Kevin Smith, who is currently serving in an interim leadership capacity with the Minnesota Orchestra, has been appointed its President and CEO by unanimous vote of the Orchestra’s Board of Directors, Board Chair Gordon M. Sprenger announced

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Mr. Smith, who has been serving as interim President and CEO,
will assume top administrative position on ongoing basis

Kevin Smith, who is currently serving in an interim leadership capacity with the Minnesota Orchestra, has been appointed its President and CEO by unanimous vote of the Orchestra’s Board of Directors, Board Chair Gordon M. Sprenger announced today. Mr. Smith, a widely-known and respected Twin Cities arts leader, previously led the Minnesota Opera for 25 years.

“In a relatively short period of time at the Minnesota Orchestra, Kevin Smith has established trust across the organization and built significant momentum for the Orchestra in the community,” said Board Chair Gordon M. Sprenger. “As the board has worked with him over the past several months, we have felt that Kevin’s leadership style, his ability to build relationships and his knowledge of this community make him the leader we have been searching for, and we are very happy he was willing to move beyond ‘interim’ status. His appointment launches a stable period of administrative leadership for the Orchestra that allows us to focus immediately on the strategic planning and fundraising work that is critical for our financial stability and artistic growth.”

Mr. Smith initially joined the Minnesota Orchestra in July in a transitional role; he officially assumed the interim President and CEO post on September 1, following the departure of former President and CEO Michael Henson. His new contract extends through the Orchestra’s 2017-18 season.

Says Mr. Smith, “The last five months have been an exceptionally rewarding time, as I’ve met the many constituents of the Orchestra, all of whom are very dedicated people—board, musicians, staff, music director, audience members, donors, volunteers. Over time, I’ve felt increasingly committed to helping to resolve the organization’s longer-term challenges and to championing its many opportunities. When the Board approached me about a long-term position it felt right. I feel privileged to be in a position to help this great cultural institution plan its future.”

Mr. Smith led the Minnesota Opera as President and CEO for 25 years before his retirement in 2011. During his tenure, the Opera expanded its season and joined the ranks of America’s top opera companies. He was also instrumental in creating the Minnesota Opera Center and forging the Arts Partnership, a collaboration of arts organizations working to ensure optimal use of the Ordway Center. Upon leaving the Opera, Mr. Smith worked as a consultant to the Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera and San Diego Opera, among others, and served as campaign director for the Arts Partnership, raising funds to renovate the Ordway—including the creation of an 1,100-seat Concert Hall, and to establish an endowment to support the Ordway’s principal tenants.

Music Director Osmo Vänskä said, “I have been very impressed by Kevin’s ability to listen and to bring people together, qualities which make him the right leader to guide the organization through a period of growth and rebuilding. I believe that he shares my artistic vision for where the Minnesota Orchestra should go, and I believe he will help to bring our artistic aspirations to reality.”

Principal Cellist Anthony Ross, co-chair of the musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee, commented on behalf of the players, “The musicians are delighted with the news that Kevin Smith has accepted a long term contract. It signifies stability and allows for a bright future. In the short time he has been interim CEO he has shown his sincere appreciation for our art form and a unique ability to problem solve from all angles. His leadership will be invaluable as we continue this exciting new chapter.”


The Minnesota Orchestra

The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs and commitment to building the repertoire of the future.  Founded in 1903, the ensemble played its first regional tour in 1907, debuted at Carnegie Hall in 1912 and has toured regularly ever since, performing in Australia, Canada, Europe, the Far East, Latin America and the Middle East.  In 2003 the Orchestra welcomed its tenth music director, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who guides a season encompassing nearly 175 concerts that are heard live by 350,000 individuals.  The Minnesota Orchestra was one of the first ensembles to be heard on recordings in the 1920s; recently the ensemble, led by Vänskä, completed an internationally acclaimed cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies and won a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for a disc of Sibelius’ Symphonies No. 1 and 4.


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