DETROIT – Former Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) President Anne Parsons died Monday night after a years-long battle with cancer. She was 64 years old.
Parsons’ vision for a more inclusive and accessible arts scene elevated the DSO to a new realm. There has been a lot of reflection on her life and legacy.
“I think she made the orchestra and culture in general more accessible to everybody. In fact, I followed in her footsteps,” Vince Paul said.
Paul is the President and Artistic Director of the Music Hall. Over the span of nearly two decades, Parsons revolutionized the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
“She really moved the programming in the direction of new, hip, accessible, I get it,” Paul said.
Parsons, the former CEO and president of the DSO, died Monday (March 28) after a battle with stage-four lung cancer.
“No one thought she was going to make it this far and fight for as long as she did, but she did and not only did she do that -- she led this organization through a pandemic while battling cancer. How can you not be inspired by that?” Erik Ronmark, president and CEO of DSO, said.
Parsons came to the DSO from New York in 2004. She was at the helm during the Great Recession, a musicians strike, Detroit’s bankruptcy and then the COVID pandemic.
“Now everybody is invited to the DSO, that we take it for granted and I think she’d be happy we take it for granted,” Paul said.
Under her leadership, the DSO was the first in the country to stream Live from the Orchestra Hall webcasts for free.
The Detroit Harmony program provided instruments and music education to any child who wanted to learn and play.
“She can leave knowing that she changed Detroit and that’s a mouthful right there,” Paul said.
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