May 14, 2019 (Ann Arbor, MI) – Mary Steffek Blaske, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s beloved Executive Director, has announced plans to retire after 25 years of service.
Steffek Blaske led the Symphony through a remarkable period of growth that drew talented professional musicians, internationally known soloists, and ever-appreciative audiences to mainstage concerts at the Michigan Theater and Hill Auditorium. With a current annual budget of $1.6 million, the 90-year-old orchestra is known nationally for its excellence and locally for its community impact. Its innovative education and engagement programs, developed and grown during Steffek Blaske’s tenure, reach more than 30,000 Michigan school children and countless others each year through classroom visits, chamber concerts, farmers markets, and other events.
“It has been my privilege to be part of this dynamo organization and watch it blossom into a healthy orchestra that is both world-class and community-focused,” she said. “I am proud of the enduring commitment of our board, musicians, staff, and audience, who join in common purpose to make the music matter. I am especially proud that our A2SO serves everyone from toddler to most-seasoned citizen.”
Steffek Blaske described a few of her favorite A²SO memories: “I will always remember a happy, wide-eyed toddler parading behind the trombone soloist at a KinderConcert. I treasure the memory of an energized ’tween after a Music in the Middle Concert shouting ‘Beethoven ROCKS!’ I will always remember, maybe longer than any music, the ‘angel’s silence’ at the end of a riveting concert before the audience leaps to their feet with thunderous applause. The A2SO has provided me over the past 25 years with literally hundreds of magical moments.”
She is expected to remain in her position through the end of the year as the Board of Directors conducts a search for her replacement.
“Mary has been the heart and soul of the organization for 25 years,” said Rick Hendricks, Board President. “Her tremendous people skills, creativity, attention to detail, knowledge of both the local and the larger musical communities, and her passion for excellence have been significant factors in making the A2SO the premier orchestra that it is today. She will be greatly missed.”
Steffek Blaske, a former recipient of Rotary’s Distinguished Service Award, a five-time Paul Harris Fellow awardee, and the 2011 Distinguished Citizen by the Great Sauk Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has served on numerous boards and committees of many local non-profit organizations, including the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, Washtenaw Community College Arts Acquisition Committee and the Michigan Theater. She has held leadership positions with many other organizations, including Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County Historical Society, the Annual Ann Arbor Messiah Community Sing, Cobblestone Farm Association, and Project Grow. Mary and her husband Tom Blaske live in Ann Arbor with their flat-coated retrievers Reme and Mackinaw.