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Detroit Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Third Consecutive Surplus and More

Phillip Wm. Fisher, Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) Board Chairman since December 2012, closed the 2015 Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) Annual Meeting of the Governing Members today as his last official order of business as Chairman. Mark Davidoff, Michigan Managing Partner at Deloitte LLP, was elected DSO Chairman by the Board of Directors during their meeting following the Governing Members' proceedings.

Fisher's three-year tenure boasted three consecutive balanced budgets and a relentless dedication to the pursuit of "oneDSO" - Mr. Fisher's trademark slogan symbolizing a new collaborative, cohesive and caring culture between musicians, administration and volunteer leadership. This work inspired the theme of this year's Annual Meeting, "A Celebration of Culture."

Mr. Fisher will now lead the DSO's fundraising effort to secure a sustainable future including a permanent endowment.

Davidoff's tenure as Chairman of the Board of the DSO commences immediately. As one of Crain's "Most Connected People," and the leader of the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference and Chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board through June 2016, he has established himself as an invaluable member of the Detroit business community. Davidoff intends to bring the value of the DSO to the Detroit community with him into the board rooms he frequents and ensure our organization remains a current topic among his peers. A DSO Director since 2011, his relationship with the orchestra deepened as he played a pivotal role in the architecture of "BluePrint: 2023," the DSO's 10-year plan announced at the Annual Meeting three years ago.

"The DSO is built on a foundation of tradition and leadership," Davidoff said. "Building on the historic positive change brought to the institution under Phillip Fisher's Chairmanship and supported by world-class leadership through Maestro Slatkin, our orchestra, and our professional team, the DSO is positioned to further its place as one of the greatest cultural institutions on the planet. The next period will continue our dedication to artistic excellence, our march to financial sustainability, our commitment to outreach in Detroit and around the globe, and our role as a driver of cohesion for Detroit and Michigan."

With subscriptions, donor base and annual giving on the rise since 2011, the DSO's income statement reflects an operating surplus for the third consecutive year. This achievement owes in large part to annual operating contributions of $17.42 million, exceeding the budget goal of $17.18 million. This is the fourth consecutive year of increased individual giving ($5.5 million) and subscription sales growth (14,172 subscriptions). Fiscal Year 2015 concluded on August 31, 2015 and represents the 2014-15 concert season.

The meeting opened with a video account of the last fiscal year's artistic accomplishments, including Live From Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition, Symphony in D, Motown Meets the Big Easy and Tchaikovsky Festival. Chairman Phillip Wm. Fisher brought the meeting to order. Some 200 DSO Directors, Trustees, Governing Members, Volunteer Council members, community leaders, orchestra musicians and staff members were in attendance.

The membership unanimously elected Matthew B. Lester and Arn Tellem to the DSO Board of Directors alongside the renewal of seven directors for additional terms of service.

Lester served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees throughout 2015 and was responsible for kick starting young leadership participation as the first chair of the Next Generation Committee. He was instrumental in early efforts to activate the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center through the ASSEMBLE @ the Max lecture events, and continually focuses on identifying exposure opportunities for the DSO.

Arn is Vice Chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment. He has a remarkable and distinguished career as an elite sports agent and is crossing over into team management. He is new to Detroit, is an arts fan, and is energized by the potential of our city and our region. The opportunity to contribute to the region's revitalization was a key factor in his decision to join Palace Sports and Entertainment.

Outgoing Chairman Phillip Wm. Fisher closed the meeting with a keynote focusing on "one DSO culture," a philosophy he coined at the beginning of his tenure following an organization-wide culture survey using the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI). He spoke of the journey the DSO has traveled since 2012 and how it has changed business practices, personnel and himself.

"We have changed together over the past three years," he began. "From individuals holding onto the past, to a self-confident and trusting team focused on the future. This is hard, selfless work that defines our oneDSO culture. The success of our current culture is not mine, but rather all of you who lead with your hearts and hopes for a better tomorrow."

Speaking to the DSO's growing culture of giving, President and CEO, Anne Parsons - holder of the James B. and Ann V. Nicholson Chair - announced a new recognition wall for donors, recognizing Lifetime Giving. Donors who have reached the milestone of $100,000 and above are celebrated for the totality of their cumulative giving to the DSO across many programs, special events and campaigns.

"Today, we unveil Lifetime Giving - a new way for the DSO to recognize the magnitude of benevolence from our incredible community of patrons and donors," Parsons said. "This is just one of the DSO's many ways of thanking these supporters who in their lifetime, through their participation in DSO's annual fund, galas, Musical Feasts, tribute gifts, sponsorships, endowment and capital campaigns have given cumulatively anywhere from $100,000 to over $25 million."

