Detroit Symphony looks at redefining musicians’ roles

Posted on: September 20, 2010

In Sunday’s (9/19) Detroit Free Press , Mark Stryker writes about changes at the Detroit Symphony that go beyond current contract negotiations with musicians. “Most of the attention so far has been focused on the headline issues of the orchestra’s insolvency and whether pay cuts of about 30% would mortgage the DSO’s status as an elite symphony. … Look under the hood of the proposal and you find a controversial redefinition of the job of playing in a major orchestra. Instead of the industry standard of playing only rehearsals and concerts with the orchestra, a job in the DSO would require performing chamber music, teaching, school visits, public speaking, library work or other activities related to musical skills. … DSO president Anne Parsons says that the orchestra has a large menu of artistic, education and community program ideas … that are too expensive to initiate without a new contract. … Most top DSO players already play chamber music and teach; they just don’t do it under the DSO umbrella. Some are concerned that they would be assigned menial tasks and point to challenges such as ensuring equity of assignments and that some players are ill-quipped to teach or uncomfortable with public speaking. … Other observers say that there would be glory in being on the cutting edge and that the changes could be a key to long-term survival.”

Posted September 20, 2010