DSO to rename The Max

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will rename the Max M. Fisher Music Center, popularly known as The Max, to include Fisher’s wife, Marjorie.

The building’s sign will be changed to the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center at a 6 p.m. ceremony Thursday.

The change, said DSO Executive Vice President Paul Hogle, recognizes Marjorie’s considerable contributions over the years.

“Max famously wanted us to think bigger,” Hogle said, particularly in developing the DSO campus and building the 135,000-square-foot addition that will now bear the couple’s names.

The $60 million music center opened in 2003.

“But Mrs. Fisher,” he added, “wanted us to think more deeply — about the people who perform here, the children who learn here and the volunteers and staff who give their time. With Mrs. Fisher, it’s very personal.”

Max died in 2005. Marjorie, 91, lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

Over the years, the Fishers and their family foundation have contributed some $25 million to the orchestra, making the family one of its most-important patrons.

In addition, the couple’s son, Phillip Wm. Fisher, is board chairman, a post he’s held since 2012. His brother-in-law Peter Cummings was board chairman from 1998-2003, the era when The Max was conceived and built.

“The Max was an idea Peter brought forward when he was on the board,” said his wife, Julie Fisher Cummings. “My dad really helped him make that dream come true. He said, ‘Think big.’ ”

Marjorie has sponsored the orchestra’s recent Florida tours and cultivated deep friendships with musicians, music director Leonard Slatkin, and president and CEO Anne Parsons.

Youth music education has been a special concern of hers, as well as a belief that the DSO is vital to Detroit and the state.

“It’s a social-equity thing for my mother,” Cummings said. “She wants to make sure the DSO is accessible to everyone, not just people with money. And she wants this to continue for generations.

“Even though she no longer lives in Detroit, my mother considers it her home. When the orchestra is in Florida, they come and play for her.”