Monthly Archives: March 2011

Our response to the DSO Message of the Day

March 29, 2011

Dear Ms. Weingandt,

Greetings from Save Our Symphony.

Your most recent Message of the Day (included below) is largely devoted to our organization and our positions so, in the interest of fairness and an open dialogue, we would like to respond. We welcome the opportunity for a dialogue on these and other topics concerning the future of the community’s cultural gem, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Perhaps we can help you with the apparent difficulty you have telling the difference between us and the musicians of your orchestra. We are an independent, nonprofit public advocacy group devoted to the preservation of the DSO. Yes we are sympathetic to the musicians. Our voice is our own — the voice of the community. Neither the musicians speak for us nor we for them. We don’t go on stage, are not on strike nor do we have a financial stake in the outcome. You have not been negotiating with us, although that hardly differentiates us since reportedly you haven’t been negotiating with them either.

Your message refers to two categories of email you have received on the subject of resolving the strike by binding arbitration. You correctly identify our support for binding arbitration but have not effectively articulated the argument in favor of it, so let us take a turn.

The strike has dragged on for 6 months. However one might characterize the negotiations or absence thereof, at this point there is an impasse. The board insists on conditions which are unacceptable to the musicians. The gap is intractable. What is the prospect of resolution? None. What’s at imminent risk? At the very least the summer and fall seasons.

Binding arbitration would close that gap, save 2/3 of one year’s programs and set the stage for the board, the orchestra and the community to collaborate to engage the real problem — the dire financial condition of one of the nation’s great symphony orchestras. Binding arbitration would put the strike in the past and bring ALL the stakeholders together.

If you think we cannot or will not help, you could not be more wrong.

The second category of email is firmly in opposition to binding arbitration and provides “lengthier content” in the way of supporting arguments. Although you do not provide attribution for this email, the content so closely follows the stance of the board leadership that we shall take it to have come from them directly.

“Under your current circumstances, I think full binding arbitration is high risk for both musicians and management and could lead to organizational disaster”

The idea that full binding arbitration is high risk for musicians seems odd. Under full binding arbitration on all unresolved issues, the musicians could not do worse from their perspective than capitulating on all their current negotiating positions.

Describing full binding arbitration as high risk for management is similarly odd. It would rescue the summer and fall seasons. Given your mission statement, losing the summer and fall seasons would appear to be an organizational disaster.

Invoking “organizational disaster” disregards the fact that an organizational (financial) disaster is already in full swing. The DSO is technically bankrupt based on the financial statements from fiscal 2008 through 2010. Over that period the DSO lost a staggering $43 million in net assets (typically termed balance sheet equity). Salary compensation for the musicians over this 2 year period was $28.4 million. Over half of the assets on the balance sheet are in real estate. The Max, the major piece of real estate, was the primary cause of the covenant violations and the default on the bond interest payments. In the last 15 years, the number of donors has declined by 80%. Consider the cumulative effect on revenue of such a precipitous decline. (Please let us know if you find any inaccuracies in the preceding financial facts and circumstances that we have discovered based on the financial statements referenced).

Presiding over the destruction of one of the nation’s great symphony orchestras might also fairly be characterized as an organizational disaster given the mission statement and proud history of the institution.

If the board has powerful arguments that the financial viability of the organization can only exist under their proposed terms, why would a fair arbitrator make any ruling other than on those proposed terms? If these arguments are so powerful, why can they not be the subject of full discussion and debate among the whole board? Where in the bylaws does it state that board members shall not be heard?

The DSO in its present state is in a death spiral. The board’s conduct of the strike is causing musicians to leave, causing bitterness among the music lovers in the community and driving away the benefactors who would salvage the orchestra. Binding arbitration is the first step back from the brink.

Thank you for your time,

Judy Doyle
Denise Neville
David Assemany
David Kuziemko

Referenced Letter:

Dear Members of the Board -

Today’s Message of the Day contains two pieces of information related to Wednesday’s Board meeting:

#1: Be prepared to be greeted by a large group of Musician supporters

The DSO Musicians/Save Our Symphony organization plans on having a substantial presence as you arrive on Wednesday. They will easily overwhelm the stage door alley. With this is mind, our security team as well as the Wayne State/Detroit Police Department will be briefed; the DSO Musicians/Save our Symphony organization is likely to be joined by sympathetic demonstrators.

