Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia hires new chief

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William Rhoads, newly named executive director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has hired a rock/jazz guitarist and administrator from New York's Orchestra of St. Luke's to be its next executive director.

William Rhoads, 49, vice president of marketing and communications for the Orchestra of St. Luke's since 2006, starts the new post just after Labor Day. Asked what lured him to the job, Rhoads said: "I have always been drawn to organizations on the verge of a perfect storm: a compelling vision and a capacity for creative exploration, tempered with fiscal discipline and business savvy. And I played a key role successfully traversing these waters. It is the exact right time to be here to move this amazing orchestra into an exciting new chapter."

His decade at St. Luke's was a period of expansion, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia said in an announcement, with Rhoads playing "a key role in establishing and maintaining several strategic partnerships and collaborations, including the opening of the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, and he was the driving force behind the launch of several new programs and series – among
them, the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), 45below young member program, St. Luke’s Subway Series, the Notable Women Festival, and the OSL@DMC series."

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia board president Susan Schwartz McDonald called Rhoads "dynamic, deeply knowledgeable about music and arts management, brimming with ideas and energy, and very personable." She said what sealed the deal was his experience in artistic collaboration. "That's going to be a mantra for us in the coming years, and Bill has a track record for engaging creatively and productively with other groups and various stakeholders to advance common artistic and audience development goals," she said. "You'll hear the theme of 'connectivity' quite a lot from us, and it has multiple meanings - intimate audience engagement, creative partnerships, and genre linkages where they can enhance the musical experience. Bill clearly understood our vision from the start and was excited about it."

Rhoads previously served as director of concert music at publisher Carl Fischer Music. As head of his own marketing, production and publishing company, Bill Rhoads & Associates, he represented the likes of Frank Zappa, John Zorn, Ornette Coleman, C.F. Peters Publishing and Arabesque Recordings.

He replaces Janelle McCoy, who left Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in January to become executive director of the Oregon Bach Festival.

Rhoads has degrees in composition and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and says he is still active as a composer. "I played lead guitar in a hard rock band when I was a teenager and taught rock and jazz guitar for many years." He still occasionally picks up the guitar, he said, when no one's watching - "just enough to remind myself the importance of regular practice."

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