Scott Showalter became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon Symphony in July 2014. The 76 full-time musicians of the Oregon Symphony perform for over 200,000 people each year at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and beyond. Its $21M annual budget makes the Oregon Symphony one of the largest arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Showalter has achieved record ticket sales and donations, increasing the Symphony budget by 30% since his arrival, the greatest growth among all large American orchestras, while balancing its annual operations. He has expanded its classical subscription series by 20% and made investments in creative programming. The highly acclaimed 2016-17 SoundSights series included Dale Chihuly’s artisan glass set to Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Rose Bond’s original video art paired with Messiaen’s Turangalîla, and Michael Curry’s original puppetry dancing to Stravinsky’s Persephone. A new series in 2017/18, Sounds of Home, addresses three timely social themes onstage in a non-partisan way: immigration, the environment, and homelessness.
The Symphony has expanded its commissioning and recordings programs under Showalter as well. All-Classical Portland now broadcasts five select Oregon Symphony programs per year, several of which are syndicated via American Public Media to millions more households around the globe. In 2015, the Oregon Symphony’s CD Spirit of the American Range was nominated for a Grammy award; in early 2017, the Symphony released its latest CD, Haydn Symphonies.
With regular artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming, and Itzhak Perlman on its Classical Series, the Symphony also has broadened its repertoire. Recent specials and presentations have included Boyz II Men, Lily Tomlin, Esperanza Spalding, Il Divo, Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Shanghai Acrobats, and orchestra performances with screened video games like The Legend of Zelda and movies like Star Trek and Harry Potter.
Beyond the stage, Showalter has extended the Symphony’s education and engagement efforts. Over 250 programs in schools, libraries, neighborhoods, correctional facilities, sports venues, and retirement homes reach tens of thousands of children and adults each year. Under a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Symphony musicians assist public school teachers to develop arts curricula; in partnership with Oregon Health Sciences University, the Symphony conducts research on music and the brain; and, in collaboration with the Intel Corporation, the Symphony helps to develop musical applications for computer chip technology.
Before moving to Portland, Showalter worked as Vice President of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Associate Vice President of the University of Chicago, and Associate Dean of Stanford Law School. He served on the executive teams of each of these organizations, while planning and running annual, capital, and endowment fundraising campaigns.
A classically trained pianist, Showalter holds a dual undergraduate degree in Economics and German Studies from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. He additionally serves on the board of Northwest Academy, an arts-focused college preparatory school in Portland, Oregon.
In the news: The Portland Business Journal profiles President Scott Showalter, who has increased program offerings and reenergized the Board of Directors since his arrival in 2014. Read article