#2: Wednesday’s agenda is built around the full range of financial and contractual issues facing the corporation.

We have received emails expressing opinions about the DSO Musicians/Save Our Symphony’s plan for binding arbitration. Those emails come with one of two messages. Message one is “please submit to arbitration.” They are straightforward in this advice.

The alternative messages are lengthier in their content. Here is an excerpt from a recent email:

“Under your current circumstances, I think full binding arbitration is high risk for both musiciansand management and could lead to organizational disaster.

Why? A good arbitrator would look at the ‘whole picture’ and make the best decisions on fact-based data. This could be highly unfavorable for all parties due the weak financial condition of the DSO and lead both parties to unintended consequences.

(i.e. a conclusion that the DSO is not viable)

As well, agreeing to a full binding arbitration could potentially cause the Board of Directors to lose institutional control which understandably they would not, and should not, want to yield. An arbitrator could impose financial and operational accountabilities on the Board inconsistent with the long-term viability of the DSO.”

We share these points with you so you can prepare for Wednesday’s meeting. If you have any questions on this material, please don’t hesitate to contact Paul Hogle or Anne Parsons.

Best regards,

Elizabeth Weigandt
Director of Public Relations
Detroit Symphony Orchestra


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Open Letter to Maestro Slatkin

3-28-2011

Dear Mr. Slatkin,

We represent a group of concerned citizens who have banded together to find a resolution to the DSO management/musician impasse. We seek an opportunity to meet with you and discuss the audience stakeholder viewpoint. As music director, we understand that you have the task of healing the orchestra. As music director, you also have the task of inspiring and leading the educational efforts of the Civic Youth Ensemble. As it happens, we represent the CYE stakeholders as well – from Civic alumni to current Civic parent.

At this time, scheduled CYE events require Civic students to perform at fundraisers and community outreach events that would normally be performed by DSO musicians, and you are scheduled to conduct those events. Civic students and their parents are in a very uncomfortable position – many are delaying auditioning for the CYE ensembles while other local youth orchestras are preparing for an influx of new members.

As DSO Music Director, you have lent your name to the legacy of this organization. As alumni and parents, we are invested in the outcome of this situation. As a neutral party, you have the freedom to meet with us. Having met with management and musicians, we ask that in this sixth month of the strike, you meet with us. We are available to meet at your convenience.

Best regards,

David Assemany
Cornelia Pokrzywa


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Call to Action!

CALL TO ACTION – CALL TO ACTION – CALL TO ACTION!

PLEASE JOIN US!

Wednesday March 30, 11:30 am
Orchestra Hall, Back Door
Greet the DSO Board of Directors
Wear your blue SOS Wristband

The DSO is suffering historic losses to its ranks. Our musicians are auditioning all over the country and around the world. They are winning jobs and they are leaving. Our orchestra is being torn apart.

What may be the last meeting of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as we know it is this Wednesday March 30 at 12:00 Noon. Join us to greet the board of directors to respectfully ask them to consider all available options to end this impasse, stem the losses and put the musicians back on stage immediately.

Click here for a map to 3711 Woodward Avenue

This will be a polite and positive event! If you would like to make a sign, here are some suggestions: End the Strike – Begin Again! Say YES to Detroit! Say YES to the DSO! Bring the Music Back! End the Impasse! Save Our Symphony!

Make this a fun outing. Bring your friends and family to meet the DSO board and then stay in Midtown Detroit for lunch. The local restaurants are hurting from the strike and need our support! Click on the links below to share this with your social media buddies.

If you will be joining us, please let us know for our headcount: Info@SaveOurSymphony.info


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We WILL Save Our Symphony!


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New post by Drew McManus

March 22, 2011 | Drew McManus

I received a copy of a letter from Sandra Reitelman, the former Director of Corporate Fund-raising for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) from 2004-2006. In her letter, Reitelman characterizes “an incomplete ability to draw audiences and financial support” resulting from specific limitations within the workplace environment as a cornerstone for the ongoing institutional troubles. At the same time, she is careful to say that she is not speaking of “mismanagement of finances, or of board negligence”…

Click HERE for the article on Adaptistration.com


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Membership Drive!

