Monthly Archives: February 2011
Help make news, mail the media representatives to help Save Our Symphony!
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It is with a heavy heart that the Musicians of the Detroit Symphony announce the departure of our entire percussion section. Our valued colleagues are saying “Good-bye” as they leave Detroit to continue their professional careers elsewhere…
Click HERE for the full article on MDSO.com
These are the names of the
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors
taken from the DSO Website on February 6, 2011
Stanley Frankel, Chairman of the Board
Paul M. Huxley, First Vice Chair
Marlies Castaing, Second Vice Chair
Glenda D. Price, Ph.D., Secretary
Arthur A. Weiss, Treasurer
Lloyd E. Reuss, Officer At-large
Clyde Wu, M.D., Officer At-large
Phillip Wm. Fisher, Officer At-large
Lillian Bauder, Ph.D.
Penny B. Blumenstein
Stephen R. D’Arcy
Alfred R. Glancy III, Chairman Emeritus
Kelly Hayes, Volunteer Council President
Ronald M. Horwitz
Dr. Arthur L. Johnson
Richard P. Kughn
Melvin A. Lester, M.D.
Arthur C. Liebler
David Robert Nelson
James B. Nicholson, Chairman Emeritus
Bruce D. Peterson
Bernard I. Robertson
Jack A. Robinson
Alan E. Schwartz
Barbara Van Dusen
George J. Bedrosian
Mrs. Mandell L. Berman
Stephen A. Bromberg
John A. Boll, Sr.
Richard A. Brodie
Lynne Carter, M.D.
Gary L. Cowger
Peter D. Cummings, Chairman Emeritus
Maureen T. D’Avanzo
Peter J. Dolan
Walter E. Douglas
Laura L. Fournier
Mrs. Harold Frank
Gloria Heppner, Ph.D.
Nicholas Hood III
George G. Johnson
Michael J. Keegan
The Hon. Damon J. Keith
Linda Dresner Levy
Harry A. Lomason II
Ralph J. Mandarino
Mervyn H. Manning
David N. McCammon
Lois A. Miller
Sean M. Neall
Jay Noren, M.D., M.P.H.
Robert E. L. Perkins, D.D.S.
William F. Pickard
Marjorie S. Saulson
Lois L. Shaevsky
Mrs. Ray A. Shapero
Jane F. Sherman
Shirley R. Stancato
Michael R. Tyson
Ann Marie Uetz
Sharon L. Vasquez
R. Jamison Williams
John E. Young
Click HERE for a link to the DSO page
The following comment was in response to a discussion on a Adapstration.com about the postings and content on DetroitSymphonymusicians.org
The honesty of the content and tone of the posts is criticized. The following is a defense of the Musicians’ website:
Dear Kevin, Drew, and Bruce,
I have seen many of these exceptional people, who are not only some of the finest Musicians in the United States, but human beings, experience this nightmare from before they were forced to strike
The betrayal, the cruelty, the surprise tactics foisted on these fine individuals, whose professionalism and dedication are more rare by the day, has been breathtaking and heartbreaking. I have known and written about this orchestra and individual musicians over the course of forty years. I have promoted it, formally and informally, broadcast this orchestra for the first time, raised money for it, and saved the Children’s concert series in the past, among other close associations with the DSO and the Musicians. I grew up hearing this exceptional orchestra since I was little more than a toddler. I have seen them go through one struggle after another, and I know they have handled themselves with great discipline and dignity, always remembering to maintain deference for the organization to the best of their abilities.
Please, do not forget, the public wants the truth and only in the Musicians site are they able to obtain it. Lack of transparency has caused many, many people to get the wrong ideas, or forced them to arrive at inaccurate conclusions. One of the most frequently stated being the DSO is supported by taxpayers at the State and Federal levels. That, of course, is not true, and is one of the areas that separates the Musicians from auto workers (GM rescue) and teachers. The pensions are totally different in structure and the Musicians’ union and Music Business is so complex on so many levels there is little comparison to any other union. I really believe the Management and Board do not understand the implications of their demand, now dropped, of disassociating the Musicians from the Union and the Pension. (It’s almost laughable, frankly, to anyone who knows about it.)
