DETROIT, (December 3, 2015) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) Board of Directors has ratified a new contract with Music Director Leonard Slatkin, which extends his relationship with the nation’s fourth-oldest ensemble through the 2019-20 concert season. The agreement secures Slatkin’s role as Music Director through the 2017-18 season – a remarkable 10 years of visionary, artistic accomplishment – after which he will become the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Music Director Laureate.

“This arrangement allows me to both complete and fulfill my artistic vision for the orchestra and gives me the additional opportunity to serve the orchestra in many different ways as they transition to my successor,” said Slatkin. “My passion for the city of Detroit remains unabated. The DSO has been at the forefront of the city’s resurgence and serving a decade as music director has given me the opportunity to be part of the awakening of a ‘new’ city and ‘new’ orchestra. That the board, orchestra and staff support this decision is deeply appreciated.”

Slatkin has held the DSO’s Kresge Foundation Music Director Chair since 2008. As Music Director Laureate, he will program, prepare and conduct four concert weeks during each classical season and advise on artistic matters, personnel and artistic titled positions. The search for his successor will be a collaborative process led by the DSO’s Board of Directors, musicians of the orchestra and administrative leadership with meaningful involvement from Governing Members, Trustees, patrons and the community at large.

“We are indebted to Leonard for the innumerable contributions he has made to achieve the DSO’s artistic and institutional goals,” said Phillip Wm. Fisher, DSO Board Chairman. “I’ve seen Leonard’s innovative spirit manifest itself through initiatives like the weekly webcasts, the Soundcard student ticketing program and the Neighborhood Residency Initiative, and I look forward to that continuing throughout the coming seasons.”

Following the conclusion of his role as Music Director Laureate, Slatkin looks forward to embarking on the next phase of his career, during which he plans to maintain his conducting schedule while exploring other opportunities. For the time being, he and his wife, composer Cindy McTee, plan to maintain their residence in Detroit.

“It is my honor and privilege to partner with Leonard as he continues to steward our organization through a period of enormous positive change,” said Anne Parsons, DSO President & CEO. “Today's announcement underscores the depth of his relationship with this great orchestra and a remarkable commitment to our wonderful city. I am thrilled by this news of our continued collaboration, and I look forward to working together as we move forward towards an even brighter future of access, excellence and service to our diverse communities.”

“Here in Detroit, we have been fortunate to have some of the world's finest musicians serve as our Music Director - Paul Paray, Antal Dorati, Gunther Herbig and Neeme Järvi,” said Karl Pituch, DSO Principal Horn and member of the Artistic Advisory Committee. “Leonard Slatkin has continued and built upon this great tradition. As one of the most respected American maestros, he has led us through some tough times and produced many remarkable recordings, webcasts, tours and festivals. One of his most important achievements has been the respectful, collaborative working environment he has created. With so many new musicians to integrate into our ensemble and the constant pressures of performing music at the highest level, this has been invaluable.”

Under Slatkin’s entrepreneurial leadership, the DSO has made the following artistic accomplishments:

  • More than 30 world-class musicians have joined the orchestra’s prestigious ranks, including each principal position
  • Innovative collaborations with Kid Rock, John Williams and Steven Spielberg have raised millions for the DSO and attracted fans from across the musical spectrum, some of whom have become loyal donors
  • The DSO’s long-awaited return to Carnegie Hall during the 2013 Spring for Music Festival brought an innovative program of Ives’ complete symphonies and a unique collaboration with cabaret singer Storm Large to the country’s most famous stage
  • Tours to southern Florida in 2010 and 2014 showcased the DSO as Detroit’s most exportable cultural asset
  • The launch of a groundbreaking digital presence through the Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, as well as its on-demand companion, “RePlay” have globalized the DSO’s sound and put the orchestra at the vanguard of technological achievements in the classical music world
  • The visionary Neighborhood Residency Initiative increased the volume of classical concerts by placing neighborhood subscription series in seven metro Detroit suburbs and placing DSO musicians in schools, hospitals, senior living centers, libraries and myriad other intimate performance settings.


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