SF Symphony Hires New Executive Director

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San Francisco Symphony's new executive director Mark Hanson (Photo: Oliver Thiel)

The San Francisco Symphony (SF Symphony) has hired Mark Hanson, former CEO of the Houston Symphony, as its new executive director. He starts Sep. 1.

Hanson, 43, is the fifth director in the SF Symphony's history, and he replaces Brent Assink, who left back in March after 18 years in the job. The position is also a big step up for Hanson; the SF Symphony's $78 million budget is more than twice as large as the Houston Symphony's budget.

Despite the fact that audience for classical music continues to shrink, Hanson is optimistic about what he can achieve in his new role. During his seven years in Houston, Hanson helped the orchestra increase its budget from $25 to $34 million, as well as expand its outreach to the city's African-American, Asian and Hispanic communities.

Similarly, Hanson aims to expand the budget and reach of SF Symphony.

"The San Francisco Symphony wants to be more relevant to more people and to be stronger financially," Hanson says. "Over time, I'd love to even further expand our collective thinking about how to deepen the San Francisco Symphony's relationship with the entire community."