Erik Rӧnmark appointed President & CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

- Rӧnmark set to succeed Anne Parsons beginning in March 2022

- Announcement made during DSO’s Annual Meeting where orchestra also announced a ninth consecutive balanced budget and celebrated new commitments to its DSO Impact Campaign

Detroit (December 8, 2021) - Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) Board of Directors Chair Mark Davidoff announced today that current Vice President and General Manager Erik Rönmark has been appointed to succeed Anne Parsons as the DSO’s President and CEO, effective March 7, 2022. The news was shared at the Annual Meeting of the Governing Members of the orchestra, held earlier this evening at Orchestra Hall and attended by the Board of Directors, Trustees, supporters, musicians, and staff.

At the meeting, the DSO also announced its ninth consecutive balanced annual budget and celebrated new contributions to the DSO Impact Campaign. Parsons shared the exciting news that the DSO has secured commitments toward nearly half of the campaign’s $75 million goal, which will bring the total permanent endowment to $125 million when complete.

Rönmark was selected following an extensive, nearly year-long search process, during which the search committee—led by Davidoff and Director Emeritus Chacona Baugh and comprising board, musicians, and staff—reviewed more than 180 candidates before narrowing down to a final list of nine. Rönmark’s role in guiding and leading the current trajectory of the DSO, familiarity with the Detroit community, commitment to the progressive growth of the orchestral music field, and dynamic relationship with Music Director Jader Bignamini set him apart in the search.

“I am honored to be named the next President and CEO of the Detroit Symphony,” said Rönmark. “Growing up in Sweden listening to DSO recordings with Paul Paray, Antal Doráti, and my countryman, Sixten Ehrling, I never could have imagined that one day I’d be leading this great orchestra and working with so many talented colleagues. I want to thank Mark, Chacona, and the entire search committee for this opportunity and their support. I am grateful to Anne for her mentorship and to follow her as President and CEO. She has built an exceptional future for the DSO, instilling a highly collaborative culture that has put the DSO on a path towards sustained artistic excellence, innovation, and fiscal stability. I look forward to building upon that work in my new role.”

Current DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons, who in April shared her intention to retire next year, will serve in the position until March 7, 2022, at which point Rönmark will assume the role. Parsons will remain with the organization through November 2022 as President Emeritus to ensure a seamless transition that sets the orchestra up for continued success. Parsons was named President Emeritus in perpetuity by a unanimous resolution of the DSO Board of Directors at its November 18, 2021, meeting in recognition of the transformational impact Parsons has had on both the DSO as an institution and on the community served by the DSO.

As General Manager for the past eight years and Vice President for the past five, Rönmark has been a key contributor to the current culture developed under Parsons’s leadership that has enabled the DSO to achieve new success. His unique abilities were most publicly on display as he led the Music Director search that culminated in the appointment of Jader Bignamini, a vibrant and youthful artistic leader destined to reshape what is possible for orchestral music in the City of Detroit.

Rönmark has also been a central player in some of the DSO’s biggest innovations of the past decade, including serving on the task force that led to the DSO’s pioneering, free Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts, launched in 2011. He subsequently oversaw the development and expansion of the DSO’s livestreaming capabilities so that the orchestra was uniquely positioned at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the music playing with DSO Digital Concerts in a largely virtual 2020-2021 season. Rönmark’s programming has yielded an increasingly diverse repertoire mix on stage, while off stage he has helped lead the development of the DSO’s comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy—critical work that is currently ongoing.  

Rönmark was integral to the development of the vision for the DSO Impact Campaign and will take up the responsibility of expanding and growing the endowment as the organization’s President and CEO.

Mark Davidoff, Chair of the DSO’s Board of Directors, highlighted the leadership qualities and stability Rönmark brings to the organization in the position of President and CEO.

“Erik has been a key contributor to the path the DSO has walked in the past decade, leading the orchestra alongside Anne through a period of unprecedented growth, challenge, and evolution,” said Davidoff. “He was the unanimous choice of the search committee and was approved unanimously by the Board of Directors as the DSO’s next President and CEO. His appointment ensures the whole organization will continue to rise to meet new challenges and goals at a vital time in the DSO’s history.”

Jader Bignamini, DSO Music Director, highlighted the commitment he shares with Rönmark to lead the organization to new artistic heights.

“I am so happy to congratulate Erik on his appointment and look forward to continuing our work to make the DSO the best it can be on and off the stage,” said Bignamini. “The leadership, collaboration, excitement, and creativity Erik brings to the orchestra makes every day a joy. His innovative and thoughtful programming ideas make this a once-in-a-lifetime partnership for me, our musicians, and the organization!”

Anne Parsons, DSO President and CEO, highlighted the cherished, decade-plus partnership she’s had with Rönmark in bringing the DSO’s mission and values to life.

“I’m thrilled with the board’s selection of Erik to succeed me,” said Parsons. “Throughout my tenure I have had the joy of watching Erik grow and excel. He embodies our values of excellence, collaboration, diversity, innovation, and resilience and is the perfect choice to lead our DSO into its next exciting era.”

Additional DSO Annual Meeting Highlights

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra finished its 2020-2021 season with a ninth consecutive annual operational surplus, successfully navigating an earned revenue loss brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic for a second straight year. Unlike the previous season, the organization knew going into the year the likelihood of continued financial pressure from the pandemic and planned accordingly, cutting its budget by approximately $7 million.