The Annual Meeting was immediately followed by a meeting of the DSO Board of Directors, who completed the following items of business:

  • Appointed officers of the Board of Directors, including incoming chairman Mark Davidoff. See page 5 for the full roster
  • Appointed Ric Huttenlocher of JPMorgan as Chairman of the Trustees
  • Appointed two new trustees. See page 5 for their names
  • Recognized the distinguished service of David R. Nelson by naming him Director Emeritus. See page 6 for a full list of Directors Emeriti

After accepting the ceremonial gavel from Phillip Fisher, Mark Davidoff adjourned the meeting in his first official action as DSO Chairman of the Board.

2014-15 AT-A-GLANCE

  • $30,000 = third consecutive operating surplus
  • Subscription sales - in terms of revenue, and households subscribing - grew across every product for the fourth consecutive season
  • $17.42 million in fundraising supported operations with an additional $1.9 million in payments added to the endowment
  • 600,000+ = total classical audience across metro Detroit and around the world via Live From Orchestra Hall webcast series, making the DSO's the nation's largest classical concert audience
  • 892= number of applicants, from across the globe, for 8 orchestra auditions
  • $1.4 million=amount raised at the 2015 Heroes Gala honoring the Davidson/Gerson Family following a performance by the DSO with Randy Newman



Revealed at the 2012 Annual Meeting, Blueprint 2023 is the DSO's industry-leading 10-year plan for recapitalization. Conceived by the Recapitalization Task Force (a collaborative team representing DSO stakeholder groups), the plan posits that more concerts in more venues across our community coupled with rebuilding audiences, sustaining a thriving annual fund and slowing the growth rate of expenses is a winning formula for recapitalization. The framework for a sustainable, viable future for the DSO is predicated on four, interconnected considerations:

  1. Build and maintain an impactful audience size
  2. Nurture a robust, realistic and sustainable level of annual giving
  3. Across all expenditures, prioritize the investment in people
  4. Achieve adequate long-term capitalization in terms of new endowment

FY15 represented Year 2 of Blueprint 2023 and progress was measured monthly using eight "dashboard metrics" correlated to annual goals and based on levels needed to reach 2023 targets.

Year-end dashboard metrics (as of Aug. 31, 2015):




Contracted musicians




Unrestricted Cash


$4 million

$2.2 million

Ticket sales

$6.20 million

$6.40 million

$6.45 million

Classical subscribing households




Individual donors




Digital Media audience

YTD webcast audience

YouTube Subscribers

Facebook fans

Twitter followers






Total of 85,000





Rental, Retail, Food/bev revenue





CYE roster

Student audience











*includes live and encore audiences


Blueprint 2023 also called for a rethinking of the DSO's governance structure, resulting in three leadership spheres of influence, all existing within the context of one DSO culture with lines of communication, inspiration and innovation intertwined.

Board of Directors-fiduciary cohort, charged with issues of accountability, strategic thinking and cultural stewardship. Blueprint ideal size: 18 to 25 members. FY15 result: 26

Matthew Lester and Arn Tellem were elected to the Board of Directors at the meeting, to serve in that capacity for a term of three years.

The following officers were elected to lead Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Inc. for the term of one year:

Mark A. Davidoff, Chairman
Dr. Glenda D. Price, vice chair
Laura Marcero, treasurer
Arthur T. O'Reilly, secretary
Ralph J. Gerson, officer-at-large
Janice Uhlig, officer-at-large
James G. Vella, officer-at-large

Board of Trustees-tasked with fostering and nurturing innovation, creativity and organizational learning. In its third year, Trustees Chairman Matt Lester has grown the group to 66 members and has formed taskforces in the areas of next generation, digital initiatives, programming, branding, re-visioning and diversity. At the Annual Meeting, Lester resigned his chairmanship of the Trustees, and Ric Huttenlocher of JPMorgan was elected as his successor. Blueprint ideal size: 50-75 members. FY15 result: 66

The following individuals were elected to the Board of Trustees at the meeting:

Ric Huttonlocker, chairman
Maureen T. D'Avanzo
Joseph Mullany

Huttenlocher is a former member of the DSO Board of Directors, current Gabrilowitsch Society Member and led the Trustee Annual Fund Committee, successfully acquiring 100 percent participation in the annual fund.

Governing Members-voting members who elect members of the board of directors and dedicate themselves to outreach, advocacy and philanthropy. Blueprint ideal size: unlimited. FY2015 result: 36

In his remarks, Governing Members Chairman James C. Farber spoke about the "Path to 500," a strategy to grow the membership over the next three years strengthening our base of support at the $2,500+ level.

