Symphony of Northwest Arkansas director leaving for job in native Pennsylvania

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,682 views 

The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) is looking for a new executive director.

The Fayetteville nonprofit announced Tuesday (Feb. 18) that Matthew Herren is resigning at the end of the 2019-20 season. Herren has accepted a job as executive director of Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra (HSO) in his home state of Pennsylvania. That job begins June 15, 2020.

Herren was appointed SoNA executive director in 2014.

“My six years in Northwest Arkansas have been unforgettable,” Herren said in a statement. “It has been a true honor to lead SoNA in this community of collaborative and generous arts leaders and patrons. I know that SoNA’s board, staff and orchestra are poised for continued success, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

The SoNA board of directors, according to a news release, has formed a search committee to conduct a national search for a new executive director.

“In his time here, Matt has taken SoNA to the next level,” Julianne Brown, chair of the SoNA board of directors, said in a statement. “With his leadership, we’ve seen tremendous growth and become a stronger organization with an increasingly solid base of support to further our growing mission of bringing quality, diverse programming and education to the region. I’m confident that we have a strong, capable board in place with systems to ensure a smooth transition.”

SoNA reaches 20,000 patrons annually through concerts and educational programs in Northwest Arkansas. Under Herren’s leadership, according to the release, sponsorships have increased at all levels, as has SoNA’s annual campaign and event revenue. Subscriptions and single ticket sales are up, and SoNA maintains annual budget surpluses.

In 2018, SoNA’s endowment surpassed $1 million.

Herren grew up in central Pennsylvania. He played with the HSO as a youth cellist before attending The Juilliard School. Before coming to Northwest Arkansas, he enjoyed a career in the classical music industry as both a cellist and an administrator. He served as operations manager of the Helicon Foundation in New York City for six seasons, and toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe as a member of The New York Chamber Soloists and Trio Fedele, with performances at major venues including Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, The 92nd St. Y, The National Gallery in Washington, and Philadelphia’s Academy of Music.

With Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, Herren played and recorded under many distinguished conductors, including James Conlon, James Levine, Roger Norrington, André Previn, Simon Rattle, Gerard Schwarz and Robert Shaw.

In the world of popular music, Herren has performed with Metallica, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Billy Joel, James Taylor and Vanessa Williams. He was a member of the HSO under Richard Westerfield and was a founding member of Concertante Chamber Players.

Herren also held teaching positions at Pittsburg State University and Cottey College, and served as an officer of The Lawrence, Kansas Cultural Arts Commission.

SoNA is currently celebrating its 65th anniversary season with concerts performed at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.