A reflection on the power of the performing arts to engage and enrich communities

Look Inside

Media Kit

We have three book trailers!

  • Watch the teaser trailer for Everybody In, Nobody Out | link
  • Watch Ken Fischer talk about what "Everybody In, Nobody Out" means to him | link
  • Watch the full book trailer for Everybody In, Nobody Out | link

Watch the Virtual Book Launch, co-hosted by UMS and Literati Bookstore | September 22, 2020 | link


Housed on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the University Musical Society is one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country. A past recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest public artistic honor, UMS connects audiences with wide-ranging performances in music, dance, and theater each season.Between 1987 and 2017, UMS was led by Ken Fischer, who over three decades pursued an ambitious campaign to expand and diversify the organization’s programming and audiences—initiatives inspired by Fischer’s overarching philosophy toward promoting the arts, “Everybody In, Nobody Out.”

The approach not only deepened UMS’s engagement with the university and southeast Michigan communities, it led to exemplary partnerships with distinguished artists across the world. Under Fischer’s leadership, UMS hosted numerous breakthrough performances, including the Vienna Philharmonic’s final tour with Leonard Bernstein, appearances by then relatively unknown opera singer Cecilia Bartoli, a multiyear partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and artists as diverse as Yo-Yo Ma, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Elizabeth Streb, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Though peppered with colorful anecdotes of how these successes came to be, this book is neither a history of UMS nor a memoir of Fischer’s significant accomplishments with the organization. Rather it is a reflection on the power of the performing arts to engage and enrich communities—not by handing down cultural enrichment from on high, but by meeting communities where they live and helping them preserve cultural heritage, incubate talent, and find ways to make community voices heard.

Ken Fischer served as President of the University Musical Society for thirty years until his retirement in 2017. In 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the University of Michigan.
Robin Lea Pyle is author of First in the Field: Breaking Ground in Computer Science at Purdue University. She directs and writes plays for her company To the Rescue Theatre to benefit animal rescue.

Watch | Penny Stamps Speaker Event with Wynton Marsalis and Ken Fischer, moderated by Lisa Richards Toney | Link | April 9, 2021
Watch | Conversation with Steven Lavine, hosted by Chevalier's Books | Link | March 11, 2021
Watch | Interview for Historical Society of Michigan Conference | Link | March 11, 2021
Watch | Interview with Ann Arbor District Library | Link | Dec 8, 2020
Watch | Virtual Book Launch, co-hosted by UMS and Literati Bookstore | Sept 22, 2020 | link
Listen | Interview with Interlochen Public Radio | Link | Oct 6, 2020
Listen | Interview on "Listen In, Michigan" podcast | Link | Aug 30, 2020
Listen | Ed Hoffman interviews Ken Fischer | Link | Aug 29, 2020
Listen | Interview on WRCJ 90.9 | Link | Aug 27, 2020
Listen | Interview on WEMU 89.1 | Link | Aug 24, 2020
Read | Article in Ann Arbor Observer | Link | Feb 23, 2023
Read | Article in Michigan Alumnus | Link | Nov 30, 2020
Read | Review and Interview with Ann Arbor District Library's Pulp | Link | Sept 16, 2020
Read | Review by Marylene Delbourg-Delphis | Link | Sept 1, 2020
Read | "Retired UMS president writes memoir of performing arts impact on Michigan communities" by ClickOnDetroit | Link | Aug 27, 2020
Read | "Ken Fischer memoir details 30 years of performances at Ann Arbor's UMS" by The Detroit News | Link | Aug 19, 2020
Read | Interview with Ken Fischer on the UMS blog | Link | July 22, 2020

Praise for Everybody In, Nobody Out

“This joyous, openhearted memoir is, in fact, a manual on fostering connectivity—no matter what field you are in.”
—Janet Eilber, Artistic Director, Martha Graham Dance Company
“Ken Fischer is the standard-bearer of inclusive leadership. His story is uplifting and offers powerful lessons for us all. I hope the next generation of leaders both inside and outside the arts take inspiration from his remarkable journey.”
—Trey Devey, President of the Interlochen Center for the Arts and former president of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
“Ken Fischer and his joyous book are in wonderful harmony, evoking a life devoted to music and community, from Michigan's University Musical Society to the wider world.”
—Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Maraniss
“Whether you are a beginning arts administrator or a seasoned one deep into your journey, this book is a must read. It enlightens, engages, and reminds us of the ‘why’ and gives us insight into the ‘how.’ ”
—Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Vice President of Cultural Affairs ASU, Executive Director ASU Gammage