SOS NEEDS YOUR HELP TO BUILD OUR BASE!

Click HERE to join SOS

We are growing but we need to grow faster!

THE CHALLENGE:
Our current membership base is over 5,000 supporters.
In the few days left before the March 30th DSO Board meeting, SOS wants to double our membership.

WE CAN DO THIS!

HERE’S HOW:
Our membership could grow to 10,000 overnight if every SOS member brought in just ONE NEW MEMBER! Reach out now to your friends and family. Add new members to our voice.

WHY NOW:
The Board meeting on the 30th is the last best opportunity to end the strike.
BY VOTING FOR BINDING ARBITRATION, THE BOARD CAN END THE STRIKE NOW.

WHY SOS?
SOS has become the voice of the community: The more SOS members, the louder our voice.

Let your voice be heard. Reach out now to increase our membership!

Please share this link:

http://saveoursymphony.us2.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=f07f19805f21b7ce52858eaed&id=01abed8a61

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
-Mahatma Gandhi


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Support for DSO musicians from our neighbors to the north.

Click HERE to read the article on the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians website.

Detroit wristbands send a message of support

OCSM encourages all member orchestras to show your support for the musicians of the Detroit Symphony with Save Our Symphony Solidarity wristbands. These blue wristbands are a reminder to all that the stage of The Max in Detroit is still dark after more than 20 weeks of a labour dispute. They also communicate to the public that orchestra musicians across North America stand together to support one another.

Solidarity wristbands have already been worn by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Oregon Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and The Cleveland Orchestra. San Francisco Symphony flutist Cathy Payne writes, “We crafted a joint statement from the entire SFS Family – Musicians, Board, and Administration – that has been inserted in our program books, thanking our audiences for their support, confirming the importance of symphonic music in our communities, directing our patrons to the DSO Musicians and Save our Symphony websites, and urging them to send letters of support encouraging all parties to find a resolution that gets the DSO back on The Max stage.”

Similar actions are already planned in Calgary and Vancouver. To obtain Solidarity wristbands for your orchestra ($20 for 10 wristbands), please visit the Save Our Symphony website:

http://saveoursymphony.info/solidarity-wristband/

Thank you for your support!


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Phil Dikeman says “Good-Bye”

Philip Dikeman says, “Good-bye”

The Musicians of the DSO are sad to announce the departure of Philip Dikeman, Assistant Principal Flute of the DSO since 1992 and Acting Principal Flute since 2010.

In a conversation this past weekend, Phil said, “When I joined the DSO in 1992, I had already played professionally for 5 years. I won my first job overseas soon after earning my Master’s Degree from Yale in 1987. When I was appointed to the Assistant Principal Flute position with the DSO, it was like a dream come true. It was amazing to think I was going to become a member of a major American Symphony Orchestra. I can’t begin to express how proud I was to be a part of this great ensemble. For almost two decades, I have had the pleasure of working with the many amazing and inspiring musicians who make up the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Performing with an orchestra of the caliber of the DSO has been an extreme privilege and I am grateful I could be a part of something so special these past 19 years.”

The same can be said for how the orchestra feels about Philip. Phil is in the prime of his career and his impeccable musicianship, his crystal clear tone zinging to the back of Orchestra Hall and his amazing sense of ensemble will be missed. It will not be easy finding someone to replace Phil.

Philip has accepted a teaching position at Vanderbilt University. He says, “Making the choice to leave the DSO was not an easy one and I spent a lot of time thinking about it before reaching a decision. However, I finally realized that accepting the post at The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University was the right thing for me to do at this point in my life. I’m looking forward to beginning this new phase of my career by focusing on teaching, finding many new outlets for performance, and doing more traveling and playing throughout the United States and abroad. I know that I will miss my colleagues in the DSO very much. The kind of music making that I’ve experienced here is not something to be taken for granted and I will cherish the countless memories I’ve shared with my colleagues. I wish them all the best as they continue the struggle to uphold a level of artistry that is befitting to the Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.”

We understand and support Phil’s move to Vanderbilt and Nashville. Thank you, Phil! We wish you nothing but the best as you pursue your career elsewhere.

