ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) has announced that David Whitehill will remain Executive Director of the organization and will not step down as previously announced. 

The ASO announced in March that Whitehill was leaving this summer for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. After he withdrew from that position, the ASO Board of Directors met to confirm his continuing leadership.

“Based on his experience and understanding of the organization, the Asheville Symphony Board believes that David is the best person to continue to lead the Asheville Symphony,” said Bolling Farmer, the ASO Board President. “David will focus on how to move forward and we will work together to determine what the organization will look like now and in the future and carry that vision forward.”

“Given the new realities we are all facing I feel that staying in Asheville is the right thing as together we take on the challenge of navigating the next fiscal year and weathering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitehill said. “The magnitude of issues over the next several months will be significant and I feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for how the Asheville Symphony navigates through these problems. I believe we will not only outlast this but emerge as a stronger organization.”

Whitehill, whom Musical America Magazine recently named one of the top 30 music professionals in the country, has been the ASO Executive Director since 2012. He came to the Asheville Symphony following five years as the Executive Director of the Bangor Symphony in Maine and positions with the Pacific Symphony and Philharmonic Society of Orange County, both in California. He currently sits on the board of the League of American Orchestras. In March, the ASO canceled the rest of its 2019-20 season due to the pandemic. 

The ASO is still active, however, as it launched its first virtual orchestral performance, “A Musical Love Letter to Asheville” on YouTube. The ASO is also hosting musical trivia nights on Facebook. The orchestra’s IDEASOUND recording catalog is available on 150 digital streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. At more than 50,000 monthly listeners, the ASO is one of the most-streamed orchestras in the country. “Be Still Moses,” the ASO’s collaboration with Steep Canyon Rangers, recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass record chart.

“Out of crises can emerge new and incredible opportunities, particularly if traditional approaches and paradigms are questioned and challenged,” Whitehill said. “Although we cannot be sure when we will return to our concert hall performing for the people of Western North Carolina, we will use this time to explore new and different connections to the community.”

Since Whitehill’s arrival in Asheville, the ASO began the biennial Asheville Amadeus Festival that has featured pianists Emanuel Ax and Garrick Ohlsson and violinist Midori; brought on board new Music Director Darko Butorac; greatly expanded the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra program; created a hugely popular New Year’s Eve celebration; and launched the IDEASOUND recording initiative, enabling the ASO to create recordings with Grammy Award winners Steep Canyon Rangers, Boyz II Men and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

“One of the great privileges of my career has been to serve as the Executive Director of the Asheville Symphony,” Whitehill said. “The orchestra has become one of the most vibrant in the country. Our success is shared among a committed group of board, staff, musicians, patrons, and community members who champion our mission, and I am fortunate to be connected to all of it.