The Boston Symphony Orchestra introduced Thursday that Gail Samuel, the chief working officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, would turn out to be its subsequent chief government, making her the primary girl to guide the establishment in its 140-year historical past.
In choosing her, the orchestra seemed west, to some of the profitable American orchestras of latest years, for its option to succeed Mark Volpe, who led the Boston Symphony for 23 years. Samuel shall be answerable for steering the group out of one in all its most dire crises: The pandemic has left the Boston Symphony, one of many nation’s wealthiest orchestras, struggling after months of misplaced revenues and deep uncertainty round when reside audiences will return.
Samuel will turn out to be Boston’s president and chief government in June. By the time she leaves Los Angeles, she may have labored on the Philharmonic for practically three many years. She mentioned in an interview she had not imagined leaving Los Angeles till she began having conversations with the Boston Symphony.
“There is no other orchestra in the world that I would have left to be part of,” Samuel mentioned in an interview. The firm is phenomenal for its breadth of actions, she mentioned, which embrace the core symphony orchestra; the Boston Pops, its lighter alter ego; and Tanglewood, its thriving summer season music pageant within the Berkshires.
Samuel was a part of the administration group that helped make the Los Angeles Philharmonic the envy of the classical music world. She was named the orchestra’s appearing president and chief government when Deborah Borda, its longtime chief, took a quick sabbatical in 2015 to show at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and he or she was given the appearing place once more after Borda left to take over the New York Philharmonic. Samuel had hoped to succeed Borda, however the Philharmonic’s board went outdoors the group, selecting Simon Woods, who had led the Seattle Symphony. (When he stepped down in 2019 after lower than two years within the submit, the Philharmonic elevated Chad Smith, who had been its chief working officer.)
She can be president of the Hollywood Bowl, the band shell that serves because the Philharmonic’s profitable summer season dwelling, supplying a lot of its income.
Samuel grew up in Los Angeles in a musical household; her dad and mom had been public college music lecturers, and the violin grew to become her instrument of selection. She studied music and psychology on the University of Southern California, the place she later received an M.B.A.
Although she spent the overwhelming majority of her profession on the West Coast, Samuel has a powerful connection to Tanglewood. She remembers stopping there on a household street journey in 1986 and seeing a live performance carried out by Leonard Bernstein. That concert became famous when the violinist Midori, then 14 years outdated, needed to swap devices twice after the E string broke on her violin, then once more on the borrowed violin.
“I fell in love with that place,” Samuel mentioned. She quickly sought a technique to return, and located her method again there one summer season as a pupil, and two summers as a workers member.
In Boston, Volpe leaves behind a legacy of economic stability, regardless of the struggles of the classical music business, and creative evolution. During his tenure the orchestra’s endowment — the most important within the classical music area — greater than tripled, to $509 million. Its music director, Andris Nelsons, is among the many most sought-after on the earth.
But when the orchestra returns to performing reside within the live performance corridor, it will likely be in a special world: The musicians there have already agreed to steep pay cuts that can solely revert to regular if the orchestra meets monetary benchmarks.
“This is a difficult time for everyone and I think every organization is going to be thinking about how to come out of this,” Samuel mentioned. “It’s a long path, but there’s also an opportunity to think about things differently.”