HOUSTON (February 19, 2010) – Bobby Tudor, president of the Houston Symphony Society, announced the appointment of Mark C. Hanson as the new Executive Director and CEO of the Houston Symphony, effective May 1. Currently, Hanson serves as the President and Executive Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO).
“We are thrilled with Mark’s acceptance,” said Tudor. “We feel that his energy and experience, especially his successes in Milwaukee, will be instrumental in continuing the forward progress at the Houston Symphony.” The Houston Symphony Society conducted a thorough search beginning August 2009 upon the resignation of Matthew VanBeisen who accepted the Managing Director post at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
In commenting on Hanson’s appointment, Music Director Hans Graf said, “I was very impressed with his achievements in Milwaukee, and I am very much looking forward to working with him in the coming seasons.”
The Orchestra Committee of the Houston Symphony released a statement saying, “We congratulate Mark on his appointment and welcome him to Houston.”
In a bit of trivia, this is not Hanson’s first time working at the Houston Symphony. While a participant in the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, a year-long leadership program, Hanson trained at the Houston Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Syracuse Symphony Orchestra during the 1997-98 season. A native of Boston, Hanson began his undergraduate studies as a cello performance major at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He then transferred to and graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies.
“I am thrilled to become a part of the Houston Symphony family once again. So too is my wife, Christina, a proud graduate of Rice University and The Shepherd School of Music. I have long respected the Orchestra’s artistic quality and commitment to the City of Houston; more recently, I have admired the collaborative efforts of Hans Graf, the Orchestra, administration and Board, and congratulate the Houston Symphony on its recent Carnegie Hall success,” said Hanson.
Hanson has served as the Milwaukee Symphony’s President and Executive Director since January 2004, during which time the orchestra appointed Edo de Waart as music director and Marvin Hamlisch as principal pops conductor. Under Hanson’s leadership, the MSO has undertaken major artistic projects such as Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle with sets designed by Dale Chihuly, and a Naxos recording of Roberto Sierra’s Missa Latina with the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, and doubled the number of full-orchestra performances outside of its primary hall. In partnership with his musician colleagues, Hanson negotiated two four-year orchestra contracts and a ground-breaking Local Internet agreement that allowed the MSO to become the first American orchestra to release live recordings on iTunes.
In collaboration with a strong administrative staff and Board of Directors, Hanson has helped the MSO to increase average capacity sold from 58% in 2004 to 70% in 2009 and more than double annual contributed income from individuals, foundations and corporations. Actively involved in the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a group of prominent business leaders, and many other civic activities, Hanson has been recognized by Milwaukee Magazine as a “Next Generation Leader” and by the Business Journal of Milwaukee as one of the region’s “Most Influential People”.
Between 2001 and 2003, Hanson served as executive director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, where he successfully expanded the Orchestra’s community programming and audience base, while considerably improving the Orchestra’s financial position. He was awarded the Helen M. Thompson Award for Exceptional Leadership by the League of American Orchestras in 2003.