Monthly Archives: January 2011

Letter to Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley

Dear Ms. Riley,

I met you at the Dominican Literacy Center Tutor Appreciation dinner last year.  You may recall that my 14-year old son, Ryan, played violin for the guests prior to the dinner.

I loved hearing you speak and your passion for stamping out illiteracy.  Your columns on the subject have inspired me and endeared you to me.

I have another two passions that I think we share: Detroit and its symphony, the DSO.

The media needs to start seriously addressing the topic of this strike.  The loss of patrons to the corridor around The Max is affecting Detroit businesses.  The loss of a DSO season may do irreparable harm to Detroit’s economy and may result in the loss of the DSO.  Why is the media not asking more questions of the DSO management?  I attended the luncheon for the DSO’s Annual Meeting on December 9, 2010 and the DSO’s President and CEO, Ann Parsons, did not address the strike at all.  Her talk to the donors was weak and showed a lack of leadership given the crisis facing the DSO.  The consultant who spoke revealed management’s true vision driving their actions to prolong the strike.  A small handful of people have decided that Detroit is better off with a chamber-styled orchestra, not the current world-class orchestra Detroit currently has.  The media has not addressed the underlying issues behind the strike.  It is not about pay. It is about much more than that and Detroit stands to lose one of its greatest jewels if Ms. Parsons is successful.

I have literally shed tears over this.  Did you know that my son quit playing the violin this past fall?  He told me he was too busy.  Last night it dawned on me.  We haven’t been to the symphony once this year.  The music not only died for me on the stage at The Max, but in my home as well.  I don’t think its a coincidence that my son lost interest in the violin the same year we quit going to hear the DSO.  Don’t let the music die in Detroit.  Please address this topic in your column.

I helped form the group Save Our Symphony.  You can read about SOS’ position in this email or at  We are the DSO’s audience and are trying to raise public awareness; but this is an uphill battle and time is short.

Thank you Rochelle Riley for all you do.  You have become a solid and sane voice for what’s important to Detroit.  Please give voice to the tragedy happening to Detroit right under everyone’s nose.

Denise Neville

SOS Board Member

Posted in Open Letters, SOS | 1 Comment

Write a letter to the DSO Board of Directors

Many of you have asked what YOU can do to, right now, to help us work toward getting the musicians of the DSO back on the stage of Orchestra Hall where they belong.

One thing that you can do today is write a letter to the members of the Board of Directors of the DSO.  You can write to this email address:

We will collect these letters and deliver them to every board member!  We will also post your letters on the SOS website.  If you do not want your letter posted, please indicate so in the subject line

Remember, the members of the Board are the ‘custodians and stewards’ of the DSO.  It is their responsibility to support and preserve the orchestra, not drastically change it into a smaller, lesser organization.

Here are some points you could include in your letter:

  • WHY does the Board stand by while the DSO’s crisis continues to escalate? Why does it not demand from management an immediate, mutually satisfactory resolution?
  • WHY does the Board permit management to collect full salary to administer an orchestra that is not playing and to spend its advertising budget publicizing programs that won’t take place?
  • WHY does the Board stand by and not demand accountability from management to explain how it can run through four Development Officers in five years, making it practically impossible to expand the list of donors and develop the kinds of relationships that result in major gifts?
  • WHY does the Board stand by while distrust and hostility are corroding the relationship between management and the musicians? And why does it not ask management if and how it plans to eventually repair that relationship? And …
  • WHY did the Board not open the floor to stakeholder’s questions at the Dec. 9th Annual General Meeting, as is customary?  And, why did the Board leadership leave the meeting so quickly when one of the DSO’s major donors rose to speak?
  • ASK THE BOARD to help us save the DSO as a world-class orchestra—not as a small, second-class orchestra reflecting a small vision.

It is our hope that through our efforts and with your support we will bring about a resolution to the current contract dispute and once again have world class symphonic music at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall!

Posted in SOS | 5 Comments

Anne Parsons’ Letter to the DSO Board of Directors

Dear members of the Board,

We hope everyone enjoyed a restful holiday season. As the first week of the New Year comes to a close, we wanted to provide an update.

I wish it could be more positive than the facts allow.

On December 24, we formally communicated to the union and each individual Player our most recent proposal which would bring total average player compensation (salary, healthcare, pension and other benefits) to $133,000.  (See attached communication) The Players’ elected leadership has refused to negotiate around that proposal, and have rejected our request that they provide detail of their newly and quite publically accepted position that embraces the terms of the Levin/Granholm recommendation.

Instead, the Orchestra’s elected leadership has spent their time scheduling additional strike concerts (including their own Rogers and Hammerstein pops concert in the church next door to Orchestra Hall) and continues a communications campaign filled with misinformation and personal attacks of board and management leadership.  Further, we know they have been in touch with our sponsors asking them to disassociate themselves from their historic DSO support.   They have been in contact with UMS and MOT seeking to independently (and competitively) present Mahler’s epoch Symphony No. 8.  Community partners have expressed deep disappointment that the Players appear to be more invested in these activities than responding to our recent proposal and bargaining in good faith towards a conclusion that will restore our orchestral concert season. With all this in mind, there are two things to be aware of:

  • ·first, the ongoing strike now forces the cancellation of all DSO Rodgers & Hammerstein Pops concerts (see below).
  • ·Second, at the January Executive Committee meeting, the Board will evaluate the merit of suspending the remainder of the 2010-11 season, as well as indefinitely deferring the announcement of the 2011-12 season, until a settlement can be achieved.

This clarity of action is intended to allow our patrons to exchange tickets, request refunds, and make alternative plans.  It respects the future relationships with guest artists and conductors affected by these cancellations.  Finally, it tasks the staff with redoubling its work in the area of education, rentals, retail, jazz, and fundraising – all which have come through 2010 with encouraging results.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, I welcome your email or call.


Posted in SOS | 3 Comments