Category Archives: Governing Members

A message from Art O’Reilly


Dear Friend:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has, for more than a century, inspired our community with world-class music and artistry. For many of us, the DSO is a bridge between our past and our future. Listening to the world’s top musicians play on the magnificent stage of Orchestra Hall, not only reminds us of our grand and ambitious history; it also replenishes our wellspring of optimism about the future of our great community.

As we look forward, we understand the challenges ahead. But we also understand that the strength of the DSO is not found in the bricks, mortar, and steel upon which Orchestra Hall was built. Rather, it is found in fellowship of leaders, patrons and musicians who have worked for many years to preserve and grow this cultural jewel of Detroit and Southeast Michigan.

The mission of the Governing Members is to ensure that this tradition of support continues well into the next century. We are community leaders who recognize that the DSO is a dominant thread in Detroit’s rich cultural tapestry, a destination for education and learning for all of Southeast Michigan, and a symbol that music and culture are flourishing in our community. We have accepted responsibility for preserving this institution by committing to be ambassadors for the DSO in our social and business communities and outspoken advocates for arts and culture generally.

As Chairman of the Governing Members and as a Member of the Board of Directors, I am dedicated to ensuring that our DSO remains a vital and vibrant part of our great community. But I need your help. The bedrock for a sustainable and vibrant DSO is a broad base of Governing Members who are willing and able to provide the enthusiasm, leadership, and philanthropy necessary to preserve this cultural gem. Won’t you join us?
Together, we will ensure that the DSO remains a part of our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Engage and inspire,

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Musician’s address to the Annual Meeting

December 8, 2011, MDSO bassoonist Victoria King delivers remarks to DSO’s General Annual Meeting

Click HERE to view the address on the DSOM website

Good afternoon, Governing Members, Members, Board Members, Staff and Colleagues,

I am Victoria King and am currently musician liaison to the DSO’s Governing Members. I have been a Detroit Symphony Orchestra bassoonist for 28 years.  

The bassoon is often referred to as the clown of the orchestra.  In order to play the bassoon well, one must be all thumbs. My left thumb alone operates ten keys.  With all of the work our opposable thumbs have to do, we bassoonists like to think of ourselves as being a little further along the evolutionary scale than other musicians. We therefore can be seen,  not as the clowns of the orchestra, but as the crown of the orchestra.

All clowning aside, we, the musicians, would like to thank all of you for several reasons: your generosity, your dedication, your enthusiasm. Whether your support comes in the form of your time, your attendance at concerts, or your donations, we want you to know that your participation has never been — and never will be — unnoticed and unappreciated. While most of you do not appear on stage or on staff, please know that you are a vital part of this Detroit Symphony Orchestra family.

We know you remember that, at this time last year, this institution was in extreme distress. Remembering last year is imperative so that everyone can step back and learn from all of our mistakes and strengthen our resolve — together — to never allow things to get to that point again.

There have been recent activities and happenings to celebrate. This institution means so many different things to so many different people — from our educational programs to our jazz concerts, for example — but let us not forget the name under which we operate: the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra — the musicians that comprise what you see and hear onstage at Orchestra Hall, in the community, on recordings and the internet, and around the world — is the true public face of what we are all about: the performance of great music by a great orchestra. This is our primary “product” and we must never lose sight of that. 

To be honest, we are concerned and will always be concerned about that product. While we remain committed to excellence, we can’t help but wonder if we will be able to attract and retain the best musicians in the future. At present, musicians are leaving at a far greater rate than they can be replaced.  The results of recent auditions have been mostly unsuccessful, a dramatic and telling indication that there is much work to be done to repair our reputation among those exceptional musicians whom we seek to fill the many open positions in the orchestra. We must have a stable team on stage to regain — and maintain — the ensemble’s distinctive sound and performing tradition that have made us unique and respected around the world. We all must do what we can to reverse this trend if we are to maintain an orchestra that is great, an orchestra that is relevant – an orchestra of which we can all be proud.

Rebuilding – whether it is an orchestra, a city — or even trust — is difficult work, but it can be done and it must be done.  With your attention, assistance, and goodwill, together we will rebuild — one step at a time — and it will be done.

Again, we thank all of you for all of the time, resources and energy that each of you have provided on behalf of this organization.

And thank you for this opportunity to share this with you and, on behalf of my friends and colleagues of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.