Another is the accusation that the Musicians, not the Board, or Management, consider themselves ‘divas.’ How many know that the Motown sound was recorded and contributed to by the Musicians of the DSO on countless hits and non-hits, night in and night out, after performances to make ends meet, prior to musicians earning a living wage? They continue to do so to this day.
From the beginning, the strategies and tactics employed by the Management and the Board’s leaders have been designed to position the Musicians in such a light as to make them seem unreasonable and greedy. Such representations are completely off base by anyone’s measure if they know the business at all. The Board and Management, cynically, played off of the public’s ignorance and abused their position.
The management’s and Board’s mindsets are such they were bound to slip up, and they did, such as the disinformation they fed for an editorial stating the banks had called in the loans. In a radio interview shortly, after that editorial appeared, Ann Parsons was caught in having to admit it wasn’t true. She and the Management consistently feed misinformation about what is transpiring. The unsigned email distributed to subscribers and donors, etc. was written with the inability to contain a baseline hostility that shocked everyone. Yet that tone did not even match the degree of animus spewed onto the Musicians, time and again.
Another denigrated the spontaneous and newly formed advocacy group, Save Our Symphony, claiming it was a few years old, and the names and numbers denoted this and that, which were unadulterated lies written to sound trustworthy and authoritative. They never could have seen the list of members, in the first place.
We, the public, learned earlier, in a piece by Larry Johnson, that when these plans that included degrading the quality and caliber of the Musicians and, thus, the DSO, were revealed to the Board, one of the members asked, what about the audience? Another member quickly answered, they won’t know the difference. At that point, a reader could not but conclude the disrespect for the audiences.
Soon after this all ensued, patrons began to realize the monies they had donated and expended for tickets to sustain, improve, and attend the DSO was going to destroy it. They were given the option of a full refund. Many recounted on line the trouble they had doing so, advising others how they finally retrieved their money. Several withdrew their generous donations as well.
The toxins were entered into the public waters. The environment poisoned by Management and the Board. The Musicians had nothing to do with this.
Consequently, what Drew wrote about damage control became unattainable, since it can only be acquired, or work, if the speaker, has credibility. The Management and its Board and its CEO’s destroyed their own trust and credibility. Donors in all various ranks are going to be hard put to trust these people with any sums, now, especially, with the exposure of the mishandled contributions for capital improvements and the endowment. This, they did to themselves. Again, the Musicians have not done this.
Emily Dickinson said, ” Truth is such a rare thing – it is a delight to tell it ”
From the beginning, the miscalculations of the Strategy and tactics placed the Musicians at the frontline of a battle that is defending the quality and finest performances and the standards for all of the symphony orchestras in the United States. The DSO Musicians cannot settle for an inferior contract jeopardizing its top ten status. They cannot permit inferior precedents on any level to be established. The Musicians in this country have fought for more than 80 years for work conditions and a proper and appropriate salary.
However, this is not only about the money. The DSO Musicians had worked on a Strategy Plan with Management, including Ms. Parsons and an outside firm for over two and a half years, which both sides, originally accepted. It was written with recognition and accommodation of fiscal realities and provided a plan that included a vision for ten years with which to go forward. All the while, Ms. Parsons was secretly contriving a plan which was sprung on the musicians, while tossing the one they had worked on and were under the impression was acceptable to all.
What is happening is really not about the money. It is about maintaining the highest standards for Classical Music presentations for the Audiences, and much more.
The DSO Musicians have accomplished many feats these last few months, because they care and are honestly passionate about the Music and the Audiences with whom they have a covenant. They know the Music is the first priority. They know the importance and the role of the audiences.They know, the audiences want the greatest Music ever conceived recreated by the finest musicians – solo, or in ensemble form- as often as possible with the highest standards and quality of performance. That is what they have continuously maintained for the public.