—The Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra


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Symphony Discord Plays Out In Facebook Fracas

by Jennifer Guerra

March 16, 2011 from MR

Before the musicians strike began in late 2010, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Facebook fan page used to look like a typical fan page with posts about visiting conductors, upcoming concerts and the orchestra’s Tiny Tots series.

But once the strike began it essentially hijacked the fan page. While the DSO may have wanted to talk about Tiny Tots concerts, the audience wanted to talk about the orchestra’s problems.

The musicians used their own Facebook fan page to post updates there.

So, management started doing the same thing on the official fan page.

But this Facebook fight could affect what happens once the fight is all over…

Click HERE to listen to the audio article.

Click HERE for a link to the article on National Public Radio


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Where are the Missing DSO Donors?


In only a dozen years, 1996 to 2008, the DSO’s donor base plummeted 80% from a high of 25,000 donors to fewer than 5,000.

.

*Data Source: DSO’s Development Department

Why did 20,000 DSO donors disappear?

When asked what the reason was for the precipitous decline in donor numbers, Pamela Ruthven, former CFO and VP for Development, provided an explanation to the Sub-Finance Committee of Strategic Planning on July 27, 2006. She recorded the following statements:

“Over the past three years, the fundraising goals have been achieved to a large degree by extracting increasingly larger gifts out of an increasingly smaller pool of donors.”

“For the next several years, we will need to focus on increasing the number of donors (adding new donors.) This is something that we have not done in recent years, as our primary objective was to raise the most fundraising revenue as quickly as cheaply as possible, given the financial challenges the organization was facing.”

“We also discussed the high rate of turnover in the development department, some of the drivers behind it and its negative impact on our ability to efficiently fundraise.”

Where did the missing DSO’s donors go?

  • Some donors inevitably moved or passed away.
  • Fundraising targets were achieved year-after-year by employing the cheaper strategy of requesting larger, and as it turned out, multiple gifts annually from the most wealthy supporters of the Detroit Symphony. The core of this small pool of donors were, and still are, the DSO’s Board of Directors.
  • This strategy allowed the DSO to reduce costs by not having to solicit a host of small and mid-range donors. However, when the DSO stopped asking – most of these donors stopped giving.

Development staff remained at the DSO an of average only 15 months before leaving to find work elsewhere, reducing the effectiveness of the DSO’s fundraising efforts.

Despite having identified the need to grow the donor numbers and stem the revolving door in the development department in 2006, those trends continued unabated through 2010. The donor base was allowed to erode even further and four different VP’s for development were hired between 2007 and 2010.

Now, eight years of heroic giving has stretched DSO’s board members beyond their capacity to give more, and they are convinced that Metro Detroit can no longer afford a world-class orchestra because they can no long afford one. The eighty-seven member board accounts for almost 50% of the individual giving which supports the symphony. The DSO’s wide and deep donor base has melted away.

In DSO Dashboard – January 2010, a document created with the help of TDC consultants hired by the Hudson Weber Foundation, management acknowledged that many potential donors still exist in the Metro Detroit area when they set a goal to double the size of the donor base from 5,000 donors to 10,000 in just three years.

The question is: If the DSO’s leadership recognized that this many lapsed and new donors could be cultivated in a relatively short time, why haven’t the DSO’s leadership engaged in a massive public campaign, in the last year, to reach these donors more quickly?


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Links

Click HERE for a the DSO Articles of Incorporation

Click HERE for the DSO By-laws

Click HERE for DSO audited financial information

Click HERE to see the results of the Adaptistration.com poll

Click HERE for the text of Bruce Coppock’s speech to the DSO Annual General Meeting

Click HERE for the text of Ernest Fleischmann’s essay

Click HERE for it’s not only the percussion section that’s leaving

Click HERE for the Fleischmann–Lipman–Morris Debate of 1987-89


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The Beethoven Project – Part 6

Now you know my whole idea for the Beethoven Project. Next, I will address some practical concerns:

#1 How do we fund The Beethoven Project in a world where cuts are being made right and left?  Parents could afford, in many cases, a DSO ticket for their child.  Some could afford the CD cost.  Perhaps grants could cover these expenses in other communities when needed.   Other expenses, like choreography, could be done by a volunteer or group of volunteers.  The basic motions could be taught to a small group of children (maybe 10) and could be recorded on video to make teaching them in the schools easier.  A gym teacher could view the video and see how to teach the children the routine, or volunteers who have dance, movement or music experience could come in and help teach. Most schools already have CD players in them.  Using a school football field for one day might cost something, but I just don’t see the whole things as being expensive.  Most school gym closets are full of items that could be used in the routine for props.  A bus trip to Detroit would cost something, but could be done.

