Riley Nicholson joined the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) as the executive director during the challenging times of the pandemic. Since then, SoNA has achieved several significant milestones. One notable accomplishment is the completion of their first-ever album, scheduled to be released on June 9.
Before departing on July 28, Nicholson will witness the release of this recording and take on the role of executive director at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California. Nicholson expressed his reasoning for this move, stating that his decision to join the Cabrillo Festival aligns with his lifelong dedication and passion for contemporary arts. He emphasized the festival's exclusive focus on new music and contemporary voices.
Nicholson acknowledged the bittersweet nature of his departure and his new position, emphasizing his gratitude for the opportunity to work in his home state and in such a transformative artistic community in Northwest Arkansas. He expressed admiration for the region's immense potential and positive outlook on the arts, highlighting the rewarding experiences of creating extraordinary concerts.
Over the past three years, SoNA has accomplished various milestones. They have expanded their programming, including the introduction of SoNA Beyond, a concert series aimed at community outreach. Additionally, they have enhanced their educational initiatives by appointing Natalie Fernandez as the Education Director. Furthermore, SoNA has witnessed a remarkable 71% increase in contributed revenue, supporting a budget of $1.4 million, the largest in the organization's history.
SoNA has initiated a national search to find a suitable successor for Riley Nicholson. The orchestra plans to unveil its 2023-24 season during the upcoming summer.