Breaking: Boston Symphony has a new boss

Breaking: Boston Symphony has a new boss


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2021

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has just announced Gail Samuel as its next President and Chief Executive Officer, starting in June.

She succeeds Mark Volpe.

A Deborah Borda protégée in Los Angeles, Samuel is currently president of the Hollywood Bowl and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

This is a really good call for Boston.


  • David J Hyslop says:

    Congratulations to Gail. Gail was on my staff during my time as CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra and has been in key positions with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for many years. She is a talent .

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Gail, welcome to Boston! As a 30+ year subscriber of the BSO, let me say that we’re thrilled to have you among us and leading our great orchestra.

  • Jeff Alexander says:

    What an excellent choice! Congratulations Gail, and congratulations to the BSO!!

    • Steve Easterbrook says:

      Mr. Alexander: a valiant President should not let a Music Director run amok and deface the legacy of a once glorious Orchestra. You know you can trust me on this.

  • John Mangum says:

    This is such great news. Gail is a great leader and a great colleague. The BSO could not have made a better choice. Congratulations to all concerned.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    Any sense of who they’ll get to replace Andris when he probably leaves in less than 5 years?

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Ooops…I replied to the wrong posting. To repeat:

      As this is a serious question, it deserves a serious answer.

      The answer is…. Alondra de la Parra

    • Amos says:

      Is this another scoop from the enterprising reporter who announced a few years ago that no one, save for a few people in Baltimore, remembered who Leon Fleisher is?

  • Brilliant choice! Gail is a superstar and will keep the BSO shining brightly. Congratulations Gail !!!

  • sam says:

    THE NYT has called the LA Phil “the most important orchestra in the US”, and as its alumni spread out across America to take the reins of the Big 5 and others (NYP, BSO, etc), the LA management and programming philosophy will become the dominant model in the US.

    Boston, with its endowment and Tanglewood, is most poised to replicate the LA model.

    Will that be enough to save American orchestras post-Covid?

    • Plush says:

      It’s very clear that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is the most important orchestra in the US. Also it has the most important leader and conductor. There really isn’t that much classical music on the west coast.

      • fflambeau says:

        I completely disagree. The Los Angeles Phil. and San Francisco Symphony both pay far more than the CSO, have terrific conductors (the guy in Chicago is usually elsewhere and doesn’t play any American music at all), plus Seattle has a fine orchestra. Sorry, the money is out West and increasingly in the South and not in the rust belt. Innovation is also coming from the West.

        • Patricia says:

          Seattle has been ruined by BLM/Antifa. They have more serious problems than who conducts the orchestra.

          • norman lebrecht says:

            Patricia, your wild assertions are intolerable. Please desist from posting on this site.

      • Skippy says:

        You’re being facetious, right?

      • JussiB says:

        Chicago Symphony was best under Solti. Those halcyon days are long gone. The Lyric Opera is mostly doing musicals nowadays. Sad.

      • SMH says:

        LOL, are you kidding? LA Phil/Dudamel, SF/Salonen. LA Opera /Conlon, SF Opera/Eun Sun Kim, Seattle Symphony, San Diego: the west coast is on the forefront of American orchestral life…… it’s just a lil more spread out.

      • Sonicsinfona says:

        Would that be news to the LAPO/Dudamel and SFSO/Salonen? Seattle SO, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera…

      • Samuel says:

        Clear as mud.

      • Midwestern Violin says:


        If the CSO was important (I am not even saying “the most important”), you would see scores of principals from top US Orchestras trying to get in when there’s an audition. But the exact opposite is happening. None of them are showing up for auditions, the candidates are very mediocre and Riccardino had to resign himself to pick a first trumpet from … Granada. The CSO is done and the renewal of Muti’s contract through 2024 (agreed upon) the nail to the coffin.

    • Patricia says:

      I wouldn’t trust the NYT on anything.

  • SMH says:

    The NYT called the Hollywood Bowl a “band shell”.

    “She is also president of the Hollywood Bowl, the band shell that serves as the Philharmonic’s lucrative summer home, supplying much of its revenue.”

    What a joke the NYT arts coverage now is.

  • SchrekerStan says:

    Gosh, it seems the LA Phil has a problem holding on to people. I wonder why?

  • M2N2K says:

    A “Deborah Borda protégée”, really? By the time DB arrived in 2000, Gail Samuel already rose to the number two in the LA Phil administration, so it would be probably more accurate to describe her as a protégée of Ernest Fleischmann.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Congratulations tot Gail. I’ll never forget many years ago when I was starting out and she took my phone call. That was a sign and gesture of caring, not only for the organization, but for a musician on the outside looking in at the beginning of a career. It is gratifying to see someone who has invested her life in orchestra management to reach this pinnacle. Good luck to Gail and the Boston Symphony Orchestra!

  • JussiB says:

    People in her high position should delete their social media so they don’t accidentally post anything to anger the woke majority.