• Martha Gilmer, CEO of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra

    September 29, 2016

    martha-gilmerThis week, Joe and Richard had the pleasure of talking with Martha Gilmer, CEO of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. They discussed her early years and discovery of her love of classical music, her education and career, mostly spent with the highly regarded, Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). There was also extensive discussion of the innovative and widely appealing programs she has developed for San Diego audiences, including a new permanent band shell (in development) for the Summer Pops Series, great family film events with live orchestra music, and events with jazz and classical collaborations.

    Martha joined the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in October 2014 after a 35-year career at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As the CSO’s vice president for artistic planning and audience development, Martha Gilmer was primarily responsible for working with Music Director Riccardo Muti in program planning, engaging guest conductors and artists and formulating the Orchestra’s artistic profile – focusing on a dedication to providing stimulating and exciting programming. The CSO had been Gilmer’s professional “home” since 1976 when she began as a student intern. In 1979 she became an assistant artistic administrator and later artistic administrator in 1985. In 1998 she was promoted to vice president for artistic planning, adding the additional audience development component in 2004. She has developed longstanding relationships with some of the world’s greatest artists, including current CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti and two previous CSO music directors, Sir Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim. She has also worked closely with the CSO’s Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez and former CSO Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink, as well as many other pre-eminent conductors. Martha also engages in extensive lecturing and writing on music.

    Gilmer works closely with the most talented guest artists and composers of today. She has developed partnerships with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Pinchas Zukerman, as well as all of the CSO’s past and present composers-in-residence: John Corigliano, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas, Osvaldo Golijov, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Mason Bates and Anna Clyne. She has championed the creation of contemporary music, regularly supporting the commissioning of new works and working with composers on existing compositions.

    Gilmer attended Burlington High School in Burlington, Wisconsin and is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Music, and she has been active as an alumna, serving on the Visiting Committee and the Dean Search Committee and delivering the 2000 commencement address. She also earned a Northwestern University School of Music Alumni Merit Award.

    The San Diego Symphony Orchestra offers a wide range of concert experiences and performs over 120 concerts annually including the Jacobs Masterworks (conducted by Music Director Jahja Ling) offering classical repertoire and featuring acclaimed guest artists such as Lang Lang, Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman and the City Lights series led by principal pops conductor and Academy-Award® winning composer Bill Conti.

    The home of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra is the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego, regarded as one of the finest classical music venues on the West Coast. In October 2013 the SDSO made its acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut featuring piano soloist Lang Lang and immediately followed with an 11-day China Friendship Tour with concerts in Beijing, Shanghai and San Diego’s sister city, Yantai.

    Listen to a podcast of Martha Gilmer’s interview!

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