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Newsroom

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra celebrates artistic highlights, community impact, and financial successes of the 2016-17 season at its Annual Meeting

DSO announces new $100,000 endowment gift from the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra—with one-hundred percent participation—supporting artistic excellence in Detroit

DETROIT, (December 14, 2017) – Today at the Annual Meeting of its Governing Members, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) celebrated the significant artistic and financial achievements and community impact of its 2016-17 season, which ended on August 31, 2017. Mark A. Davidoff, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Board Chairman and Michigan Managing Partner at Deloitte, opened the meeting, where the DSO announced an operating surplus for a fifth consecutive year, as well looked back to historic milestones, including the DSO’s first international tour in 16 years to Japan and China in July.

“We are now halfway through the Blueprint, our ten-year plan to achieve sustainability,” said Mr. Davidoff. “We continue to make progress towards our objectives, with five straight balanced budgets, increased ticket sales, and incredible support from individuals, foundations, and companies. We also are adjusting course as needed to eliminate risk and to grow and leverage the value of our endowment. I am confident in our ability to meet and surpass the challenges of the next five years.”

At the meeting, DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons announced that the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have come together—with one hundred percent participation—to contribute a new, combined gift of $100,000 to the organization’s endowment to support artistic excellence in Detroit. Funds from the gift may be used to support bringing in high-caliber guest artists in future seasons, including conductors and soloists; making digital recordings; commissioning new orchestral music; or creating scholarships for students enrolled in the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles.   

Ms. Parsons also thanked DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin and his wife, composer Cindy McTee, who made a $100,000 gift to the endowment in support of a new emerging artists fund, announced last week. 

“We are so honored to share this news of endowment support from every one of our musicians and from Leonard and Cindy,” said Ms. Parsons. “Their funds to support artistic excellence and emerging artists speak to their passion for Detroit and our collective belief in the bright artistic future of symphonic music. Thank you to all.

“Each of these endowment gifts is designed as a challenge. I am so humbled and grateful to also announce today that we have received our first match. Ric Huttenlocher, Chair of the DSO’s Board of Trustees, and his wife Carola have committed $100,000 towards the musicians’ challenge. Ric has led our Trustees to such great heights these past few years, and his support of our musicians and what they do on stage and in the community is extraordinary. Ric, thank you for all that you continue to do in support of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.” 

2016-2017 AT-A-GLANCE                                                                                                                

Key Artistic and Community Highlights

  - A new three-year contract with DSO musicians through the 2019-20 season was ratified in January, more than eight months prior to the previous agreement’s expiration.

  - The DSO produced 121 events, engaging more than 600,000 people of all ages, in programming encompassing classical, pops, and jazz music; webcasts; family and education programs; free community concerts and chamber recitals in a variety of settings (from high schools to botanical gardens); neighborhood concerts; annual summertime performances; yoga set to live music; and much more.

  - The DSO’s historic 2017 Asia Tour marked the orchestra’s debut performances in China and its first visit to Japan in 19 years. Music Director Leonard Slatkin conducted the DSO in eleven concerts from July 14 to 29, from Tokyo to Shanghai, earning standing ovations and impacting audiences in both countries. DSO musicians, tour staff, and leadership also made connections off the stage—promoting business partnerships, exchanging ideas, and reaching out to communities halfway around the world. For highlights, visit dso.org/asia2017.

  - The Social Progress Initiative, announced in May, is an ongoing assessment of the DSO’s community impact through programs that serve hundreds of thousands of people each year. Throughout the 2016-17 season, DSO board members, staff, and musicians, met with the goals of broadening access, increasing impact, and fostering new ideas. Their work will help the DSO evaluate current and new programs around the goals of Inclusion, which is upholding diversity as a core value; Enrichment, which is improving the quality of life of participants; and Expression, which is elevating artistic creativity.

  - In June, the DSO welcomed one thousand orchestra professionals from across the country to Detroit as official host of the League of American Orchestras National Conference, titled Detroit Rising / Transformation in American Orchestras. This year’s conference focused on the ways forward for orchestras in an uncertain public policy landscape, set against the backdrop of the DSO’s revitalization and Detroit’s resurgent community.

  - The fourth annual winter festival—a programming initiative created by Music Director Leonard Slatkin—was dedicated to the music of Mozart and took over The Max in January and February. Anchored by six programs in Orchestra Hall with DSO musicians as featured soloists, the Mozart Festival also included a piano sonata marathon, yoga set to live music, film screenings, late night opera performances, and much more.

