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Longtime Detroit Symphony Orchestra President And CEO Anne Parsons Dies At 64

(CBS DETROIT) -- Anne Parsons, who served as president and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for more than 17 years, has died. She was 64 years old.

DSO officials say Parsons served in her leadership role from July 2004 to December 2021.

Prior to joining the DSO, she served in other leadership roles 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 started her career at the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Smith College in Massachusetts.

Anne Parsons (credit: Detroit Symphony Orchestra)

"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 joint statement. "Anne's accomplishments as our President and CEO are immeasurable and will resonate deeply within our organization, across our local communities, and in the orchestra industry for decades to come."

Under her leadership, the DSO launched "Live from Orchestra Hall" in 2011, becoming one of the first orchestras to offer free, live high-definition webcasts in the world. The series expanded in 2014 with "Classroom Edition," which are educational concerts reaching thousands of students in Detroit schools and around the world.

Additionally, the orchestra posted nine consecutive operating surpluses from 2013 to 2021. Parsons also was responsible for bringing Leonard Slatkin in 2007 and DSO Music Director Jader Bignamini in 2020 to Detroit as music directors.

Most recently, the orchestra launched the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative and Detroit Harmony.

The Detroit Neighborhood Initiative creates community-driven musical experiences in the city while aligning with the priorities of its neighborhoods.

Detroit Harmony is a landmark collaborative project being built through a citywide collaboration with music educators, performing artists, Detroit residents, civic leaders, and non-profit music education providers to provide instruments and music education to students.

"I am honored to have been appointed music director during Anne's tenure as CEO and to have been able to become close with her, Donald, and Cara," Bignamini said. "I will never forget Anne's smile, strength, professionalism, deep humility, and innate sensitivity. Her enthusiasm for the orchestra and Detroit is our guide as we lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra."

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

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