Ken Fischer, who shaped Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society into an internationally recognized cultural powerhouse, announced Thursday that he will step down at the end of the 2016-2017 season.

The actual date of his retirement will be June 30, 2017.

Fischer, 71, became president in 1987, and quickly set about boosting the organization’s profile and diversifying its programming. While UMS is an independent nonprofit, it collaborates with the University of Michigan in presenting over 70 musical, theater and dance performances each season, as well as educational programming.

Fischer’s skill in getting acts that generally only visit New York, Chicago and Los Angeles is legendary. In 1988, for example, Leonard Bernstein’s final tour with the Vienna Philharmonic played just four U.S. cities — and Ann Arbor was one.

In 2014, President Obama honored UMS by awarding it the National Medal of Arts.

Read or Share this story: