The Detroit Symphony is on Day One of a strike, and as I see it, plunging headlong to its own demise. Detroit, a financially beleaguered city with a population of 800,000 can no longer sustain a "top-tier symphony" (translation: overpaid) with a 52 week season. And the players, refusing to accept a broader job description which would include outreach performances and teaching opportunities in schools without extra pay, demand to be "compensated what they're worth" regardless of Detroit's bleak, economic outlook. What they're worth has been a base salary of $104, 650 with most musicians earning around $120,000, and what they've been offered by management is a pay cut of 30%. As I've stated in a previous post, and without meaning to beat a dead horse over the head, the time is now for classical musicians to recalibrate their methods of survival.
|Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in early 1980s|
Might the formula of regional concerts by a smaller "classical" orchestra, augmented by extra players when needed, make sense here as well, in the entire Puget Sound area? From this perspective, why not create an ensemble in the style of New Jersey Symphony Orchestra that regularly performs in multiple venues around the region, not just an occasional run-out? After a near-death experience, NJSO has been able to accumulate nearly 80% of the $32 million in capital that is its fund-raising goal. Wouldn't it be more cost effective for, let's say, the communities of Bellevue (with its proposed 2,000 seat concert hall), Everett, Bellingham, Olympia and Tacoma to serve their music hungry public with a top-tier, touring ensemble as well, enabling every city to share ownership?