The Austin Chronicle

Austin Symphony Orchestra

Executive director hired

By Robert Faires, February 20, 2009, Arts

The Austin Symphony Orchestra has a new executive director. Galen Wixson has been hired to fill the spot left by the departure of Jim Reagan last November. Wixson comes to Austin from Little Rock, Ark., where he has served as the executive director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for the past 19 months. Prior to that, he spent five years as executive director for the Symphony of Southeast Texas in Beaumont and two years as executive director for the Reno Philharmonic in Reno, Nev. He holds a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Public Policy & Management at Heinz College, but don't think of him as just a number cruncher. He also wields a pretty mean bow on the cello, which he studied as both an undergrad and graduate student at Wichita State University.

At a time when venerable classical music institutions across the country are slashing programming or closing down altogether, Wixson has the benefit of stepping into an organization that is fiscally sound. But that doesn't mean that the new executive director plans on coasting in his new position. "My priority in coming to Austin will be to make sure we sell our unused ticket inventory for our concerts," he says. "The Austin Symphony is taking great advantage of the Long Center in terms of subscription sales, and now we need to concentrate on filling the rest of the hall with single-ticket buyers. Having full concert halls will help us create more excitement and energy around our programs, which in turn will lead to more engaged patrons, more subscribers, and hopefully more donors. The bottom line is that we need to reinforce the idea that the Austin Symphony is a treasure, an indispensable part of the cultural fabric of the city." He considers ASO to have "wonderful potential" and the job of leading it administratively to be "quite simply, one of those opportunities that you just can't turn down."

The next performance of the Austin Symphony will feature "King of Flutes" Sir James Galway and his wife, flutist Lady Jeanne Galway, Friday & Saturday, Feb. 27 & 28, 8pm, in Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside. For more information, call 476-6064 or visit

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