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Oregon Symphony plans to hire new president from Canada

Elaine Calder is managing director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

The Oregon Symphony has confirmed its intention to hire Elaine Calder, managing director of Canada's Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, to be its new president.

Jerry Hulsman, the local businessman and longtime symphony supporter who has served as interim president since the departure of Bill Ryberg in June, said Thursday that Calder is expected to assume her new post no later than Jan. 1.

Calder, known as an astute businesswoman with a no-nonsense approach, has a history of guiding struggling arts organizations to financial health.

She is credited with having improved the financial fortunes of London's Grand Theatre, the Canadian Opera Company and Canada's National Arts Centre.

Despite successful fund-raising efforts and healthy subscription sales, the Oregon Symphony has ended each of the past two fiscal years with a deficit in the $1 million range.

In August, 10 members of its administrative staff were terminated in a cost-cutting measure.

Hulsman said Calder was chosen primarily for her strengths as an administrator, but also will contribute on the artistic side, which had been a hope of Music Director Carlos Kalmar.

'Carlos is very pleased,' he said. 'He wanted someone that had some programming strengths.'

The London-born Calder spent two years as the managing director of the Hartford Stage, a regional theater company in Connecticut.

'She has a lot of dimensions,' Hulsman said. 'We were looking for someone who has experience and who has good collaboration skills. And with labor negotiations coming up, we needed somebody whose gone through that before, and she has.'

Hulsman said Calder's installation as president could take place as early as November, pending the resolution of immigration issues.

'We're confident it's going to work out,' he said. 'We're very pleased with the selection.'