PSO Chief Retires

The executive director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Melanie Clarke, executive director, will step down July 1 after leading the orchestra through nine seasons.

Clarke joined the PSO as a violinist 25 years ago. In 1995 she founded PSO BRAVO! and became the manager of education. She was appointed director of development in 2005 and executive director in 2006.

“The Princeton Symphony Orchestra has benefited enormously from the talent, energy, and artistic sensibility of Melanie Clarke,” said David Tierno, president of the PSO board. “She has brought great competence and professionalism to all of her responsibilities.”

Clarke oversaw a more than five-fold increase in the orchestra’s endowment and brought on board a new music director, Rossen Milanov (after the previous director, Mark Laycock, was terminated from his position after 21 years — U.S. 1, August 8, 2007). She also introduced community engagement programs. PSO BRAVO!, the music education program she founded, now reaches more than 10,000 students a year.

“I am excited about this change and believe a new executive director will find strength, stability, and the opportunity to continue to develop this fine orchestra,” Clarke said. “I have been blessed with superb partners here, including Rossen, our board, staff, musicians, and donors. Because my love of this orchestra grew out of my experience as one of its musicians, I have been honored to work alongside the wonderful musicians and guest artists of the PSO and look forward to staying involved.”

The PSO board has appointed trustee Michael Gehret, a former associate director of the Institute for Advanced Study, who is also a past senior vice president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, to lead a search committee seeking Clarke’s replacement.

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