<March 2019>

Leonard Slatkin

The DSO celebrates Leonard Slatkin’s 10 years as Music Director

The 2017-18 Season marks Leonard Slatkin’s tenth and final year as Music Director of the DSO before transitioning to the new role of Music Director Laureate. Maestro Slatkin’s commitment to new music, reaching audiences in new ways, and the American orchestral tradition has had a transformational effect on the DSO.

During Slatkin’s tenure, the DSO has released acclaimed recordings, embarked on an historic tour of Japan and China, played Carnegie Hall, expanded its educational offerings, and strengthened community engagement. United under the banner of being the most accessible orchestra in the world, Slatkin and the DSO have taken on new and groundbreaking initiatives, including the free webcast series Live from Orchestra Hall, the annual Winter Music Festival, the Soundcard student ticket program, and the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series, which brings orchestra concerts to Detroit’s surrounding communities.

On Friday, May 4, Maestro Slatkin announced that he would need to undergo heart surgery and withdraw from conducting the final Classical Series concerts of his tenth anniversary season. We are pleased to share that Leonard’s surgery was a success, and we look forward to welcoming him back to the Orchestra Hall podium following his recovery! Leonard, his wife Cindy McTee, and all of us at the DSO thank you for your well wishes and messages of support, which you can continue to share online on this page.

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I cannot thank you enough for making the DSO feel so alive!. You have brought a new and exciting repertoire to the orchestra. The pre-concert comments are always so informative and delightful. Your support of new composers has been so exciting. The Neighborhood Concert Series has brought the orchestra to citizens who may have never heard them. The Musical Feast programs were such an intimate way to meet our musicians. The development of a more popular base and variety of music for a younger crowd in The Cube was invigorating. The Coffee Concerts are a great way for school students to be exposed to great music, while allowing the older generation to share together with them. The student package of low priced tickets was genius. Listening online live was a great breakthrough.

As you can see, I could go on, and I am sure I am missing changes that you made for the betterment of our Orchestra! I hope that the next music director will have your talent, kind manner, vision, and personality. Blessings for a continued great recovery.

You will be so missed, but the legacy you leave will mark the revival of a great orchestra!

—Angie Noble

Dear Maestro Slatkin: It has been a privilege having you conduct the DSO in the last 10 years. We moved to Detroit in 2011 and I was surprised when I learned you were the Music Director of the Symphony Orchestra. Born and raised in Venezuela, I remember listening some of your of recordings my Dad has at home with your name on it. The first concert we attended here was the Flute Festival with sir James Galway and since then, we have been regulars in every season.

Your hard work has been noticed everywhere, from the community to the recordings, and we are very proud of the DSO thanks to you. We are glad to know you are recovering from the surgery and hope to see you back soon conducting. I recently read your books and although we know you do not like to be around in the intermission as the soloists use to do, we would like to see you anytime to say hi and say thank you in person. All the best in your future endeavors and thank you one more time for all you have done for our city.

—Francisco Plaza

Dear Maestro Slatkin: Congratulations on your 10 years with the DSO! While I am greatly saddened that you will not be able to complete your tenth and final season with the DSO, I am thankful that your recent surgery was a success and I am praying for a speedy and uneventful recovery! My favorite concert memory is a recent performance that featured Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. The concert was a blast! I truly enjoyed every second of it—especially your tossing of the stuffed animals.

—Sharon Burrell

Thank you Maestro for all of the wonderful concerts I have enjoyed under your baton and for all you have done to rebuild our world-class orchestra. I first met you as a trumpet player and conducting student at UM in the early 80s. I was very excited when you accepted the DSO position and you didn’t disappoint. I wish you a complete and speedy recovery. Good news that your surgery was successful. My very best to you!

—Carolyn Thibideau

Best wishes and a speedy recovery to you, Maestro, and thank you for the all the wonderful music you've brought us!

—Nancy A. Squires

Dear Leonard and Cindy, Wonderful recovery for a wonderful life! We are seeing Jeremy Irons perform in Long Day’s Journey Into Night at BAM on May 20, and are thrilled to have donated to your DSO fund. So fun to be with you in Ann Arbor and great to share hairdressers. We look forward to your DSO salute on June 23!

—Pat and Hank Nickol

I was elated to hear that Maestro Slatkin came through his heart surgery successfully. I was blessed to see him conduct Carmina Burana in 2014; words cannot even begin to express how incredible that performance was. It was awesome, magical, and breathtaking, and I regret only that it ended! I love Mr. Slatkin and I am thrilled to know that he will be back to conduct more incredible concerts. Thank God the surgeons were on point and that we can anticipate a complete and blessed recovery for our genius Leonard Slatkin.

