Former San Francisco Symphony CEO will Lead BSO Strategy and Guide Search for the Next Music Director
April 5, 2022 (Baltimore, MD) – Following a rigorous national search, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced the appointment of industry veteran Mark C. Hanson as the orchestra’s new president and chief executive officer effective April 21.
Hanson brings more than 20 years of demonstrated success as a collaborative, imaginative, and focused leader who has driven organizational change in the orchestral world. As a CEO, he successfully led the San Francisco, Houston, and Milwaukee symphony orchestras through economic transformations, artistic leadership transitions, and internal culture building. In each market, Hanson continually found new and innovative ways to develop financial growth plans, drive unique and diverse artistic programming, and effectively bring together staff, musicians, and board members to create cohesive teams working toward common goals.
“It’s a great honor to step into this role with a storied institution like the BSO and help write its next chapter,” said Hanson. “I look forward to working with stakeholders across Maryland and beyond to create a culture of excellence, collaboration, and inclusion. This will include partnering with both internal and external constituents to identify, recruit and support a new music director equally committed to inclusive programming, broad audience engagement, statewide service, and next-generation talent development.”
Hanson most recently served as CEO of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), widely considered one of the leading arts institutions in the U.S. During his tenure with the SFS, Hanson oversaw the development and execution of a plan that restored the organization to consecutive years of balanced budgets including annual contributed revenue growth of 33 percent. In addition, he successfully negotiated a four-year contract with musicians; led the organization through major initiatives, including a comprehensive rebranding and the launch of a new streaming service; and developed a cross-constituency DEI Workgroup together with the institution’s first-ever DEI and equitable salary plans. He enrolled SFS as a member of the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) – a national initiative by the Sphinx Organization to increase diversity in American orchestras. Hanson also personally served as a founding member of the NAAS Advisory Group and NAAS Audition and Tenure Guidelines Committee.
Hanson has continuously demonstrated a deep personal commitment to the principles of equity and inclusion. During his seven-year tenure in Houston, he led the creation of a Community-Embedded Musician program, a Citywide Grassroots Chorus, and the formation of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic Leadership Councils, which helped the Symphony better connect with Houston’s growing, diverse community.
As BSO president and CEO, Hanson will be tasked with building upon the orchestra’s positive momentum while identifying new ways for BSO to expand its reach. As the business leader and chief fundraising officer, he will work to strengthen the BSO’s financial position, connect more deeply and authentically with audiences, community, and supporters, and ensure ongoing collaboration between the BSO board, staff, orchestra, and artistic leadership.
“The BSO has made significant progress in its transformational journey, but still faces challenges in returning from the pandemic,” said search committee member and Vice Chair of the Board Christian Johansson. “Mark’s dedication and talent for repositioning American orchestras to increase relevancy, representation, and impact—along with his demonstrated leadership with a multitude of complex arts organizations—has proven he can tackle challenges head-on and lead a diverse array of partners to success around a common goal.”
Hanson will also call upon his experience leading multi-year, international Music Director searches at the Milwaukee, Houston, and San Francisco symphonies as he guides the BSO through the second year of its own Music Director search in the 2022-23 season, a year marked by six celebrated returns and seven new conducting debuts. The BSO’s search for its next artistic leader, as well as its status as the only American orchestra with two year-round homes, was among the factors that attracted Hanson to the position.
“Mark has extensive experience at the helm of multiple leading orchestras and is uniquely positioned to lead the BSO at this point in its journey,” said Lisa Bergman, Second Horn with the BSO and a member of the search committee. “We are excited by his experience leading organizations at the highest levels of the orchestral world and are thrilled to have his leadership skills on hand here in Baltimore.”
The CEO search has been a critically important process for the BSO. To inform the search, a search committee, led by Board Chair Barry Rosen, solicited feedback from a further cross-section of musicians, staff, and the board, capturing a broad group of perspectives on organizational priorities and needs. With guidance from an outside search firm, a diverse slate of talent was identified. Hanson met with all musicians and staff, along with additional community stakeholders, before receiving unanimous support from the search committee.
Hanson began his undergraduate studies, pursuing cello performance, at the Eastman School of Music before graduating from Harvard University, with continuing education at the Interaction Institute for Social Change and Harvard Business School. He is a recipient of the League of American Orchestras’ Helen M. Thomson Award for Exceptional Leadership and was recognized by Milwaukee Magazine as a “Next Generation Leader.”
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
For over a century, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has been recognized as one of America’s leading orchestras and one of Maryland’s most significant cultural institutions. The orchestra is internationally renowned and locally admired for its innovation, performances, recordings, and educational outreach initiatives including OrchKids.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs annually for more than 275,000 people throughout the State of Maryland. Since 1982, the BSO has performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, and since 2005, with the opening of The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, the BSO became the nation’s first orchestra performing its full season of classical and pops concerts in two metropolitan areas. More recently, 2020 marked the beginning of a new era of artistry, innovation, stability, and digital accessibility, including the launch of the virtual platform BSO OffStage and a groundbreaking docu-concert series BSO Sessions. More information about the BSO can be found at BSOmusic.org.