They know they are part of the Community and continue to participate in various services for the community as they have for many years: They gave a benefit concert at a homeless shelter, they held a press conference alerting the public of the consequences to the small businesses dependent on the DSO performances in Mid-town Detroit and promoting their establishments they presented Christmas programs for their audiences, so those patrons whose holiday always includes the DSO concerts would not be disappointed, they worked with a high school concert orchestra for ten weeks, and for the concert featured a young girl as the violin soloist.
To date, the Musicians have presented no less than 15 concerts in various venues around the Greater Metropolitan Detroit Area for filled and overflowing audiences, despite terrible winter weather, all the while adapting as an ensemble to less than ideal acoustic conditions. At each venue, they recognize individuals at the venues, who have made special efforts and contributions to the concert and to the venue, such as the organ they made sure to include in Saint-Saens Symphony, no.3. Thus, they enabled the donor to realize his dream.
All soloists and conductors are donating their services along with the DSO Musicians for nothing. Often, they are playing with heart and passion through tears and pain they saw mirrored in the faces of the audience members.
I am not exaggerating when I say people are angry, beside themselves, crying, disappointed, feel betrayed and want the story of what in the is happening to their beloved orchestra.
No one seems to want to listen, or understand, that for many of us, this is personal for various reasons. It is our Heritage, passed down from our Parents and Grandparents. Its traditions are deep and glorious, and for the City, it is a cultural treasure of which we can be proud. Like the Detroit Institute of Arts, it is world renowned, but when it performs it is a living organism, alive with the energies of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Verdi, Mahler, and all who realized their human potential in creating their compositions, giving us hope.
Truth, it is said, is the first casualty of war, and in this battle for standards and quality of the finest masterpieces ever composed, it becomes more precious to find and tell in today’s world on a daily basis.
The musicians are to be commended for keeping “their heads about them “to present the Truth. After all, it is in the Music where the truth can be found, logically, intelligently, and creatively, bringing sense and order out of the chaos.
Click HERE for the audio: Michigan Public Radio article on the DSO facebook page…
Social media is an “invitation to involvement”
Cornelia Pokryzwa is a long time fan and patron of the orchestra. She thinks the strike discussions on the DSO facebook fan page are valuable. She likes that all kinds of people are participating in the discussion - from musicians and DSO season ticket holders to people who’ve never even seen a DSO performance. But Pokryzwa thinks management could do more to interact with the people who post on the fan page:
“Social media is an invitation to involvement, and so once people are involved enough to comment, then it seems that the strategy should be to engage them and not just host a discussion board. There are a lot of angry people on there and I think they need to do something…to get their fans back.”
Expert: “You cannot negotiate a labor agreement on the social media.”
Christie Nordhielm, a marketing professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, says “you cannot negotiate a labor agreement on the social media. It doesn’t work.” She calls it a “poor use of social media as a tool.”
Nordhielm believes the DSO’s image will be hurt by the fight on facebook, but the question is for how long. Her advice for the DSO management?
“First: Shut up. Just stop. And then second: Wait quietly until people forget.”
She says lucky for the DSO, the public has a short attention span. The question is: will the musicians?
Click HERE for a link to the article on Michigan Public Radio.
DETROIT SHOW POSTPONED
March 3, 2011 performance at Orchestra Hall will be rescheduled at a later date tbd
“It’s so sad that I must postpone my show at Orchestra Hall in Detroit. I was hoping a settlement between the musicians of the Symphony and their management would have been achieved by now. In Detroit and all over the world, people are hurting in this economy, and things are no different in the arts. We’re all struggling to find new ways to make everything work. We all need beauty and inspiration to enrich our lives, and it’s really important that we figure out how to make it happen. It matters. My heart goes out to all the good people affected by the musicians’ strike — above all, the audiences. Detroit is such a great music city. I pray this will be resolved soon, so I can come back to Detroit and we can all sing together.”
- Bobby McFerrin
Pants on fire
In case you’ve been under a rock for the last several days, affairs in Detroit have become pretty dramatic. After their rejection of the “final offer” on Saturday, on Sunday the musicians were met with a truly bizarre turn of events. One question kept entering my mind: was the DSO management just disingenuous the entire time, or simply continuing their established pattern of ineptitude regarding the press?
It is time for the Musicians of The DSO to separate from the DSO. Your management has not been serious about any type of settlement since the beginning of this strike. The management has disrespected the musicians at every opportunity., they have not ever seriously considered your proposals. That maybe the bad news, things will never be the same in what you once enjoyed. On the positive The MDSO did not take this lying down, you organized by receiving donations, creating support groups, website, facebook, concerts, doing interviews and most importantly you have stuck together.
The MDSO has created its own story, audiences around the world know your story. As a professional musician I know what is really important is the music, musicians, and audience. Yes I know I did not mention money, this is what the fight is mostly about. Mostly but not totally, your management is the slave owner who wants to demonstrate its great power. Slavery is over! The MDSO has proven that it can run its self better in a short time than the DSO. It is very obvious to me that MDSO can run itself!
I would encourage you to reach out to your fans , support groups , donors, fellow musicians, local and national govt, corporate sponsors, union and seriously discuss this idea! You have a choice go back to Slave Master or create your own freedom! If you create your own success you steal victory from the DSO, they will become the laughing stock of Professional music communities and proven to be an utter failure.
Also no member should return to what management is now calling their reformed orchestra, make sure that all of you stick together so that management does not have a chance of any high level performances, the management will fail completely. Remember what is truly important is The Music, The Musicians, and the Audience and right now The MDSO owns all three!
Music Director of The Baltimore Jazz ED Project
Brother of Kenneth Thompkins
I don’t see how they can do it without him, (Slatkin) and I don’t see how he can agree. Professional orchestra musicians will stand for a fair amount from conductors, but not this; he’s likely to get nothing but an extremely hostile reception from any American orchestra if he’s part of a scheme to replace his own orchestra with strikebreakers. For my part, I sure wouldn’t play on the same stage with a conductor who’d done that, and I’m sure I’d have some pretty distinguished company in that feeling.
Click HERE for a link to the entire article on Polyphonic.org
A very different Detroit Symphony Orchestra could emerge in the coming months unless the DSO musicians reverse themselves and agree to terms even more stringent than the offer they rejected over the weekend.
The DSO administration is prepared to move forward with a newly assembled group of players that would include only those members of the current orchestra who agree to unilaterally presented terms, DSO Vice President Paul Hogle said Sunday …
Click HERE for a link to the entire article in the Detroit News
Michael H. Hodges / Detroit News Fine Arts Writer
When the Detroit Symphony Orchestra suspended the rest of the 2010-2011 season Saturday, it set in motion events that some fear could spell doom for the 123-year-old ensemble, long regarded as one of the nation’s very best…….
Click HERE for the rest of this excellent article in the Detroit News that speaks from both sides of this issue.
MUSICIANS OF THE Detroit symphony orchestra SEEK COMPROMISE agreement
Members vote to reject one sided management proposal and urge quick talks to save the season
Detroit – Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are seeking a compromise agreement after members voted to reject a contract proposal by DSO executives today. The move follows an intense week of negotiations brokered personally by U.S. Senator Carl Levin and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert for more than 20-hours. DSO executives did not show up for a face to face meeting with Senator Levin, Gilbert and the musicians until the third day. Once they did, they waited until both Levin and Gilbert left the meeting and made significant changes to the proposal the two had brokered. The offer put forward by management included:
- raising individual employee healthcare deductibles more than 800 percent from $250 to $3,000 (the amount would drop to $2,000 after one payment of $1,000 by the company)
- requiring employees to cover their own travel related costs for work assignments up to 75 miles away from Orchestra Hall
- reducing the previous DSO commitment for community outreach by $1 million
- setting the hourly rate for musicians to as low as $5 per hour for participating in every community outreach effort
- reducing the ability of the full orchestra to play at community events from 85 to groups of 1, 6 and 12 people at a time
- requiring the musicians to agree to remove one of their members from their rolls
“Today’s decision reflects our deep disappointment at the inability of the executives to be upfront and honest with people,” said musician’s president Gordon Stump. “Can you believe they asked good people to sacrifice one of their colleagues to save their own skin? That was in the proposal. It was a Faustian choice. I am proud of the musicians for standing up for their colleague despite their own personal suffering.”
