Arts & Entertainment and Human Resources

Grand Rapids Symphony appoints president and CEO

March 21, 2017
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Peter Perez
Peter Perez. Courtesy Grand Rapids Symphony/Terry Johnston

After two months in transition, the Grand Rapids Symphony has found the person to fill the role of president and CEO.

The symphony’s board said today it appointed Peter Perez, who has been interim president and CEO since January, to the permanent post, effective last Thursday.

“This is a real honor,” Perez said. 

Perez was named interim president and CEO ahead of the departure of Peter Kjome, who left the symphony on Feb. 1 to become president and CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Though a presidential search committee had begun to organize a national search for the orchestra’s next administrative leader, the committee soon determined the best person for the job was already on the job.

Citing his enthusiasm for music, commitment to the symphony and business acumen, the committee called Perez “a great fit.”

“Peter loves the musicians, the staff and the community,” said Charles Frayer, chair-elect of the board and co-chair of the presidential search committee. “It’s a great fit.”

Frayer, a former managing partner with Crowe Horwath, said Perez already is “doing a great job.”

“To get someone with his knowledge and experience in the industry, that’s just phenomenal for us,” Frayer said. “His connectivity with our donors and the community would be very, very hard to duplicate. If we brought someone else in from an international search, we wouldn’t get that at all.”


Perez is co-owner, along with his wife, Carroll, and chair of Carter Products in Grand Rapids, which produces accessory equipment for the industrial woodworking machinery industry. Perez’s son, Lee, runs the business as president.

Formerly president of musical instrument makers C.G. Conn and Steinway & Sons, Perez served as board chair of the Grand Rapids Symphony from 2013-15.

A native of Elkhart, Indiana and a graduate of Yale University, Perez is a retired U.S. Navy officer and earned his M.B.A. from Indiana University. He served more recently as deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing in the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington from 2010-12.

Perez, who’s a director of the Grand Valley State University Foundation and has served as a board member and executive committee member of The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, said he’s pleased to lead the organization into the future.

“I’m in awe of our musicians and what they produce,” Perez said. “Anything I can do to support that mission is a real honor. The Grand Rapids Symphony has accomplished so much in the past two years, and the people of West Michigan can take pride in having one of the finest regional orchestras in the country here in their hometown.”

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.

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