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From Our Community

Quick on the Draw: John Bush’s Classical Cartoons

John Bush seated outdoors while holding a pencil.
Cartoonist John Bush

Before he passed away in 2006, the acclaimed Twin Cities-based illustrator John Bush was a regular freelance contributor to the Minnesota Orchestras Showcase magazine, as well as several other local publications. He drew more than 100 cartoons for Showcase that were full of clever visuals, wordplay, imagined scenarios and insights on Orchestra Hall concertgoing.

We can only imagine the illustrations John would have created in the years since—perhaps tracking the highs of Osmo Vänskä’s tenure and the arrival of Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård, the etiquette of smartphone use in the concert hall and concertgoers’ many adaptations to a global pandemic—but in the meantime, we look back at a few selected favorites from our archives, as a new Minnesota Orchestra season and year of Showcase get underway.

A conductor in concert dress holding a tuning fork on baseball pitcher's mound, standing between with two baseball players. with speech balloon above the conductor: "I'm here to throw out the first pitch."
A confused conductor brings a tuning fork to the pitcher’s mound for a favorite baseball pre-game tradition: the first pitch.
Two musicians in concert dress onstage at Orchestra Hall, running away from instruments and other music equipent falling from a open cube on the wall above them.
Ever wondered what’s inside Orchestra Hall’s famous acoustical cubes?
A teacher and student seated on a bench in front a a grand piano, with speech balloon above student: "I'm used to an automatic. Which one's the clutch?"
Automatic, manual or sustain? A beginning pianist in the “driver’s seat” at a lesson.
Ludwig van Beethoven on a golf putting green, putting gulf ball with with putter shaped like two eighth notes. Header text read: "Beethoven's 18th."
Why stop at nine? John Bush imagines Beethoven’s golf putting skills.
A conducted writing notes on a pad while seated behind a podium desk that holds an automated contraption on a spring, waving a baton as three seated string musicians facing music stands play their instruments.
A conductor’s clever invention keeps the rehearsal moving while he jots down ideas.
A conductor waving a baton while turning pages while situated in a military cannon. An audience is seated behind him, with speech balloon above audience member: "He finished Tchaikovsky like no one else."
A daredevil conductor readies for the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
A timpanist plays a single timpani with two half-eaten pronto pups, rather than timpani mallets, while chewing is workers at a Pronto Pops stand look on.
A timpanist enjoys a musical meal at the Minnesota State Fair.
A man wearing a shirt with cubes affixed, standing in an aisle at Orchestra Hall with audience members on either side of him while an usher opens a door slightly behind him. A speech balloon above the usher reads: "Would you please take your seat, you're disrupting our acoustics.
An audience member’s choice of wardrobe interferes with the sonic properties of Orchestra Hall’s acoustical cubes.
Four cars drive past a giant musical metronome, with a skyline of Minneapolis skyscrapers in background. A billboard reads: The HUBERT H. HUMPHREY METRONOME.
A musical replacement for the former home of the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings.

John Bush, who passed away at age 52 in 2006, drew more than 100 cartoons for the Minnesota Orchestra’s Showcase magazine. His cartoons appeared in many other publications including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Mpls.St. Paul Magazine, Corporate Report of MN, Computer User and Upsize MN.