Detroit Symphony Orchestra - financial problems

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Steve, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    whilst the DSO is still out on strike I noticed while watching the local Public Broadcasting Service that a small ensemble was playing at the local Somerset Collection mall - about 2 miles from me. Leonard Slatkin was allowing mall guests to conduct the ensemble. Wish I knew about that .. it might have been fun as obviously most (if not all) did not actually know how to conduct.
     
  2. JfW

    JfW

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    I hope the Union understands that this will not end well for them, unless Management is lying. You simply cannot collectively bargain for money that just isn't there.
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I read somewhere that in the early days of the DSO (late 1950s) they was having financial problems. Thus they basically fired all the higher salaried players (ie, all the first chair players) to meet budget.

    I think this was the time when Paray was conductor, and Mr. Herb Couf was the 1st clarinet.

    Now with all the legal contracts and stuff they can't do that sort of thing anymore.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    excerpt from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/19/detroit-symphony-orchestra-strike

    of current US symphonies in article about the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and their situation.

     
  5. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    From what I've seen on TV, Italian Operas are in just as bad a situation. Apparently the Du^H^HCavaliere doesn't like classical or otherwise demanding music (or culture in general), apparently he prefers to have the private parts of some 1800yo statues embellished...
     
  6. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    People get what they are willing to pay for. While I enjoy playing art music more than any other kind, I am enough of a realist to conclude that it is a losing proposition as far as getting others to pay for my passion.

    Hell, it's hard enough to sell any kind of music these days, much less one that needs a specific hall for the group, plus maintenance of one hundred or so bodies for the amount of time (rehearsal) that it takes to turn out a quality product.

    Absent state subsidy (as in having a monarch maintain a house band of one sort or another, classical music is (in effect) dead. I could spend about a hundred dollars to go to a concert where (if I am lucky) there would be one work on the program that I would enjoy, all while sitting in considerable discomfort. Or, I could spend fifteen dollars to get the same thing whenever I wanted it on my own sound system. Duh!

    And, I know that there is something worthwhile in a live performance. My group is predicated on that, and I admit that there has been a certain "presence" there in every live performance I have ever attended.

    (Similarly, I have read countless accounts of cavalry charges (I was, after all, an armored cavalryman, continuing a family tradition that runs back to the Thirty Year's War), and have absorbed those opinions of what a thrilling sound one makes. But, not until attending a horse race run on turf did I actually hear it (or something quite near it) for myself - very awe-inspiring.)

    But, is the live performance worth the 300% premium and the fact that you will never hear it again (unlike the recording)? Well, in my mind, no.

    As Petrillo feared back in the 1940's, recording has been the death of live music. And, computer copying has been the virtual death of commercial recording. Sad, but true.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Personally I would love to go see the DSO but it costs too much.
    And I don't fully understand their argument of keeping up with the Joneses (Phila, NY, Vienna, etc) by keeping a top tier orchestra. I've, unfortunately, never really thought of them on the same level as NY or other top symphonies.

    Tonight, i may go to a Clarinet Studio and Ensemble Recital with music of Brahms, Mozart, Debussy, and many others.

    It's free admission.
     
  8. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I find myself looking for the LIKE button on these posts. Hmm... is that an indicator of too much Facebook time? :cool:
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    oooohh Pete ........ Gandalfe has a recommendation .......
     
  10. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Ooooh...

    ...and then we could all befriend each other...

    I just can't wait for that to happen...
     
  11. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Wait for that in vBulletin 5.1: This Time, We Really Hope it Works.

    We did have a user rating system, but that came to be a bit unworkable. You can only rate THREADS, now (you have to use the Advanced editor to see the option).
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    i'm starting to hear flushing sounds ......


    http://www.detnews.com/article/20101209/ENT01/12090492/1361/DSO-reports-$8.8M-deficit-for-2010

     
  13. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I know we have someone here that adores Mr. Slatkin .. so i thought i would post this info about him sent to my email from the DSO email services

     
  14. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Oh, great. More accolades for Lenny Slatkin...

