Why was San Francisco Symphony beheaded?

Why was San Francisco Symphony beheaded?


norman lebrecht

September 28, 2016

Nobody on any side is saying much.

Brent Assink’s letter to staff, telling them he was leaving after 18 years as executive director, made it clear between the lines that he was doing so unwillingly.

Assink, 61, has no other job lined up, or even a clear idea whether he wants to stay in the orchestral business.

The general impression is that he did well to restore good working order after a damaging strike in 2013.

So why is he going?

Some of his less buttoned-up colleagues tell us he couldn’t get along any more with Sakurako Fisher, a member of the Gap clothing dynasty and president of the board since 2012.  When that happens, it is always the competent professional who has to go, while the dilettant donor gets to choose a successor.


Orchestra management in the US is not a job for the faint-hearted.


  • mario lutz says:

    No Country for Old Men, you meant

  • Will says:

    Was he beheaded? 18 years is a long time in a job.

  • Marin Cyclist says:

    I don’t know Brent Assink, but I do know Sakurako Fisher, and I can assure you that she is not a “dilettant [sic] donor”. She is a committed, generous and thoughtful leader, and an asset to the Symphony and to the City of San Francisco.

  • PAK says:

    Reminds of another orchestra (check in Europe non european countries…) rsrsrs

  • BSMonitor says:

    Marin Cyclist – how could you claim to know so much about Fisher’s commitment and value to the SFO and claim to not know anything about their CEO Assink?
    If you have any insight on one you would have to have insight on the other, so you are either full of sh*t or just full of lies.

    • Scribe says:

      It stands to reason that our commenter knows Fisher through non-SFS affiliations. In this case, why would he or she know anything about the orchestra’s outgoing CEO?

  • Pliadisfoto says:

    Kaip idomu!