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Kennedy Center Taps Chicago Symphony Exec as Next President

Deborah Rutter to succeed Michael Kaiser at D.C. institution in September

Deborah Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, has been named president of Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center.

Rutter will assume the post Sept. 1, 2014 as successor to Michael Kaiser, who is stepping down after 13 years at the facility’s helm.

Rutter, 57, was the unanimous selection of the KenCen’s board following a national search for candidates. She will become the fourth president and the first woman to head the 42-year-old facility created by Congress as the National Center for the Performing Arts.

KenCen chairman David Rubenstein, who headed the search committee along with fellow trustee Anthony Welters, announced the decision. He praised Rutter’s “undeniable passion for the arts” and her “long, well-respected track record of managing performing arts organizations.”

The center described Rutter as one of the nation’s “most influential arts administrators.” Under her leadership, the Chicago Symphony named conductor Maestro Riccardo Muti as the orchestra’s musical director and cellist Yo-Yo Ma as creative consultant.

Rutter called it “a true privilege to be asked to lead this unparalleled institution. The Kennedy Center represents the very best of American culture of all forms, and I am honored at the prospect of building on the great work of my predecessor, Michael Kaiser.”

The search for Kaiser’s successor began last January when he confirmed earlier plans to ankle the post at the end of his contract in December 2014. Kaiser said he would remain as prez of the center’s DeVos Institute for Arts Management, the training org he created in 2001. That plan was altered when it was decided that the institute would affiliate with U. of Maryland.

Rubenstein has described the post as “the only job in the world that is responsible for a major opera company, two orchestras, a ballet company as well as extensive theater, dance and jazz seasons.” He said the center has enjoyed a “golden age” under Kaiser’s energetic reign both artistically and financially. Kaiser manages a $200 million budget, helps raise some $80 million each year, and oversees one of the country’s largest arts education programs.

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