Alison Vulgamore’s departure from Philadelphia last night leaves three hot seats vacant and few talents available to fill them.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic was left last week by Deborah Borda in the capable hands of Gail Samuel, the Acting President and Chief Executive Officer who is thought likely to get the job on a permanent basis.
The San Francisco Symphony has Derek Dean as Interim Executive Director. The difference between Acting and Interim speaks volumes.
Philadelphia does not know where to turn after seven years of tough love by a CEO widely referred to as Voldemort. It is an awful act to follow.
We hear complaints from all sides of the lack of leadership talent in orchestras. The problem is that vice-presidents rarely get a chance to prove themselves. Gail Samuel had six months in charge when Deborah Borda went off last year on sabbatical. She knows the ropes. Not many others do.
It’s a tough job, requiring passion, unsocial hours and the courage to take unpleasant decisions. It burns up the faint-hearted. The New York Phil’s immediate past chief lasted just four years in the seat. While well paid, it’s not a job that makes you lifelong friends. Or leads to better things. Many ex-orch prezzies now call themselves consultants.
Unless there’s someone on the Philadelphia board who fancies changing career, this could be a long, hard search that yields yet another set of excuses.