Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Generational Change at San Francisco Musical Institutions

Here's a shocker: Brent Assink, long-time Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony, has decided to step down from that post at the end of March, 2017. By then, he will have held the position for 18 years. Prior to that, he was ED (or ED-equivalent) of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra...which he joined after several years in a management position at SFS under Peter Pastreich. He is widely respected in the music business and is rumored to have been courted by the New York Philharmonic when they were looking for a new ED a few years ago.

Assink is 61, more than a decade younger than David Gockley on his retirement. (I almost gave this post the title "Have Assink and Gockley been meeting secretly?") Still, he has been at SFS for a long time. 

He has also done an excellent job as ED. The orchestra's finances have been stable, and Assink led a campaign for $100 million in fundraising around the centennial that ultimately raised $140 million, quite an astonishing accomplishment. The orchestra has mostly had labor peace, as well, the short strike three years ago being the puzzling exception.

The orchestra has also done the following:
  • Established its own recording label
  • Recorded the Keeping Score series of educational programs
  • Begun the SoundBox series
  • Commissioned 41 works
  • Expanded its touring schedule
  • And plenty more
There's already a search on for a successor. Assink's boots will be very tough to fill.

Further reading:

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