Sandra Culhane, executive director of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, is leaving her position May 1 to become executive director with the symphony in Boise, Idaho.
Culhane will continue in a consulting role until a successor is in place. A search committee is being formed to find a new executive director.
Culhane will be moving to Boise with her husband, Bill, and their 11-year old son, Will.
“I have truly enjoyed being a part of the tremendous success of the Billings Symphony. The Orchestra and Chorale is a cultural jewel of this region, and I’m awed by the reach of this great organization,” Culhane said.
Culhane began her tenure with the Billings Symphony in June 2005. Hewes Agnew, a board member, said her arrival was heralded as if “an angel dropped from heaven.” Culhane previously was orchestra operations manager of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorale.
Under Culhane’s leadership, the symphony and chorale experienced extraordinary growth both financially and artistically, according to board president Dr. Paul Cook. The orchestra budget has grown by 38 percent under her tenure, he said.
“It’s been a joy to work with someone who shares the artistic vision of our organization as enthusiastically as Sandy does," Cook said. "The artistic heights we’ve achieved and innovative multimedia programs like the Copland’s Appalachian Spring with Michael Sample’s photography, collaboration with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and the ‘Video Games Live’ shows would not have been possible without her.”
Music director Anne Harrigan said Culhane’s contribution to the organization is immeasurable.
“It is a tribute to her immense talent that the Boise Symphony reached out to her and asked her to assume their organization’s highest position," Harrigan said.
A violist and pianist, Culhane understands the work of the musicians and the challenge of managing an organization that balances the needs of 150 instrumental and vocal musicians with those of more than 1,000 patrons, Cook said.