Detroit Symphony Orchestra

www.DSO.org

DETROIT – Director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams will join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for a special benefit concert on June 14.

Williams will conduct the DSO as it performs selections from some of his most popular scores, including "Star Wars," "Harry Potter," "Jaws," "E.T.," "Indiana Jones," "Schindler's List" and more.

Spielberg will join Williams to host the second half of the evening. He'll present selections from his decades-long artistic collaboration with Williams, including selected film clips projected on an oversized screen above the orchestra.

Tickets will be available starting April 14 for the concert, which will benefit the Detroit Symphony. Both Spielberg and Williams are donating their services for the event.

Williams last conducted the DSO in 2008.

On today's show: The U.S. Senate seat is open in Michigan come 2014. It's just sitting there for the taking. So, just who will take over the job opening after Carl Levin's retirement?

We'll speak with Congressman Gary Peters - Democrat - who has announced that he wants the job - and, we'll speak with a Republican strategist about why Republicans have yet to jump in the race. Just what does it mean for the GOP's chances if a candidate takes too long to announce?

And, then, later in the hour: a conversation with the music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra: Maestro Leonard Slatkin. He's in New York as the DSO plays Carnegie Hall.

But first we go to Lansing where we've been following a bill that's working its way through the State Legislature.

The legislation would require people getting welfare benefits to pass a drug test in order to receive those benefits. The substance abuse screening would be required if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the person is using illegal drugs.

State Representative Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) sponsored the bill in the House. He says the government should not pay for people's drug habits.

Leonard Slatkin

It’s been 17 years since the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has graced the stage of one of the most famous concert halls in the world - Carnegie Hall.

So it was big news for Michigan’s cultural scene when the DSO became one of the symphony orchestras chosen for the 2013 "Spring for Music." It's one week, five orchestras, and six concerts at Carnegie Hall.
 
The DSO will perform two separate programs - one on May 9th, the second on May 10th.
 
The music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Leonard Slatkin, joined us from New York City today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Great Recession presented a challenge to virtually every business and organization in Michigan.

During that time, it was either change the way you've always done things, or risk being swallowed up by the crumbling economy.

The Detroit Three automakers rose to the challenge and today, they're alive and thriving. And so did one of the state's cultural jewels: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

We recently spoke with DSO executive Vice President Paul Hogle and with Maestro Slatkin and it's clear that the mood is upbeat and optimistic at Orchestra Hall.

It was only two years when the Orchestra was amidst a very bitter musicians' strike ended. Since then good vibrations have been felt amongst the rank & file.

The DSO has been using various kinds of community outreach and increasing it's web presence.

It has been getting the brand out there all around the area and the world without spending a lot of money. It is setting an example that many other arts organizations and non-profits from around the state can learn from.

Daniel Howes made the DSO the centerpiece of his column today in the Detroit News. We spoke with him  to hear about the successes of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Listen to the full interview above.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has just wrapped up its Beethoven Festival to great acclaim and great ticket sales.

For the finale, they played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in D-Minor.

The DSO streamed that final concert in hi-def over the internet. It's a clear sign that the DSO is finding new ways to reach more people to become a true 21st Century Orchestra and to become "the most accessible orchestra on the planet."

Just what does it take to keep the DSO thriving, and to make it a more "sustainable" business?

Paul Hogle is the man who has been tasked with that challenge. He's the Executive Vice President of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and he joined us today in the studio.

To listen to the full interview, click the audio above.

www.DSO.org

The sounds of Beethoven have been ringing through Detroit's Orchestra Hall.
 
Starting tonight and running through the weekend, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra tops off its Beethoven Festival in magnificent style: with Beethoven's Symphony Number 9 in D-Minor.
 
These performances are the culmination of three weekends' worth of Beethoven.

Music Director Leonard Slatkin has been leading the DSO through all nine of Beethoven's Symphonies.

It's worth noting that it has been 36 years since the DSO served up all nine symphonies in one complete "serving", if you will.
 
Maestro Leonard Slatkin joined us to talk about Beethoven's 9th and what it takes to be a maestro.

You can listen to the full Stateside interview above.

Maia C / Flickr

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will accompany Kid Rock in a benefit concert. The orchestra is carrying a 54-million dollar debt. The goal of the event is to raise 1-million dollars for the orchestra. That money will be used for community outreach and education efforts. The concert will be at the Fox Theater Saturday night. Paul Hogle is the Executive Vice President of the DSO. He says while the DSO has faced struggles, he's optimistic of the orchestra's future.

Derek Bridges / wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has tapped jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard to oversee its jazz series.

The orchestra announced Tuesday Blanchard will curate acts for the Paradise Jazz Series and contribute to community education. The five-time Grammy winner is serving as the Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Chair.

Orchestra officials say Blanchard will make special guest appearances, serve as a host and at times perform with featured artists. His first appearance at Orchestra Hall in his role will be May 4 for a tribute to the musical relationship between jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo.

The Paradise Jazz Series is named for the Paradise Theatre, the name of Orchestra Hall during the 1940s after the symphony left and it temporarily closed.

George Takei / Facebook

4,887 "likes" and 217 "shares" on Facebook

Those are the numbers you get when you're the helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hopes that will translate into tickets this weekend.

George Takei, a.k.a "Mr. Sulu" will be performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra tonight and this weekend.

From Takei's Facebook page:

In my dressing room with stellar soprano Kristen Plumley at Friday's sci-fi concert by Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly. We're also doing concerts on Saturday eve and Sunday afternoon. If you're in the Detroit area, please join us at Orchestra Hall!

Here's a description of the DSO's Sci-Fi Spectacular show:

Renowned pops conductor Jack Everly brings an out of this world production featuring music from Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Day the Earth Stood Still and more. Complete with an appearance by Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei!

Photo courtesy of KidRock.com

An unlikely musical guest will headline a one-night-only concert in May to benefit the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Michigan musician and rapper Kid Rock will headline the fundraising concert. The goal is to raise $1 million for the DSO; the orchestra faces a deficit of more than a $2 million this year.

Kid Rock will share the stage with his own Twisted Brown Trucker band and the DSO. They’ll play orchestral arrangements of some of Kid Rock’s hits, with DSO music director Leonard Slatkin conducting.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians will share their expertise with metro Detroit teenagers at a new summer music camp.

The six-day camp is part of the DSO's new Avanti Summer MusicFest, and is open to musicians ages 14 - 18.

Shelley Heron is an oboist with the orchestra, and she’ll be one of the instructors. Heron has taught at similar camps in Canada for decades. She says "the biggest thrill is hearing them the first day and wondering, oh my gosh how are we ever going to get these kids to produce a concert at the end of the week? And then a little miracle happens."

In addition to master classes and workshops, the campers will perform side by side with DSO musicians on stage at Orchestra Hall.

There are no auditions for the camp; the first 140 students to apply will be accepted.  It costs $300 to attend the camp, but Heron says "we have raised financial aid funds in order to help those students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in an activity like this." Financial aid is available on a first come, first serve basis.

DSO

DETROIT (AP) - The Max Fisher Music Center will reopen for business after Orchestra Hall was damaged in a weekend methane gas explosion that sent several manhole covers flying into the air.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra says the Music Center will be open for business at 9 a.m. Tuesday and all events and concerts will resume as scheduled.

DSO officials say damage from the Sunday morning blast triggered by an underground cable failure was contained to a basement restroom of the original Orchestra Hall structure just north of downtown.

No injuries were reported.

The explosion forced Sunday's Sphinx 15 Finals Competition to be moved to the University of Michigan.

Tickets for Friday evening's Paradise Jazz Concert featuring Gretchen Parlato and Vijay Iyer, and this weekend's concerts featuring piano virtuoso Emanuel Ax, remain available.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is offering enhanced webcasts of its concerts this season.

A "Live from Orchestra Hall" webcast will be held tomorrow night January 28, beginning at 7:50 p.m. Participants have to register before watching.

More from the Associated Press:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is introducing a new webcast player designed to make online concert viewers feel as if they're in Orchestra Hall.

More than 30,000 people from over 40 countries are expected to view Saturday's high-definition "Live from Orchestra Hall" webcast.

The DSO says it's the only U.S. orchestra to offer a free series of webcasts.

The Symphony says the webcast player "mimics the actual interior" of Orchestra Hall. Dimming controls allow the virtual viewer to adjust lighting.

Saturday's webcast will feature a performance of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4.

The piece will be highlighted on a live repertoire tracker, and live program notes will post below the viewing window with trivia about the piece and the artists.

Here's a promotional video from the DSO about it's webcasts:

Image by John Wilson / Michigan Radio

As part of Michigan Radio's end-of-year look back at some of the more notable stories, here's a collection of 2011 arts and culture stories that we feel deserve another look:

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Good news for classical music fans who live in Detroit. Detroit residents can now buy tickets to any Detroit Symphony Orchestra classical or jazz concert this season for $20.

Paul Hogle is executive vice president of the DSO. He says the new Detroit Rush Initiative is one way the orchestra can "connect more deeply" to the city. 

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s new season officially starts this weekend.

DSO executive vice president Paul Hogle says ticket sales for the orchestra’s 2011-12 season are going pretty well as of right now. That's good news for an organization that lost around $1.8 million last year due to a six-month musician’s strike.

user benlmoyer / wikimedia commons

10,000 buildings by the end of his first term in 2013

That's how many buildings Detroit Mayor Bing wants to bring down.

