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Orchestra Hall: Where Roger (Probably) Knows Your Name

An image of Roger, a man dressed in all black, holding the door to Orchestra Hall open, smiling and gesturing toward the camera.
Roger Bergman. Credit: Greg Helgeson

There are a few features that just about every concert at Orchestra Hall shares: pre-performance chatter in the lobby, the dings of ticket scanners as you enter the auditorium and the sound of instruments tuning onstage. But first you must enter the building. And for that there is Roger Bergman, the first doorman of Orchestra Hall. In a long coat or Bermuda shorts Roger has been warmly welcoming concert-goers, musicians and music directors alike for more than 32 years—32 “fun” years, he might clarify. We caught up with Roger during a recent concert to learn more about his life, outlook and strategy for remembering all those names.


Roger, could you tell us how you first became involved with the Orchestra?

I’ve always been a classical music fan, so I went to lots of Minneapolis Symphony [as the Orchestra was known before 1968] concerts at Northrop Auditorium. But then I started to work here. I got laid off from [the electronics corporation] Sperry UNIVAC when it was bought up by Burroughs and they got rid of all the spare UNIVAC managers. So that was back in ’91.

I wanted to find another job, but I couldn’t. So while I was looking, I heard about working here and I thought, “Well, I could work here until something else comes up.” I did eventually find another full-time job and it was very stressful—I’d get to my office in the morning and my message light would be flashing on my phone, and it was panic, panic all day long. So this was my stress reliever. And then I realized, “Well, this would be a perfect retirement job”—and I’m still here!

As a fan of classical music, do you have any favorite composers?

I really like Philip Glass! But a lot of people do not like Philip Glass and I don’t recall that the Orchestra has played Philip Glass recently. My favorite symphony is Sibelius’ Second—I think it’s Osmo’s favorite symphony also. And I like the Romantic symphonies. I really like new age music, too.

So, a music request for the Orchestra: Philip Glass. If we can get him on another program soon, that would be great.

[Laughs] Yes!

And you are a trumpeter yourself, correct?


—and what kind of music do you play?

I’m in the Robbinsdale City Concert Band, and we play lots of marches and show tunes. I’m also in the Synod Senior Band, where a bunch of old people got together and formed a band that consists largely of retired band directors and retired musicians. One of the trumpet players for the Orchestra was in the band for a while. It started off with 19 people and now it’s over 100.

Have you been a doorman since you first started here?

No, I’ve been an usher and then I was an usher trainer for a while. I was a production assistant for a while, too. But I was the first doorman.

And what do you enjoy about being one of the official doormen of the Minnesota Orchestra?

Well, over time when people come in, they get used to seeing me apparently. And if I’m not here they’ll say, “Where were you? Didn’t see you last week—are you OK?”

I’ve gotten to learn the names of a lot of people just because they said that they missed not seeing me. Otherwise, I never would have known them! So, the social part is the fun part.”

And how do you remember the names for all these people?

I don’t. [Laughs] I just try to remember the names—sometimes I cannot, but I take a stab at it anyways and sometimes I’m wrong.

Any advice for people who have a hard time remembering names? Just give it your best shot, huh?

Yep. And if you get it wrong, you get it wrong—just forget about it.

You’re often the first person people see when they arrive at Orchestra Hall. What do you want people to feel—


—when they walk through those doors?

Welcomed, and that it’s going to be a fun, worthwhile experience.

And you’re also out holding the door in short sleeves in the summer and big coats in the winter—do you have a favorite time of year to be outside working the door?

Well, the summertime I can be in Bermuda shorts sometimes, and that’s my favorite—I don’t like long pants. When I get home—even in the wintertime—the long pants come off and the shorts go on. When I lived in my house, my neighbors had pictures of me shoveling my driveway in Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt. Jackets like this [gesturing to the large jacket he’s wearing] I prefer not to wear. I’d much rather wear just a regular shirt.

Is there a message you’d like to send to people who might be reading this and thinking about coming to a concert?

Well, this is the best orchestra in the world. And the musicians are the best in the world. And it’s just fun! And the only reason that I’m here is because I’m having fun. When it stops being fun, I’ll be gone.

Well you’re here, so it must still be fun.


We—and especially Roger—can't wait to welcome you to Orchestra Hall.

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