Grand Rapids Symphony appoints Peter Perez as interim President and CEO

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Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
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GRAND RAPIDS, MI, December 13, 2016 – Grand Rapids Symphony has appointed Peter M. Perez, a longtime symphony supporter and immediate past board chairperson, as interim President and CEO, succeeding Peter Kjome, who is leaving the Symphony to become President and CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Perez, owner and Chairman of Carter Products Company in Grand Rapids, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s administrative staff while its Board of Directors begins the search for a permanent executive director of the orchestra.

Perez, who begins his duties on Thursday, Jan. 5, will continue as interim executive until the arrival of his permanent replacement. Kjome, who has served the Grand Rapids Symphony for eight years as President and CEO, begins work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 1.

The Indiana native, who formerly was President of two world-famous musical instrument manufacturers, C.G. Conn, and Steinway & Sons, is a retired U.S. Navy officer who served his country more recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing in the Department of Commerce in Washington from 2010-2012.

In 1990, Perez and his wife, Carroll, became owners of Carter Products, a family-owned business producing accessory equipment for the industrial woodworking machinery industry.

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Board of Directors invited Perez to take the helm of the orchestra he served as Board Chairperson from 2013-2015 during which the orchestra appointed Bob Bernhardt as Principal Pops Conductor.

“I can’t imagine anyone better qualified or more experienced to serve as interim President and CEO,” said GRS Board Chairperson Kate Pew Wolters. “Peter’s executive experience for more than a quarter of a century in Grand Rapids as owner and Chairman of Carter Products is legendary within the woodworking machinery industry.”

“His personal commitment to the Grand Rapids Symphony is second-to-none,” Wolters said. “He was Board Chairperson last year during LiveArts, the biggest, one-day performing arts experience Grand Rapids has seen in decades. And for four years, he co-chaired our successful Legacy of Excellence Campaign that offers a promise of financial security for the Grand Rapids Symphony for the future.”

“We couldn’t be happier that Peter has agreed once again to pour his heart and soul into one of the premiere organizations that makes Grand Rapids the wonderful community it is,” Wolters said.

Perez, who is a Director of the Grand Valley State University Foundation and has served as a board member and executive committee member of The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, said he’s pleased to lead the organization as it undertakes its search for Kjome’ successor.

“The Grand Rapids Symphony has accomplished so much in the past year, and the people of West Michigan can take pride in having one of the finest regional orchestras in the country here in their hometown,” Perez said. “Now we’re ready to make the most of these accomplishments. We’ve got an enthusiastic Pops Conductor in Bob Bernhardt and now a dynamic, new music director in Marcelo Lehninger. They both have some exciting ideas on the drawing board, and we can’t wait to write the next chapter in the Grand Rapids Symphony’s story.”

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Board of Directors has named its Chairperson Elect Charles Frayer, Office Managing Partner with Crowe Horwath LLP, and its Vice Chairperson Mary Tuuk, Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer with Meijer, Inc. to lead the search for the next President and CEO. Tuuk also co-chaired the recent Music Director Search Committee that recommended Marcelo Lehninger to the full Board for appointment as Music Director.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s Presidential Search Committee, which will include musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony, members of its board of directors and administrative staff, and members of the community, will begin its work at the start of the New Year.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are given each year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities all reached through extensive education and community service programs. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. GRS provides the orchestra for performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet and sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, which returns in March 2017.

To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit the website or

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