No further meetings have been scheduled. Despite this, musicians remain thankful for Levin and Gilbert’s assistance and encourage DSO executives to remove the barriers to compromise and return to bargaining in order to save the season.
For more information about the musicians, visit: www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org
It was recently suggested that the loss of national exposure from the TV show Detroit 1-8-7 would impact Detroit more than the loss of the DSO.
On the one hand, we have a great TV drama (love it!) with highly skilled actors portraying interesting detectives in a gritty city dealing with murder and mayhem. Background shots showcase the many sides of Detroit from empty, burned out buildings to Detroit’s best landmarks.
Along with national exposure, the show brought jobs and dollars to Detroit. If you haven’t watched it yet, please give it a chance. It plays on Tuesday night, channel 7 at 10 p.m. Even though the show is attracting its fair share of viewers nationally, rumors are that it may be canceled.
The loss of this show would mean that Detroit was no longer viewed by millions of people nationally on Tuesday and Detroit loses the presence of these great actors, the jobs and the money generated by the show.
On the other hand, we have Detroit’s nearly 100 year old destination orchestra currently rated as one of the top ten in the country. To be a destination orchestra means that career musicians aspire to play for this orchestra and plan to stay. Musicians literally come from all over the world to audition for openings. Right now the DSO is made up of a select group of musicians at the top of their field.
The roughly 85 DSO musicians plant roots in our community and raise families here. They play in Orchestra Hall, recognized as one of the world’s foremost music halls for its incredible acoustics. The world’s finest soloists and conductors frequent Detroit during a normal concert season to perform with the DSO for our Metro Detroit audiences.
DSO recordings and weekly Radio Broadcasts are played all over the world to international audiences. For decades, the DSO has performed outreach activities in the community schools to help educate our children. The DSO civic youth orchestras perform regularly at Orchestra Hall. Many students in the metro-Detroit area are taught by DSO musicians and aspire to careers in music. Church and college choirs perform with the DSO at Orchestra Hall, and the Sphinx Competition provides opportunity and exposure to promising minority musicians.
The DSO audiences patronize the businesses and bring life and vitality to the streets around Orchestra Hall. The DSO is a staple ingredient in a very solid line-up of cultural activities and venues that Detroit provides for Midwest and Canadian audiences. Orchestra Hall is considered an anchor for the redevelopment of the Woodward Avenue and Mid Town redevelopment initiative.
The loss of the DSO is not just an end to nearly a century old tradition in Detroit; it means that Detroit loses all of the above.
What do you think?
Dave Assemany for Save Our Symphony
Commentary on CBS Sunday Morning segment
Great story on Herb Alpert!
His philanthropy is truly necessary today. When the segment on his generous gift to the Harlem School for the Arts showed him saying “…this can’t happen…”, it made me wonder why more like him in this country don’t step up.
Here’s another situation about which we should all be saying “This can’t happen”: the terrible mismanagement of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by it’s board of directors and the potential loss of one of America’s great orchestras. The children studying at the Harlem School for the Arts (and all schools) need the examples set by these great musicians.
You may have heard it too on the news this morning, that the musicians and management met last night to talk. We can only hope that Michigan’s weather is chillier than the relationship between the two parties as they resume their efforts to find common ground and end this impasse.
A good place to start a thaw in a chilly relationship is with respect. Respect can be a tough one when you are dealing with someone whose opinions are the polar opposite of yours, so the best place to start is with language.
Addressing the musicians as musicians instead of players is a good place to start. Acknowledging the validity of one parties’ concerns instead of saying “they just don’t get it” is half of it. Acknowledging critical challenges presented by the recession and donor fatigue is the other half.
