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Thom Mayes announced as new CEO

May 12

NWS Staff

Thom Mayes announced as new CEO

by NWS Staff

Tacoma, WA. Northwest Sinfonietta is pleased to announce that Thom Mayes will serve as its next Chief Executive Officer. Mayes, currently the Executive Director at Whatcom Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham, WA, will take over the position of CEO on July 1st.

“While we are extremely sorry to see Neil Birnbaum leave, and at the same time are very happy for him as he explores new ventures, we could not be more pleased that Thom Mayes is joining us as the new chief executive,” says Bruce Mann, President of NWS Board of Directors. “Thom’s experience leading arts organizations and his training as a professional musician will infuse Northwest Sinfonietta with excitement and help us move forward with our Artistic Partner model.”

The CEO search committee selected Mayes out of a wide pool of experienced applicants from across the nation. His arts and musical leadership experience in the Pacific Northwest, combined with his passion for the Artistic Partnership model, elevated him as a CEO candidate. Says Mr. Mann, “We are lucky to have Thom join our team. His varied background within nonprofit arts world will be a great complement to our current outstanding professional staff.”

Mayes holds a bachelor's  in music from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is a graduate of Seattle University’s Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership program. Currently performing as Principal Bass of the Skagit Opera Orchestra and Assistant Principal Bass of  Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, Mayes brings a strong orchestral background to the CEO role as well. He also feels strongly about delivering a high-quality artistic experience to the audiences in the Puget Sound region.

“I can think of no individual better suited to take the executive reins of Northwest Sinfonietta,” stated Neil Birnbaum, outgoing CEO. Birnbaum has held the executive position within NWS for nine years, founding NWS’ residency in Puyallup and leading the group in two tours to Tacoma’s Cuban sister-city of Cienfuegos in 2012 and 2013. “I’m confident that Thom will feel, as I do, that serving this great orchestra is a true privilege. With his broad experience and record of achievement, Thom is an ideal leader to pursue ever-greater institutional goals in a time of immense change, challenge, and opportunity for orchestras.”

thom-mayes_wso_portraits-2076.jpgThomas Mayes is a native of the Northwest with a background combining administrative and performing experience in classical music. He joins Northwest Sinfonietta after three seasons as Executive Director of the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham. In that capacity he oversaw the orchestra’s first sold-out season, as well as its 40th anniversary celebrations, working closely with Israeli-born Music Director Yaniv Attar. During his tenure the organization experienced a period of financial and artistic growth, with an increase in donations from the community and performances with soloists including Gil Shaham, James Ehnes, and Johannes Moser. Previously he served as Executive Director of historic theatres, including the Capitol Theater in Olympia and the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon. He has also worked in the administrations of the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts in Leavenworth and Seattle Opera.

In addition to his administrative experience, Mr. Mayes is a double bassist and continues to perform in community ensembles throughout the region. Currently, he serves as Principal Bass of the Skagit Opera Orchestra and Assistant Principal Bass of the Whatcom Symphony. He has also performed with symphonies throughout the West, including those in Olympia, Everett, Yakima, Juneau, AK, and Colorado Springs, CO.

Mr. Mayes was raised near Edmonds, WA, studying double bass with Anna Doak and performing with the Cascade and Seattle Youth Symphonies. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Colorado and Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership degree from Seattle University.

Photo credit Damian Vines Photography