Opinion: Inspired DSO sets diverse course for the future

Last year, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra made significant progress artistically, programmatically, organizationally and financially. 

We were obsessed about sharing responsibility for cultural change and we are pushing to achieve deeper intensity and "stickiness" around behavioral values.

Greater access has been achieved and audiences grown, attending and tuning in to concerts digitally. Even our Annual Report was digital this year.

We are accomplishing service to a broader and more diverse public. Relationships continue to improve. And yet, it seems only right to ask ourselves:
  • Have we done enough, so that others outside the organization will perceive our institution differently?
  • Are we out of the woods?
  • Are there new challenges ahead?
I think we all know the answers to these sobering questions. 

Progress can, must and will continue. Sometimes it will look like everything we have come to know and love. And sometimes, it will appear to be something quite new.

For example, contemporary composer Mason Bates sits comfortably on the same program with Brahms. Cabaret singer Storm Large shared the stage at Carnegie Hall with Charles Ives, General Motors Foundation and the William Davidson Foundation at the DSO’s performances there last spring. We release recordings by Cindy McTee, as well as Copland and Rachmaninoff.

We host Bill Cosby and Natalie Merchant in Detroit and bring Yo-Yo Ma and his Goat Rodeo project to Meadowbrook (thanks to a consistent yet new relationship with Palace Sports & Entertainment). This spring, Yo-Yo plays Dvorák with Leonard Slatkin and the DSO. 

We continue to invest in a new collective educational program called AVANTI, imagine innovative ways to collaborate with our new friends at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and host regular visits from Midori all in the name of encouraging learning and development through music, even as our civic programs thrive and grow.

We are an "and" not "or" institution. We are ever evolving. Always curious. Open.

There is a time and place for everyone to make the difference between progress and the unthinkable alternative. Yes, the DSO loves to dream. We also love to take whatever comes our way and somehow turn it into strengths.

We laugh and cry, struggle, persevere, and prevail. We have traveled far, and now we have set an ambitious course going forward. We are all inspired and propelled forward by people, place and purpose.

Anne Parsons is president and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Words from her text were asembled by Gabrielle Poshadlo, patron communications and public relations manager for the DSO.
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