DETROIT -

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its striking musicians have reached a tentative contact agreement that could resolve a six-month walkout.

Following the tentative deal, the DSO offered free tickets for its belated season-opening shows this Saturday and Sunday. Those tickets are now completely sold out. Those who didn't get free tickets and still want to attend can receive a free voucher to attend the following weekend's show. For more information contact the DSO box office.

The deal, which was reached after discussions that ran from 1 p.m. Sunday until after 11 p.m., is subject to a ratification vote expected this week, said musicians' spokesman Greg Bowens. If approved, he said Detroit Federation of Musicians union members with the nationally acclaimed orchestra could be back at work by next weekend.

WWJ-AM first reported the agreement Monday morning.

Seeking to reduce costs, management had implemented a 33 percent base pay cut for orchestra veterans in September, from $104,650 to $70,200 in the first year. Musicians had offered to take a 22 percent reduction in the first year, to $82,000. Musicians' salaries would have risen in subsequent years.

Since then, both sides have made counteroffers to narrow the divide.

Musicians walked off the job Oct. 4. Management suspended the remainder of the current season that was to have run through June 5 in February after musicians rejected a contract proposal that was dubbed a final offer by management.

Musicians had said they were given a deadline of last Friday to settle the strike or face losing the summer performance season and jeopardizing the fall season. But talks continued through the weekend, running for about 17 hours on Saturday and continuing for about 10 hours on Sunday, Bowens said.

"There's been a lot of effort put into trying to reach an agreement," Bowens said.

Even before the strike, the nationally acclaimed orchestra had seen its donations fall, endowment shrink and ticket sales soften as the state's auto industry shed jobs and plants and experienced bankruptcy reorganizations. And the walkout has left the financially struggling orchestra in worsening economic shape.

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