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The Cleveland Orchestra Board of Trustees elects Richard K. Smucker as new President

Following more than seven years as President, Dennis W. LaBarre passes leadership to Smucker and assumes office as Board Chairman

Cleveland, OH – At its regular meeting on Friday, March 3, 2017, The Cleveland Orchestra‘s Board of Trustees elected long-time board member Richard K. Smucker to be the organization’s thirteenth Board President.  In this role, he will oversee direction and governance for The Cleveland Orchestra, working with the Board’s officers, Executive Committee, and Trustees, alongside the Orchestra’s Executive Director, André Gremillet, and Music Director, Franz Welser-Möst.  Mr. Smucker was first elected to the Orchestra’s Board of Trustees in 1989.

Mr. Smucker succeeds Dennis W. LaBarre, who has led the group as Board President since 2009.  Mr. LaBarre has served on the board for 29 years, and in his role as Board President helped the Orchestra successfully navigate a recession, strengthened relationships between the members of the Orchestra and Board, oversaw successful negotiations of labor agreements as well as the extension of Franz Welser-Möst’s contract, and led the search for a new Executive Director, all while being an exemplary ambassador for the board and organization across the country and around the world.  As part of the planned succession and leadership transition, Mr. LaBarre was elected as Board Chairman on Friday. 

Richard J. Bogomolny, who served as President for eight years and most recently as Chairman for the past fifteen years, was honored with the title Chairman Emeritus, a first in the Orchestra’s history.  Both Mr. LaBarre and Mr. Bogomolny will remain actively involved in the Board’s ongoing work to support and promote The Cleveland Orchestra, and to help shape and ensure its future success.

The Cleveland Orchestra is making plans to celebrate its centennial and launch into its Second Century.  Mr. Smucker has chaired the group’s Centennial Planning Committee and the Orchestra is announcing details of its 100th season for 2017-18 at a special event at Severance Hall on March 17. 

“I am first and foremost indebted to everyone who has come before me,” commented Richard K. Smucker, upon his election as President.  “There is no better or finer orchestra in the world than The Cleveland Orchestra, and that is due not just to the extraordinary talent and dedication onstage, but to the ongoing support and generosity of this community, and to the incredible hard work of staff members, Board members, and volunteers across a century of excellence.  I am appreciative to have been chosen to help lead this great institution forward into what I know will be an extraordinary future.  I am also so very thankful to have such great partners for the years ahead, including Franz Welser-Möst and André Gremillet — and all my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, most especially the untiring efforts and far-sighted work that Richard Bogomolny and Dennis LaBarre have brought in their leadership roles.”

“It has been and will always be a privilege and an honor to serve this extraordinary institution,” said Dennis W. LaBarre.  “As I hand the presidency to Richard K. Smucker, I remain fully committed to The Cleveland Orchestra and its success, and will be actively involved as Chairman as we move forward into a Second Century of great music and great pride for our community — here at home and across the globe.  Our work together is truly a team effort, and I am thankful to all my teammates, past, present, and future.”

“There is no institution or organization dearer to my heart than The Cleveland Orchestra,” said Richard J. Bogomolny.  “I will continue to do everything I can to support The Cleveland Orchestra’s unrivalled success, for future generations and for the greater good and enrichment of this community.”

“I would like to extend very special and sincere thanks to the leaders who have carried The Cleveland Orchestra forward to today and who will help take us onward into the future,” said Executive Director André Gremillet.  “Dick Bogomolny’s selfless efforts and passionate commitment are testament to the kind of leadership and excellence that permeates this institution, onstage and off.  Dennis LaBarre has been a highly successful president across the past decade.  He has brought us forward with earnest foresight and clear-headed vision, and I am most grateful for his partnership and support over the past fourteen months.  Richard Smucker brings experience and dedication, an outstanding record as a successful businessman and community leader, and a deep understanding and drive to inspire us forward into an extraordinary Second Century.  It will truly be a privilege to be working with him in the years to come.  All three remain with us, through a planned process for orderly leadership transition, which has long been one of The Cleveland Orchestra’s greatest strengths.  Franz Welser-Möst and I could not ask for better partners for the exceptional adventures that the future will bring.”