#2 Where would we begin?  I have been considering Troy because its superintendent places a high value on the role of music in education.  For example, she broke ground with a program at Morse Elementary in which EVERY 1st grader learns to play the violin.  Morse, located in a lower income neighborhood, had struggled to keep up academically, but this program is making enormous strides with the children’s abilities to follow instructions and behave appropriately.  The children, through this incredible opportunity, now have a love for making and listening to music.  Surely there must be a forward thinking superintendent somewhere out there, like the one in Troy, who would like to take a chance and see what this program might do for their students.

The benefits of The Beethoven project are 1) children will be developing memory, auditory, visual and motor skills 2) they will be learning to follow directions an work as a team 3) they will have increased in physical fitness 4) they will be  developing a strong love and appreciation for great music, and 4) the DSO would have an ever-increasing audience base, which rightly deserves, which would end their financial troubles as well.


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The Beethoven Project – Part 5

Day One I told you how I fell in love. Day Two, I described my vision for The Beethoven Project beginning at a school. Day Three, you learned about Finale 1, the football field “show” and Day Four about the DSO concert. Now, what do I see happening after that? The following year, this school has a Mozart Project, or Brahms perhaps?

Meanwhile, other schools now want to start The Beethoven Project for their students. It could spread from school to school, community to community, state to state. And in each of the school children, their hearts are now changed forever and they are now not only searching out other composers they might like, but are also little musical ambassadors, telling friends and family about their new love.

I never had any interest in paintings at all until one day a woman came to our school and talked to us for 2 hours about Van Gogh’s ‘Starry, Starry Night’. I was starting to see so much more in it!!! Then, I wanted to see other Van Gogh paintings and could begin to appreciate works by other painters, too. One single painting opened the door to the world of art for me.

In music, we need to start with one piece and immerse ourselves in it to foster a deep, lasting love. Why does playing an instrument also help foster a love for classics? Repetitive listening that occurs when we are rehearsing a piece. When I played in youth orchestras as a kid, each piece became engraved in me, and the love grew.

For these school children I described in The Beethoven Project, their bodies are their instruments and, without having to learn an instrument first, they are getting the chance to have the music engraved in them by doing the repetitive motions to the piece. Later, of course they may certainly want to play an instrument, and would probably do very well, having this love in them, but even if they don’t, the love and hunger for great music will still be there. This is what our city lacks, a hunger for the great. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.

Tomorrow: practical considerations.


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Article on TheDaily.com

Months before protesters camped out in the Wisconsin Capitol, union workers went on strike in downtown Detroit. They weren’t autoworkers or even teachers; they were musicians clad in tuxes and tails.

Now in its 22nd week, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike has been as bitter and destructive as any labor fight. Negotiations hit a low in February when the musicians rejected what management called its “final offer,” and management put the rest of the season on ice. But there is faint hope, as the musicians voted Tuesday to propose a binding arbitration process to resolve the symphony’s fate. Management has yet to agree to the offer, which would return the orchestra to the stage…

Click HERE for a link to the entire article on TheDaily.com.   It includes a video of some lovely playing by Joe Striplin, DSO Violinist.


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DSO’s Leadership rejects binding arbitration

DSO’s Leadership Rejects Binding Arbitration

After the rejection of DSO Management’s “final offer” by the musicians on February 19, the orchestra members continued to try to find a compromise that would bring the orchestra back on stage. On Tuesday, March 1, we offered to return to work immediately if management would agree to submit all remaining unresolved issues from the last offer of each side to binding arbitration before a three-person panel. The majority could adopt the position of one party over the position of the other, or they could propose something different.

