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Wednesday, May 13, 2009 05:03 am

Orchestra hires interim executive director

Elizabeth Hare

Elizabeth Hare, 54, joined the Illinois Symphony Orchestra last month as interim executive director. Although she grew up playing piano, majored in music theory and music history at Rice University, and sang in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for more than three years, Hare says she never thought of herself as a professional musician. “I love music, but you have to have a certain talent and temperament to just focus on that as your professional thing, and I just have too many broad interests,” she says.

Now residing in Colorado, she makes her living as a consultant, with clients ranging from real estate firms to orchestras to “integrative health” centers. For the ISO, Hare will be overseeing the daily operations of the administrative office while the Colorado-based search firm of Doug Patti LLC looks for a permanent executive director.

She attended the final concerts of ISO’s 2008-09 season and was impressed by what she heard. “The quality of the concerts is really fine for this size of community and this size of budget,” she says.

She sounds even more impressed with ISO’s board of directors, especially its current president John Wohlwend. “He has done an incredibly wonderful job of helping administratively during this time,” she says. “I really have to commend him. He’s done an extraordinary job. He’s just amazing, and an excellent fundraiser.”

Hare shares Wohlwend’s view of the ISO musicians’ recent no-confidence vote against music director Karen Lynne Deal, saying that the ballot didn’t have enough questions to be useful. “There are standard evaluation tools in the industry that are routinely used,” she says. The group of musicians who instigated the vote say they have asked the ISO board repeatedly to allow such an evaluation, to no avail.

Hare also doesn’t plan to hold an evaluation or meet with the musicians, but instead is encouraging players to approach her in person to voice their concerns. “I want to hear from them directly, because we speak the same language,” she says.

Like Wohlwend, Hare also declines to address the resignations of prominent board members over the past year. “Well, whatever, it’s a free country,” Hare says. “I wouldn’t get in the middle of something where I wasn’t present to experience it first-hand.”

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