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Photo credit: James Brickwood

CEO Emma Dunch Leaves the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Dunch resigned with two years left in her contract, claiming she was the victim of a politically designed "hit job"

 

Appointed in August 2017, Dunch joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) in January 2018 as CEO. Born in Australia, she had spent the previous 20 years working in arts management and fund-raising in New York.

During her tenure, Dunch oversaw the recruitment of Simone Young as Chief Conductor and Donald Runnicles as Principal Guest Conductor. After criticism of the SSO’s lack of commissioning of new works by Australian composers particularly works by female composers, the SSO introduced its Fifty Fanfares project.

In an internal email sent to SSO employees, Dunch said it had been an honor to work alongside them "through the most challenging and difficult era in the Orchestra’s history."

Tensions have been simmering around the New South Wales government’s commitment to compensate the SSO for the two years it would be without a home during the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall renovation.

“We all know that NSW politics is a blood sport, but I have been targeted with a politically architected ‘hit job’ of the highest order across the past several years,” Dunch said.

In a personal statement issued last Friday, Dunch said she had maintained “a reluctant professional silence while suffering continued defamation and harassment behind the scenes."

"This has been an ugly undertaking and I will take appropriate action through the government anti-corrupt channels at my disposal.

“This damaging behavior by government workers must be called out and discredited. It is abhorrent and destructive. Our cultural institutions and their hardworking leaders must demand better from the people employed by our elected politicians,” she added.

Dunch also stated that she plans to remain a lifelong Sydney Symphony donor and frequent attendee.

 

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