Gary Hanson is a long-established figure within the classical music industry. Most recently, he served as interim CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his engagement in Toronto, he stepped in as interim president of the Cleveland Institute of Music for a period of six months.
He was born in Toronto and studied music in Canada, subsequently completing his education in Germany. Returning to Canada in 1974, he worked as an administrator and performer in regional orchestras before moving to the USA to become director of marketing at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
In 1988 he joined the staff of the Cleveland Orchestra as director of marketing and public relations. From 1997 to 2004 he served as the Cleveland Orchestra’s associate executive director. In that role, he managed the renovation and restoration of Severance Hall and the redevelopment of the Blossom Music Center.
From 2004 until his retirement, at the end of 2015, he served as the Cleveland Orchestra’s eighth executive director, during which time the Orchestra expanded its activities internationally, as well as at home in service to the community. Under Gary Hanson’s leadership, in partnership with Franz Welser-Möst, the Orchestra launched new audience development programmes and new concert series, as well as establishing a neighbourhood residency programme that takes the ensemble into north-eastern Ohio communities for an intensive presentation of education programmes and performances in traditional and unexpected venues.
In Cleveland, as well as state-wide, Gary Hanson has been recognized for his leadership and achievements. In 2016 he received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio for arts administration. He was subsequently appointed to the board of the Ohio Arts Council by Governor John Kasich.
Gary Hanson was a member of the 2001 class of Leadership Cleveland and is a recipient of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Distinguished Service Award to honour exemplary service. Internationally, he is a member of the jury of the Herbert von Karajan Young Conductors Award at the Salzburg Festival.