The Minnesota Orchestra board today appointed Kevin Smith as president and CEO of the orchestra.
Smith had been the orchestra’s interim head for five months, since the former president, Michael Henson, left. With much praise for Smith’s work, the board gave him a contract, through 2018.
Smith had retired in 2011 as the long-time president of the Minnesota Opera. He came out of retirement to help the orchestra regroup after a contentious 16-month lockout of the musicians.
Orchestra members appear pleased with the move. Quoted in the announcement is Music Director Osmo Vänskä:
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.
And Principal Cellist Anthony Ross, co-chair of the musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee, said:
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 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.