In recognition and appreciation of longstanding, distinguished service to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, in 2013 the Board established the office of "Director Emeritus." Emeritus status is a title of privilege that entitles the bearer to have continued leadership association with the DSO. The honor is based on the quality of service demonstrated as a Board member rather than time served; it is a clear recognition of distinguished service. The following individuals were announced as new Directors Emeriti at the Annual Meeting:

Phillip Wm. Fisher, Chairman Emeritus
David R. Nelson

These individuals join a distinguished group of Lifetime Members, chairmen and directors emeriti:

Robert A. Allesee
Floy Barthel
Mrs. Mandell L. Berman
John A. Boll, Sr.
Richard A. Brodie
Lois and Avern Cohn
Peter Cummings, Chairman Emeritus
Marianne Endicott
Sidney Forbes
Mrs. Harold Frank
Barbara Frankel
Herman Frankel
Samuel Frankel*
Stanley Frankel, Chairman Emeritus
Paul Ganson
Alfred R. Glancy, III, Chairman Emeritus
Mort and Brigitte Harris
David Handleman, Sr.*
Gloria Heppner, Ph.D.
Dr. Arthur L. Johnson*
Hon. Damon J. Keith
Richard P. Kughn
Harold Kulish
Dr. Melvin A. Lester
Robert Steven Miller, Chairman Emeritus
James B. Nicholson, Chairman Emeritus
Robert E.L. Perkins, DDS
Marilyn Pincus
Lloyd E. Reuss
Jack A. Robinson*
Marjorie S. Saulson
Alan E. Schwartz
Jean Shapero
Jane Sherman
David Usher
Barbara Van Dusen
Arthur A. Weiss, Esq.
Clyde Wu, MD*



Operating Results At-A-Glance









Ticket Revenue +$6.20 +$6.40 +$6.45 +$6.26
Other Earned Revenue +$1.21 +$1.48 +$1.30 +$0.97
Contributed Revenue +$17.42* +$17.18 +$17.06 +$18.31
Endowment draws and real estate income +$2.90 +$2.77 +$2.77 +$2.32
Total Revenue $27.73 $27.83 $27.58 $27.86
Expenses -$27.70 -$27.83 -$27.52 -$27.84
Net Surplus/(Deficit) from Core Operations $0.03


$0.06 $0.02
(dollars in millions)

*Exclusive of funds raised for activities outside the operating budget

The 2014-15 season resulted in an operating surplus of $30,000, representing the DSO's third consecutive year in the black.

Earned Revenue


While reported national trends reveal waning orchestra subscription rates and a greater reliance on single ticket sales, the DSO finished its 2014-15 season with its fourth consecutive year of subscription growth across all product lines; subscription revenue was up 1.6 percent while the number of families subscribing was up 5.4 percent.

Classical Series

Inclusive of subscriptions and single tickets, paid Classical concert attendance at our Classical Concert Series presented by PVS Chemicals Inc. increased by 1.1 percent while the overall Classical audience totaled 605,000, an increase of 24 percent over FY14, encompassing live and digital venues.

Pops Series

Subscription revenue from the DSO Pops Series presented by the MASCO Corporation Foundation and Greektown Casino Hotel increased by 8 percent and subscriber base grew by 16 percent compared to the previous year.

With box office revenues exceeding $432,000, 2014's "Home for the Holidays" concerts set the box office record for the December concert event. The previous record was set in 2013 with more than $425,000 in revenue. Led by Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, Santa Claus joined the DSO for The Night Before Christmas and the Detroit Children's Choir, Bloomfield Hills High School Choirs and Grosse Pointe South High School Choirs performed holiday favorites from "In Dulci Jubilo" to "Carol of the Bells."

Paradise Jazz Series

In Terence Blanchard's third season as Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Chair, the Paradise Jazz Series sponsored by MGM Grand Detroit saw a remarkable 24 percent increase in the number of subscribers as well as a 9 percent increase in subscription revenue.

Summer programming

Last summer's Salute to America concerts achieved an all-time sales record during the 22nd year of the DSO's collaboration with Greenfield Village. With more than $650,000 in ticket sales, the previous year's record was exceeded by 7 percent, which was also a record-setting year. Nearly 29,500 fans attended the concerts on July 1-4, achieving the third-highest attendance figure in the event's history. Across seven days of concerts at Greenfield Village, Ford House and Meadow Brook Music Festival, enough people attended concerts to fill Orchestra Hall 20 times.

In its second full season, @ the Max activities (including Mix @ The Max and Om @ The Max yoga classes set to live chamber music) had a total attendance of nearly 4,000. This new product line generated gross revenue of $55,000, an increase of 22 percent over FY14.

Family programming

Family subscriptions (Young People's Family Concerts and Tiny Tots) saw 2 percent increases in subscription base and revenue. Overall revenue for family programming was up more than 8 percent.


