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Jacksonville Symphony names Robert Massey new president, CEO

Robert Massey
Robert Massey (Photo courtesy of Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Symphony Association announced Thursday that Robert Massey will be its new president and chief executive officer.

Massey comes to Jacksonville from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he has served as Orchestra Iowa's chief executive officer for the past six years.

"Robert's experience with audience expansion and community engagement makes him the perfect choice for taking the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra to new heights in North Florida," said Martin F. Connor III, chairman of the Jacksonville Symphony Association. "We know that combined with our music director, Courtney Lewis, there are exciting new initiatives on the horizon for us."

In 2008, Massey was recruited to lead the Cedar Rapids Symphony, just prior to the catastrophic Midwest floods that same year. During his tenure, he transformed the institution from a struggling symphony orchestra to a vibrant arts enterprise. Rebranded as Orchestra Iowa, Massey expanded the geographic footprint of the Orchestra, and implemented innovative new business models, such as launching a presenting series, forming a business partnership with its venue and creating a music school.

Massey, 44, will join the Jacksonville Symphony on January 2, 2015. He replaces David Pierson who is retiring from the Jacksonville Symphony Association after leading the orchestra in the search for a new music director and improving its financial stability.

"I'm excited to join Courtney Lewis, the musicians, board and staff as we begin an exciting new era in the Jacksonville Symphony's history," said Massey. "This is an incredible time for symphonic music. Artistic standards have never been higher, exciting new works are being created as are new mediums to connect us to those works, and the thirst for live, shared concert experiences has never been greater."

Massey said he values the strength in collaborative partnerships, with ballet, opera, musical theatre companies, museums and educational institutions. 

"I am delighted that Robert Massey will be our next CEO and president," said Lewis. "His transformative work in Iowa underlines his commitment to the success of orchestral music in the 21st century. We share a vision for the future of the Jacksonville Symphony, and I'm excited about working together to achieve it." 

Lewis begins his first full season as Jacksonville Symphony music director in fall 2015.

Prior to his post in Iowa, Massey was executive director of the Washington Bach Consort in Washington, D.C., one of the nation's premier period instrument ensembles. Massey has significantly grown audiences and revenue in both orchestras he has led.

Massey began his career as a trumpet player, performing with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra while still a teenager. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Music from the New England Conservatory and upon graduation he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra's development staff. He spent a year studying at the Paris Conservatory and returned to focus on a career in arts administration. He has held leadership positions at Washington National Opera, The Phillips Collection, the Germantown (Tenn.) Performing Arts Centre and "The President's Own" United States Marine Band.