Detroit, (April 15, 2022) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will celebrate the life of late President Emeritus Anne Parsons in concert at Orchestra Hall on Tuesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. The program, conducted by Music Director Jader Bignamini, will feature orchestral and chamber music that holds a special connection to Parsons. The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will generously donate their services for this performance.
General admission tickets are free and open to the public. They can be reserved in advance at dso.org or by calling the Box Office at 313.576.5111, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The concert will also be webcast for free at dso.org.
Parsons, who passed away on March 28 following a courageous battle with cancer, served as the DSO’s President and CEO for more than 17 years, leading with grace, courage, and conviction. To learn more about her legacy and explore giving a tribute gift to the DSO in her memory, please visit dso.org/rememberinganne.
To protect the health and well-being of our patrons, musicians, and staff, safety policies for this event include vaccine or test requirements for all guests and contactless e-ticketing. Visit dso.org/safetyplan for more information.
About Anne Parsons
A respected leader in the orchestra world, Anne Parsons was among the first class of fellows in the leadership program of the American Symphony Orchestra League (now League of American Orchestras). Prior to joining the DSO, she served in 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’s 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 that 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’s 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’s 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.
Parsons’s dedication to the “people, place, and purpose” of the DSO recently led the organization to launch a multi-year process to develop a comprehensive DEI strategy, and a concurrent 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.
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. 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 PVS 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 seven 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.