—Marie Walters Gill

I wish you a speedy, relaxing recovery!


I am so glad to hear that your surgery went well. All our prayers and best wishes for a speedy recovery. You mean so much to Detroit!

—Dan Burns

We so enjoy your choices of music and the kibbutzing you do on stage before the concert. Thank you!

—Stan and Marcia Freedman

Dear Leonard! Wishing you a speedy recovery, and a fulfilling return to the podium! Thinking of you!

—Larry Hutchinson

Glad to hear that you are doing well and on the road to recovery!

—Andrea Hartman

Best wishes on your recovery. Many thanks for the joy you have brought to Detroit. Sto lat!

—Susan Stack

Congratulations on a successful procedure, heal quickly, and hurry back, Leonard!!

—Phillip and Lauren Fisher

Glad to hear you're on the mend! Sto lat, which is Polish for “May you live 100 years”—and I hope you appear with the DSO for may more seasons!!

—Eileen S.

Thank you for inspiring the next generation. My 10-year-old daughter loves seeing you conduct and hearing you speak from the podium. We've been able to take advantage of the Soundcard this year, which has been a HUGE blessing and encouragement to her in her own violin playing and a great time as mother and daughter. I hope this is a tradition we can continue for many more years...attending classical concerts together! Thank you for making it such a positive, fun, and educational experience!

—Julia Forrester

We are so happy that you are doing well. You have given us so many hours of joy as our Maestro and we hope that you will return to us whenever you are able. In the meantime, we wish you good health, and may you continue to give others the same joy you have given us in Detroit. It was an absolute privilege to have you with us these last ten years. We hope you felt all the love we were sending each and every time you performed. May you go on to have many more years to do the thing you love the most.

—Denny Munson-Camiener

Like so many patrons of the DSO, I am very grateful for your leadership and contribution to classical music. I am from Canada, and it is a delight to stream your concerts online. One day I will make it to the magnificent Orchestra Hall in Detroit to fully experience the DSO. For now, I send my best wishes for your recovery and thank you again for contributing to my joy of classical music.

—Vineca Gray

We wish you a speedy recovery and return to your amazing productivity!

—Dr. Brad and Ms. Louise Eisenbrey

You have enriched the experience of enjoying music throughout my community. I thank you and the DSO. I pray for your complete recovery! Lean on your people, that's what they are there for, and that will double, triple your strength.

—Penny Peggy

Thanks for all you have done to maintain and enhance the quality of our first-class orchestra! Reaching out to kids with discounts and to suburbanites with community concerts is a great strategy for growing the audience. My grade school band director took us kids by the busload to Kinder Concerts at Ford Auditorium. I continued to enjoy symphonic music as an adult in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Ann Arbor over the years. Then a few years ago I signed up for a DSO series in Canton. The excellence of this subset of the DSO was like an appetizer! I had to start coming back downtown to Detroit for the full musical immersion! I always get two tickets and take a friend. For my last concert, I took my friend and high school bandmate. We had a wonderful dinner in Detroit first, then a great time at your concert. Because of the fabulous music, the DSO is to downtown what an anchor store is to a mall! Get well soon! Best wishes to you for whatever comes next!

—Cheryl Farmer

I'm so glad to hear that your surgery went well, and I hope you'll be up and conducting again soon. I have enjoyed your ten years here so much.

—Nancy Stocking

Mr. Slatkin: Thank you for your many years of great dedication to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. I just wanted to send heartfelt wishes and prayers to you for a complete recovery from your heart surgery. I had triple bypass, open heart surgery four years ago and have a new life now. So many wonderful people have come into my life since my surgery and changed it for the better. Godspeed!

—Cynthia Williams

Thank you for renewing the DSO's rightful place as a world-class symphony orchestra. Thank you, also, for all of the wonderful outreach work you have done to make the symphony concerts accessible to all (via streaming, the Neighborhood concert series, etc.). And, thank you for sharing in and creating so many wonderful musical memories. I became a fan of your work through your recordings of the Copland repertoire with the St. Louis Symphony. When you came to Detroit, I was elated. I look forward to hearing your future work, and wish a speedy recovery, continued good health, and great success.

—Bradley A. Stern

I just wanted you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Be encouraged. Hang in there! Wishing you a swift recovery! Thank you for such excellence in leading the DSO.

—Amy Bolinger

We hope for a speedy recovery for you, as speedy as your turnaround of the ailing but brilliant DSO a few years ago. You were instrumental in putting the orchestra back in the black, and your concerts have been thrilling. See you soon back on the podium!

—Donald MacQueen

Hope this message will brighten your day and help you feel better in every way. Get well soon!

