Wed. Nov. 17, 2021, Matthew VanBesien, President of the University of Michigan Musical Society, speaking on the upcoming season.

Wed. Nov. 17, 2021, Matthew VanBesien, President of the University of Michigan Musical Society, speaking on the upcoming season.

Matthew VanBesien has served as president of UMS since 2017. VanBesien took the reins from Ken Fischer, who retired after 30 years in the job. VanBesien is only the seventh president in UMS history after Henry Simmons Frieze (1879-81, 1883-89), Alexander Winchell (1881-83, 1889-91), Francis Kelsey (1891-1927), Charles Sink (1927-68), Gail Rector (1968-86), and Ken Fischer (1987-2017).

Before joining UMS, he served as executive director and president of the New York Philharmonic, where he fostered a close relationship with UMS, bringing Philharmonic residencies to the Michigan campus with concerts, masterclasses, and a range of other student & faculty engagement events, in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

A former French horn player, Matthew VanBesien spent eight years performing with the Louisiana Philharmonic before joining the League of American Orchestras’ management fellowship program. Upon completion of that program, he worked with the Houston Symphony for seven years, rising to executive director and CEO for the final four years of his tenure, and then served two years as managing director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Australia.

During his tenure at the New York Philharmonic, Matthew VanBesien developed and executed innovative programs along with music director Alan Gilbert, such as the NY PHIL BIENNIAL in 2014 and 2016, the Art of the Score film and music series, and exciting productions like Jeanne d’Arc au bucher with Marion Cotillard and the Comedie Francaise from Paris, and the Emmy Award-winning Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel. He led the creation of the New York Philharmonic’s Global Academy initiative, offering educational partnerships with cultural institutions in Shanghai, California, Texas, and in Michigan at Interlochen, to train talented pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. He led a successful music director search, with Jaap van Zweden appointed to that role beginning in 2018, the formation of the Philharmonic’s International Advisory Board and President’s Council, and the unique and successful multi-year residency and educational partnership resulting in the creation of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy in China.

He serves as the Secretary and Treasurer on the Board of the International Society for the Performing Arts, a membership organization comprised of hundreds of performing arts presenters from around the world, and is on the Board of Ann Arbor SPARK, a non- profit economic development organization committed to Ann Arbor and the Southeast Michigan region’s economy. He has served on the board of the League of American Orchestras, the Executive Committee for the Avery Fisher Career Grants at Lincoln Center, and the Board of Overseers for the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Matthew VanBesien earned a bachelor of music degree in French horn performance from Indiana University and was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music. He is married to Rosanne Jowitt, an accomplished geoscientist in the energy sector.