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A letter on cutbacks at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra [View All]

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dcsmart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-09 10:46 AM
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A letter on cutbacks at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending, along with my 13-year-old son, a performance of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Leonard Slatkinthe former music director of the National Symphony Orchestrabegan conducting the DSO last month and the performance underscored his effort to promote works that would be enjoyed by seasoned classical music lovers as well as a younger generation.

The symphony orchestra is one of the few cultural treasures left in a city ravaged by the hollowing out of its industrial base, chronic unemployment and poverty and decades of official neglect. The DSO provides music programs for inner-city children in Detroit where less than a third of the public schools can afford to include music education in their curriculum.

The orchestra has a partnership with the Detroit School of Arts, a public high school with a current enrollment of 950 students, which opened in 2005 on land donated by the orchestra directly behind its home concert hall, the Max M. Fisher Music Center. It also sponsors several civic youth ensemblesorchestra, chamber, wind and jazzthat provide training and performance opportunities for students, from elementary school to the college graduate level, including access to orchestra members and conductors, as well as guest musicians as varied as Itzhak Perlman and Chick Corea.

This is why the news that the orchestra could lose millions of dollars from auto industry sponsors is so alarmingand telling about the current state of cultural life in America. According to the Detroit Free Press, General Motors has already notified about a dozen arts and cultural groups, including the DSO, Music Hall, the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Institute of Arts, not to expect any support from the company in 2009.


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