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February 05, 2004 - Image 20

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-05

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8B - The Michigan Daily - Wekend agazine - Thursday, February 5, 2004

The Michigan Daily - Weekeod agazim

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For all the flak Detroit receives for its infa-
mous, dangerous reputation, it is better known
in local circles as a cultural mecca for its
artistic forums. The Detroit Symphony
Orchestra has a long-standing history as one
of the city's biggest draws, as music legends
flock to play in its hall. Now, as the DSO com-
pletes its three-phase move into its newly
remodeled home, the Max M. Fischer Music
Center, Detroit's educational community has
discovered yet another reason to laud the con-
tributions of the arts.
While historic Orchestra Hall has under-
gone restorations before, Phase One of the
Max Project marked one of the most inten-
sive. Prior to the renovation, DSO musicians
battled with makeshift dressing rooms and
cramped, sometimes nonexistent, storage
space for their instruments. Stephen Millen,
the Detroit Symphony's vice-president and
general manager, said, "Today, the musicians
not only have roomy and comfortable dressing
rooms. They also have instrument storage
spaces, a large lounge area, individual prac-
tice rooms and ample library space."
In addition, the Orchestra Hall staff received
expanded offices to enhance their work environ-
ment, and a number of larger bathrooms were
added. Customer amenities increased to include
more food concessions and extra room to move
and schmooze during intermissions.
"Although the acoustics in the building are
some of the best in the world, the hall did not
have the amenities, for either patrons or
artists, that most audiences and performers
are accustomed to today," Millen explained.
But the restorations were not merely to ben-
efit the faculty and patrons. The DSO also
recognized a need to improve the Hall's neigh-
borhood and environment.
Millen notes, "The DSO management,
musicians and board all realized that in order
for the Orchestra to prosper and grow, it was
necessary to provide an ideal environment for
performances that went beyond acoustics and
an attractive hall ... The city needs to be
developed, neighborhood by neighborhood,
and we believe that The Max - and its impor-
tant neighbors in the midtown area, such as
Wayne State University, the DIA (Detroit
Institute of Arts), the Science Center and the
University Cultural Center Association -
have already done much to transform the
immediate area surrounding us."

In Phase Two of the operation, the Jacob
Bernard Pincus Music Education Center pro-
vided young music aficionados the opportuni-
ty to improve their skills through more inti-
mate training with the DSO musicians. The
Pincus Center is an extracurricular resource
for an assortment of students, regardless of
their ages. After its opening this past October,
the Detroit community was introduced to a
new technological age in music education.
"The youth orchestra members are afforded
the opportunity to train not only with DSO
musicians, but with world-class guest artists
as well," explained Charles Burke, the Detroit
Symphony's Director of Education. "The
space also has the infrastructure to support
future educational endeavors such as special
audio/video projects, Internet broadcasts and
distance learning, computer listening stations,
online music workshops and more."
As Phase Three of the Max Project nears
completion, Orchestra musicians prepare for a
slightly different role. Though they have
already initiated their teaching careers at the
Pincus Center, where youth orchestras from
all over the region can receive special atten-
tion from DSO musicians, they will take on
the roles of Detroit Public School instructors
beginning in January 2005. The Fine and
Performing Arts Academy joins the Detroit
Symphony in this educational venture, which
will cost more than $100 million when it is
finished. The new school, the Ford High
School for the Fine, Performing and
Communications Arts will incorporate the
broadcasting and theater arts in addition to an
enhanced music education program.
Burke said, "Our goal is to have a DSO
musician working at the school each week.
He or she will provide coaching, master class-
es, individual lessons as well as training ses-
sions with the high school's orchestra, band
and jazz band."
Although the music center is undoubtedly
an expensive undertaking, the DSO hopes its
development will prove to be beneficial to all
involved, particularly the greater Detroit com-
munity. Millen concludes, "With the excite-
ment and new life that institutions like these
are bringing to this area, and with the corpo-
rate development that is going on elsewhere in
the city, we are confident that Detroit is well
on its way to reclaiming its mantle as one of
America's great cities."

The renovations in
Symphony Orches
clans. The projeci
dressing areas.
Above: A billboari
which will also in
lic schools.
Near Left: Current
building, even thc
the theater.
Below: The Max's
hopes to attract n
Far Left: Visible c
rounding the Max

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