Cal Performances Exec Matías Tarnopolsky Leaving After Nine Seasons

Matías Tarnopolsky executive and artistic director of Cal Performances, in 2017.  (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Matías Tarnopolsky, the artistic director and executive of Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, is leaving after nine seasons.

Cal Performances announced Monday that Tarnopolsky will leave his position in June to become president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He leaves a legacy of shows and performances demonstrating a range of diversity that connected audiences to innovative artists from around the world.

“The last nine years have been extraordinary, surrounded by an inspiring cultural and intellectual environment, appreciative and engaged audiences, and artists and ensembles who give their best when they perform under our auspices," Tarnopolsky said in a press release announcing his move.

Tarnopolsky, 48, took over the position at Cal Performances in 2009 from Robert Cole, who had been in the role for over 20 years. Under Cole's leadership, Cal Performances became a world-renowned institution and made the UC Berkeley organization Northern California's largest presenter of the performing arts. When Tarnopolsky came into the job, he had a institutional reputation to uphold.

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Yet he rose to the occasion. Tarnopolsky was instrumental in staging the exclusive performances of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s opera Einstein on the Beach in 2012. Three years later, Tarnopolsky started Berkeley RADICAL (Research and Development Initiative in Creativity Arts and Learning), which attracted respected artists from all over the world, such as Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Under Tarnopolsky's direction, Cal Performances also commissioned several notable works, such as pieces from choreographers Robert Battle and Mark Morris.

Tarnopolsky told the San Francisco Chronicle that classical music was always his first area of interest, having worked in administrative positions for the Chicago Symphony and the New York Philharmonic before coming to Cal Performances. Explaining his move to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tarnopolsky cited his admiration for the organization and its music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

“I’m genuinely happy to go back to working with an orchestra,” Tarnopolsky told the Chronicle. “But the range of artists I’ve worked with at Cal Performances has helped put the symphonic world in context for me.”

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