Letter from Chad Willetts


Dear Ms. Parsons,

It seems that this issue of whether or not Detroit will have an
orchestra has become larger than any of us.  Please, just do what you
need to do to get those musicians back on the stage at Orchestra Hall.
This is your job.  Without an orchestra to perform, you and the board
and the musicians can all go home, unemployed and uninspired, and
listen to the sound of silence; an empty canvas upon which great
beauty, endless possibility, and great promise could have been painted.

Also, you might ponder, seriously, what you are in this fight for.
Is it the love of the arts?  Is it the sheer delight that you
experience at a concert when the vibration of wind and strings and
percussion moves your soul and takes your breath away? Is it the
satisfaction that your efforts as an administrator to a symphony
orchestra help to enlighten, educate and expose a phenomenon that will
never be matched by our technological world of digital advancements?
Is it your wish of wishes to be known and remembered for championing a
brand of excellence in artistic expression within a city of blight?
What is your personal mission statement regarding your commitment to
“the band playing on?”

Or is it just a job and and a salary?  Whatever transpires of your
will, I hope that you might find a way to show your vulnerability, your
fear, and your compassion to those of us who care so much about the
future of the DSO. We are all just human beings trying figure out what
we are on the planet for. For musicians, this is usually an easy
question to answer. Help us understand what that means for you. We hope
to be listening to what you have to say, and also to the DSO back on
the concert stage.

I write to you as a Chicago musician; not gifted enough for the
concert stage in the world of classical players. I have enjoyed a
respectable career as a jazz musician grateful for my hotel contracts
and occasional benefit concerts for charity. Maintenance and
responsibility on talent is a constant struggle to those of us who call
ourselves artists. I have played for 50 bucks and a beer. I have
printed the tickets, sold the tickets, tuned the piano, and shlepped
the gear. I have chased money after gigs that didn’t always pay. I have
walked into my hotel lobby engagements, night after night, tuned my
instrument, and given the performance of my life, as if on a concert
stage in New York or Chicago or Paris or Detroit. This is what I have
done for 25 years. This is what I have fought for.

I wish you and the board and the musicians a “common fight”  and a
speedy return to continuing a relevant, necessary, and crucial cultural
cornerstone in Detroit.

All my best,

DSO In-law Legacy,

Chad Willetts

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