Deborah Rutter to depart Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Kennedy Center

December 10, 2013
Deborah F. Rutter. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Deborah F. Rutter. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the woman who landed Riccardo Muti as the CSO’s music director, will depart Chicago after a decade to become president of the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. effective September 1, 2014.

“It is a true privilege to be asked to lead this unparalleled institution,” said Rutter in a statement released by the Kennedy Center Tuesday at noon. “The Kennedy Center represents the very best of American culture of all forms, and I am honored at the prospect of building on the great work of my predecessor, Michael Kaiser.

“I am incredibly excited about the future of this institution and the opportunity to work with its great artists and leaders: Christoph Eschenbach, Suzanne Farrell, Jason Moran, Francesca Zambello, as well as the Kennedy Center’s many talented staff, volunteers, and supporters.”

In a statement released by the CSO, Rutter emphasized her attachment to the orchestra and Chicago. “Since arriving at the CSO in 2003, I have come to love this city and its people, to deepen what was already a profound respect for the artistry of our orchestra, and to revel in the miracle that is the citizenry and generosity of the patrons of greater Chicago.

“It has been a privilege to see the CSO rise to new heights of artistic excellence and service to others through music.  I am honored to know and to have worked side by side with our treasured music director, Maestro Riccardo Muti, and with our very special creative consultant, Yo-Yo Ma, over the last four years. Additionally, I extend my gratitude to Pierre Boulez and Bernard Haitink for their care and counsel throughout my time at the CSO. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have had to grow and stretch with each of my colleagues here—conductors, musicians, board and staff members, volunteers, donors, patrons, and community partners.

“I leave Chicago for Washington, D.C. with a full heart and streams of tears for the memories and great friends that I will miss seeing daily. As I anticipate the change I hope to make in the next chapter of my career—to advance the importance of culture and the role it can play in our country—I know that I am better prepared to do so because of all that I have learned from all of my colleagues here.”

“What Deborah has done in Chicago speaks of her strong commitment to the great importance of the arts and culture,” said Riccardo Muti, in a statement released by the CSO. “I am happy that in this new position she will be able to share her deep love for music and the arts with the entire country. With friendship and respect, I offer all my best wishes knowing, from what she has accomplished in Chicago, that she will be very successful. The Kennedy Center will be an even stronger institution because of Deborah’s leadership.”

Jay Henderson, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association said that the CSO board has already begun preparatory work on the search process for Rutter’s successor. “I am confident that our international stature as an orchestra will help us find a great successor who can lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in its next chapter.”

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