  - The Cube (formerly the Music Box) celebrated its inaugural season with the support of Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings. The performance space presented 400 percent more events than the previous year, with an audience of nearly 7,000 (many new to the DSO and The Cube) and featuring more than 300 artists from Detroit and around the world in a variety of genres from R&B and cabaret to classical and contemporary music.

  - The season began with an outstanding opening weekend featuring violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Lang Lang—both led by Music Director Leonard Slatkin; guest conductors during the Classical season included DSO Music Director Emeritus Neeme Järvi, James Gaffigan, Hannu Lintu, Cristian Măcelaru, Andrey Boreyko, and others.

  - The William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series entered its sixth season, with a greater capacity to serve Metro Detroit audiences by shifting one venue in Canton to a larger one in Plymouth. The series was renewed for another five seasons thanks to continued support from the William Davidson Foundation.

  - Record sales and attendance in the newly named PNC Pops Series and Paradise Jazz Series, and the 25th annual Salute to America concerts at Greenfield Village had their highest revenue ever. In total 45 concerts sold out, including Home for the Holidays, Branford Marsalis feat. Kurt Elling, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Salute to America, Cirque de la Symphonie, The Music of Journey, Rhapsody in Blue, and many of the William Davidson Neighborhood Series concerts.

  - The 39th annual Classical Roots Celebration honored jazz violinist Regina Carter and DSO Erb Jazz Creative Chair Terence Blanchard, whose new piece Detroit 67 was performed as part of the citywide recognition of the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s civil unrest. $208,000 was raised at this event to support the Classical Roots mission to increase awareness of African-Americans’ contributions to classical music and support increased opportunities through the DSO’s African-American Composer Residency, Emerging Composer Program, and African-American Fellowship.

  - The sixth season of free Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts, presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and made possible by the Knight Foundation, reached record viewership numbers last season as the DSO expanded streaming options to include Facebook Live. The DSO’s Asia Tour Send-Off concert in Orchestra Hall was seen by nearly 38,000 people around the world before the orchestra even left Detroit. DSO Replay, the on-demand archive of past webcasts, had approximately 6,300 subscribers. The DSO’s performance of Barber’s Adagio for Strings was the most viewed video of the year, reaching 200,000 views on YouTube.

  - The training ensembles of the Wu Family Academy reached more than 700 participants, with a banner year for the Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE), and the new Detroit Community Orchestra, comprising adult amateur musicians ranging in age from 19 to 73. In March, the DSO announced the formation of the Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble, a new entry-level CYE violin training program, thanks to support from the Dresner Foundation. The program launched this school year for 36 eager third-graders at Duke Ellington Conservatory of Music and Art, a DPSCD school on Detroit’s east side.

  - With the generous support of the Applebaum Family Foundation, the DSO partnered with gallerist Steve Panton and Essay’d to bring three Art @ The Max exhibitions of Detroit-area visual art to each floor of the William Davidson Atrium at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center. With the mission of broadening audience engagement, and elevating local artists in Detroit, tens of thousands of patrons interacted with the artwork in The Max and hundreds attended exhibition opening receptions, guided tours, and artist talks.

  - Shining brightly from the Woodward Corridor: The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center hosted concerts, community partnerships, weddings, bat mitzvahs, meetings, receptions, and education partnerships throughout the season, opening our doors to the community to hold at least one event 346 days of the year, an increase from 295 days the previous year.

Financial Results and Major Support

  - For the fiscal year ended August 31, 2017, the DSO’s income statement reflects an operating surplus for the fifth consecutive year. This achievement comes following annual operating revenue of $29.58 million, with operating expenses of $29.48 million.

  - Earned revenue totaled $8.27 million, including $6.73 million in gross ticket revenue, an increase of 7.5 percent in ticket sales from FY16. For the sixth straight season, subscription revenue grew, from $3.44 million to $3.47 million in FY17.

  - Nearly 13,000 households purchased tickets for Classical Series concerts, both at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center and seven area neighborhood venues as part of the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series, more than ever before.

  - $18.05 million in donations supported operations with an additional $2.5 million in gifts added to the endowment. The DSO’s Governing Members—individuals who give at least $2,500 each year and are voting members of the organization—grew by 65 people to 427.

  - The DSO sold the Orchestra Place office building and adjacent vacant land while still retaining ownership of a parking deck and the Sosnick Sculpture Garden.  The transaction resulted in the retirement of a mortgage, reducing long-term debt by 90 percent, and generated cash for needed infrastructure upgrades and to stabilize and mitigate the risk of two legacy pension plans.

