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Incredible Alumni from Essentials of Orchestra Management Seminar

Published October 21, 2022

Incredible Alumni from Essentials of Orchestra Management Seminar

by Scott Faulkner

At the risk of contradicting, or at least paraphrasing King Solomon, for me pride goeth before great success. It’s not my impending success I’m proud of. As I have written in this space several times, I have the great honor of directing the League of American Orchestras’ Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar, and have served on this faculty for a decade. In that time, some 300 students have passed through. As these wonderful people blossom and grow in their careers, I am filled with something of a Proud Papa feeling. 

Recently a number of recent graduates have taken on leadership roles across the nation, enough that I won’t even try to name them all for fear of leaving some people out, but there are a few close to home that I want to share, as our community has benefitted greatly from Essentials of Orchestra Management alumni. 

Last weekend, Ignacio Barrón Viela was introduced as President and CEO of the Reno Phil. Ignacio was a star student in the Essentials class of 2018. Shortly after the seminar, the Billings Symphony and Chorale selected him to be their executive director. For four years he served in this role before accepting the Reno Phil job a couple of months ago. Since the Essentials class in the summer of 2018, Ignacio and I have stayed in regular contact, and it has been a joy to watch him grow as an orchestra manager and a leader. Originally from Spain, and not yet 40, he enjoyed a successful first part of his career as an engineer and consultant in the energy sector, working in multiple countries around Europe. A cellist his entire life, as well as a self-aware soul, he realized that his passion lay in helping to bring music to our world. He was accepted into the MBA program at the University of Southern California, and shortly after graduation, attended the Essentials seminar. An orchestra management career was launched, and the Truckee Meadows are about to reap the benefits.

In June, the Reno Chamber Orchestra selected Amy Heald (Essentials Class of 2016) to be its new executive director. Amy received her undergraduate music degree at the University of Nevada more than a decade ago. As an oboe student of my wife, associate professor emerita Andrea Lenz, I have known Amy for more than a decade. After UNR, she went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Kansas before returning to Reno to run the Reno Phil’s education program. It was at Essentials in 2016 that she caught the attention of then Seattle Symphony President Simon Woods, and shortly after, moved to the Emerald City to serve as a leader in this SSO’s Education and Community Engagement department. Life brought her back to Reno, and after a stint as development coordinator for the RCO, she applied for and was named executive director after a national search. Her energy, organizational skills, and devotion to authentic community connection are apparent and are already making an impact.

But the ties to Essentials of Orchestra Management don’t stop there for the Reno orchestras. Amy succeeds Thom Mayes (Essentials Class of 2015) who guided the RCO through the pandemic as well as artistic leadership searches that brought Clive Greensmith and Kelly Kuo to the helms of the Nevada Chamber Music Festival and Reno Chamber Orchestra respectively. Previously the executive director of the Whatcom Symphony (now the Bellingham Symphony) in Washington state, Thom is now back in the in Pacific Northwest, using his formidable vision and management skills as the Bellingham Symphony’s interim ED, while they search for a new leader. He is also teaching, consulting, and playing the double bass professionally. 

During Thom’s Reno tenure, he brought in Joseph Peterson (Essentials Class of 2019) to serve as the RCO’s director of operations and artistic planning. A recent fellow in the prestigious New World Symphony in Florida, Joe is a fantastic trombonist, who is now the contracted 2nd trombonist of the Reno Phil. His great knowledge of music and musicians, as well as his meticulous work ethic, make him perfect for the position he holds with the RCO, and he is doing exemplary work.

Before I sign off, I would be remiss not to acknowledge two other executives who have recently led the Reno Phil and RCO. Last November, Tim Young concluded a distinguished 19-year period leading the Reno Phil. During his tenure the Phil’s youth programs blossomed, the orchestra gained national visibility, the operating budget nearly doubled, and the ensemble’s artistic quality elevated. Tim is now sharing his great talents with the Boise Philharmonic as their new CEO.

Before Thom Mayes assumed the leadership of the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Chris Morrison served two tours of duty in the executive director chair. The first of these was when he succeeded me as interim ED when I stepped down from the position, and also a few years later when the position opened up again. Chris’ incredible musical knowledge and diverse skill set make him the go-to person for just about anything one could imagine, and our community is fortunate that he continues his service to the arts in the Truckee Meadows through his presence on radio stations KUNR and KNCJ; writing program notes for the orchestras and hosting pre-concert talks along with Maestro Laura Jackson, as well as the Reno Phil’s “Inside the Music” podcast. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to both Chris and Tim.

I invite our community to share my pride in the administrative leadership that our orchestras have. While we have tremendously benefitted from the talents of several Essentials of Orchestra Management alumni, all of the behind-the-scenes staff members of the Reno Phil and Reno Chamber Orchestra are really impressive, and a big part of why our community enjoys the thriving orchestral life that we do.

Be sure to watch the 2021 PBS Reno ARTEFFECTS segment that explores the Reno Chamber Orchestra here:

Scott Faulkner is director of the League of American Orchestras’ Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar, and is a 2002 alumnus of the program. From 2001 to 2015 he was executive director of the Reno Chamber Orchestra, and he is principal bassist of both the RCO and the Reno Phil.

More from Scott Faulkner

Falling for Orchestra: A Season of Events by Scott Faulkner — September 23, 2022

Thoughts on Leadership by Scott Faulkner — August 26, 2022

Greetings from New York City! by Scott Faulkner — July 29, 2022

H. Elizabeth Lenz  by Scott Faulkner — July 1, 2022

A Thousand Blended Notes  by Scott Faulkner — June 3, 2022

Music Not to be Missed in May  by Scott Faulkner — May 6, 2022

Classical Music Galore  by Scott Faulkner — April 8, 2022

Chord Changes by Scott Faulkner — April 1, 2022



This PBS Reno series delves into the local arts scene, looking at the lasting impact the arts have in our communities and beyond.