Open Letters

Letter to Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley

Dear Ms. Riley,

I met you at the Dominican Literacy Center Tutor Appreciation dinner last year.  You may recall that my 14-year old son, Ryan, played violin for the guests prior to the dinner.

I loved hearing you speak and your passion for stamping out illiteracy.  Your columns on the subject have inspired me and endeared you to me.

I have another two passions that I think we share: Detroit and its symphony, the DSO.

The media needs to start seriously addressing the topic of this strike.  The loss of patrons to the corridor around The Max is affecting Detroit businesses.  The loss of a DSO season may do irreparable harm to Detroit’s economy and may result in the loss of the DSO.  Why is the media not asking more questions of the DSO management?  I attended the luncheon for the DSO’s Annual Meeting on December 9, 2010 and the DSO’s President and CEO, Ann Parsons, did not address the strike at all.  Her talk to the donors was weak and showed a lack of leadership given the crisis facing the DSO.  The consultant who spoke revealed management’s true vision driving their actions to prolong the strike.  A small handful of people have decided that Detroit is better off with a chamber-styled orchestra, not the current world-class orchestra Detroit currently has.  The media has not addressed the underlying issues behind the strike.  It is not about pay. It is about much more than that and Detroit stands to lose one of its greatest jewels if Ms. Parsons is successful.

I have literally shed tears over this.  Did you know that my son quit playing the violin this past fall?  He told me he was too busy.  Last night it dawned on me.  We haven’t been to the symphony once this year.  The music not only died for me on the stage at The Max, but in my home as well.  I don’t think its a coincidence that my son lost interest in the violin the same year we quit going to hear the DSO.  Don’t let the music die in Detroit.  Please address this topic in your column.

I helped form the group Save Our Symphony.  You can read about SOS’ position in this email or at  We are the DSO’s audience and are trying to raise public awareness; but this is an uphill battle and time is short.

Thank you Rochelle Riley for all you do.  You have become a solid and sane voice for what’s important to Detroit.  Please give voice to the tragedy happening to Detroit right under everyone’s nose.

Denise Neville

SOS Board Member


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.


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


Open Letter

Will the DSO be Michigan’s next casualty in this recession?

YES, if DSO management and board of trustees have their way.

They believe the DSO cannot survive in its current form and propose to downgrade our orchestra from its world-class stature by drastically reducing the number of musicians and performances, slashing the musicians’ compensation and benefits while imposing draconian working conditions…

We are DSO patrons, donors, subscribers, business owners and community members.

We are people who love great music and also recognize the economic value that this powerful orchestra brings to Detroit and Michigan.

We believe so strongly in preserving the essential character and tradition of this world-class orchestra that we formed the nonprofit group: Save Our Symphony (SOS).

The mission of SOS is to promote and support the world-class artistic excellence and stature of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and to hold its management and board of trustees accountable for their fiduciary responsibilities to the public trust including the preservation of this great orchestra and its future.

Join us so your voice can be heard: please register your email with us to stay sharp on the latest updates. Thank you for your patience as we establish contact information and build our website.