During a time of unknowns, the Owensboro Symphony is prepared to install creative changes this fall under new leadership.
Friday, the symphony’s board of directors appointed longtime employee Gwyn Morris Payne to succeed Dan Griffith as CEO.
“I’m really excited to go into a new chapter with this organization,” said Payne, who first joined the symphony in 2000 and gradually climbed through various leadership roles.
In an average year, the new appointment might allow for inspiration towards expansion or small changes in programming but the pandemic bred significant challenges for the symphony and shifted focus to the immediate future.
“This year, the challenge is staying very creative on ways to connect with people,” Payne said. “We want to take care of our musicians and continue to be very present in the community.”
Orchestras require crowded gatherings on stage and in the audience, so the symphony has been considering alternatives to the traditional ticketed events at the RiverPark Center as the symphony will introduce several outdoor performances this fall.
On Sept. 25, the orchestra will be divided into a string quartet, percussion ensemble and other instrumental sets from 6-8 p.m. throughout Smothers Park. Attendees of the free concerts will be encouraged to wander through the park and sample the various musical styles.
“It’s something we’ve never done before, and I think that it will be enjoyed by a lot of people,” Payne said. “People can enjoy the music while remaining socially distanced.”
Among other events:
- A woodwind ensemble will perform at 11 a.m. Sept 9 in the Daviess County Public Library courtyard.
- An “off-the-cuff” cello choir and string quartet will play at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Owensboro.
- A brass ensemble will perform melodies at 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Daviess County Courthouse Lawn.
The symphony will reevaluate plans for the spring early next year.
Through these events, Payne hopes to alter the persistent perception that symphonies exist for specific populations.
“We’re offering live music to everyone,” Payne said. “We want more people to be more comfortable coming and enjoying what’s going on.”
Friday, the symphony board of directors also announced that they will extend Troy Quinn’s contract as music director and conductor through the 2025-2026 season.
“I am delighted that the board has extended my contract through 2026,” Quinn said in a press release. “Having this type of long-term relationship in the orchestra world is rare, and I am grateful to our board, staff, and musicians for the opportunity to continue making music in the Owensboro community.”