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Detroit musicians reject orchestra offer, season ends

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Detroit Symphony Orchestra suspended the remainder of its season after striking musicians rejected management's final contract offer on Saturday.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra said it "reluctantly" released artists and conductors from their contracts after the vote. It suspended remaining orchestral concerts through June and said rescheduling concerts, resuming the 2011 summer season and announcing a 2011-2012 calendar remain possible pending a settlement.

Members of the orchestra, on strike since October, said they would seek a compromise agreement and urged quick talks to save the current season.

The orchestra is also ready to return to talks, the chairman of the DSO board of directors, Stanley Frankel, said in a statement.

Orchestra management and the 80 musicians have been tussling over issues of pay and how much of the orchestra's time should be devoted to community outreach.

Lower pay and higher medical costs in the proposed contract would make it far more difficult for the orchestra to attract the best talent, the union has said.

Musicians have not been paid by the orchestra during the strike. They are paid $300 a week from the union's strike fund and some are playing in other orchestras. Under the old contract, musicians were paid $2,020 a week on average.

Two musicians have accepted offers from other orchestras, violinist and union committee member Joe Goldman said earlier this week.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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