Undercofler will assume his new post on August 1. He replaces Joe Kluger, who stepped down as president last year to become an arts consultant (but did not hold the position of CEO).
"I am delighted with our appointment of James Undercofler as the new president of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association," chairman Harold A. Sorgenti said. "He is a visionary leader with a proven track record of success at Eastman. He has a deep and powerful connection to symphonic music and believes passionately in the future of the classical music art form."
Undercofler has held his position at Eastman, the famed Rochester, New York-based conservatory, since 1997. During his tenure, he created a program to train students in "music leadership" and a music technology and production department, according to the orchestra; he also boosted the conservatory's endowment by nearly $100 million.
Before leading Eastman, Undercofler was dean of academic affairs there. Previously he directed the Minnesota Center for Arts Education and New Haven, Connecticut's Educational Center for the Arts. While in New Haven, he played horn in the New Haven Symphony. He studied at Eastman, Yale, and the University of Connecticut.
In Philadelphia, Undercofler will oversee expanding education and outreach programs and an innovative new record contract with the Finnish label Ondine. He will also need to negotiate a new musicians' contract—the hard-fought deal signed in fall 2004 will expire next year—while maintaining the orchestra's often-precarious fiscal health.
"It will be a privilege to lead one of our country's premier orchestra associations," Undercofler said. "The Philadelphia Orchestra has the artistry and spirit necessary to bring rejuvenating innovations to the classical music field while continuing to give breathtaking performances."
In addition to running the Philadelphia Orchestra, Undercofler will be responsible for the administration of the Philly Pops, which merged its administrative and operational functions with those of the orchestra last year.