The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has appointed Jeff Alexander as its president, effective Jan. 12, 2015.
The appointment, announced Sept. 3 by Jay Henderson, chairman of the CSOA board of trustees, ends a nine-month, international search for a successor to Deborah F. Rutter, who announced in December that she had accepted the top post at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. “I am delighted and confident that we have identified the best person for the job — one who will continue to enhance the CSOA’s distinguished legacy and its worldwide reputation,” Henderson said.
Alexander, president and CEO of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 2000, said in a statement, “I am extremely honored to have been selected to serve as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s next president. As has the rest of the world, I have for many decades greatly admired and been inspired by [CSO Music Director Riccardo] Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I look forward to working with them, the Board of Trustees, the administration and volunteers on achieving the long-term aspirations of the organization.”
In a statement, Muti said, “Jeff Alexander is a person with many fine qualities, and his sincerity and genuine enthusiasm for the music and for the orchestra are evident. He brings a new perspective that in working with the musicians and the music director will allow the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to reach even greater levels of achievement.”
While at Vancouver, Canada’s third largest symphony orchestra, Alexander re-established the ensemble’s domestic and international touring programs, improved and diversified its revenue streams, raised its endowment fund and maintained an operating budget surplus for 10 of the last 11 years. A strong advocate of community engagement, he led a campaign to create the VSO School of Music, a state-of-the-art, $25 million community-based music school that opened in 2011.
A native of New York, Alexander came to Vancouver from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where he served in various posts for 16 years, including 12 as its general manager. From 1982 to 1984, he was general manager of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra in Texas, and from 1980 to 1982, general manager of Grapa Concerts, a New York City-based artist management firm. A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, he majored in French horn performance. Alexander is married to pianist Keiko Alexander, a Juilliard graduate, and an active performer, teacher and competition adjudicator.
Alexander’s selection was determined by a search committee led by Henderson, and staffed with CSO trustees, CSO musicians and CSO administrative leaders. “Jeff Alexander brings a unique leadership combination to the CSOA: passion for and knowledge of symphonic music, a strong track record of leading orchestral organizations, a proven commitment to community engagement and the ability to develop effective long-term relationships with the key stakeholders of orchestras,” Henderson said.
Stephen Lester, chairman of the CSO Members Committee, added, “The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are pleased to welcome Jeff Alexander, who is keenly committed to high artistic standards and who will support the vision of our music director, Riccardo Muti. He has shown a lifelong commitment to managing orchestras and brings a wealth of experience to Chicago. We look forward to his arrival.”