Early, collaborative talks earn unprecedented resolution

8 months prior to expiration of current contract

DETROIT, (January 15, 2014) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and its musicians announced the ratification of a new contract today, nearly eight months prior to the current contract’s expiration on Aug. 31, 2014. The new agreement resulted from a remarkably constructive series of as few as nine bargaining meetings, described by Joint Negotiations Committee members as “respectful,” “honest” and “transparent.”

A tentative agreement was reached late Monday evening, Jan. 6. It was approved by the DSO Board of Directors on Monday, Jan. 13 and ratified by the musicians of the DSO today. The terms of the agreement fit within the parameters outlined in the DSO’s 10 year plan, Blueprint: 2023.

“This contract represents a turning point in the history of the DSO,” said Anne Parsons, DSO President and CEO. “The terms prioritize the DSO’s legacy of artistic excellence while continuing to position this organization at the forefront of innovation and accessibility. I want to extend my

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gratitude to the members of the board, orchestra and staff who led an extraordinarily thoughtful, thorough and constructive negotiations process.”

“I, along with my colleagues in the orchestra, am looking forward to three more years of serving our community,” said Karl Pituch, DSO Principal Horn and Chairman of the Orchestra Negotiating Committee. “The DSO could not maintain its status as a world class orchestra without the devotion of our patrons, friends, and neighbors. We’d also like to thank the Detroit Federation of Musicians, Local 5, for its unwavering support of the DSO.”

“This settlement is testament to the union of all stakeholders coming together to define our new reality while investing together in the future of the DSO and the renaissance of Detroit,” said Board Chairman Phillip Fisher. “This is yet another beacon of success sounding brightly from the Woodward corridor, among other triumphs including attendance records, a balanced budget, our passionate donor base and now this early contract settlement. All of this is made possible by joining together in our One DSO culture: a shared set of values inspiring us to steward the legacy of our beloved organization while innovating a brilliant future.”

“The news of this contract agreement confirms the incredible progress being made by everyone at the DSO. I personally could not be prouder of the entire organization: musicians, management and board. The challenges ahead of us remain substantial but with the unified artistic and fiscal goals clear and transparent, it is my belief that we are the leaders when it comes to an institutional path of stability and growth in the 21st Century,” said DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin.

The agreement between the DSO and the members of Local 5 of the American Federation of Musicians will take effect Sept. 1, 2014 and extend through Aug. 31, 2017. The news comes after a period of negotiations that focused heavily on serving the DSO’s mission of embracing and inspiring individuals, families and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences. The musicians and management also worked collaboratively to reduce health care expenses, in the interest of fiscal responsibility. More concerts at Orchestra Hall, throughout Detroit and across Southeast Michigan will further promote one of the DSO’s chief values: accessibility.

Agreement at-a-glance

  • Contingent of 87, including 2 librarians
  • 36 weeks of performances plus 4 weeks of vacation time
  • Total orchestra compensation, inclusive of salary and all benefits, fit within the parameters set forth in Blueprint 2023: over the life of the new contract, the total investment in the musicians of the DSO will increase 5.3 percent over the previous, three-year agreement
  • Most Accessible Orchestra on the Planet: The Integrated Media Agreement, which allowed the DSO to become the first orchestra in the world to offer a series of free live webcasts in 2011, will remain in force
  • Community Engagement Services: DSO musicians’ work at the DMC Children’s Hospital, senior living communities, schools and other community venues will continue through an extension of the “optional work” model provided for in the current contract
  • Neighborhood Residency Initiative: Seven neighborhood residencies established in Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield and West Bloomfield Township will continue to serve our patrons across metro Detroit with subscription concerts featuring specialized repertoire and intimate chamber recitals programmed by the musicians themselves
  • Special Events: The orchestra musicians have offered to donate 4 services per year in pursuit of high-profile, revenue-generating performance opportunities

“I would like to thank all of the members of the Joint Negotiating Committee, musicians and management alike, as well as extend our special thanks to DSO Chairman Phillip Fisher,” said George Troia, President of American Federation of Musicians Local 5. “He set the tone for everyone involved in negotiations to leave the Detroit Symphony Orchestra a much stronger organization at the end of the process than it was at the beginning.”

“With this agreement, the DSO has accomplished the next step toward our goals of artistic excellence and financial responsibility, consistent with our One DSO culture,” said Bruce Peterson, Vice Chair of the Board and a member of the Joint Negotiations Committee. “The DSO is committed to attracting and retaining the finest musicians and serving the metro Detroit region with engaging programming while being financially responsible for the long term.”

Members of the Joint Negotiations Committee included Bryan Kennedy, Second Horn; Linda Lutz, Chief Financial Officer; Peter McCaffrey, Cello; Bruce Peterson, Board Vice Chair; Karl Pituch, Principal Horn; Erik Rӧnmark, General Manager and Artistic Administrator; Robert Stiles, Principal Librarian; and Ken Thompkins, Principal Trombone.


The internationally acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in December 2012, is known for trailblazing performances, visionary maestros, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and an unwavering commitment to Detroit. Esteemed conductor Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became the 12th Music Director of the DSO during the 2008-09 season and acclaimed conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik was appointed Principal Pops Conductor in November 2012. The DSO’s performance schedule includes Classical, Pops, Jazz, Young People’s, Neighborhood concerts, and collaborations with chart-topping musicians from Smokey Robinson to Kid Rock. A commitment to broadcast innovation began in 1922 when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, one of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, the DSO actively pursues a mission to impact and serve the community through music. For more information visit or download the free DSO to Go mobile app.


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