Embattled Baltimore chief quits

Embattled Baltimore chief quits


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2021

The Baltimore Symphony has announced the departure of its chief executive Peter Kjome before the end of the year.

Kjome – pictured here protecting his hearing at a loud concert – appeared hapless when triggering a 2019 lockout of the orchestra’s musicians but he emerged with a five-year recovery plan and has chosen a good time to step down, with music director Marin Alsop also departing.

He said he is ‘departing when we are in a very strong position to look ahead to a bright future feels like the time when I can conclude my tenure with a sense of accomplishment.’

It’s a tough job for the next chief.


  • Hayne says:

    I’m sure the BSO board will continue the great tradition of hiring another CEO who hates the orchestra.

    • drummerman says:

      He may or may not have done a good job there. I have no idea. But do you honestly think that someone goes into the field of orchestra management hates musicians? Prior to Baltimore, he was CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony and, prior that, he was a musician (oboe) in Grand Rapids. Hard to believe that he hates musicians.

      • Fred Funk says:

        Most of the management team makes more money than the musicians. Management got paid during the lockout, and the current pandemic.

        If he was well liked, successful, he wouldn’t be leaving.

      • BRUCEB says:

        Oh do you think so? You must not have been in the business long. Do you happen to remember the Minnesota Orchestra lockout 8-9 years ago, and the fallout afterward?

        (Note: it’s important to distinguish between hating musicians and hating their orchestra.)

        We’ve had a couple of management folks who were former professional musicians, and… well, I don’t know if they hated musicians as such, but (based on the saying that actions speak louder than words) they seemed to regard their mission as the destruction of the orchestra; and the closer they came to that, the happier they seemed in their job. (Going by such subjective measures as a spring in the step, a “just had the best sex of my life” sparkle in the eye, and a cheerful greeting, compared to silence/ suddenly engrossed in their phone or clipboard when crossing paths with a musician backstage.) When they ultimately failed, they left.

        • drummerman says:

          I’m a highly successful orchestra manager, love musicians, love orchestras, don’t even have a clipboard. I’m available!

          • BRUCEB says:

            Keep your ear to the ground. I don’t want to name names, but I’ll just say we’re not Colorado Springs or Knoxville… yet.

          • The View from America says:

            But what about the “best sex” part?

  • Mock Mahler says:

    For Kjome’s future: perhaps Michael Henson in Minnesota can use a partner in his “Creative Industry Transformation” consultant business.

  • Karl says:

    It’s a dying orchestra in a dying city. Smart move.

  • drummerman says:

    Orchestra management is like dog years…one year equals seven.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Actually, he may be an easy act to follow based on the recent financial debacle. First priority, find a conductor that puts the BSO back on the artistic map. Not to put Alsop down, but the “first women, Lenny’s mentor” routine got old. Second, don’t lose focus by trying to fix Baltimore’s problems. Build the audience in the burbs. Third, study the Cleveland Orchestra as a model!

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Build exactly what audience in the burbs? (Go ahead, you can say it.) Perhaps just adjust the orchestra to the citizens of the city it serves?

      Most people have stopped using rimmed cream soup bowls as well. Things change.

    • John Porter says:

      Cleveland is a very different city, with a very different economic base, and without a major cultural center an hour away. Baltimore has been a struggling city for a long time now and not one orchestra manager there has been well liked or all that successful since before James Glicker. And, of course, the orchestra got tired of Zinman (too much new music), then tired of Terminkanov, then trashed Alsop…And they bounce from one financial problem to another. Sure, go ahead and blame Alsop, Zinman, Meecham, Kjome, Gidwitz, and all the other music directors who weren’t good enough for the BSO and all the mediocre arts managers, and a board that just doesn’t give enough money like the Met Opera board, but eventually people will have to accept that Baltimore may not be able to support that level of symphony orchestra anymore. And no, residency in Miami is going to solve it.

    • Bill Simon says:

      Yes, don’t lose focus. More Brahms and Tchaikovsky and stop the ridiculous education programs. Leave those things to the music conservatories and the public schools.

  • DRehur says:

    That’s a tough situation, but probably a good time for growth. The departures, paired with a pandemic and economic situation, will create the prime situation to prove new talent or continued decay.

  • Marin Alsop….Ah the very epitome of mediocracy rising to the top in our PC,BAM,WOAKE world,where just about everybody are confused but afraid to admit it.

    • AT-H says:

      Have you ever worked with her – i.e. played under her direction?
      She’s a very good conductor.
      Her musical skills are vastly superior to your spelling and grammar, by the way.

    • Simon Wall says:

      The fact of the matter is the Marin Alsop is a much bigger name and has a much greater reputation than the Baltimore Symphony. Not to mention that she has given back a good amount of her salary to the orchestra. It’s clear that SHE has outgrown the BSO, not the other way around. They were lucky to have her. Unless of course, Furtwangler, Bruno Walter, or Klemperer might be available. Or maybe Charles Munch can take the gig and make all of the BSO’s problems go away.

      • Hayne says:

        Sorry but you are full of it. Her talents are that she was born the right sex, the right sex proclivity, at the right time. She’s a great promoter (her reputation) I’ll give you that. You make BSO sound like this sh*tty little orchesra that needs her. Dream on…

        • Saxon says:

          Well, she certainly has used the fact that she was a woman and trained under Lenny to further her career, but she is also a competent conductor. Sure, not quite the absolute top level, but certainly pretty good and plenty good enough for Baltimore.

  • Bill Tubin says:

    I heard a Mahler 5 in Carnegie with Alsop and it was terrific. Frankly, I believe she had the orchestra playing above it’s second tier level.

  • John Porter says:

    Dollars to donuts that in a few years when the BSO is near closure, they will be begging Alsop to return.