Finding common ground is the next step and that’s where the going gets tough. While no one disputes that the DSO is facing a financial crisis, figuring out how to raise the money and reclaim the DSO’s financial viability is the heart of the matter and when you deal with matters of the heart, it can be very painful.
So far the pain has included a fair share of mud slinging and demands for sacrifices without an acknowledgment of what those sacrifices really mean or recognition for the sacrifices that are willing to be made.
And when I hear statements like, “A third of the staff was laid off; for those left, nearly all make less today than when they were hired,” it makes me wonder who didn’t sacrifice? Who was not part of that “nearly all…?” This statement came from a DSO flyer handed out in front of the musicians’ concert at Kirk in the Hills last Saturday night.
A big part of respect is realizing we are in this together. We all must make sacrifices together. Lets be transparent about what those sacrifices are and lets not force one party to make ALL the sacrifices. So far, ALL the musicians are being asked to make considerable sacrifices to secure the financial future of the DSO. Fair enough. They have agreed to very painful salary cuts. What other cuts besides laying off a third of the staff was made by the DSO’s executive staff? Have they ALL agreed to the same salary and benefit cuts that the musicians are being asked to make? Does anyone know the answer to this?
I don’t believe that the answer to the DSO’s solvency lies solely in downsizing administrative staff, and forcing the musicians to accept salary cuts and changes in work rules. The true path to solvency lies in a cooperative, team-oriented environment built on mutual respect so that parties who are invested in the DSO’s success can work together to solve this difficult problem.
The solution will need to be creative, multi-faceted and long-term. Finding the solution will require a committed, enthusiastic team comprised of the Board, the executive staff, the musicians and the audience. Respect and trust will be vital to healing relationships and forging the bonds needed to rebuild this team.
The strike has gone on long enough. The time is now to try a different approach.
Let’s work together, let’s all make the necessary sacrifices, not just the musicians and lets all begin by acknowledging each other with respect and the recognition that we all play an important role in preserving the DSO and its legacy.
SOSers, I know you get it and you’ll step up and help out when its time for the audience to play a role. In the meantime, the spring thaw can’t come soon enough.
There comes a time in the span of life when individuals must find their own way in the world. No longer supported by their parents, they must make educational and career choices to support themselves for the rest of their lives. We call this crisis a coming of age…..
…..Click HERE for a link to the entire commentary by Kenneth Schoon in the Detroit Free Press
February 2, 2011
The Detroit News
To the Editor:
We are dismayed that on February 2nd the Detroit News printed an editorial about the Detroit Symphony labor impasse without contacting the groups that could reasonably be expected to balance the script clearly provided to you by DSO management: Save Our Symphony, Inc, Saving-the-DSO, the Citizens Group, and the musicians themselves.
We believe that “the numbers” are not the real reason for this impasse. Yes – the organization’s finances are in critical condition, but not beyond salvage. The real reason for the current impasse is that a small handful of misguided individuals on the Executive Board and in management have a mission to change the DSO into a different kind of organization. The “New Model” spoken about by management and championed by the League of American Orchestras is not what the people of Michigan want or deserve. The DSO should remain a top rank orchestra, with a full season and a full complement of musicians, not a talent pool for management to draw on to fund their other pursuits.
People who have historically supported the DSO, such as the members of SOS are not currently contributing to the DSO because they do not support this new model or this current management. We have been assured by our membership that when the current management team is replaced and the orchestra is back on the stage of Orchestra Hall money will begin pouring in.
Please note: SOS has repeatedly asked DSO management for the financial information you used in your article. We have yet to receive that information or even a confirmation of our request. DSO management does not have access to our membership list. We are surprised and disappointed you reported their claim that 70% of our members do not contribute to the DSO.
In closing, we can only hope your unfortunate and one-sided editorial does not further delay the return of the musicians to the stage of Orchestra Hall with a contract that is fiscally viable and does not compromise the artistic integrity of this institution.
Save Our Symphony, Inc.
Judy Doyle, President
Denise Neville, Vice president
David Assemany, Secretary
David Kuziemko, Treasurer
Click HERE for a link to the editorial.