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Bill Lively Resigns from Dallas Symphony Orchestra

by Anne Bothwell 29 Apr 2011 12:00 PM

Bill Lively successfully raised the money to build the AT&T Performing Arts Center and to host the Super Bowl. But he will not be doing the same for the DSO.


Bill Lively resigns from the DSO


Bill Lively raised the money to build the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas and to host the Super Bowl.  When the Dallas Symphony Orchestra named Lively as president in January, leaders there surely hoped to benefit from his golden touch.

But today, Lively announced that he’d be stepping down for unspecified health reasons.

Lively made the decision based on doctor’s recommendations, he said.  In a statement released by the DSO, Lively said he’d ” devote significant time this summer to rest and recuperation.”

Lively came to the symphony after leading the campaign to raise $338 million for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and then raise funds for the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee.  Attracting Lively was a coup for the symphony, which has had a $4 million deficit and has said it must raise $150 million in the next five years.

Lively joined the DSO  part-time on April 1, and was supposed to begin full-time in June.  He continues part-time with the Super Bowl Host Committee until the end of May.

DSO press release after the jump.  Bill Zeeble just got off the phone with Lively, and we’ll have more this afternoon on KERA FM during All Things Considered.


Bill Lively: “I had a brother,  John, who two and a half years ago at age 56 died of a stroke. He was a Presbyterian minister, lawyer and judge in Oklahoma and he died of a stroke, no warning. My brother Bob was 60 years old and 4 years ago had a stroke which paralyzed him partially  and forced him into early retirement. He survived but it was nonetheless a life-changing experience.”

Lively told Bill Zeeble that within the past 5 weeks, he experienced symptoms he had never felt before, including headaches. Given the family history, he decided to follow doctors advice to avoid a stroke. He’s giving up professional responsibilities to reduce stress.
So, after working 12-14 hour days for 20 years, he says he and his wife will  spend the summer in the Colorado mountains. Mr. Lively expects to return here in the fall to continue his involvement in the arts, to which he has a lifelong commitment. He doesn’t really know what he’ll do.  But he said “one of the reasons to work for a great symphony is to get to hear it.” Lively worried that without a personal change, he was jeopardizing that dream.

Bill Lively Steps Down as President of the

Dallas Symphony

Leader cites health concerns for his departure

DALLAS, April 29, 2011 – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced today that Bill Lively will step down at the end of the month as the organization’s president and CEO—a position he has held part-time since April 1.

“Based on strong recommendations over the past few weeks from my physician, I have made this precautionary decision and will devote significant time this summer to rest and recuperation,” said Lively.

“I entered into this position with a full heart and intention to stay long-term as president, but it became quickly apparent that my health concerns would not allow me to fulfill these obligations,” he continued.  “It has been a privilege to work with Jaap van Zweden, the musicians, and the Dallas Symphony board and staff in the process of identifying and strategizing the immense opportunities this organization has in front of it.  I sincerely regret that I need to leave this role prematurely.”

The Dallas Symphony has named no replacement at this time.

“On behalf of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, we understand and respect Bill Lively’s personal decision.  We will immediately start the process of identifying interim leadership during this important transition,” said DSO Board Chair Ronald J. Gafford.

Lively will also conclude his part-time commitment with the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee at the end of May.  He was scheduled to begin full-time as president of the Dallas Symphony in June.