CSO director steps down

Daniel Beckley, executive director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, announced last week that he has left the organization after 21/2 years at the helm.

Since December 2010, Beckley had overseen a dramatic reorganization and recovery that many arts organizations watched with interest during a turbulent time for symphony orchestras. The CSO ended its 2009-10 season early and nearly declared bankruptcy because of contractual disputes and fiscal challenges.

Beckley, who had previously served on the board, helped put together a special 75th anniversary concert in the fall of 2010 featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that sold out the Gaillard Auditorium and helped rejuvenate the ailing organization.

During the course of the next two years, the board was reconstituted, new leadership was hired, Concertmaster Yuriy Bekker became acting artistic director and music programming received a creative shot of adrenaline.

“Danny was instrumental in bringing the symphony back, instrumental in its success,” said board member and past president John H. Warren III. “We could not have done what we have done without him on the job.”

In recent months, disagreement arose about the way the organization should be managed, Warren said.

Beckley said it had been a privilege to lead the orchestra through a significant turnaround that has provided the group with options and opportunities. He confirmed that his “vision of how to manage the orchestra wasn’t embraced by some of the board,” and that he would likely look for new opportunities in the world of music.

Bekker called Beckley a strong and committed leader who played an essential role, and he expressed pride in the symphony’s recent successes.

“I’m happy to see that everyone involved — musicians, staff and board members — are working hard so that a healthy CSO can continue to thrive,” Bekker said.

The symphony will quickly assemble an executive search committee and rely on existing staff, such as Development Director Courtenay Speir and Personnel and Sales Manager Thomas Joyce, to assume more responsibility for now, Warren said.

A new position, first vice president, will be filled this week by board member and recent Sonoco retiree Cindy Hartley, and other board members, including Robert Blocker, chairman of the artistic committee; Michael Moody, vice president of finance; and new board president Robert Schlau, remain active, Warren said.

“The board is more truly solid than I’ve seen it in 10 years,” he said.

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