What's next for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra?

Feb 21, 2011

Now that the striking Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have rejected management’s final proposal, many are wondering: What’s next for the organization?

Management 'suspended' the orchestra's current season, and doubts are swirling around the 2011-12 season.

Here's what Lawrence Johnson wrote in today's Detroit News article, "DSO: Change tune or be replaced":

The DSO administration is prepared to move forward with a newly assembled group of players that would include only those members of the current orchestra who agree to unilaterally presented terms, DSO Vice President Paul Hogle said Sunday.

Without setting a date, Hogle said the time has come for a new symphony model to emerge, an ensemble that not only plays traditional concerts but also fully engages the community as ambassadors, educators and performers.

The DSO responded with its own statement: 

Today’s article in The Detroit News by Lawrence Johnson, “DSO: Change tune or be replaced” drew independent and inaccurate conclusions based on an interview with DSO Executive Vice President Paul Hogle.  Mr. Hogle did not state that the DSO is “prepared to move forward with a newly assembled group of players.”  The DSO has no plans of this nature.    

We talked with DSO executive director Anne Parsons. She says she's hopeful that both sides can reach an agreement before the current season ends, but "in the meantime we have people calling us about using the building, so we’re releasing dates, and we’ll have more activity with outside renters."

As for the DSO's 2011-12 season:

"If we don’t have a contract with our orchestra, we’ll be doing presentations, partnerships, education programs; we’ll be doing all the things we can do without our Detroit Symphony Orchestra.”

Parsons says the DSO executive board will meet Wednesday to decide next steps.

A musician spokesman declined to comment for this story, but the musicians did release this statement:

It appears that the DSO Board and management have finally dropped the mask. They never intended to reach a contract agreement with the musicians of the DSO. Instead, their intention is, and has always been, to start over with a new group of musicians working without a union contract. What kind of an orchestra does the Board think they can have with no professional musicians?

Meanwhile, the musicians’ strike enters its 21st week, and no new talks between the two sides are planned.