A respected leader in the orchestra world, Parsons was among the first class of American Symphony Orchestra League Fellows. Prior to joining the DSO, she served in leadership 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. (DSO screenshot)
   

 

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Parsons is credited with making the DSO one of the first symphonies in the world to stream its concerts online. In a 2021 interview with Musical America, she said that helped enormously when the pandemic hit.

  DSO President Emeritus Anne Parsons passed away following a long battle with cancer

By Laydell Wood Harper
tellusdetroit.com

DETROIT - It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the loss of one of this communities most beloved leaders, Anne Parsons President Emeritus and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) passed away on Monday March 29th after a yearlong battle with cancer. Anne was a hands-on executive and will be sorely missed by the DSO staff and numerous volunteers behind the scenes at the DSO.

She was small in stature and soft spoken but a giant in her role as DSO President and CEO. “Anne led our beloved orchestra with grace, courage and conviction, never wavering from her strongly held belief that the DSO is the best in the world, and that Detroit is a vibrant and resilient city that deserves an orchestra to match," DSO President and CEO Erik Rönmark and Board Chair Mark Davidoff said in a statement Tuesday morning.

The statement continued, “Since arriving at the DSO in the summer of 2004 Anne’s accomplishments as President and CEO are immeasurable and will resonate deeply within the organization, across our local communities, and in the orchestra industry for decades to come.”

To quote the statement, “Anne inspired innovation and collaboration from many different partners, all unified by her vision of making the DSO the most accessible orchestra on the planet. Live from Orchestra Hall, Classroom Edition, and DSO Replay bring the DSO to audiences around the world through new technology, while William Davidson Neighborhood Concerts, the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, and Detroit Harmony are pioneering community engagement efforts that meet people where they live while recognizing their needs and respecting their perspectives.”

She was a champion of diversity both in DSO programming and in the people she worked with daily. The Arthur L. Johnson – Honorable Damon Jerome Keith annual Classical Roots Celebration is a shining example of her commitment to diversity. Ann was always a hands-on CEO and it was rare when she did not attend the regular planning committee meetings for the event. Classical Roots is one of the most successful annual events held at the DSO.

“At Detroit Public TV and 90.9 WRCJ, remarks Rich Homberg, President and CEO Detroit Public Television, we found Anne and her team an exceptionally willing partner, whom we collaborated with on numerous projects, including assembling a statewide network of classical music stations to broadcast and stream DSO concerts and producing a documentary series celebrating the centennial of Orchestra Hall. In the coming days, our classical music station 90.9 WRCJ, along with DPTV, will be honoring Anne Parsons in a variety of programming.”

Also noteworthy, Parsons is credited with making the DSO one of the first symphonies in the world to stream its concerts online. In a 2021 interview with Musical America, she said that helped enormously when the pandemic hit.

“We’ve definitely leaned into our digital and virtual space that we have lived in all these years and leveraged it,” Parsons said. “And it has worked really well for us.”

Parsons can be credited with a host of new and innovative “firsts” for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Anne Parsons is survived by her husband Donald Dietz and their daughter Cara.


 

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