Mary Tuuk Kuras, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony, has announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2022.
“Mary has administratively led the Grand Rapids Symphony through a critical chapter, and we are grateful for her leadership,” said Luis Avila, Board Chair of the Grand Rapids Symphony. “Her unique blend of business leadership experience, passion for the Symphony’s mission, and love of people has propelled the Symphony to a bright future.”
Upon retirement, Mary will remain connected to the Symphony in a transitional role for some time to ensure stability of artistic operations, continuation of strong financial performance and effective stewardship of donor support. The Board of Directors will immediately form a committee to search for Mary’s successor. Renee Tabben, Chair-Elect of the Board, will chair the Search Committee.
“It has been an honor to pair my personal passion for music with my profession in my final career stage prior to retirement,” said Tuuk Kuras. “Serving the Symphony stakeholders and West Michigan community has been pure joy, and my heart sings as I look forward to the Symphony’s future innovation, financial stability, and vibrancy. I am incredibly proud of our gifted musicians and talented administrative team, and ask the members of our Symphony family and West Michigan community to offer them full support and advocacy in this next chapter. I am also deeply grateful to our dedicated Board Members, Foundation Trustees, generous donors and loyal patrons for their tremendous support during the pandemic.”
Grand Rapids Symphony Team Highlights during the tenure of Tuuk Kuras:
● Celebration of Symphony’s 90th anniversary season, including a special event concert featuring internationally renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman
● Extension of Music Director Marcelo Lehninger’s contract to 2026
● Immediate innovation during the pandemic to continue delivery of the Symphony’s mission to the West Michigan community, including From our Home to Yours, a nationally acclaimed virtual production of the Hallelujah Chorus, creation of the virtual Pathwaves concert series, Pop-ups in the Park and Sidewalk Serenades, virtual education delivery, and expansion of the Neighborhood Concert Series
● Curating a new collaboration with Frederik Meijer Gardens on its summer music concert series
● Expanded artistic relationships with Grand Rapids Ballet and Opera Grand Rapids
● Sold-out Symphony with Soul events featuring Black Violin, Terence Blanchard and Leslie Odom, Jr.
● Continuation of La Sinfonia Navideña in collaboration with the Hispanic community
● Revitalization of the Symphony’s education strategy, resulting in greater focus on outcomes and the transition to the nationally recognized Link-Up program
● Three consecutive years of operating surpluses on a cash basis, with likely achievement of a fourth consecutive year surplus at August 31, 2022
● Strong annual audit results
● No musicians were furloughed during the pandemic
● Successful and collaborative negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with orchestra musicians in August 2021, resulting in growth of full-time orchestra positions and a 2023 2% pay increase
● Development of a multi-year scenario-based financial plan through August 31, 2024 to support a balanced budget during a time of audience rebuilding post-pandemic
● Recruitment and/or development of talented senior administrative team leaders who will be pivotal to the Symphony’s future
● Selection of Duo Shen as Symphony’s new Assistant Conductor
● Continuation of the Symphony’s DEI journey in all aspects of operations, with emphasis on bold transformation on stage and off stage
"The Symphony would simply not have thrived as it did during COVID had it not been for Mary's steadfast and caring leadership. Personally, it has been an honor to work alongside her during these difficult years and to see firsthand how to be a true servant-leader. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank Mary for her leadership and dedication and wish her all the best as she pursues retirement," said Avila.
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