—Gloria Page

Dear Mr. Slatkin: I am so delighted to hear that you are recovering well from your recent heart surgery. I thank God for his healing of one of my most favorite conductors. You have brought such joy into my life with your wonderful gift of music.


Leonard, we met in 1975 when I was a Missouri journalism student and you let me take photos on stage with the St. Louis Symphony. I ended up working for Ford in Dearborn and have seen you many times with the DSO—your Carmina Burana was great! I'm glad to hear the good news about your surgery, and best wishes to you and your family.

—Ed Blanch

I am glad to hear that your surgery was a success. I was not aware that you had gone in soon after your conducting engagement with our Hawaii Symphony Orchestra performances of the Brahms Symphony No. 2, which was a fantastic concert. I love watching your webcasts of the DSO concerts, and wished I was able to attend your St. Louis Symphony performances, as my favorite gold standard recordings of Mahler 1 and 2 are still, to this day, from your time at St. Louis. I do hope that I will see you conducting in person again. Many blessings and well wishes to you, and thank you always for the beautiful music.

—Elizabeth Kaneshiro

I was fortunate to hear all four Ives symphonies in Carnegie Hall when Slatkin and the DSO performed there in 2013. All best wishes and many thanks for 10 great seasons!

—Howard Lee Lyon

About 25 years ago, my husband and I spent a week touring Washington, DC. One day we went to see the National Cathedral, and happened to be there when Leonard Slatkin was rehearsing with the National Symphony Orchestra, playing my very favorite piece: Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony. We were very happy to learn years later that he was named Music Director of the DSO.

—Janice Richards

Thank you, Mr. Slatkin, for coming to Detroit and maintaining and improving the already high quality of the DSO. I especially like your introductory remarks at the beginning of most performances. I hope to see you often in your role as Music Director Laureate.

—Tim Koos

Back in 2011, it was a pleasure to see Leonard Slatkin’s son playing the piano at a DSO pops concert. A chip off the old block!

I have thoroughly enjoyed Leonard’s pre-concert talks and the excellent narrations he does during performances.

—N.R. Kaczmarek

Dear Mr. Slatkin,

You are a charm and a delight. Thank you for the music! You have been so good for Detroit and the symphony.

—Edda Dickerson

I really appreciate Leonard’s sense of humor and the historical tidbits he shares about the music and composers!


I’ve been attending DSO concerts for about 40 years—12 of those as an usher, and the most recent 15 as a balcony subscriber. Maestro Slatin, I’m sure it is no surprise to read that you’re the most charismatic, exciting, artistic conductor of them all. And I’ll miss you!

PS: My cheeks are still sore from smiling at the performance of Carnival of the Animals.

—Sherry Goussy

Dear Maestro Slatkin,

I don’t know you personally, but in addition to being the marvelous conductor of the DSO, you seem to be creative, innovative, and mindful, with a delightful sense of humor. (This I observe from my balcony perch.)

I have enjoyed being a subscriber for the past three years. I loved the Festivals (I learned so much!). Thank you. You will be missed greatly.

—Yvonne Cameron

I will never forget watching the Maestro conduct Bolero in 2012. To see a man of his distinguished years give a little hop to communicate his passion for the orchestra—that love, so evident—is a special joy to experience. I hope the Maestro enjoys a relaxing, happy, and fruitful life as Laureate.


When I asked Leonard Slatkin, in person, what makes a great conductor, he replied: "the experience of the listener."

Having never considered that option, my listening experience changed forever!

—Dina Routin

Thank you, Leonard Slatkin! We so enjoyed the French Festival concert of An American in Paris and A Frenchman in New York. We brought our 19-year-old college student, who had never been to a live orchestra performance.

—Angela Ruch

We love the information Leonard shares about the pieces we are about to hear. We’ve been here all 10 years—thank you, Leonard!

—Tracey and Dorothy Anderson

A fabulous concert…I knew it would be. I traveled from St. Louis, where Maestro Slatkin used to direct the St. Louis Symphony.

So lovely, so enjoyable!


I grew up outside St. Louis and often heard the St. Louis Symphony with Maestro Slatkin when I was a student in the 1980s and 90s. I moved to Detroit and Leonard followed not too long after. He is what comes to mind when I think of a world-class conductor.

—David McCown

Swan giftMy mother and father are season ticket holders at the DSO. They recently treated our family of 4 (as they often do) to a special day at Orchestra Hall celebrating the French Festival, complete with a promise of can-can dancers for my young daughters to enjoy. What we didn't realize at the time was that Mr. Slatkin would put on such an entertaining performance to accompany the playing of Carnival of the Animals, complete with stuffed animals and neat props! To my daughter's surprise and delight, Mr. Slatkin tossed a stuffed swan her way at the conclusion of the piece. She holds this swan near and dear, both as a memento of a beautiful day with her family and as a souvenir of Mr. Slatkin's wonderful talent and dedication to the DSO. We will miss him as he transitions to his new role. Thank you for so many memories!

