Flash: Chicago Symphony president quits, heads for Washington D.C.

Flash: Chicago Symphony president quits, heads for Washington D.C.


norman lebrecht

December 10, 2013

Deborah Rutter, turnaround chief of the CSO, is off to Washington to save the ailing  John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, replacing Michael Kaiser as president.

Rutter signed Riccardo Muti for Chicago and started its revival. Kaiser has been coasting for a while, devoting his energies to telling the rest of the industry how to improve its performance. The Kennedy Center has a divided orchestra with a contentious music director (Kaiser’s call) and an opera company that has left little mark on the national consciousness in recent years. Can Rutter do better? Let’s see.

We wish her all good fortune.

deborah rutter2

press release:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—David M. Rubenstein, Chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, today announced the selection of Deborah F. Rutter as the next Kennedy Center president. Ms. Rutter currently serves as the President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and will assume her Kennedy Center duties on September 1, 2014. She will serve as the Kennedy Center’s third president, following Michael M. Kaiser who will step down from the position on August 31, 2014.

“The Kennedy Center is fortunate to have found in Deborah an individual with an undeniable passion for and knowledge of the performing arts; a long, well-respected track record of managing and enhancing performing arts organizations; and a commitment to making the performing arts accessible and appealing to people of all ages and backgrounds,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “I applaud Michael Kaiser for his 13 years of leadership and look forward to watching Deborah bring her unique experiences and interests to this position.”

Ms. Rutter stated, “It is a true privilege to be asked to lead this unparalleled institution. The Kennedy Center represents the very best of American culture of all forms, and I am honored at the prospect of building on the great work of my predecessor, Michael Kaiser. I thank the search committee and especially its co-chairs David Rubenstein and Tony Welters, for their commitment and the significant dialogue we had in the course of the last few months. I am incredibly excited about the future of this institution and the opportunity to work with its great artists and leaders: Christoph Eschenbach, Suzanne Farrell, Jason Moran, Francesca Zambello, as well as the Kennedy Center’s many talented staff, volunteers, and supporters.”


  • Well she’ll certainly be at the CSO — which she has led superbly — through the 2013-2014 season. Many challenges for Deborah but a great choice for the Kennedy Center.

  • NSO Insider says:

    We are extremely privilege to have Deborah Rutter as our future Kennedy Center President. Her first task is to decide whether NSO keeps Christoph Eschenbach beyond 2014-15 Season. A big portion of our orchestra wish that Maestro Eschenbach contract NOT to be prolonged beyond the current agreement. We have experienced and seen enough of him, the artistic level of this orchestra is truly at stake. Osmo Vanska is available…………..