In an effort to activate The Max 365 days a year, rentals are an important part of the DSO's earned revenue. Partners during FY15 included the 23rd annual Concert of Colors, the Sphinx Organization Honors Concert and Competition, Neighborhood Legal Services Dinner, Karmanos Race for The Cure, Heroes of Breast Cancer, DSA Graduation, Promusica, Oakland Symphony Orchestra Concert, Midtown's Noel Night & DLECTRICITY, Avanti's finale concert, WSU's MLK Celebration, WSU Medical School Orientation, WSU Mondays @ The Max Concert Series, the Detroit Medical Center, WSU School of Medicine Alumni Luncheon, Tuesday Musicale of Detroit Concert, the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, Suzuki Royal Oak Institute of Music, and Teach for America.

New partners included the University of Michigan - Detroit Center, St. John Armenian Church, and CultureSource, and new events included Teen Hype Breakfast, Ronald McDonald House Reception, Beyond Evergreen Concert, Forward Cities Reception, Alpha Phi Alpha Gala, The Future Project Kick-Off, University of Michigan Black Alumni Reception, SAY Detroit's premiere of documentary honoring Judge Damon Keith, the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation's Detroit Scholarship Fund Event, Quicken Loans Team Member Orientation, and JARC's Fundraising Event featuring David Blaine.

We also welcomed back MI Minority Business Development Council Awards Event, Lawrence Tech Auto Show Preview Awards Party, Crain's Automotive News Awards, Gilda's Club Big Night Out, Motor City Tap Fest, Chief's Cooking for Kids, The Lincoln Motor Company, James Tatum Concert, The Tillman annual Holiday Concert, and Accelerate MI Awards.

Contributed Revenue

In fiscal year 2014, the DSO raised $17.42 million in annual, event, operating grants and project contributions, exceeding its ambitious annual fundraising goal of $17.18 million. The success in individual giving is owing to the generosity of 9,745 donors.

  • A roster of leadership giving begins on page 9
  • Giving to the Annual Fund from Directors, Directors Emeriti, Trustees and Lifetime Directors exceeded $4 million with an average gift of $20,000 and a median gift of $10,000 from Directors alone
  • The Governing Members, the DSO's voting body, grew for the fifth consecutive year reaching 362 members (91 new families) who contributed $2.2 million to the FY15 Annual Fund. In addition, 84 board members contributed at the Governing members level, for a total of 446 individuals
  • Under the leadership of Janet and Norm Ankers, the Gabrilowitsch Society ($10,000+ giving club) in its third year secured more than 50 members giving a total of $1.24 million to the annual fund, a 10 percent increase over FY14. Some 54 board members also give at this level
  • Corporate support came in at just under $1.6 million and foundation grants totaled $3.35 million
  • Every donor at every level played a critical part! With individual gifts ranging from $1 to $1 million, the median gift was $100
  • Under the leadership of President Debbie Savoie and President Elect Virgina Lundquist, the DSO Volunteer Council generated roughly $159,000 in support through events, activities and staffing the DSO retail operations. Membership to the group was also up 20 percent

During FY15 leadership gifts revamped physical spaces at The Max and paved the way for new artistic and educational programs:

  • Barbara Van Dusen, past recipient of the DSO's Heroes Gala award, was recognized for her generosity through the naming of the Barbara Van Dusen Musicians' Lounge, which provided updated amenities such as a plasma stage monitor
  • The Mandell and Madeleine Berman Foundation helped the DSO launch a pilot season for Live From Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition, bringing our educational concerts to students in their own classrooms, sharing the experience of the DSO as widely as possible
  • The Bonnie Ann and Robert C. Larson Fund for guest pianists last season supported Anne Marie McDermott's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 "Jeunehomme" and this spring will bring us Jeremy Denk
  • Lee and Floy Barthel provided funds for essential preventive maintenance and energy saving that reduces costs and risks including various projects such as new lighting for the parking deck as well as re-pointing and masonry work to our historic Orchestra Hall
  • Clyde and Helen Wu left a gift that will carry on their vision of accessible music education for years to come
  • Marjorie Fisher's operational support is commemorated in perpetuity with the renaming of the DSO's Midtown Detroit campus, the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center
  • Alfred R. Glancy, III established the Capital Reserve and Technology Fund, which provided a new phone system throughout The Max, subsidized safety improvements within Orchestra Hall, and sponsored a traffic study to identify the most efficient patron practices during and after M-1 rail construction

The DSO continued its innovative Community Support Month initiative in FY15. At year end, the first concert-based fundraising initiative in DSO history had raised $6 million over its four-year run.

DSO staff contributed to the Annual Fund with 100 percent participation in response to an anonymous $250,000 challenge grant.

The DSO is proud to be a community-supported orchestra and strives to also be community supporting. In celebration of the generous support that makes programming possible at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, around metro Detroit and across the world through global webcasts, in FY15 the DSO board, staff and musicians donated approximately 4,650 hours of service to the community through a company-wide Day of Service, in-kind event services and engagements at hospitals, schools, libraries and the like.

