World-renowned pianist Theodore Lettvin (1927-2003) proposed the idea for Great Lakes PAA during his tenure as professor of piano at the University of Michigan’s School of Music. Professor Lettvin became concerned when his graduating students, discouraged by the lack of performance opportunities available to them in this area, left for New York, California, Europe, or gave up on the idea of performing all together. To address this issue, Professor Lettvin and his wife, Joan, envisioned an organization that would focus on artists’ talent and promise, rather than their ability to generate profits. In 1978, after thorough research and planning, Joan Lettvin established Great Lakes Performing Artist Associates, a regional, not-for-profit artist management organization. It was good for the artists, good for the region, and good for the performing arts. Today Great Lakes PAA celebrates over 35 years of excellence in the arts, and its mission is as vital to regional artists and audiences as it ever was. The National Endowment for the Arts described PAA as “a resource unlike any other.”

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Great Lakes Performing Artist Associates

A unique non-profit arts organization, GLPAA was founded in 1978. Its mission is to encourage the cultural and artistic development of the Great Lakes region by supporting the performance careers of exceptional regional artists. By offering high caliber artists at affordable fees to regional performing arts presenters, we extend the strength and vitality of cultural enrichment to a greater and more diverse population. These presenters include college, church, and community concert series, regional orchestras, schools, libraries, and “non-traditional” venues such as community centers and nursing homes. Great Lakes PAA’s artists present concerts, recitals, master classes, workshops residencies, and educational programs throughout the Great Lakes region.

Because of its not-for-profit status, Great Lakes PAA can focus on artists’ talent and promise rather than their ability to finance the cost of managing a performance career. To that end, PAA seeks out and carefully selects talented artists from this region to join its roster and supports them by providing performance-career management services.

Listen to Aileen Rohwer, GLPAA executive director on the WEMU creative-impact radio show.


Aileen Rohwer, Executive Director

Classically trained as a cellist at the Oberlin Conservatory and Rice University Shepherd School of Music, Aileen Rohwer has found her way to GPLAA through administrative, performing, and teaching experiences at such organizations as Chamber Music Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan, the Riverfolk Music and Arts Organization, and as founding Director of Cultural Art Strings. She has performed as a freelance symphony and chamber music cellist throughout the United States, currently maintaining teaching studio in Manchester, MI. Having spent over 25 years building relationships with performers, presenters and educators, Ms. Rohwer brings a wealth of knowledge, dedication, and persistence to bringing performers and audiences together.

Board of Directors

Susan DarrowActive volunteer for arts organizations, civic issues especially those related to children and families. Long-time supporter of PAA and widow of founding board member Peter Darrow.

Career counselor, social worker, and educator. Past Dean of Applied Arts at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and former adjunct faculty in the School of Social Work at the Univ. of Michigan. Conducted research in a major national project, ‘A Framework for the Education of Career Practitioners in Canada’. Served on a number of boards and was a founding member of the Planned Parenthood Board in Kitchener Ontario. Has a particular interest in nonprofit board development, and is an enthusiastic consumer and supporter of the arts. B.AA, McMaster Univ., MSW, Univ. of WA.

40 years teaching English and music in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, collaborative pianist for students. B. M. and M. M. University of Michigan.

Music Educator, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Guest conductor/clinician throughout the U.S. M.M., University of Colorado.

Jennie Lewis is an arts advocate for both children and adults. Currently working for SHAR Music serving as a consultant for teachers and their students all over the world. Graduate of the University of Michigan, Master of Music Oboe Performance, Old Dominion University Bachelor of Music and a Music Education Endorsement Eastern Michigan University.

Frederick A. Smith, recently retired director of bands at Tappan Middle School, September 2016.   B.A. from the University of Michigan and M.A. in administration from Eastern Michigan University.  Facilitated a Summer Music Scholarship program for disadvantaged students to Interlochen Arts and Music Camp’s U of M Allstate Program and Blue Lake Arts and Music Camp Program.   Administered the AAPS Summer Music Program,   facilitated the district’s Cooperative Outreach Music Program.  Served as assistant director of three church choirs at Bethel A.M.E. Church and as a USPTR  certified teaching professional at Huron Valley Tennis Club in Ann Arbor, both over 25 years!  Frederick is married with four beautiful children. He is honored to be a proud member of the Ann Arbor community.

Former Board Chair of Great Lakes PAA, and of Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor; current Board Chair of Deep Spring Center for Meditation and Spiritual Inquiry. B.A. Yale University; J.D. Harvard University.

Former instructor in the Ann Arbor Public Schools and on the faculty of the Sphinx Preparatory Program and Michigan State University Community Music School; and in administrative capacities with the Sphinx Organization as well as the non-profit Our Own Thing. From Fairbanks, Alaska, as a violist performs throughout the metro Detroit area and is a member of the Dexter Community Orchestra.  Serves on the boards of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance Alumni Society and the Community Music School of Ann Arbor. In her free time, she loves spending time with her daughter and her dog.

Professor of English Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh. Author of numerous books and articles. Ann Arbor civic leader serving on the Boards of the Michigan Theater Foundation, the Stearns Collection at the Univ. of Michigan School of Music, and the Salzburg Seminar. PhD Harvard University.