Cornelia Pokrzywa -
For those of us who eagerly awaited the end of the strike and the return of the musicians to Orchestra Hall, the 2011-12 season brought many highlights tempered by bittersweet moments and some notes of longing.
The shortened Spring-Summer offerings in 2011 brought us one of the saddest days in recent memory – the final concert of much-beloved concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert. Since her departure was a direct result of the strike, there was no opportunity for a fond and formal farewell. Her last concert was simply her last concert. Other retirements and departures followed. As a result, the 2011-2012 season featured perhaps the largest number of substitute musicians that audiences had ever seen.
For those of us who hold a special fondness for our musicians, it was often difficult to come to concerts knowing that we may not see or hear a favorite. Some, of course, had moved on for good. Others, due to the strike, took on obligations that limited their performances in the 2011-12 season.
Audience favorite Kim Kennedy led the 2011-12 season as acting concertmaster, performing solos and a concerto to the delight of those who have admired her playing for years. The recent announcement of a new concertmaster has many audience members excited for what will come.
One benefit of the limited offerings this season: many of the musicians took to concertizing in the community and beyond. Local chamber music programs gave the audience the opportunity to listen to our esteemed musicians in more intimate settings. A brunch series at the Birmingham Community House, the ProMozart Society, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, and the neighborhood concerts all gave audiences the opportunity to hear music in new and different settings.
Still, for many of us, the best place to hear the orchestra is Orchestra Hall. Some of the most memorable concerts this season included the Festival of Flutes with Sir James Galway alongside the DSO’s own Sharon Sparrow and Jeff Zook, who performed Vivaldi’s Piccolo concerto to a full house. Favorite conductors featured this season included Neemi Jarvi, Jerzy Semkov, and Thomas Wilkins. It’s clear that Detroit audiences know, love and appreciate the conductors who know and respond to the heart of the DSO. The season finale will feature Robert DeMaine.
Looking ahead, the audience knows that DSO is a living, growing organization. We cannot stop change, nor should we strive to stop it. Audience input, however, remains an important goal as the DSO continues to develop new offerings. We must stay involved, whether as subscribers, donors, or new media users. As we know, cultural institutions in Detroit need community support. Let’s step up and hold our orchestra out to the world as a successful example