The DSO received leadership gifts from the following individuals, corporations and foundations at the $250,000 level and above:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Lee Barthel
  • Mandell & Madeleine Berman Foundation
  • Penny & Harold Blumenstein
  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
  • Julie & Peter Cummings
  • Marvin & Betty Danto Family Foundation
  • The William M. Davidson Foundation
  • DTE Energy Foundation
  • Mrs. Marjorie Fisher
  • Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation
  • Ford Motor Co. Fund
  • Samuel & Jean Frankel Foundation
  • Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Frankel
  • Hudson-Webber Foundation
  • Ruth & Al Glancy
  • Mr. & Mrs. Morton E. Harris
  • Danialle & Peter Karmanos, Jr.
  • John S. & James L. Knight Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • McGregor Fund
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Mr. & Mrs. James B. Nicholson
  • PVS Chemicals Inc.
  • Mrs. Richard C. Van Dusen

Endowment Results

The DSO benefits from endowment funds held by the organization as well as by third parties. The DSO's beginning endowment fund balance on Sept. 1, 2014 was $38.6 million. After contributions, market losses and customary draws in support of the DSO mission, the ending balance across held and third party funds on Aug. 31, 2015 totaled $36.6 million. Of this amount, $15.9 million represents the DSO-held endowment.

Changes in Endowment Investments
(millions of dollars)



Market losses



Owned & Controlled






Third-Party Controlled for DSO Benefit






Grand Total






Third-party controlled endowment assets are invested and distributed by the third parties in accordance with their established policies.

Artistic Excellence

Auditions and new hires

Four musicians won auditions with the DSO in the last year: Wei Yu, Principal Cello; Alexander Kinmonth, Principal Oboe; Isaac Trapkus, bass; and David Binder, trombone. FY15 saw an extensive and well attended audition schedule, with eight auditions held. Auditions attracted a total of 892 applicants from both national and international backgrounds.

Premieres & Guest Artists

Throughout the 58 classical programs at Orchestra Hall, the orchestra welcomed several new faces to the stage for their subscription debut: Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, violinist Elina Vähälä; pianists Behzod Abduraimov and Beatrice Rana, world-renowned mezzo-soprano Isabelle Druet, Swiss pianist Anne-Marie McDermott and Patricia Racette. The following world-renowned conductors also made their Detroit debuts: Jakub Hr?ša, Andrey Boreyko, Cristian Macelaru and Joshua Weilerstein.

Slatkin's leadership voice for new music by contemporary composers was on display last season with a number of World and North American premieres:

  • Leonard Slatkin's own Endgames received its World Premiere last November on a program with the DSO Premiere of his wife Cindy McTee's Trombone Concerto performed by DSO Principal Trombone Kenneth Thompkins
  • Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger joined the orchestra in the American premiere of the Trumpet Concerto composed for him by Swedish composer Tobias Broström
  • The DSO performed 17 other works last season new to its repertoire, including William Bolcom's Circus Overture, composed in honor of Slatkin's 70th birthday

Jeff Tyzik put together his second Pops season as DSO Principal Pops Conductor, which garnered a 16 percent increase in subscribers for the series. Highlights of the 2014-15 season included tributes to Simon & Garfunkel and Nat King Cole, the aerial acrobatics of Cirque de la Symphonie, and Gershwin's Porgy & Bess. The ensemble returned to Meadow Brook Music Festival for an appearance for the Music of Star Wars, attracting over 6,000 people.

Assistant Conductor, Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador

Following a nationwide search, DSO selected Michelle Merrill, 30, as Assistant Conductor, who has since relocated to Detroit from Jacksonville, Fla. where she served as guest conductor for the Jacksonville Symphony, in addition to her role as Assistant Conductor of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic. Merrill filled the position vacated in 2014 by Teddy Abrams, who is now Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra. Merrill, who is now mid-way through her second season with the DSO, holds the title of Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador, and has programmed and led our Young People's Family Concerts and launched the first episodes of Live From Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition, which reached tens of thousands of students with just two webcasts.

Paradise Jazz Series

Five-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard curated his third season of the Paradise Jazz Series as the DSO's Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Chair, which resulted in a 24 percent increase in the number of jazz subscribers for the series and featured Blanchard himself on stage for several of the presentations. The season began with a performance by vocalist Dianne Reeves and also included legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter and his quartet, saxophonist and Detroit native Kenny Garrett, and the John and Gerald Clayton duo. The DSO and Music Director Leonard Slatkin joined Blanchard and his quintet to close out the Paradise Jazz Series performing Blanchard's Grammy-winning A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem For Katrina) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Each Paradise Jazz Series concert was preceded by a Music Box Performance of Civic Jazz Live, which added to the overall experience for DSO jazz audiences and provides incredible performance opportunities for our Civic Jazz students.


