Cal Performances director Matías Tarnopolsky to step down in June

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On Monday, Cal Performances announced in a press release that its executive and artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky will be stepping down this June. Tarnopolsky will move to Philadelphia, where he will be president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“The last nine years have been extraordinary, surrounded by an inspiring cultural and intellectual environment, appreciative and engaged audiences, and artists and ensembles who give their best when they perform under our auspices,” Tarnopolsky said in the press release.

“Doing this kind of work, at the heart of UC Berkeley, our great public university, is a rare privilege and one which I have treasured,” he said.

Tarnopolsky began his post at Cal Performances in 2009. He is known for bringing a number of orchestral residencies to UC Berkeley. This choice is true to form given that Tarnopolsky himself is a classically trained musician, possessing degrees in music and musicology from the University of London’s King’s College. These residencies included the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

This proclivity for artistic residencies was best exemplified when Tarnopolsky spearheaded Berkeley RADICAL (Research and Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts and Learning) in 2015.

The program is designed to connect the UC Berkeley community with a number of artistic works, all connected through an annual, unifying theme. This year’s theme is “Transcending Borders,” and includes works by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Camille A. Brown & Dancers and Kronos Quartet.

In an interview with The Daily Californian, Helen Meyer, co-chair of Cal Performances’ Board of Trustees, said Tarnopolsky “cultivated the whole idea of artistic literacy” through Berkeley RADICAL. Additionally, Tarnopolsky drove a number of Cal Performances’ artistic commissions, such as Robert Battle’s “Awakening” and Mark Morris’ “Layla and Majnun.”

“Matías has done an incredible job at reimagining Cal Performances,” Meyer added. “He’s inspired the organization.”

Meyer said there will be an interim director once Tarnopolsky departs and that Cal Performances will attempt to find a replacement who will live up to Tarnopolsky’s precedent.

“It’s going to be hard. To fill Matías’ shoes, it’s going to be hard. But we will find the right person to carry on the amazing work that he’s done,” Meyer said.


Harrison Tunggal is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected].