Letter from Marianne Leitch Breneman

To the Board of Directors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has played such a large part in my life that I feel compelled to write to you now about the strike and the possibility that the orchestra may never recover from this situation.
I am a Cincinnati-based classical musician and Local #1 AFM member.  I play with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Opera, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Pops as an extra musician. I am a faculty member in the music department at Northern Kentucky University.  My career has been greatly shaped by my experiences in the metro Detroit area.
I was very little the first time I set foot in Orchestra Hall. It was in ruins and the stage had holes in it.  I heard a piano recital there played by Boris Maximovich. I remember wondering why this wonderful place was in such bad shape.   I remember when the hall was renovated the first time and my parents bought a name plate for a seat which I assume is still there.  The moment I knew I would be a musician occurred at Orchestra Hall when I heard the DSO after I started playing the clarinet.  We sat in the upper left balcony and when the music started, I was so moved that I physically hurt; I couldn’t believe human beings were able to make such beautiful sounds and hoped that one day I would be able to do the same thing.
I idolized these musicians – I was in awe of them all. I was thrilled and honored to study with Paul Schaller for 7 years. For several years, I studied with Ted Oien whom I still consider to be one of my best and favorite teachers. Ollie Green and Doug Cornelsen and Paul Ganson and Erv Monroe…all huge influences on me even if they didn’t know it.  I played in the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra as a college student and spent many a Saturday at Orchestra Hall dreaming of when I could play music all the time.
The thoughts of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra being gone or being reduced to a regional orchestra while displacing the world-class musicians who currently play there are simply unfathomable to me.  I am baffled as to why the board would stand by while the management was running this orchestra into the ground; I don’t understand why administrators are being paid full salary while no music is being produced by the orchestra; I’m unclear as to why the board hasn’t asked for some accountability with regards to the Development Office positions; I’m confused as to why the board would be silent while this situation escalated to a point where relations between the management and the musicians would be nearly irreparable.
Please don’t allow this orchestra to dissolve.  It would be a true shame for the orchestra world and for the City of Detroit.
Marianne Leitch Breneman
Cincinnati OH


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