ENTERTAINMENT

Meet The Impressive New Sydney Symphony Orchestra CEO

She’s an Aussie and she’s moving back to Sydney for the gig.

16/08/2017 7:14 AM AEST | Updated 16/08/2017 7:24 AM AEST

On Wednesday, the Board of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Australian expatriate and New York-based performing arts executive Emma E. Dunch as the new CEO.

Raised on Sydney's North Shore, Dunch has been living and working in NYC since 1999 and will return to her hometown for the job.

"I grew up in a household where my parents played a lot of classical music on records and the radio, and then I was exposed to symphonic music live as a school kid," Dunch told HuffPost Australia.

"I came to Sydney Symphony concerts more than 40 years ago and that was where I really fell in love with the power of music and that many people performing live. I took that childhood love of music, performed live and turned it into a job in the junior ranks here at the Sydney Symphony and in the years since I have lived and worked in New York City for almost 20 years. Now I will be coming home to take this job. It's personal for me and I am tremendously excited."

SSO Richard Blinkoff
Dunch holds a Bachelor of Music Performance in Opera from the Victorian College of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Charles Sturt University.

Dunch graduated from the League of American Orchestras' prestigious Orchestral Management Fellowship Program in 2004 and has worked with leading international orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, New York Pops, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and American Composers Orchestra.

On her move to New York nearly two decades ago, Dunch said she wanted to fully immerse herself in a world where it all happened.

"I really wanted to pursue my career in arts administration and classical music in one of the biggest fish ponds there is, and I went [to New York City] as a very very small fish in a large pond. I wanted to be able to work in a city where the musicians and conductors and artists that we see here in Australia once a year are performing every week. I went there with a suitcase, a phone number and $20,000 I had managed to save and two decades later here we are now," Dunch said.

Ken Butti
Wynton Marsalis performs with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Robertson.

Dunch is currently President of DUNCH, a New York-based cultural management firm she founded in 2008 which has advised more than 125 creative organisations across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia on fundraising, financial management, strategic planning and leadership development. She has proudly worked with 38 leading classical music organisations internationally and has helped raise more than $250 million for cultural causes.

"They say that life is what happens when you're making other plans, and this is kind of a no-brainer for me. This was an opportunity I couldn't pass up -- to come full circle and lead my favourite orchestra, the place where I started, in my home town among my friends and family. As soon as I realised the job was available I got on the phone and I started to lobby -- I said, "That's my job!" and I am so pleased that everyone at the orchestra ended up agreeing with me. I couldn't be happier to be coming back to my home city and my home orchestra after nearly 20 years away."

Dunch will begin her new role on the first of January 2018.

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