Mark Niehaus, Doug Hagerman interview
Bold appointment of principal trumpeter as chief executive unprecedented with a major orchestra.
Mark Niehaus , principal trumpet since 1998, is the new president and executive director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Board chairman Douglas Hagerman made the surprise announcement Wednesday. Niehaus replaces Maryellen Gleason, who came to the role with the MSO in January of 2011, from a similar position with the Phoenix (Az.) Symphony.
In a prepared statement, Hagerman says: “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.”
Hagerman also announced that the orchestra has achieved a balanced budget for its fiscal year 2012, which ended Aug. 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.
Niehaus is chairman of the Orchestra’s Players’ Council and an active member of the MSO board. Both players and management have called upon Niehaus often to represent the MSO to the public. He is a charismatic and witty public speaker.
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 s upport shows how strongly people believe in the mission of our orchestra and what we contribute to the vitality of the Milwaukee Community.”