Speaker spotlight: Deborah Rutter, President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

In this Chicago Tribune profile of Deborah Rutter, President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, her job is summed up this way:

…foremost, she must keep her audiences happy. This encompasses everyone from the students who sit in the gallery to the folks who pass their names on the donor walls as they approach their box seats. It also encompasses countless people in Chicago and beyond who may rarely, if ever, set foot in the Symphony Center.

So when Rutter is huddling with artistic planning/audience development vice president Martha Gilmer to determine programs, jetting to Europe to hear [Riccardo] Muti conduct, speaking to civic groups or simply being a presence at hundreds of Symphony Center performances each year, she has the same purpose: to connect the orchestra to the outside world that gives it its reason and means to exist.

“I grew up believing that an orchestra was mine,” she says. “It’s like going to the library. We’re here to really have this relationship with our community.” Read the full article by Mark Caro.

At the helm of the orchestra since 2003, Deborah Rutter has navigated the choppy economic waters of the late 2000s and led a successful effort to woo Riccardo Muti into joining the CSO as Music Director. All this while also setting the stage for fruitful artistic collaborations with young composers like Mason Bates and Anna Clyne (two upcoming American Orchestra Forum panelists and Composers-in-Residence at the CSO) and launching the Citizen Musician initiative which invites community members to make music, even getting Yo-Yo Ma into the act.

It will be interesting to hear her take on some of the issues around Audience, Creativity, and Community that we will be exploring in our behind-the-scenes conversation on Tuesday, February 14. We’ll be live blogging the proceedings here and tweeting at @AmOrchForum. Content from the discussion will be used in future American Orchestra Forum podcasts.

Do you have a question for Deborah Rutter? Email us and we’ll include them in our discussion on Tuesday.

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