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2011 Annual Meeting Summary

Released by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on December 9, 2011

This afternoon, DSO voting members, orchestra and staff met to sum up fiscal year 2011, a year that saw both a trying work stoppage and a triumphant comeback. Below is a summary of the statistics that accompanied those realities. The full press release outlining Fiscal Year 2011 is available here.

In place of a traditional concert season, DSO programming was limited to a six-week “Spring Season” (April 9-June 6), performances which saw sold-out and standing room only audiences. The total Spring Season audience totaled 40,456 (three times the expected number), meeting the Spring Season revenue goal of $456,000. In the abbreviated season, the DSO raised $9.92 million in annual, event, and project contributions and marked the achievement of revised season contribution goals. This is in contrast to $11.8 million raised in 2009-10.

Summer collaborations with the Eleanor and Edsel Ford House attracted over 5,600 attendees, exceeding the ticket sales goal by 46 percent and resulting in two sold-out concerts. The “Salute to America” concerts at Greenfield Village attracted approximately 26,000 patrons with sales of $490,726, putting it among the top five attendance years for the 19-year-old event.

These encouraging results have continued through these first seven weeks of the 2011-12 season. Through November 30, 2011, DSO reports fundraising of $5.1 million in gifts and pledges, putting the 2011-12 campaign 74 percent ahead of last year’s campaign through the same time period. Tickets sales are up 18 percent above the first seven weeks of the 2009-10 season and revenue is up 37 percent.

The DSO is reaching a broader audience than ever. Our brand new “Live From Orchestra Hall” HD webcasts have helped us share the DSO’s music with more than 25,000 people in 35 countries since April. Previewed in the May, and kicking off this weekend, the inaugural season of the Neighborhood Concert Series is expanding our audience base to six metro Detroit neighborhoods: Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield and West Bloomfield Township. More than 1,200 subscriptions have been sold, 80 percent of which have no recent DSO subscription history and a third of which have no recent DSO ticketing history whatsoever. And similar to the Spring Season, roughly half of the patrons buying single tickets to DSO classical concerts are new to the DSO.

The meeting was followed by a strolling dinner, generously provided by the Board of Directors in honor of the Orchestra.

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Governing Members Orientation and Town Hall Meeting November 17, 2011

Governing Members Orientation and Town Hall Meeting
November 17, 2011

Governing members (GMs), 2 musician representatives Randy Hawes and Vicki King, DSO staff and management including President and CEO Anne Parsons and Executive Vice President Paul Hogle mingled from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. over breakfast.

SOS/DSO Governing members in attendance were David Assemany, David Kuziemko, David Faulkner and Denise Neville. Judy Doyle was unable to attend.

Welcome and Opening Remarks:

Jan Bernick, GM Vice-Chair Philanthropy, gave the opening remarks. The Governing members concept was patterned primarily after what was done by the Chicago Symphony. Other symphonies such as Atlanta and Baltimore had influence as well. The intention of the group is to present opportunities for leadership on behalf of the DSO. Active participation is a “huge part” of the concept behind the Governing members. GMs also are voting members. The DSO’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for December 8th, 2011.

The Governing members had over 50 new members last May and added another 34 this season.

Jan asked everyone present to introduce themselves and give a brief statement regarding their connection to the DSO. While this did take some time, it became very clear that this group is comprised of enthusiastic supporters of the DSO with a long history of involvement who were glad to be there in spite of the very early start time of 7 a.m.

Introduction of GM Committees:

Several committees comprise the GMs with Arthur T. O’ Reilly serving as the Chairperson. The committees and their corresponding Vice Chairs are as follows:

Communications – Frederick (Fritz) J. Morsches Build awareness of GMs, assist with DSO website and other written materials; in development is the GM newsletter High Notes

Membership – Maureen D’Avanzo Bring new members into the fold, look for prospective hosts for future GM functions

Engagement – Bonnie Larson Offer different events and opportunities for governing members to come together

Outreach – James Farber Outreach with musicians and the community; Dave Assemany is Chair of musician outreach

Philanthropy – Janice Bernick

Governance – Mary Mansfield This will help establish ways for GMs to communicate ideas to the board possibly through quarterly town meetings, for example. Since it is new, the scope and responsibilities are still being developed.

Each Vice Chair gave brief overviews of their respective areas of responsibilities and invited GM participation on their committees.

