Lansing Symphony in business despite orchestra chaos in Detroit

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By Dillon Davis
Lansing Star staff writer

With the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, or DSO, strikes moving into its 26th week, it’s not only the music suffering but many fans are feeling the hurt as well.

Some fans, like Hanna Ahmed, 18, even have made the decision to seek out orchestra-style music elsewhere including the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, or LSO.

“My parents would take me to their concerts when I was younger and I fell in love with the music.” Ahmed said. “Seeing (the orchestra) is really what developed my overall interest in music – not just orchestra style but all music.”

Courtney Millbrook, the executive director of the LSO, said it’s hard to speculate what the problem might be for the DSO because the two orchestras are so different.

Millbrook said the DSO is one of many orchestras that are hurting due to economic issues. She said the LSO has seen a lag in attendance and can attribute much of that to the economy in Michigan.

For Millbrook, the mindset of the LSO is to continue scheduling programming around music that the Lansing community will enjoy while taking a realistic look ahead at the future of orchestras.

“It’s difficult and disappointing for sure,” Millbrook said. “All orchestras are looking at how are we going to be sustainable and relevant going into the future and those are questions being held in Detroit.”

John Kratus, a professor of music in the College of Music at MSU, said national orchestra attendance has dropped 15 percent since 2000. Kratus said unless orchestras are able to obtain private sponsorships, many of them will struggle.

Kratus said the economic depression has affected many orchestras and the LSO its best to bring fans back. He said for the LSO, the focus on providing quality entertainment for the Lansing community is as important as it has ever been.

“To me, (the strike is) incredibly sad – I will say that it’s not unheard of though,” Kratus said. “It’s realistic to say that orchestras, perhaps at the exception of major metro areas, are hurting. … It’s getting difficult for orchestras to financially be able to make it.”

For Ahmed and her family, the strike means looking for orchestra music elsewhere. Ahmed, a Detroit resident, said she would consider making the trip to Lansing to see the LSO if the situation were right.

“I’ve always been a music connoisseur and seeing another orchestras might be eye-opening for me,” Ahmed. “It’s sad (the DSO) is on strike but I will find my music elsewhere for now – Lansing is only an hour away so I’ll suck it up and go.”

One thought on “Lansing Symphony in business despite orchestra chaos in Detroit

  1. Actually the Lansing Symphony Orchestra has seen a tremendous increase in attendance over the last few years – ticket sales have doubled since 2005/06 season.