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Tarnopolsky Moving on From Cal Performances to Philadelphia Orchestra

March 27, 2018

Cal Performances announced yesterday that its Executive and Artistic Director for the past nine years, Matías Tarnopolsky will step down at the end of the 2018 season in June. Tarnopolsky came from the orchestra world, via the New York Philharmonic, and to the orchestra world he will return, having accepted an appointment as President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Tarnopolsky has a long list of accomplishments at Cal Performances, but chief among them must be that he expanded the audience and reach of the organization via a series of well-designed initiatives. He began by hosting a free day of performances and workshops every September, the “Cal Free for All,” and now Cal Performances services 150,000 patrons every year.

A more recent initiative, “Berkeley RADICAL” (Research and Development Initiative in Creativity Arts and Learning) has sought to connect Cal Performances more closely to UC Berkeley’s educational mission, tying residencies by great artists to student engagement through lecture-demonstrations, talks, and informal meetings. Students have also participated in programming events through Cal Performances.

In addition to long and enduring collaborations, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which celebrates its 50th consecutive visit to Berkeley this year, Tarnopolsky has forged long-term connections with innovative artists such as Kronos Quartet. Under his leadership, Cal Performances commissioned choreographer Robert Battles’ first piece as director of Alvin Ailey, Awakenings, and became a legacy partner in Kronos’ 50 for the Future project. In the past few years, Cal Performances has seen the world premiere of Mark Morris’ Layla and Majnun, the revival of Philip Glass’s epochal Einstein on the Beach, and has co-commissioned a new oratorio, Dreamer, inspired by undocumented immigrants, from composer Jimmy López and librettist Nilo Cruz to be performed in March 2019.

Tarnopolsky issued a statement on the announcement, saying, “The last nine years have been extraordinary, surrounded by an inspiring cultural and intellectual environment, appreciative and engaged audiences, and artists and ensembles who give their best when they perform under our auspices. Doing this kind of work, at the heart of UC Berkeley, our great public university, is a rare privilege and one which I have treasured.”

The 2018–19 season of Cal Performances is already planned, and a search committee will be formed to find Tarnopolsky’s successor.

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.