The 2014-15 season concluded a three-disc project with Naxos to record all six ballets by Aaron Copland with recordings of Billy the Kid and Grohg. The DSO's new in-house Live From Orchestra Hall label also produced a digital box set of Tchaikovsky's complete symphonies recorded during the February Tchaikovsky Festival.

Tchaikovsky Festival

Nearly 17,000 tickets sold during last year's three-week Tchaikovsky Festival, and 30 percent of single ticket buyers were new to the DSO. Ticket sales during the festival, when compared to a non-Festival three-week span were exponentially higher. The orchestra performed each of Tchaikovsky's symphonies along with several other works spanning the composer's tumultuous career. The National Endowment for the Arts sponsored digital content for the festival, which included a stop-motion trailer featuring Maddy, the Russian nesting doll that became the DSO's beloved mascot.

Live recordings of the six symphonies were recorded for digital release on the DSO's in-house label, Live From Orchestra Hall. The recording was released in May in celebration of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 175th birthday and appeared in the Top 5 on iTunes Classical charts. With 576 downloads sold, and over 97,000 streams, "Tchaikovsky's Six Symphonies" is the DSO's most successful recording of Slatkin's tenure.

Motown Meets the Big Easy

Supported by a Knight Arts Challenge grant, A Musical Tale of Two Cities: Motown Meets the Big Easy added festival elements to the performance of Erb Jazz Chair Terence Blanchard's "A Tale of God's Will: A Requiem for Katrina." Blanchard, a New Orleans native, composed the momentous work as a score to accompany Spike Lee's four-hour documentary "When the Levees Broke." Activities included a screening of the documentary accompanied by a discussion panel and a performance in The Music Box by New Orleans funk group Big Sam's Funky Nation. A total of 2,100 tickets sold for the three-day festival, with several patrons attending multiple events.

Symphony in D

In November 2014, the DSO announced a partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and composer Tod Machover to compose a symphony about Detroit, for Detroit and essentially by Detroit. Machover spent the next year collecting sounds from around the city and from Detroiters who submitted sound files of their own in order to answer the question, "What does Detroit sound like?" The DSO performed the World Premiere of "Symphony in D" in November 2015 to a sold out audience, and was featured in The New York Times and the BBC.


Leonard Slatkin began a tradition last May of ending each season with an opera in concert production. Our semi-staged version of Puccini's Tosca starred world-renowned soprano Patricia Racette singing the role of Tosca, great American tenor James Valenti as Cavaradossi and internationally-acclaimed American bass-baritone Raymond Aceto as Scarpia. Slatkin led the DSO alongside the UMS Choral Union and Michigan State University Children's Choir. The current season will end with a concert version of Salome.

The Most Accessible Orchestra on the Planet

A chief DSO goal is to "mean more to more people." As a community-supported orchestra, the DSO acknowledges its dependence not only on those community members who regularly give generously to the orchestra, but also on each individual who attends a concert. Becoming the most accessible orchestra on the planet is paramount to achieving a deeper meaning among a broader audience base. The organization maintains focus on these values with clear mission and vision statements, and a list of strategic pillars, which are listed below.

Mission: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a leader in the world of classical music, embraces and inspires individuals, families and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.

Vision: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is an inclusive and culturally relevant community where all people can experience their world through music.

Strategic Pillars
To realize our mission and vision as a world-class, community-rooted orchestra and venue . . .

  • We pursue artistic and educational vitality paired with financial viability, resulting in being vigorously celebrated
  • We work daily to be the most accessible orchestra on the planet, digitally and physically
  • We play our part in the success of Detroit as a community gathering place sounding brightly from the Woodward Corridor
  • We embrace our role as a community-supported and community-supporting orchestra

In the 2015 fiscal year, the DSO was successful in this regard on several fronts.

  • Day of Service-On the afternoon of October 10, 2014 the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center was closed for the Second Annual Detroit Symphony Orchestra Day of Service. Some 80 DSO musicians, board and staff spent the afternoon serving three Detroit organizations as a show of gratitude for the support the Orchestra receives daily from its community. The activity was repeated this fall with plans to add a second event in the spring.
  • 37/11-37/11 is the DSO's social and professional network for our next generation of patrons. For just $37 per year, members receive benefits such as $11 tickets to Classical, Pops and Jazz Series concerts and exclusive opportunities to interact with DSO musicians, guest artists, conductors and more! This program was re-launched in the 2012-13 season and currently maintains a membership of 214.
  • Community Week-Following a review of 15 self-nominated finalists, the DSO selected four community venues to perform free concerts in September 2014, powered by the DTE Energy Foundation. Taking into consideration 14,000 votes from the pool of nominees, the DSO performed for sold-out crowds at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts, Garden City High School, Greater Grace Temple and Lake Orion High School.
  • Soundcard-Inspired by Leonard Slatkin, in 2011-12 the DSO introduced Soundcard-the $25, all-access student pass for Classical, Pops and Jazz concerts at Orchestra Hall. During the 2014-15 season, 1,650 Soundcards were issued to students who used them to attend concerts 2,694 times throughout the season, a 13 percent increase in usage over the previous year.

