Brent Assink to Step Down as Executive Director of SF Symphony

Brent Assink. (San Francisco Symphony)

After 18 years as executive director, Brent Assink will depart from his post at the San Francisco Symphony early next year, the organization has announced.

Assink, who has served in the role since 1999, is only the fourth Executive Director since the position’s creation in 1939. He was previously the Symphony’s general manager.

“Knowing that the San Francisco Symphony’s artistic level is stronger than ever, I turn my focus to the next phase of my life,” Assink said in a statement. “As I do this, I look forward with great anticipation to what the next chapter holds for me personally and to the opportunity to observe the fresh perspectives that the next Executive Director will bring to this organization about which I care so much.”

In his 18-season tenure, Assink led efforts to innovate the San Francisco Symphony, both in its musical practice and its approach to community outreach. In 2001, the symphony launched SFS Media, the first orchestra-run record label in the United States, which has won eight Grammy Awards since. Assink’s creative partnership with San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas brought forth projects such as Soundbox and Thomas’ Keeping Score series, in a push to bring new audiences to the symphony through new media.

Recently, Assink also helped the Symphony navigate the financial straits brought on by the recession, and oversaw at times contentious contract negotiations with musicians.

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Assink will continue to work with the symphony until March 31, 2017, according to Symphony President Sakurako Fisher, who says the search for his successor has already begun.

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