Symphony finds new executive director

Robert Barr: “I’m happy to be joining an organization with a solid core audience and established outreach programs."

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra has found itself a new executive director.

The OSO board has appointed Robert Barr to the position.

“Robert brings over 20 years of experience in arts management and operations in both B.C. and Ontario and we are extremely pleased to have him join the OSO management team, said Ginette Williams, president of the Okanagan Symphony Society.

She said Barr joined the OSO in July and has been familiarizing himself with the organization in preparation for the commencement of the new season in October.

During that time, he had the support of the previous executive director, Scott Wilson, who is retiring.

“The board is looking forward to an exciting new chapter in the long history of the Okanagan Symphony Society and, in particular, to working closely with Robert and benefitting from his professional knowledge, experience and advice,” added Williams.

Barr comes to the OSO after having spent 15 years with Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, the last nine as managing director.

During his tenure there, audience size increased by 35 per cent and the budget increased from $2.4 million to $4 million.

He also spent four years on the executive of the international Shakespeare Theatre Association, including a term as president.

“I am excited about bringing some of the lessons I learned with Bard (On The Beach) and uncovering how some of those successes can be translated to the Okanagan Symphony,” Barr said.

“I’m happy to be joining an organization with a solid core audience and established outreach programs. The entire Okanagan Valley is growing, as I expect will its appetite for arts and culture. I’m looking forward to working with (music director) Rosemary Thomson and the board of directors and to see how the OSO and its community will evolve over the coming years.”

Thomson said Barr’s enthusiasm for the arts and his management skills make this an exciting time for the OSO “as we add him to our energetic team.”

“This fall will welcome the OSO’s 55th season and we continue to be dedicated to bring the passion and joy of symphonic music to life throughout the Okanagan.”

The 2014-2015 concert season opens Friday, Oct. 17 in Kelowna with Rhapsody, followed by  performances Oct. 18 in Penticton and Oct. 19 in Vernon.

Tickets for performances are available at Kelowna Actors Studio (250-862-2867), Wine Country Information Centre in Penticton (250-276-2170) and Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (250-549-7469) or online via

The Okangan Symphony is the third largest professional symphony orchestra in B.C., and was started in 1960.

For information about the OSO, go to or or on


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