Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Symphony Chooses Executive Director; Kalamazoo Symphony Director Stacy Ridenour Will Join in October

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Symphony Chooses Executive Director; Kalamazoo Symphony Director Stacy Ridenour Will Join in October

Article excerpt

Byline: DIANA MIDDLETON

After a turbulent past season that included a standoff between symphony administration and the musicians, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra has ended its search for an executive director who can create harmony.

The symphony announced Friday that Stacy Ridenour, executive director of the Kalamazoo Symphony in Michigan, will join the symphony in October, according to board Chairman Jim Van Vleck. He said the search committee chose Ridenour from a pool of seven candidates because of her ability to delegate between the managerial and artistic sides of the symphony.

"We want someone who understands orchestra dynamics, who can rebuild or help heal any problems that still linger," Van Vleck said. "Orchestras are artists. They have their own individual interests and then collective interests. But the commercial side of the institution, we do have to figure out how to make money and pay for all this."

Ridenour, 49, told the Times-Union that her diplomacy is one of her greatest strengths.

"Primarily, it's about communication," she said. "Here in Kalamazoo, we have regular times to talk, with a very open door policy. And not just with me, but with the board. That will certainly be part of my plan, to make sure there's an open and trusting relationship."

The former executive director, Alan Hopper, left in February - less than a month after the lockout ended.

Ridenour's ties with the music world made her a positive choice, said Kevin Casseday, chairman of the Jacksonville Symphony Players' Association. He pointed to the fact that both her husband and son are musicians.

"She has always been very close to the performance side, and she's sincere about her love of the art form and the culture," Casseday said. "We're looking to her to help pull this organization back together, but these things take time. I think we've all learned a lot from last year."

When a portion of last year's season was canceled after the musicians' contract negotiations deteriorated, the symphony racked up $3 million in debt, the Times-Union reported in January. …

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