Letter from Katie Kazakos

Dear DSO Board,

It appears that you have given Anne Parsons free reign to use the DSO as her own personal orchestra management experiment, with devastating results. A responsible board would have rigorously and impartially evaluated such major changes before, during, and after their implementation and insisted on accountability the entire time. Instead, you have allowed Anne Parsons to alienate donors and run the DSO into the ground, all with your blind and unquestioning support. When are you going to demand accountability for the damage she continues to inflict on this great institution?

You have shown total disregard for the donors, patrons, and musicians of the DSO. You refer to the musicians as “players”, as if what they do takes no more skill than it takes to turn on a radio or CD player. This is an insult to the musicians and anyone who has invested in the music they create. You seem to be ignorant of the tremendous amount of knowledge and skill it takes to create music on such a high level. When you downplay the importance of the musicians and treat them as if they are expendable line staff, you belittle the entire institution in the eyes of donors, patrons, and the general public. If you as board members do not respect for the DSO, how can you expect anyone else to?

The demands of the musicians are now very close to the demands of management. An effective development team should be able to raise enough funds to cover the difference. At this point, Anne Parsons’ threat to cancel the rest of the season seems to be more about her personal agenda than the welfare of the DSO. It is time for you to provide the leadership that is expected of you. Please take whatever steps are necessary to end this strike and protect the artistic integrity of the DSO.


Katie Kazakos, MM, MPA


Comments: 13

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  • George Brown

    Parsons behaves as though she works for a few ‘mentors’ over at the Symphony Orchestra League, and that the ‘players’ work for her. What she and the DSO Board forget is that they work for the musicians and for the community. Towards that end, Ms. Parsons & the Board are both negligent in their fiduciary stewardship towards the orchestra and the city.

  • Andrea Thorne

    Brava, Katie. Beautifully stated letter.
    Do the board members love the DSO and care to be stewards of this great orchestra, or are they just figureheads, because they are financially able to do so?
    Clearly, one or more are wealthy enough to combine their personal resources and find that “2 million dollars” that Ann Parsons doesn’t seem to know how to find.

    I grew up in Kalamazoo; my grandparents and parents and many family friends were board members of the Kalamazoo Symphony. (I understand that it’s a smaller operation, but the spirit of being a “board member” is the same.) Board members served because they loved the symphony, the music, and the potential of the orchestra. They served by successful fundraising and promoting the KSO to the Western Michigan audience .
    It breaks my heart to see the board of the DSO allow this great symphony and its’ musicians (NOT players) to be undermined so destructively. Please, resolve this situation ,board members. Many citizens who love and support the musicians and the music of the DSO are paying attention and care about a positive resolution to this strike which the orchestra didn’t want, but were forced into.

  • Norma Meyer

    I just found your excellent letter and read it aloud to my husband. We agree whole-heartedly. Did you hear the interview by Chris Felcyn of WRCJ with Anne Parsons. It was a few weeks back. She never answered a question… just a lot of prancing and dancing around the barn. I couldn’t help but admire how restrained CF was under the circumstances. Norma Meyer

  • Kathleen Scafuri

    Excellent letter, Katie –
    DSO Board, act quickly to get our symphony back to performing!

  • jane Hinkins

    Great job katie, well said…..Board//please listen.

  • Jack Slimko

    I’ve talked to Anne Parsons a few times and she seems welcoming and level headed. We don’t know how much money evaporated in risky investments, but it seems the mortgage on The Max should have been paid down with all those millions of $ in contributions first. Our music club invests with Community Foundation and are still collecting a fair return. One member said the DSO should have our financial team–they wouldn’t be broke! Who is making all these faulty decisions ??
    Jack Slimko, President of a local, old, music club

  • Jennie B.

    That was so succinctly written and oh so honest!
    Brava on a job well done, Katie!

  • Nora Trabilsy


  • Franziska Schoen..

    The Detroit Symphony is a Detroit treasure.We need to preserve classical musical in this city. It would be a tragedy to lose these musicians and their world renown conductor, Slatkin.

  • mark knox

    Performing musicians, as dance troops and local theater, are at risk all over the country. These are totally dedicated artists, who are notoriously underpaid and under-appreciated. The arts are not just a luxury in a highly developed society, they are the true heart of expanding our way of thinking and adapting to a demanding future. It sounds like Anne Parsons is putting her agenda and power ahead of the greater good of the community.
    Though I do not know all the local specifics, shutting down the DSO would seem to be another blow to the Detroit community that has suffered enough and needs the pride and culture a good orchestra brings to any community.

  • Erica Schiller

    Very well put Katie!

  • Linda Hawkins

    Wow Katie, you nailed it. Now, if we can only get someone to listen……..

  • Stephanie Zimmer

    Thanks a lot, Katie! Well said.
    ~ Stephanie

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