Minn. Orchestra President and CEO is Stepping Down

Updated: 03/21/2014 7:38 AM
Created: 03/20/2014 8:03 PM
By: Cassie Hart

The president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra will be stepping down, according to an announcement made late Thursday.

Michael Henson will lead the organization through a transition period over the next five months and then, by mutual agreement, will be done Aug. 31, 2014, according to a news release.

Henson has led the Minnesota Orchestra since 2007. His accomplishments include: leading the orchestra’s $110 million comprehensive fundraising campaign; overseeing the renovation of Orchestra Hall; establishing a new endowment; maintaining budget controls during the recession; delivering a new labor contract with musicians and launching an organizational start-up plan following the labor dispute. 

“Michael has always supported the Orchestra’s artistic mission, and when the Board asked him to address the serious financial challenges of the organization, he faced this issue directly, re-organizing administrative staff and helping to deliver a musicians’ contract agreement that was difficult but necessary,” Board Chair Gordon M. Sprenger said. “It is never easy to be an agent of change, but Michael leaves the Minnesota Orchestra secure, on more solid financial footing and established in a beautifully renovated venue that will meet the needs of our organization, audiences and community for decades to come.”

“It has been my privilege to serve the Minnesota Orchestra for the past seven seasons, working with our talented musicians and artistic leaders, the dedicated Board of Directors, so many donors and concertgoers and, not least, our exceptional staff," Henson said. "It has always been my aim to do what is right for the organization, however great the challenges and I’m proud of our accomplishments. The right thing now is for me to work to ensure continuity during this transition to the next phase in the life of the Minnesota Orchestra, which I believe will be very bright.”

The musicians say they're looking forward to working with the orchestra's board and future management to move the orchestra forward "in a positive direction."

During the lockout, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä resigned after a decade as the orchestra's music director.

The Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors is establishing a committee to identify a successor to Henson, and a search will be launched next month.