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 the 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.