Subscriptions up for every concert product; Increased annual fundraising and donor base

DETROIT, (December 12, 2013) – At today’s annual meeting of the Governing Members, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced that Fiscal Year 2013 achieved the first balanced budget since 2007.  Fiscal Year 2013 represents the 2012-13 season, concluding on August 31, 2013. This success was bolstered by a 43 percent increase in fundraising ($18.9 million), a 100 percent increase in the donor base over 2011, and the second consecutive year of subscription sales growth.

An ensemble of DSO bassoonists opened the meeting, ushering chairman Phillip Wm. Fisher to the podium where he brought the meeting to order, calling special attention to three unifying themes: People, Place and Purpose. Some 300 DSO Directors, Trustees, Governing Members, Volunteer Council members, community leaders, Orchestra Musicians and staff members welcomed him with thunderous applause.

“The DSO is yet another example of Detroit’s renaissance. Our people, place and purpose add to the cultural cornerstone of our beloved city,” said Fisher. “We are blessed with world class musicians, professionals, volunteers and donors that drive our vision of making the DSO the most accessible orchestra on the planet.”

To honor the DSO’s place as a Midtown Detroit anchor, as a world-class orchestra, and as a beacon of fine art shining brightly from the Woodward corridor, Mayor-elect Mike Duggan gave the Keynote Address, calling attention to the important role a cultural institution like the DSO plays in the vitality of a city.

“There is not a cosmopolitan city in the world that does not have a thriving fine arts community,” said Duggan. “The DSO is, and will continue to be, a key player in what makes Detroit a great place to live and to visit.”

Steve D’Arcy, DSO Trustee and (founder of The Quantum Group) presented the initial findings of the Programming Task Force he chairs, an ambitious concept called “@ the Max: The Journey to 365.”  With the DSO’s home venue programmed only one-third of the time, @ the Max envisions doubling usage of The Max over the next five years, en route to a year-round daily programming in 10 years, as we continue to expand the scope of our cultural offerings and connect to the growing demand for diverse activities in Detroit’s vibrant Midtown neighborhood.

2012-13 At-a-Glance

  • 2012-13 season = first balanced budget since 2007
  • Subscription sales – in terms of revenue, units sold, and households subscribing – grew in every product over the previous season
  • $18.9 million in annual fundraising for operations = 43 percent increase over FY12
  • 500,000+ = total audience across metro Detroit and around the world via Live From Orchestra Hall webcast series
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra now performs for the largest classical audience in the nation
  • 630 = number of applicants, from across the globe, for seven orchestra auditions
  • 400,000+ = cumulative web audience since the inception of Live From Orchestra Hall HD webcasts
  • DSO returned to Carnegie Hall for the first time in 17 years with two critically-acclaimed performances
  • February’s Beethoven Festival achieved record sales and produced a digital recording of the master’s nine symphonies

Blueprint 2023


Revealed at the 2012 Annual Meeting, Blueprint 2023 is the DSO’s 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 net endowment

While FY 13 represented Year 0 of Blueprint 2023, 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:



Contracted musicians



Cash on hand

$2.3 million

$4 to $5 million

Ticket sales

$6.27 million

$6.25 million

Classical subscribing households



Individual donors



Digital Media audience

YTD webcast audience

Mobile app downloads

Facebook fans

Twitter followers









Rental, Retail, Food/bev revenue




CYE roster

Student audience








The balanced budget was secured in large part through a $4.1 million Deficit Reduction Initiative (DRI), which was designed to close the gap between the income and expense. The DRI, spearheaded by the leadership and generosity of Chairmen Emeriti Stanley Frankel and Jim Nicholson, concluded successfully thanks to their exceptional generosity and the additional participation of 46 individuals and families.

Governance and Culture

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
  • Board of Trustees—tasked with fostering and nurturing innovation, creativity and organizational learning. In its year of inception, the board of trustees has already formed taskforces in the areas of next generation, digital initiatives and programming. Blueprint ideal size: 50-75 members
  • Governing Members — voting members who elect members of the board of directors and dedicate themselves to outreach, advocacy and philanthropy. Blueprint ideal size: unlimited.

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 inaugural class of Directors Emeriti is as follows:

Robert A. Allesee

Floy Barthel

Mrs. Mandell L. Berman

John A. Boll, Sr.

