BU Tanglewood Institute alums are leading major orchestras around the country
Picture this: A transformational summer of music-making in the Berkshire mountains of Lenox, Massachusetts near Tanglewood: the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Learning from and playing music with a remarkable roster of visiting artists and internationally-recognized musicians and educators. Making bonds and friendships that’ll last a lifetime.
That’s Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the premier summer training program for talented young musicians ages 14-20 interested in honing their craft in composition, harp, percussion, piano, strings, voice, and winds and brass.
Now picture this: Those students have gone on to become musicians, composers, educators, and leaders in their field. We’ve witnessed the success of the students who participate in BU Tanglewood Institute. Many come back to BUTI to teach the next generation of musicians, and many are leading major orchestras across the country. Get to know the BUTI alums who are thriving in their roles as Presidents and CEOs of some of the best orchestras in the nation.
Gail Samuel (BUTI’87)
President & CEO, Boston Symphony Orchestra
In 1987, Gail Samuel took BUTI’s Listening and Analysis Seminar. Now, she’s the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). After a 28-year career at the Los Angeles Philharmonic where she served as Chief Operating Officer, Samuel joined the BSO as its Eunice and Julian Cohen President and CEO in June 2021, becoming the organization’s first female president in its 140-year history.
In an interview with The Berkshire Eagle, Samuel shares some of her goals – appealing to multi-generational groups and pushing an often insular industry perceived as elitist into diversity and inclusion on stage – that come with the job.
“For our programming, I am a believer in representing people with different life experiences and backgrounds. It makes us more interesting and allows us to present more creative art. For example, pairing the Beethoven piano concertos with the works of three American women composers, which allows for reflection on how they connect to one another.“
Gary Ginstling (BUTI’83,’84)
Executive Director, National Symphony Orchestra
President & CEO, New York Phil (expected 2023)
Gary Ginstling participated in BUTI’s Young Artists Instrumental Program, playing the clarinet. Ginstling, a clarinetist who has degrees from Yale, Juilliard, and the University of California, Los Angeles, joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 2017. There, he experimented with new ways of reaching audiences, including holding concerts designed for rock music.
Ginstling will be starting an exciting new chapter as the President & CEO of the New York Philharmonic, replacing Deborah Borda. The appointment signals the start of a new era for the Philharmonic, which is America’s oldest symphony orchestra.
Matthew Spivey (BUTI’98)
CEO, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Matthew Spivey joined the San Francisco Symphony in 2015 and has taken on many roles. Initially starting as their Director of Artistic Planning, Spivey became their Chief Programming Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer. In 2022, Spivey was appointed their Chief Executive Officer.
Spivey has been instrumental in the appointment and launch of conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen as the Orchestra’s 12th Music Director, shaping a new vision for the future of the orchestral landscape. He’s also developed new ideas including innovative digital projects and expansive and imaginative performance concepts in a variety of concert formats.
Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, Spivey served as the Vice President of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He’s also held positions with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which BU has a close partnership with. A clarinetist, Spivey received an Executive MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington and studied at the New England Conservatory. And just before that, he studied at BUTI, participating in the Clarinet Workshop & Young Artists Orchestra.
Mark Niehaus (BUTI’88)
President and Executive Director, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Born in New Orleans, Mark Niehaus has studied under pianist Ellis Marsalis, a Louisiana legend and the father of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (Hon.’92). Niehaus also studied the trumpet at BUTI in 1988, participating in the Instrumental Program.
In 1998, Niehaus took his talents to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, joining as principal trumpeter. His leadership journey began when he became the chairman of the Orchestra’s Player’s Council and a member of the MSO board. In 2012, Niehaus was appointed President and CEO of MSO, leading efforts to convert a former movie palace into the orchestra’s new home, the Bradley Symphony Center.
Niehaus has also served on the faculty at The Julliard School, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Suzanne Wilson (BUTI’88)
President & CEO, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra
Suzanne Wilson, who has a background in performing arts as a singer and participated in BUTI’s Young Artists Vocal Program, also has an extensive background in education – the two primary missions of The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
Wilson previously served as the Executive Director of the Midori Foundation, an organization providing high-quality music education to New York City public school students in underserved communities.
Her career kicked off in Massachusetts, working for different organizations. Wilson was the Chief of Staff for the New England Conservatory, Director of the Office of External Affairs and Partnerships for the Massachusetts Department of Conversation and Recreation, as well as Vice President of Education and Community Engagement for the Celebrity Series of Boston.
Wilson joined the Phoenix Symphony in 2020 and will be stepping down in the late fall of 2022, moving to London with her family.
Mark Cantrell (BUTI’84,’85,’87, CFA’89)
President & CEO, The Florida Orchestra
An Arizona native, Mark Cantrell says he has the “adventure gene.” He moved across the country for three summers at BUTI and then studied music at BU. He remained in the New England area for several years, performing with the Boston Pops, the Boston Ballet, and the Boston Lyric Opera. He also served on the faculty of the BU School of Music.
Cantrell’s next adventure led him to become a trained and licensed pilot where he flew shuttle planes out of New York’s La Guardia Airport. He then signed on with the Boston Philharmonic as Executive Director, and eventually as the CEO of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
In 2019, Florida Orchestra named Cantrell their President and CEO, where his goal continues to make orchestras accessible to all. “We need to quit expecting people to come to us on our terms. We need to be taking music, and what we do, to them on their terms. We need to demonstrate to the community the transformative power of music.”
It all starts at BUTI.
BUTI not only transforms students’ summers, but it transforms their lives and futures. Learn more about BUTI, today! Applications for Summer 2023 open in November 2022.