Hillbarn Theatre Forms Partnership With Fremont Symphony

To reduce overhead costs, the Foster City-based theatre and East Bay-based symphony will now be dual-managed by Hillbarn staff.


in Foster City this week announced a brand-new new merger of sorts with the Fremont Symphony.

The two organizations will now be dual-managed by the veteran team of Gregory Van Sudmeier as music director and Lee Foster as executive director.

According to Dan Meagher, Hillbarn's marketing coordinator, the theatre's collaboration with the Fremont Symphony is part of a collective project to provide "economies of scale, and support for smaller nonprofits."

Meagher said, since 2009, the Sudmeier/Foster duo has been providing music and administrative services for Diablo Ballet in Walnut Creek.  

"This new alliance now adds a professional symphony to Hillbarn's focus," Meagher said in a press release earlier this week. "And, Sudmeier and Foster will continue in their current capacities at Hillbarn Theatre."

Managing multiple arts organizations under one executive team is a modern and increasingly popular concept in the nonprofit world, said Meagher. Administrative costs for each organization are reduced because one set of essential services is shared across several organizations. Lee will manage the symphony’s affairs from her offices at Hillbarn in Foster City.

"As a stand-alone organization, the Fremont Symphony was spending a large percentage of revenue on administration," Meagher explained. "Going forward, they will enjoy lower administrative costs, and be able to spend a higher percentage of their revenues on concerts and musicians."

Gregory Van Sudmeier, Hillbarn's resident music director, previously conducted the Fremont Symphony’s May 2010 pops concert, and will now take the helm as the symphony's music director.  

Sudmeier has stood before orchestras all over the country, including the San Jose Symphony, the Oakland-East Bay Symphony, and 12 years with the Peninsula Civic Light Opera, now known as Broadway by the Bay. He has conducted masterworks, many Broadway shows, and his own arrangements and original pieces.

Sudmeier's extensive experience with Skywalker Sound at Lucas-Digital/Lucasfilm includes contracting for and performing on numerous feature film soundtracks. A prolific composer, he has also written and produced numerous television show themes. His awards include the CLIO Advertising Award for Best Musical Adaptation, and the Eastman School of Music Duke Ellington Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arranging and Orchestration.

He also received a Grammy nomination for his work on the Star Wars trilogy with John Williams and the Skywalker Symphony.

Sudmeier is a professor at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.

Lee Foster has an MBA from the University of San Francisco and received her MFA from Notre Dame de Namur University in May, 2012. She is a two-time graduate of the Arts Leadership for the Future Educational and Consulting Program (ALF), sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Foster is credited with turning around numerous failing nonprofits; she has run successful capital campaigns, increased attendance and net income, and won numerous honors for her accomplishments in the nonprofit field, including a Congressional Honor presented by Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

During their 2012-13 season the Fremont Symphony will offer no regular orchestra concerts, but will present the exciting duo of pianists Anderson & Roe in a recital in February, and the annual free Children’s Concerts in March, featuring compositions by children.

"The entire combined organization looks forward to an exciting and mutually beneficial 2013-14 and ongoing," said Meagher.


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mike August 14, 2012 at 04:37 AM
I can't help but ask whether or not the Symphony was unionized!


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