This Friday, the city says one of the 10,000 will be a big one - Ford Auditorium, former home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

From MLive:

Ford Auditorium's date with the wrecking ball has been set for Friday afternoon, according to a release from the city of Detroit.

Earlier this week, workers removed the pipe organ from the 55-year-old structure with a then-undetermined demolition date. Mayor Dave Bing will make some brief remarks at 11 a.m. before demolition begins.

Here's a look inside the Auditorium from WXYZ:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will keep its executive director for the next few years.  The DSO announced this afternoon that its Board of Directors renewed CEO Ann Parsons’ contract through 2014. 

Parsons led the Detroit Symphony through the recent dispute with its unions that shutdown the DSO for much of the past year.  The six month strike came to an end after musicians agreed to a 25% cut in pay. 

In hopes of luring back its fans, the DSO is cutting ticket prices for the upcoming symphony season. 

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra announced its 2011-2012 season today.   The DSO is trying to recover from a contract dispute between its management and musicians that scuttled much of the 2010-2011 season.   The DSO is late in announcing its 2011-2012 season plans.   A Chicago based arts consultant says the late announcement will probably not help the DSO overc

user earl53 / morgueFile

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will announce its 2011-12 season on Friday, May 20. Most orchestras announced their seasons months ago, but the DSO had to postpone its plans because of a six-month musicians’ strike.

Drew McManus says the late announcement will likely hurt the orchestra’s revenue stream. McManus is an arts consultant in Chicago:

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is cutting its ticket prices for the upcoming season – in some cases more than 50% – in an attempt to get more people back to Orchestra Hall.

Paul Hogle is the DSO’s executive vice president. He says the new ticket prices will go into effect for the 2011-12 season:

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have agreed to return to work after a six-month strike.

They ratified the $34.3 million, three-year contract this afternoon. The deal includes an initial 25% pay cut for the musicians the first year. Starting musicians used to earn $104, 650 their first year; they'll earn $79,000 under the new contract.

There’s an additional $2 million pot of money which management will use to pay musicians for optional community outreach work and educational programs that include teaching, coaching and chamber music.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians returned to the stage today for a rehearsal - their first since they went on strike last October.

The orchestra is rehearsing for two concerts this weekend, both of which sold out almost instantly. Leonard Slatkin, the DSO’s music director, says it helped that the tickets were free. He says "the real test is going to come next season when we try to see if we can sustain the positive energy that's been a result of this settlement."

Leonard Slatkin, who was uncharacteristically quiet during the strike, says he’s very excited to be back. He says as the DSO moves forward, it will have a bigger and stronger presence not only in Detroit, but in the suburbs, too:

"Another plus of the strike is more people that didn’t know about us, know about us! We were in the news all the time, and we need to capitalize on that. An orchestra is an institution that only appeals to a relatively small percentage of a given population in any city; now we at least have a recognizable name."

Slatkin says people will begin to the see the "hand-print" of what the new model for the orchestra will be as we move into the Spring season, and he says "no decisions will be taken without the complete consent of the orchestra."

Mumu Entertainment / Flickr

Rehearsals are scheduled this morning for musicians at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The DSO musicians ended their six-month strike earlier this week after they reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with DSO management.

The Symphony's first post-strike concert is scheduled for Saturday night. From the Associated Press:

The dispute was over how deep a pay cut the musicians would have to take to help the struggling symphony balance its budget. The musicians were offering to accept a 22 percent cut, while management sought and then imposed a 33 percent cut.

In an announcement on the DSO's website, DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin said:

“As we return to our home, I’m confident that the artistic product will continue at the highest possible level. There is much to be done but the DSO will emerge a healthier and stronger institution."

Nate Luzod / creative commons

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians strike may be nearing its end, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to get things back on track at Orchestra Hall.

For starters, the organization has to figure out how to overcome some ‘image’ problems that come with a six-month strike.

Elizabeth Weigandt is a DSO spokeswoman. She says it hasn’t been pretty to watch the strike unfold, and some patrons may not be happy with how things were handled over the last six months, but "we're hoping that as we get back to making music for them, doing what they love, they will be able to let go of what’s happened, just as we will, and move on to an even better future."

Then there's the music. Nearly all of the current season has been lost to the strike, and the summer season was threatened as well. But Weigandt says the summer season is back on and she doesn’t think the 2011-12 season will be delayed:

"Obviously we have to move quickly to get the word out about what next season will be, but we do have a lot of interest. We will probably make the announcement as soon as we can. I would say within the next couple weeks."

Neither side has released details about the proposed contract.

