Wu Family and DTE Energy Foundation Contribute Nearly $5M to DSO


The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has received a $2.9 million bequest from the estate of Dr. Clyde and Helen Wu to help sustain music education programs through the Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement. It is the second largest bequeath in the nearly 130-year-old orchestra’s history, and marks the couple lifetime giving at $5 million.

“Clyde and Helen’s love story, which began when a young doctor attended a beautiful and promising pianist’s recital in Hong Kong, is reminiscent of how they thought about music education,” says Anne Parsons, president and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The couple first started coming to hear the Detroit Symphony Orchestra more than 50 years ago.

“They believed that both exposure and experiences are necessary to spark the passion for music that leads to transformational impact on the healthy development of young people, both socially and intellectually,” Parsons says.

Dr. Wu was appointed as chairman of the orchestra’s education committee nearly 20 years ago. Together with Helen, he would go on to lead his committee through a nationwide search for the DSO’s first full time education administrator as well as the development of a music education program.

The program, now named the Wu Family Academy, welcomes hundreds of young musicians every week.

On Saturday, the academy’s wind ensemble and the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra honored the couple with the Wu Family Showcase. Previous to the performance, the DSO orchestrated a portrait hanging and dedication in the Jacob Bernard Pincus Music Education Center within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center

As the 50th anniversary of the DSO’s youth ensembles approaches during 2019-20 season, the DSO will seek additional support to build on the seed funding.

In turn, the DTE Energy Foundation recently awarded $2 million to the DSO to bring the symphony’s music to communities across southeast Michigan. The gift includes a three-year commitment to continue the free Community Concert Week every fall, and also includes endowment support for music education, senior citizen outreach, and additional community engagement programming.

“This grant serves as a model for the sustainable partnerships that can thrive between the corporate community and our city’s cultural institutions,” said DSO Chairman Mark Davidoff. “By providing funding for today as well as helping us build our endowment for the future, the DTE Energy Foundation is ensuring the DSO’s ability to keep the beat for metro Detroit with music for generations to come.”

The gift builds on 50 years of partnership between the two organizations. The DTE Energy Foundation has supported numerous community and cultural events, including the DSO Pop Series from 2000 to 2010, and Classical Roots, which celebrates African-American composers and artists in music. Since 2010, the Foundation has promoted cultural diversity across southeast Michigan through the DTE Energy Foundation Presents the DSO in Your Community concert series.

“Our communities are extremely important to us, and we believe that music, art, cultural activities, and events are integral to a strong quality of life,” said Faye Nelson, vice president at DTE Energy and president of the DTE Energy Foundation. “This significant gift demonstrates the DTE Energy Foundation’s commitment to continuing the legacy of the DSO and ensures that communities across Michigan have access to this important cultural institution.”

As part of the partnership with the DTE Energy Foundation, the DSO will deliver its sixth consecutive free concert series at four venues selected by community members. Throughout May, small ensembles of DSO musicians gave pop-up performances across the region to promote a public nomination process for determining the locations of the free concerts, which will be held September 23-25. Interested parties may nominate a venue in their community at dso.org/DTEpowersDSO.

The “DTE Powers DSO” venue competition challenges metro Detroiters to influence where the orchestra plays. Eligibility for selection to receive a free concert is based on the following criteria:

— Venue within a 45-mile radius of Orchestra Hall (3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit)

— Venue appropriate to accommodate a full orchestra with a stage/performance area minimum 50’ x 40’

— Fully accessible venue meeting all ADA requirements, including ample and convenient parking

— Venue/facility donated for the free DSO community concert

— Audience capacity of 400+ and secured by the nominee

— Compelling narrative — how would a free DSO community concert impact your community? (150 words or less)

— Ability to co-promote the event

— Up to four (4) letters of support representing diverse cross sections of the community (community/civic leaders, business leaders, students, and community members at large)

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