Richard A. Brodie

Lois and Avern Cohn

Marianne Endicott

Sidney Forbes

Mrs. Harold Frank

Barbara Frankel

Paul Ganson

Mort and Brigitte Harris

Gloria Heppner, Ph.D.

Hon. Damon J. Keith

Richard P. Kughn

Harold Kulish

Steve Miller, Chairman Emeritus

Robert E.L. Perkins, DDS

Marilyn Pincus

Lloyd Reuss

Jack Robinson

Alan E. Schwartz

Jean Shapero

David Usher

Barbara Van Dusen

At the meeting, the Governing Members elected James C. Farber, President of Executive Strategies Inc., as Chairman. He accepted the reigns from founding Chairman Arthur T. O’Reilly, Partner at the firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP. Under O’Reilly’s leadership, the Governing Members increased the number of households giving over $2,500 by 48 percent, raised major individual giving by more than $500,000 in just two years, and achieved an increase in giving by Detroit residents of $80,000 to the Governing Members campaign.

In May 2013, the DSO named Dr. Clyde Wu, M.D. as a Lifetime Director, the DSO’s most distinguished honor, shared only by three late giants in the DSO’s history: Samuel Frankel, David Handleman Sr. and Dr. Arthur L. Johnson. This office is only bestowed upon those whom the DSO wishes to recognize in perpetuity for their historically significant and exemplary contributions that have played defining roles in securing the DSO’s mission across generations. Dr. Wu was recognized for his dedication to the DSO’s educational programming and ongoing support of its overall mission. The 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Dr. Wu and his wife Helen in November 2012, held at the Max M. Fisher Music Center and featuring their beloved Civic Orchestra, resulted in $716,000 in giving.

2012-13: A Year in Review

Operating Results at a glance









Ticket Revenue +$6.26 +$6.04 +$5.30 +$1.37
Other Earned Revenue +$0.97 +$1.30 +$1.33 +$0.62
Contributed Revenue +$18.74 +$17.11 +$12.37 +$9.92
Endowment Revenue +$2.32 +$1.86 +$3.44 +$3.76
Total Revenue $28.29 $26.31 $22.44 $15.67
Expenses -$28.27 -$26.31 -$25.25 -$17.44
Net Surplus/(Deficit) from Core Operations $0.02


($2.82) ($1.77)

(dollars in millions – year ended August 31)

The 2012-13 season resulted in an operating surplus of $20,000, representing the DSO’s first balanced budget since 2007.

Earned Revenue

The DSO’s 2012-13 season garnered the largest audience for classical orchestral performances in the nation. Classical season attendance in Orchestra Hall shattered expectations while regularly sold-out Neighborhood Concert Series performances and “Live from Orchestra Hall” HD webcasts propelled the DSO’s classical audience to nearly 400,000. This positions the DSO ahead of every American orchestra in terms of classical audience.

Bucking reported national trends, subscription sales – in terms of revenue, units sold, and households subscribing – grew in every product line (classical, pops, family, jazz, neighborhood) over the previous season. In the aggregate, eighty percent of the classical, pops and jazz series subscribers renewed for the 2013-14 season, stimulating a 4 percent increase in subscription revenue over the 2012-13 season, the second consecutive year of subscription sales growth.

Capped off by four sold-out “Beethoven’s Ninth” performances, the DSO sold more tickets for its February Beethoven Festival than in any other three-week classical span since the opening of the Max M. Fisher Music Center in 2003. Sales for the Festival totaled 17,669 tickets, beating the previous three-week record of 16,601 sold for Leonard Slatkin’s inaugural concerts with the DSO during the 2008-09 season. The “Beethoven’s Ninth” concerts also set their own record for highest capacity for a 4-concert run, with 7,341 tickets sold. Slatkin’s inaugural concerts (6,927) and FY12’s James Galway concerts (6,889) are the only programs coming close to this sales volume.

Total paid classical concert attendance grew nine percent over FY12, driven by excellent programming, patron-minded pricing, neighborhood audiences, and back-to-basics marketing strategies. Single ticket revenue improved by 16 percent over FY12, earning a 10 percent bump in single ticket sales volume. Both single ticket revenue and paid attendance were higher than in FY10 when the Orchestra Hall classical season had one-third more concerts.

The Pops season achieved record single ticket revenue, and saw a remarkable average capacity of 81 percent, up from 73 percent in the 2011-12 season. Pops single ticket revenue earned a 24 percent increase from FY12.

Average paid attendance for pops concerts was up 15 percent and jazz was up 8 percent.

