Martha Gilmer, Chief Executive Officer
Martha A. Gilmer was named Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in October 2014 and leads the institution in realizing all areas of its mission: expanding its programming, increasing its community engagement, heightening its artistic profile, and building its capacity to share transformative experiences.
Working with the Board and staff, Gilmer created the strategic plan that has been guiding the Symphony since 2016. Among the major changes she has initiated are the appointment in 2018 of the internationally acclaimed Rafael Payare as SDSO’s 13th Music Director and the appointment in 2019 of the distinguished Edo de Waart to serve as the first principal guest conductor in SDSO’s century-long history. She initiated the Symphony’s annual festival that includes partnerships with many organizations throughout the city, inaugurated the Jazz @ the Jacobs series, and rebranded the Bayside Summer Nights series. Expanding on SDSO’s summer programming and community outreach, she partnered with the Port of San Diego to develop the Symphony’s first permanent outdoor venue, The Shell®, along with integral improvements and upgrades to Embarcadero Marina Park South, while overseeing the fundraising campaign that secured 99 percent of the project cost from private sources.
Known for her history of collaborating with many of today’s most talented guest artists and composers and for her commitment to contemporary music, Gilmer has engaged leading guest artists for their San Diego premieres, commissioned new works, and presented important West Coast premieres.
Martha Gilmer came to SDSO from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where in the course of a three-decade career she rose to the position of Vice President for Artistic Planning and Audience Development. At the CSO, she developed long-term relationships with many of the most outstanding artists and composers of our time and developed a host of innovative programs connecting the orchestra with new audiences in Chicago and around the world. She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Music and has been active as an alumna, serving on the Visiting Committee and the Dean Search Committee and delivering the 2000 commencement address. She frequently writes and lectures about music.