While historians debate just when and why Detroit began to decline, it’s much easier to say what its high point was: July 28, 1951. That was the official 250th anniversary of Detroit’s founding, and the city was at its peak.

Detroit had nearly two million people. It was rich, vibrant and strong. President Harry Truman came all the way from Washington to speak - a rare occurrence then - and the city then celebrated with a five-hour long parade. And there was other good news, too.

"The Detroit Symphony Orchestra was being revived. Founded when the city had less than two hundred thousand people, it had been disbanded during the Great Depression. But now it was back, and on October 18th, it thrilled fans with its first concert."

Everybody knew then that to be a truly world-class city, you had to have a world-class symphony orchestra.

Back in the jazz age, Detroit had one of the nation’s best orchestras. They had been the first orchestra to have a concert broadcast on the radio. They were regulars at Carnegie Hall. And for eight years, they were broadcast regularly to a nationwide audience.

Then hard times came, and people forgot how important a symphony is for a while. Some people evidently lost sight of that again last year, when the symphony’s season was destroyed by a six-month long strike caused by money problems.

The symphony has huge debts, big deficits, and a shrinking donor base. Everyone agreed the musicians had to take a massive pay cut, but the question was, how massive?

While I am not an expert on cultural economics, it is clear that neither side did much to help their public image during the work stoppage, and management’s handling of public relations was especially bad, as one board member admitted to me.

Elaine Roach via Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians say they’ll return to the stage for rehearsal on Thursday.

DSO officials have announced a tentative agreement that would end a bitter six-months-long players’ strike.

Detroit Symphony officials canceled the whole concert season in February, when it seemed like feuding Orchestra players and management just couldn’t agree on a new contract. The two sides had deadlocked for months over issues ranging from pay to musicians’ outside teaching obligations.

But under mounting political pressure and after a marathon weekend bargaining session, the two sides hammered out a tentative work agreement.

Musicians’ union President Gordon Stump wouldn’t talk specifics. An official ratification vote will wrap up on Friday.

Stump says musicians are happy the strike will end even though they’re “not crazy” about parts of the agreement.

“I’m sure the management wasn’t crazy about it either. But most of the things that we had a problem with are gone. In that sense, I think it was a resolution we could all live with.”

Stump says the strike was “a long, protracted struggle, and it’s going to take a long time to heal.”

The strike cost the Orchestra some musicians, including its whole percussion section.

The Detroit Symphony announced late this afternoon that orchestra musicians have agreed to return to work before voting on a new contract. The DSO and its musicians' union reached a tentative contract deal over the weekend.

The musicians' union met this afternoon. After the meeting, the DSO announced the musicians will return to work on Thursday to begin rehearsing for upcoming concerts. The union plans a vote on the union contract later this week.

In a written statement, music director Leonard Slatkin expressed the hope that the DSO will emerge strong from the strike that has silenced it for the past six months:

“As we return to our home, I’m confident that the artistic product will continue at the highest possible level.  There is much to be done but the DSO will emerge a healthier and stronger institution.”

ZUU Mumu Entertainment / Flickr

Update 6:36 a.m.:

From the AP: Musicians' spokesman Greg Bowens says the tentative agreement was reached late Sunday. He says musicians will vote this week on whether to ratify the deal.

6:27 a.m.:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra says a tentative agreement has been reached with striking musicians that could resolve a six-month strike, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Management spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt tells The Associated Press in an e-mail Monday morning that details of the agreement reached following talks over the weekend weren't being immediately released.

A message seeking comment was left with musicians spokesman Greg Bowens... Musicians had said they were given a deadline of last Friday to settle the strike or face losing the summer performance season and jeopardizing the fall season.

Musicians have been on strike since October 2010.

MaxiuB / creative commons

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra board gave management and its striking musicians until today to reach an agreement in order to avoid canceling the orchestra's summer season.

But according to a DSO press release issued at 5:37 p.m. today, the two sides will continue talks through the weekend:

Conversations with the Musician's leadership via phone and email have been robust this entire week.  TheDSO agreed to get together to work through the remaining issues as soon as acceptance of terms proposed by one of our intermediaries had been acknowledged by both parties.  The DSO agreed to these terms on Monday.  The DSO learned this afternoon that the musicians have accepted this framework as well and we will be scheduling a face-to-face meeting this weekend to resolve all other remaining issues.  A decision regarding our summer season is on hold pending the outcome of these meetings. 

Earlier this afternoon we spoke to Greg Bowens, the musicians' spokesperson. He said the head of the United Auto Workers and the AFL-CIO have shown their support for the striking musicians:

"The longer that things delay, the more national attention and pressure is put on the DSO to settle this situation."

The current $34-million, 3-year contract under negotiation is similar to a proposal musicians rejected back in February.

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