ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Lori Zupan said her love of classical music is one of the reasons she’s stayed in her position with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra for so long.
Now, 35 years later, the 65-year-old recently stepped down from her position as the group’s business manager. However, Zupan said he is completing some special projects and “helping out a little bit here and there.”
Zupan plans to continue cheering for the organization, now as an audience member, which she says “is the most important thing.”
“It’s not a loss because we know she’s not going anywhere,” said Carol Sewell, president of the board of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. “Although we won’t see her every day … we always know she will be our protector and our biggest fan.”
As a pianist, Zupan’s passion for music and the symphony was able to shine through in her work, said Sarah Calderini, executive director of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.
“She combines her background in classical music … with a deep love for this community,” she said. “She was willing to roll up her sleeves to do what needed to be done, even if it was outside of her traditional roles and responsibilities.”
Over the years, Zupan said she has done almost every task in the organization, including helping with the group’s marketing, education and development. She has worked alongside four music directors, five executive directors and hundreds of board and staff members.
“When we were a younger organization with less opportunity to have other staff members, she was … (the) jack of all trades that really held us together,” Sewell said.
But most people probably know Zupan from when it sold tickets and allocated seats. She said it’s a part of the job she knows she’ll miss.
“It was such a pleasure to talk and just get to know people over the phone,” she said.
Since 1988, Zupan has become an “institutional library” and a “go-to” person when it comes to the history of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Sewell said, adding that the retiree is the “continuity” throughout the organization.
“I just think she’s one of the most humble people I’ve ever met,” she said. “I don’t think she even understands the indelible mark she has on our organization.”
While the symphony finds people to fill Zupan’s role, the longtime employee’s responsibilities are divided among several different people. While one person handles the financial part, others step in to help with other aspects.
“(I think it just) demonstrates how extensive knowledge and experience she has in our organization,” Sewell said.
With Zupan’s retirement, Calderini said the symphony was able to reformulate its structure and even create a new position to handle the symphony’s day-to-day operations.
“(Zupan’s work) was so impressive and … (what’s) really wonderful … is how people embraced their new responsibilities … in honor of Lori and … wanting to make her proud. “
Ultimately, Zupan said, she hopes her enthusiasm for the symphony lives on through other staff members and that Ann Arbor continues to support and enjoy what the organization has to offer.
“I think the organization is wonderful … and I wish sometimes more of the community would support it,” she said. “I’m surprised we’re not as well known in the community as we should be.”
To learn more about the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, visit its website or social media.
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