Portland, June 14th. Terrence R. Pancoast, chair of the board of the Oregon Symphony, announced that he has accepted president Elaine Calder’s resignation, effective August 31st. Calder will return to Canada and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake to assume the position of executive director, a position she held earlier in her career, from 1990 to 1994.

In his announcement Pancoast said: “We are sorry that Elaine will be leaving the Symphony, but we are enormously grateful for her leadership, dedication and service as president. During her tenure the Oregon Symphony has achieved substantial growth in its financial stability, organizational strength, and artistic excellence.

“Her accomplishments during her almost-six-year tenure have been truly extraordinary. She leaves an incredible legacy—a thriving organization that is debt-free, attracting a growing avid audience who appreciate the strong artistic performances of the orchestra, and poised to finish its third consecutive season in the black. Simply stated, we are much stronger now in all areas than when she first joined us in 2006.

“And while it will be difficult to say goodbye to someone who has made such an extraordinary difference to this organization, we understand and respect her reasons for leaving. We wish her all the best in her new position with the Shaw Festival.

“Elaine leaves us in the enviable position of being able to mount a careful and considered national search for her replacement. The organization that she leaves behind possesses the kind of artistic and administrative strength that will attract a very talented pool of candidates, the best of which will lead this organization to its next level of excellence.”

Calder said, “I have personal family reasons for returning to Canada at this time in my life, and I do so with considerable regret. Portland is a beautiful place to live and my husband and I have been warmly welcomed in this community. There are many things and people we will miss, with the music made by Carlos and the musicians chief among them.

“I’m tremendously proud of this orchestra and the small team of managers and staff who support it. We’ve reached a point where we are working very effectively together – and with the board of directors – and the sense of shared purpose and mutual respect is very strong. Portland is lucky to have our brilliant Carlos Kalmar as music director of its professional orchestra, able to attract supremely talented musicians every time we hold an audition.

“We’ve accomplished a lot over the past six seasons. The management team in place now is very strong, as is the entire administrative staff. I think I’ve achieved most of what I was hired to do and I think the organization is ready for a different kind of president – one who can now be less focused on operational reorganization and able to work with the board and the broader community to ensure a brilliant future for this dazzling orchestra.

“I will be working hard over the next three weeks to ensure a successful conclusion to this fiscal year, and then for two months with the management team and staff to put effective programs in place to support next year’s exciting programs. I intend to leave with full confidence that the Oregon Symphony is well positioned for the short-term, and that it will be able to attract strong new leadership for the future.”

Calder first came to the Symphony in November 2006 and worked for eight months as a consultant before being appointed president in July 2007. During her tenure the Symphony has seen a dramatic improvement in its financial strength, including:

  • A 38% increase in revenues from ticket sales
  • An increase in average paid attendance from 54% in FY 07 to 74% in FY 12
  • The elimination of $7.2 million in bank indebtedness and the subsequent ability to operate without external financing
  • A steady reduction in the annual operating loss from $1.6 million in FY 07 to small surpluses in FY 10 and 11, with a further modest surplus anticipated in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

In addition, her tenure has seen the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut, the resumption of radio broadcasts on All Classical FM and an agreement with the Dutch recording company PentaTone which launched the highly successful CD “Music for a Time of War”.