Last summer’s Salute to America concerts marked the 21st anniversary of our collaboration with Greenfield Village.  Despite inclement weather on July 6 that forced a cancellation of the final concert, we sold a total of 26,607 tickets for total revenue of $530,347, surpassing a goal of $504,000 and making 2013 the third highest in grossing since Salute to America’s inception.

DSO at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House concerts set an all-time attendance and sales record, attracting a combined audience of more than 6,000 over the two evenings, with total sales of $161,497 against a goal of $145,800. Concert attendance increased by 30 percent and gross ticket revenues grew by 20 percent, compared to 2012.

The Max M. Fisher Music Center opened its doors to nearly 75 events and partnerships, welcoming 15,000 people for rental events and generating $345,000. Highlights included Helen and Clyde Wu’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration, Lawrence Technology’s Auto Show Press week Preview Party with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and the Charles H. Wright annual Ford Freedom Awards & Gala.

Many previous partners returned, including the 21st annual Concert of Colors, Sphinx Honors, Sphinx Competition Concerts, the Arab American Museum Gala, Karmanos Race for the Cure Celebration, Heroes of Breast Cancer Awards, DSA High School Graduation, Promusica, WSU’s  MLK Celebration, WSU’S Law School Graduation, WSU’s Medical School Orientation and WSU’s Monday @ The  Max concert series.

We also welcomed back Crains’ Automotive News Awards, MI Sports Hall of Fame Awards, Habitat for Humanity Detroit Oscar Viewing Party & Awards, Gilda’s Club Big Night Out, Motor City Tap Fest and Ad craft’s Holiday “D” Show.

The Max hosted events with new clients as well, including the World AIDS Day Mayor’s breakfast, Bodman Law Firm Holiday Party, Deloitte Impact Day post reception,  IWIRC Reception and Lecture, and Midtown Detroit Inc.’s Noel Night and Art X events.

Contributed Revenue

In fiscal year 2013, the DSO raised $18.9 million in annual, event and project contributions, exceeding its ambitious goal of $12.865 million. This represents a 43 percent increase over FY12 and a staggering 90 percent increase over FY11. The overall number of donors has doubled to 10,250 since FY11, exceeding 10,000 for the first time in a decade.

  • With an average gift of $69,421, DSO Board members contributed more than $6 million
  • In its third year, the Governing Members program attracted 66 new families in FY13, increasing total participation to 306 families. Governing Members contributed more than $1.9 million in FY13
  • Corporate support was up 12 percent at $2.1 million
  • Foundation grants grew by 11 percent over FY12, with support of $3.8 million
  • The inaugural Gabrilowitsch Society campaign (giving of $10,000 or more) achieved $981,000 in giving, beating its $900,000 goal
  • $4.1 million was contributed to the DRI. Spearheaded by the leadership and generosity of Chairmen Emeriti Stanley Frankel and Jim Nicholson, the initiative satisfied its objective thanks to the additional participation of 46 individuals and families
  • Under the leadership of President Janet Ankers through June of 2013, the DSO Volunteer Council raised more than $100,000, an impressive increase over 2012-13 results. Deborah Savoie was elected president at the Volunteer Council annual meeting in June

The DSO continues to count among its most substantial, consistent and extraordinarily generous donors Mr. and Mrs. James B. Nicholson/PVS Chemicals Inc. and Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Frankel/Samuel and Jean Frankel Foundation.

Significantly generous and enduring philanthropic support of the DSO mission was given by the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation and Danialle and Peter Karmanos.

Finally, very generous leadership annual support, project grants, and event sponsorships were received by the GM Foundation, Sidney and Madeline Forbes, Ethan Davidson, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Hudson-Webber Foundation, McGregor Fund, DTE Energy Foundation, Mrs. Barbara Van Dusen, Mrs. Marjorie S. Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wm. Fisher, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Chrysler Foundation, MASCO Corporation Foundation, Ford Motor Company, The Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation, Erb Foundation, Emory M. Ford, Jr. + Endowment, Peter D. and Julie Fisher Cummings Family Foundation, Target Corporation, Ford Foundation, and the Volunteer Council of the DSO.

Largely inspired by the DSO’s dedication to modernizing the role of a 21st century orchestra through digital and community outreach, FY13 saw extraordinary generosity from several major new donors.

