The Day the Music Died

One moment will resurrect the music. It will take one moment to restore sanity. It is not our job to make that moment happen; it is our job to survive that moment.

Isn’t Detroit 90 percent Black? Why don’t they fight for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra? Oh..

Escape from Detroit:The Collapse of America’s Black Metropolis is the only book ever published that dares point out that the 90 percent Black population in 2012 Detroit is directly responsible for the sorrowful state of the city, just as the 98 percent white population in 1912 Detroit was responsible for its rise to becoming “the Paris of the West.”

It is said that the Library of Alexandria was destroyed by fire; perhaps we will one day learn that the Detroit Institute of Arts was totally annihilated by the Black Undertow, with Matthew Dolan of the Wall Street Journal reporting:

Voters in Detroit and its suburbs will decide Tuesday whether keeping one of the nation’s premier fine-arts museums open is worth a hit to their wallets.

The Detroit Institute of Arts, hurt by a loss of deep-pocketed benefactors and significant public backing, is asking residents in three counties to support a 10-year property tax to support the museum. In return, residents of those counties, which include Detroit, would get free admission.

“We’re getting 10 years of security,” museum director Graham Beal said. “With those funds coming in, we can become a normal museum.”

The vote will test the limits of a gradual shift toward regional solutions to the funding shortages that dog economic and cultural institutions in Detroit, which has lost hundreds of thousands of residents. In recent years, the city and surrounding municipalities have forged new relationships to jointly support—and oversee—the city’s water department, zoo and convention center.

The DIA tax would cost Metro Detroiters $15 a year for every $150,000 in fair-market home value. The museum expects to collect $23 million a year from the tax, while separately seeking $400 million for its endowment, in hopes of becoming largely self-sufficient when the tax expires. Without the tax, museum officials say, the DIA would slash staff and cut museum hours to as little as two days a week.

Polling suggests support for the measure, officials say. A small telephone survey last month by Lansing, Mich., polling firm EPIC-MRA reported about 70% support.
But some residents climbing slowly out of the recession remain wary of expanding taxpayer funding for the arts. “It’s a luxury for the area,” Robert Gosselin, an Oakland County commissioner who voted against putting the measure on Tuesday’s ballot. “It’s not the role of government to provide a source of money for this type of thing.”

Some critics of the tax call it an extravagance, pointing to Mr. Beal’s pay package—$442,433 in 2010—and the museum’s endowment of $160 million. Museum officials say Mr. Beal’s compensation falls within the range of what other major museums pay, and that about half the endowment goes toward buying art.

The new of fine arts and culture dying in 90 percent Black Detroit comes on the heels of Kid Rock performing a benefit concert in May of 2012 to raise $1 million dollars to supply the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with much needed contributions. It appears that the new, majority population of Detroit (90 percent Black in 2012, after being roughly 85 percent white in 1950) is incapable of sustaining a symphony orchestra. Here is the New York Times in 2010:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has weathered decades of strikes, deficits, criticism over its racial makeup, mediocre concert homes, cuts in state aid and canceled tours. 

It has always bounced back, rescuing and restoring its beautiful old concert hall, enjoying moments of critical acclaim and recording fame, and becoming a leader in efforts to bring blacks into the symphony world (although it still has only three black players).

Now it faces another hurdle, one that its members and managers say could alter its course for good. The players, who were scheduled to begin rehearsals on Monday morning for the new season, have declared their intention to strike over extensive cuts in pay and benefits and extensive changes in how they perform their jobs.

As so often happens in orchestra labor strife, one side raises alarms about quality and the other about survivability. The musicians argue that the kind of cuts sought by management would scare away top new talents and even current members, eroding the orchestra’s finely wrought musical level.

“The bottom line for us is, we want the artistic quality of the orchestra to stay the same or get better,” said Haden McKay, an orchestra cellist and the players’ spokesman. “The cuts are so deep, it’s really going to damage the quality of the orchestra long term.”

Management contends that the issue of quality will be moot if the orchestra dies, and that Detroit simply cannot afford an orchestra of the kind that now exists. “The contract has to reflect what’s sustainable in the city you’re living in,” said Anne Parsons, the orchestra’s president and chief executive.

“You can’t have excellence if you don’t have viability,” Ms. Parsons added. “Who would want to come to an orchestra that’s on the edge of financial disaster?” she said of prospective members. 

Yet few cities have suffered like Detroit. And that argument has helped generate support for management’s side. The Detroit News, in an editorial on Thursday, pointed out that household incomes in Michigan have dropped 21.3 percent over the last decade and that 16.2 percent of the population now lives below the poverty level.
The players, it argued, should make the same sacrifices Michigan’s other workers have had to make and should not risk the orchestra’s future with a strike. 

But management’s plan is “not a pathway to survival,” said Bruce Ridge, the chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. “It’s the beginning of the end.”

“The Detroit Symphony is an incredibly positive force in the middle of a city that needs positive forces,” Mr. Ridge added. 

Correction: October 5, 2010

An article on Monday about a strike by the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, using information from an orchestra official, misstated the number of black players in the symphony, which faced criticism over its racial makeup and then became a leader in trying to bring blacks into the symphony world. There are three, not two.

 90 percent Black Detroit could only produce three (not two) Blacks capable of playing in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra? Bet one of their names is Rick Robinson, who both the World Socialist Web Site and NPR profiled recently. Robinson realized he was nothing but a token Black in 2001, telling NPR:

Twenty-two years ago, bassist Rick Robinson became just the second African-American to join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

But at the end of this month, he’s stepping away from his post — perhaps permanently. He’ll be touring with smaller ensembles in an effort to bring classical music to African-American and other underserved communities.

“What I’ve come to conclude, at least at this point, is that there’s something about the large concert hall and the huge number of people, and then separated into a huge number of people in the audience — it’s just overwhelming,” Robinson says. “And the concert experience itself — if no one greets people or tells a joke or explains anything about the music that they’re about to hear in a personal or emotional context, they’re just left wondering, ‘Well, why am I here? It doesn’t seem to make any difference that I’m here.'”

 In 2011, a reunion was held (of sorts) but longtime members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra still continued blame the 90 percent Black population for the decline in funds available for classical music, with the New York Times reporting:

Despite the Saturday night love fest serious problems remain. Even with the cost savings, the symphony is projecting a yearly deficit of $3 million and labors under a $54 million debt from the music center that was built to supplement its hall, a 1919 gem that seats 2,000 people.

The city’s decline has sapped donations and ticket sales. Its reputation keeps some wealthy suburbanites away. “Downtown is still a tough ticket for people,” Mr. Slatkin said in an interview. “It has some frightening images.”

Much bitterness remains. “I resent what’s gone down,” said Joseph Striplin, a Detroit native who has played violin in the orchestra since 1972. He blamed board members and orchestra executives, “a mix of politically reactionary right-wing figures who never saw a union they didn’t hate” and a leadership with a “distorted vision of what a symphony orchestra should be.”

But like others who expressed lingering anger, Mr. Striplin said he still loves the orchestra and the city, and promised that the musicians’ professionalism would shine through.

“We are not going to go out there and pout and not play well,” he said. “It’s you and the music now, and the music is why you are there.”

 Yes, right-wingers are to blame for Detroit’s demise. Not the 90 percent Black occupants of the city…they are above criticism.

The music will die in Detroit, with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra inevitably closing for good. Only then, will classical music be used city wide as a last resort to drive down high crime rates on loud speakers

It’s dead; the music in Detroit. Though no one dares point the problem, the music is dead in Detroit. Maybe one day, it will rise again.

Have we started a fire yet?



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