Michael Pettry

Michael Pettry

Now in his 13th season, Michael Pettry has led the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir to notable financial growth and unprecedented sustainability despite difficult economic conditions. Under his leadership, revenue from individual donors has quadrupled, corporate sponsorships have increased 13-fold, and support from granting organizations has increased in terms of dollars raised and number of grant-making partnerships. Ticket revenue has increased by 420%, and for each of the past 5 seasons ticket sales have averaged over 95% capacity. Recently launching a $3.75 million endowment campaign, the Symphonic Choir has matured from an operating budget of less than $250,000 to over $1,250,000 during his tenure.

Pettry’s integrated fundraising-marketing strategy employs relationship-focused fundraising and capitalizes on the world-class artistic product of the Symphonic Choir. Through creative use of social media such as the 2011 flash mob at the Indianapolis International Airport and viral videos, as well as through wide coverage in more conventional print and electronic media, the Choir’s internal and external communications strategies are creative, engaging, and effective, increasing the Choir’s visibility in Greater Indianapolis and on the national stage. His coordination of national PR following the Choir's performance with Madonna at Super Bowl XLVI Half Time further expanded the institution's reach and recognition. Grasping the power of storytelling, he has led initiatives to enhance patron involvement through pre-concert and social media video storytelling as seen on the Symphonic Choir's YouTube channel.

Beyond fundraising and marketing, Pettry is pleased to have fostered new programs with the Symphonic Choir, including its relationship with the Indianapolis Public Schools. As the “official choral partner” of IPS, the Symphonic Choir offers unique opportunities for students and teachers including master classes, teacher training, and side-by-side concert experiences, and by providing supplies and printed music. Additionally, he guided the resurrection and return of the All-City Honor Choir. Other initiatives of the Choir include the annual Christmas Carol Commission Competition and PREF, a program utilizing choral music as a means to build stronger relationship between incarcerated fathers and their children. Recent initiatives launched during Pettry's tenure include "Timeless in Song," serving the community's lower-income senior population and "Harmony of Voices," which combines educational resources and access to art for students and their families in urban Indianapolis. The institution launched a Conducting Fellowship in partnership with Butler University, providing a first-of-its-kind opportunity for a graduate conducting student to study the unique repertoire and structure of a large symphonic chorus.

Artistically, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir has successfully mounted such large-scale works as the Berlioz Requiem, two iterations of the Britten War Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the St. John Passion, the Missa Solemnis plus requiem settings by Verdi, Brahms, Durufle and Mozart. Commissioning new works annually, the institution recently debuted a new oratorio titled Zabur for adult chorus, children's choir, full symphony orchestra and two soloists with English and Arabic setting of the psalms by composer Mohammed Fairouz. He produced the New York City debut of Zabur at Carnegie Hall in October 2016 to coincide with the international recording of the oratorio on Naxos. Bold programming has enabled the institution to tour both nationally and internationally, as well as release multiple CD recordings including the complete, two-disc recording of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. The Symphonic Choir returns to The Kennedy Center in spring 2018 performing the Penderecki Credo.

Pettry holds an undergraduate degree in pipe organ performance from Ball State University and a master of music in conducting from Butler University. He produces and conducts new choral-orchestral pops performances and commissions new musical works. Pettry has served as adjunct faculty at Butler University, and currently serves as guest lecturer. He has presented at national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, is a panelist for the Indiana Arts Commission grant adjudication, serves on the Board of Directors for the Indianapolis Consortium of Arts Administrators, and is a graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series.

Pettry was named a 2015 Creative Renewal Fellow by the Arts Council of Indianapolis and traveled the U.K. and France playing and exploring notable pipe organs. A lover of chocolate chip cookie dough and big, bold reds (although not together), he regularly enlivens radio and TV broadcasts with his culinary skills and oenophilia.

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