The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra has named Paul Helfrich as its new executive director. Helfrich is currently the President & CEO of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. He succeeds Christopher Barton, who left the Philharmonic in March 2019. Veteran arts administrator David Hyslop has served as the Orchestra’s interim executive director since May 2019 and will continue in the role until Helfrich assumes his new position.
Helfrich comes to Orlando from the Dayton, Ohio where he served as President of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for four years before leading the merger of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. The Alliance combines ballet, opera, and symphony orchestra into one organization, a first in the nation. At the Alliance, Helfrich held the position of president & CEO for eight years.
Helfrich’s extensive experience includes executive roles with the West Virginia Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Kalamazoo Symphony Society, and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Helfrich holds a Master of Arts Administration and a Bachelor of Music both from Indiana University.
In Orlando, Helfrich will work with the Board, staff, and Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to achieve the orchestra’s mission to enrich and inspire the diverse communities of Central Florida through the power of live music. “We are excited to welcome Paul into the Orlando Philharmonic family,” said Dr. Mary Palmer, president of the Board of Directors. “As we prepare for our 28th Season and the opening of Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, we confidently look forward to Paul’s leadership.”
Led by Board of Directors Vice President and President-Elect Melody Lynch, the Executive Director Search Committee for the Philharmonic’s third executive director included Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra board members, musicians, staff, and community leaders. The national search was managed by the Catherine French Group out of Washington, D.C.
Music Director Eric Jacobsen is in his fifth season with the orchestra, will work alongside Helfrich to lead the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. “Paul Helfrich is the kind of forward-thinking, thoughtful, and experienced leader who can bring the Orlando Philharmonic into the future. The long-awaited move to Steinmetz Hall, the growth of our community offerings, and the continued building of our incredibly beautiful and artistically vital orchestra — these will all be in good hands with Paul! I am so excited to work with him to continue to grow the Philharmonic,” said Music Director Eric Jacobsen.”
“I am thrilled to be coming to Orlando to begin work with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, its phenomenally talented Music Director Eric Jacobsen, its gifted musicians, its hardworking Board and staff, and its dedicated volunteers,” said Paul Helfrich. “I have been so impressed with everyone I have met and I am truly excited about this opportunity at a great moment in the orchestra’s history. With the pending move to Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center, the Philharmonic will be able to take the performance experience – both for the performers and the audience – to a new level of quality. The Philharmonic also has unique opportunities with its own spaces at The Plaza Live, an exciting and historic facility in its own right. My goals will be to build on all the good work that’s been done and make the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra one of the most exciting orchestras in the country; exciting in its quality, diversity, versatility, and service to the Central Florida community. I can’t wait to get started!”
Helfrich will begin his role as Executive Director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in February 2020.
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