Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional: Kathryn Ginsburg

December 6, 2022 | By Wynne Delacoma

General Manager
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

When Kathryn Ginsburg joined the staff of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in fall 2011, she was fresh out of graduate school and the orchestra had just returned to concertizing after a bitter, six-month strike.

DSO staff, musicians, and board were rethinking operations from top to bottom. The orchestra plunged into digital media, becoming the first to present a regular webcast series. It started performing regularly outside of Orchestra Hall, its home in downtown Detroit. And, most crucially, everyone involved agreed that orchestra’s internal culture had to change.

“It was trying to build trust and have more transparency among the different constituencies,” said Ginsburg. “It was critical then, and it’s been even more critical in the past couple of years.”

Ginsburg was promoted this past February from DSO senior operations and orchestra manager to general manager. Over the years she has been involved in myriad facets of the orchestra’s operations, from contract negotiations to planning tours.

Since January 2020, the changes hitting the DSO have been non-stop. A new music director, Jader Bignamani, was appointed that month, just before the pandemic hit. Post pandemic, in early March 2022, a new president and CEO succeeded Anne Parsons, the respected, longtime DSO chief who died later that same month. New staff was hired; in-house personnel were promoted. Seven successful auditions brought new musicians onstage, including a new concertmaster and principal bassoon.

Ginsburg firmly believes that the orchestra’s drastic, post-strike reorganization  helped it survive Covid shutdowns and head-spinning artistic and administrative change. Having been the first American orchestra to stream its regular subscription concerts live, it had long experience in the digital realm and knew how to reach new audiences. Most importantly, its staff members, from administrative to artistic, knew how to work together.

“It’s been a perfect storm of crazy over these past couple of years,” Ginsburg said.  “The most important thing is the relationship and culture we’ve built over the past decade. We had to rely heavily on that because everyone had to be so flexible and understanding. I don’t know how I, in this role, would have made it through without all the work we had done leading up to this time.”




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