Julie Ayer was Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Minnesota Orchestra for 36 years, and formerly a member of the Houston Symphony. She studied violin with great pedagogue Josef Gingold at Indiana University. She organized and participated in a musician exchange with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, and the Oregon Bach Festival. She is one of the members of Classica Chamber Players, formerly Hill House Chamber Players, who for 35 years were the resident ensemble of the James J Hill House in St. Paul, MN. In May of 2015, she rejoined the Minnesota Orchestra on their ground-breaking tour to Cuba.
More Than Meets the Ear, How Symphony Musicians Made Labor History, is a previously undocumented account of the struggle by symphony musicians for professional dignity and equity. It was inspired by the activism and accomplishments of many visionary leaders of the ’50’s, ’60’s and ’70’s, which led to the founding of ICSOM, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. The Iowa Writers Workshop was especially valuable in the process of recording this labor history. She has spoken to a variety of groups, including labor lawyers, music students and colleagues.
“One movement that still resonates, book chronicles orchestra musicians’ labor achievements. Ayer writes with an insider’s knowledge, experience and commitment”
– Boston Sunday Globe, Richard Dyer, June 18, 2006
Defying the Silence, A Chronicle of Resilience that Saved the World Renowned Minnesota Orchestra, is the story of an attempt to willfully destroy one of American’s most esteemed performing arts institutions, the Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. The sixteen month lockout, was the longest and most significant labor dispute in the past fifty years. It was a struggle for the very identity of the Minnesota Orchestra. In spite of all the challenges, the musicians displayed extraordinary unity, and the support of community sustained them. Once resolved, the painstaking rebuilding began with collaboration, sensitivity and awareness of the fragility of the institution. The global pandemic in March of 2020 once again silenced the music, but in this new crisis, the newly enlightened board and management would not abandon the musicians.