Isaac Thompson

PORTLAND, Ore., August 1, 2023

The Oregon Symphony Board of Directors today announces the appointment of Isaac Thompson as the Oregon Symphony’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. The leadership succession is the result of a months-long, extensive global search led by a search committee formed by the Board’s Executive Committee, in cooperation with executive search firm Aspen Leadership Group.

The search committee screened more than 40 qualified candidates. It then received and considered detailed feedback from board members, Music Director David Danzmayr, musicians, and senior staff about the finalists, resulting in the Board’s unanimous selection of Isaac Thompson.

“We are thrilled to have Isaac Thompson join the Oregon Symphony as the new President and CEO,” says Board Chair Dan Drinkward. “Isaac was the clear choice to ensure the Oregon Symphony’s dedication to artistic excellence, pursuit of community engagement, and commitment to financial stability into the future. Isaac brings both artistic acumen and business expertise to the Oregon Symphony, most recently from his time with the New York Philharmonic. We were impressed with his successes there in forging strong partnerships with diverse communities through innovative programming that was inspired by and reflected a variety of cultures, as well as his ability to create and nurture relationships with influential stakeholders within the local community, key donors, strategic partners, and other arts organizations.”

As President and CEO of the Oregon Symphony, Thompson will assume the role of the organization’s strategic and operational leader, overseeing the artistic, financial, and administrative aspects of the organization, and building on long-term initiatives to ensure its continued success. Thompson will work in close collaboration with Oregon Symphony’s Music Director David Danzmayr to support his artistic direction and creative vision for the orchestra. 

“The Oregon Symphony is one of America’s great orchestras, and I am honored to lead the institution forward in this pivotal time,” says Thompson. “Portland’s creative energy inspires me. I look forward to infusing that creativity into my collaboration with Music Director David Danzmayr along with the Oregon Symphony’s Board, musicians, and staff in defining an innovative and impactful vision for the future. I also look forward to engaging with the broader Oregon community, preserving important partnerships, and building new connections that will advance the Symphony’s mission and deepen its impact."

In Thompson’s most recent role as Managing Director with the New York Philharmonic, he oversaw a broad portfolio of artistic, operational and business functions, and served as the executive lead on the Philharmonic’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work. He was integral in the planning of the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural season in the newly renovated David Geffen Hall and served on the search committee that resulted in the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel as Music Director. Thompson spearheaded the commissioning of more than 30 new works, expanded the New York Philharmonic’s multidisciplinary offerings with major staged productions, and planned a variety of community-focused initiatives including Phil the Hall and NY Phil Bandwagon. Prior to joining the New York Philharmonic, Thompson served as Director of Artistic Administration for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the Cincinnati May Festival. Before joining the CSO, he served as Vice President of Artistic Planning for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) where he created the Composer Institute, in collaboration with the American Composers Forum.

Thompson will start as President and CEO in October 2023, replacing Scott Showalter, who announced in March that he was stepping down from the role. In October, Showalter will transition into a new role as Executive Advisor to the President and Board, assisting with institutional priorities like fundraising and strategic planning, and working to introduce Thompson to the organization’s strategic partners, lead donors, and other key stakeholders.

About Oregon Symphony

The multi-Grammy Award-nominated Oregon Symphony, led by Music Director David Danzmayr, serves more than 250,000 people annually through live concerts, and education and community engagement programs. Through innovative initiatives such as the Creative Alliance, the Oregon Symphony engages cultural thought-leaders to bring a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and inspiring musical experiences to our community that go beyond the concert hall and support the Symphony’s mission to move music forward. Online programming and syndicated broadcasts extend the Oregon Symphony’s reach to tens of millions more children and adults around the world. The Oregon Symphony has delighted audiences for more than 125 years and is the oldest orchestra in the Western United States. For more information, visit Follow Oregon Symphony on Instagram and Facebook


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Laura Luthi