  • The newly-founded William Davidson Foundation gave $1 million in support of the DSO’s Neighborhood Concert Series and the Orchestra’s triumphant return to Carnegie Hall in May 2013
  • Along with the Davidson Foundation grant, General Motors Foundation’s gift of $350,000 in FY13 completed the funding required for the Orchestra’s triumphant return to Carnegie Hall
  • Lee and Floy Barthel spearheaded the upgrade to LED lighting at Orchestra Hall and The Max with a $250,000 gift
  • Ruth and Al Glancy contributed $70,000 to install a robotic camera system in Orchestra Hall to streamline the production of the Live From Orchestra Hall webcast series
  • The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation pledged of $2.25 million in support of digital innovation, in addition to $200,000 to fund webcast operations and $30,000 to support the installation of the robotic camera system
  • The Ford Motor Company Fund gave $200,000 to support Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts and educational programs, as well as $50,000 to support the robotic camera system
  • Deborah Miesel gave $50,000 in support of our Education programs
  • Gail Girolami gave an undisclosed amount to name a Section Cello chair

The DSO continued its innovative Community Support Month initiative in FY13. As the first concert-based fundraising initiative in DSO history, the program’s second year (including Community Support Month campaigns in November, 2012 and May, 2013) earned a total of over $2.2 million from more than 2,000 new donors for the 2012-13 Annual Fund.

Endowment Results

The DSO benefits from endowment funds held by the organization as well as by third parties. The DSO’s beginning endowment fund balances on Sept. 1, 2012 were $29.8 million.  After earnings, contributions, and customary draws in support of the DSO mission, the ending balance across held and third party funds on Aug. 31, 2013 totaled $29.9 million. Of this amount, $8.8 million is available as unrestricted and DSO-held endowment.

Changes in Endowment Investments

(millions of dollars)


Net Growth



Owned & Controlled





Third-Party Controlled for DSO Benefit





Grand Total





The owned and controlled endowment saw growth of $1.2 million on existing assets against draws of $2.1 million. These draws included earnings on the portfolio as well as the use of unrestricted assets to fund operations and other cash obligations.

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

Artistic Excellence

In May 2013, the DSO returned to Carnegie Hall for the first time in 17 years as the first orchestra with a double billing at the esteemed Spring For Music Festival. Music Director Leonard Slatkin programmed all four Charles Ives symphonies in one concert for the first time in history. The other program featured Oregon-based pop vocalist Storm Large as a sultry Ana in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins. Some 1,000 Detroiters joined the Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and more than 2,000 attended a standing-room-only bon voyage concert at Orchestra Hall.

February 2013’s Beethoven Festival presented metro Detroit with an immersion into works that spanned Beethoven’s entire genre-altering career. Events throughout the month included performances of all nine symphonies, a keyboard conversation with renowned pianist Jeffery Siegel, a marathon performance of all 32 piano sonatas, and pre-concert chamber music and lectures. The project was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The classical season began on Sept. 28, 2012 with an all Leonard Bernstein program starring violin super star Joshua Bell performing Bernstein’s Serenade. Throughout the 23 classical programs at Orchestra Hall, the orchestra performed with venerable guest artists and conductors with whom the DSO maintains longstanding relationships, such as Sir Andrew Davis, Olga Kern, Peter Oundjian, Mark Wigglesworth, James Gaffigan, Lynn Harrell, Andre Watts and Rafael Frühbeck de Brugos among others. Last season also saw the DSO subscription debut of several faces new to the Orchestra Hall stage: Baiba Skride, Eric Owens, Karen Gomyo, and Rafael Blachacz.

Jeff Tyzik, sought-after Pops conductor, signed a three-year contract as the DSO Principal Pops Conductor and was tasked with building concert programs that forge tangible connections between the DSO and its Pops patrons by drawing on his own celebrated compositions and his years of work with the world’s premier Jazz and Symphonic Pops artists. Other responsibilities include three performance weeks with the Orchestra each year, and participation in community activities. His appointment began with the beginning of the current 2013-14 season.

The 2012-13 season began Teddy Abrams’ two-year tenure as DSO Assistant Conductor.  Since then he has curated the DSO’s Young People’s Family Concert and Education Concert series, worked as cover conductor for the classical subscription series, built strong relationships with metro Detroit audiences through neighborhood concerts and other forms of community outreach, and appeared regularly on Live From Orchestra Hall webcasts in a segment titled, “Teddy’s Take.”

