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Musicians band together for strikers in Detroit
DETROIT (AP) - Musicians from five U.S. orchestras plan to wear bracelets during performances this weekend to support the striking members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a national musicians’ union said Thursday.
American Federation of Musicians spokeswoman Honore Stockley said that players are participating from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. The navy blue bracelets read “AFM Solidarity,” which refers to the national federation that is coordinating the effort.
Stockley said talks are under way to enlist other orchestras.
Jennifer Mondie, a violist and chairwoman of the National Symphony orchestra committee, said members will wear the bracelets during performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. She said “it seemed like a small thing after their weeks and months of struggle.”
“We think that supporting our colleagues in the Detroit Symphony is important in order to defend the integrity and quality of symphonic arts across the country,” she said.
Detroit musicians’ spokesman Greg Bowens said it’s part of a larger effort toward courting national labor support for the strike that hits the five-month mark on Friday.
The Detroit musicians walked off the job Oct. 4. Management suspended the remainder of the season last month after musicians rejected a contract proposal.
Musicians have proposed returning to the stage and creating a binding arbitration panel to work out unresolved issues. Orchestra management spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said Thursday that lawyers representing both sides continue to talk about the offer.
Another orchestra is offering support of another kind next week when Detroit’s music director comes to town. The Nashville Symphony musicians, with management’s blessing, plan to insert a flyer in the program for a three-night stand of performances beginning March 10 that feature Detroit conductor Leonard Slatkin.
The flyer is expected to inform patrons about the Detroit musicians’ proposal to return, ask them to check out websites representing all sides in the dispute and encourage them to lend their voices to “try and find a way to keep symphony music alive in Detroit,” said Laura Ross, Nashville Symphony’s union steward and a second violinist.
“We’re saying, ‘It works in Nashville. Maybe you should write to these people (in Detroit) and say we see how it can work,’” Ross said.
Ross, a Detroit area native, said the musicians’ intention is to raise awareness without raising the ire of supporters or management.
“We don’t want to tick off Leonard, either,” she said. “We’re just using his being here as an opportunity to bring what’s going on in Detroit to their attention,” she said.
By Tom Fitton
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