Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings Expanding

While other art organizations have crumbled due to the economy, the DCW&S are doing something right



A TEPID ECONOMY TYPICALLY sends arts organizations into financial hot water. Since the recession, The Baltimore Opera Company and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra went belly up. The New York City Opera is clinging to life, while the august Philadelphia Orchestra is in bankruptcy protection.

However, the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings (DCW&S) is not only in fine fettle, it’s expanding. Marking its 30th anniversary, the group is introducing a new concert series, adding venues, and welcoming a composer-in-residence and an ensemble-in-residence.

What’s DCW&S doing right?

“We’ve always had wonderful musicians [drawn primarily from the ranks of the DSO and Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra], but from the beginning we had strong volunteer leadership, too,” says co-founder and executive director Maury Okun. “When you combine those two, magic can sometimes happen.

“That kind of collaboration has brought attention from the philanthropic community, and we’ve been well supported by foundations and businesses.”

This month, the group celebrates its third decade with a concert called “30 Something,” a musical look backward — and forward. Featured will be music performed during DCW&S’s first season, 1982-83, and will also include Gradus, a solo cello piece by 27-year-old composer-in-residence Paul Dooley.

Dooley is part of a new program launched by DCW&S that will highlight young musicians from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and U-M’s School of Music. “Paul is a U-of-M guy, and our young ensemble-in-residence, Amusia, is from Oberlin,” Okun says. “Next year, we’ll reverse it, with a composer coming from Oberlin and an ensemble from U-of-M.”

Okun says his organization will premiere a new series this spring called Structurally Sound. “The idea is to pair an architecturally significant building with music that will meld with it,” he says. “It will be part music and part talk about how the music and the space interface.” The first concert will be held at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit. Another venue will be the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Innovative programming like that could keep the organization on pitch for the next 30 years.

“30 Something” begins at 4 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center, 311 E. Grand River, Detroit. $10-$25; 248-559-2095,

If you enjoy the monthly content in Hour Detroit, "Like" us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

The Way It Was

Better Made Snack Foods, 1971

Do Good

The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients

AFP Interview Series: Nominee Tracy Utech

With over 20 years of experience, Utech and her team have championed funds that have seen benefit outside of Wayne State’s campus.

AFP Interview Series: Nominee Karen Smithbauer

A career as a preschool teacher and battle with breast cancer, ground Smithbauer's philanthropic efforts

An Hour with ... Faith Duede

Founder, Rocky Horror Preservation Society
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  5. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  6. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  7. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  8. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  9. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission