In July 2021, we took a quick look at the sudden and unexpected departure of then San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson. At the time, I indicated this type of abrupt departure raises eyebrows.
Fast forward several months and Hanson turns up as the new CEO at…wait for it…Baltimore. According to the orchestra’s press statement announcing the appointment, he assumes the role on April 21, 2022.
If you don’t follow the field closely, it’s worth pointing out that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a bit of a lightning rod that stumbles from crisis to crisis like a ship which has lost its sail. At the heart of those fights is nothing surprising: money and labor problems.
That history goes as far back as the orchestra’s last longish term executive, John Gidwitz who retired after the 03-04 season. Time will tell whether or not this tenue will make any appreciable difference.
An article by Mary Carole McCauley in the 4/5/22 edition of the Baltimore Sun points out all the larger head-scratcher elements that go into this announcement, not the least of which is the fact that Baltimore is several steps down in budget size from Hanson’s previous group, the San Francisco Symphony.
“When Hanson resigned last August as the California orchestra’s president and CEO, he was paid $974,040, according to tax forms. At the BSO, Kjome earned a salary of $298,000 when he stepped down.”
The BSO’s board chair, Barry Rosen, didn’t release any information about Hanson’s compensation which given the extreme differences in play here combined with the fact that nonprofits are required by law to disclose this information anyway on the tax filings, the orchestra seems to have missed the best moment to demonstrate they’ve finally learned the value of transparency.