Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • MAY 2011

    Although I had a hefty tax bill to pay, nothing could diminish my pleasure in having my own orchestra back.

    After the free concerts we gave in Detroit, things began to return to normal in our second week. Putting an abbreviated season together was not easy. Several decisions were made quickly. All of the guest conductors originally scheduled were still available to us. If that had not been the case, I probably would have asked to be relieved of my own guest conducting obligations for the remainder of April and May.

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  • MID-APRIL 2011: The Nightmare Ends

    It took six months, interminable meetings and ultimate patience, but the strike that beset the Detroit Symphony Orchestra finally ended. After maintaining a self-imposed silence, I was able to greet my orchestra with the simple words, “Welcome home.”

    Not that the two days leading up to the first rehearsal were all that easy. We had learned that there were massive negotiating sessions taking place over the weekend, and when the two parties emerged, the basis for an agreement had taken place. Although it remained for the membership of the orchestra to vote on ratification, everyone agreed that the best medicine was to get back to the Orchestra Hall stage as soon as possible.

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  • APRIL 2011

    Although several conductors cancelled, and one tragically passed away in March, I was not needed as a fill in and simply stayed on my planned schedule. Of course that still meant no concerts with the Detroit Symphony, as the strike went into the half-year mark.

    More and more people are asking me how I am doing with all this and I certainly appreciate the concern. It is frustrating, disappointing and often depressing. Just as much as the musicians and public, I am more than anxious to get back on the Orchestra Hall stage, but I am equally anxious to know under what conditions that will be. It is sometimes forgotten that the music director is still the person who formulates artistic policy, but at the same time must adhere to the rules.

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  • MARCH 2011

    If March is supposed to come in like a lion, I wonder what animal people will make of this past February?

    Most of you will undoubtedly know that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has suspended the remainder of its strike-ridden season. More than half of the concerts had already been taken down and it really was only a matter of time before we were either back to work or down for the year. Much has been written, discussed and argued about. It is still not my place to comment –that will come later.

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  • FEBRUARY 2011

    Last time, I wrote a little about the orchestra in Lyon and its ability to retain its individual sound and style. This hit home even harder with my next stop on the tour.

    Some people think that the Vienna Philharmonic or New York Philharmonic is the oldest orchestra in the world. In reality, it is the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. Its history can be traced back to 1781. The first well-known music director was the composer Felix Mendelssohn. The city itself is a haven for cultural mavens. Bach was here. Schumann and Mahler lived here.

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  • MID-JANUARY 2011

    Bonjour et bonne année!

    The better part of three weeks has been spent in France, two of them getting to know my new orchestra and city.

    But first, it was a little holiday. I must have been coming to this country for 40 years now, but there is very little that I have had time to enjoy simply as a tourist. Sure, I had been on the Bateaux Mouche and went up the Eiffel Tower, but rarely when I had some free time.

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  • JANUARY 2011

    When we last left off, the Detroit Symphony strike had entered its third month. Now the winter solstice was approaching. This year, it coincides with a lunar eclipse.

    “It’s a ritual of transformation from darkness into light,” says Nicole Cooper, a high priestess at Toronto’s Wiccan Church of Canada. “It’s the idea that when things seem really bleak, it is often our biggest opportunity for personal transformation.”

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  • Deborah Fleitz

    The majority of you reading this will not know the name, but you have been a part of her world. Deb was my assistant in Detroit. She was responsible for almost every aspect of my professional life.

    She kept track of where I was supposed to be and worked with managers, artists and musicians from around the world. Every time I wrote something for this site, it was her hand that dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.

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  • DECEMBER 2010

    Weather forecast. Stormy with little chance of sun. Temperatures remain chilly throughout the month. Expect a break in the clouds if the pressure lets up.

    The strike dragged into its second month and I continued to keep quiet. But this did not mean that I did nothing. Very few days went by while I was in Detroit, when I did not speak with board members, urging them to help find a way out of this. Most said they missed the orchestra but needed to hold firm. The indication was that when a settlement was reached, purse strings might open once again.

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  • NOVEMBER 2010

    Last month I wrote that I did not feel it was the place of a music director to comment on any labor dispute taking place with his or her orchestra. The musicians of the Detroit Symphony went on strike at the beginning of the month, causing the cancellation of the season opening as well as the concerts for the remainder of the month. There remains uncertainty as to when we will get back to work. Until that time, I will maintain silence on the matter.

    In the meantime, there were other musical assignments on my calendar for the second half of October.

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