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MSO's new executive director is area native

May 23, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


An area native who saw his first orchestra concert performed by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra is coming home as its executive director.

Andrew Kipe, a 1990 South Hagerstown High School graduate, will take over for Jean Hamilton, who is leaving after four years as executive director of the MSO.

According to Brendan Fitzsimmons, president of the orchestra's board of directors, applicants from around the world expressed interest in heading the MSO.


Both Kipe, 33, and Hamilton, 52, said they believe the orchestra can build its audience through reaching out to new residents.

"I think it's a great orchestra, and making people realize it's a great orchestra and it's right on their doorstep is the first step," said Kipe, who has worked almost seven years for the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine.

Hamilton said the MSO has increased the number of educational programs it offers as revenues have increased 29 percent over four years.

"We're just in great shape, and I feel very good about the state of the orchestra and Hagerstown in general, and I just feel we're ready to take that next step," said Hamilton, who plans to work through July before leaving to develop a private consulting business out of her home in Hedgesville, W.Va.

With Kipe starting July 17, Hamilton said she will spend about two weeks helping ease her successor's transition.

As general manager of the Portland orchestra, Kipe said he serves as second in command. According to information provided by the MSO, Kipe also worked as operations manager for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. He said he studied voice at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Kipe said he was impressed by his first outing to the orchestra.

"It was just a great experience being able to see an orchestra, and of course going to The Maryland Theatre is always exciting when you're a boy, so it just made a big impact on my life," said Kipe, who recalled going to concerts with his grandparents and great-aunt.

The MSO's long-range plan calls for attracting concertgoers from a wider region, enhancing educational offerings and building on the orchestra's endowment of about $2 million, Hamilton said.

"We really need to double our endowment to really take that next big step in growth," Hamilton said.

At about $1 million, MSO's operating budget is about one-third the size of Portland's orchestra, Kipe said.

He said he hopes to attract younger audiences and reach out to families. The first step will be relearning the area, which he left about 15 years ago, he said.

"I think it's important that a regional orchestra like MSO is supporting the community that is supporting it," Kipe said from his office in Maine.

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