Offering binding arbitration as a solution is not an option we choose lightly; it means we would have to give up control over some of the very issues we are striking over. Still, we feel it is the only way to get the orchestra immediately back on stage as performances can begin while the arbitration process finalizes a contract in the background. Earned and contributed revenue can begin to flow with the assurance that a contract will follow. A much needed healing process can begin for the entire community. This is a fair, equitable, and expeditious way of preserving this great institution for now, and for future generations. This is our goal.

Although DSO PR Director Elizabeth Weigandt attended the musicians’ 2 pm press conference in front of Orchestra Hall on March 1, took notes, and was handed a full statement of the binding arbitration proposal, DSO management chose to pretend late that afternoon that they knew nothing definite beyond the fact that we were offering to return to work. They proceeded to send the musicians’ bargaining team their own completely different proposal:

1. The musicians must come back to work under management’s imposed “Proposal “B” with a no-strike agreement.
2. Once on stage, with an agreement not to go on strike again, the parties would meet with a mediator to discuss their differences, for yet another time.
3. Then, at some point in the future, the parties would discuss the possibility of maybe having limited binding arbitration on a small number of issues which would not include management’s financial offer, allocation of the money in that offer, media proposal, and other issues important to management.

And indeed this is how the management story has played out over the last five days. Contrary to assertions made to the press last Friday, March 4, DSO leaders failed to follow through on their stated willingness to engage in “earnest” talks over the weekend. In their last conversation with the musicians’ lawyer, Friday, DSO leadership verbally stated they could not agree to the musicians’ offer of binding arbitration as a pathway to return the musicians to the stage. After refusing to formalize their statement in writing, they then announced in the press that discussions would be ongoing over the weekend. In reality, discussions stopped. After the exchange of each other’s “pathway,” management said they would call the musicians’ lawyer over the weekend to continue discussions. They didn’t. DSO’s leadership obviously doesn’t want the orchestra back under any conditions other than its own and are attempting to delay and delay. What are they afraid of? DSO’s leadership misled everyone then and continues to mislead with their latest negotiations update.

The musicians have appealed to the full DSO Board, as the men and women who are legally responsible for the fate of the institution, to meet and vote on our binding arbitration offer. We believe that they owe as much to the entire community.

– The Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra


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The Beethoven Project – Part 4

Day One I told you how I feel in love with classical music. Day Two I told you how I imagined the school children becoming immersed in Beethoven as The Beethoven Project begins. Day Three, I described Finale 1, where parents would get to see the children moving in rhythm to the entire Beethoven 7th Symphony. So today, as promised: Finale 2: The most exciting thing of all.

The kids board a bus for Orchestra Hall. Many parents have caught the “fever” and decided to come along. As the children enter the hall, they are amazed by the beauty of it. But that is nothing compared to the joy they have when the Detroit Symphony musicians raise their instruments and the children hear the first few notes of the Beethoven 7th Symphony. It is THEIR song!!!! “And look – all their bows are going the same way at the same time!! What a great sound!!!! That’s part I love – when we do the spinning – that’s played by those shiny instruments – oh yes, I remember, that’s the brass!!” First, the 3rd graders are on the edge of their seats as THEIR movement is being played.

Can they stand up and do their dance? No, the teacher has said they have to stay in their seats – but on the inside – you better believe they are dancing!!! Every note reminds them of their exact motion, of their part, of their connection with this monumental work. Can’t they please stand and move? No, they cannot – but their hearts are dancing and they are in total awe of the incredible sound enveloping their bodies and their souls. As the final chord comes to a close, every child is on his feet, applauding excitedly!

Tomorrow: next steps.


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DSO Executives fail to hold promised talks.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3/7/11
Contact: Greg Bowens, Bowens & Co., 248.275.3156, bowensgreg@hotmail.com

DSO EXECUTIVES FAIL TO HOLD PROMISED TALKS ON ARBITRATION PROPOSAL OVER WEEKEND

Detroit – The striking musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are reporting that no talks were held between negotiators this past weekend as management assurances to the press Friday they would engage in such activities never materialized.

“DSO executives are saying one thing to the press and doing another privately,” said Gordon Stump, president of the musicians. “Management told the press, its board and the public that talks about any concerns they had over the arbitration pathway to a settlement would continue throughout the weekend. That did not happen.”

