Confirmed: Dallas Symphony Hires Bill Lively As New CEO

That’s the word from Glenn Hunter over on FrontBurner. Glenn writes:

The deficit-plagued Dallas Symphony Orchestra is about to get a new fund-raising maestro, insiders say. Bill Lively, who led record-breaking campaigns to raise money for the AT&T Performing Arts Center and Super Bowl XLV, apparently has been tapped to do the same for the DSO, which has been without a  permanent CEO since Doug Adams resigned abruptly in August. Reliable sources say the deal involving Lively (pictured in photo by Jeanne Prejean) will be announced at a news conference this morning at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Developing.

Photo credit: Tadd Myers for D Magazine.

UPDATE: Via Scott Cantrell on the Dallas Morning News site, Lively has been named the next president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

The formal announcement is being made right now at a press conference at the Meyerson Symphony Center. From Cantrell’s piece:

“He’s a very important person in Dallas, and a musician himself,” said DSO music director Jaap van Zweden, by phone from his home in Amsterdam . “He loves music, he loves the symphony, he’s a champion in finding supporters and a first-class fundraiser. He’s a very inspiring and charismatic leader.”

Still slender and vigorous at 67, Lively will begin working half-time at the DSO in April, as his job as president and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee winds down, and take over full-time June 1.

“I’m returning to where I started,” said Lively, who holds an undergraduate degree in trumpet from Southern Methodist University and began his career directing high school bands. “Because I care deeply about this, I’m going to approach this with the most focus and intensity of anything in my career.”

The symphony job opened last August, when Doug Adams resigned after two years in the position. The orchestra, whose $28.5 million budget makes it the area’s biggest performing-arts organization, has been reaching new artistic highs under van Zweden, now in his third season. But in the wake of the recession it ended the 2009-10 season with a $4 million deficit.

Interim CEO Paul Steward will remain at the symphony as COO.

UPDATE 2: Here’s the official release:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Names Bill Lively President and CEO Effective June 1, 2011

Dallas, TX – January 12, 2011 – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced today that Dallas’ premier fundraiser and community leader Bill Lively has accepted the position of President and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  Following the completion of the Super Bowl, Lively will begin transitioning from his current position as President and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.  He will be working on a part time basis for the DSO beginning April 1, 2011, until his official start date of June 1, 2011.

“The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is one of our city’s greatest cultural organizations,” said Lively.  “I am joining the DSO at an incredible time in its artistic history.  I look forward to the challenges as well as the great rewards of taking the DSO to the very highest level, impacting our community here in Dallas, while changing the definition of what the city of Dallas is known for in the future. I am committed to the larger vision of the orchestra, including a planned March 2013 European Tour, an October 2013 East Coast Tour, and plans which are formulating for a major festival in Dallas in 2014.   I know that this new role will be one of the greatest joys of my career.” 

DSO Interim President Paul Stewart will remain with the organization as COO.  Stewart is a successful lawyer and businessman and long-time symphony supporter who stepped in last year when the former president resigned.  He has helped the DSO create a strategic plan, launch its Great Orchestra Campaign, and meet a critical $20 million challenge match for the Campaign.

“Bill Lively is a fabulous addition to the DSO and I look forward to working closely with him and, hopefully, learning from his great leadership and fundraising skills,” said Stewart.  “Under Jaap van Zweden, our orchestra has shown that it can play at the very highest level.  Bill is just what we need to enhance our staff and provide the DSO with the funding it needs for things like additional musicians and regular touring and recording, to put us on a par with the top orchestras of the world.”

“Bill Lively is the best at what he does,” said Music Director Jaap van Zweden.  “Having Bill join the staff is a major win for the DSO.  Since Bill is a musician himself and is also a proven leader with an extraordinary gift for fundraising, he understands deeply what we need to be able to perform at the highest level. Also, we are grateful to Paul Stewart for guiding us these last months, and are happy that he will remain on the team as COO.”

Noted by D CEO in August of 2009 as the “master of high-dollar fundraising,” Lively joins the DSO after leading the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee, an accomplishment reached after a long history of raising millions of dollars for some of North Texas’ most prestigious institutions.  “The Host Committee selected Bill Lively to be its President and CEO because of his remarkable track record in creating new institutions and organizations, and raising millions of dollars to underwrite their operations,” said Host Committee Chairman Roger Staubach.  “Bill continues to do a phenomenal job as we get ready for the Super Bowl; now just a few weeks away.  I know he will bring the same passion and focus to the DSO that he has given to the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee.”

Ron Gafford, Chairman of the Dallas Symphony Association Board of Governors said, “Bill Lively’s proven fundraising ability, strong leadership skills and deep passion for the arts make him the perfect choice to lead the DSO as we continue our Great Orchestra Campaign and look forward to major artistic milestones like our trip to perform at Carnegie Hall this Spring, upcoming plans to tour Europe and more.  He and Paul Stewart will make a great team to lead the DSO forward.” 


Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert continued, “Clearly, Bill Lively has had an incredible influence on the cultural landscape of Dallas. From Southern Methodist University, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee and now with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Bill Lively has been, and will continue to be, one of the great visionary leaders shaping our community. This is exciting news for the DSO and for Dallas.”


Bill Lively currently serves as President and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee. In this position, Lively reports to the Host Committee and its chair, Roger Staubach, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the Host Committee’s professional staff.

Prior to joining the Host Committee full-time on January 1, 2009, Lively served as Host Committee Volunteer President and CEO since September 2007. During that time, the Committee developed its management infrastructure, appointed its Board of Directors and Executive Committee, expanded its membership to include more North Texas business, civic, cultural, education and religious leaders, and confirmed the highest number of million-dollar sponsorships in Super Bowl history.

Lively came to the Host Committee after nearly eight and a half years as President and CEO of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts (now known as the AT&T Performing Arts Center). While there, he was responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the campaign which raised $338 million to design and build the Center which opened in 2009.

Lively spent 25 years on the faculty and in the administration of Southern Methodist University. During his tenure at SMU, Lively founded the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, the Doak Walker National Running Back Award and SMU’s Athletic Forum.

Lively also spent 23 years in service to the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League. From 1975-98, he served as Director of the Dallas Cowboys Band and game day Executive Entertainment Producer. Lively produced entertainment for Super Bowls XII and XIII.

In Lively’s early career, he served as a teacher, conductor and band leader and was an accomplished trumpet player through high school and college. Lively also had great ambition to be a composer.  Now, with Lively’s appointment to the position of president and CEO at Dallas Symphony Orchestra, he comes back to his first love – music.


The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Music Director Jaap van Zweden, presents the finest in classical and pops music, new music and family and holiday concerts at the internationally heralded Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, the DSO is committed to inspiring the broadest possible audience with distinctive classical programs, concerts with popular personalities, and innovative multi-media presentations. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the DSO’s involvement with the City of Dallas and the surrounding region includes an award-winning multi-faceted educational program, community concerts, popular parks concerts, complimentary ticket distribution and children’s programming. The DSO has a tradition dating back to 1900, and it is a cornerstone of the unique, 68 acre Arts District in downtown Dallas that is home to multiple performing arts venues, museums and parks; the largest district of its kind in the nation.