Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Schroeder confirmed as WSO director

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The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has made it official.

On Thursday, the board ended weeks of speculation by announcing that it has hired Winnipeg Folk Festival executive director Trudy Schroeder as the orchestra's top administrator.

WSO president Dorothy Dobbie says Schroeder will take up her new post July 21 at the conclusion of this year's folk festival.

"We're expecting a smooth transition," Dobbie said. "Who could be better placed to run the WSO?"

Schroeder -- who is entering her 10th folk festival, which runs July 10-13 at Birds Hill Park -- is a trained classical singer who has her Associate of The Royal Conservatory of Music certification from the Toronto-based conservatory. She spent three years in the vocal program of Laval University in Quebec.

"Music is my central passion in the arts," said Schroeder, 48, a wife and mother of two daughters who still takes voice and piano lessons. She completed an MBA at the University of Manitoba while at the folk festival.

"I think I have a pretty good sense of the problems and issues involved (with the WSO)," she said. "I'm looking forward to creating a resilient orchestra model for a mid-sized city."

A native Winnipegger, Schroeder returned home from Ottawa, where she had been general manager of Arts Court, the city's municipal arts centre, to research and draft the 1997 Buchwald Arts Policy Review for then mayor Susan Thompson.

Folk festival president Terry Sargeant, in an e-mail to fellow board members, praised Schroeder for leaving the festival "considerably larger than a decade ago, with record crowds at the summer event, with record income surpluses, with a solidly-based endowment fund, year-round programming and with a plan in place to greatly improve the site at Birds Hill Park."

He said a search for her replacement will begin immediately.

The WSO's current executive director, Dale Lonis, has been in his post two years, making him the longest serving top administrator since Howard Jang in the late '90s.

He and music director Alexander Mickelthwate, who joined the orchestra at the same time, have led the WSO to improved attendance and finances after a decade of turmoil.

Lonis informed the board in late March that he had accepted the job of CEO of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Illinois beginning in July.

The WSO operates on $6 million a year, the folk festival $3.5 million.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is still searching for a replacement for its outgoing chief operating officer, Judy Murphy, who is joining an accounting firm at the end of May.

The WSO is in the pit tonight for the final performance of Manitoba Opera's La Traviata at the Centennial Concert Hall.

Mickelthwate will conduct the orchestra in Masterworks performances of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, May 2-3.

morley.walker@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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