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Cliburn Names President and CEO

by Stephen Becker 1 Sep 2010 12:19 PM

The Cliburn Foundation sends word today that it has named David Chambless Worters president and chief executive officer. Worters is the current president & CEO of the North Carolina Symphony.


The Cliburn Foundation sends word today that it has named David Chambless Worters president and chief executive officer. Worters is the current president & CEO of the North Carolina Symphony. He replaces Richard Rodzinski, who retired in July after 23 years and six Van Cliburn competitions.

Keep reading for the full news release:

FORT WORTH, Tex., September 1, 2010–Alann Bedford Sampson, chairman of the Van Cliburn Foundation board of directors, announced today that David Chambless Worters has been named president & chief executive officer of the Foundation.

Mrs. Sampson said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome David Chambless Worters to the Foundation. He possesses a deep passion for our mission and a focused understanding of our future challenges and opportunities. His intellect, vigor, and experience herald a long period of fulfillment and growth for the Cliburn.”

As president & chief executive officer, Mr. Worters (currently serving as president & CEO for the North Carolina Symphony) will provide the leadership and vision for the Van Cliburn Foundation’s activities. He will be responsible for the breadth and depth of the Foundation’s programs and will represent the organization within North Texas, as well as to the musical and arts community worldwide. Mr. Worters was recruited to the Cliburn after an international search. He assumes his new duties at the Foundation effective December 1, 2010.

Mr. Worters said, “I look forward to the chance to support and nurture the careers and aspirations of brilliant young artists at pivotal moments in their lives. I am inspired by the Foundation’s record of accomplishment, especially during these past two decades under the leadership of Alann Sampson and Richard Rodzinski, and am honored to become a part of this legendary organization.”

Pianist Van Cliburn said, “David is a cultured gentleman who brings with him academic credentials in the tangible world of economics coupled with a lifetime of knowledge and genuine love for the Art of Great Music.”

David Chambless Worters, 42, has served as president & CEO of the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, North Carolina, since 1999, managing an annual operating budget of $12 million and leading a staff of more than 30. During his 11 years as chief executive, Worters oversaw the 2001 openings of two new concert venues: Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh and the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park in Cary; as well as the 2004 introduction of Grant Llewellyn as the Symphony’s fifth music director. In 2009 and 2010, the Symphony celebrated the international release of a pair of recordings for BIS Records of Sweden. The first disc, American Spectrum, features saxophonist Branford Marsalis; the second disc, pianist Yevgeny Sudbin.

An amateur pianist, Worters grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, in a home where music was a part of the daily fabric of life. Every member of his very musical family played at least one instrument. His mother, Sylvia Chambless, a pianist and piano teacher, grew up in Kilbourne, Louisiana before moving to Shreveport, and studied piano at Juilliard with Rosina Lhevinne–who taught, among many others, Van Cliburn. Mr. Worters began his own piano studies as a young boy with his mother and then spent his Saturdays at the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School beginning at age 12. Before winning that school’s Frances B. Lanier Award as a graduating senior, he performed as piano soloist with its youth orchestra under the direction of Gunther Schuller.

Mr. Worters earned his Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) in economics from Harvard College in 1989. During his studies there, he sang and served as student manager for the Harvard Glee Club, the oldest men’s chorus in America, which ultimately led him to a career in arts management.

Mr. Worters began his professional career as general manager of the prestigious new music chamber ensemble The Boston Musica Viva (1989-91). He led his first orchestra, the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, at the age of 24, and subsequently managed the full-time Syracuse Symphony Orchestra for five years (1994-99).

He was selected as an Orchestra Management Fellow by the American Symphony Orchestra League (now League of American Orchestras) for the 1991-92 season, understudying with executives at orchestras in Spokane and San Francisco, as well as Chicago, where he met his first mentor in orchestra management, Henry Fogel. Then president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Fogel went on to serve as president & CEO for the League of American Orchestras and is now dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

“I have known David Worters since his earliest days in the field of music administration,” Fogel said, “and from day one it was apparent to me that he was one of the special ones. David has every quality that you want in the leader of an arts organization: intelligence, passion for the art, humanity, integrity, and the deepest possible dedication. The Van Cliburn Foundation has made a brilliant choice.”

Mr. Worters is married to Rebecca Worters, an artist, and has a daughter, Olivia Macy Worters, 7, and a stepson, Eli Duncan, 11.

Since 1962, the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has been the most visible expression of the Van Cliburn Foundation’s commitment to the highest standards of musical achievement. Through the competition, the Foundation disseminates classical music worldwide and launches and nurtures young artists’ careers through the ensuing national and international concert tours of its finalists. It produces award-winning documentaries, CDs, DVDs, Internet downloads, and an internationally syndicated radio series dedicated to the competition and its most memorable performances. In addition, by making the competition available in its entirety via Web cast on the Internet, the Foundation has extended its outreach to more than 200,000 listeners in 157 countries.

For audiences in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the Van Cliburn Foundation promotes great music and world-class artists through the annual Cliburn Concerts series. It reaches over 30,000 elementary school students annually with the education programs of Musical Awakenings®. In 1999, it established the quadrennial International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs™, which The Boston Globe proclaimed “a celebration of music, and the people who have to make music, no matter what.”