La Jolla Music Society: Leah Rosenthal named its new artistic director


Leah Rosenthal has been named artistic director of La Jolla Music Society, where she is a proven veteran with more than a decade of achievements to her credit. She is the first person to be named as the organization’s artistic director who isn’t concurrently serving as its president or CEO.

Rosenthal was hired by the 51-year-old society in 2008 and became its director of artistic planning and education in 2011. She has served as its director of programming since 2016. She was instrumental in booking last year’s opening season at the nonprofit LJMS’s $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center on Fay Avenue.

“Basically, in my new position, I’m doing a lot of what I’ve been doing the last couple of years. The change in title (reflects that) my role will now be more external and that I’ll have greater visibility in the community and play a greater role in fund-raising. I’m so honored,” said Rosenthal, speaking from the North Park home she shares with her husband and two children.

“Also, we’re doing a five-year strategic plan, and my role will change as we grow. We’re looking to increase the breadth of our programming, our connection to the community and how we use different spaces at The Conrad.”

Rosenthal’s selection was hailed by LJMS board chair Steve Baum, and by Inon Barnatan, music director of the annual SummerFest.

“We (named) Leah artistic director to recognize her excellent work in programming for LJMS and to give her the appropriate title in dealing with arts organizations, artists’ managers and agents, and to assist her in raising funding for our programs,” Baum said via e-mail.

The New York-based Barnatan said in a statement issued by LJMS: “We owe a lot of the success and brilliance of the past seasons to her vision and taste, and she has been an indispensable partner to me with SummerFest. ... I look forward to many more years of artistic collaboration.”

A New Jersey native who grew up in Chicago, Rosenthal has a bachelor’s degree in voice performance and a master’s in arts management. Prior to starting her tenure in La Jolla, she held various positions with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, PBS, the Chicago International Film Festival, the Ravinia Festival and the Chicago chapter of The Recording Academy, under whose auspices the Grammy Awards are presented.

Rosenthal has provided invaluable artistic continuity for LJMS, which has seen three new CEOs come and go since the start of 2018. She praised her staff and looked optimistically — and pragmatically — to a post-coronavirus future.

“Like many arts organizations, we are focused on what is happening right now, but the most exciting thing we’re doing is looking to the future,” she said. “We are looking to reschedule the artists we had booked for this spring to this summer or next year. And we are actively moving forward, with all the might we can, to SummerFest in August. Not only are Inon and I finalizing the programming, we are also looking at all the travel and housing logistics for the musicians coming here, even though we realize there may be delays.

“In the next month or so, we’ll announce our 2020-21 season. We will also continue to present artists at other venues, such as our dance series at the Balboa Theatre. And, as part of our new strategic plan, we’ll be expanding our programming to include a multidisciplinary series and a World Music series, while keeping our classical-music core.”

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