Letter from Gilbert E. Rose


December 29, 2010

TO:  Board of Directors
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me be brief, but urgent.

I have been an ardent DSO fan since 1955 going back to the days of Paul Paray and the Masonic Auditorium.  I take great pride in the truly great orchestra that has grown out of those humble beginnings, but I’m devastated by the disarray and distrust that currently characterizes and pervades the DSO organization, its musicians and management.

If this situation does not get resolved soon there will be no going back, and there will very likely be no orchestra.  While I understand that there are valid positions on both sides of the bargaining table, I must tell you that I am more sympathetic to the arguments of the musicians.  If we are to be considered artistically competitive with other major American orchestras (And why shouldn’t we be?”), then we simply have to find a way to come up with the bucks.  No one, after all, aspires to play in the second division of any league.  We simply cannot let mediocrity become one of our principal goals.

I have been trying since last August to purchase 22 tickets to the March 18th performance of the Mahler 8th by the DSO at the Opera House.  At this point in time I have every reason to believe that no such performance will take place because there seems to be no end in sight to the on-going foolishness that passes for negotiations. When Governor Granholm and Senator Levin attempted to help, why were they rebuffed?  I would have thought that the Board and management would have welcomed some potential help from two public figures who evidently thought they could bring some fresh thinking to the table.

As an outsider, it’s difficult for me to understand how this situation has gotten so out of control.  Clearly, the Board and management cannot ignore the financial issues that plague the DSO (and are common to most other major American orchestras, as well).  But there is an animosity and hostility that has grown out of this strike that simply cannot be allowed to continue.  The musicians have offered to take a big cut, and perhaps their schedule for restoration of those wage cuts isn’t as realistic as it should be.  Nevertheless, a way has to be found to get the DSO back to the business of giving great concerts as quickly as possible, and then everyone sits down and amicably and respectfully works out the future details.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Gilbert E. Rose

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