“I couldn’t put the book down. The description of the first concert Ken organized reads like a thriller. And the modesty with which he describes his role makes him so likeable. I suspect culture managers will learn more from this one book than from a stack of how-to books. Watch out, because Ken’s enthusiasm and passion for culture are contagious.”
—Max Wagner, Executive Director of Gasteig, Munich
“This is the inspiring story of man who brought his humanity to his work and as a result brought amazing art to the world.”
—Ismael Ahmed, Founding Director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services
“This extraordinary book, pulsating with energy, with excitement and with an incandescent joy, is a tribute to a truly extraordinary cultural leader. Reading these breathlessly wildly entertaining pages you understand how Ken has become one of the most dearly loved, deeply admired, and universally cherished colleague in our wonderful industry.”
—Anthony Sargent CBE, CEO, Luminato International Festival
“The exhilarating and inspiring story of Ken Fischer’s life reveals how his core values of human connection, commitment, collaboration, and courage inspired artists, students, audiences, entire communities, and the nation. “Everybody In, Nobody Out” was the bedrock of Ken’s journey and leadership that ultimately earned UMS the 2014 National Medal of Arts Award for outstanding contributions, excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”
—Beverley B. Geltner, former board chair of UMS
“How Ken Fischer built the University Musical Society into a cultural powerhouse is an instructive and important story, as well as a roadmap for surviving—and perhaps overcoming—these fractured, polarized times.
—John Merrow, Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour

“Through this inspirational tome, Ken brings his extraordinary story and the history of UMS to life in a compelling way that leaves the reader both informed and fulfilled. His overarching philosophy of Everybody In, Nobody Out manifests itself through dramatic behind-the-scenes glimpses of some of the world's greatest artists and his life's work that transformed a community and the world.”
—Aaron P. Dworkin, Professor of Arts Leadership and Entrepreneurship, University of Michigan
“I have always been impressed by Ken Fischer as a leader, a mentor, and a gifted and passionate champion of the arts. In his book, we also recognize his essence as a genuine, thoughtful, and energized convener of people of all backgrounds, connecting them with culture, music, performance, and responsible advocacy for justice and peace.
 “Ken’s storytelling charmingly illuminates his friendly and caring personality, which defines the way he has lived his life. Through the years and decades of experiences he shares, you applaud his purpose-filled ambition to do good for the community and his family. I know Ken well, but with this book, I now know him better. His is a life’s story that lifts one’s subscription to public-spirited values and firm beliefs driven by a positive, joy-filled personality. It is easy to see why the title of this book also exemplifies his philosophy of living. Enjoy Everybody In, Nobody Out.”
—Stephen Schram, Executive Director & General Manager, Michigan Radio 
“One can only learn from the genius of Ken Fischer. The book’s title exactly proclaims his philosophy, how he built relationships all over the world by being inquisitive, sincerely interested in other people’s wants, desires, and suggestions, leading to unprecedented levels of cooperation, participation, and growth at UMS.”
—Richard Bogomolny, Chairman Emeritus of the Musical Arts Association
“This autobiography is a page-turner because it’s about more than just Ken; it’s about the innumerable people he has connected with in the arts (of course), as well as in politics, sports, and in life at large. It reminds us that our memory works at its best when we remember others and treasure what touches them most. This personal history is about the enchanting power of kindness to others.”
—Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, Member of the UMS National Council
“Couldn’t put it down. This inspiring story by the legendary Ken Fischer proves that anything is possible if human beings connect and work together toward a common goal. Ken is an exemplary enabler who loves life and people and through his natural leadership qualities has had an unprecedented impact on thousands of people. This book will be my one and only Christmas gift 2020.”
—Maria Hansen, Executive Director, European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA)
“Ken Fischer brought uncommon passion for music, people, and community to Burton Tower every day. He brings it here, too, helping us understand why this small town attracts world-class talent and standing-room-only crowds. The stories about Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, and Ali Khan are wonderful, but the best story is how Fischer invited ‘Everybody In,’ and they came running.”
—John U. Bacon, Bestselling Author of The Great Halifax Explosion

