The third-largest nonprofit arts organization in the state of Washington has a new CEO.
Today the Seattle Symphony announced that they're bringing on Krishna Thiagarajan to run the business after the board unanimously voted in his favor. According to his bio, Thiagarajan was born in Germany, studied piano at Indiana University and University of Maryland, ran a couple orchestras in New York before signing on with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, where he "increased the number of its performances, both at home and abroad; enjoyed the highest average audience figures for a generation; enjoyed year-over-year growth in earned and contributed income; and developed its international reputation, notably through a discography which has attracted global recognition." That last point is particularly important considering the symphony's recent success with its recording label, Seattle Symphony Media, which has won three Grammys.
Thiagarajan joins the symphony at a time of great change. Thiagarajan replaces Simon Woods, who oversaw a period of significant creative growth for the symphony before moving to LA like everyone else who succeeds in the Seattle art world. (Fun fact: Woods also came to Seattle from RSNO.) In 2019, principal guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard will take Ludovic Morlot's spot as the symphony's music director. And at the end of this year René Ancinas will replace Leslie Chihuly as board chair, though Chihuly will remain on the board.
Seems like Thiagarajan will try to carry on Woods's success by continuing to support the symphony's extremely good record label, investing in commissions of new work, and also continuing the symphony's civic engagement programs. Straight from the very bowels (the third paragraph) of the press release:
Thiagarajan’s track record in his past three leadership positions encompasses strong financial management including balanced budgets and significant growth in both ticket sales and donations. He has also produced numerous acclaimed recordings and several international tours, as well as commissioned new works and created meaningful education programs for students. His past leadership has included strong community and corporate relationships, and a personal emphasis on creating an inclusive organizational culture.
Thiagarajan will start work September 1st.