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Press Release

September 12, 2012



MSO also announces appointment of Mark Niehaus as president & executive director

Milwaukee, Wis. – The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Board Chair Douglas Hagerman announced today that the orchestra has achieved a balanced budget for its fiscal year 2012, which ended on August 31. The MSO, with a total operating budget of $17.4 million, brought in $17.5 million (unaudited) in total revenue. The MSO also restructured its balance sheet, eliminating decades of accumulated debt via a one-time transfer of unrestricted endowment funds.

Hagerman also announced the appointment of Mark Niehaus as the MSO’s new president and executive director. As the principal trumpet of the MSO since 1998, Chairman of the Orchestra’s Players’ Council and active member of the MSO board, Niehaus brings knowledge of the industry, familiarity with MSO sponsors, ticketholders and community and a strong understanding of the organization’s long range plan. Niehaus succeeds Maryellen Gleason.

“We are able to announce these meaningful financial achievements because of the generosity of new and long-time supporters, the commitment of corporate partners, the enthusiasm of music lovers and the hard work of the MSO board, musicians, staff and community,” stated Hagerman. “This announcement demonstrates that we have laid strong groundwork toward a stable, secure and sustainable Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Mark’s demonstrated leadership and passion will keep us moving forward as we continue to address long-term challenges. We have confidence in Mark’s ability and are delighted that he is eager to assume this executive leadership role.”

Fiscal year 2012 ended with the highest amount of contributed revenue raised for operations in the history of the MSO - $12.0 million. The orchestra welcomed 1,210 new donors—an 18% increase over the FY11 campaign—and 763 donors increased their gifts to the orchestra. This result was made possible by the generosity of many donors, but especially the David and Julia Uihlein Charitable Foundation and William and Polly Van Dyke. Both families made major gifts that secured the MSO’s successful year.

Two challenge grants were also instrumental in the MSO’s pursuit of a balanced budget. The first was Just Duet II, a $250,000 challenge grant from the Argosy Foundation, which added a total of $512,898 in new and increased gifts for $762,898 in total contributions. The second was the Arthur Laskin Board Challenge which matched increased board giving.

The MSO received critical support from the Milwaukee community, including:

  • Corporations including Chase, Johnson Controls, Hal Leonard and Rockwell Automation;
  • Generous foundations including the United Performing Arts Fund, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation and The Greater Milwaukee Foundation;
  • Individuals including the late Roy Butter, Franklyn Esenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Krause, Arthur and Nancy Laskin, Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg and Michael and Jeanne Schmitz.

In addition to critical donor support in the past fiscal year, MSO Maestro Edo de Waart and the MSO received rave reviews from critics and industry professionals after an appearance at Carnegie Hall during the Spring for Music Festival. “These and other musical achievements by Edo de Waart and the musicians of the MSO have encouraged donors and patrons, and resulted in an incredible outpouring of support,” stated Hagerman. “This support shows how strongly people believe in the mission of our orchestra and what we contribute to the vitality of the Milwaukee Community.”

New president and executive director Mark Niehaus is uniquely qualified for this role, having intimate knowledge of the donor base, a successful musical background and a strong relationship with de Waart, Niehaus is a graduate of The Juilliard School, and following graduation, served on the faculty of its pre-college division. He has also served on the faculties of North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Since 1998, he has served as principal trumpet of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, he was elected by the musicians to serve as the chairman of the Orchestra’s Players’ Council. For the past two years, he has served as an active member of the MSO Board. He has stepped down from his duties as a musician to assume his new role.

“I am very proud of this orchestra,” Niehaus said, “and I look forward to being deeply engaged with all its constituencies: donors, volunteers, board, musicians, staff and community supporters. I seek to connect with all those who love this great institution and find ways for the orchestra to bring more music to more people.”

De Waart commented, “I have tremendous confidence in Mark’s ability, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.”  MSO Concertmaster Frank Almond noted, “These are times of great stress for arts organizations all over our country, but with Mark’s leadership, I am quite optimistic about the MSO’s future. Mark is the right person to lead the organization.”

“At this time of great positive momentum of the MSO, we are thrilled to welcome a new leader in Mark Niehaus who brings knowledge of the industry, familiarity with our sponsors, ticketholders and community, and a commitment to the long range plan that will continue to guide this organization to prosperity,” stated Hagerman.

Hagerman continued, “Maryellen Gleason has resigned to pursue other opportunities, and our separation has been amicable.  During her two seasons as president and executive director, the MSO balanced its budget, eliminated its accumulated bank debt, and developed a long range institutional plan that offers a clear vision of the path to financial stability.  We thank Ms. Gleason for her work with the MSO and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

About the MSO
Ranked among the top orchestras in the country, the MSO is the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1959, the orchestra has received critical acclaim for artistic excellence. The orchestra’s 83 full-time professional musicians perform more than 140 concerts each season. A cornerstone organization in Milwaukee’s arts community, the MSO provides enrichment and education activities for audiences of every age, economic status and background.


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