Interview with Detroit Symphony violinist: “We went on strike because we didn’t want the orchestra to be destroyed”

By Shannon Jones
10 October 2011

One year ago, on October 5, 2010, the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) struck against massive concession demands, including a more than 30 percent pay cut and drastic changes in work rules. The strike ended in April of this year, with musicians forced to accept a large pay cut and other concessions.
DSO musicians picketing on the first day of the strike

On the anniversary of the walkout, this reporter and WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh interviewed DSO violinist Marian Tanau at Orchestra Hall in downtown Detroit. The Romanian-born musician, a member of the negotiating committee for the striking musicians, reflected on the strike and the current situation facing the orchestra.

The DSO strike took place under conditions of a general and ongoing attack on arts funding in the US and internationally. Faced with declining ticket sales and falling private and corporate donations orchestras and opera companies are continuing to impose deep cuts.

Since the end of the DSO strike, the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and musicians at Colorado Symphony have been forced to accept an effective 14 percent pay cut in the face of a financial crisis at that orchestra. In June, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony agreed to a new three-year contract containing a 9.7 reduction in wages.

Meanwhile, management of the DSO seems determined to pursue the same reckless course that provoked the strike last year. In June, the DSO Board of Directors announced the renewal of the contract of DSO President Anne Parsons for three-years. The management team headed by Parsons spearheaded the attack on musicians. While demanding drastic cuts from the musicians, Parsons received some $400,000 in pay and expenses in 2009.

CLICK HERE to see the entire article and interview with DSO violinist Marian Tanau…

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