Jeff Alexander, CSOA President

Jeff Alexander began his tenure as President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in January of 2015. Since that time, he has developed a strong working relationship with the CSOA Board of Trustees, volunteer associations and administration in support of the work of Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti and the members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has overseen the activities of the orchestra’s 125th anniversary season; worked in support of the wide range of education and community engagement programs offered by the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO; supported and represented the organization on multiple domestic and international tours; led a process to develop a new strategic plan for the Association adopted by the Trustees in June of 2018; and navigated the challenges of the COVID pandemic leading to the successful reopening of live concerts this season. In addition, Alexander has led two negotiations for a new contract with both the members of the Orchestra and of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. He is a strong advocate for the CSO concerts and education programs, as well as the Symphony Center Presents concert series and the creation and growth of the CSOA’s Latino Alliance, African American Network and Overture Council (for young professionals).   

Alexander joined the CSOA from the Vancouver Symphony Society, where he served as president and CEO for 14 years, beginning in September 2000. In this position, he served as the chief administrator for the organization, responsible for overseeing board, orchestra, government and community relations, long-range planning, and day-to-day management for Canada’s third largest symphony orchestra and Western Canada’s largest performing arts organization. 

In Vancouver, Alexander worked closely with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Music Director Bramwell Tovey, the organization’s Board of Directors, musicians, staff and volunteers to strengthen every aspect of the organization’s artistic, fiscal, community, governance and administrative activities. With the implementation of a new strategic plan in 2002, subsequent updates, and a wide variety of new programs and activities, the organization experienced significant growth in subscription and single ticket sales, as well as individual, corporate and government support, resulting in a surplus on annual operations for 10 of his final 11 years with the organization. 

Alexander also supported a number of innovations at the VSO, including the reformatting, expansion and creation of concert series; significant growth in the organization’s education and community programs and community partnerships; the Society’s first and ongoing endowment campaign (increasing the fund from $4M to $20M); the creation of its first formal planned giving program; the planning and implementation of multiple tours, including the VSO’s  first international tour in 17 years with concerts in Korea, Macau and China; the orchestra’s first performances in 33 years in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and  the orchestra’s first U.S. tour in 35 years; the 2011 opening of the state-of-the-art 25,000 square foot VSO School of Music, now home to over 2,000 students and 90 faculty members; an annual summer residency for the orchestra in the Resort Municipality of Whistler; and the creation of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute. The result of these innovations was a renewed spirit of support and admiration for the orchestra locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Prior to joining the VSO, Alexander spent 16 years with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, including 12 years as General Manager. As such, he was the “second in command” for the sixth oldest and eighth largest orchestra in the United States. In this position, he managed an orchestra of 99 full-time musicians, and was responsible for all elements of program planning, concert production, and orchestra relations. He participated in four master agreement negotiations; planned and managed 12 domestic tours, each with concerts in Carnegie Hall, and 4 international tours, with concerts throughout Europe and Asia.

While in Cincinnati, Alexander participated in the production of over 60 recordings and 7 PBS television broadcasts for both the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. He served on the Steering Committee that planned activities for the Orchestra’s 100th Anniversary Season in 1995; a 1998 Long Range Planning Task Force; and in 1999 the Music Director Search Committee. Concurrent with the above, Alexander managed the Cincinnati May Festival, an annual choral festival founded in 1873 for which the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is the official orchestra. Prior to being named General Manager, he served the orchestra as Director of Regional and Educational Programs, overseeing all educational activities, and a series of orchestral and chamber music concerts in sixteen communities throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. 

From 1982 to 1984, Alexander served as General Manager of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra in Texas and from 1980 to 1982 as General Manager of Grapa Concerts in New York City, an artist management firm specializing in organizing Latin American tours for North American and European soloists and ensembles.

Jeff Alexander is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he majored in French Horn Performance. He is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Economics Club of Chicago and The City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council. He has been a member of the League of American Orchestras since 1982 and Orchestras Canada since 2000. He was elected to the Board of Directors of Orchestras Canada in 2001 and during the subsequent 10 years served on its Executive, Nominating, Executive Director Search and Bylaw Review Committees, was Vice-Chair of the Board from 2005 to 2007, Chair from 2007 to 2009 and in 2010 chaired its Leadership and Professional Development Task Force. He has served on adjudication panels for the Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, YWCA of Greater Vancouver and the Alcan Awards, as well as a member of the City of Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary Advisory Committee, and for 6 years the Vancouver Foundation’s Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.

Jeff has been married for over 35 years to pianist Keiko Alexander, a graduate of the Aichi University of Arts in Nagoya, Japan, and The Juilliard School in New York City; an active performer, teacher and competition adjudicator.

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