Symphony hires new executive director

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra board has appointed Robert Barr to the position of executive director.

  • Sep. 10, 2014 12:00 p.m.

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra has found itself a new executive director.

The OSO board has appointed Robert Barr to the position.

“Robert brings over 20 years of experience in arts management and operations in both B.C. and Ontario and we are extremely pleased to have him join the OSO management team,” said Ginette Williams, president of the Okanagan Symphony Society.

Barr joined the OSO in July and has been familiarizing himself with the organization in preparation for the commencement of the symphony’s new season in October.

During that time, Barr has had the support of the OSO’s previous executive director Scott Wilson, who is retiring.

“The board is looking forward to an exciting new chapter in the long history of the Okanagan Symphony Society and, in particular, to working closely with Robert and benefitting from his professional knowledge, experience and advice,” said Williams.

Barr comes to the OSO after having spent 15 years with Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, the last nine as managing director.

During his tenure there, audience size increased by 35 per cent and the budget increased from $2.4 million to $4 million.

He also spent four years on the executive of the international Shakespeare Theatre Association, including a term as president.

“I am excited about bringing some of the lessons I learned with Bard (On The Beach) and uncovering how some of those successes can be translated to the Okanagan Symphony,” said Barr.

“I’m happy to be joining an organization with a solid core audience and established outreach programs. The entire Okanagan Valley is growing, as I expect will its appetite for arts and culture. I’m looking forward to working with (music director) Rosemary Thomson and the board of directors and to see how the OSO and its community will evolve over the coming years.”

Barr’s enthusiasm for the arts and his management skills make this an exciting time for the OSO, said Thomson.

“This fall will welcome the OSO’s 55th season and we continue to be dedicated to bring the passion and joy of symphonic music to life throughout the Okanagan,” she said.

The 2014-2015 concert season opens with Rhapsody in Vernon, Oct. 19.

Tickets and subscriptions for all OSO performances in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre are available at the Ticket Seller box office  (250-549-7469,



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