Anne Parsons, a transformational chief executive of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 17 years, died Monday night at 64 from lung cancer, The Detroit News reports.
She'd returned from a long medical leave to lead the organization again in 2021 before switching to an emeritus role in late December to focus on her health.
Parsons came to the DSO from New York in 2004 at a time when cultural institutions across Detroit were struggling with dwindling audiences. She maneuvered the organization through the Great Recession that started in 2008, a bitter six-month musicians' strike that ended in 2011, Detroit's bankruptcy and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amid that series of challenges, Maureen Feighan writes, "Parsons pushed the DSO forward, boosting ticket sales, expanding its streaming capabilities and recording balanced budgets for nine consecutive years."
Parsons said in a phone interview in April 2021: "The alternative for an institution as storied as the DSO was unacceptable to me." ...
Parsons is survived by her husband, Donald Dietz, and her daughter.
"Anne's leadership has put the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a position of artistic, financial and organizational strength, and we are so grateful to her," Erik Rönmark, her successor as president and chief executive officer, said in a statement when Parsons retired three months ago.
"Anne is a true leader who has led the DSO with grace and vision, and we celebrate her accomplishments," added board chair Mark Davidoff.
Her career before included positions at the New York City Ballet, the Hollywood Bowl, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.