Detroit Symphony Flash Mob at IKEA in Canton, Michigan

Rachel Martin of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday ” did an interesting piece about the Detroit Symphony’s comeback after the work stoppage. She talks about the beautiful acoustics at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, and questions what happens when you take the symphony out of that perfect acoustic and put them in — well — an IKEA warehouse! You can watch the video of the DSO musicians performing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at an IKEA in Canton, Michigan.

The piece talks about how the DSO is reinventing itself, and quotes Ann Parsons, CEO, about the economic crisis that engulfed Detroit in 2008-09. (NPR has been doing a lengthy series of stories about Detroit in bankruptcy — a detailed report about recycling abandoned houses was part of this same show.

The piece also quotes principal trombonist Ken Thompkins, talking about the pay cut the orchestra members took: “It really is hard to not to take that as a reflection of how others think of your art and work. Musicians spend so much time developing as instrumentalists. It’s so intense and deeply personal, it really is hard not to take it personally.”

Performances outside of Orchestra Hall seem to be paying off, is the conclusion. Leonard Slatkin commented that theĀ  DSO has beaten the odds, although the process of reinvention has left some scars. “You had a lot of people who were angry, very bitter,” he says. “People who had been here a long time, who had seen the orchestra through a heyday, as it were, and then they saw it as potentially falling apart. And I suspect some of that bitterness still lingers in a few people, but not very many. I think most musicians understand where we are now because we’ve done this as a shared experience.”

Rachel let Ken Thompkins have the last word: “Music is a calling. This is what has chosen us, and this is our life’s work. The mission’s the same. We’re bringing great music and we’re lifting the spirits and the hearts of people, no matter what the venue is, and I’m really proud to do that.”

The flash mob video is wonderful — especially the little girl conducting.

About the author

Ann Drinan
Ann Drinan

Ann Drinan, Senior Editor, has been a member of the Hartford Symphony viola section for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of the Orchestra Committee, former member of the HSO Board, and has served on many HSO committees. She is also the Executive Director of CONCORA (CT Choral Artists), a professional chorus based in Hartford and New Britain, founded by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Ann was a member of the Advisory Board of the Symphony Orchestra Institute (SOI), and was the HSO ROPA delegate for 14 years, serving as both Vice President and President of ROPA. In addition to playing the viola and running CONCORA, Ann is a professional writer and editor, and has worked as a consultant and technical writer for software companies in a wide variety of industries for over 3 decades. (She worked for the Yale Computer Science Department in the late 70s, and thus has been on the Internet, then called the DARPAnet, since 1977!) She is married to Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist, and lives a block from Long Island Sound in Branford CT. Together they create websites for musicians:

Ann holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA in International Relations from Yale University.

Read Ann Drinan's blog here.

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