Jonathan Martin, Leading a Thriving Symphony Orchestra

While orchestras around the country are reeling from tumultuous labor disputes and budget cuts, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is thriving under the leadership of President and CEO Jonathan Martin (B.Mu. ’81).

Martin, whose career in arts administration began with his hometown ensemble, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, assumed leadership of the DSO in fall 2012.

“You have to be a consistent, incessant case maker,” Martin told the Dallas Morning News when his appointment was announced. “You can never assume that people wake up in the community thinking about the value of the symphony orchestra in the community. It’s a story you have to tell all the time.”

Martin came to Dallas from the Charlotte Symphony, which was struggling when he took over as executive director in 2008. The financial crisis had wreaked havoc on the local banking-focused economy. Donations were in a free fall. Martin stepped up to the challenge by cutting costs, overseeing a $5 million fundraising campaign and launching a new concert series to bring in additional visitors.

The effort revitalized an institution that was headed toward insolvency and put Martin on the radar of nationally recognized arts organizations.

Last month the Dallas Symphony Orchestra embarked on a three-country, seven-city European tour to rave reviews, with Martin in tow.

“It was almost like you could feel the orchestra going from one stage of its development to another within the same concert,” Martin told KERA, Dallas’ public radio station. “It was that important and it was that good.”