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New York City Opera Names Charles R. Wall as Next Chairman of the Board of Directors

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New York City Opera Names Charles R. Wall as Next Chairman of the Board of Directors

(New York, NY, September 16, 2010) Today, the Board of Directors of New York City Opera announced that Charles R. Wall was unanimously elected Chairman of the Board effective December 16, 2010. Mr. Wall, who previously served on City Opera’s board from 2001 to 2008, will succeed Susan L. Baker, who will step down as Chairman after seven years of dedicated service.
Mr. Wall will become Chairman-Designate as of today and will work closely with Ms. Baker and New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director George Steel to ensure an effective transition in all areas, including board development, fundraising, governance and the ongoing implementation of the strategic plan for the company.
“We on the Board are thrilled to have Chuck Wall at the helm,” stated Susan Baker. “He loves music, is committed to excellence and has a long and happy history with the company. His keen intelligence and clear thinking will ensure that the Board and the company are strategically positioned to meet the challenges of today’s difficult environment and to continue to deliver innovative and excellent opera to our audiences. I look forward to working with Chuck and George Steel to ensure a smooth transition to Chuck’s tenure.”
“I am excited to be returning to the New York City Opera family at such an important moment in the company’s history,” Mr. Wall stated. “City Opera is essential to the fabric of this city’s culture. My job as Chairman will be to ensure the best management and board team that City Opera can possibly have, so that our artistic team can focus on what they do best—developing the quality of performances and programs that are going to energize the public.”
George Steel commented, “Chuck Wall understands the human dynamics of this organization and values the contribution that each person can bring toward making City Opera great. It is especially exciting to have him assume our Chairmanship at a moment when we have strengthened and expanded the board, giving City Opera renewed vigor as we make the plans we have developed a reality.”
Six new members have joined the Board of City Opera since George Steel began his tenure in early 2009. In addition to Mr. Wall, they are Catherine Gillis Carmody, Michael E. Gellert, Jonathan Sheffer and most recently Roy Niederhoffer and Martin Oppenheimer, who began their service with today’s board meeting.
Chuck Wall retired as Vice Chairman of Philip Morris International in June 2010. He began his career as an associate and later a partner in the law firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked from 1970 to 1990. He joined Altria Group, Inc., a long-time corporate supporter of New York City Opera, in 1990 as Vice President and Associate General Counsel.  In 1994, he was appointed Senior Vice President, Litigation, and in May 1995 he assumed additional responsibilities as Deputy General Counsel. Mr. Wall served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Altria from February 2000 through March 2008. He was named Vice Chairman of Philip Morris International in March 2008 when the company was spun off from Altria Group, Inc. In November, 2008, he assumed the additional position of General Counsel of Philip Morris International, serving in that capacity through February 2010.
Mr. Wall received a B.A. in history from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1967 and attended the University of Missouri Law School, from which he received a J.D. in 1970. A lifelong music enthusiast, he credits his father with giving him his first exposure to musical theater by taking him to the St. Louis Municipal Opera, where he saw works he was to see again much later at New York City Opera. Mr. Wall is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Aspen Music Festival and School. In addition to his service to City Opera, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California.
Imaginative, adventurous, accessible, American and young, New York City Opera was founded with the purpose of making great opera available to a modern, popular audience, and of keeping opera great by maintaining a modern, popular touch. For more than sixty years, since Mayor Fiorello La Guardia established its reputation as “The People’s Opera,” the company has stayed true to its original promise: introducing generation after generation of young singers who are stars in the making, bringing the public exciting new works and compelling, fresh interpretations of classics, acting as a champion for American composers and performers and ensuring that today’s opera, and tomorrow’s, can be a part of everyone’s life. City Opera’s expansive repertoire spans five centuries, from the Baroque operas that have become signature productions to commissioned works by some of today’s most important composers. The company has given its audiences 29 world premieres to date, as well as 61 U.S. or New York premieres. City Opera also helps to generate future repertoire through its annual VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab, presenting free public readings of previously unproduced works performed by City Opera’s soloists, orchestra and chorus.
A pioneer in restoring dramatic urgency and theatrical flair to opera performance, City Opera is celebrated for its marriage of first-rate acting and singing, in stagings that bring new insights and new life to the repertoire. An advocate for emerging directors and designers and extraordinary new singers, City Opera is the place where opera engages the heart, the mind and the imagination. And with its innovative programs—such as concert series that explore the non-operatic works of composers represented during the season—City Opera is breaking new ground in the way opera is brought to audiences. Audiences throughout the world have learned to look to New York City Opera as a showcase for young artists. To date, the company has helped launch the careers of more than 3,000 singers, including stars such as José Carreras, Phyllis Curtin, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Lauren Flanigan, Elizabeth Futral, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano, Bejun Mehta, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Gianna Rolandi, Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, Tatiana Troyanos and Carol Vaness.
More than one-quarter of City Opera’s tickets cost $25 or less. City Opera does not just reach a diverse and committed audience by being affordable, but the company also builds tomorrow’s audiences by being a national model in arts education: presenting lectures and workshops, offering family programs and conducting an in-school education program that serves thousands of students each year throughout the New York metropolitan area.
City Opera makes its home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in the recently renovated David H. Koch Theater. The company is proud to be a part of the world’s greatest campus for the performing arts, and to perform in a landmark Philip Johnson-designed theater with state-of-the-art performance capabilities and comfort.