Progress in Detroit?


The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its striking musicians continued to make slow-but-steady progress in indirect talks this morning and afternoon, according to DSO executive vice president Paul Hogle.

“If we were not making progress,” Hogle said “we wouldn’t continue even with indirect talks. And we are absolutely willing to meet face to face when the framework necessary has been achieved.”

Hogle said the two sides exchanged views through an unnamed intermediary until late last night after a 5 p.m. deadline for a settlement had passed.

“We were here till 11 p.m.,” he said. “The union stayed even longer.”

At issue now are the specifics of how the musicians would allocate the proposed $34 million over three years in pay and benefits, as well as the $2 million in opt-in funds for community and educational outreach. The latter has been a bone of contention since it was first introduced in mid-January, with the union arguing that at least a part of that should be carved off to boost their pay and benefits. Management contends the terms of the donations prohibit that.

Under the DSO’s current proposal, musicians would have to digest pay cuts of more than 25 percent. The strike, which started Oct. 4, is now in its fourth month.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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