Sunday, February 20, 2011

Detroit Symphony calls off season

The Detroit Symphony, silenced since Oct. 4 by an impasse over a new contract with its musicians, has canceled the rest of its 2010-11 season.

The DSO's musicians last week rejected what management called its "final offer," calling for significant reductions in base salaries and benefits, partially offset if musicians agreed to take on educational and other community outreach work.

"The proposal would have delayed our ability to address [a $25.3 million cumulative operating deficit], but we are willing to make these types of sacrifices to settle the strike and return our musicians to the stage," Stanley Frankel, the orchestra's chairman, wrote in an e-mail to subscribers and patrons.

The orchestra's management terms the shutdown a suspension, leaving open the possibility of rescheduled concerts should a contract agreement be reached. But

"[a]fter this disappointing vote, we see no purpose in further negotiating," Paul Hogle, the DSO's executive vice president, told Michael H. Hodges of The Detroit News:

"Though the two sides reached consensus on a 3-year, $36-million framework" for musicians' compensation, "representatives from both sides said the biggest disagreements remain over base pay levels; control over scheduling public service work such as teaching, coaching and chamber music; and rules and pay governing Internet broadcasts, video and recordings," the Detroit Free Press' Mark Stryker writes:

Tony Woodcock, president of New England Conservatory, writes that "without major systemic change, the orchestra will go out of business. . . . [T]he DSO and all its problems will not be the last crisis we see over the next couple of years.

"Donors are feeling fatigued by orchestras – the constant demands, the needs, the on-going and unresolved problems. They are questioning the role of 'orchestra monoliths' whose consumption of a community's philanthropic wealth is disproportionate to the value they produce," Woodcock writes: