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Anne Parsons

In Loving Remembrance

Anne led our beloved orchestra with grace, courage, and conviction, never wavering from her strongly held belief that the DSO is the best in the world, and that Detroit is a vibrant and resilient city that deserves an orchestra to match. Anne’s accomplishments as our President and CEO are immeasurable and will resonate deeply within our organization, across our local communities, and in the orchestra industry for decades to come. ”

- DSO President and CEO Erik Rönmark & Board Chair Mark Davidoff

Detroit, (March 29, 2022) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra today announced the passing of DSO President Emeritus Anne Parsons late last night, following a courageous battle with cancer. Parsons, 64, served as President and CEO of the DSO for more than 17 years, from July 2004 to December 20, 2021. She is survived by her husband Donald Dietz and daughter Cara Dietz. Plans by the DSO to celebrate Anne Parsons’ life and legacy are forthcoming.

DSO Music Director Jader Bignamini said, “I am honored to have been appointed music director during Anne’s tenure as CEO and to have been able to become close with her, Donald, and Cara. I will never forget Anne’s smile, strength, professionalism, deep humility, and innate sensitivity. Her love for the orchestra and Detroit is our guide as we lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.”

Anne Parsons Tribute

A respected leader in the orchestra world, Parsons was among the first class of American Symphony Orchestra League Fellows. Prior to joining the DSO, she served in leadership positions for a variety of major arts organizations, including General Manager of New York City Ballet, General Manager of the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and Orchestra Manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Parsons began her career at the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College in Massachusetts.

Following her appointment at the DSO in 2004, Parsons instilled a culture of resilience and financial stability and grew the audience and donor base, all while successfully navigating local and national economic downturns and a global pandemic. Under her leadership, the DSO posted nine consecutive operating surpluses from 2013 to 2021. Parsons was also responsible for bringing two new music directors to Detroit—Leonard Slatkin in 2007 and Jader Bignamini in 2020—and returning the orchestra to national and international prominence through touring and webcasts. 

Parsons’ vision of transforming the DSO into the “most accessible orchestra on the planet” led to an increased focus on serving audiences through innovative new programs. In 2011, she oversaw the launch of “Live from Orchestra Hall,” establishing the DSO as among the first orchestras in the world to offer free, live high-definition webcasts to reach audiences worldwide. The series was expanded in 2014 with “Classroom Edition,” educational concerts by the DSO reaching tens of thousands of students in Detroit schools and around the world each year. The DSO’s early adoption of digital technology, plus its emphasis on webcasting every Classical Series subscription concert—leading to a robust archive—allowed the orchestra to pivot successfully and quickly to virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, Parsons’ emphasis on reaching Detroiters and DSO fans across the region offered unique ways to connect with the organization, including chamber music programs, senior engagement concerts, music therapy partnerships, in-school appearances, and full orchestra performances through the DTE Energy Foundation Community Concerts and the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. During her tenure, the DSO reestablished itself as a critical community organization.

Most recently, Parsons’ leadership enabled significant investments in the DSO’s Detroit Strategy to fuel two new plans: the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative creates unique, community-driven musical experiences throughout Detroit while aligning with the priorities of the city’s neighborhoods. Detroit Harmony is a landmark collaborative project to provide an instrument and music education to any interested Detroit student and create hundreds of related jobs through workforce development partnerships.

Under Parsons’ leadership, the DSO launched a multi-year process to develop a comprehensive DEI strategy, and concurrently launched a Mission and Values Taskforce to reexamine and reinforce the organization’s cultural evolution during her tenure. These critical steps have already left an indelible mark on the orchestra and charted a course of continued growth for the organization to follow for years to come.

From late 2018 until her retirement in December 2021, Parsons led the DSO with distinction while undergoing treatment for lung cancer, a period that included the centennial celebration of the DSO’s acoustically and architecturally magnificent home Orchestra Hall, the announcement of Italian conductor Jader Bignamini as the DSO’s new music director, the 20th anniversary of the Paradise Jazz Series, and the 50th anniversary of the orchestra’s Civic Youth Ensembles training programs.

“I have been honored to serve the remarkable Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the people of this vibrant and resilient city for the past 17 years,” Parsons said when announcing her retirement in April 2021. “It has been my absolute joy to be able to balance work, life, and cancer treatments with full commitment, determination, and optimism. Everyone in the DSO family has been a source of critical strength and sustenance, from our dedicated and passionate governance and staff to our extraordinary DSO musicians and music director Jader Bignamini—whose performances together have filled me with so much happiness."

I can never give enough recognition for all we have accomplished together. ”

- DSO President Emeritus Anne Parsons
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Gifts in Memory of Anne Parsons 

Gifts made in memory of Anne Parsons celebrate her impact, legacy and visionary leadership and provide support for the DSO's wide-reaching programs.  For information about making a tribute gift, please call (313) 576-5114 or visit dso.org/donate.

