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NWS CEO Steps Down

Mar 07

NWS Staff

NWS CEO Steps Down

by NWS Staff

Northwest Sinfonietta's Longtime Leader To Step Down

Tacoma, WA. After nine years as Executive Director and CEO of Northwest Sinfonietta, Neil Birnbaum has announced that he will step down at the conclusion of the chamber orchestra's 25th season.

"Success is knowing when to go," said Birnbaum. "It's time for me to pursue new opportunities, and for Northwest Sinfonietta to welcome fresh, new leadership. I'm very proud of the incredible work that we have accomplished, and look forward to watching the continued success of this remarkable orchestra."

Board President Bruce Mann said a nationwide search for a new CEO has already begun and paid tribute to Birnbaum's longtime commitment. "His leadership and vision, through good times and, most importantly, during our challenging times, have been the glue that held the organization together. His inspiration and push for excellence molded the organization into the preeminent ensemble it is today."

Mann also pointed out that "under Neil's leadership, Northwest Sinfonietta established itself as a full-fledged regional professional orchestra with residencies in Seattle at Benaroya Hall, in Puyallup at Pioneer Park Pavilion, in addition to performing a full season of concerts in its inaugural home at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater.”

Birnbaum made extensive contributions to the growth and success of the Northwest Sinfonietta. In 2012 and 2013, Northwest Sinfonietta became only the third American orchestra to tour and perform in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, prompting Governor Christine Gregoire to proclaim Northwest Sinfonietta as “Washington State’s international cultural ambassador.” In 2014, Birnbaum helped to envision, engineer and implement Northwest Sinfonietta’s change to become only the fifth orchestra in the world to operate under an artistic partner model. With his guidance Northwest Sinfonietta continues to reach new artistic achievements with each concert performance.

Although the board accepted his resignation with "sadness and regret," Mann said, "we wish Neil only the best as he takes a well-deserved rest from the unrelenting stress that his position with the orchestra necessarily entails. His firm guidance through the transition period was critical to establishing our Artistic Partner model."

"The decision to step down was mine. I have been contemplating this for some time," said Birnbaum. "While I will be sad to depart during such an exciting time in Sinfonietta's future, I know the Artistic Partners along with our great musicians will continue to reach new artistic heights."

Birnbaum, a former trumpet player with the Metropolitan Opera and Honolulu Symphony, will be in a sense closing a geographic circle, since he has previously served with orchestras in New York, Florida, California, and now finally, Seattle/Tacoma. Birnbaum will now be spending time working with his new business, Cuba Rhythm and Views, which specializes in cultural exchanges with Cuba.