True Concord Voices & Orchestra is pleased to announce the appointment of Welz Kauffman as its Managing Director effective immediately. Kauffman is a nationally-known artistic leader who was President and CEO of the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois, during which time he transformed the Festival, doubling its size and diversifying its repertoire, its audiences and its financial support.
“We are very excited that Welz has joined our family,” said Nancy March, True Concord Board Chair. “With his depth and breadth of experience, he will help us reach new and more diverse audiences in Tucson and beyond. Importantly, Welz will allow Eric Holtan, True Concord Founder and Music Director, to continue to create beautiful music that moves and inspires us.”
Kauffman will focus on key strategic goals and initiatives established by the board of directors, strengthening and supporting the excellent staff, expanding True Concord’s engagement in Tucson, and working to achieve a more prominent presence on a national level through expanded touring, additional recording projects, commissioning and greater diversity overall.
“Engaging Kauffman as True Concord’s Managing Director is transformational for the organization,” said Holtan. “Welz’s immense experience and expertise as one of America’s preeminent arts executives will undoubtedly lead to deeper, wider and higher growth in the pursuit of our strategic vision. Equally important, Welz is a warm, down-to-earth person who I have gotten to know (and he has gotten to know True Concord) on his many visits to Tucson where he has family and musical ties and where he and his husband have a home. Working together, I know that Welz will work with me to authentically engage and energize True Concord’s stakeholders in our shared mission to create experiences that move, enrich and inspire. I look forward to working with Welz as a partner in this exciting and essential endeavor.”
During his unprecedented tenure at Ravinia, America’s oldest summer music festival presenting 150-plus performances for over 600,000 patrons, Kauffman was the first artistic director in the Festival’s 115-year history to select the full slate of festival concerts. His musical first love has always been classical so at Ravinia he worked to upgrade the programming of the summer residency of the Chicago Symphony; America’s most expansive summer chamber music series; and its presentations of opera, choral music, dance and new work. In addition, he presented over 350 artist debuts including a wide variety of non-classical performers from Lady Gaga to Mary J. Blige, Los Tigres del Norte to Linda Ronstadt, Paul Simon to Sting, Common to 50Cent, Carrie Underwood to Lady A, and many more.
The son of two school teachers, education and engagement have been key in Kauffman’s career. He elevated all of Ravinia’s education programs from its K-12 teaching artist work in the Chicago Public Schools, to the creation of One Score, One Chicago as well as a greater focus on Ravinia’s highly-regarded Jazz Mentors and Scholars program created by Ramsey Lewis, to the establishment (with Ravinia’s Women’s Board) of the Midwest’s most important El Sistema program. Serendipitously related to Tucson, he created touring opportunities for Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI), including multiple engagements by the Tucson Desert Song Festival. Comparable to Tanglewood, Aspen and other elite summer music education programs, RSMI, Ravinia’s on-campus summer conservatory, selects 60 annual participants who were privileged to work with such artists as Kiri Te Kanawa, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, Thomas Quasthoff, Gustavo Dudamel, Joshua Bell, Matthew Polenzani, Sylvia McNair, Jake Heggie, Stephen Sondheim and the late Broadway legend Barbara Cook.