Artistic, Board, and Administrative Leadership at The Cleveland Orchestra

Almost alone among America’s top symphony orchestras, The Cleveland Orchestra has a long tradition of leadership continuity across all three institutional arenas — artistic, board, and staff.  In 99 years, the Orchestra has been led by only seven Music Directors, thirteen board Presidents, and eight Executive Directors.  Such long tenures and continuity, coupled with well-planned and orderly transitions at each level, have helped deliver a remarkable cohesion and stable platform of planning and support for the Orchestra as it rose to national and international fame to become, and continue as, one of the world’s greatest and most-acclaimed music ensembles.  Franz Welser-Möst became the Orchestra’s seventh Music Director in 2002, with his contract now extending beyond 2020.  André Gremillet joined the Orchestra as Executive Director in January 2016, succeeding Gary Hanson, who had served as the Orchestra’s eighth staff executive from 2004 to the end of 2015.


Officers of the Board of Trustees (as of March 3, 2017)

Richard K. Smucker, President
Dennis W. LaBarre, Chairman
Richard J. Bogomolny, Chairman Emeritus
The Honorable John D. Ong, Vice President
Norma Lerner, Honorary Chair
Hewitt B. Shaw, Secretary
Beth E. Mooney, Treasurer

Presidents, The Cleveland Orchestra Board of Trustees

D.Z. Norton, 1915-21
John L. Severance, 1921-36
Dudley S. Blossom, 1936-38
Thomas L. Sidlo, 1939-53,
Percy W. Brown, 1953-55,
Frank E. Taplin Jr., 1955-57,
Frank E. Joseph, 1957-68,
Alfred M. Rankin, 1968-83,
Ward Smith, 1983-95,
Richard J. Bogomolny, 1995-2002, 2008-09 (Chairman, 2002-17)
James D. Ireland III, 2002-08
Dennis W. LaBarre, 2009-17
Richard K. Smucker, 2017 forward

Richard K. Smucker

Richard K. Smucker is Executive Chairman of The J.M. Smucker Company, an $8 billion food and beverage manufacturer and marketer of iconic North American brands including Smucker's®, Jif®, Folgers®, Pillsbury®, Crisco®, and in pet food and pet snacks, Meow Mix®, Milk Bone®, Kibbles ’n Bits®, 9Lives®, and many more. 

The J.M. Smucker Company was founded more than a century ago by Mr. Smucker’s great-grandfather, Jerome Smucker, and has been honored numerous times on FORTUNE magazine’s annual listing of 100 Best Companies to Work For, ranking first in 2004.  

He has held a variety of board and trustee positions, including with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, The Sherwin-Williams Company, International Multifoods Corporation, Wm. Wrigley, Jr. Company, and Buttonwood Capital Partners.  He is a past chairman and trustee of the Miami University Board of Trustees and is trustee emeritus of The Culinary Institute of America. 

He and his brother, Tim, were recognized by MarketWatch as CEOs of the year for 2009.

Mr. Smucker received his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Commerce and Finance and his bachelor’s degree in finance from Miami University of Ohio, and served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1970 to 1976.

Biographies of Richard J. Bogomolny and Dennis W. LaBarre are available upon request.

About The Cleveland Orchestra
Under the direction of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, the New York Times has declared Cleveland to be the “best American orchestra” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like cohesion.  The Cleveland Orchestra divides its time each year across concert seasons at home in Cleveland’s Severance Hall and each summer at Blossom Music Center.  Additional portions of the year are devoted to touring and performance residencies around the world.  These include an annual set of concerts in Miami, a biennial residency at Vienna’s Musikverein, and regular appearances at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival, in New York, and at Indiana University.  Through concerts, tours, recordings, radio broadcasts, and internet streaming, the Orchestra is heard each year by millions of fans around the world.


The Cleveland Orchestra was created in 1918 by the Musical Arts Association, a non-profit corporation founded in 1915 to promote the presentation of live symphonic music in Cleveland.  The Cleveland Orchestra became the Association’s only focus going forward, with strong leadership and community generosity enabling the ensemble to quickly grow from a respected regional group to national fame and then international acclaim.  Today, the Orchestra is run by a professional staff under the guidance of the organization’s Board of Trustees.  The Orchestra’s fame and acclaim have continued to grow and flourish, with the institution outlining a series of ambitious goals for its Second Century — to build upon its legendary musical excellence, to develop the youngest audience of any orchestra, to focus on fully serving the communities where it performs through concerts, engagement, and music education, to strengthen its business acumen and financial strength, and to embrace  innovation and technology in support of its musical mission to engage people of all ages through the power of music to enrich lives and inspire minds, to foster learning and understanding, and to spark creativity and imagination.


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