Longtime orchestra administrator Cristina Rocca will join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vice president for artistic planning, the Richard and Mary L. Gray Chair, in March. She replaces Martha S. Gilmer, who resigned in September to become chief executive officer of the San Diego Symphony.

The appointment was announced Jan. 8 by Jeff Alexander, who officially starts Jan. 12 as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. At Symphony Center, Rocca will design and execute the CSOA’s artistic plans and vision, while working closely with Music Director Riccardo Muti and Alexander to develop programs and engage guest artists.

Born in Bologna, Italy, Rocca currently serves as artistic director for the Orchestre National de France, a post she has held since September 2012. Before that, she was director of artistic planning for the Cleveland Orchestra. She also has been the artistic manager at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg in France; head of concerts and programming for the Bournemouth Symphony in England, and head of artistic planning for the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Italy.

“I feel privileged and honored to have been offered the opportunity to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Riccardo Muti in this wonderful city,” Rocca said in a statement. “It is particularly exciting as the orchestra approaches the milestone of its 125th anniversary, and I cannot wait to become a part of their extraordinary story.”

In announcing Rocca’s appointment, Alexander said, “It became clear during the search process to fill this very important position that Cristina Rocca’s background, experience, artistic sensibilities and personal qualities were exactly what we were looking for. Her reputation with artists and artist managers in the United States and internationally is impeccable.”

Muti called Rocca, an acquaintance of many years, “a person of great experience and professionalism.” He added, “I am very happy that Cristina Rocca has accepted the position of the CSO’s vice president for artistic planning. She will be a wonderful addition to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra family.”

Rocca’s academic background includes early studies in music theory and piano, followed by a degree in music, graduating cum laude, from the University of Bologna; a diploma in liberal arts administration from the Musical Research Experimental Center in Florence, and a diploma in operatic and choral music from the Teatro Comunale in Bologna. She begins her CSO duties on March 16.