Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra honors police

CREATED Feb. 15, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Police Department was honored, Saturday, when the detectives involved in recovering the missing Stradivarius violin received a handshake and loud applause from the audience. 

One by one, concert master Frank Almond gave a sturdy hand shake to eleven detectives, to Chief Ed Flynn and to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Without their efforts, the violin might not be back with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Almond is back with the symphony for the first time after being shot with a taser and having his beloved Stradivarius stolen.

"And I thought to myself, that might be the last I hear this instrument, and it just made me sad," said Peter Thomas, MSO cellist.

You can look at it two ways...the violin heist came at the best time, and also the worst time for the symphony....a bad time because they had to raise $5 million.

"We were in jeopardy of having to stop this season, actually had we not found a way to shore up the finances, yea," said Mark Niehaus, MSO president.

The best time because of all the publicity it generated...when the violin was stolen, musicians began to worry people might stop attending performances if concert master Frank Almond wasn't there. Instead, the M.S.O. found support.

"And they rallied behind us unbelievably in just a matter of a month and a half," said Niehaus.

The M.S.O. now has $4.8 million of the $5 million needed to keep them going this season and next.

"Relieved and ecstatic and absolutely thankful for the community that we have here in Milwaukee," said Thomas.

Chief Ed Flynn spoke ahead of the performance Saturday night. He and his officers were given a standing ovation. Chief Flynn joked, asking the audience to remember this moment the next time they're pulled over for speeding.