Detroit sets new benchmark in orchestra relations

Detroit sets new benchmark in orchestra relations


norman lebrecht

January 16, 2014

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its musicians agreed a new contract last night, eight months ahead of schedule. Three years ago, the orch was almost pushed out of business by a six-month musicians strike in a city where negative equity is a daily fact of life. Now, players and board are singing in perfect harmony and orchestra president Anne Parsons is toast of downtown. Word is she’s on Chicago’s list for president.


anne parsons


  • Mark Pemberton says:

    And if anyone in London wants to hear how Anne Parsons has worked her magic, she is speaking at the ABO Conference on Friday 31 January.

  • Anonymous says:

    Not sure if you are a Parks and Recreation fan Norman, but it’s Anne Parsons, not Perkins!

  • Doug says:

    I find it amazing that it is considered an outstanding ‘success’ that an orchestra, one that still carries the burden of tremendous debt, balances it’s budget for one year and signs a new contract with musicians. And this is considered a feat of a ‘miracle maker’? Does anyone remember when this used to be the norm for every orchestra? Are things really getting better?

    • Leonard Slatkin says:

      May I suggest that everyone read this article from the Detroit Free Press. It summarizes what was, is, and still needs to be. Of course there are still huge challenges but considering how many people wrote the DSO off for dead, the progress has been quite amazing. There are still numerous challenges ahead but with the majority of stakeholders now on the same page, perhaps we can help restore the norm and provide some degree of positivity for other ensembles.

      Also worth noting is that Anne Parsons and the Board Chair stayed mostly on the sidelines during the negotiations. In addition, only one person who served on either side two and a half years ago, participated. New faces, new ideas.

    • Modicum says:

      Why does this industry have so many haters?

  • Sarah says:

    Does this mean Anne Parsons is toast? One wonders what the CSO musicians think, given that they have hosted roughly half of the locked-out MN O musicians this past year. That sort of contention isn’t a step in the right direction.

    • Modicum says:

      Sarah, who would you suggest? The talent pool isn’t exceedingly deep out there.

      • Roderick says:

        Sarah: what does the Minnesota Orchestra lock-out have to do with Anne Parsons? And Modicum: could you clarify what you mean by “out there”?

        • Sarah says:

          It’s a small musician universe and news travels fast; there has been a lot of communication b/w DSO and MN O musicians.