Arts & Entertainment and Human Resources

Opera Grand Rapids names executive director

December 13, 2013
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Opera Grand Rapids names executive director
Anne Berquist. Courtesy Opera Grand Rapids

Opera Grand Rapids’ search for an executive director has come to an end with the hiring of an international nonprofit arts administrator.

Anne Berquist, who is currently wrapping up her role as executive director of the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, will join Opera Grand Rapids later this month. She will oversee the remainder of the company’s 2013-14 season, which includes Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” in March and Puccini’s iconic “Madama Butterfly”in May.

The executive director search committee reviewed applications from across the country for the position.

“In Anne Berquist we have found a new director who will bring to Opera Grand Rapids an exciting combination of experience, skills, personality and enthusiasm, which will propel the company to its next level of growth,” said Joan Schleef, chair of the executive director search committee.

In addition to the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, Berquist has held leadership positions at The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, the Théâtre du Chatelet, which is one of the most renowned opera houses in Europe, and the French National Conservatory of Music and Dance.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen to be Opera Grand Rapids’ next executive director,” Berquist said. “Opera Grand Rapids is an amazing opera company with a long and prestigious history, and there are countless opportunities for the organization to achieve new levels of success. I look forward to bringing the company's visions to life.”

Former Executive Director Michael Havlicek retired from Opera Grand Rapids in June, and Tom Wesholski has been serving as interim executive director since that time.

“I have enjoyed learning about the talent and hard work that goes into each opera,” Wesholski said. “The company really is a vibrant artistic addition to Grand Rapids’ extensive performing arts groups. I am thrilled to have assisted the company in locating Ms. Berquist, who has such a rich history of cultural leadership to share with Opera Grand Rapids.”

Opera Grand Rapids is approaching its 50th anniversary and James Brady, board president, said that this season the company is working to become a more active part of West Michigan.

“We are offering operas in new venues. We just closed a vibrant modern opera production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ and have expanded our educational programming,” Brady said.

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