Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation Leadership Gift Lays Foundation for DSO Community Programs in Education


DETROIT, (March 21, 2012) – As the Max M. Fisher Music Center prepares to welcome Interlochen Arts Academy students to the Orchestra Hall stage and hundreds of young musicians in the Civic Youth Ensembles program await personalized tutelage from DSO musicians, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), is honored to recognize a $500,000 gift from the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, designated to support DSO musicians’ participation in educational work. This announcement aligns with the culmination of a series of educational initiatives successfully launched by the DSO since the start of the season.

“Detroit needs the DSO now more than ever,” said Marjorie S. Fisher, co-founder of the Foundation with her late husband Max M. Fisher. “Our family is deeply committed to ensuring the next generation of children and families in the Detroit region has access to vibrant cultural programs.”

The dedication of the Fisher Family to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been steadfast. This latest commitment follows upon a sustaining $500,000 grant from the Marjorie S. Fisher Fund during the difficult 2010-2011 season. In total, this $1 million provided much needed annual support and now lays the foundation for pivotal new work in community engagement. This gift partially funds the new musicians’ contract, which guarantees the opportunity for additional work that is of benefit to the community.

This gift is spread over the three-year contract and will fund a variety of initiatives. This year, these activities include Civic Youth Ensembles Sectionals, Inspiration Days, the inaugural Avanti Summer MusicFest and educational electives for students participating in the Interlochen 50th Anniversary Tour. Each one of these initiatives gives young musicians the unique opportunity to learn personally from DSO’s talented musicians in small, intimate groups.

“We are more than grateful to the Fisher Foundation for its continuing commitment to the DSO,” said DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin. “Our educational program represents one of the most important aspects of the orchestra’s mission. Bringing music to the young people of our community is vital to this organization and Marjorie Fisher’s continued vision is to be applauded by all.”

Educational work will make up no less than one quarter of $2 million earmarked for optional work in the Orchestra’s new contract. $1M is designated for full orchestra performances in the community and will largely be funded from the proceeds of a special fundraising concert with Kid Rock, announced on February 27. Additional funds are still needed to support special engagement initiatives for seniors, hospitals, and at-risk populations as well as chamber music performances throughout the metro-Detroit region.

“We are so pleased to acknowledge the Fisher Foundation’s support of the DSO’s commitment to music education, training and access,” said Anne Parsons, DSO President and CEO. While our DSO musicians have long been engaged in these activities on an individual basis, this program offers a unique opportunity to increase the partnership of the passions and talents of our artists with the interests and needs of our community.”

Two cornerstone initiatives that will be funded by the Fisher Foundation gift are sectionals for young musicians participating in the Civic Youth Ensembles program and Inspiration Days:

Civic Youth Ensembles Sectionals – over 600 young musicians participating in our Civic Youth Ensembles program have already received personalized coaching from DSO musicians. Two days of instrumental sectionals have been completed, one in October 2011 and the other in January 2012. A majority of DSO musicians have engaged this opportunity to work directly with these students in preparation for their ensemble performances at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. The final day of sectionals this season is scheduled for Saturday, March 24. Moreover, DSO musicians have also been leading weekly chamber music coaching sessions for a group of young musicians in the Civic Orchestra (our most advanced youth ensemble). One of the chamber music groups, The Slatkin Group, recently placed 2nd in the MASTA (Michigan- American String Teachers Association) Chamber Festival.

Inspiration Days – several “Inspiration Days” will be led by DSO musicians during the month of March and will continue through April and May. “Inspiration Days” are visits by DSO musicians to classrooms and ensembles of young musicians. These particular “Inspiration Days” are connected to our Power of Dreams early string training program. During one of these sessions a DSO musician speaks about their life, demonstrates their instrument, discusses their inspiration for becoming a musician and answers questions from the audience. These sessions will take place at Wayne State University and University Prep Academy High School in Detroit. Students range in age from 8 to 17 years and reflect an urban Detroit demographic.

This leadership support from the Fisher Foundation will also make possible two new, exciting collaborations:

Interlochen– on Thursday, March 22, Interlochen Arts Academy will be performing a free concert at Orchestra Hall as part of their 50th Anniversary Tour. As part of the visit, these 200 students will also be participating in a series of elective seminars created and led by DSO musicians. These activities are

scheduled for the afternoon and will explore a variety of topics: “Auditioning for a professional orchestra,” “The Business of a professional musician” and “Yoga for Musicians.” A “Jazz Jam Session” will also be offered to interested students. The DSO is thrilled by this opportunity to engage the talented students of Interlochen Arts Academy and hope this may be the first of a series of future educational projects.

Avanti Summer MusicFest – this new program is a DSO Musician initiated project developed and supported by the DSO and Save Our Symphony. Avanti will take place from July 16 – July 21, 2012 at Derby Middle School in Birmingham, Mich. and is anticipated to serve 140 diverse students from the metro-Detroit area. In addition to a Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Music concert featuring DSO musicians, a major component of this new program is instrumental instruction for high school students. Students will participate in orchestra/band and their work will culminate in a performance at Orchestra Hall on July 21. DSO musicians will lead a variety of instrumental sectionals each day working closely with the students. The final concert may incorporate a “side-by-side” component with students sharing the stage with their DSO mentors.


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