Symphony COO leaving for Arizona

Exec had been with organization since '99

Nashville Symphony COO Mark Blakeman has been named president and CEO of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and will leave Music City in November.

Blakeman has spent 15 years at the Symphony, helping to grow its group of musicians from 55 to more than 80. He also helped plan for the construction of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and contributed to the $40 million worth of repairs made to the building after the 2010 flood. He was named COO last year — after the organization restructured its debt to avoid foreclosure and its musicians took a pay cut — after being general manager and vice president of orchestra and building operations.

“Since stepping into the position of COO last fall, Mark has created a renewed focus on performance metrics and accountability at the Nashville Symphony,” said Symphony President and CEO Alan Valentine. “Though we will miss him terribly, we have a rock-solid management team and staff in place — thanks in large part to Mark’s extraordinary work — so I am confident that we won’t miss a beat.”

Symphony officials said they will launch a national search for Blakeman’s replacement.

“Despite facing some significant challenges over the last few years, the Nashville Symphony is now well positioned for success in the future, so I feel the timing of my departure could not be better,” Blakeman said. “The orchestra’s success has been built by a community of people devoted to the organization and the city. I want to thank the amazing staff, talented musicians, devoted Board, volunteers, ticket buyers and donors who have made the Nashville Symphony such a wonderful place for me to work.”