Accomplished arts leader with strong Tasmanian connections to take leading role with orchestra

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra today announces the appointment of Caroline Sharpen as its incoming CEO, with a 5-year contract commencing in January 2019. She will succeed Managing Director Nicholas Heyward, who will step down in December after a 17-year tenure.

Originally from Tasmania, Sharpen joins the TSO following senior positions with Musica Viva Australia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and most recently, operating her own consultancy, Sharpen Creative Industries Consulting, which has worked with Tasmanian organisations including the University of Tasmania, TMAG and the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra, and high profile arts organisations including the Australian World Orchestra and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

With longstanding Tasmanian family connections dating back to 1804 (her ancestors were members of the original 1804 settlement at Hobart Town) Sharpen holds a Bachelor of Music with honours from the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music and an MBA. She was the first Australian to be awarded a prestigious Kennedy Center Fellowship in Arts Management, a year-long management program for aspiring performing arts leaders resulting in a placement with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C.

TSO Board Chair, Dr David Rich said, ‘I am delighted that we have attracted an outstanding appointee as our new Chief Executive Officer. I am confident that, working with our newly-appointed Chief Conductor, Eivind Aadland, and building on the strong foundations built by Nicholas Heyward and his colleagues, Caroline will lead the TSO into a new era of exciting innovations and extraordinary artistic achievements.’

Of her appointment, Sharpen said, ‘I am honoured to be appointed as CEO of the TSO. This appointment is a lifelong dream! My first orchestral experience was with the TSO aged seven. That early experience fuelled my passion for music and shaped my life and career in orchestras and chamber music organisations in Australia and the United States. I’m thrilled to return home to Tasmania and contribute to the artistic growth of the TSO for future generations. ‘

She has served as Director of Development with Musica Viva, where she introduced a range of initiatives for engagement with the broader community; and, subsequently, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, where she doubled philanthropic income and developed the strategy for the SSO’s engagement in China, among other key achievements.

The TSO recently announced major appointments in its artistic leadership with new Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Eivind Aadland to commence in 2020, and Swiss-Australian conductor Elena Schwarz announced as the orchestra’s inaugural Associate Conductor from 2019. They will join Principal Guest Conductor Johannes Fritzsch and current Chief Conductor Marko Letonja, who concludes his 7-year tenure as at the end of 2019 and has been named TSO Conductor Laureate, in a 3-year appointment.

Sharpen said, ‘I look forward to working with the TSO’s exceptional musicians, staff and incoming Chief Conductor Eivind Aadland. Together we will build on the orchestra’s incredible legacy and reputation for artistic excellence. We will continue to serve the Tasmanian community and cultivate our unique position nationally and internationally. I can’t wait to start!’


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