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Charlotte Symphony Names David Fisk As Chief Executive

David Fisk, new CEO of the Charlotte Symphony.
Keitaro Harada
David Fisk is the new CEO of the Charlotte Symphony.

The Charlotte Symphony has hired arts manager David Fisk as president and CEO after a yearlong search. Fisk has been executive director of the Richmond Symphony in Virginia for 18 years. 

He starts Aug. 31 and will be working alongside music director Christopher Warren-Green. Fisk replaces Mary Deissler, who left in August 2019. Development director Michelle Hamilton has been the interim director since then.  

Born in Britain, the 55-year-old Fisk is a longtime arts manager who also once led the Ulster Orchestra, the national symphony of Northern Ireland. Fisk said he has his work cut out for him. 

"I think the immediate challenge, of course, is to safely and successfully make it through the remainder of COVID crisis, however long that lasts," Fisk said. "And I think the other part of that is to think about what opportunities have been created by this crisis that we really have to seize and not miss."

That may mean virtual concerts. Like other arts and performance groups, the Charlotte Symphony has not performed live since the coronavirus pandemic prompted stay-home orders. 

"The symphony is already on top of that, which is great to see with their embrace of technology," Fisk said. 

The symphony and musicians have been playing remote concerts using video-conference and social media. The question is how to generate revenue, he said. 

"I think the trick is to find a way of developing the kind of relationship online with listeners that we do in the concert hall that brings people into the symphony family and makes them want to be supporters, to be donors, as well as attendees," Fisk said. 

For now, live concerts are canceled through the end of this month. The symphony has announced a three-week summer season, beginning in August. 

The symphony has weathered the COVID-19 slowdown so far. It has kept all 85 staff members - including 58 full-time musicians - employed with help from a $1.2 million federal Paycheck Protection Program loan.

Warren-Green welcomed the announcement about Fisk.

“David Fisk has a fantastic energy and a deep commitment to music and community building," Warren-Green said in a statement. "I could not be more thrilled to welcome David to the Charlotte Symphony, and I look forward to working together in partnership as we lay the groundwork for the future of this orchestra."

Fisk also formerly led a chamber orchestra in London, a sculpture park in Yorkshire, England, and an international arts festival in Manchester, England. He has a degree in music from Manchester University in Englnad and a postgraduate diploma in piano accompaniment frm the Royal Northern College of Music. He's a pianist and organist who still performs publicly.

Fisk is married to Anne O'Byrne, a soprano who teaches at the University of Richmond. 

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.