Special Presentation by Vince Ford, DSO Digital Consultant

DSO Consultant Vince Ford also worked this past year as Executive Director for Media Development for the New York Philharmonic. He restated the goal announced at the DSO’s December 2010 Annual Meeting which is “to make the DSO the most accessible orchestra on the the planet.”

During the past year, this goal was accomplished through patron engagement, digital distribution and culture change that includes, for example, lowering the price of ticket sales, the DSO Sound Card for students, Detroit’s Rush ticket program.

Under “Digital Distribution,” the DSO accomplished the following:
1. Upgrades to the website to make it more professional, user friendly
2. New Email Program: DSO Concert Insider sends out program notes and other concert announcements via email prior to upcoming concerts.
3. DSO YouTube channel
4. Mobile phone application: DSO To Go
5. Webcasts “Live From Orchestra Hall” Latest numbers show that these webcasts have been watched by 3,000 viewers and 30 countries world-wide

Remarks by Anne Parsons:

Anne Parsons spoke briefly about the how exciting, rapidly changing and fast-paced these times are for the DSO. Along with other issues facing the DSO, she stressed that “retention and attraction of top talent is most important.”

Due to lack of time, she was unable to address questions, but promised that all questions were important and would be answered at a later time. She turned the floor over to Paul Hogle.

Breakout Discussions – Paul Hogle

Paul cited some statistics about the recent successes of the DSO: Concert attendance is up 40 percent over 2009-10 pre-strike levels; 16 percent increase in classical subscriptions; the community concerts netted 1000 subscriptions in 30 days with an 80 percent of these subscribers having no former history of subscribing.

Paul Hogle organized the tables into groups of four and assigned each table a topic to be discussed amongst the GMS who were given 15 minutes.

These topics were as follows:

Goal No. 1: Artistically & educationally vital while becoming financially viable, resulting in being vigorously celebrated
(Cultivate DSO’s artistry/sound, build music education programs, articulate blueprint for financial viability, attract and retain outstanding artistic, volunteer and executive talent, capitalize on the DSO’s existing/emerging critical acclaim)

Goal No. 2: A Community Supported Orchestra
(Engage in activities that increase the value of the DSO to Detroit and community, grow DSO patron base, become patron-centric institution)

Goal No. 3: The most accessible orchestra on the planet
(Launch neighborhood series across suburban Detroit and reach a worldwide network through media, webcasts and other digital outlets)

Goal No. 4: Playing our part as a community gathering place sounding brightly from the Woodward Corridor
(Realize vision of the Max M. Fisher Music Center and optimize Orchestra Hall)

Each table met, discussed ideas regarding these goals and then presented those ideas to the group.

The meeting adjourned on schedule at 9:30 a.m.

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Update – November 5, 2011

On October 5, the DSO Governing Members were invited to a reception at the home of DSO Board Member and Volunteer Council President Janet Ankers and her husband Norm Ankers. SOS/DSO Governing Members Judy Doyle, David Assemany, David Kuziemko, and Cornelia Pokrzywa were in attendance. David Faulkner, Melissa McBrien and Denise Neville were not able to attend due to scheduling conflicts. When Denise called the DSO to decline the invitation, she was surprised to find out there was a wait list due to limited space. We hope that Governing Members meetings are as well attended as the parties.

So far there is nothing to report regarding Governing Members activity. The first meeting is on Thursday November 17th. We are looking forward to engaging in dialogue with the other Governing Members. At the meeting we will address the concerns and questions you have brought to us, and report back to you. SOS is prepared to participate fully once the Governing members have decided how to best support the DSO.

In the meantime, SOS continues to meet with DSO board members, management and staff, and musicians. As a result, SOS is developing a better understanding of the inner workings of the DSO as an organization.
Please stay tuned. SOS has faith in the DSO’s vision for the Governing members. We will report on future developments as they unfold.

Your SOS/DSO Governing Members

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Governing Members

Thanks to the wonderful generosity of our members, SOS has met its first fundraising goal. Your combined donations have allowed SOS to sponsor seven seats among the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s brand-new leadership group, the Governing Members.

We are eager to get to work with the other Governing Members in the “substantive, hands-on” way that is the DSO’s intention for this group.

As an SOS member, you are encouraged to give us your input, ideas and feedback so that we can take it to the DSO via this new group.

Come back to this page for information on Governing Member activities.  We will post updates as soon as we have any information to share. You can still donate to support our effort.  Remember, all donations will go directly to the DSO through SOS, giving our members a voice in the future of the orchestra.

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