  - A $15 million gift from the William Davidson Foundation (announced in October 2017), that included a $5 million endowment challenge, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and the Dresner Foundation.

  - The Richard C. Devereaux Foundation joined the DSO’s “Founding Families,” recognizing comprehensive gifts of $5 million and more since the start of our ten-year plan in 2013.

  - Two new endowed chairs were added to the DSO’s orchestra roster: the Morton and Brigitte Harris Chair held by flutist Amanda Blaikie; and the Joanne Danto and Arnold Weingarden Chair held by cellist Peter McCaffrey.

  - Contributions totaling $1.3 million helped support the DSO’s Asia Tour 2017, with leadership support from the William Davidson Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, General Motors, Princeton Management, Lamont Street Partners, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

  - Notable project and capital improvements support from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, Ford Motor Company Fund, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help support the DSO as host orchestra for the 2017 League of American Orchestras conference in Detroit; from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Deroy Testamentary Foundation, and the Ford Motor Company Fund to restore portions of the Orchestra Hall ceiling; and from the Alfred R. Glancy III Capital and Technology Reserve Fund to refurbish the floor of the Orchestra Hall stage.

  - $1.1 million raised at the 2017 Heroes Gala honoring Bill and Madge Berman, with a concert program that told the life story of Bill and Madge through music in a format inspired by the DSO’s Educational Concert Series, which the Bermans have helped to bring to tens of thousands of Detroit students annually through their support of Classroom Edition webcasts.

  - Additional major support from Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Frankel and the Samuel and Jean Frankel Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. James B. Nicholson and PVS Chemicals, Inc., Danialle and Peter Karmanos, Mrs. Richard C. Van Dusen, Penny and Harold Blumenstein, Julie and Peter Cummings, Ms. Deborah Miesel, the DTE Energy Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and the McGregor Fund.

GOVERNANCE                                                                                                                     ______

Board of Directors—fiduciary cohort, charged with issues of accountability, strategic thinking, and cultural stewardship.  

Dr. David M. Wu was newly elected to the Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting, to serve in that capacity for a term of three years.

Robert H. Bluestein was reelected as a Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for a one-year term, and the following were reelected as Directors of the DSO for three-year terms: Mark A. Davidoff, Ralph J. Gerson, Nicholas Hood, III, Michael J. Keegan, Faye Alexander Nelson, Arthur T. O’Reilly, and Glenda D. Price, Ph.D.

The following officers were appointed to lead Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Inc. for the term of one year:

Mark A. Davidoff, Chairman

Glenda D. Price, Ph.D., Vice Chair

Anne Parsons, President & CEO

Faye Alexander Nelson, Treasurer

Arthur T. O’Reilly, Secretary

Chacona W. Baugh, Officer-at-large

Ralph J. Gerson, Officer-at-large

Janice Uhlig, Officer-at-large

Board of Trustees—tasked with fostering and nurturing innovation, creativity, and organizational learning. Trustees focus on strategic projects that help advance the DSO in the areas of branding, digital, and community engagement.

The following individuals were newly appointed to the Board of Trustees at the meeting: James C. Farber, Alan M. Gallatin, Julie Hollinshead, Renato Jamett, John Jullens, Jennette Smith Kotila, Shari Morgan, Frederick J. Morsches, Eric Nemeth, Vivian Pickard, Chad Rochkind, and James Rose, Jr.

Governing Members—voting members who elect members of the Board of Directors and dedicate themselves to outreach, advocacy, and philanthropy.

At the meeting, chairmanship of the Governing Members was passed from James C. Farber to Jan Bernick for a three-year term.

About the DSO

Hailed by The New York Times as “cutting edge,” the internationally acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, visionary maestros, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and an ardent commitment to Detroit. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the institution. Esteemed conductor Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became the DSO’s 12th Music Director, endowed by the Kresge Foundation, in 2008. Acclaimed conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik serves as Principal Pops Conductor, while celebrated trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the Detroit community, the DSO’s performance schedule includes Classical, Pops, Jazz, Young People’s, and Neighborhood concerts, and collaborations with high profile artists from Steven Spielberg to Ben Folds and Lang Lang. In July 2017, the DSO embarked on its first international tour in 16 years, making its debut in China and first visit to Japan in 19 years. A commitment to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast, and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, one of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.

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For Press Inquiries, please contact:

Ben Breuninger
Public Relations Coordinator
bbreuninger@dso.org | 313.576.5196