Digital Initiatives

Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts-Ever since the first Live From Orchestra Hall webcast in 2011, the DSO has continued to increase its investment in digital technology and remain in the vanguard of 21st century orchestra innovation. During the 2014-15 Live From Orchestra Hall season (presented by the Ford Motor Company and made possible with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation), the DSO presented 28 webcasts reaching over 450,000 viewers worldwide.

Significant improvements were made to the Alfred R. Glancy Control Room, including new monitors and furniture, contributing to an increased production value for the Live From Orchestra Hall product.

DSO Replay-In August, the DSO launched the nation's only on-demand classical performance archive to some 5,000 inaugural members. Through Replay, music fans can stream full-length classical works on-demand in HD. Boasting more than 100 works originally performed on the orchestra's Live From Orchestra Hall webcast series, the archive is refreshed with new content each week during the classical season. Users simply log on to explore the new online environment.

The DSO is the first American orchestra to make its performance archive available on-demand. Prior to Replay's inception, past Live From Orchestra Hall footage was only available through special encore broadcasts or through YouTube clips. All patrons who join the Annual Fund with a gift of $50 or more receive full access. Viewers can browse content by composer, date or through a rotating series of curated playlists such as "Virtuoso Violin," "Living Composers," "Made in America" and many more.

Social Media-Our Facebook audience increased by 18 percent to 40,410 followers as of Aug. 31, 2015. Thanks to the international reach of the DSO's recordings and Live From Orchestra Hall webcasts, 30 percent of the Facebook audience comes from abroad, including fans in Mexico, Brazil, Italy, France, Spain, Canada, Venezuela, Germany and South Korea. Over 23,000 people follow the DSO on Twitter, a 16 percent increase over last year. Launched in July of 2012, the DSO's Instagram account currently has 6,625 follows, a followership that has tripled in just the last year. The DSO's Tumblr account was launched during the Florida Tour two years ago, and has gained nearly 500 followers in the last year alone. The DSO's YouTube channel has served as an important tool for Live From Orchestra Hall, where encore webcasts receive thousands of views. Our YouTube channel garnered 661,000 views this past year, with nearly 71 percent of traffic from international audiences.

Wu Family Academy

With the support of a seven-figure, multi-million dollar gift from the late Clyde and Helen Wu, the DSO has expanded its music education initiatives to benefit the Southeast Michigan region, identifying and responding to the needed resources of all eight of our Neighborhood Residency Initiative communities including Detroit. Last season, the DSO's education department underwent a comprehensive restructure, with former Sphinx-organization staffer Caen Thomason-Redus, an alumnus of our African American Fellowship Program, at the helm.

According to The College Entrance Examination Board, students participating in the arts for at least four years score 59 points higher on the verbal section and 45 points higher on the math section of the SAT. Furthermore, according to Americans for the Arts, students who regularly participate in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and to win an award for writing an essay or poem and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.

This data provides compelling proof that quality arts education today is a necessity for changing the cultural and economic landscape of Detroittomorrow. The goal of The Wu Family Academy of Learning and Engagement is to provide programming that expands the understanding and appreciation of the arts for all, empowering them to have confidence in their creative decisions and to spark a passion that will last a lifetime. The results are a generation of leaders capable of shaping a brighter future for us all.

The DSO's Civic Youth Ensemble program, which now operates under the umbrella of the Wu Family Academy, is one of the preeminent and most comprehensive youth training programs in America. The CYE training programs encapsulate classical, jazz, wind and choral studies, as well as chamber music-training 746 young people per week at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center. The CYE program offers more than 20 ensembles and opportunities to train with CYE's highly specialized faculty and DSO musicians.

Neighborhood Residency Initiative (NRI)

Last fall the DSO received a $3.75 million grant from the William Davidson Foundation in support of its popular Neighborhood Concert Series, renaming the series the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. The grant supports the series of concerts throughout metro Detroit, as well as additional performance and education activities outside of Orchestra Hall.

The series is named in honor of philanthropist William Davidson, former president and CEO of Guardian Industries Corp. Davidson shared a long-lasting relationship with the DSO and his generous support helped to strengthen the organization in many ways, including support of the DSO's domestic and international tours. The series took place in eight neighborhoods, taking a total of 28 performances to Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Macomb, Southfield and West Bloomfield Township. In the series' fourth season, 14,394 tickets were purchased with an average house fill rate of 81 percent. Total ticket revenue earned for the entire neighborhood series was $325,526, an increase of 5 percent compared to the previous season. The season closed with 2,041 subscriptions sold to 1,043 households, 359 of which were new to the series.