On Sunday musicians concluded their second day of hand delivering the proposal to board members. Word of CEO Anne Parsons’ startling email to members urging them to ignore the arbitration proposal drew sharp criticisms from supporters in social media over the weekend. Parson’s message was sent at 6:34 p.m. Friday — exactly 22 minutes after she, her lawyer and the musicians’ lawyer concluded a conference call at 6:12 p.m. That conference call was the last communication between the parties despite assurances from management to the press on the same day that they would continue over the weekend.

Even so, reaction about managements’ high handed tactics towards members of its governing body did not go unnoticed by the public. Reaction to the tersely worded email sent at 6:34 p.m. Friday, March 4, 2011 are posted on the musicians’ fan page.

“People know the DSO is a tax exempt, therefore publicly supported venture run by a board of directors from a broad cross section of citizens from Detroit and the surrounding communities,” said Stump. “It is not a private company whose board members are accountable to shareholders looking for a quarterly dividend. They are accountable to the wider community. Their voice should not be silenced by a small cabal of executives acting as if the non-profit agency was their own private company.”

Musicians’ had emailed the same board members asking them to hold a meeting of the full board to vote and accept the Pathway to a Peaceful Settlement binding arbitration proposal. Musicians then went door-to-door this weekend visiting board members to deliver the letter (see attached).

Parsons’ tersely worded email said in part,” We learned that the musicians have sent letters and emails to the board this weekend urging you to agree to settle the contract through arbitration…Tell them, “Thank you for your email. As I’m sure you know, your offer is being discussed by your lawyer, orchestra management and our lawyer. Please direct all future communications on this subject through that channel.”

After telling the board members to ignore the musicians, Parson dismisses the idea that board members have any say in the decision to accept the musicians’ offer, “the management negotiating team will bring a recommendation to the executive committee on this topic as soon as we have something we feel you can support,” she writes.

The pressure by management to silence the board occurs in the wake of an offer made by the musicians to return to work and end the labor dispute while a binding arbitration process runs its course to a new contract. The musicians offered to submit all remaining unresolved issues to binding arbitration before a three person panel. They would select one arbitrator, DSO executives would select one, and these two individuals would select a third. The parties would present and argue their position on each of the unresolved issues, and ultimately, the panel would issue a final and binding decision which was approved by at least two of the three. The majority could adopt the position of one party over the position of the other, or they could propose something different. Any provisions of the arbitrators’ decision which can be made retroactively will be so implemented.

Meanwhile, the striking musicians are performing community concerts numbers 15 to 20 in March. For more information on the concert series and ticket prices visit www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org

-End-


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The Beethoven Project – Part 3

Day One I described how I fell in love with music myself and Day Two I began to describe the way I envision children becoming excited by it as well. So now, as I promised, I will tell you about what this all could lead to.

A 2nd grader, for example, goes to school…every day for 2 months he hears the 2nd movement of Beethoven 7 when he’s painting in art class, when he’s learning in music class, and when he’s preparing a movement routine in gym class. After two months, he now LOVES the piece. What would then be the finale of this? There would be two finales! Today, I will describe Finale 1.

This would take place on the high school football field! Can you envision this? Ideally, it would be springtime. All the parents are in the stands. The 1st movement of Beethoven Symphony No. 7 begins, being broadcast from the loudspeakers. The 3rd graders walk out on the field, in some sort of costumes or coordinated clothing, and begin their routine to this movement. They move slowly during the introduction and then come alive and are exuberant in the 6/8 section. After thunderous applause, the 2nd graders come out, and do their routine to the 2nd movement – it is slow and parents are amazed how stately and coordinated the youngest children are, entranced by the powerful music. It is breathtaking, and some parents have tears in their eyes. After more thunderous applause, the 4th graders do their routine to the 3rd movement and the then the proud 5th graders come out and “dance” to the triumphant finale.

I see it looking like patterns from the stands, somewhat like what a marching band does, only more child-like and creative. By now, the students and parents are realizing that the movements of the Beethoven they did not study are also incredible!

This whole parent show is only the Finale 1, so tomorrow I will tell you about Finale 2.


