Mike Avitabile, flute
Detroit Steel for solo flute was commissioned by Ashley Stanley for her Hustle Harder commissioning project. She writes:
The mission of this Hustle Harder is to help give a voice to Michigan culture by featuring the unique perspectives and experiences of six composers, who all have some strong connection to the state. I conceived this project idea because I grew up in Metro Detroit and lived in both Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, I have seen a great deal of diversity, artistic growth, economic fluctuation, beautiful natural landscapes and huge shifts in cultural norms. I understand the rich histories; I have walked across the Mackinaw Bridge, rolled down the Sleeping Bear Dunes, swam in all of the great lakes and been to Grand Rapids’ Art Prize. I grew up watching the University of Michigan football team religiously and sat at the dinner table while my grandparents told stories about growing up in the Italian District of Detroit. There are so many important stories to tell that can serve as an artistic reflection of what is happening here in the state of Michigan and my mission is to help share them.
The idea for this project initially came about during the financial collapse of the automotive industry. As with most political matters, Detroit’s economic affairs became grounds for public discussion. It amazed me at how uniformed people were, and had to sit back and hear the general public say things like “Let Detroit fail, it is a useless city anyways” and talking about how “my tax dollars shouldn’t be spent paying all of the lazy people in Detroit’s unemployment and bailing out these failing automotive institutions.” From the time I was 10 years old until I turned 22, my parents were constantly in and out of work and on unemployment. Institutions were cutting jobs, outsourcing jobs, and forcing people into a retirement they couldn’t afford to take. Every other house on my street was selling for desperate costs or being foreclosed on, every person I knew had a family member who couldn’t find work, and everybody was struggling to make ends meet on a domestic level. I am so proud to be from Detroit and am exited about the massive growth both economically and artistically that is flourishing from the city today. To hear so many people talking negatively about my home city without understanding any of the context was (and still is) upsetting.
Detroit Steel is about the grit, strength, and resolve of the people of Detroit.