Announcing new leadership for The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

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Photos: Jon Limbacher (left) and Kyu-Young Kim (right) will share leadership of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce new leadership, effective in January upon the retirement of current President Bruce Coppock. Jon Limbacher will become Managing Director and President and Kyu-Young Kim will become Artistic Director, marking the first time a major American orchestra has appointed a current member of the orchestra as Artistic Director. Both Kim and Limbacher have deep roots in the organization and share a common vision for the SPCO. In their new roles, they will work closely together to ensure the development of the SPCO’s artistic and organizational ambitions.

Here’s more information from our press release:

Jon Limbacher, Managing Director and President

Jon Limbacher was Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2000 to 2012. During this time, he was the principal architect of many of the orchestra’s innovative and successful fundraising and audience development strategies, including its groundbreaking membership model where patrons pay $5 per month to attend unlimited concerts. He also led efforts to make SPCO concerts as accessible as possible to the community by lowering ticket prices and expanding the Neighborhood Series. Under Limbacher’s leadership, concert attendance increased by more than 40 percent and individual giving to the annual fund more than doubled, while board giving more than quadrupled. In addition, the endowment more than doubled in size, and the budget was balanced every year except 2003, a record unparalleled in today’s orchestra industry.

“Our organization is incredibly fortunate to bring Jon back to the SPCO as Managing Director and President,” said SPCO Board Chair Dobson West. “Jon has decades of orchestra leadership experience and proven expertise in fundraising and audience development. He is recognized across the industry as a visionary, innovator and strategist par excellence, and is in demand with orchestras nationwide as a consultant. His knowledge of, experience with and passion for the SPCO, as well as the Twin Cities arts and philanthropic communities, are incomparable.”

“For me this is a dream come true,” said Limbacher. “I love the SPCO and the Twin Cities community. I can’t wait to work with Kyu, the staff, the musicians and the Board to make the SPCO even stronger and better.”

Coppock added, “I have had the pleasure of working closely with Jon at the Saint Louis Symphony, the SPCO and The Cleveland Orchestra. He is, simply put, one of the smartest, most strategic and committed professionals in the American orchestra world. Jon’s self-effacing manner belies fierce drive and ambition for the organizations he works for. His track record is stupendous and I couldn’t be more pleased for the SPCO than for my long-time colleague to assume responsibility for its future.”

Kyu-Young Kim, Artistic Director

Kim joined the SPCO’s senior management team as Senior Director of Artistic Planning in 2013, working closely with Bruce Coppock and the orchestra’s Artistic Vision Committee (AVC) to shape the SPCO’s programming and artistic profile as a musician-led chamber orchestra. As Artistic Director, Kim will be responsible for shaping and developing the SPCO’s artistic vision and will work with the AVC to program the artistic content of all SPCO endeavors. He will also be ultimately responsible for attracting the highest level of talented musicians, guest artists and Artistic Partners to the SPCO. This appointment marks the first time a major American orchestra has appointed a current member of the orchestra as Artistic Director and represents the culmination of a 12-year pursuit for greater musician leadership in the artistic governance of the organization.

Daria Adams, SPCO violinist and member of the Artistic Vision Committee, said “The Artistic Vision Committee is very excited about the appointment of Kyu to the position of Artistic Director. This is a logical and beautiful extension of the musician-led direction we have been moving into over the past few years. SPCO players lead the concerts not only on the stage, but off the stage as well. We are proud of the collaborative nature of the SPCO, and with Kyu’s leadership we look forward to a vibrant future!”

“I am deeply honored to have this opportunity to fuel the artistic growth of this amazing orchestra, and to share the leadership of the SPCO with Jon Limbacher, one of the most accomplished and visionary managers in the business, and one who shares my love for this orchestra and this community,” said Kim.  “I am so grateful to my colleagues in the orchestra and staff, and our devoted board and audience, for their support.”

Coppock noted that “Kyu is a superb musician who combines inordinate musical gifts with a keen intellect and a creative artistic perspective. He possesses great knowledge of the chamber orchestra repertoire and a profound understanding of the SPCO’s distinctive artistic profile. As Kyu has taken on a larger role in the artistic vision of the organization during the past few seasons, the SPCO has performed some of the most distinctive and innovative programs in its history. The SPCO and its audiences can expect many more years of exhilarating concert experiences with Kyu as Artistic Director. For the SPCO and its musicians to appoint one of its members as Artistic Director feels like the consummate achievement in our efforts to evolve.”

“The appointment of Kyu-Young Kim as Artistic Director is a testament to the extraordinary talent and creativity among the musicians of America’s orchestras, above and beyond their superb artistry on stage. It demonstrates the unique collaborative spirit of the SPCO,” said Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras.

“With these two vibrant and extraordinary leaders, we will have a dream team in place to lead the SPCO to new heights in the coming years,” said West. “Kyu and Jon share common ambitions for the SPCO, and together possess the talent, drive and passion to make those ambitions come true.”

Bruce Coppock to Retire

About his retirement, Coppock said: “I came to the SPCO in 1999 hoping that over time it could become a paragon of artistic aspiration, an industry leader in innovation and an inspiring presence in the Twin Cities. Over the past decade, but especially during the past two years, many of those aspirations have indeed come true. The SPCO is playing at the highest level in its history, four utterly dynamic Artistic Partners have joined us, several new and wonderful players have joined the SPCO, and we have opened the spectacular Ordway Concert Hall, a dream I pursued relentlessly from the time I arrived. To hear the new SPCO in the new Concert Hall is the fulfillment of my wildest ambitions for the organization and for our audiences. The recent labor agreement extension – achieved without negotiation – and the opportunity to make the appointments of Kyu as Artistic Director and Jon as Managing Director and President make this the ideal time to pass the baton. To be able to leave the SPCO in the hands of these two extraordinarily gifted leaders is perhaps the most satisfying achievement of all. I am deeply grateful for the support I have been given over these many years by the SPCO board, patrons, staff, audiences and musicians. It has been my honor and pleasure to work for the SPCO.”

“Bruce’s extraordinary legacy to the SPCO is an incredibly strong and generous board, an extremely professional and passionate staff, almost two decades of balanced budgets, a loyal audience that has grown while the audiences for classical music elsewhere have declined, a new incredible concert hall at the Ordway, and a chamber orchestra full of fantastic chamber musicians who have significant control over who they play with, what they play and how they play it – truly a musician-led chamber orchestra that is playing better than ever,” said West. “Today’s announcement, that two people mentored over the years by Bruce will be leading the SPCO forward and breaking new ground by having one of our own musicians as our Artistic Director, is proof that under Bruce’s leadership the SPCO has become an innovative, collaborative organization that will continue to demonstrate to the Twin Cities and the world how great a chamber orchestra can be.”