new-symphony-director-Lisa-Lipton

Lisa Lipton began work on March 28 as the Newport Symphony Orchestra’s new executive director. Karen Gray, symphony board president, said, “We could not be more delighted to welcome her to her new position. Lisa brings so much talent and energy.”

Lisa Lipton is the Newport Symphony Orchestra’s (NSO) new executive director, ready to lead it into its 2022-23 season and onward.

Lipton began work for the symphony on March 28, in a position she compares to that of a chief executive officer (CEO). In her new role, she will work closely with Music Director Adam Flatt, who is in charge of all artistic planning for the symphony.

“He comes up with ideas, and I work to make them happen,” she said. “We work together on initiatives, and we’re both stewards of the organization, going back to the symphony’s mission — ‘to enhance the quality of life in Oregon’s coastal communities with diverse, inspiring performances and engaging educational activities.’”

Her work will be in keeping with the symphony’s goals: sustaining the highest possible level of artistry; achieving financial security; developing integrated music education and outreach, including musician visits to schools and expanding the youth ensemble program; and striving to serve as much of the community as possible.

“I’ll try to expose more people to classical music,” she said of her new job. “It’s unusual to have a professional orchestra like the symphony in a town the size of Newport. That’s really a special thing, and it drew me to this position.”

Lipton added that as an arts administrator, she has to be able to sell artistic ideas to someone who may only understand finance — and vice versa.

Originally from upstate New York but raised in Salem, Ore., Lipton said she has been both an arts administrator and a professional clarinetist for 13 years. She played clarinet with the Newport Symphony in its last season before the pandemic.

Lipton has a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Portland State University and attended the Central Chinese Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She worked as executive director/development director of Opera Theater Oregon before accepting the Newport Symphony post.

“The orchestra is a pillar of the community,” she added. “So many people volunteer for it. I find that really cool. And when I ask people locally if they’ve heard of the symphony, the response is always positive.”

Lipton said part of the reason she sought the executive director position was to help take the orchestra to the next level — to a strong regional profile that eventually achieves a national reputation.

“There’s no reason the symphony can’t get to the same music level as the Oregon Symphony,” she said.

Additionally, she noted the rich historic background of the Newport Symphony, which was born out of the former Ernest Bloch Music Festival. Bloch spent the final decades of his life at his home in Agate Beach.

And she has a great love for promoting new music. “I saw people getting degrees in music composition but there was nowhere to hear that music,” she recalled. “I have a background in new music, and Ernest Bloch’s compositions are also considered new music.

“I’m very keen on raising the profile of the symphony, especially locally, and I’m interested in outreach and participation with larger organizations, to generate a buzz of regional and national interest,” Lipton added.

She acknowledged that the classical music world has a long way to go to offer something for everyone. “But it’s not exclusive,” she said, noting people who play classical music have varied interests and come from different backgrounds.

She said if the symphony wants to stay relevant, it must grow and adapt. That means being open to new ideas, and she looks forward to hearing suggestions for collaboration. “My door will always be open,” she said.

Lipton plans to continue performing professionally, most likely in Portland and Salem. She said she keeps her clarinet next to her computer, where it helps and inspires her. “I’ll pick it up and play a little, and I might see things in a different way,” she said.

Lipton divides her time between Portland and Newport, but hopes eventually to own a home at the coast. The symphony’s office is on the second floor of the Wilder building, above the Wolf Tree Brewery Taproom in South Beach, close to Oregon Coast Community College. Office hours are Wednesdays through Sundays, but Lipton is open to arranging other meeting times.

“And the Newport Performing Arts Center is still our home,” she said.

She has hit the ground running. In her short time at her new post, Lipton said the symphony has received a grant, and she is off to New York this month to meet with four national funders. “It’s been a wild ride,” she said.

Karen Gray, symphony board president, noted, “We could not be more delighted to welcome her to her new position. Lisa brings so much talent and energy!”

Lipton can be reached at execdir@newportsymphony.org. The symphony is on Instagram as well.

She recently wrote on Facebook, “The NSO is guided by our core values: elevating, educating, and entertaining ... I’m thrilled and excited to uplift this professional orchestra on the coast and share their beauty with all of Oregon. An orchestra can activate the community, bring beauty to our lives, and inspire reflection as we face the wonder and experiences of life together.”

She concluded, “I try to support the arts in every way I can. It’s what I do. I live and breathe it.”

Lipton said she looks forward to meeting symphony fans at the orchestra’s annual Fourth of July free concert, which this year will take place at Newport High School.

Coming Events

Upcoming events planned by the Newport Symphony include a performance by the Element String Quartet on April 30 at the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center’s Doerfler Theatre. The quartet features musicians from the symphony’s string section in pieces by Florence Price and Johannes Brahms. Masks are required, and tickets are available at: https://www.newportsymphony.org/events/nso-element-string-quartet-live-chamber-music-concert.html

In addition, the Newport Youth Symphony of the Oregon Coast performs its final concert of the season at 7 p.m. May 2 at Newport High School’s gym. The youth symphony is sponsored by the Newport Symphony Orchestra and provides music students the opportunity to play orchestral music with others.

And symphony concertmaster Casey Bozell offers a series of podcasts called “Keep Classical Weird.”

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