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RPO Announces Charles H. Owens as New President & CEO

July 26, 2007

Executive Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra to Take Over RPO Position

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is pleased to announce that Charles H. Owens has been named as the organization’s new President & CEO, and will assume his new duties on November 1. Mr. Owens has been the Executive Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) for the past eight years.

“This is an especially exciting time to be joining the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra,” said Owens. "It is a great orchestra that is poised to become even greater, blessed with outstandingly gifted musicians, a remarkably supportive relationship with the community, a great concert hall and a world-class conducting staff. I look forward to leading the effort to develop the financial resources necessary to achieve the RPO’s ambitious and inspiring long-range vision plan.”

“We are delighted that Charlie Owens will be joining the RPO and the community as our next President & CEO,” said RPO Board Chair Jim Boucher. “We were able to generate a pool of very impressive candidates, and we believe Charlie is the best choice for the position. We are confident that his skill set, his experience and achievements at the Hartford Symphony, and his enthusiastic approach will add to the excellence of the RPO and help lead us to the next levels of success in accordance with our strategic plan.”

Owens guided the HSO through a period of significant fiscal and artistic growth.  During his eight-year tenure, the HSO’s budget grew more than 60% -- from $3.9 million to $6.2 million in the just-completed 2006-07 season. Fueling that increase has been a 52% rise in annual attendance; a 23% increase in performance revenues (including a 205% increase in single-ticket revenues); and nearly a doubling of contributed revenue, including a 76% increase in individual giving.

The HSO’s programming also flourished during Owens’ tenure, highlighted by a number of new series such as a contemporary pops series, partnerships with the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and local colleges and universities, and a Sunday afternoon chamber music series. Under Owens’ leadership, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival – the HSO’s outdoor concert series – evolved into one of the region’s most high-profile cultural attractions. 

Owens also helped to create new community engagement programs designed to connect the HSO with the Hartford community. These programs include the HSO’s ongoing series of “Musical Dialogues” (free Sunday afternoon concerts in neighborhood churches); The Duke Ellington Society (a membership program celebrating the connections between jazz and classical music); and perhaps most notably, the HSO’s annual “I Have a Dream” Martin Luther King Celebration, which has become one of the signature observances in Connecticut of Dr. King’s legacy. Recognition for these initiatives has included receiving a three-year grant from MetLife Foundation; the 2004 American Symphony Orchestra League/MetLife Award for Excellence in Community Engagement; a 2003 Award from the Hispanic Professional Network for promoting Hispanic arts and culture; and the 2004 Governor’s Arts Award.

From 1993- 97, Owens held the position of Director of Marketing at the HSO, followed by positions of Marketing Director and subsequently Director of External Affairs at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. In July 1999, he returned to the HSO first as Acting Executive Director and General Manager, and two months later as Executive Director. Prior to Hartford, Owens held various marketing and public relations positions in his native Ohio with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Play House. He is a 1985 graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

An executive search firm administered the search process, with members of the search committee representing all the RPO constituencies: board, staff, musicians and conductors. Charles Owens follows Richard Nowlin, the RPO’s former President & CEO who resigned this past March to become Executive Director of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, California. Since then, Janet Newcomb, the RPO’s VP for Development has been Interim President & CEO.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music. The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community. The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming. RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO. 

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