—Kelly Vollmer

We have enjoyed coming to concerts the past 10 years because Mr. Slatkin is such an encourager. He encourages young musicians, new composers, and the audience alike—from introducing new musical techniques and tones and performing new works to sharing his thoughts and ideas with the audience both pre-concert and during the concert. As a result, we have been delighted to hear and see the rich results of new sounds and many new faces in both the orchestra and the audience!

—Duane and Kathy Vosburg

While I have many compliments for Conductor Slatkin over the years, my most recent and most compelling memory to acknowledge was his asking for a moment of silence after Erik Satie's piece at the French Festival. As the tragedy in Florida had occurred just days before, Conductor Slatkin's from-the-heart words on gun violence were much appreciated. As Conductor Slatkin made clear, his words were not a political statement.


You (and the Symphony) have always made me proud to say I was from Detroit...before it was chic to say it. Your love of music and Detroit was always obvious.


Leonard, you have done magnificent work in Detroit! Post-strike, you have brought to Detroit extraordinarily talented young musicians who have raised the quality of sound in Orchestra Hall. You clearly have been the right conductor, at the right time, and in the right place. Thank you!

—Edward Sharples

So many wonderful memories of the past ten years. One moment stands at the top. Maestro Slatkin’s world premiere of his own composition “Elegy”—the memorial to his parents. Playing a haunting passage off-stage on their mother’s cello was Slatkin’s brother.

Maestro, we had the pleasure of discussing the work with you at a book signing last year. You are as warm and personable in person as on-stage. Thank you for being a part of our community and our lives.


Dear Leonard: We have followed you everywhere from Florida to Lyon (where Sir James Galway joined us for dinner to celebrate your birthday) and to Carnegie Hall in New York. We are so proud of you and our Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

We love being with you and Cindy and enjoy watching you conduct…and we enjoy the little comments you add to your concerts. We love your books also.

In our book, you’re the best!

—Barbara Frankel and Ron Michalak

Several years ago the maestro conducted and starred in Peter and the Wolf. It’s generally unheard of for the artistic director to lead this piece. Our special needs grandson was enthralled. Thank you and godspeed for making this a wonderful experience.

—Judith Runk

I was a patron of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for 10 years, when Leonard Slatkin was conductor. Then, I had to relocate to Detroit to take care of my father, and I was not immediately a fan of the DSO. The day I read that Leonard Slatkin was going to be the new conductor in Detroit I actually jumped for joy. Kudos for Maestro Slatkin and the DSO! I’ll miss him.

—Nancy Shaltuck

The DSO under Leonard Slatkin is a truly amazing orchestra of the highest quality. Attending a concert here is a way to be deeply inspired, connect to other time periods and cultures, and experience truth and beauty! Nourishment for the soul is critical!

—Lisa Baylis

Before I retired a dozen years or so ago, my work took me out of the Detroit area regularly, and for long periods of time. One work assignment took me to St. Louis for nearly two years, during which I became a fan of Maestro Slatkin and the wonderful work which he did with the SLSO. I have many of the recordings which he made with the orchestra, and I always love listening to them, especially his Copland suites, and the Tchaikovsky ballets. When I heard that he was coming to Detroit, I couldn't believe how fortunate we were to have him here. He has done so very much for the DSO and the music lovers in Detroit and around the world. We first went to selected concerts and then became season ticket holders, and have only looked back to recall how great this has been. My experience hearing and seeing the DSO goes all the way back to Paul Paray, but it has never been as good as it is in Detroit since Leonard Slatkin came to town.


I was surprised when I moved to a new home several years ago to learn that I’d be living next door to a legend, Leonard Slatkin. I was even more surprised a year or so later when after my wife had gone through surgery, Maestro Slatkin arrived at my front door with a personally prepared dinner of fresh and delicious grilled fish. Although the most I usually saw of Leonard was when we were both leaving for work at 8 a.m. or when we were both returning home at 11:30 p.m. after a Thursday night concert, he was a good neighbor. I also remember once being at a dinner party where he gave the non-musicians at the table (all of us) a five-minute tutorial: “How to Conduct.”

But much more important than being my neighbor, Leonard became a good neighbor and friend to Detroit, a cheerleader for the DSO and the city. When things were at their darkest (and they were pretty dark in both places) he could always find a silver lining and a word of optimism that made a brighter future seem possible. The man works at his profession both on and off the podium. I’m delighted that he and Cindy are going to be part of the DSO family for years to come.

—Bud Liebler