Ann Kennedy to Step Down From Houston Symphony Executive Director Post

Classic Arts News   Ann Kennedy to Step Down From Houston Symphony Executive Director Post
Ann Kennedy, executive director and CEO of the Houston Symphony Society, will step down effective April 1, orchestra officials announced.

Matthew VanBesien, the symphony's general manager, will take up the post.

No reason for the change was given. Ed Wulfe, president of the Symphony Society, said, "Ann has been a dedicated leader, and we were sorry to receive her resignation. Her tenure has covered some of the greatest challenges the organization has faced in its 90-year history, including recovery from the devastation of Tropical Storm Allison and tackling the complex issues involved in the musicians' strike. Over the past four years, Ann has shown strong leadership in the face of continuing financial pressures."

Musicians struck for over three weeks in March 2003 when orchestra management proposed pay cuts to remedy a $3 million deficit.

After announcing a financial recovery plan last summer, the orchestra canceled concert performances of two Beethoven operas last fall because of lagging ticket sales, and postponed a recording in order to cut expenses.

VanBesien has worked with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and was the recipient of a management fellowship from the American Symphony Orchestra League. He first came to the Houston Symphony in 2000 as an artistic and production assistant.

Hans Graf, the orchestra's music director, said, "It was a privilege to work with an executive director with Ann's commitment to excellence, and I look forward to working more closely now with Matthew. He has already demonstrated his ability and strong leadership qualities."

VanBesien said he appreciated the opportunity at hand. "I feel very lucky to be able to call on the symphony's board members, musicians, and volunteers, as well as on our incredibly strong staff, which Ann was instrumental in assembling. Ann did really remarkable work here."

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