Atlanta Symphony taps Cleveland Orchestra GM as executive director

Continuing to rebuild after a nine-week lockout that delayed the start of its 70th anniversary season last fall, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on Thursday announced its new executive director.

Jennifer Barlament, general manager of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2013, will assume her leadership role at the ASO in January. Cleveland is generally considered one of the nation’s top five orchestras.

As a member of Cleveland’s senior management team, Barlament, 42, has been responsible for all facilities, orchestra operations, touring, media, front of house operations and collective bargaining. She also served as executive director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (2009-13) and general manager of the Omaha Symphony (2002-09).

The ASO position brings her back to Atlanta, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music from Emory University. She has a master’s in clarinet performance from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” Barlament said in the announcement. “It is especially poignant for me to come home to Georgia to serve a city and an orchestra that I love, working with Robert Spano, one of the great original thinkers in American classical music.”

Barlament will succeed retired Coca-Cola executive Terry Neal, who assumed an interim role in October 2014 after ASO president and CEO Stanley Romanstein resigned, saying that his continued leadership would be an “impediment” to a new labor agreement.

Federal mediators ultimately helped forge a four-year pact between management and musicians that trimmed the orchestra’s ranks to 77 full-time players.

In July, the Woodruff announced that the ASO finished the 2014-15 season with a surplus, reversing a slide of 11 consecutive years of deficits. Management also revealed that it was more than half way to the $25 million goal of its Musicians’ Endowment Campaign, intended to rebuild the ensemble to 88 full-time players by the contract’s end.

ASO Board Chair D. Kirk Jamieson said Barlament “possesses both the dedication to the art and the exemplary business and management skills to elevate the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to the next level.”

The ASO opens its 71st season Sept. 17-19 with music director Spano conducting the orchestra and chorus in Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony.

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