Executive Director Steve Smith to leave Seattle Choruses

Executive Director Steve Smith to leave Seattle Choruses

So I have some personal news to share. After four and a half fabulous years at the helm of Seattle Choruses, I will be stepping down as Executive Director later this month.

Jinx and I will be relocating back to Massachusetts where I’ll take on a new role as President of Berkshire Choral International. BCI creates amazing immersion experiences for avid choral singers in great cities around the world. My personal mission has always been the intersection of great music and creating community and I’m excited for this new challenge.

With that excitement comes a very bittersweet set of feelings to be leaving Seattle and the amazing SMC and SWC. I’m proud of the work we have accomplished: balanced budgets, a refreshed brand for a new generation, a celebration of Dennis Coleman’s legacy worthy of the man, an artistic search that brought us our dream conductor, a new commitment to community engagement and creating change.

On a personal level, I’ve fallen in love with walks on Alki, salmon and Dungeness crab, and Washington wine. I learned to tolerate the rain and Seattle drivers. I will admit that I always stayed a closet Patriots fan (insert boos here). I am grateful to all of you for your kind words, for laughing at (or at least enduring) my hammy stage banter, and for the support you show our organization.

Your choruses are in great hands with my friend and colleague Karen Lane serving as interim Executive Director and the continuity of a team of staff members that I love and respect. The hardest part of my decision was stepping away from the joy of my creative partnership and friendship with Paul Caldwell. Paul’s vision and talent is leading the way in the LGBTQ choral movement and I’m so proud Seattle has him. FYI he also makes the best cornbread on the West Coast. The future of SWC and SMC is bright and I am honored to have shared in the journey and legacy of this essential organization.

LGBTQ choruses and the stories we sing about have evolved a lot over the years, but in a time of distrust, diversion, and divisiveness, never has it been more important for us to sing the truth of our lives for all to hear. I was at a GALA conference in the '90s where the late lesbian activist Donna Red Wing proclaimed that gay chorus singers were cultural warriors. That helped me define myself as a happy warrior to use the power of music to help change the world. I’ll be a lifelong fan of SMC and SWC and I’ll be cheering you on from that other coast.

 

Steve Smith