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Stockton Symphony names new executive director
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Stockton Symphony names new executive director

Don Nelson Appointed Executive Director of Stockton Symphony

The Stockton Symphony Association (SSA) has appointed Don Nelson as its Executive Director. He will begin his duties full-time on October 1, 2015.

SSA engaged Arts Consulting Group, Inc. (ACG) to provide Interim Management services and to conduct this successful national search for a permanent director.

"After a national search, it is my pleasure to introduce Don Nelson to the Stockton community. We're excited to have someone of his extensive talents take the helm of our symphony as we head into our 90th season next year--we're looking forward to great things!" noted Stockton Symphony Association President Pam Lee.

“With great enthusiasm, we welcome Don Nelson to the Stockton Symphony family as our new executive director,” says Stockton Symphony music director and conductor Peter Jaffe. “Don comes to us with a great breadth of experience, having served admirably in the orchestra world as an orchestra manager, musician, producer, administrator, and organizational leader. We’re looking forward to a bright future with Don on board.”

Don Nelson comes to the Stockton Symphony from Buffalo, New York, where he served as General Manager with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO). As a member of the BPO leadership team he directed BPO performance and recording activities along with supervising the management of Kleinhans Music Hall.

"I feel very privileged, and am excited by this opportunity to lead this incredible Stockton asset, the Stockton Symphony,” notes Mr. Nelson. “I am looking forward to working closely with Peter Jaffe, the Board and musicians. I am also looking forward to becoming a member of the Stockton community."

Prior to his position with the BPO, Mr. Nelson was the General Manager with the Spokane Symphony in Spokane, Washington. He served as General Manager of the Spokane Symphony for 14 years. The last 6 years there he was also General Manager of the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. He participated in theater renovations, oversaw development of season programming, and negotiated artist and musician contracts.

Mr. Nelson was with the Florida Philharmonic from 1985-2000, first as a bassist and then as the orchestra’s personnel manager and summer festival manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in non-profit management from Regis University.

Mr. Nelson will be joined in Stockton by his wife Vicki Strauss, an accomplished professional cellist. They have two sons; Noah, a musician who lives in London with his wife Anna, and Alex who recently began his second year of Medical School at FIU in Miami. Don is thrilled to be joining the Stockton Symphony, believing wholeheartedly in its mission; To inspire joy and build community through music.

Both the hiring of SSA’s interim executive director, David Hyslop, and the search for a permanent Executive Director were facilitated by the Arts Consulting Group, a consultancy SSA has engaged previously. A leading provider of interim management, executive search, as well as organizational development services for the arts and culture industry, the firm has offices in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Portland, San Diego, Tampa, Washington DC.

Now entering its 89th year, the Stockton Symphony ranks third among California’s professional orchestras in ongoing performance, behind only the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. Peter Jaffe celebrated his 20th season with the symphony last year.

The Stockton Symphony’s 2015-16 season began on September 19 & 20 with performances of ‘S Wonderful: Gershwin and Kevin Cole. The next concert takes place October 10, 2015, with Beethoven, Maestro and Son James, with the Stockton Symphony and the Zhou-Yu-Jaffe Trio. Featuring a splendid mix of repertoire, with Maestro Peter Jaffe joined onstage by his talented son James, the program includes breathtaking selections from Brahms, Beethoven, Debussy and Ravel. For more information, go to

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