DSO Musicians announce 5 February Concerts

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Detroit—The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have announced five concerts for February. Those will follow their next concert, Saturday, January 22, 8 pm, which will be videocast live over the internet.

Two of the concerts introduce a new series, the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in concert together with students in a high school music program—the first, Tuesday, February 8, with L’Anse Creuse North High School students at John Armstrong Performing Arts Center in Clinton Township; the second, Wednesday, February 16 , with Groves High School students in Beverly Hills.

The musicians’ first February concert, “Pituch Plays Mozart,” will be Saturday, February 5, 8 pm, at Kirk in the Hills (1340 West Long Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills), with David Mairs conducting and DSO Principal Horn Karl Pituch soloist in Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, K.417. Also on the program: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048 and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, the Italian Symphony.

The February 8 program with L’Anse Creuse High School North students at the John Armstrong Performing Arts Center (24600 Frederick Pankow Blvd., Clinton Township) will feature the L’Anse Creuse Select Ensemble under Choral Director Evey Simon, with pianist Charlotte Beach. On the program: Pachelbel’s Canon in D major, Faure’s Sanctus and In Paradisum from the Requiem, and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony.

The second in the In Concert Together series, with Beverly Hills’ Grove High School students, will feature the students, conducted by Paul L. Sawyer, in Mvt. 1 of the Brandenburg Concerto No.3, Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Mvt. 3, Elegie, and Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite, Finale “The Dargason.”

The DSO musicians, conducted by Christopher Confessore, will perform Barber’s Violin Concerto, Mvt. 1 (with Groves High School student Margaret Starr as soloist); and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.

Next, on Sunday, February 20, 7:30 pm, will be “Tocco Plays Rachmaninoff” at St. Hugo (2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills), with James Tocco playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Also on the program: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The concert will be conducted by Mr. Confessore.

Closing February’s concerts, Sunday the 26th, 8 pm, will be the Cut Time Players at First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak (529 Hendrie Blvd.). In honor of Black History Month, the chamber music ensemble founded by DSO bassist and 2010 Kresge Artist Fellow Rick Robinson and seven colleagues, will play selections from Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Antonin Dvorak, Grant Still, Adolphus Hailstork, and Robinson in a Classical Roots concert.

The conductors, soloists, musicians, and stage crews will be donating their services to support the DSO’s musicians, who are in the 16th week of their strike to save the internationally renowned orchestra from being turned by management into a second class orchestra.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $35 for preferred seating, and $50 for premium seating for the “Pituch Plays Mozart” and “Tocco Plays Rachmaninoff” concerts; $20 for general admission and $50 for premium seating for the Cut Time Players concert; $25 for general admission and $50 for premium seating for the L’Anse Creuse concert; and $20 for general admission and $50 for premium seating for the Groves concert. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org or at the door pending availability.

For more information about the musicians, visit: www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org


1969-1970 DSO: “Will Community Allow Its Orchestra to Die?”


An Open Letter from SOS

An Open Letter to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, the Detroit Business and Political Communities and the Concerned Citizens of Metropolitan Detroit

Are we really willing to lose the Detroit Symphony Orchestra? Since 1887 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been the pride of metropolitan Detroit and the people of the State of Michigan. It is one of the oldest orchestras in the United States and has earned an enviable reputation for artistic excellence on the world stage. However, as a result of the current labor dispute:

This legacy is in great jeopardy!

Accordingly, we are pleased to announce the formation of Save Our Symphony, Inc., an independent advocacy group, to represent the DSO’s many concerned constituencies: patrons, donors, subscribers, audience members, educators, and local businesses. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is more than a group of highly skilled musicians. They are educators and community leaders; our neighbors, friends and family; our customers and patrons; our public image, and our pride. They are symbols of this great city and ambassadors to the world.

These voices must be preserved!

Save Our Symphony’s mission is to promote and support the world-class artistic excellence and stature of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. To this end we must:

Hold DSO management and its Board of Directors accountable!

As fiduciaries of the public trust known as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra they are responsible for preserving and protecting this priceless resource.

Save Our Symphony

Disputes the DSO management’s claim that this orchestra cannot survive as presently constituted. We disagree with management that the current state of the DSO is primarily caused by an onerous labor contract coupled with current market and economic conditions.

Sees that, in truth, the reason for the dismal operational and financial position of the DSO is management’s failure to perform its principal responsibilities effectively, i.e. sell tickets and raise money. To mask their failure they have characterized the current crisis as a “musicians’ pay dispute”, forcing a strike in preparation for a fundamental downgrading of the essential nature and quality of the institution. Disagrees with management that the answer to the current crisis lies in changing the essential character of the orchestra by reducing the number of musicians and number of performances, demanding radical changes in work rules and draconian cuts in compensation. These measures would fatally impact the world class stature of the organization, and, at the end of the day, leave Detroit with a stripped-down, broken institution.

Wonders which members of the board, if any, would hire and assign any significant responsibility within their own companies to the current management team? Believes there is just cause here for the “clean sweep” solution. Current leadership has shown itself to be incapable of timely crisis resolution and should be replaced.

Fears that inaction by the board at this time will produce a result that is not only detrimental to the economic, business and cultural redevelopment of the region, but is completely unthinkable to all those who are counting on the musicians’ early return to the stage of Orchestra Hall and who care so passionately about the continuing excellence of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Please join us and lend your voice to Save Our Symphony.


The Board of Directors and Members of Save Our Symphony Inc.


How can I help?

