The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has announced that Angela Elster, its current vice-president of the VSO School of Music & Community Programs, has been chosen to helm the organization.
Elster succeeds Kelly Tweeddale, who left the VSO to become the executive director of the San Francisco Ballet in the summer of 2019.
As the new president and CEO, Elster will oversee both the orchestra and the school in downtown Vancouver. Recognized as a leading advocate and innovator nationally in music education, she was chosen after a six-month search process.
Before joining the VSO, Elster was senior vice-president of research and education at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where she played a key role in opening the TELUS Centre for Performing Arts and Learning and founded the Learning Through the Arts program. At the VSO, she piloted the Day of Music celebration that welcomed over 14,000 people to 100 free performances, forged the Indigenous Council, and launched a new focus on health and wellness programming at the organization.
“Angela and I share a vision for an orchestra that is both focussed on artistic excellence and integrity as well as deep engagement with our community," maestro and music director Otto Tausk, another relative newcomer to the organization, said in a press statement today. "I am very excited to have her as a new partner in leading this organization as we chart our path to becoming the orchestra of the future.”
“The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has an incredible history," Elster said in the same press announcement. "It is the largest arts organization in Western Canada. It has toured internationally, won Juno and Grammy awards, had a succession of high profile Music Directors, all while being an anchor for music and the arts in British Columbia and the lower mainland. I look forward to building on this legacy, deepening our connection to the community, making sure everyone has a path into the symphony, and building on our unique strategic opportunity with the VSO School of Music. I can’t wait to get started. See you in the concert hall.”
The leadership shift at the VSO is part of a seismic shift in arts administration happening in the city, coupled with the departure of directors from some of the city's largest arts organizations, including Kathleen Bartels leaving the Vancouver Art Gallery (with Daina Augaitis as her interim replacement) and Vancouver Opera general director Kim Gaynor stepping down late last year (with Tom Wright acting as interim leader).