Chang Exchanges Solo For Recital In Detroit

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) issued a press release, late in the afternoon of Thursday, 10/7/2010 to announce they “will host violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Robert Koenig on Orchestra Hall stage on Monday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in a special recital…” Chang was scheduled to appear with the DSO this weekend as the soloist for Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 but those concerts were cancelled due to the musicians’ strike. UPDATE: 10/8/2010, 1:28pm CT, public reaction…

Currently, the DSO is allowing patrons with tickets to any of the cancelled performances to use those tickets for the recital.

“Patrons who have tickets to the Symphonie Fantastique season opening concerts featuring Music Director Leonard Slatkin and Sarah Chang that were originally scheduled from Oct. 8-10, but were cancelled due to lack of rehearsals associated with the musicians’ strike, can submit their tickets at the door to the Sarah Chang recital for general admission seating. The general public can purchase general admission seating for $25. Doors to Orchestra Hall will open at 5:30 p.m.”

This performance will be intriguing from the standpoint of whether or not the DSO musicians intend to conduct picketing and/or leafleting activities during the performance. Regular readers will remember the article here from 9/29/2010 that examined conductor JoAnn Faletta’s withdrawal from a musician produced concert. The musicians’ public response to that incident included speculation of quid pro quo influenced in part by the DSO but whether or not they intend to leverage similar speculation against management for Chang’s recital is unknown.

A query was sent to the DSO inquiring but at the time this article was published, there was no response but I’ll update this article when (if?) one arrives. Likewise, there was nothing at the musicians’ website announcing any intentions or statement on the recital. Update: see the comment thread below for updates from the musicians’ position.

Update: Public reaction to the recital has been unfolding throughout the day at the DSO Facebook page as well as the DSO Musicians’ Facebook page. The following screen captures were taken at approximately 1:00pm CT.

Public discussion at the DSO Facebook page.
Public discussion at the DSO Musicians Facebook page.

Update, 4:52pm CT: WQXR reports that Chang’s management declined to comment on the situation.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

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10 thoughts on “Chang Exchanges Solo For Recital In Detroit

    • Many thanks for posting that Mark. I did notice that they are encouraging supporters to join them but not actively suggesting people avoid the recital. Here’s the copy from their Facebook page as of 10/8/2010 9:15am CT:

      “DSO Musicians will be picketing the Sarah Chang recital at Orchestra Hall on Monday October 11 starting at 6:30. All fans and supporters are welcome to join us. A limited number of picket signs will be available for everyone to use. Come out and show your support!”

  1. As an AFM member, I did a roster search for Chang, coming up with nothing. If solo and chamber musicians are AFM members, it’s usually by choice (perhaps left over from their student days) – not by necessity.

  2. Yes, I see she’s not an AFM member, although I know a number of soloists/chamber players that are. And in any case she’s certainly entitled to play wherever she chooses. Or not play.

  3. Some details: Sarah Chang says, “… I have requested that proceeds from the ticket sales be donated to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Musician Pension Fund.”

    With the DSO management’s imposed Proposal “B”, the DSO Musicians’ Pension Plan has effectively been frozen. The musicians of the orchestra will receive no benefit, now or in the future, from Sarah’s request that ticket sales from her Monday recital be donated to the pension fund. Do you think the DSO’s management explained this to Sarah? Serves as decent band-aid PR, I suppose. But, like everything at the DSO, you have to dig a little deeper to get the truth.

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