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Friday June 28, 2024

Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns to lead Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Burns will remain in her Minnesota leadership position through September 13, 2024

(June 28, 2024) Michelle Miller Burns, the Minnesota Orchestra’s President and CEO since 2018, has been appointed the President and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO). Burns will continue her role at the Minnesota Orchestra through September 13, working closely with Board Chair Nancy Lindahl, musician leadership and senior staff to ensure a smooth transition. The Orchestra Board will begin a search for her successor soon.

“Michelle has come to mean so much to this organization over the last six years,” said Board Chair Nancy Lindahl. “She has expertly navigated extremely challenging times, exemplifying collaborative leadership and demonstrating what it means to listen to colleagues and build and tend relationships with people. It has been my great pleasure to work alongside her in championing the Minnesota Orchestra and, on behalf of the entire organization, we share big congratulations and send her south to Dallas with our best wishes.” Prior to joining the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2018, Burns held multiple positions with the DSO.

In her first seasons in Minnesota, Burns launched a multi-year revenue growth plan to increase both contributed and earned revenue, and unveiled a new leadership model and redesigned format for its long-running summer festival. When the pandemic closed arts organizations across the nation in 2020, Burns and board leadership kept musicians playing and connected to community through outdoor performances and subsequently the launch of This Is Minnesota Orchestra, a multi-channel series that brought the Orchestra to audiences via TV, livestream and radio; that Emmy Award-winning series is still running today, providing access to audiences across the state and beyond.

Coming out of the pandemic, Burns negotiated a new agreement with Orchestra musicians that extends until 2026; saw to completion the Orchestra’s acclaimed cycle of Mahler Symphonies with Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä; and championed significant programming shifts, including the launch of successful Lunar New Year and Juneteenth concert programs and a focus around expanding the diversity of composer and artist voices represented on each season. Burns was pivotal in bringing Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård to Minneapolis as the Orchestra’s 11th music director and oversaw his introduction to the community in a season that just concluded a week ago.

“My husband Gary and I have always considered Dallas a second home, so this new role was a deeply enticing opportunity. Even as this transition is announced, though, my heart is full of gratitude for the outstanding musicians and music-making of the Minnesota Orchestra and for the many Board members, colleagues and friends who have made my six years in the Twin Cities so joyful and meaningful. I’d like to offer particular thanks to Board Chair Nancy Lindahl for her outstanding leadership and friendship during my tenure,” says Burns. “It has been a joy to be part of Thomas Søndergård’s first season and to witness the new connections being made between him, musicians and this community. I’m honored to have been part of the Minnesota Orchestra family.”

Said Music Director Thomas Søndergård, “Michelle is a leader with great integrity who has been a source of stability and inspiration for the Minnesota Orchestra. From my first meetings with her I have been impressed with the way she promotes a culture of listening and collaboration and places artistry at the center of decision-making. I congratulate her on her new role and wish her much happiness in Dallas.”

About the Minnesota Orchestra 

Founded in 1903, the Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra is known for acclaimed performances in its home state and around the world; award-winning educational programs; and a commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of tomorrow, all based on the belief that music is for everyone. Each year, Minnesota Orchestra concerts and recordings are seen and heard by more than three million people via television, radio, digital streaming and on-demand platforms. Led by Music Director Thomas Søndergård, the Orchestra makes its home in the heart of downtown Minneapolis at Orchestra Hall, a venue renowned for its brilliant acoustics and modern design.


Michael Curran, Communications Coordinator 

Gwen Pappas, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations  

Alexandra Robinson, Content and Communications Manager