February 13, 2014By Joe Warner
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Charles Burke looks forward to a new challenge as he takes over as President and CEO of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
Burke has served as the senior director of education for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the artistic director of the Civic Youth Ensembles for the past 15 years.
"It's a change for me and it's exciting," Burke said. "When I met with the search committee, it was very attractive. I haven't seen that kind of pure energy and looking at the facility, the history and the legacy, I think there are fantastic things in store for this important part of the community."
Under Burke's leadership, the DSO's partnerships and music training grew, becoming one of the preeminent programs in the United States.
He led an array of programs and concert presentations, training programs and institutional partnerships.
As the artistic and executive leadership for the DSO's Civic Youth Ensembles, it became a leading music learning program, hosting more than 1,100 students per week in more than 40 ensembles, teaching jazz, classical, chamber and wind ensemble with world-class artists.
Burke also served as the robotic conducing model for the famed ASIMO robot, the first robot to conduct a symphony orchestra, receiving more than one million hits on YouTube. Prior to his work with the DSO, Burke studied orchestral conducting at the University of Michigan, where he served as the Helen Wu Conducting Fellow and was appointed music director of the Campus Symphony Orchestra.
Burke was selected to participate in Leadership Detroit Class of XXXV. He serves as a board member for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival and is a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Burke holds degrees from West Virginia University, George Mason University and has continued his educational work at the Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School.
The board named Burke to the post after a nationwide search.
"We are thrilled to have a person of Charles Burke's dynamic vision to lead the Grosse Pointe War Memorial," said Susan Davies, chairwoman of the GPWM, in a release to the media. "We are delighted by his wealth of experience as we build upon our rich legacy and reinvigorate our mission to serve and connect with the community."
Burke said he'll stay close to music with his new career.
"Music is an important part of my life," he said. "It's been a great journey to be an administrator in music, a teacher of music. Grosse Pointe is a wonderful area with wonderful people. It's about connecting people with the water, the arts, our learning experiences and our legacy."
As president and CEO of the historical War Memorial, Burke said he looks forward to the challenges.
"I'll familiarize myself with the place and what makes it tick," he said. "There has been a strong legacy and leadership here. A first dance or a wedding. An event that was memorable. This community has celebrated important times in life at the Memorial. We want to move forward and build on what we have. It's important to do it right for the community and to honor those who served our country. I look forward to being a part of it."
Burke lives in West Bloomfield with his wife, Kimberly and their two children, Emma and Colin. He enjoys music and running.
"I'd love to qualify for the Boston Marathon," he said.