Former CSO Fundraiser Hired as Festival's Chief

October 28, 2009

Elizabeth Hurley, current director of development for the Metropolitan Opera and former Chicago Symphony Orchestra fundraiser, will assume leadership of the lakefront summer festival.

Reflecting the current straitened financial environment for arts organizations, the Grant Park Music Festival has turned to an experienced fundraiser as its new executive director.

Elizabeth Hurley, current director of development for the Metropolitan Opera who has also logged extensive time at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will assume leadership of the lakefront summer festival Dec. 1.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to join the Grant Park Music Festival family,” said Hurley, 47, in a statement released Wednesday morning by the festival. “This festival is unique in that it is free and accessible to all – something that is made possible thanks to strong public and private partnerships. With outstanding musical leadership from Carlos Kalmar and Christopher Bell, and the commitment of the orchestra and chorus, we are providing a wonderful gift to the city. I have always admired the Grant Park Music Festival and cannot imagine a better place to be.”

Hurley’s background is centered in fund-raising rather than artistic management. The bulk of Hurley’s experience was her fifteen years at the CSO (1990-2005), the last five as vice-president for development. Prior to her job at the Met, Hurley was managing director of development for the U.S Olympic Committee from 2005-2006.

Hurley has a tough act to follow, in the wake of James Palermo’s fourteen years at the Grant Park helm, an era that saw increased artistic success and the building of the Pritzker Pavilion. Palermo is currently president and CEO of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review