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DSO Rehearsals Resume, Free Concerts Full

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are back at Orchestra Hall, rehearsing for the first time since striking a tentative deal with management to end a labor dispute.

DSO Musical Director Leonard Slatkin said the most difficult thing about the six-month musicians’ strike for him was “standing by and not doing anything.”

Slatkin told reporters, ahead of Thursdays rehearsals, that he believes the process “probably played out the way it needed to.”  He said he will work to mend hard feelings following the long and bitter strike.

“Because I stayed out if it, I can now become the glue for both sides. Hopefully, there is no animosity between anyone and myself. There might be people who thought I could have done more, but I didn’t. So, there is nothing to accuse me of, other than inaction,” he said.

Slatkin talked about his plan moving forward.

“I think that I will form committees, utilizing members of the orchestra to have much more impute into our day to day operations,” he said.

Meantime, excited patrons were picking up their tickets for upcoming complimentary concerts.

WWJ’s Florence Walton spoke with Mark Vermilion who said he’s out of work, and will enjoy attending the symphony for free.

“Well, I didn’t see the actual resolution in terms of contract negotiations, but I’m glad it’s resolved. It did look very bad, close, for a very long time,” he said.

“It’s a very important institution for the city of Detroit, so I’m really glad the strike’s over,” Vermilion said.

The DSO says free concerts planned for this Saturday and Sunday are now fully reserved.

Director Slatkin said the real test revealing how the public perceived the strike will come when the DSO once again begins selling tickets to its concerts.

The two sides said Monday that they reached the settlement after lengthy talks over the weekend. The musicians officially vote Thursday afternoon on the tentative agreement and results are expected Friday.

 The dispute was over how deep a pay cut the musicians would have to take to help the struggling symphony balance its budget. The musicians were offering to accept a 22 percent cut, while management sought and then imposed a 33 percent cut.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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