BREAKING NEWS: Leonard Slatkin extends commitment to DSO, Detroit

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(DETROIT, November 17, 2011) — The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is proud to announce that DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin signed a three-year extension to his contract this week, committing to the Orchestra through the 2015-2016 season. World-renowned guest flutist Sir James Galway made the on-stage announcement Thursday to a sold-out audience at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall in the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Thursday’s performance was Slatkin’s first concert in Detroit upon returning from Lyon, France, where he serves as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL). The contract extension, which builds on his current agreement through the 2012-2013 season, covers a minimum of 14 weeks of concerts and remains concessionary with Slatkin relinquishing a portion of his base compensation in the interest of preserving orchestral funds for programming.

“Leonard has provided outstanding artistic leadership since he began with us in 2008, and we are thrilled to be able to confirm his extended agreement,” said Anne Parsons, DSO president and CEO. “Leonard inspires, partners, drives and supports all that we do throughout the organization, on and off stage, in Orchestra Hall and in the community.  On behalf of the DSO, and the Detroit community, we thank him for his dedication and belief in the importance of our work together.”

DSO Board Chairman Stanley Frankel said, “Leonard has focused on making a difference during his time at the DSO and his commitment for the next five years into this community is a tremendous gift.”

“We are very pleased Leonard has shown his belief and faith in the future of the DSO by agreeing to a contract extension,” said Bryan Kennedy, DSO second horn and member of the Orchestra Committee. “A great orchestra like the DSO needs a great conductor and we are excited to make music with Leonard for many years to come.”

The announcement of Slatkin’s contract extension comes at a time of great progress for the DSO. Since April, the DSO has announced:

  • Ticket sales are booming—per-concert single ticket sales to this fall’s DSO concerts are up a remarkable 40 percent over the 2009-2010 season and classical subscription sales are up 16 percent year-on-year
  • Generous giving—the DSO’s first two weeks of “Community Support Month” saw over $405,187 in new commitments received.  Through November 16, total annual fundraising for the DSO has reached $4,743,889 – an 80 percent increase over last year-to-date
  • Overwhelming spring season response—the eight-week spring season, April 9-June 6, resulted in an audience of 40,456, a number three times larger than expected. The DSO processed 20 times the number of tickets traditionally processed for the two-month time period between April and June. Orchestra Hall performances achieved an average of 83 percent capacity with unprecedented sold-out and standing-room only crowds
  • Soundcard—inspired by Leonard Slatkin, the program allows students of any age to attend series concerts at Orchestra Hall all season long for just $25. More than 700 have been issued since its launch in September
  • Detroit Rush Initiative—anyone with a Detroit address can now purchase a ticket to any classical or jazz concert two weeks out for just $20
  • Neighborhood Residency Initiative—offers subscription concert series in six metro Detroit neighborhoods in addition to chamber recitals, educational programs and other appearances. On sale for only 30 days, subscription sales for the new Neighborhood Concert Series are closing in on 1,000 units sold with 80 percent of those new subscribers.
  • Digital trio—includes a suite of three new technological initiatives including the ground-breaking “Live from Orchestra Hall,” a series of Live HD webcasts; DSO to Go, a free mobile app; and downloadable, digital albums produced in-house. To date, “Live from Orchestra Hall,” the first series of its kind among major American orchestras, has gained approximately 10,000 viewers in 35 countries and counting and is the first orchestral webcast to stream to mobile devices
  • Guest concertmasters—while the DSO begins its search for its next concertmaster, this season Maestro Slatkin has invited two esteemed guest concertmasters, in addition to the leadership of DSO Acting Concertmaster Kimberly Kaloyanides Kennedy, to expose the musicians and audiences to different leadership styles
  • Record summer sales—summer concerts at Ford House in Grosse Pointe saw attendance jump by 40 percent. Audience numbers for the DSO’s open-air concert series, the Salute to America at Greenfield Village, exceeded 26,000 patrons, ranking in the top five attendance years for the 19-year-old event
  • Patron-minded pricing—this season classical ticket prices were reduced up to 53 percent, rolling prices back to 1999 levels. Patrons can attend an Orchestra Hall concert for as little as $15 with half the seats at $25 or less
  • Record Civic Youth Ensemble enrollment—with the help of educational partners, approximately 1,100 students flood the Max M. Fisher Music Center each week to learn the ropes of musical performance from industry leaders. This year marks record participation

Slatkin recently purchased a home in Bloomfield Hills, where he will marry his finance, composer Cindy McTee, on Sunday.

“Things at the DSO are moving very quickly in a positive direction,” he said. “I am proud to call Detroit my home.”

Slatkin became the DSO’s 12th music director in 2008 following a 12-year tenure as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. In addition to his appointment this year with ONL, Slatkin continues to serve as Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, a post that began in fall of 2008. Other positions in the United States have included a 17-year post as Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra’s summer series; and additional positions with the New Orleans Philharmonic and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

About the DSO

The internationally acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the fourth-oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, is known for trailblazing performances, visionary maestros, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and an unwavering commitment to Detroit. Esteemed conductor Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became the 12th music director of the DSO during the 2008-09 season. The DSO offers a performance schedule that includes Classical, Pops, Jazz, Young People’s, Neighborhood concerts and festivals. The DSO makes its home in historic Orchestra Hall, one of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, and actively pursues a mission to impact and serve the community through music. For more information visit www.dso.org

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