Curtis Long recently was named president and CEO of Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra by chairperson Jules Smith on behalf of the board of directors, effective Sept. 1.
Long most recently served as president of Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 2008. He has held positions of increasing responsibilities in orchestra management, having served as the executive director of Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for 14 years in Ohio as well as Delaware Symphony Orchestra.
Long succeeds Ralph Craviso, who was appointed RPO president and CEO in October 2015 to assist the orchestra in a financial turnaround. RPO has determined, based on its recent successes, that this financial turnaround is firmly underway.
Under Craviso’s leadership, RPO developed a five-year financial plan that establishes benchmarks for progress in both revenue and expenses designed to achieve balanced budgets and long-term fiscal stability. RPO anticipates it will achieve a balanced budget for the current fiscal year ending Aug. 31, the first year of that five-year plan, for the first time in six years, having increased ticket sales by 20 percent and increasing fundraising by 21% percent to date. As part of the plan, Craviso hired professionals from the Rochester community with demonstrated skills in fundraising.
“Given the success of the turnaround, it is time for the RPO to transition leadership to a new president and CEO who can lead this community gem into the future as it anticipates its centennial celebration,” Craviso said. “Curt Long has demonstrated experience in leading and successfully managing symphony orchestras, and I am confident that the RPO will continue its upward trajectory under his leadership.”
Under his leadership at ASO, Long brought administrative stability in challenging economic times by revitalizing programs, providing strong financial management and increasing operating contributions. With a particular interest in cultivating the next generation of concertgoers, he increased ticket revenues by more than 70 percent while controlling operating expenses. During his tenure, he oversaw ASO make its Carnegie Hall debut, release a limited-pressing recording of commissioned works, engage Carlos Izcaray as new music director, expand education programs both in Greater Birmingham and in underserved rural communities throughout Alabama and launch the Sound Edge Festival.
As executive director of Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, he played a role in developing the new $125 million Schuster Performing Arts Center as well as increasing ticket sales by more than 100 percent.
Prior to his orchestra experience, he held several positions culminating in director of finance at Shafer Event Management Inc. Long is an alumnus of American Symphony Orchestra League’s Orchestra Management Fellowship program. He earned his Master of Business Administration from University of California, Berkeley specializing in nonprofit management, and holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Chicago, Phi Beta Kappa.
“The board is confident that Curt Long’s 24 years of experience in managing symphony orchestras and his proven track record of success will advance the RPO’s five-year plan,” Smith said. “He is also the best complement to Ward Stare, our music director, who has brought the RPO to a new level of artistic quality.”
“I’m very pleased to welcome Curt Long to Rochester as our new president and CEO,” Stare said. “His vision, passion and experience will be great assets to our organization. This is a very exciting time for us, and I look forward to working with Curt in the coming years to build on our recent successes and to craft a bright future for our wonderful orchestra in our beloved community.”
Long was selected after a search that included input from RPO conductors and musicians as well as the search committee and board of directors. Craviso, who was involved with selecting his replacement, will assist in Long’s transition period.
“The RPO is an exceptional orchestra that is doing great things under music director Ward Stare, and I am excited to assume this leadership role and look forward to becoming a part of the Rochester community,” Long said. “The RPO has an amazing legacy of artistic excellence and achievement, and continues to be a leading contributor to the thriving cultural life of Rochester. I look forward to exploring ways to increase its connection with and service to the Greater Rochester community.”