DSO receives $2.9 million donation

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Music education programs at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will get a $2.9 million boost, thanks to a bequest from the estate of the late Dr. Clyde and Mrs. Helen Wu.

The DSO announced Friday that the money will fund its Wu Family Academy for Learning & Engagement, a program that works with youngsters. Dr. Wu, a cardiologist who grew up in Hong Kong, was a longtime DSO board member and chair of its education committee.

Counting this bequest, the Wus — who attended their first DSO concert over 50 years ago — have given the orchestra over $5 million.

“My father loved music,” said his son David, a pulmonologist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. “He loved all the good that music stands for, but he never played. He never had the time or luxury to take lessons.”

Classical music was a family affair. Helen Wu trained as a pianist in Hong Kong, where the two met at one of her concerts before immigrating to the United States.

The Wus — who both died last year — were deeply interested in education and promoting classical music performance among young people, particularly those who weren’t aiming for careers in the field, their son said.

“They wanted to provide an opportunity for younger people to find their so-called niche and expand their horizons,” said David. “They wanted to expand the audience for classical music.”

Said DSO President and CEO Anne Parson: “They believed that both exposure and experiences are necessary to spark the passion for music.”

The Wus also contributed to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where the elder Wu did his studies, endowing five professorships at the medical school.

They also funded the Wu Family China Center with an endowment of $10 million to promote academic exchanges between Columbia and the Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

The DSO will honor the Wus’ legacy by hanging their portrait in the Jacob Bernard Pincus Music Education Center on Saturday, shortly before the 7 p.m. Wu Family Academy Showcase in Orchestra Hall.

That concert will star the Wu Family Academy’s Wind Ensemble and the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for children.


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