Symphony picks opera director as new executive director

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Symphony Orchestra has named the managing director of an opera company in South Africa as its new executive director.

Elise Brunelle takes over for Ben Cadwallader, who stepped down in February to take a similar post with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the orchestra announced Saturday.

The Burlington-based orchestra said she was chosen by a six-person committee comprised of board members, staff and musicians. She's expected to start sometime in mid-August or early September.

Barbara Wessel, who chairs the orchestra's board, said Brunelle is a proven manager with a strong background in fundraising and financial management.

She spent 16 years with the Cape Town Opera, which is South Africa’s largest nonprofit performing arts organization, serving as fundraiser and financial manager before becoming managing director.

The Vermont orchestra said that under Brunelle, the Cape Town opera expanded its international touring, expanded its youth and education programs, and stabilized its finances.

Brunelle said she's honored for the opportunity to lead the orchestra, which is also searching for a successor to longtime musical director Jaime Laredo, who is departing after 20 years.

“I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do," she said in a written statement Saturday. "More than anything, I want to talk with people in Vermont’s communities to find out what they would like to see from their VSO.”