An orchestra goes through 9 CEOs in 12 years

An orchestra goes through 9 CEOs in 12 years


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2022

Some very dark rumblings re emerging from the Queensland Symphony in Australia, where musicians are challenging the high turnover of their executive leadership.

Nine CEOs in little over a decade seems pretty high churn, but that’s what the musicians claim.

After a number of confrontations with the musicians, four board members out of ten resigned and the rest agreed to go early in 2022.

They have yet to do so.

The last music director, Alondra de la Parra (pictured), lasted just two seasons.

Meantime, the QSO is now challenging Geneva and one or two others for the coveted SD title of World’s wort run orchestra.


  • Kenny says:

    I think the Wort you’re looking for is “wart-run.”

  • drummerman says:

    The former San Antonio Symphony had a revolving door of CEOs for quite a while. Almost all lasted only 1 or 2 years, maximum.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Would that be St. John’s Wort-run?

    Can the orchestra really be so badly run if it jettisoned the lady in the picture?

  • Taras Bulba says:

    Worts and all…

  • Bud H. says:

    Maybe a wort can run it better than a person. Ya never know.

  • Herbie G says:

    World’s worst run orchestra? I’d nominate Chineke!

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    For the ‘conductor’ in the photo I suspect most musicians would prefer she conduct the audience and stop distracting the musicians.

  • Joanna says:

    9 CEOs in 12 years… and the current board chair has been there for 13 years.

  • JohnofOz says:

    The past, like the poor, we have always with us. And change always ruffles feathers. But QSO has a very competent new CEO and a fine new chief conductor in Umberto Clerici. Have a look at the recently announced 2023 season:
    Surely this innovative season shows promise for the future? Excluding, of course, the conservative curmudgeons, of which there are a few in Brisbane.

    • MM says:

      “the past, LIKE THE POOR, we have always with us…”
      What the hell JohnofOZ? Interesting view and obvious acceptance of people’s socioeconomic status in this context. One hopes if ‘poorness’ ever befalls you, you’ll accept it gracefully.
      The QSO has had competent CEO’s (look at who is running SSO now, and had an incredibly successful tenure at WASO), if the QSO is churning through them then the problem is the people employing them (the board). They’re either picking duds and then having to deal with them or don’t know a good one when it’s right in front of them (the aforementioned CEO).
      Change is fine. 9 CEO’s in 12yrs, with the same board members at the helm? So bleedingly obvious where the problem is and doesn’t bode well for the incoming CEO/conductor no matter how fabulous they are.

      • Really ? says:

        MM I think JohnofOz was simply referring to Jesus in Matthew 24:11: saying “The poor you will always have with you…”

        Now, why JohnofOz thought that was a relevant observation is another matter….

      • Really ? says:

        Sorry, typo: Matthew 26:11.

  • TonyD says:

    Such a problem with boards! The worst of them tend to overestimate their roles. Dabble and meddle in areas where they should not. According to their website, a lot of their board have been there for 10+ years. Ridiculous. Give, get or get off!
    Hate to think of how much this revolving door has cost the orchestra and the public over the years. Good luck QSO musicians. Here is hoping you get the leadership you deserve!

  • CRogers says:

    What are the statistics re the average time of chief conductor posts? Some football managers last only a matter of months, not to mention the current Tory party cabinet…….

  • Richard says:

    Or perhaps it’s the world’s crankiest musicians?