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DSO's VP of Artistic Operations Retires

by Jerome Weeks 9 Aug 2011 1:41 PM

Mark Melson managed three tours by the Dallas Symphony to Europe, five trips to Carnegie Hall and helped pick Jaap van Zweden to be the orchestra’s conductor. He even hosted a regular radio show on WRR for seven years.


Mark Melson had been with the Dallas Symphony for 26 years and had helped move the orchestra into the Meyerson, managed three tours to Europe and five trips to Carnegie Hall. He was on two conductor search committees (the ones that picked Andrew Litton and Jaap van Zweden), one CEO search committee and even found time to teach at SMU and host a regular radio show on WRR (Dallas Symphony Preview) for seven years. He started as the DSO’s public relations manager in 1985.

Former DSO president Eugene Bonelli says, “He leaves a legacy at the symphony that will not be equaled.”

(Parenthetically, if you happen to like Art&Seek’s website, Mark’s son, Alan is responsible for it to a large degree as KERA’s interactive director. )

The full press release follows:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces Retirement of Mark Melson, Vice President of Artistic Operations

DSO’s long-tenured staff member will step down August 31

DALLAS, TX (August 9, 2011)-  The Dallas Symphony announced today that Mark Melson, vice president of artistic operations, will retire at the end of this month.

Melson, 60, who celebrated his 26th anniversary with the orchestra in May, will work with the DSO on a consulting basis over the next two years, assisting with training, artistic administration and other projects.   Aldert Vermeulen, the DSO’s director of artistic planning, will take over many of Melson’s responsibilities.

“From my very first day in Dallas, I have enjoyed working with Mark Melson,” said Dallas Symphony Music Director Jaap van Zweden.  “He has in-depth knowledge of the classical music repertoire and great integrity.  I wish him well.”

Melson began as the DSO’s Public Relations Manager in1985, after holding the same position with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony. In 1988, he was named head of the Operations Department, which oversees every aspect of concert production, and later he was promoted to vice president of artistic operations.

“Mark will be missed by the DSO much more than most people realize,” acknowledged Greg Hustis, Dallas Symphony principal horn.  “Over the years there have been many instances when his was the lone voice to stand up for the integrity of the art form we are all trying so hard to preserve.  He has been as good a friend to the Dallas Symphony Association as there is.”

Melson played a key role in moving the Symphony into the Meyerson Center in 1989 (as documented in Laurie Shulman’s book, The Meyerson Symphony Center: Building a Dream). He also managed three European concert tours (in 1997, 2000 and 2003), an Asian tour in 1991, a three-concert tour of Mexico in 1992, and five trips to New York for concerts at Carnegie Hall.

He served on two Music Director Search Committees (bringing Andrew Litton and Jaap van Zweden to the DSO) and one CEO Search Committee. He has also chaired search committees for the last two Dallas Symphony Chorus Directors, David Davidson and Joshua Habermann.  In addition, Melson has assisted in negotiating electronic media agreements for the orchestra, including CD recordings, television programs and, most recently, international radio syndication. He also hosted a regular radio show on WRR, “Dallas Symphony Preview,” for seven years and gave most of the pre-concert lectures in the early years of the Meyerson.

“From a historical perspective, Mark has made a significant contribution to the operations and artistic quality of the Dallas Symphony,” stated former Dallas Symphony President Dr. Eugene Bonelli.  “He leaves a legacy at the symphony that will not be equaled.”

For 14 years, from 1991 through 2005, Melson also served as adjunct faculty in the arts administration program at Southern Methodist University, teaching classes in symphonic literature and orchestra operations. He also speaks frequently to civic groups and schools about the Dallas Symphony and classical music.

“This has been the opportunity of a lifetime for me – I have been blessed,” Melson said. “I have been able to do all the things people in symphony administration dream of doing – moving the orchestra into a fabulous new hall, serving on music director search committees, managing national and international tours, negotiating recording deals, and traveling the world to represent the Dallas Symphony. I have also come to know hundreds of fascinating people, from conductors and soloists to orchestra musicians and civic leaders, who have enriched my life.”

“I’m delighted that I can keep involved on a consulting basis with the DSO, because I love the organization and my knowledge and experience could be helpful. But I am also happy that I will now have time for things that I have not had time for because of the demands of the full-time job.”