Op-ed: DSO strike shows management is inept

Published: 01/16 11:27pm By: Danny DeRose

Now, in the longest strike in the history of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the battle between the musicians and their management has taken a decidedly nasty turn.

While the management has laid a manipulative web of unrelated reasoning for its poor judgment and inability to do what it is hired for, the musicians have countered with a well-executed public relations campaign backed by facts and talent – things that DSO management seems to consider superfluous.

“While striking DSO players were continuing their agenda of misguided and impulsive communications, the DSO’s board negotiating team was finalizing a new offer aimed at ending the current work stoppage.”

DSO management sent this alarming, unsigned statement to all patrons of the orchestra Jan. 12, just after the musicians held a press conference detailing how the lengthy strike is hurting local restaurant owners. What the bewildered management team doesn’t seem to realize is that this statement says much more about them than it does about the musicians.

Saying that the musicians’ agenda is misguided and impulsive doesn’t fit their stated and simple goal of fighting the dumbing-down of the orchestra.

This strike has never been about lowering of salaries; the musicians themselves have put forth a cut of 22 percent, along with many other concessions.

This fight is about respect.

Respect for a full, internationally recognized orchestra, not a two-tiered system full of substitutes and low-caliber musicians.

Respect for the valuable concept of tenure, which creates both job security and personal investment in the ensemble.

Respect for a full season with the best talent the world has to offer. The music lovers of metro Detroit deserve better than second-rate conductors and soloists.

Respect for the gem that the Detroit Symphony is. Few cities can say what we can about our orchestra. Apparently, management still can’t comprehend that, as their vacuous promise of a new offer would seem to indicate.

The musicians, working with a miniscule budget, have run a series of concerts on their own. This leads me to wonder why the orchestra’s management, with much broader financial capabilities, can’t seem to raise money and fill seats, which is precisely what they are hired to do.

What this vile strike has done, more than anything, is shed light on how inept the DSO’s management is and says nothing of their appalling ignorance of the talent of our orchestra.

The only sane reaction, after watching management’s faltering tactics, is to start over with an acceptable plan for our orchestra.

Enough with lawyers, public relations firms and consultants. Let’s find people who love our orchestra and want what’s best for it. The musicians of the DSO, to say nothing of its patrons, deserve no less.


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