Continued strong annual fundraising combined with ongoing across-the-board compensation reductions at all levels helped contribute to the ending balance. For a second straight season, the orchestra was able to transfer funds to reserves to help offset the potential continuation of earned-revenue loss in the subsequent year. Additionally, the DSO was the recipient of $8.56 million in federal relief, including a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, Paycheck Protection Program Loan, and Employee Retention Credits, which were used to pay salaries, benefits, and certain production costs.

The DSO and its Board of Directors have remained committed not only to preserving the principal of the orchestra’s endowment during the pandemic, but also to growing the fund as part of its 10-year plan. To that end, new contributions to the DSO Impact Campaign were announced at the Annual Meeting as the DSO celebrated inspiring pledges totaling nearly 50 percent of the campaign’s $75 million goal. When complete, the campaign will bring the DSO’s total permanent endowment to at least $125 million. Highlights of the DSO Impact Campaign presentation:

  • DSO Impact Campaign Chair and Board Chair Emeritus Phillip Wm. Fisher praised the people, place, and purpose of the DSO, thanking the members of the Campaign Cabinet, Anne Parsons for her leadership, and DSO musicians, staff, and lay leadership for their commitment to artistic and organizational excellence. Fisher closed by inviting all in attendance to join the Impact Campaign.
  • David Wu, MD, Chair of the Education Steering Committee and member of the Board of Directors, spoke about the importance of endowment guaranteeing the promise of music education to all. He also announced a new gift from his family that brings the Wu family’s total investment in the DSO’s permanent endowment—begun by his late parents, Clyde and Helen Wu—to $6 million in support of lifelong learning. A gifted group of young musicians from the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensemblesthe Slatkin Piano Quintet, featuring the Bea and Harry Shapiro Piano Scholar—presented a short performance for guests.
  • Principal Viola Eric Nowlin spoke about the musicians’ commitment to growing the endowment through the DSO Musicians Fund for Artistic Excellence, which features contributions from every member of the orchestra. Acting Concertmaster Kimberly Kaloyanides Kennedy and Acting Associate Concertmaster Hai-Xin Wuperformed a violin duet for guests.
  • President and CEO Anne Parsons celebrated matching gifts to the Musicians Fund for Artistic Excellence, bringing the total raised for this musicians-led effort to a remarkable $1.6 million. The DSO thanks the following for their matching support: Ric & Carola Huttenlocher, Honorable Avern & Lois Cohn, Richard Sonenklar & Gregory Haynes, Lauren & Phillip Wm. Fisher, Marjorie S. Fisher Fund, Margie Dunn & Mark Davidoff, James G. Vella, Shari & Craig Morgan, Adel & Walter Dissett, Renato & Elizabeth Jamett, David Assemany & Jeffery Zook, Morgan & Danny Kaufman, Barbara Frankel & Ronald Michalak, Allan & Joy Nachman, and Eva Von Voss and Family.
  • Parsons also announced newly endowed chairs of the orchestra: the Principal Flute chair, currently held by Hannah Hammel, is now the Alan J. and Sue Kaufman and Family Chair; the Piccolo chair, currently held by Jeffery Zook, is now the Shari and Craig Morgan Chair; the third Horn chair, currently held by Scott Strong, is now the Ric and Carola Huttenlocher Chair; and the third Viola chair, currently held by Caroline Coade, is now the Henry and Patricia Nickol Chair.
  • Parsons thanked the Impact Campaign’s most generous Family group, and welcomed two new members, Linda Dresner & Ed Levy, Jr., and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. They join Julie & Peter Cummings, the Davidson-Gerson Family and the William Davidson Family, the Richard C. Devereaux Foundation, Stanley & Judy Frankel and the Samuel & Jean Frankel Foundation, Danialle & Peter Karmanos, Jr., James B. & Ann V. Nicholson and PVS Chemicals, and Clyde & Helen Wu.

About Erik Rönmark

As Vice President and General Manager of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Erik Rӧnmark has played an integral role in shaping the future of one of America’s legendary ensembles. He has established the DSO’s reputation as an orchestra that recognizes its rich legacy while promoting and embracing modern and diverse repertoire. During his tenure, the DSO has launched several groundbreaking initiatives, including the Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts, DSO Replay, and the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series, as well as the orchestra’s first international tour (Japan and China) in over 15 years—accomplishments that made Musical America name him one of 30 Professionals of the Year in 2018. Rönmark’s background as a classical performing artist lends itself to thoughtful representation of musician interests with unwavering support of artistic goals.

Recognized as one of Crain’s Detroit’s “40 under 40” leaders in 2016, Rönmark is also the co-founder and Executive Director for the contemporary group New Music Detroit, as well as a recent member of the arts administration faculty at Roosevelt University. He has been a part of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 2005 and combines his administrative experience with degrees in fine arts and music performance from Northern State University, SD, Bowling Green State University, OH, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan.

He lives in Troy, MI with his wife, Adrienne Rönmark, violinist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and their three children.

About the DSO

The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 season. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while Oscar-nominated trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair.

Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in eight metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings.

A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a live radio broadcast of a concert and continues today with the groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall series of free webcasts, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.