By editor, 03/22/2017 - 08:43



March 22, 2017

SAN LUIS OBISPO (CA) – The San Luis Obispo Symphony welcomes Catherine Lansdowne as its new Executive Director starting April 3, 2017. Lansdowne comes to San Luis Obispo from the Abilene Philharmonic in Texas where she served as Executive Director for the past three years. While there, she oversaw a restructuring, new programming and fiscal growth of the organization. She takes the baton from Francie Levy, the SLO Symphony’s interim General Manager since 2015.

“This is a very exciting time for the San Luis Obispo Symphony.  We are in the midst of a search of a new Music Director with one more guest conductor auditioning at our May 6th Finale Classics concert.  We are fortunate to have Catherine join us at this juncture,” said Deanna Richards, President of the Symphony Board of Directors. “We look forward to Catherine’s leadership at the helm of this community’s cultural icon as it enters a new era.”

Lansdowne attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music and earned a Bachelor’s in music performance as an oboist. She performed professionally but soon discovered she enjoyed the administration side. She obtained a Master’s in arts administration from Indiana University and began her career at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in marketing and public relations. She continued in a marketing capacity for the American Association of Malaysia, the National Philharmonic in Washington D.C., and in advancement for the Smithsonian Institution.

While in Abilene, Lansdowne’s creativity and leadership, her programming collaboration with the music director, along with great staff and volunteers, is credited with a turn-around of the Abilene Philharmonic’s fiscal resources, taking the organization from a multi-year deficit to multi-year profits. Using unusual locations and focusing on attracting families, Lansdowne is most proud of developing the young artist competition where the winner played in front of peers from grades 3-5, having the Philharmonic play a soundtrack with a Charlie Chaplin movie on the screen of the historic Paramount Theater and collaborating with National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature to bring programming like a party for children with an art activity and the film “The Snowman,” which was inspired by the illustrated book by the same name. Lansdowne is also a film lover and has stretched the boundaries of pops concerts, including a Rock 'n' Roll and Star Wars concert.

“Live music is one of the greatest joys of life. As a musician and executive director, it is important to me that the timeless genre of classical music be accessible and available to everyone,” says Lansdowne. “The San Luis Obispo Symphony and Youth Symphony are cultural gems for the community and region. I am looking forward to working with the board of directors, new music director, staff and volunteers to bring diverse, engaging and exciting concerts to the community.”

About the San Luis Obispo Symphony
The San Luis Obispo Symphony was established in 1954 by a small group of 11 musicians called the Morro Bay Community Orchestra. The SLO Symphony was incorporated in 1961 and, in its 56-year history, has grown significantly to become a leading arts institution in the community with 70 orchestra members, a large Youth Symphony program with six ensembles and a music education program that has ten school-based programs that have touched more than 16,000 youth per year.

In 2016-17, the San Luis Obispo Symphony is auditioning five finalist conductors during the Classics in the Cohan concert series for the position of Music Director. For further information, please visit


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Contact: Heather Hellman
              (805) 548-1585