1,268 of the households that attended a neighborhood performance during FY14 had no previous history with the DSO. Of these new households, 10 percent went on to attend one or more concerts at Orchestra Hall.

The Neighborhood Concert Series is fully and generously sponsored by the William Davidson Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The series is presented by WRCJ 90.9 FM.

Community & Learning

In order to expand and deepen our commitment to community, we created the department of Community & Learning. This new department unifies our education and community engagement areas, allowing for greater creativity and effectiveness along the path of being the most accessible orchestra on the planet. An exceptional team was attracted from around Detroit and across the country as we searched for the skills, experience and passion necessary to deliver the programs already pioneered by the DSO, as well as new initiatives that will further transform the Orchestra's role in the community.

Flagship programs encompassed within Community & Learning include the Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement, the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series, the longstanding Educational Concert Series and Young People's Family Concerts, the Symphony in D project, the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence program featuring Gabriela Lena Frank, the DTE Energy Foundation Community Concerts, and many others. Through this vast array of partnerships and programs, the DSO offered nearly 400 community experiences and reached an incredibly diverse audience of more than 150,000.

This level of community engagement is made possible through the generous support of partners such as the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Clyde and Helen Wu, DTE Energy Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, New Music USA, the League of American Orchestras, American House Senior Living Communities, Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Macy's, the Ford Motor Company Fund, Target, Rock Ventures LLC, Beaumont Health and Detroit Public Schools.

High-Profile Public Events

Heroes Gala

With a goal of raising $1 million, proceeds from the Sixth Annual Heroes Gala were raised in support of the DSO's commitment to transforming the lives of children and youth across our region through music education. The event grossed more than $1.4 million, breaking the Heroes Gala record. Four decades of unforgettable songs, plus Randy Newman's evocative scores for hit movies such as "The Natural" and "Toy Story" came to life throughout this evening of music.

The evening took place in tribute to the Davidson/Gerson family. The DSO fondly remembers William Davidson's passionate belief that full community engagement is not possible with concerts at Orchestra Hall alone. He proved his wisdom by funding domestic and international tours for the DSO, and his family has continued that legacy by supporting our travel to southern Florida and New York City. Last season, the newly-named William Davidson Neighborhood Concert series served thousands of families around metro Detroit.

Classical Roots

The 15th annual Classical Roots celebration honoring two longtime champions, the Honorable Damon J. Keith and DSO violinist Joseph Striplin welcomed 330 guests to The Max and grossed $245,000. The concert was led by longtime DSO collaborator Thomas Wilkins and featured the work of George Walker - the first African-American Pulitzer Prize winning composer - performed by his son, Gregory Walker.

New Year's Eve

The DSO rang in the New Year on Dec. 31, 2014 with its first ever New Year's Eve Concert and extravaganza. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik paired up with trumpet player Byron Stripling and organist Bobby Floyd to lead the orchestra in a swinging combination of jazz standards such as "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Ain't Misbehavin'," as well as light classical selections by Strauss and Smetana. Boasting a packed house at Orchestra Hall, the concert was televised live on Detroit Public Television to thousands of metro Detroiters. Major funding was provided by the Stanley and Judith Frankel Family Foundation. The event grossed $120,000 with 200 gala attendees, and a 1,560 total live attendance. Some 3,000 viewers logged on to view the concert and 66,690 on-air viewers watched via DPTV.

Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center rededication

In recognition of a lifetime of support to the organization, the DSO is honored to have added local philanthropist Marjorie S. Fisher's name to its home at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in July 2015. The performance and community center at 3711 Woodward Avenue, home to historic Orchestra Hall, The Music Box, Robert A. and Maggie Allesee Rehearsal Hall and Jacob Bernard Pincus Music Education Center, shall now be known as the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center.

Members of the DSO community gathered with members of the Fisher family to officially unveil the new signage on Woodward Ave. during a ceremony onJuly 9.

Nicknamed The Max, the center jointly celebrates Mr. Fisher's founding vision for a cultural campus that also serves as a community gathering place with Mrs. Fisher's extraordinary personal legacy of philanthropic support of the DSO's musicians and programs. Including recent commitments, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, together with their family and Foundation, have supported the center with more than $25 million in cumulative giving.

About Mark Davidoff

Mark is the managing partner of the Michigan practice of Deloitte LLP. He is the organization's top leader in the state, overseeing more than 1,200 professionals based in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Midland. In addition to serving clients in the marketplace, he is responsible for the strategy, operations, talent and business development of the statewide practice. Mark collaborates with the Deloitte U.S. Firms and global organization - Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited - to bring the best Deloitte resources and talent to help Michigan companies, organizations and governments respond to today's challenges.

Mark joined Deloitte in 2005 after experiences in both public accounting and serving in significant C-Suite positions for various not-for-profit organizations in the health care and social services arena. He has mor

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