DSO moves up timeline for new president, CEO to start

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra on Monday moved up the timeline for its new leader, naming Erik Rönmark its new president and CEO effective immediately and moving Anne Parsons to an emeritus role.

Earlier this month, the DSO announced that Rönmark, 44, would succeed Parsons, 64, starting in early March 2022. But as Parsons continues to battle lung cancer, Parsons spoke to the DSO's Board of Directors about moving up the timeline so she can focus on her health.

“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,” said Rönmark in a press release. “While this transition comes a bit earlier than planned, we are prepared and remain committed to our core values of excellence, collaboration, diversity, innovation, and resilience — principles that Anne instilled at the DSO."

Erik Rönmark, the new President and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, stands inside Orchestra Hall during a rehearsal at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit, December 8, 2021.

Parsons has been with the DSO since 2004, steering it through a series of challenges including Detroit's bankruptcy, the Great Recession, a bitter musicians' strike and now COVID-19. Earlier this year, she announced her plans to retire in the fall of 2022 and had planned to focus on building the DSO's endowment in the meantime.

“Anne is a true leader who has led the DSO with grace and vision, and we celebrate her accomplishments,” said Mark Davidoff, chair of the DSO's board of directors. “The board’s selection of Erik as Anne’s successor ensures stability across the DSO at this important moment in our history. The DSO family is supporting Anne and her family at this time and stands with Erik and his team.”

Detroit Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Anne Parsons, left, thanks members of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation as she addresses guests, Thursday morning, Dec. 2, 2021.
Top executives of arts and cultural institutions attend a press conference in the Chroma Building as the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has created approximately $100 million of regular funding to 11 southeast Michigan cultural institutions.

Rönmark has been with the DSO for 16 years, most recently as vice president and general manager. Parsons said she was thrilled with the board's decision to choose Rönmark as her successor, calling him "the right person" for the job.

The DSO has an annual budget of $32.6 million. At its annual meeting, it announced its ninth balanced budget in a row, all under Parsons' tenure.