Meet Volunteer Usher Mark Carlson

Meet Volunteer Usher Mark Carlson

If you’re lucky enough to know Mark Carlson, you know he’s a great volunteer lead usher: personable, dependable, thoughtful and kind.

If an incident occurs on his dime—he’s the one who coolly and calmly finds a solution and then gets everyone involved moving forward with grace and aplomb. That makes him a perfect person for our inaugural volunteer profile.

Now if you’re a classical music aficionado seated next to Mark at a concert, then it’s your lucky day. You see, Mark has a music degree from Gustavus Adolphus College. He plays a mean euphonium and trombone in a brass sextet and a wind ensemble. (No wonder his favorite Minnesota Orchestra section is the low brass.) 

Wondering about a piece the orchestra is playing? Mark can tell you. While he doesn’t have a favorite composition the Orchestra has performed, Mark is “amazed at how often the orchestra presents a new composition that could become a favorite.” Wondering how the low brass are sounding? Mark can tell you how—and why—they’re sounding so magnificent.

Mark also has a business degree from MSU-Mankato and worked for Musicland Group. These days, Mark is also your guide to better eating. He works in the produce department of the Knollwood Super Target near where he lives. He loves meeting people there and the exercise he gets. Wonder about which organic produce is the most critical to consume? Mark knows. Why shouldn’t you store your potatoes in the fridge? Mark says it causes unprocessed potatoes to darken when cooked.

And Mark’s lucky, too. We volunteer ushers dream of the day we’ll encounter a music celebrity. Mark had such an encounter his first year at Orchestra Hall. “I was assigned to balcony A and a man asked if I could find a seat for him and his dad during a performance. I looked at his father: it was Doc Severinsen.” Mark added that they were pleasant—not demanding at all.

According to Mark, ushering at Orchestra Hall has taught him to be open and flexible. He also knows how important ushers are to the experience of concertgoers: “We represent the integrity of the Minnesota Orchestra,” Mark says.

How about the most amazing concert ever attended anywhere? For Mark, it was the Count Basie Band at Prom Center in St. Paul during college. “The precision and control they brought were most amazing.”

Beyond music and Orchestra Hall, Mark also volunteers at his church and the Ridgedale Library. “I am exposed to a lot of music, books and movies. I always find things to learn from.”

Lately Mark has switched from biking to walking. “I gave up bicycle riding for walking after realizing how much more we can observe when moving at a slower pace…There is an internal rhythm you build when walking that I find is meditative and energizing.”

No doubt Mark transfers that positive energy to ushering, and all of Orchestra Hall is the lucky beneficiary.

Are you interesting in joining our volunteer program? Find out more >> 

Minnesota Orchestra Staff