Musician’s address to the Annual Meeting

December 8, 2011, MDSO bassoonist Victoria King delivers remarks to DSO’s General Annual Meeting

Click HERE to view the address on the DSOM website

Good afternoon, Governing Members, Members, Board Members, Staff and Colleagues,

I am Victoria King and am currently musician liaison to the DSO’s Governing Members. I have been a Detroit Symphony Orchestra bassoonist for 28 years.  

The bassoon is often referred to as the clown of the orchestra.  In order to play the bassoon well, one must be all thumbs. My left thumb alone operates ten keys.  With all of the work our opposable thumbs have to do, we bassoonists like to think of ourselves as being a little further along the evolutionary scale than other musicians. We therefore can be seen,  not as the clowns of the orchestra, but as the crown of the orchestra.

All clowning aside, we, the musicians, would like to thank all of you for several reasons: your generosity, your dedication, your enthusiasm. Whether your support comes in the form of your time, your attendance at concerts, or your donations, we want you to know that your participation has never been — and never will be — unnoticed and unappreciated. While most of you do not appear on stage or on staff, please know that you are a vital part of this Detroit Symphony Orchestra family.

We know you remember that, at this time last year, this institution was in extreme distress. Remembering last year is imperative so that everyone can step back and learn from all of our mistakes and strengthen our resolve — together — to never allow things to get to that point again.

There have been recent activities and happenings to celebrate. This institution means so many different things to so many different people — from our educational programs to our jazz concerts, for example — but let us not forget the name under which we operate: the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra — the musicians that comprise what you see and hear onstage at Orchestra Hall, in the community, on recordings and the internet, and around the world — is the true public face of what we are all about: the performance of great music by a great orchestra. This is our primary “product” and we must never lose sight of that. 

To be honest, we are concerned and will always be concerned about that product. While we remain committed to excellence, we can’t help but wonder if we will be able to attract and retain the best musicians in the future. At present, musicians are leaving at a far greater rate than they can be replaced.  The results of recent auditions have been mostly unsuccessful, a dramatic and telling indication that there is much work to be done to repair our reputation among those exceptional musicians whom we seek to fill the many open positions in the orchestra. We must have a stable team on stage to regain — and maintain — the ensemble’s distinctive sound and performing tradition that have made us unique and respected around the world. We all must do what we can to reverse this trend if we are to maintain an orchestra that is great, an orchestra that is relevant – an orchestra of which we can all be proud.

Rebuilding – whether it is an orchestra, a city — or even trust — is difficult work, but it can be done and it must be done.  With your attention, assistance, and goodwill, together we will rebuild — one step at a time — and it will be done.

Again, we thank all of you for all of the time, resources and energy that each of you have provided on behalf of this organization.

And thank you for this opportunity to share this with you and, on behalf of my friends and colleagues of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.


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