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Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra Association Elects New Board Officers

The Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra Association is pleased to announce the election of Paksy Plackis-Cheng as president of the board for the 2013-14 season.

Plackis-Cheng served as the interim executive director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in 2010-11 and was responsible for all aspects of symphony management, operations and planning. Prior to her interim post, she was the vice president of the board.

The symphony’s other elected officers include Stefan Riesenfeld, immediate past president; Arthur Swalley, vice president; David Chernof, M.D., secretary; Brett Moore, treasurer; Karen Kerns, counsel; and Susan Spector, development chair.

The Executive Committee will be formed by the elected officers, Gene Sinser and Peter Schlueer, members-at-large; ex-officio member David Grossman, executive director and ex-officio member; and Maestro Nir Kabaretti, music and artistic director.

“I am grateful to the symphony patrons, donors, staff and board for their continuous support of the vibrant Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra,” Plackis-Cheng said. “Building upon the great artistic excellence of Nir Kabaretti and the orchestra, we have been able to offer much more than classical music performances and a stage for new works and new talents. We nurture music education in the community, which is a critical responsibility now that there are limited resources for schools to fulfill this role.”

During the first year of Plackis-Cheng’s tenure, the Executive Committee focused on good governance, strengthening development, managing a leadership transition and diversifying the organization and audience.

The board consists of 31 members, one-third of whom are age 55 or younger. This is an unusually young demographic for a performing arts board. Plackis-Cheng also partnered with the board presidents of the Granada Theatre and Opera Santa Barbara to collaborate on driving best practices and sustainability for the participating organizations.

In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the 2012-13 concert season featured guest artists including National Medal of Arts winner pianist Andre Watts; acclaimed flutist Demarre McGill; New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps; rising piano virtuoso Xiayin Wang; sought-after international conductor Gregory Vayda; young California violin phenomenon Nigel Armstrong; and young composer Jonathan Leshnoff.

The 60th season also included two collaborative performances with the State Street Ballet and the Santa Barbara Choral Society. A special performance with Opera Santa Barbara took place for the Fifth Year Granada Renovation Gala.

The classical music performances are but one part of the organization. The other part is the symphony’s Music Education Suite, consisting of seven programs serving 4,500 students from grade three through high school. One of the programs is a successful participatory String Workshop provided in all nine of the Goleta Union School District elementary schools.

The symphony is also proud of its award-winning Music Van serving 49 schools and Youth Symphony, comprised of 65 to 70 students ages 12 to 18 from all over Santa Barbara County.

In the new season, the Santa Barbara community will witness even stronger artistic and business collaborative efforts, and even more focus on music education programs.

“Paksy Plackis-Cheng and her colleagues at the Santa Barbara Symphony are among a new generation of young leaders who are helping orchestras embrace innovation in order to better serve their communities with great musical experiences,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “The symphony is fortunate to benefit from their skills and dedication.”

In addition to the 4,500 children it serves, the Santa Barbara Symphony employs an average 200 people, and reaches more than 25,000 Santa Barbara residents every season.

— Barbara Burger represents the Santa Barbara Symphony.

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