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Peterborough

Monadnock Music director  to step down in December

Will Chapman credited with establishing financial stability for arts organization

  • Will Chapman will be stepping down as executive director of Monadnock Music at the end of the year<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Will Chapman will be stepping down as executive director of Monadnock Music at the end of the year<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — Monadnock Music Executive Director Will Chapman will be stepping down from his post at the end of the year, after nearly three years during which he worked to bring financial stability to the organization, which has run a seven-week summer music festival in the region for 48 years.

“When I took the job, I understood it was a turnaround situation,” Chapman said in an interview Monday. “Those are very intense. After a restructuring, and a successful search for new artistic director, I felt this might be a good time to turn it over to someone new. It was a big decision, not an easy one to make. I really wrestled with it.”

Chapman, who lives in Harrisville, said he made his decision to leave after a recent retreat where he examined his plans for the future. He wants to take some time off before he starts looking for another job.

“Turnaround years are like dog years,” he said. “It makes sense to take a sabbatical. I like adaptive challenges. I’d like to hand it off to someone who’s operationally oriented.”

He wanted to give the Monadnock Music Board of Directors plenty of advance notice.

“I felt it was very important to plan an orderly transition. It was either now or wait until next year,” Chapman said.

Chapman became executive director in February 2011. One of his first steps was to revamp the organization’s management structure, which led to the controversial departure of co-artistic directors Jonathan Bagg and Laura Gilbert in October 2011. After a nationwide search, Monadnock Music hired Gil Rose, the former artistic director of Opera Boston and a well-known conductor in Boston, to serve as artistic director. Bagg and Gilbert have since founded another organization, Electric Earth Concerts, that produces classical music performances in the Monadnock region.

Chapman said Rose spearheaded a return to its artistic roots for Monadnock Music.

“We have a fantastic artistic director,” he said. “Gil has taken our programming to another level. We’re doing full-scale orchestral pieces, like the Mozart at this year’s first concert. We’re doing fully staged opera again. We’re bringing in artists of national stature like Michael Maniaci, Barbara Quintiliani and Stephen Drury. It’s a broad range of offerings that we think makes Monadnock Music unique in the region.”

Chapman said he also worked with the board to boost fundraising and develop a five-year strategic plan.

“Last year, our deficit was basically flat,” Chapman said. “The ship is now sailing away from the iceberg. Donations are healthy and the audiences have been very receptive. Advance sales are much higher than in the past.”

Mike Petrovick, president of the Monadnock Music Board of Directors, said he was disappointed that Chapman has chosen to leave.

“We’re obviously sad and surprised,” Petrovick said Wednesday. “We’re definitely happy for Will. He’s done some phenomenal things for us.”

Petrovick said Chapman dramatically increased fundraising, which has allowed the Peterborough-based Monadnock Music to become a more sustainable organization. “I don’t think we’d had much advanced planning in place,” he said. “We’re coming up on our 50th year and we’re thinking strategically now. We owe that to Will.”

Chapman said he plans to work with Rose on planning next year’s programming before he leaves on Dec. 31. They are trying to expand Monadnock Music’s visibility beyond just the local area.

“I want to get next year’s schedule lined up as soon as possible, to stay ahead of the curve,” he said. “We’re in the first year of our five-year strategic plan and at the end of the summer we’ll evaluate. Our goal is to prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2016 as an essential fixture in New England.”

Petrovick said the board has not yet started a process for replacing Chapman.

“It’s hard to do that planning in the middle of the festival,” he said. “Our first step is to get through this summer’s festival season. We’re planning 2014 with Will and Gil, and Will’s with us through December.”

Petrovick said the board may decide to look for an interim executive director or it may start a search process once the summer season is over.

Chapman said he’s looking forward to returning to what he called civilian life.

“I won’t miss being on my feet for 14 hours a day during the festival, but I’m not going to miss being in the audience, because I’ll still be in the audience.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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