“Ken approached his professional relationships with an open heart, a generous spirit, and a desire to see his collaborator’s successes as important as his own. In his privileged position as the CEO of a powerful, prestigious organization I was puzzled how he came to that disposition. Everybody In, Nobody Out answers that question for me; his early life and the powerful impact of mentors shaped him to be a progressive leader in our Performing Arts Community. Mentees! Read this book to better understand just how high the bar has been set!”
—David Lieberman, President, David Lieberman / Artists’ Representatives
“By any measure, Ken Fischer is a major figure in the modern era of performing arts presenting, and his book beautifully chronicles its evolution through the lens of UMS and his own personal-professional journey, providing invaluable insights to high-impact leadership grounded in the values of team-building, curiosity, generosity, and interconnectivity.”
—Mike Ross Director, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“This is the story of a truly remarkable man. Ken's abiding love of the arts is surpassed only by his drive to share the joy with everyone. A vivid, beautifully written memoir capturing the essence of his approach to life and work: Generous, knowledgeable, joyous, and optimistic. Reading it is like being with Ken—highly recommended and life-enhancing.”
—Russell Willis Taylor, former President of National Arts Strategies
“Music lovers know Ken Fischer as the great connector and as the great storyteller. In Everybody In, Nobody Out Fischer shares stories which connect us to many of the great people of our time. From Bernstein to Baryshnikov, from the Kennedys to the Obamas, Fischer, describes how he was able to lead the UMS to the pinnacle of musical success, culminating in winning the National Medal of Arts Award at the White House. What an engrossing, joy-filled read.”
—Robert Pasick, Founder of Leaders Connect
“A lover of family, with a genius for friendship and a drive to enable community, Ken Fischer, a man of a thousand stories, here at last tells his own. Alert to his missteps, generous to the contributions of others, he relates how he navigated the UMS toward his greatest goal—that of uniting us in a common love of diversity—individual and cultural—in excelling performance in the Arts. In doing so, the UMS’s presentations clearly wish to offer a model and motto for our struggling, diverse democracy: Everybody In, Nobody Out. Read this book; I predict you’ll say ‘Bravo!’”
—Ralph Williams, Professor of English, University of Michigan
“Everybody In, Nobody Out gives readers a glimpse into the heart and mind of a beloved, respected, and highly influential community leader. Ken Fischer’s indelible impact on so many people and places stems in large part from an unwavering belief in the power and obligation of cultural institutions to create value in their communities by bringing together people from all walks of life. Decades before the current call for cultural institutions to change their practices and do more to foster equity and inclusion Ken Fischer was forging deep, meaningful, long-term programming partnerships with a multitude of communities on the University of Michigan campus, throughout his city and state, and far beyond those borders. On the most fundamental level Ken Fischer embodies what all cultural leaders and their institutions should be: brokers, enablers, bridge-builders, and matchmakers who change the world one human-to-human connection at a time. Written by someone who approaches leadership as a collective endeavor and who has generously mentored so many, this engaging and beautiful memoir is chock-full of lessons for current and aspiring arts leaders.”
—Diane Ragsdale, Director of the Cultural Leadership Program, Banff Centre for the Arts & Creativity, Assistant Professor and Program Director, Arts Management & Entrepreneurship, The New School
“A remarkable journey with a remarkable person, The Connector/Facilitator Extraordinaire, reflecting the need to listen deeply, admit mistakes, remain vulnerable, and humbly put yourself in others’ shoes. A love letter to the Audiences, Partners, Donors, Board, and Staff and Audiences reflecting the grand accomplishments of the University Musical Society.”
—Jerry Yoshitomi, consultant, and co-founding member of Major University Presenters
“Ken Fischer has had a profound impact on the performing arts in America. This is a wonderful read and interesting journey from someone whose humanity and compassion does more than just fill concert halls, but builds communities.”
—Linda Brumbach, Founder and Director, Principal, Pomegranate Arts
“During Ken Fischer’s landmark, 30-year tenure as president of the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, he transformed a venerable but staid institution into an innovative, 21st-century arts organization that remains a model for the field. Everybody In, Nobody Out is the illuminating story how he raised the bar—by commissioning new work, forging community partnerships, embracing the power of cultural diversity, championing education and audience development, and broadening programming beyond mainstream classical music to include jazz, theater, dance, and traditions from the Middle East, Asia, Central America, and elsewhere. Ultimately, this is the story of enlightened leadership—how Fischer laid out a creative vision, built consensus, harnessed the imagination of his staff, and, piece-by-piece, made it happen. Those are lessons that go way beyond the arts.”
—Mark Stryker, author of Jazz from Detroit and Detroit Free Press arts reporter and music critic, 1995–2016