DSO

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Between 40,000 and 50,000 classroom kids watched a live high-definition web stream of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra today, according to the DSO.

The symphony says it’s the first concert of its kind, reaching kids across Detroit and Michigan.

Paul Hogle is the DSO’s executive vice president.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to do this for hundreds of thousands of students,” he says, "because the Detroit Symphony Orchestra could become America's orchestra for educational concert programming."

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Opera Theatre

Michigan’s ballet companies, theatres and opera houses are kicking off their 2011-12 season this fall, and it appears box office sales might be trending up.

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.

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.

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.”

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