After 55 years as an artist manager, Ann Summers Dossena of Ann Summers International has announced her retirement from artists’ management. Honoured by her industry in 2012, she has had a distinguished career in which she created and oversaw many innovations in music and the other performing arts. She intends to devote herself to fulfilling her vision for one of these – the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA), the non-profit, charitable organization she founded in the 1980s to help singers, dancers and other performing artists develop their full potential.
Summers Dossena and the IRCPA Board of Directors will be able to move forward with IRCPA projects. Chief among them is to fundraise and acquire space to accommodate libraries of donated scores, mentor artists one on one and in groups, hold round-table discussions exchanging ideas and challenges, and to continue the workshops Career Moves and Encounters with Employers. These workshops provide, amongst other things, a place for artists to try out new directions for advice, without risk to their career. Such celebrated Canadian singers as sopranos Adrianne Pieczonka and Isabel Bayrakdarian, and tenor Colin Ainsworth were helped by the IRCPA. More information is at www.ircpa.net.
The IRCPA most recently presented the Canadian Day event in Rome in July. Thirteen Canadian artists made their Rome debut performances in a day that also showcased Canadian photographs, TV documentaries and a lecture/discussion about Glenn Gould. The musical portion will be reprised in Toronto as Canadian Day Revisited, Tuesday, December 3, at 8 p.m. when the two concerts will be performed at Toronto’s Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West. Reservations and Information are available at www.lula.ca.
It was on Thanksgiving weekend in 1957 that the then Ann Suthons was welcomed to the United States by an immigration officer and modestly began a career that would see her establishing offices in New York City, Rome and Toronto, producing concerts and managing the careers of such well-known artists as Metropolitan Opera singers George Shirley, Clarice Carson, Shirley Love and Louis Quilico, Dorian Woodwind Quintet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Claremont String Quartet, and most recently pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, pianist Haiou Zhang and clarinetist Kornel Wolak.
The day after her New York arrival, she began the job that had brought her there, as secretary for the Actors’ Equity Association. Only a few months later, the AEA president, actor Ralph Bellamy, invited her to work for his agent, Howard Hausman, second in command at the William Morris agency. In a third move, a few months later, to the Herbert Barrett Management as secretary to Mr. Barrett, she found her niche. With the permission of Barrett, who recommended she change her surname to Summers, she began working from home to develop a chamber music department. In the fall of 1958, because of family problems, she left the Barrett office and established Ann Summers Management, incorporating in 1960.
Among her accomplishments was initiating the Extended Engagement Plan in New York to develop and create full–time employment for chamber music artists, and at the same time stimulate the interest of concertgoers. Now known as the Artist in Residence program, it is funded by the National Endowment of the Arts and Chamber Music America. Chamber groups, including jazz ensembles, were organized as membership corporations, allowing many groups to stabilize through long-term planning.
Ms. Summers produced the first series of concerts presented by Carnegie Hall after it was saved from the wrecking ball. These included the Visiting Orchestra series, which still remains today. She created the Concert Party series of informal concerts that developed audience-building and marketing techniques now traditional in many cities. She produced the first professional music tours to East and West Africa by the Dorian Quintet and Claremont Quartet for the American State Department, resulting in a reception in Washington with President Johnson and the signing into law of the National Endowment.
In 1969, Concert Party extended to Rome, Italy. Marriage to RAI TV Director, the late Armando Dossena, led to a base in Rome, where Summers Dossena worked as a presenter and producer of many high profile arts events, including a performances in Rome of the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta as part of their State Department European tour, the three-week Music and Architecture Festival featuring over 200 Canadian artists in L’Aquila, a tour of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to Israel, and two tours of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Italy. The creation of the Serate Musicali Foundation Inc., which she established in New York before leaving for Italy, supported an electronic music lab, restored the organ of Buxtehude and sponsored the Bach and Organ Festivals in Rome. She also managed tours, including La Scala performances for violinist Pinchas Zukerman, conductors Lukas Foss, Kenneth Montgomery and Ermanno Florio, chamber group Tashi, the North Carolina School of the Arts in Siena, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano, among others.
Returning to Toronto in 1977, Ms. Summers Dossena established Ann Summers International, with a focus on serving both artists and audiences internationally. In 1983, she founded the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists, which was incorporated in 1985.
Summers Dossena is also author of the book Getting It All Together, first published in 1985 by Scarecrow Press in the U.S. and distributed to schools and libraries throughout North America. It is still available on Amazon.ca and ABEbooks.com. A second edition will soon be released.
In 1993, at the request of the International Institute of Vocal Arts in New York, Ms. Summers Dossena found the Villa Mazzotti in Chiari, Italy, and bartered the use of the Villa with the city as a centre for a four-week study program for singers, coaches and pianists. Its distinguished faculty included staff members of the Metropolitan and New York City opera companies, among them Mignon Dunn, Sherrill Milnes, Regina Resnik, and Italian coaches Bruno Rigacci and Marco Boemi. Ms. Summers coordinated the program in Italy through its seventh season.
Ann Summers Dossena was awarded the first Manager of the Year Award at the 2012 annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon of NAPAMA – the North American Association of Performing Arts Managers and Agents – and APAP – the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
Ms. Summers Dossena is an Honorary Life Member of the International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA), founding member of the North American (formerly National) Association of Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA), and a member of the American Orchestra League, Orchestras Canada, Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA), the CCI Network (Ontario Presenting Network), Canadian Italian Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, Team Italia Canada, and the Canadian Club of Rome.