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What you need to know for 09/26/2017

Elizabeth Sobol appointed president and CEO of SPAC

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Elizabeth Sobol appointed president and CEO of SPAC

Saratoga Performing Arts Center announced today the appointment of Elizabeth Sobol to the position o
Elizabeth Sobol appointed president and CEO of SPAC
Elizabeth Sobol will take the position of president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center effective Oct. 1.
Photographer: Photo provided

Elizabeth Sobol, formerly president and CEO of Universal Music Classics and managing director of IMG Artists in North/South America, has been named the new president and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Sobol will succeed Marcia White, who is retiring after just over a decade at the helm of SPAC, and will be only the fifth president in SPAC's 50-year history.

Sobol will take over the reins at the outdoor dance, classical and popular music venue on Oct. 1, relocating from Miami, where she has been based for the last 14 years.

She said she was attracted to Saratoga Springs after visiting and finding it supportive to independent bookstores - Lyrical Ballad and Northshire Books - and enjoying an Italian restaurant off Broadway. "I've been blown away by the natural beauty and by the cultural vibrancy of the the community and by the people," she said in an interview.

"If you could see the view of the ocean from my apartment in Miami you'd understand just how enchanted I am with Saratoga," Sobol said.

White announced earlier this year that she would be retiring after 11 years on the job, prompting a nationwide search for a successor.

"Elizabeth is a seasoned executive whose artistic and musical interests and experience range from straightforward classic to pop, jazz, world music and dance," said Susan Phillips Read, chairman of SPAC's board of directors. "All of this makes her an ideal fit for SPAC, with its eclectic mix of programming."

"Her proven record as an arts manager and her passion for the arts are testaments to the leadership and inspiration she will bring to our exceptional venue," White said in a prepared statement.

Sobol said she doesn't anticipate major changes at the venue, which she called "the jewel in the crown."

SPAC has been the summer home of the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra since it opened in 1966, as well as home to the Live Nation popular concert series that has featured acts from Phish to country star Toby Keith. White came in 2005 when there was a threat of cutting ties to the ballet due to financial losses, creating a controversy that cost then-president Herb Chesborough his job. While the NYCB season has been scaled back and additional dance companies brought in, SPAC has also made a small profit in recent years under White's leadership.

"I think Marcia has done an amazing job and I will benefit from the strength and stability she has brought," Sobol said. "It really will be about building on what we have now."

"I am looking forward to deepening SPAC's artistic partnerships with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York City Ballet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Live Nation to curate SPAC's signature blend of programming," Sobol said in a statement provided by SPAC.

Sobol, 57, was with IMG Artists for nearly three decades in Miami and New York City, nurturing such classical music talents as violinist Joshua Bell, an annual classical music favorite at SPAC.

Most recently, Sobol was president and CEO of Universal Music Classics, overseeing the American home for the prestigious Decca, Deutsche Gramphone, Mercury Classics and ECM imprints.

As managing director of IMG Artists North/South America, Sobol oversaw a roster of artists that included Itzhak Perlman, Bell, Renee Fleming, Emerson String Quartet, James Galway, Evgeny Kissin, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and KODO. She created the IMG Dance Division, whose clients include the Bolshoi Ballet and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

From 2016 to 2012, Sobol was programmer and producer of the Festival of the Arts BOCA in Boca Raton, Florida, which featured not just music but such cultural figures as Salman Rushdie, Edward Albee, David Brooks and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Sobol, a native of North Carolina, studied at Sarah Lawrence College and the Rotterdam Conservatory. She received a bachelor's degree in music in the piano from the North Carolina School of Arts.

Sobol said she and her husband have already rented an apartment in Saratoga Springs.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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