    My experiences with him (as a bassoon player in a community orchestra which he condescendingly agreed to conduct in his junior associate days with the Saint Louis Symphony) have been largely borne out by his performance since. He's a glory hog of the first order.

    I imagine that the Detroit organization paid through the nose to lure him out to the cultural wilds that are the upper Midwest. He sang the praises of Saint Louis loud and wide right up to the point that he jumped ship to go to Washington, and then was heard on DC media describing how he had never been happy until he had lived in the DC area.

    One thing that an ailing "program" (using the college basketball metaphor here) like Detroit did not need is someone like Slatkin...
     
  15. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Slowly .......

    http://detnews.com/article/20110203/OPINION03/102030374/Banks-want-DSO-s-$54M-loan-repaid

     
  16. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Steve, this has become a facinating thread. I never thought of running a band in terms of using the banks as pawns. :cool:
     
  17. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    The big difference...

    ...between your little con, and the scam being pulled by the DSO, is that you don't have a reputation to trade upon. It's why you remain a sniveling little pawn in the world of music, being forced to pay your employees in cash, while the directors of the DSO wear silk suits and have catered luncheons at their board meetings where they decide who to lay off the next time around.

    Their venerable record and perceived value to the community (which I think is vastly overstated in the first place) of an organization like the DSO has allowed them to go out on limbs ever farther from the tree, since the management knows that they can always play the "You can't let something this valuable die!" card when some inconvenient thing like legal obligations to pay the employees/pensions/medical insurance/debt owed to others gets in the way.

    San Diego is on their fourth or fifth "rescue" of their symphonic group, which everyone wants but no one wants to pay for. They still haven't learned, and Detroit (with a far more venerated organization), is only postponing the inevitable. Let the thing die, and be done with it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  18. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I'm curious on the term the bank has on the repayment of the $54 million as the DSO i believe has less than HALF of that in it's required slush fund.

    If no player contract is done soon I'm sure it's Chapter 7 liquidation.
     
  19. JfW

    JfW

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    I've been following this for awhile and find it interesting how most the media and many commentators like to blame the situation on awhat they deem incompetent management rather than with a union so far out of touch with reality. Of course, said commentator's arguments usually go somewhat like, "Detriot deserves\needs a World Class Symphony" and alludes to the Symphony as being part of some important element of urban renewal or the local economy (it isn't), so naturally, Management should pay up regardless of what the numbers are.

    The truth of the situation is that fundraising has been tepid even before the economy turned south. Attendence, likewise, has also been down. For Management to magically gain the competence to vastly increase donor contributions when philanthropy in general is way down while bringing more butts to put in the seats during a depressed economy; in a city where most could not care less about what is being played is indeed a fantastic expectation. For all the stupidity for which management is alone being blamed, they alone are the ones who are talking about the realities of numbers.

    Supposedly the sides are close to an agreement, but if an agreement isn't reached by the end of the week, the season may be cancelled. If that happens, it's quite possible the Detriot Symphony is brought to chapter 7 by it's creditors mentioned in SteveSklar's post.
     
  20. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    The interesting thing is that when I go to orchestral events somewhere, they're usually well attended. The exceptions are when the orchestra plays somewhere other than their standard venue (i.e. somewhere other than the symphony hall) -- or if it's a "community" group. And, in the latter case, it's generally because they're charging an "outrageous" price (like $10 - $15). Hey, if a community group is charging as much as the price of a CD from a good orchestra and you know that it'll be an average performance, I'd rather have the CD.

    (Where I work I occasionally get free tickets to a variety of events.)

    Personally, when I'm in a group playing or singing, the performance is almost secondary. I play or sing for the sheer enjoyment of it. That there's going to be a performance is just the cherry on top. I think that's what community bands/choral groups should be. Hey, if you need to charge for renting out where you're playing, keep it at $5 a ticket or less.
     

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