Two directors leaving New Music Ensemble

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The artistic and executive directors of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble will be stepping down after this summer's season ends.

Kevin Noe will resign as artistic director after this season's last concert Aug. 3. He has other positions, including working as a professor at Michigan State University and heading up that university's orchestral activities, orchestral conducting department and new music ensemble.

Chris McGlumphy will step down as executive director after Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. He will remain in a managerial role with slightly different responsibilities through next year, from Albuquerque, N.M., where he will move because his wife took a job at the University of New Mexico. Mr. McGlumphy said his responsibilities will change slightly, as working from afar will preclude him from some of the one-on-one work of an executive director.

The departures, which appear to be unrelated, are likely to shake up the administrative structure of the summer-only ensemble.

There are no current plans to replace either Mr. Noe or Mr. McGlumphy. The musicians will take on the artistic direction of the ensemble for the 2014 season, including music selection.

"The members of the ensemble have come to me and expressed the desire to work together to plan our 2014 season while we evaluate our structure and formulate a vision for the next artistic director," said PNME board president Jeffrey Nytch in a press release.

Mr. Noe became artistic director in 2001 and added the title of executive director from 2007-11. Under his leadership, attendance at PNME concerts increased by more than 600 percent, according to the press release.

In addition, the ensemble moved to a summer-only schedule and released three CDs.

As part of Mr. Noe's artistic vision, which the organization calls "the theater of music," PNME brought in musicians from other places for a compact season and incorporated visual and multimedia elements into concerts.

"He has been an enormous artistic force, and his vision for integrated media in the concert hall was a decade ahead of its time," Mr. Nytch said of Mr. Noe.

The group plans to retain its general format for now.

"The plan is to keep that intact at least through the next season," Mr. McGlumphy said.

"Though we will miss him greatly, the Lime Green Team is committed to continuing Kevin's legacy," Mr. Nytch said.

Mr. Noe has expressed interest in returning as a guest conductor, Mr. McGlumphy said. Mr. Noe said that he is departing from PNME on good terms.

Mr. Nytch said that Mr. Noe is leaving on the "best of terms," and that he will always be welcome on the PNME podium.

The decision not to immediately replace Mr. Noe is largely due to timing, according to Mr. McGlumphy, who said he thought PNME would eventually like to replace the outgoing artistic director.

In light of the double departures, "We're trying to keep continuity as much as possible through the next year," Mr. McGlumphy said.

It is unclear whether PNME will hire a new executive director, and that decision will likely wait until the organization tries the new set-up next year.

"I'm expected to stay on at least through the next season and [PNME will] possibly restructure after that," Mr. McGlumphy said.

Part of the restructuring decisions may depend on financial factors. For example, some funders may require that a staff person be working in Pittsburgh, Mr. McGlumphy said.

"We don't know how many of our donors are committed to Kevin, and whether their support is tied to him ... but there is no immediate funding concern, just thinking long term."

Mr. McGlumphy started with PNME in 2008 as director of development and was named executive director in 2011. He has been at PNME during a time of financial difficulties due to the economic crisis.

"We pretty much cut our budget in half after [the 2008] season."

Despite growing the audience size and ticket sales, outside factors presented significant challenges. State funding was slashed from $16,000 to $6,000, and foundation funding dropped across the board.

"We're doing OK, but it can be a slog financially," said Mr. McGlumphy, who said PNME's current annual budget is $135,000.

"We've been dealing with that for the last five years, since I've been here."

These challenges came in spite of ticket sales that grew from roughly 45 to 120 audience members per concert during Mr. Noe's tenure, according to estimates by Mr. McGlumphy and Mr. Noe. The ensemble gives more performances now and reaches more people every season, from about 270 in 2001 to about 1,300 and as many as 1,500 in recent years, Mr. Noe said.

Founded by composer David Stock in 1976, PNME plays eight concerts at the City Theatre on the South Side every summer and puts on other special events. Musicians come from across the country for a compact and intense rehearsal schedule and concert season. PNME's concerts integrate contemporary classical music with visual elements.


Elizabeth Bloom: or 412-263-1750 or on Twitter @BloomPG.


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