If  you are a subscriber, you can help by asking for a refund for your canceled concerts.  This increases the financial pressure on the DSO management to resolve the strike and sends a clear message that you do not support their position nor the direction they want to take the orchestra.

Although we encourage generosity towards the DSO, insist management resolve the strike before donating.

Please feel free to use one of the templates (Microsoft Word format) provided below –

DSO Refund Letter Template 1

DSO Refund Letter Template 2

DSO Refund Letter Template 3


Looking Back to the 1982 Strike

The following editorial clippings were published December 10, 1982.


Letter to WRCJ

The following is a letter to Chris Felcyn (WRCJ radio host) from Judith Doyle in response to the recording, scheduling and broadcasting radio interviews of Detroit Symphony Musician Haden McKay (prerecorded and broadcast December 13, 2010 at 3 p.m.) and DSO Management Anne Parsons (live interview scheduled for Dec 14, 2010 at 3 p.m.).


“The silver Tongued Dame of Erin” arises!

I heard the interview today at three. Appropriate, respectful, informative … 
I understand it was taped days/weeks ago.
Each person was given a 10 day window during which time they were to come to the radio station to be interviewed separately, unable to hear what the other had to say.

Haden did the interview aired today, over a week ago.
Ann Parsons did not interview as of this morning.

Why did she wait until the last minute?
Was she hoping to hear Haden’s statement?
Did she use the weather as an excuse to not show?

Please tell me she did not use the excuse of a person’s funeral as an excuse to postpone the interview!
Please tell me her opportunity to interview will now be revoked as she has been able to listen to Haden’s, questions and responses, therefore negating the understood agreement.

Is this standard opperating procedure for Ann Parsons?

Perhaps an offer to interview in the future can be arranged for both parties.
It might even include the voice of the community!

You are a good person with integrity. All who know you agree.
Do not let her get away with this, Chris.

Judy Doyle

Related Links
WRCJ 90.9 FM


History of the DSO

by Mike Bielski
Waterville, Ohio

In 1949 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra fired long-time cellist Georges Miquelle.  By spring music director Karl Krueger had alienated so many musicians that President Henry Reichhold threatened to fire the entire orchestra as a show of support for Krueger.  This led the Detroit Athletic Club News to report in April:

“The one-man band parading under the aegis of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra may have played its last notes. Finally, the dissension, uncertainty, and contradictions produced by the unconventional methods of operation that have characterized the orchestra for the past several years have pyramided into a situation that can mean only the end.”

Soon after both Krueger and Reichhold agreed to resign, and the orchestra closed operations.

In 1951 John B. Ford, Jr. of the “Salt Fords,” famous for founding Wyandotte Chemical Corporation, came to the rescue.  Rather than looking for a handful of deep pockets to fund the orchestra, he developed what he called the “Detroit Plan.” His goal was to find hundreds of benefactors to give pledges of “$1 to $10,000, but not a penny more.”  In so doing, the orchestra was revived in time for the 250th anniversary of the founding of the City of Detroit, and the Detroit Plan became the blueprint for development departments in all sorts of non-profit organizations nation wide.   How times have changed.

Once again the Detroit Symphony Orchestra finds itself on the verge of ruin, and funding issues have led to rancor between management and musicians that threatens the viability of the DSO as a major US orchestra.  At the time of VP for Development Paul Papich’s resignation in 1996 the DSO had a healthy base of 25,000 donors.   Since then the DSO has gone through eight VPs for Development, including four in the last four years.  As of 2008 the donor base had dropped to less than 5,000.  The constant turnover in personnel has led to a policy of only seeking the “low-hanging fruit,” returning again and again to a few very wealthy donors who regularly give large gifts to the orchestra.  Obviously, this group’s patience and finances have both reached the breaking point, and not without reason.  The current talk of salvation for the orchestra hangs on the hope that a single “Angel Donor” will sweep in and solve all of the organization’s financial problems with a single huge check, which, as far as plans go, is barely one step removed from winning the lottery.

It may be time for a NEW Detroit Plan.  The musicians recognize this.  In July, DSO oboist Shelley Heron wrote on the Musicians’ web site:

“With the community’s help, we will do whatever it takes to maintain the DSO as one of America’s major orchestras. We are more than willing to reach out to the community in an effort to help rebuild the breadth of the DSO’s donor base.”

However, it seems that the only appetite management has for raising revenue begins and ends with salary cuts.  They even missed the opportunity granted to the Detroit Institute of Arts and The Detroit Zoo by the state legislature to request support from taxpayers in Southeast Michigan.

There are a lot of reasons to preserve the orchestra, and there are a lot of people like me who are not “low-hanging fruit” that would like to help any way possible.  But why would we?  Why would we give money to an institution that is willing to sacrifice world class for something less without a fight?  Why would we support an institution that does not support its musicians?  Why would we support an institution that is not developing a Strategic Plan for moving forward, and isn’t even sticking to the one they already have?  What is the motivation for me and my family, who are struggling to make it every month, to sacrifice for an organization whose leader’s total compensation has gone up 10% over the past five years, while demanding everyone else takes cuts?

When you strip it all away- strip away management, strip away unions, strip away percentages, and cuts, and donations, and Detroit Plans- here’s what is left:  The Detroit Symphony Musicians are presenting concerts, and scheduling more.  The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is not presenting concerts, and they are canceling more.  If you believe, as I do, that the Orchestra is about presenting world-class performances, the argument about whom to support becomes very clear.