SAN FRANCISCO—Brent Assink, Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony announced on Tuesday, September 27 that he will step down from the position early next year. He has held the position since 1999. Assink has been a major figure in San Francisco’s cultural life scene. He is only the fourth Executive Director since the position was created in 1939. Prior to becoming Executive Director, he was the general manager for the San Francisco Symphony.
“Knowing that the San Francisco Symphony’s artistic level is stronger than ever, I turn my focus to the next phase of my life,” said Assink in a statement. “As I do this, I look forward with great anticipation to what the next chapter holds for me personally and to the opportunity to observe the fresh perspectives that the next Executive Director will bring to this organization about which I care so much.”
In an interview, Assink said that there was no specific impetus behind his decision and he has plans for a new position.
“I’ve often thought that there’s another chapter for me professionally,” said Assink. “I’m curious to find out what it is. But I don’t spend my time at work thinking about what my next job is going to be. So I felt if in fact there’s something out there waiting for me, it would be good to give notice now so that the board can start the task of finding someone to replace me and provide for a seamless transition.”
He was named by Musical America 3 years ago one of the nation’s “Movers & Shakers: 30 Key Influencers in the Performing Arts,” the citation enumerated some of his accomplishments:
“Many of the initiatives Brent Assink has set in motion during his [then 14 years of leading SFS] have been picked up by others in the field: Keeping Score, the award-winning radio, TV, DVD, and interactive website series hosted by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas that has introduced millions to classical music; the launch of the ensemble’s own label, SFS Media, in 2001, which accounts for seven of the orchestra’s 11 Grammys; the revitalization of “Adventures in Music,” now part of the San Francisco public school curriculum for grades one through five; sfskids.com, a website devoted specifically to the younger crowd; and much more.”
Assink recently helped the SF Symphony navigate the financial straits brought on by the recession, and oversaw at times contentious contract negotiations with musicians.
According to Symphony President Sakurako Fisher, Assink will work with the symphony until March 31, 2017. The search for Assink’s successor has already begun.