Martha Gilmer leaves CSO after 35 years for top post in San Diego

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 10:42 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Martha GIlmer
Martha Gilmer

After 35 years at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, most of it overseeing artistic planning, Martha Gilmer is leaving to take a top job out west.

Gilmer, the CSO’s vice-president for artistic planning and audience development, will depart the orchestra to become chief executive officer of the San Diego Symphony. The appointment is effective September 24 for a three-year term.

“The San Diego Symphony has impressed me artistically and with its commitment to the San Diego community,” said Gilmer in a statement released by the California orchestra. “The board leadership is passionate about music, and believes that the music and the musicians are at the core of the orchestra’s mission, which is critically important.

“In meeting board members, Music Director Jahja Ling, musicians, and staff leadership, I felt a shared passion and desire for continued artistic growth of this orchestra. After 35 wonderful years at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, I look forward to a new challenge and to becoming a member of the San Diego Symphony family and of the cultural community of San Diego.”

Gilmer worked under three music directors (Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim and Riccardo Muti) in her long CSO tenure and oversaw the orchestra’s artistic planning and education programs, Symphony Center Presents, and the Civic Orchestra. In June 2012, Gilmer’s position at the CSO was endowed as The Richard and Mary L. Gray Chair -VP Artistic Planning and Audience Development.

“For 35 years Martha Gilmer has played an important role in shaping the artistic profile of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” said music director Riccardo Muti in a statement released by the CSO. “Her creativity and her passion for music come through in the many innovative programs and festivals that have been enjoyed by audiences in Chicago and around the world.

“I am happy that San Diego, the beautiful city where we were together with the CSO on its most recent West Coast tour, will gain from her long experience, and I wish her much success in the future.”

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