Ms. Jane Alessandrini 
Mr. & Mrs. Richard L. Alonzo 
Mr. Robert Alpiner 
Ms. Diane Amelia Read 
Mr. Ken Aptekar 
Mr. David Assemany & Mr. Jeffery Zook* 
Dr. Matthew Aubin 
Lynne Avadenka 
Ms. Bridget Balint 
Ms. Carol Bartley 
Lillian & Don Bauder+ 
Ms. Mary Ann Beaupre 
Ms. Katherine Beebe 
Mandell & Madeleine Berman Foundation 
Mr. Keith Berven 
Mr. Greg Bladecki 
Mr. Thomas Blaske & Ms. Mary Steffek Blaske 
Ms. Leah Blizman 
Penny & Harold Blumenstein 
Mr. Stephan Bobalik 
Cassie Marie Brenske 
Ms. Karen Brown 
Mr. & Mrs. Mark R. Buchanan 
Dr. Laurie Burgoyne & Mr. Paul Burgoyne 
Mrs. Yvonne Cameron 
The Clinton Family Fund 
Mr. Bruce Coppock 
Nancybell Coe 
Ms. Candyce Crompton 
Julie & Peter Cummings 
Joanne Danto & Arnold Weingarden 
Marvin & Betty Danto Family Foundation 
Mr. & Mrs. William Davenport 
Margie Dunn & Mark Davidoff 
Mrs. Diane Davis 
Mr. & Mrs. Dick Deighton 
Ms. Carol Diamond 
Mr. Dennis Dilworth 
Mr. & Mrs. Walter L. Dissett 
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Dobert 
Nina Dodge Abrams 
Diana & Mark Domin 
Mr. & Mrs. Christopher J. Doozan 
Terry Dwyer 
Mr. & Mrs. David Edwards 
Libby & Adrian Ellis 
Dr. Miriam & Mr. John Engstrom 
Ms. Joanne Fisher 
Mr. Michael J. Fisher 
Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Wm. Fisher 
Mr. David Flaisher 
Mr. Henry Fogel 
Suzanne Dalton & Clyde Foles 
Mr. John Forsyte 
Mr. Alan Fortunski 
Mr. & Mrs. James Francis 
Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Frankel 
Ms. Nuria Garrote-Esteve 
Mr. Michael Gehret 
Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Gilbert 
Mr. Craig Gilmore 
Jody Glancy & The Glancy Foundation 
Mr. Thomas Gordon 
Mr. Todd Gordon & Ms. Susan Feder 
Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin 
Mr. Carl Grapentine 
Mrs. Sandra Grzych 
Mr. Eric Halbeisen 
Mrs. Deborah Hansen 
Mort & Brigitte Harris Foundation 
Ms. Jill Harris 
Mr. & Mrs. Walter Heron 
Mr. Joseph Hines 
James & Lynnette Hinga 
Dr. Renee Hoogland 
Mr. John T. Iannucci-Waller 
Mr. J. Allen Jones II 
Mr. & Mrs. John Jullens 
Mrs. & Mr. Alicia Klein 
Ms. Candace Kodani 
Mr. Lukas Koeniger 
Mr. & Mrs. Martin Kohn 
Ms. Lois Kovanda 
Mr. Jonathan Wolman+ & Mrs. Deborah Lamm 
Mrs. Bonnie Larson 
Mr. & Mrs. Eric B. Larson 
Mrs. Deborah Lecours 
Mr. Randy Lee 
Linda Dresner & Ed Levy, Jr. 
Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Lewis 
Mr. George Liller 
Ms. Katy Locker 
Ms. Phyllis Look 
Mr. & Mrs. Al Lowery 
Ms. Hannah Lozon* 
Mrs. Cynthia MacDonald 
Ms. Lori Maher 
Ms. Antoinette Margetich 
Mr. Michael Martin 
Judy Howe Masserang 
Mr. Edward McClew 
Ms. Lynn McDaniels 
Mr. David Meinhard 
Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Metes 
Shari & Craig Morgan 
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas W. Morris 
Mr. Joel Moss 
Ms. Magda Moss 
Mr. Robert Murphy 
Ms. Maki Nagura 
Mr. & Mrs. James B. Nicholson 
Mariam C. Noland & James A. Kelly 
Mr. Lowell Noteboom 
Ms. Gabrielle Poshadlo & Mr. Dennis Nulty* 
Mr. Richard O’Reilly 
Ellen & Larry Oshkaloff 
Mr. Joseph Palazzolo 
Mr. Randy Paquette 
Ms. Priscilla Perkins 
Ms. Alice Pfahlert 
Mr. & Mrs. Allen Phillips 
Mr. Bernie Plum 
Mr. Casimir A. Rakowski III 
Miss Laura Reed 
Mrs. Lucille E. Riegel 
Mrs. Rosemary Rivera 
Mr. David Rolfe 
Mr. James Rose 
Jesse Rosen 
Mr. Ronald Ross & Ms. Alice Brody 
Ms. Cynthia Rowell 
Mr. Frank E. Salomon 
Mrs. Maura Sanders 
Mr. & Mrs. William Sandy 
Mr. & Mrs. Dale C. Scarlett 
Nancy Schlichting & Pamela Theisen 
Mr. Gary Shea 
Mr. Terry Shea 
Mr. & Mrs. William I. Sikora 
Mr. John S. Snyder 
Dr. Jody Conradi Stark 
Mr. Terry Stocker 
Ms. Donna Stoner 
Mr. & Mrs. Robert R. Swaney 
Ms. Carolyn Szumowski 
The A. Alfred Taubman Foundation 
Mr. & Mrs. Arn Tellem 
Mr. Isaac Thompson 
Mr. Richard Tino 
Dr. James Tubbs 
Mr. & Mrs. Samuel A. Tundo 
Mrs. Rebecca Viola 
Ms. Elise Vogt 
Ms. Allison Vulgamore 
Mrs. Katie Walker 
Mr. Mark Wallace 
Ms. Paula Wardell 
John & Susan Warshawsky 
Ms. Melanie Wells 
Mr. James Whitney 
Mr. & Mrs. Dennis D. Wiegand 
Drs. Robert & Jacqueline Wiggins 
Beverly & Barry Williams 
Ms. Elizabeth Willoughby 
Mrs. Barbara & Steven Wolk 
Ms. Alison Wong 
Mr. Eric Woodhams 
Drs. David & Bernadine Wu 
Ms. Eileen Wunderlich 
Ms. Shirley Young+ 
& 3 who wish to remain anonymous 

+ Deceased  
* DSO Musicians and Staff 

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