Music Festival names new director | AspenTimes.com

Music Festival names new director

John Colson

The Aspen Music Festival and School Thursday announced Alan Fletcher of Pittsburgh will be the new president and chief executive officer, succeeding CEO Don Roth.Fletcher, 49, is to begin his new duties March 1, which also is Roth’s official departure date, although Roth reportedly has left the job already.Roth reportedly remains connected to the school on a consulting basis, mainly having to do with transitional issues, according to officials at the school. His Aspen phone number has been disconnected, and Roth could not be reached for comment Thursday.Fletcher, meanwhile, has some work to do in connection with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he now works, and is expected to complete his spring semester duties before moving to Aspen.”Aspen is a truly unique place where the future of music is created through the interchange of a great audience; the world’s greatest performers, teachers and composers; and an extraordinary group of students gathered from all over the world,” Fletcher said in a prepared statement. “I accept this appointment with the greatest enthusiasm and excitement – it is a wonderful honor to join the storied history of Aspen.”He will be the seventh man to hold the president’s job since the Music Festival and School formed 57 years ago. He will be the principal executive in charge of all aspects of the institution. Music Festival and School officials declined to say how much Fletcher will be paid.According to information from the school, he has extensive credentials as an administrator and a teacher and also is an active composer of what he calls “contemporary” or “art” music. His arrival reportedly has been well-received by the musicians and faculty at the school, as well as by its board of trustees.Fletcher was most recently head of the School of Music and a professor of music at Carnegie Mellon, where he has been since 2001. Before that, he held leadership and faculty positions at the New England Conservatory in Boston for 16 years.He holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton, and a master of music and a doctorate of music arts, both from the Juilliard School. He has received awards and fellowships from universities and institutions around the world and composition commissions from symphonies in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C.During an interview Thursday morning, prior to a formal news conference announcing his selection, Fletcher said he was not sure he was the right man for the job when he was nominated by a friend. He said he was concerned the Music Festival and School would want someone “more on the orchestral world” rather than a teacher and a composer.But, he said, “By the end [of the interview process], I thought, ‘This is a perfect fit.’ “A pianist by training, Fletcher said he hopes to develop a “deep connection to the day-to-day work of the musicians” and the faculty at the nonprofit Aspen Music Festival and School, which is best known for its internationally renowned summer classical music festival.Asked if he might perform on stage himself, he said it is not likely, although he admitted with a smile, “I have been known to do an extremely alarming cabaret act.”He also said that he eagerly anticipates his role as a fundraiser for the Music Festival and School.”I view it as building relationships and building a great idea,” he said.A 15-member search committee consisting of music director David Zinman, members of the board of trustees, music school faculty and staff – with the help of the Korn Ferry International head-hunting firm – handled Fletcher’s selection.The committee fielded “an unlimited number of applications” from around the U.S. and the world, committee chairman Matthew Bucksbaum said.”He met every requirement we had,” said Bucksbaum, who also is chairman of the board of trustees. He noted that Fletcher’s “background in teaching young people classical music” was critical to the committee’s decision, as was the fact that Fletcher seemed “easy to work with” during the interview process. The committee had been searching since last spring, after the board announced it had extended Roth’s contract by a year, ending speculation about his future with the organization. Roth joined the festival in fall 2001, replacing the late Robert Harth.Fletcher and his partner, Ron Schiller (vice president for development and alumni relations for the University of Chicago), plan to make Aspen their full-time home, although Schiller said he will be traveling to Chicago frequently to take care of business.But, Schiller added, “Aspen will be our full-time home, because the full-time home is defined by where the dogs are.” He and Fletcher own two Swedish vallhunds, whom Fletcher described as looking like corgis, named Lucia and Zefiro.During the news conference, Fletcher was asked about his understanding of – and preparedness for – the kind of political maneuvering that his new job will entail.”I look forward to them,” he said. “It’s a question of finding how we can move forward. Sometimes it is tough.”Above all, Fletcher said, his love of music is what drives him in both his composing and his administrative duties.”It’s such a deep satisfaction to help students and faculty members to accomplish their work,” he said.And is classical music waning in popularity, soon to be “dead” as a cultural force?”Classical music is not dying,” he said. “Somewhere in Idaho, a 5-year-old is having her first piano lessons. And that’s the future of music.”John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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