January 25, 2021
New Century Chamber Orchestra Board President Mark Salkind has announced the appointment of Richard Lonsdorf as NCCO’s executive director.
Lonsdorf has been the organization’s interim executive director since last August when Philip Wilder stepped down from the position to become president and general director of Chanticleer.
NCCO Music Director Daniel Hope greeted the appointment from Berlin by expressing his appreciation for Lonsdorf’s “energy and passion throughout our recent San Francisco filming of [email protected] – Next Generation. … I am looking forward to continuing our work together as we explore more creative ways to bring the highest possible level of musicmaking to our audiences.”
Lonsdorf told SF Classical Voice:
“This has been such an unusual way to start a new role, to produce a series of pre-recorded and live virtual events to help get New Century through this year. I am tremendously grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Daniel Hope and our musicians in November for the [email protected] – Next Generation project, which not only gave me the chance to hear their wonderful musicianship live but also to start building a rapport and a creative connection for the challenging work ahead.
“We are so lucky to have a music director like Daniel right now, who is a top-notch musical communicator (it’s something our audiences have already loved about our live shows). He was able to apply his talents towards creating a television show from his living room while the rest of us were still grappling with early cancellations, so to say that our planning conversations move quickly in this period of rapid pivoting is an understatement.”
Besides the six [email protected] episodes filmed in San Francisco with NCCO musicians, Lonsdorf also oversaw New Century activities during pandemic restrictions, and he is putting together an important gala soon, called “Seeds of Inspiration,” on Feb. 8:
My colleagues and I have been struggling with the concept of a virtual gala for months now, but at least we made the decision to move this portion of our season online early enough that we were able to capture a few extra moments during the fall [email protected] filming cycle.
In addition to banking some extra musical material for our virtual crowd, we made a special trip to our founding Music Director Stuart Canin’s backyard in Berkeley so we could film Stuart and Daniel Hope in conversation about the origins of New Century. Stuart and Daniel hadn’t really had a chance to meet face-to-face until that moment, but they hit it off immediately and it was such a pleasure to be a fly on the wall that I can’t wait to share their chat with our fans.
That conversation in some ways inspired the “Seeds of Inspiration” theme of the gala, wherein Stuart and our founding musicians took the germ of an idea and grew it into the organization we know today. It struck me that during this time of pandemic, we are similarly planting seeds for what our organization may become in the future.
We are leaning into that concept with this beautiful botanical illustration motif that plays out in a slightly cheeky fashion with some of the “goodies” patrons will receive if they buy into our pre-show cocktail hour. And in a year where it can be painful to dwell on what we have lost, it has been a wonderful thing for us to focus on what may come next.”
A graduate of Harvard University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Lonsdorf has more than a decade of experience serving on the artistic planning teams of some of major orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He helped produce many innovative orchestra projects, including SF Symphony’s groundbreaking SoundBox series as well as its popular film series.
Asked about his role with SoundBox, Lonsdorf told SF Classical Voice:
“It was really a group effort and MTT deserves much credit for stepping in to give crucial shape to that first show. I was the main ‘shepherd’ of the series for its first three seasons, especially with the management turnover going on at that time.
“From my perspective, that meant working with the curators to flesh out their ideas and keep the brand experience of the entire project consistent, in terms of how each program ran from start to finish.”
He held the title of associate director of artistic planning with SF Symphony and left in 2017 for Stanford’s one-year Sloan Fellowship-MSx Program. After graduation, Lonsdorf moved to Los Angeles, freelancing as an artistic planning consultant with La Jolla Music Society, the Ford Theatres, and the LA Phil until the pandemic began.
Previously, with the New York Philharmonic, Lonsdorf organized the new-music showcase CONTACT! and performances of Stockhausen’s Gruppen for three orchestras at the Park Avenue Armory for the Philharmonic 360 project. Work with the LA Phil involved several programs for the orchestra’s centennial season, including a capstone nighttime light show featuring 300 Intel Shooting Star drones.
Lonsdorf spent the early years of his career as an assistant at Columbia Artists Management, Inc. (CAMI), working with conductors and solo instrumentalists. He also spent a year working on the management team for Shakira, during her 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign for the mega-hit “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).”