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LA Phil Announces New Executive Director

October 1, 2019

In a swift and welcome move, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced the promotion of Chief Operating Officer Chad Smith to the position of executive director. The top spot became available after the surprise resignation of Simon Woods two weeks ago. If, as has been speculated, Woods was simply a bad fit, then Smith, the orchestra’s administrator in charge of artistic oversight, planning, orchestra operations, and program coordination, is the obvious choice to succeed him.

Without Smith’s contribution, the vast expansion of the orchestra’s new music presentations, festivals, and artistic initiatives that have separated the LA Phil from the pack, might not have occurred, at least not as expansively and brilliantly.

"Chad Smith has done years of brilliant work in advancing the LA Phil in every aspect of its mission, from planning and commissioning our extraordinary presentations of new music, to heightening the orchestra’s profile at the Hollywood Bowl, to overseeing our crucial educational programs and helping to launch YOLA [Youth Orchestra Los Angeles],” said Board Chair Thomas L. Beckmen. “He enjoys the complete confidence and support of everyone in this organization.”

Smith began his career in 2000 at the New World Symphony, and joined the LA Phil in 2002, when he was responsible for planning the orchestra’s Green Umbrella new music series, as well as the classical programming at the Hollywood Bowl. After briefly serving as the New York Philharmonic’s head artistic planner, in 2006 Smith returned to the LA Phil in the expanded role of vice president of artistic planning, a position he held until being named chief operating officer in 2015.

A trustee of the New England Conservatory, Smith also serves on the advisory board of Music Academy of the West and is a member of the executive committee for the Avery Fisher Artist Program. Currently artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival, his first planned festival will be in the summer of 2020. A native of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Smith earned a B.A. in European history from Tufts University, as well as B.M. and M.M. degrees in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory.

Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.