November 17, 2018 (Calgary, Alberta) – Following their announcement in August that current General Director and CEO Keith Cerny will be leaving the company, Calgary Opera announced today that the board of directors has selected two Canadians as its new leaders. Grammy® and Juno award-winning conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey will become the company’s Artistic Director, and veteran international arts executive Heather Kitchen will become the company’s administrative leader as Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, beginning in January 2019.
Tovey is no stranger to Canadian opera and classical music fans. From 2000 to 2018 he was the highly esteemed Music Director of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and he is now the company’s Music Director Emeritus. His association with Calgary Opera dates back to 1994 when he conducted Mozart’s The Magic Flute during David Speers’ tenure as General Director. He returned several times under General Director & CEO Bob McPhee, most notably to conduct the world premiere of Filumena in 2003, and again to conduct the world premiere of his own composition with librettist John Murrell, The Inventor, in 2011. Most recently he conducted Calgary Opera’s 2016 Canadian premiere of Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt. He is also the Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra in London, England, as well as Artistic Advisor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra.
Of the news of his appointment, Tovey stated, “Bob McPhee’s vision of a creative and vibrant opera company in one of Canada’s most important cities has left a lasting impression on all of us and has inspired me to accept the position of Artistic Director of Calgary Opera. I look forward to working in tandem with my esteemed colleague, Heather Kitchen, who is one of Canada’s most celebrated arts administrators.”
Kitchen’s illustrious career has taken her from Nova Scotia to San Francisco, with stops in Dallas, Toronto and Edmonton, working as a leading arts administrator with a variety of theatre and arts companies including American Conservatory Theater, the Dallas Theater Center, the Citadel Theatre and, most recently, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. With a solid track record for fundraising and financial management, the board is confident she has the skills and knowledge to bring the company’s administrative and financial model into better alignment with the challenging current economic environment for professional not-for-profit arts companies.
“I’m very excited to be taking on the role of Managing Director & CEO with Calgary Opera,” said Kitchen. “There is a great deal of work ahead of us to ensure the company reaches the height of its potential, but I have no doubt that with an engaged board, capable staff and an enthusiastic base of community partners and supporters, together we will be able to accomplish great things.” She continued, “Bramwell and I have been in conversation over the last month and we are thrilled to be working together at such an exciting point in Calgary Opera’s history.”
Jackie Pyke, Chair of Calgary Opera’s board of directors said of the appointments, “We are delighted to have Bramwell and Heather lead Calgary Opera into an exciting next phase for the company. Calgary Opera, along with many other arts organizations, is facing a difficult economic environment and given Bramwell and Heather’s experienced leadership, including fundraising, we are confident we will be able to face these challenges. We expect the company to reach new levels of artistic achievement, community support and financial sustainability”.
Pyke continued, “We are pleased to have such an experienced and proven team coming on board which ensures an orderly transition and would like to thank Searchlight Recruitment for their assistance.”
About Calgary Opera
Founded in 1972, Calgary Opera is one of Canada’s leading professional opera companies. For 45 years the not-for-profit arts company has made a name for itself nationally and internationally for its commitment to the development of Canadian talent and the creation of new opera works, including six world premieres. Through education and community outreach, Calgary Opera fosters a love of music and theatre in young people and provides opportunities for young artists to develop skills for successful professional careers in the performing arts industry.