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The Beethoven Project – Part 2

Yesterday I told you I have a brand new idea of how to help people fall in love with classical music and described how I, myself fell into it. My theory is that repetitive listening to one piece is how the love begins.

So here’s how I envision “The Beethoven Project” working. We start with one elementary school. One Beethoven symphony. Beethoven 7. Take a two month period. What do we do? Beethoven immersion. How? 2nd graders get the 2nd movement. 3rd graders get the 1st movement. 4th graders get the 3rd movement and 5th graders get the finale.

During art class, they paint while listening to “their” movement. In music class, they could learn about Beethoven himself, or the instruments in the orchestra, or learn to clap rhythms from his works. But the most important class would be P. E., where they would work on a choreographed routine to “their” movement of the symphony. Long ribbons on sticks could be used (like in rhythmic gymnastics, or flowing scarves or a parachute, etc.) as they learn “their” motions to the piece. In each session they would execute the same movements to the music, beginning to know and love it intimately as they memorize the routine.

I can see them in circles, moving inward and outward in precision as they move in sync with the music. Consider the popularity of ‘High School Musical’ – kids watch the dancing and singing portions of that over and over, and memorize the words and choreography as they fall in love with it. It becomes PART of them, and classical music could be learned the same way! Students could be given CD’s to bring home so they can share Beethoven with their parents, too.

Tomorrow I will describe how I envision the culmination of the project.


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DSO CEO Anne Parsons tells board to mind their own business.

For immediate release 3/3/11
Contact: Greg Bowens, Bowens & Co., 248.275.3156, bowensgreg@hotmail.com

DSO CEO anne parsons TELLS BOARD TO MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS AND LEAVE THE NEGOTIATING TO EXECUTIVES IN TERSE EMAIL THIS WEEKEND

Musicians press ahead with weekend visits encouraging board members to support the Pathway to a Peaceful Settlement Plan. “The DSO is a taxpayer supported non-profit not a private company run by a small cabal of executives, they say.

Detroit – Detroit Symphony Orchestra CEO Anne Parsons sent a startling email to members of the organization’s board of directors Friday urging them to ignore emails and letters from musicians that ask them to consider the Pathway to a Peaceful Settlement arbitration plan presented last week.

“We learned that the musicians have sent letters and emails to the board this weekend urging you to agree to settle the contract through arbitration,” writes Parson in the email forwarded by a recipient. Tell them, “Thank you for your email. As I’m sure you know, your offer is being discussed by your lawyer, orchestra management and our lawyer. Please direct all future communications on this subject through that channel.”

After telling the board members to ignore the musicians, Parson dismisses the idea that board members have any say in the decision to accept the musicians’ offer, “the management negotiating team will bring a recommendation to the executive committee on this topic as soon as we have something we feel you can support,” she writes.

The tersely worded email was sent at 6:34 p.m. Friday, March 4, 2011 moments after striking musicians’ had emailed the same board members asking them to hold a meeting of the full board to vote and accept the Pathway to a Peaceful Settlement binding arbitration proposal. Musicians are going door-to-door this weekend visiting board members.

“The DSO is a tax exempt, therefore publicly supported venture run by a board of directors from a broad cross section of citizens from Detroit and the surrounding communities,” said Gordon Stump, president of the musicians locally. “It is not a private company or corporation whose board members are accountable to shareholders looking for a quarterly dividend. They are accountable to the wider community. Their voice should not be silenced by a small cabal of executives acting as if the non-profit agency was their own private company.”

The pressure by management to silence their board of directors occurs in the wake of an offer made by the musicians to return to work and end the labor dispute while a binding arbitration process runs its course to a new contract. The musicians offered to submit all remaining unresolved issues to binding arbitration before a three person panel. They would select one arbitrator, DSO executives would select one, and these two individuals would select a third. The parties would present and argue their position on each of the unresolved issues, and ultimately, the panel would issue a final and binding decision which was approved by at least two of the three. The majority could adopt the position of one party over the position of the other, or they could propose something different. Any provisions of the arbitrators’ decision which can be made retroactively will be so implemented.

Meanwhile, the striking musicians are performing community concerts numbers 15 to 20 in March. For more information on the concert series and ticket prices visit www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org.

-End-


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