The 2012-13 Pops series began with a bright spot when the Cirque de la Symphonie production, which included acrobats flipping, twisting and flying onstage with the orchestra during the inaugural DLECTRICITY festival. In honor of the festival, the concert was “MaxCast” onto the South wall of the Max M. Fisher Music Center, viewable to all Woodward traffic and festival attendees. November’s “Music of Queen” concerts set the box office record for a two-concert Pops weekend for the entire 125-year history of the Orchestra with box office revenues exceeding $150,000. Other Pops Series highlights included a tribute to the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, a Marvin Hamlisch memorial concert and two standing-room-only performances of the West Side Story score accompanied by the motion picture.

Paradise Jazz Series

Five-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard joined the DSO as the Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Chair beginning with the 2012-13 season of the Paradise Jazz Series. The 2012-13 season honored the towering jazz tradition of this great hall by featuring appearances by many of our living jazz giants including iconic drummers Roy Haynes as well as bassist Dave Holland and pianist Kenny Barron in a rare duo appearance. Other season highlights included performances jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the 55th Anniversary Tour of the Monterey Jazz Festival featuring vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and bassist Christian McBride.  Subscription and single ticket revenue increased by 4 percent above the 2011-12 season. The number of tickets sold in 2012-13 grew by 8 percent.

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.


FY13 saw an extensive and well attended audition schedule, with seven auditions held, a rare volume among orchestral peers. Auditions attracted a total of 630 applicants from both national and international backgrounds, resulting in the hire of four esteemed musicians, and the promotion of one violinist from within the ranks of the orchestra. Last season also welcomed six new musicians to the roster, including Principal Trumpet Hunter Eberly and Concertmaster Yoonshin Song.


During the 2012-13 season, the DSO released two discs on the Naxos label: a pairing of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 1 and The Isle of the Dead (the second of a three disc series) and Copland’s Rodeo, Dance Panels and El Salón México (the first of a three disc series of Copland’s complete ballets.) Just months following February’s Beethoven Festival, the DSO released a “digital box set” of Beethoven’s nine symphonies on the in-house Live From Orchestra Hall label, the first project of its kind industry-wide. DSO Principal Bassoon Robert Williams starred in a recording of John William’s The Five Sacred Trees for release in 2014, a continuation of a digital collection of John Williams’ complete concerti through Naxos.

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. In the 2013 fiscal year, the DSO was successful in this regard on several fronts.

  • 37/11—37/11 is the DSO’s reinvigorated social and professional network for our next generation of patrons. For just $37 per year, members receive benefits like $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 attracted over 60 young professionals to take advantage of this exciting program.
  • Mix @ the Max—In April 2012, the DSO began an innovative series of performances in The Music Box to appeal to metro Detroit’s growing and diverse community of young professionals. The Mix @ the Max series brought in nearly 800 young professionals over four concerts that featured such artists as The Knights, Sin Hielo, Fifth House Ensemble and Project Trio. Mix @ the Max has moved from a pilot to an 11 concert series in 2013-14 that occurs monthly and has sold out all three presentations so far this season. More than half (60 percent) of Mix attendees are new to The Max ticketing system.
  • 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 2012-13 season, 1,211 Soundcards were issued to students who attended 1,871 concerts throughout the season. Compared to its inaugural year, the number of cards distributed was up by 10 percent, and Soundcard member concert attendance increased by 38 percent.
  • Detroit Rush Initiative—sponsored by The Ford Foundation, anyone with a Detroit address may purchase a ticket to any classical or jazz concert two weeks out for just $15, down from $20 thanks to their sponsorship. In the 2012-13 season, 1,238 Detroit residents took advantage of this program, an increase of 63 percent compared to the 2011-12 season.
  • Patron-minded pricing—reduced ticket prices for classical concerts were retained last season to maintain accessibility. Prices reflect that of 1999 levels, allowing patrons to attend an Orchestra Hall concert for as little as $15 with half the seats at $25 or less

Digital Initiatives

The DSO continues its quest to become “the most accessible orchestra on the planet” by using its growing digital capacity to reach a wider global audience and provide more tools for connecting local patrons with the orchestra.  As the second full season of webcasts, the digital team used 2012-13 to expand the DSO’s global viewership through partnerships with broadcast partners Medici TV (France) and Paraclassics (Russia.)

Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts – For the 2012-13 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 23 webcasts reaching 300,000 global viewers, nearly tripling viewership compared to the 2011-12 season. Partnerships with top international classical music content sites like Medici.tv and Paraclassics.com drove much of that growth and the DSO plans to continue to expand its worldwide network of distribution partners accordingly. The DSO began the 2013-14 season with a live webcast and weeklong encore of piano superstar Lang Lang’s performance with the DSO that reached over 25,000 (and was his first live webcast with a US orchestra) and by partnering with the Livestream platform to deliver HD 720p quality webcasts and reach a wider audience through the Livestream’s wide viewer network and integration with the Roku streaming TV device.

In an era when travel and commercial recording opportunities are less prevalent, Live from Orchestra Hall has helped the DSO maintain an international presence and share Maestro Slatkin’s artistic vision, the musicians’ virtuosity, a stellar collection of guest artists, and important artistic initiatives like:

  • the 100th anniversary performance of The Rite of Spring
  • the DSO’s groundbreaking performances of the Ives’ symphonies and Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Seasons
  • February’s Beethoven Festival, which included the first eight symphonies streamed live over 4 webcasts, and concluded with a marathon rebroadcast of those eight symphonies leading into a live performance of the Ninth Symphony.

The video production capacity enabled by Live from Orchestra Hall also made a number of outreach and promotional activities possible, including a free MaxCast projection in October of our “Cirque de la Symphonie” concerts onto the streets of midtown Detroit in conjunction with the DLECTRICITY festival, the airing of the DSO’s rendition of “Go Get ‘Em Tigers” on the Jumbotron at Comerica Park during the 2012 World Series (which led to a friendly Twitter competition with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony where Leonard presented the San Franciscans with their Zingerman’s gift basket on a webcast intermission show and Michael Tilson Thomas accepted it via video from Asia) and 2013 ALCS championship, and the inclusion of DSO performance clips in upcoming documentaries on composer David Del Tredici and the orchestral audition process.

Online Box Office—On the heels of last season’s launch of a new online box office powered by the Tessitura database, the DSO launched a revamped online subscription sales center. The impact was immediate; online subscription sales skyrocketed to 8 percent of all subscription sales compared to less than one percent the year prior.

The DSO continues to sell more than 50 percent of all single tickets via the website. Patrons purchasing online currently spend $6 more per classical ticket and $7 more per pops ticket than patrons purchasing via other channels. Sales via the DSO to Go mobile app currently account for 3 percent of all online purchases.

In past seasons, online donations added to ticket purchases peaked at $7,500. In 2012-13 the integrated donation checkout page within the online box office brought in nearly $30,000 in contributions.

As consumer behavior continues to shift to tablet and mobile platforms, and as online consumers of all types expect a more responsive and personalized online experience, the DSO is undertaking its first major refresh of the DSO website since fall 2010, with the new design and functionality launching in time for the 2014-15 season.

Social Media—Participation on Facebook increased nearly 25 percent to 18,000 followers. Thanks to the international reach of the DSO’s recordings and Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts, 33 percent of the Facebook audience comes from abroad, including 7 percent each from Italy and Mexico, as well as sizable audiences from France, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Germany, and Argentina. 15,000 follow the DSO on Twitter and the #classicalworldseries bet initiated by Leonard Slatkin and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas brought in over 625,000 impressions for the two orchestras during the 2012 World Series. The DSO’s YouTube channel has attracted half a million views totaling four years and 27 minutes of content watched. More than half (51 percent) of the YouTube audience is international, with large followings in the UK, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.

Education Initiatives continue to grow

Civic Youth Ensembles

The DSO’s Civic Youth Ensemble program 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 more than 1,000 per week. The CYE program offers more than 20 ensembles and opportunities to train with CYE’s highly specialized faculty and DSO musicians.

The DSO Education Department led efforts to create an alliance of music learning partners in which the DSO serves as the hub of activity. Initial partners include Sphinx Organization Preparatory, Wayne State University, Michigan State University Community Music School, Detroit Children’s Choir and Oakland University Music Preparatory Division. Through this, the DSO facilitated and/or trained more some 1,333 students per week in FY13.

High-Profile Public Events

Heroes Gala

The Third Annual Heroes Gala in June was among the institution’s most successful fundraisers of all time, bringing in over $700,000. Only The Max M Fisher Music Center Opening Gala and Music Director Emeritus Neeme Jӓrvi’s retirement celebration raised more. The concert and gala, honoring DSO Board Member and long-time Detroit philanthropist Barbara Van Dusen, welcomed some 1,250 guests. Speakers included Wayne State University President Allan Gilmour; Mariam Noland, President of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; DSO Chairman Phillip Fisher and Chairman Emeritus Peter Cummings.

