jen Keavy, Angie Andresen, Jill Weflen; and Creative Services for design work
  • Legal and Business Affairs: Christie Healy, Char Arends
  • Live Events: Jeff and Ellie, Rose Martin
  • Community Engagement: Ka Vang

All-Staff Email from Randi Yoder, Chief Development Officer on July 15:  It was a remarkable evening, full of beautiful music, harmony and surprise appearances – all made possible because we have deep relationships in the community that give us the opportunity to call on short notice and make wonderful things happen. 

Imagine the joy of singing in concert with an equally engaged group in Dallas.  I was so proud to see Brian, Tesfa, Dessa and others attached to us, at the front of the room.  And the applause for these folks who are highly recognized in our community went on and on. 

Thank you, team, for making this very special event possible for so many to enjoy and be a part of it.  On the way out I heard someone say: “ these days, we need one of these every day!”

Gratitude