Peoria Symphony names new executive director

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The Peoria Symphony Orchestra has named a new executive director, with credentials stretching to Cleveland, Ohio, to replace Judy Furniss, who retired after 19 years.

Susan Hoffman, recently the director of patron relationship management for the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, will begin her new duties in Peoria on Jan. 9, according to an announcement Thursday from the Peoria Orchestra.

Before the position in Cleveland, where she served two years, Hoffman was president and CEO of the Arian Symphony Orchestra in Adrian, Mich., for 23 years, turning that group in a town of about 21,000 into a nationally recognized program.

Hoffman became known as an expert in patron engagement, audience development and orchestra marketing, the news release said.

"She gained national attention when the Adrian Symphony Orchestra was chosen as one of seven orchestras to participate in a three-year Institutional Vision program, sponsored by the League of American Orchestras. During Hoffman's final four years with the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, there was a three-fold growth in households served, increasing audience attendance to 90 percent capacity," the release said.

That experience will fit well with Peoria Symphony Orchestra plans to greatly expand its community outreach efforts.

Part of that plan is in the PSo's 2011-2012 concert season, which includes a PSO Presents! series of five pops concerts as well as concerts at two new venues, Grace Presbyterian Church and Five Points in Washington.

The orchestra also sponsors what it calls "Bankers Hours", a monthly series of free lunchtime concerts, has increased the number and venues of PSO Chamber Players concerts, and is expanding outreach efforts at area schools, hospitals, retirement homes and community events.

The PSO recently moved to WTVP studios at 101 State St., in Peoria's warehouse district, a location offering increased opportunity for more intimate performances and community events.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).