David Buck, former principal flute of the Oregon Symphony, then of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (where circumstances conspired to deny him tenure in his position), has won the principal job with the Detroit Symphony, according to Los Angeles culture blogger CK Dexter Haven. David remains the “flute god” as described by Haven, and we wish him the best of luck in his new position!
You can surf over to the DSO’s website and watch their PBS televised return to the stage at the Max on-demand.
Watch the video here.
I was thinking about the Detroit Symphony strike today, as I was going about my business, and a few thoughts came to me. My first thought is what are all of the stakeholders at the DSO feeling right now? Surely, they are all relieved that the orchestra did not go over the brink and cancel the entire season and suspend the summer season and what followed. That would likely have meant the death of the organization. As it is, the DSO faces major challenges over the coming months and years.
My next thought was that this entire episode is rather like a divorce proceeding with children involved. The orchestra players are one spouse, then management and board, the other. The children are the concert-going public. How will they feel after this extended custody battle for their hearts and minds? Because, unlike divorces, the players are going back to work for the same management which, in their view, forced them to strike. The parents are back together, but a lot of very ugly things were said in front of the children. How will they react? Will they seek emancipation and take their dollars elsewhere? Or will they, though years are reassurance and therapy, return to the fold?
My final thought is this: what has this strike earned for we fellow unionized musicians? We’ve been told (and told each other) that the DSO musicians were not only doing it for themselves, they were also taking a stand on the front line for the rest of us. Ok. I can respect that, admire it even. But what will this have done for us as the months and years go by? Will managements take a more inclusive line in their negotiating tactics? Will players be more aggressive in theirs? Will boards look to the manifold mistakes and mismanagement that have happened in Detroit and learn some lessons about how to deal with their property and infrastructure issues? Will players parse the progress of the negotiations and learn to better gauge the circumstances of the broader community in which they serve before taking hard action?
Many advances in technology and learning take place in the period during and directly following acts of war. Medical technology is a prime example – with practices learned on the battlefield being brought straight into the urban trauma center. Will the same sorts of lessons be learned in the aftermath of this bloody conflict in Detroit? I can only hope so, because if we do not heed the lessons learned here, than it will have been all for naught. And that would be a terrible waste, indeed.
UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, the starting salary for the Detroit Symphony in the new contract (including the electronic media guarantee) will be $79,000. That’s a 33% cut from the previous base wage. That’s substantial by any measure. However, I was curious just how much $79,000 in Detroit would equal in Portland dollars. The answer, found here, was $128,000. I’m feeling less than sanguine about my own salary after reading that.
The Detroit Free Press has announced that the Detroit Symphony musicians and management have come to a tentative settlement of the six-month long strike. Face-to-face meetings resumed after an unnamed intermediary proposed terms that were accepted by both sides.
- Details here and here. [shout out to Drew McManus at adaptistration.com for posting the links]
- New York Times notice here.
- Statement from the musicians here.
- Statement from the Detroit Symphony management here.
- Editorial from The Detroit News here.
I have not seen details of the settlement, other than that it is a much shorter season than the previous 52 weeks – around 36 weeks. This story really isn’t over. It remains to be seen what can be salvaged of a completely screwed up relationship between the musicians and management, and most likely between the musicians, board, management, and patrons. It will likely take years for things to return to any kind of normalcy, and there is no predicting what exactly the new normal will look like.
Here’s the latest – apparently there was a bit “of confusion” with regards to the DSO board’s response to the musicians’ proposal to resume playing while submitting to binding arbitration. Talks are continuing between both sides of the dispute as reported by Michael Hodges in The Detroit News:
“We continue to hold out the hand of friendship in hopes we can find a pathway to settlement,” said musicians’ spokesman Greg Bowens. “But our patience is not without end.”
Paul Hogle, DSO executive vice president, cautioned against imposing a countdown on the process or reading too much into how long it takes.
“The musicians’ attorney, Leonard Leibowitz, has been in regular exchanges with our negotiating attorney (Bernard Plum),” Hogle said. “When exchanges are going on with the attorneys, that’s a good thing. Serious matters should allow for serious exchange.”
UPDATE: Talks are still ongoing.
I just received this email from Save Our Symphony a few moments ago – this is not a good turn in a five month dispute that has had many bad ones:
March 4, 2011
Dear SOS Supporters,
Tonight the Detroit Symphony management formally rejected the musicians’ recent proposal of submitting to binding arbitration. In an attempt to continue to move forward toward a settlement, the musicians have sent the attached letter to each member of the DSO Board of Directors.
We hope that the members of the DSO Board will read the musicians letter with an open mind and agree to work with them in their effort to end this strike quickly and fairly. We encourage the board to convene a meeting by the end of next week where voting is done by secret ballot with an impartial observer present.
If you know any DSO board members please contact them and impress upon them the urgency of this matter. Binding arbitration is a good solution to this crisis, and it needs to happen now!
As always, thank you for your support of SOS and the DSO!
The Board of Directors of Save Our Symphony, Inc.