Citing Threats, Sarah Chang Cancels in Detroit


Sarah Chang has canceled a recital in Detroit, where the orchestra is on strike, citing "physical threats and career intimidation," the Free Press reports.

Nice. What a great way to garner sympathy for your cause, orchestral musicians everywhere!

The Philadelphia-born violinist had decided to go ahead with the concert (a) to provide Detroit listeners with a little music during the current strike and (b) was directing proceeds from the concert to the orchestra musicians' pension fund.

Here's the text of one email I was cc'd on, from a member of the Utah Symphony:

Ms. Chang,

I am horrified to see that you are scheduled to cross a picket line and perform at the request of the administration of the Detroit Symphony this coming week. These last few days I have received countless emails from colleagues nationwide expressing their dismay & shock at this announced recital.

Part of the burden of a musician is projecting integrity through both art and deed in greater society. Moral commitment to what is right and in the greater good is part of this burden. As I am sure you know, Detroit is the focal point for the plight of American labor and, at this point in time, American orchestral musicians. These musicians are the ones who share the stage with you and the ones you rely upon for collaborative artistry when you perform concertos as their guest.

I urge you to reflect on this and reconsider your decision.

From the Free Press:

On Friday, the DSO players wrote a letter to Chang, who is not a member of the union, asking her not to perform, as did other national musician labor leaders. By Sunday, her fan-created Facebook page had been inundated with about 150 messages from across the country [urging her] not to cross the picket line and perform.

So now everyone loses. Apparently it's not possible to hold differing opinions without resorting to threats. And apparently the demands of organized labor are more important than any underlying belief in the importance of sharing music with the public. As if classical music didn't have enough troubles already.

Shameful episode, this.