The stars are aligned

September 10, 2006

It looks like the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has everything in place to capitalize on its strengths and enhance its community appeal. The BSO has a gregarious, fiscally savvy board chairman at its helm. It has cleared its debt (albeit by raiding its endowment). The symphony's new music director brings pizazz and proven ability to the podium. And, with last week's hiring of an accomplished, innovative chief executive officer, the BSO, as an organization and institution, should be ready to deliver.

Securing the future of this musical ship will largely depend on the management skills and creativity of President Paul Meecham, most recently of the Seattle Symphony but formerly of the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. BSO musicians and management both are thrilled about Mr. Meecham's arrival - and that's an important confluence of support on which he can build.

By several accounts, he's personable and a good listener, has grappled with budget deficits and understands the competitive arena. He knows how to market an orchestra, but more important, is seasoned enough to know that his sales pitch must woo younger audiences and disenchanted donors.

W. Gar Richlin, the interim CEO, has ably laid the groundwork for success, and Mr. Meecham embodies the experience, talent and charm to secure the BSO's financial future and enrich its musical mastery.

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