Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Words on Wednesday: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra--Why you SHOULD care


Personally, I LOVE classical music. I learned it throughout school and I played it on several instruments throughout my public school and college educational experiences. Classical music is not, however, at the top of the musical taste list of many people. The City of Detroit has been graced with a world-class symphony orchestra for decades; but the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been on strike for almost six months--the Orchestra and management cannot come to an agreement on pay, work schedules, and other issues. Of course times are hard here in Detroit and the management insists that the players take a 33% pay cut; while the players have held fast to only (?) a 28% pay cut. 
Of course, some people in the metro area say either the players should be glad to take a huge pay cut, or that management should ust fire all of the players and hire players who would be willing to work for less money. Unfortunately, many people do not understand what it takes to become a world class orchestra musician. Orchestra players have been studying their craft for years--often decades--and have many, many years of specialized education. Many members have been with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra  for ten or fifteen years or more. Extremely talented and accomplished and experienced musicians such as these are supposed to earn in the high six-figures. They have worked hard to achieve their level of excellence. At the same time, management has to work within the reduced revenues they have now and will probably have in the future. Former Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Democratic members of Congress from Michigan offered a compromise in December 2010, but the orchestra management rejected the compromise.
Additionally, Detroit is supposed to have a world-class orchestra. Symphony orchestras are not "just for the rich and snooty". Highly regarded orchestras such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are important cultural foundations for major cities throughout the world, and Detroit's orchestra is one of the most highly accredited orchestras in the world. Detroit and Michigan should be proud and should do everything possible to end this strike and keep the orchestra as a shining example of a world class city.
The Max M.Fisher Music Center/Orchestra Hall is one of only a few acoustically perfect music halls in the world;p it was saved a restored a few years ago. The Detroit School for the Arts is affiliated with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra directly training the classical musicians of the future. Elite level classical musicians take years to develop.
People of Detroit and Michigan, classical music fans or not, SHOULD care about what happens to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. World class metropolitan areas have world class symphony orchestras along with exquisite museums and other cultural institutions. Classical music is beautiful and timeless; so is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

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