The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus has been led by its founder Gregory Heltman since its inception in 1984—but Heltman retired last May, so leadership switched hands to Daniel Crupi, who heads to town in March to take over as the nonprofit's executive director. Crupi has served as the chief operating officer of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina since 2016. We talked to him about his plans to bring the Santa Fe Symphony into a new era.
You're taking over from the symphony's founder, who was at the helm for over 30 years. Are you feeling any pressure to fill his shoes?
It's an exciting new challenge. … Greg deserves a lot of credit. It is no easy task to found and then steward a classical arts nonprofit successfully for 34 years and leave it in great financial shape, with a healthy endowment and a cash reserve. I think the organization is poised, because it's in such great shape, to do some innovative and interesting things.
How do you plan to bring the symphony into its next chapter?
I think the reputation for symphony orchestras in general in this country is that they are elitist, stuffy, inaccessible, difficult to understand. It does not need to be that way. It is some of the most beautiful and exciting and visceral music that has ever existed, and it deserves to be experienced in that way.
I'm interested in increasing access to the orchestra so it is not an organization that seeks to cater solely to those who can afford it, but caters to the whole community. The Santa Fe Symphony already does that to a great extent, but I want to expand the profile. While I do believe that the most pure way to experience classical music is in the traditional fashion, I would actually like to see the orchestra get outside the concert hall and out into the community, whether it's in art galleries, breweries or in the Plaza.
Another big priority of mine artistically is increasing diversity, both on and off the stage: make sure that we're representing all aspects of our community, make sure that we are highlighting the works of composers that are female, … make sure we're representing the works of 21st-century composers, that we are highlighting minority composers and featuring minority soloists.
Do you have any plans to engage the youth of Santa Fe?
That, I think, is at the crux of what every classical arts organization has to be doing. It is so vital to the future of this industry as a whole. At Greensboro Symphony, we reach about 50,000 different kids every year in a variety of different programs from preschool all the way through high school. Not every program that has been successful in Greensboro is going to be successful in Santa Fe, but I think if we are not seeking to educate the next generation of potential audiences, then the classical arts are not going to have an audience in 20 or 30 years.
In Greensboro, another big emphasis of mine has been getting millennials into the concert hall. We've seen a lot of success in getting people in their 20s and 30s really invested in the orchestra, not just in terms of attending single events, but in subscribing to an overall series across the entire season. Santa Fe is a radically different market, so we're going to have to evaluate how that will work there, but I think there's room to really bolster attendance in that demographic.