Arts & Entertainment and Human Resources

Grand Rapids Symphony president and CEO accepts next post

December 6, 2016
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Peter Kjome
Peter Kjome. Courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony

The long-time leader of the Grand Rapids Symphony is heading east.

The Grand Rapids Symphony said today President and CEO Peter Kjome has accepted the same position with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. His work there begins Feb. 1.

Kjome will continue to lead the symphony until his departure at the end of January.

Kjome was a musician with the Grand Rapids Symphony from 1990 to 1998 and has filled the role of president since 2008. In 2011, the League of American Orchestras presented Kjome with the Helen M. Thompson award for exceptional leadership.

His work has included overseeing the organization’s search for a new music director, Marcelo Lehninger, who was hired in June with a five-year contract, and concluding a $40-million fundraising campaign, as well as reaching several collective bargaining agreements with musicians, including a five-year agreement signed in 2016.

“As we announced in May 2016, our board approved a new five-year plan to attract new audiences — to serve an increasingly diverse community and to further strengthen the orchestra’s financial position,” said Kate Pew Wolters, board chair, Grand Rapids Symphony. “The symphony is well positioned for the future.”

The symphony said the search process for a replacement is underway.

The Grand Rapids Symphony Board of Directors has named Charles Frayer chair-elect and Mary Tuuk vice chair to lead and select the search committee. Frayer is office managing partner with Crowe Horwath, and Tuuk is vice president and chief compliance officer at Meijer.

There is no set timeline for finding a replacement, but the community can expect one soon, said Jeff Kaczmarczyk, senior manager of communications and media relations at the symphony. 

He said an interim president and CEO has not been named, but the current No. 2 person is Roger Nelson, VP for operations and COO.

Wolters, the board chair, said Kjome’s leadership provides a “strong foundation” for the organization’s next president.

“We are confident that we will find an outstanding individual who will lead our great orchestra into the future,” she said.

Kjome said he’s grateful for the opportunity to have worked at Grand Rapids Symphony.

“I will conclude my tenure in Grand Rapids with a spirit of gratitude for the wonderful support of many people in our community who care deeply about our symphony,” Kjome said. “It has been a tremendous inspiration to work with our board, musicians, staff and visionary community leaders like Richard and Helen DeVos, as we continue to develop our extraordinary orchestra. I know that my work here has prepared me to contribute, as I begin the next chapter of my career.”

Grand Rapids Symphony

The Grand Rapids Symphony, established in 1930, has a 40-week season and employs 80 full- and part-time musicians. With an annual budget of more than $9 million, the orchestra reaches 200,000 patrons per year.

The symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles.

Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses.

The Grand Rapids Symphony provides the orchestra for performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet and sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which returns in March 2017.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. It is a 52-week orchestra with a budget that exceeds $27 million. It reaches more than 350,000 people per year. In 2007, it became the first major American orchestra to appoint a woman, Marin Alsop, as music director. She continues to lead the symphony's music.

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