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Dallas Symphony Hires Interim President

by Jerome Weeks 20 May 2011 10:45 AM

In headhunting for a new CEO, the Dallas Symphony has hired … a new headhunter. Another day in the Arts District – but at least the changes have moved from resignations to hirings.


In headhunting for a replacement for president Bill Lively —  the high-powered fundraiser who was going to lead the Dallas Symphony into financial security but bailed last month because of health concerns — the DSO has hired … a veteran headhunter.

To be sure, David Hyslop has plenty of experience running a symphony. He ran three of them, in fact: the Oregon Symphony (1972-’78), the St. Louis Symphony and from 1991 to 2003, he was president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra Association, in charge of both the orchestra and the Orchestra Hall.

What’s more, the Dallas Symphony will be Hyslop’s third gig as an interim symphony president — after Tulsa and West Virginia. A pro, in short. Someone who knows about stabilizing things.

But since 2004, he has been an arts administration consultant, first co-founding Executive Arts Resources and then Hyslop & Associates in 2007, which specializes in executive search, recruiting, planning and fundraising strategies. His clients have included the Houston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Milwaukee Symphony.

As luck would have it, Hyslop says, he just finished a project fundraising for a high-end retirement center in Minneapolis. So he could take the Dallas job.

He talks about the differences between being permanent president and interim:

Hyslop will be interim president until a permanent one is hired. Cece Smith, who chaired the search committee, will expand that and start headhunting for a permanent CEO.

Dallas Symphony Association Announces David Hyslop as Interim President

Orchestra industry veteran to lead until permanent president named

DALLAS, TX (May 20, 2011)-  The Dallas Symphony Association (DSA) announced today that David Hyslop, 43-year orchestra industry veteran and former CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony and Oregon Symphony, was engaged as interim President of the DSA, beginning Wednesday, May 25.

“On behalf of the Dallas Symphony, we are thrilled with David’s appointment.  He brings a wealth of valuable experience in the orchestra industry, and we look forward to his guidance and availing ourselves of his proven leadership,” said Ronald J. Gafford, Board Chair of the DSA.

Since 2004, Hyslop has consulted arts organizations around the country, specializing in strategic planning, fundraising, executive coaching, and endowment and capital campaigns.  In addition to his leadership roles at three orchestras, Hyslop has previously served in two interim President positions, with both the West Virginia and Tulsa Symphony Orchestras.

“I am deeply honored and privileged to have been asked to serve as interim President

of the Dallas Symphony Association,” said Hyslop.  “It is my hope that my long career as CEO of three major American orchestras and my work in the arts and fundraising consulting field over the last seven years will be of value to the DSA as it moves forward during this critical moment in its history.”

“I am most excited about David’s success in fundraising and strategic planning,” said Blaine Nelson, Board Chair Elect of the DSA.  “The Dallas Symphony is at an all-time high artistically and we can utilize his expertise to more effectively take advantage of all of the many opportunities.

Hyslop will remain as interim until a permanent President is appointed.  Cece Smith, who chaired the interim President search committee, will expand that committee and immediately begin a search for the DSA’s permanent leader.

Biography- David Hyslop

David Hyslop’s 43-year career in arts management includes 32 years serving as Chief Executive Officer for three of the nation’s top symphony orchestras—Minnesota Orchestra (1991-2003), St. Louis Symphony (1978-1991), and Oregon Symphony (1972-1978).

During his long tenures in Minnesota and St. Louis, Hyslop was also responsible for the operation of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and Powell Hall in St. Louis.

Since 2004, Hyslop has spearheaded consulting projects throughout the country, drawing on his vast experience in the arts to help clients achieve their goals. His many consulting projects have included successful executive searches for the Canton Symphony, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, strategic planning for the Santa Fe Opera and the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, executive coaching for the Houston Symphony, and development feasibility studies for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra endowment campaign and the Wheaton Grand Theater (Illinois) redevelopment and business planning project.

Hyslop has served on the boards of the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, Minneapolis Downtown Council, League of American Orchestras, and the Minnesota State Fair Foundation.  He has also been brought in as an “expert in the field” on consulting projects with CH Johnson Consulting in Chicago, Illinois, and WolfBrown in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hyslop’s illustrious career has brought him many honors. Among these, a Minnesota Orchestra Subscription Concert was dedicated to him in his final season with the Orchestra. The David J. Hyslop Trumpet Chair was Endowed in Perpetuity by the St.  Louis Symphony in 1991. Fanfare for D.H. was composed for Mr. Hyslop’s 10th Anniversary with the Symphony by Pulitzer-winning composer Joseph Schwantner. He was awarded the Martha Baird Rockefeller Grant by the League of American Orchestras in 1966.

Hyslop received his B.S. in Music Education from Ithaca College.