letter from Sarah Cleveland


To: Board of Directors; Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Dear DSO Board,

I am honored to have served, for the past 15 years, as an extra musician with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Cello section. As a freelance cellist I have also had the pleasure of working with most of the other orchestras within 100 plus miles of Detroit. These orchestras run the gamut from community to local to regional and are peopled with some wonderful musicians that work hard to produce high quality concerts.

As fine as all these orchestras are it is the Detroit Symphony that is the area’s true orchestral gem, thanks to the high level of musical integrity upheld by its performing members. They uphold this high standard through lots of individual hard work, preparing and perfecting their music at home before ever stepping foot on the stage for a rehearsal. To consistently work at this “world class” level, week after week, a musician needs time and energy, which a good salary and working conditions provides.

I and many of my colleagues in the other orchestras and ensembles have “day jobs” of one sort or another to assist in meeting our financial obligations, leaving us much less time for preparation and perfection of concert music. Small wonder then, that of all the ensembles in south east Michigan, only one, the Detroit Symphony, is considered to be among the top ten orchestras in the country.

It is true that there is no shortage of musicians waiting in the wings to audition for any pending openings in the DSO (or any of the other orchestras around here for that matter) even at a salary below what the Musicians of the Detroit Symphony have offered to sacrifice to. However, replacing the wealth of experience and expertise of the current musicians with newer, more inexperienced players, will only serve to create yet another regional orchestra. Is that really the mission your board of directors is charged with? I would hope that instead your mission is to safeguard the high quality orchestra your predecessors have nourished over the past several decades.

The City of Detroit deserves and needs a World Class Symphony Orchestra and I urge you to enter into meaningful negotiations with your musicians and allow the people of Detroit to experience the music of this venerable institution once again.

Best regards,

Sarah Cleveland

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