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Queensland Symphony Orchestra welcomes one of Australia’s most experienced arts leaders as Chief Executive

As Queensland Symphony Orchestra continues to achieve critical acclaim for its musicality and dynamism, Chair Chris Freeman AM has announced that one of the country’s leading artistic executives, Craig Whitehead will join the company as Chief Executive.

In what will be a very warm welcome home to Queensland, Mr Whitehead brings with him 20 years’ experience at Chief Executive level and is highly respected among the music and corporate worlds as a collaborative and visionary leader.

He joins Queensland Symphony Orchestra direct from the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) where he has been Chief Executive since 2008, as well as leading West Australian Venue and Events (Manager of the Perth Concert Hall) since January 2015. Prior to this dual-role, he was Chief Executive of the West Australian Opera from 2006 to 2008 and before that, he was General Manager of La Boite Theatre Company in Brisbane and famously managed the successful relocation from the company’s iconic La Boite Theatre to its new homebase the Roundhouse Theatre at Kelvin Grove.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra Chair Mr Chris Freeman said the appointment was a coup for the company, and for Queensland.

“Craig Whitehead is undoubtedly one of the country’s most highly qualified and experienced arts leaders, and we welcome him to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra family with open arms and much excitement. The Orchestra is in remarkable financial and artistic health with continued five-star reviews, a playing field that extends the length and breadth of Queensland and a wonderful musical reputation – Craig is the leader that is charged with taking the Orchestra forward, into the next era of success,” said Mr Freeman.

“Under his leadership WASO became the only symphony orchestra in Australia to achieve nine years of successive profits, as well as breaking new ground in terms of revenue and audience reach in both real concert experiences and using digital streaming.”

On his return to Queensland to lead the state’s largest performing arts organisation, Mr Whitehead said he was honoured. 

“I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, not only because it is an extraordinary ensemble of world class musicians, but also because it is my home town orchestra and the first orchestra to open my eyes and ears to the beauty and power of classical music. I can’t wait to start working with Alondra, the wonderful musicians of the Orchestra, and the dedicated administration team and Board to build on the company’s extraordinary achievements,” he said.

He takes over the role vacated by incumbent Chief Executive David Pratt who resigned in May for personal reasons. “David will bid farewell to the Orchestra in September and leaves the company in a very strong position, returning the company to positive retained earnings. He remains a wonderful friend of the Orchestra. We wish him the greatest success in all of his endeavours and sincerely thank him for all his dedication and hard work over the past two years,” said Mr Freeman.

The Orchestra continues to attract great talent, with the appointment of Timothy Matthies to the fold as Director of Artistic Planning, joining from Musica Viva, Australia’s oldest independent arts organization, and Simon Gallaher, one of Australia’s best-known and most experienced producer-performers, was appointed to the Board in May.

Mr Whitehead will begin his role in January 2019.