Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s David Renfro Selected for League of American Orchestra’s Emerging Leaders Program

David Renfro is one of only nine participants in the League of American Orchestras’ Emerging Leaders Program. Viewed by the field as one of the best sources of identifying talented administrators with great leadership potential, the program is the flagship of the League’s leadership development offerings. The program, along with its previous iteration, the Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, has advanced the development of more than 180 alumni, from 25 current executive directors of orchestras to countless senior executives.

“We are very excited that David Renfro was selected for this program,” said Arkansas Symphony Orchestra CEO Christina Littlejohn. “The ASO is fortunate that David chose to give his gifts and talents as a horn player and administrator to the ASO. The training from this program will further David’s ability to lead the ASO to new heights.”

“Identifying and developing high-potential leaders has been a core commitment of the League since the organization’s earliest days, commented League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen. “The cultivation of leaders who can help orchestras adapt to the rapid changes in our society remains at the heart of our mission.”

The participants were selected through a competitive application process and were chosen based on their potential to make significant contributions to their orchestras and to the field as a whole.

The nine men and women will take part in both in-person and virtual seminars and have the opportunity to learn from top leaders in the field. Their ten-month experience, beginning this month, will culminate with a joint presentation with the program participants at the League of American Orchestras’ 2017 National Conference in Detroit. Renowned leadership development expert John McCann is the lead faculty and facilitator of the Emerging Leaders Program.

The 2016-17 Emerging Leaders Program participants are:

Nora Brady, Associate Director, Sales and Marketing, Los Angeles Philharmonic
Benjamin Cadwallader, Executive Director, Vermont Symphony Orchestra
Susan Lape, Executive Director, Lake Forest Symphony
Elisabeth Madeja, Director of Marketing, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
David Renfro, Director of Operations, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Kathryn Rudolph, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Jacksonville Symphony
Amanda Stringer, CEO, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra
Jodi Weisfield, Vice President of Development, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Randy Wong, Executive Director, Hawaii Youth Symphony

Bios and photos are linked here.

The Emerging Leaders Program is the newest chapter in the League’s history of distinguished talent leadership programs for American orchestras. These programs have included the Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, the Executive Leadership Programs, Institutional Vision and Critical Issues programs, American Conducting Fellowship Program, and Essentials of Orchestra Management.

The inaugural 2015-16 class of the Emerging Leaders Program included Caleb Baily, Executive Director, Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra (was Orchestra Manager Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, Nebraska, when he participated); Jennifer Behr, Director of Patron Engagement, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (was Individual Giving Manager when she participated); Nicholas Cohen, General Manager, OrchKids and Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Bradley Evans, Assistant Orchestra Personnel Manager, San Francisco Symphony; Yoo-Jin Hong, Director of Programs, Learning and Leadership Development, League of American Orchestras (was Director of Civic Orchestra and Training Programs Chicago Symphony Orchestra when she participated); and Rebecca Zabinski, Manager, Artistic Administrator, Houston Symphony (was Artistic Associate when she participated).

The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, David Renfro is the Director of Operations for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Little Rock. He received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Horn Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In 2005, he moved to Little Rock when he became the Principal Horn of the ASO, a position he continues to hold. In addition to performing, David taught horn and chamber music at Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University through 2009, when he was hired to be the ASO’s Orchestra Personnel Manager. In 2010, he became the Orchestra Personnel and Operations Manager and in 2016, the Director of Operations for the ASO. During his time overseeing the ASO’s operations, the organization has enjoyed exceptional camaraderie between the musicians and management, a growth in the quality of the orchestra through revamped recruitment and nationally advertised auditions, multiple successful and mutually respectful musician CBA negotiations, and has ended each fiscal year in the black, in part due to careful budgetary planning and execution. During this time, the ASO successfully navigated two seasons performing outside of its home concert hall during major renovations, which included extensive budgetary and technical planning for performances in a wide variety of venues across the state.

As a musician, David has also performed with the Memphis, Illinois, Missouri, Owensboro, Greenville, and Texarkana Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. In addition to his work as an orchestra musician, David maintains an active teaching studio and performs regularly as a chamber musician and soloist. His students consistently place at the top in their regions, and many have been accepted to competitive national music festivals and conservatories. He is a member of the woodwind quintet, Etesian Winds, as well as the ASO brass quintet. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette lauded David’s performances as soloist in Richard Strauss’s Horn Concerto No. 2 with the ASO as “sparkling” and a “musical glory”. David also gave the Arkansas premiere of American composer James Beckel’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated concerto for horn, “The Glass Bead Game,” with the Henderson State University Wind Ensemble. Other recent solo engagements have included Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 297b with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra and Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4, K. 495 with both the Arkansas and Missouri Symphony Orchestras. His primary teachers have included Myron Bloom, Michael Hatfield, and Richard Seraphinoff.

About Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 50th season in 2016-2017, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, to which the ASO returns in November of 2016 after a two-year renovation of the historic structure. ASO performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, Intimate Neighborhood Concerts, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit