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Mark C. Hanson named Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony

July 7, 2017

Public Relations
San Francisco Symphony
(415) 503-5474

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / Friday, July 7, 2017

Mark C. Hanson. Photo ©Oliver Theil


SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher, on behalf of the Board of Governors, and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, today announced the appointment of Mark C. Hanson as Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Hanson will succeed Brent Assink, who stepped down from the position in March 2017 after 18 years as the Orchestra’s chief administrator. Hanson will begin his new post September 1.

Mark Hanson joins the San Francisco Symphony from the Houston Symphony, where he has served as Executive Director and CEO since 2010. During his time at the helm of Houston’s largest performing arts organization, Hanson spearheaded visionary artistic projects; built deep and meaningful connections throughout the local community; creatively expanded the Symphony’s audience and donor base; and effectively sparked collaboration between the organization’s many working parts.

"I am delighted to welcome Mark Hanson as the San Francisco Symphony's next Executive Director," stated SFS President Sakurako Fisher. "Mark is an inspiring leader and the board could not be more confident in his ability to build on the Orchestra's legacy while forging new paths and possibilities of what the orchestral experience can be. I have always felt that our next leader would need to be someone who is a connector, who dissolves walls, who builds shared values. Mark's impressive track record of innovation and success make him a natural fit as we look to broaden the connections we offer to our music and to our community. His strong blend of leadership, passion, and experience will move our shared vision for innovation and excellence forward to ensure that we impact the lives of those around us through the power of music."

As Executive Director, Hanson will lead the San Francisco Symphony— widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the U.S.—in close collaboration with the Board of Directors and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Celebrating 22 years of partnership, MTT and the SFS are a leading presence among American orchestras at home and around the world, celebrated for their artistic excellence, creative performance concepts, active touring, award-winning recordings, and standard-setting education programs. The Orchestra presents more than 220 concerts and presentations annually for an audience of nearly 450,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall and through its active national and international touring. A cornerstone of the organization’s mission, the San Francisco Symphony’s education programs are the most extensive offered by any American orchestra today, providing free comprehensive music education to every first- through fifth-grade student in the San Francisco public schools, and serving more than 100,000 children, students, educators, and families annually. Hanson becomes only the fifth Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1939, when the organization created its top management position (Howard Skinner served from 1939 to 1964, Joseph Scafidi from 1965 to 1978, Peter Pastreich from 1978 to 1999, and Brent Assink from 1999 to 2017).

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as the San Francisco Symphony’s next Executive Director,” commented Mark Hanson. “I have such a deep respect and admiration for the San Francisco Symphony‘s record of artistic accomplishment, thoughtful innovation, community engagement and economic impact achieved over its first 105 years. I look forward to working closely with Sakurako Fisher, Michael Tilson Thomas, and the Orchestra’s musicians, board, and staff to build upon that exemplary legacy, keep the Orchestra at the forefront of the American arts scene, and more-widely introduce its programs to the entire Bay Area. My family and I are also eager to make the San Francisco Bay Area our home and to begin building meaningful relationships with members of the community.

"I am delighted to welcome Mark Hanson to the San Francisco Symphony family," said Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. "His excitement about the future of symphonic music, his experience and success working with other orchestras, and his enthusiasm and knowledge of music and musicians will be a major part of the next chapter of our Orchestra. At the San Francisco Symphony, we have built a strong foundation of virtuosity, adventure, curiosity, and risk taking. The Orchestra, in many ways, mirrors the personality of the city it represents. I know Mark shares these values and I very much look forward to working with him as we all build on these meaningful qualities."

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