Classical Roots

The 13th annual DSO Classical Roots Celebration in March, 2013 honored the memory of the late conductor James DePreist, long-time friend of the DSO, and lifelong advocate of African Americans’ increased involvement in Classical Music. Approximately 250 guests attended the 2013 Classical Roots Gala, which grossed $165,000 in contributions. The concert, for which 1,200 were in attendance, would have marked DePreist’s long-awaited return to Orchestra Hall.

Neighborhood Residency Initiative (NRI)

With 24 neighborhood concerts performed in the series’ second season, 14,193 tickets were purchased with an average paid house fill rate of 70 percent. Total ticket revenue earned for the entire neighborhood series was $323,209, an increase of 20 percent compared to the inaugural season in FY12. The season closed with 2,229 subscriptions sold to 1,098 households, more than half (625) of which were new. The number of subscriptions sold was up by 27 percent, and the number of subscribing households increased by 30 percent.

Rather than drawing audiences away from Orchestra Hall, the opposite has occurred: 68 percent of households had no subscription history at Orchestra Hall, and 11 percent had not subscribed since the 2008-09 season. In our analysis, not one patron has cancelled an existing Orchestra Hall subscription in favor of the Neighborhood Series. In fact, 12 percent of subscribers added the Neighborhood Concert Series to their existing Orchestra Hall subscription, becoming multiple series subscribers to the DSO. Building on the Orchestra’s concerts at its home in Orchestra Hall, the initiative’s keystone product is the Neighborhood Concert Series, which now includes residencies in seven metro Detroit neighborhoods: Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield and West Bloomfield Township.

With the third season beginning December 15, subscription sales are 5 percent ahead of sales for last season at the same time.

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 programs at the DSO continued to grow and build impact during the 2012-2013 season. More than 330 services were performed including 6 community concerts, 24 neighborhood concerts (serving the communities of Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield and West Bloomfield), and extensive outreach initiatives led by individual and small groups of musicians in hospitals, senior communities, libraries, schools, community centers and here at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Geographically our reach extended as far north as St. Clair County, east to Brighton and as far south as Trenton.

Chamber Music

The presentation of Chamber Music grew and was a substantial component of community programs during the 2012-2013 seasons. DSO musicians participated in over 40 chamber music presentations throughout the community. This included 20 chamber recitals and the introduction of featured chamber music as part of the pre-concert experience at Orchestra Hall on select evenings. In total these performances touched more than 18,000 patrons.

Special chamber music highlights of the season included themed programs as part of the enormously successful Beethoven Festival and a series of Ives Preview Concerts leading up to the Orchestra’s triumphant return to Carnegie Hall. These performances alone reached more than 2,000 patrons. DSO musicians also performed in more than 20 special events and services throughout the community; this activity was notably kicked off on court at the Palace where a DSO ensemble performed the music to introduce the Detroit Piston’s starting lineup.

Life Enrichment Programs

The largest growth in DSO community programs were wellness initiatives engaging seniors and in hospitals. DSO musicians participated in 104 services including music therapy, lobby concerts, inspiration days, and special senior engagement recitals. These initiatives reached over 6,500 citizens.

This work was made possible through collaboration with incredible lead partners such as American House Senior Living Communities and Detroit Medical Center Children’s Hospital (and funded by generous grants from American House Senior Living Communities and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation and the League of American Orchestras.) The exposure and success of these key relationships influenced the development of several new opportunities; in particular series of programs piloted with Oakwood Healthcare and Trinity Senior Living Communities.


Our commitment to education remains steadfast and reflects the highest volume of activity within our community programs. This is all made possible through a generous multi-year grant from the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. In 2012-2013, DSO musicians participated in 129 education services. This work impacted more than 1,500 young learners.

A reinvigorated civic chamber music program was a highlight of the year. DSO musicians coached 5 ensembles throughout the season. Other activities included dozens of rehearsal and performance opportunities for civic youth ensembles students to play side by side with DSO musicians, several days of instrumental sectionals throughout the season for both civic and Detroit School of Arts students, and a series of DSO musician Inspiration Days presented to students and families participating in the Honda Power of Dreams Program. Moreover, the DSO continued a fruitful collaboration with the musician-led Avanti Summer MusicFest, which provided a weeklong focused summer instruction to over 100 young learners.


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