As she began her job as CEO of the Stockton Symphony, Jane Kenworthy’s plate was full: it was 2008, the nation was sinking into the worst depression since 1929, and Stockton was hard hit by the sub-prime mortgage crisis and double digit unemployment. It was not an optimum time to take the reins of California’s third oldest continuously operating symphony, but anyone who knows Kenworthy appreciates her dynamism, managerial prowess, and long-term commitment to symphonic music.
Kenworthy announced her resignation from the Symphony at the Stockton Symphony Association’s (SSA) annual meeting June 16, and while she leaves the Symphony on solid footing, there was some wistfulness in her parting comments. “It is with some very real sadness that I announce my resignation at the end of June. While I am moving to Oregon to be near my youngest son, I have loved this City and this orchestra and will always be very proud of the fine things we have accomplished together.” She will remain active in the symphonic world, taking the reins of the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra, located in Ashland.
SSA conductor Maestro Peter Jaffe saluted Kenworthy, stating “Jane has poured her life and soul into the Stockton Symphony for over six years, working more diligently and assiduously on our behalf than anyone will ever know. Her decades of experience in our field have helped to elevate our organization, sharing the joys of classical music and expanding the ways in which we contribute to the community. Her professional drive, broad knowledge, and intensity have laid the foundation for a bright future. For this we will always be grateful.”
“Jane has worked tirelessly and passionately to keep the symphony on its feet and active in the community,” said Pam Lee, chair of the symphony’s board of directors. “She has connected us to major foundations, established community partnerships, reached out to new audiences, and helped to champion new music. We are grateful and will miss her.”
Several candidates have been identified as possible interim directors for the SSA, as the organization begins a national search for a new CEO. It was announced at the annual meeting that SSA has engaged David Marketing, an experienced arts marketing consultancy, to handle marketing strategy and implementation for the 2014–15 “Season of Blockbusters.”
Under Kenworthy’s management, SSA has accomplished significant milestones. Seeking to broaden audiences, SSA launched a Pops Series of concerts. To increase its civic value and expand its education offerings, SSA partnered with University of the Pacific, Stockton Unified School District, and United Way to start Harmony Stockton, a five-day-a-week, free, after-school music education program in south Stockton that was modeled after the El Sistema in Venezuela. During her tenure the orchestra won a number of major grants, including James E. Irvine Foundation grants totaling $575,000 across six years; launched Amigos for the Artes, the first Latino support group for an orchestra in the country; and won national recognition for community outreach and civic-oriented programs on All Things Considered of NPR and in Symphony magazine. Sponsorship contributions in 2013 rose by 50% compared to 2008 levels. Individual contributions in 2014 increased by 75% over those in 2007.
“Stockton loves its symphony,” notes Kenworthy. “In my entire career, I have not seen a more enthused or dedicated group of people than those who make up the SSA community. I’ll miss them!”
Her career in music began at the Manhattan School of Music, where she majored in violin performance. Her first professional orchestra management position was with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. After managing audience development for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, she went on to serve as Executive Director for the Annapolis (MD) Symphony Orchestra, Roanoke (VA) Symphony, Dubuque (IA) Symphony Orchestra, and Fairfax (VA) Symphony Orchestra before coming to Stockton.