Vision and Community
The final installment of the Orchestra Hall Centennial Celebration, and in it we find out what is currently happening at Detroit's Orchestra Hall and what's in store for the future. Part 6 of 6.
- When I first started working here,
this area wasn't developed like it is now.
So to be right here in the community
and to be a part of it as it's developing and growing,
man it's amazing thing.
- This is our home.
Home presents security.
Home presents responsibility.
it also helps you with a vision
because when you have a home
you can imagine all kinds of things.
- A lot of what this orchestra does currently,
my work included,
is made possible by this space that we're in.
This original historical space
and the additional space that we've created.
And of course then,
the onus is on us
to make sure that this space is a space for everybody.
And that's where a lot of the work continues.
(slow piano music)
- [Narrator 2] In the wake of Orchestra Hall's expansion
into the Max M and Marjorie S Fisher Music Center in 2003,
excitement for a new fixture of art and culture
on Woodward Avenue
was the highest it had been.
Since the building's golden years
under the baton of Gavrilovic.
However, within just a few years,
dark financial skies were on the horizon once again.
- Detroit was obviously one of the first cities
to be affected by the recession.
And when you have to go through those tough times,
I think that tradition,
it's always there in the back of your mind.
'Cause you start worrying about the future
and you don't want a tradition to end.
And you're trying to figure out
everything you can in order to make sure that
this can go on.
- And I truly believe that
in the great recession, for example,
we had a number of issues that came in front of us,
and a settlement of a bank debt
that we almost went out of business
and I would say that if it weren't for Anne Parsons,
we would be out of business at this point, quite frankly.
- When you face a challenge,
the most important thing is not to freeze (chuckles)
and not to dig in and go into denial,
but to accept it.
And that's what we did.
- [Narrator 2] While both the city and the nation
teetered on the edge of yet another economic collapse,
the challenges in front of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
were made that much graver
considering the fact
that they still needed a new maestro.
- When we went through those tough times,
it seemed like a leader would emerge
who was perfectly suited to the time.
- Leonard Slatkin came in
when it was really dangerous here,
but Slatkin proved that it was not too dangerous
because he stepped in
and took hold and took through.
- When Leonard comes,
I think there was an excitement,
a world renowned figure
taking over the leadership of the orchestra.
- And it turned out to be really
the perfect partnership
at the perfect moment for us
because of Leonard's real community centric,
way of leading an orchestra.
Which was what we were yearning for at that time.
- This is not just an orchestra,
it's a family.
And this is not just the staff,
but it's a community.
- Leonard plays a really important role
when he comes here
because it is a very difficult time for the orchestra.
We had obviously a major strike here in 2010 and 11
and Leonard because he was so experienced
and such a pro
and such a tremendous musician,
was a real calming force.
And that was very reassuring
at a time when not much else was.
- When I arrived,
that the orchestra was in severe financial shape.
Despite maestro Harvey's incredibly successful
and much to be lauded tenure,
he'd been gone for almost five years.
There was no interaction in the community.
And aside from the recordings maestro Harvey made,
there was no real documentation
of the orchestra itself.
So my goals were to get those things in place.
- The webcast started with a thought.
Why couldn't we be the most
accessible orchestra on the planet?
So we have a broadcast to over a million viewers,
in over a hundred countries.
And this broadcast led to a new innovation,
which was webcasting educational content to the children
in the Detroit school system.
- One of the things that I'm really proud of
for the Detroit Symphony
here in Orchestra Hall
is their efforts to really
think outside of the box
in terms of how to
make what we do more relevant to the community around us.
- We need to embrace technology
if we're gonna be successful.
I think that that's been seen
for all of time with this organization.
And technology is a way of connecting people
at a higher and better level all the time.
- It's a way to get the message
and to some degree,
the sound of the orchestra
to a broader public,
other than the 1700 or so people
that come to attend a concert in the hall.
Now you're reaching out,
you go out in the community,
you play concerts in the community.
You're reaching out to them.
And with the webcasts,
people can now
put faces to the individuals
who are on stage.
- To have this outreach,
to be able to touch the next generation,
to have that exposure.
It really goes a long way in creating a rich community.
- When The Cube opened and started hosting,
poetry slams and jazz programs
that were going on the same time
that we would be playing a checkoff ski concert.
And it's really nice to see that fusion happening.
- This building is a hive of activity.
More so today than it has ever been.
The orchestra in this building
have a greater chance
than they've ever had
of fulfilling the prophesy from 1919
that this would become
the center of musical culture in Detroit.
- It's a community effort.
That's the main thing.
We cannot sit here by ourselves
and imagine our way
to an inclusive space.
We need to be connected to people.
We need to hear from people.
We need to be talking to people.
And most importantly,
we need people in this space
so that we can know if it is working.
(gentle instrumental music)
- [Narrator 2] Today, a century since
it's hasty construction,
Orchestra Hall still provides that looking glass
for the city of Detroit.
It reminds us of where we have been,
of what we have overcome
and it provides the inspiration and solace
we sometimes still need
to know that even when it seems
like our best days are behind us,
there may indeed be an even brighter future ahead.
- I think Detroit
and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and
all have stories of resiliency.
- To me it's a very Detroit story
and it in many ways captures the best of Detroit.
- I've always kinda felt
that it was kind of the center
of musical life in the city.
'Cause it represents a certain kind of ideal.
A certain kind of timelessness of great music.
So Orchestra Hall is gonna be here.
That is as constant as it can get.
- It's inspiring for concert goers
to see that there's a building
that's still standing at 100 years.
I think that gives everyone a sense of hope
of the future
and of classical music
and of just culture in general.
- When you see the faces
in our civic youth ensemble,
not just the players on the stage
but the audience of children who are mouths wide open
thinking I can do this,
gives them an inspiring vision for what they can be.
It's incredibly important.
- The fact is that we have an obligation
to continue the transformation of Detroit,
so that people choose to live, work, play
and raise their children here.
And this institution at Orchestra Hall
will always be a centerpiece of that.
- [Narrator 2] Detroit is a city
that continually reinvents itself.
They talk about boom and bust,
but what a wonderfully resilient city it is.
And the only thing that we can hope to equal
is the quality of Orchestra Hall.
And the stark wonderful silence
that draws people here
hungry for a sound
that they would hear nowhere else.