La Jolla Music Society president Kristen Lancino resigns: National search on for a replacement as The Conrad construction on Fay Avenue continues

Kristin Lancino, president and artistic director of the La Jolla Music Society (LJMS), has resigned, the Society’s board chair said Monday.

Lancino’s abrupt departure, which was formally announced Tuesday, comes barely two years after she was hired. It will become effective Friday and was by mutual agreement, according to board chair Katherine Chapin.

No specific reason was given for Lacino’s resignation, which is attributed to “personal reasons” in a two-paragraph statement issued by the 50-year-old nonprofit arts organization. “Lancino is currently assisting the organization with the transition process,” it reads in part. “A search committee will be formed to seek new leadership.”

Lancino replaced Christopher Beach in late 2015; he is now a part-time consultant for LJMS’ construction of its new, $78 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center at 7600 Fay Ave. in La Jolla, which is set to open in early 2019.

Lancino did not respond to phone and e-mail messages.

Her sudden departure stunned Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin, who for the past 18 years has been music director of SummerFest, the annual chamber music festival produced by LJMS.

“I only learned about this Sunday, so I’m just as surprised as the next person by this news and am still digesting the ramifications,” Lin said Monday night from his Houston home. He praised Lancino for her “great musicality.”

Her imminent departure comes only months, Lin noted, after he told LJMS he will resign in August as SummerFest’s director — news that until now has not been made public. That leaves LJMS with two key vacancies to fill.

“I hope that, by the time I step down in late August, a new president and artistic director has been found,” Lin said. “And somebody will have to announce the new music director. So I guess a lot will happen in the next six to eight months while the construction of our new performing arts center is going on.”

Asked if Lancino’s departure is a setback, board chair Chapin replied: “Absolutely not.”

“We will be continuing forward,” said Chapin, who proudly noted the organization has already raised $70 million for its new arts center on Fay Avenue. “It’s definitely business as usual.”

Chapin added that regarding the board’s search for a new president and artistic director: “We’ll be looking for someone who can help move the organization forward in different ways than we have in our 50-year history, and that is because we now will have a performing arts center and the position will require a much different skill set.

“We are at a comfortable level, in terms of where we should be, building The Conrad, and we just recently launched a public fundraising campaign. And some of the things Kristin put into place in her tenure here have long legs and will continue to reach into the future.”

In a conversation with La Jolla Light, Debra Palmer, LJMS board liaison and executive assistant to the president and artistic director said: “I can reiterate that our operations and presentations will move forward without interruption during the transition thanks to our very strong staff and board oversight.

“We look forward to the outstanding concert lineup remaining in our current season, moving into our new home in The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in 2019, and presenting continued musical excellence to our audiences.”

Palmer said inquiries about the position could be e-mailed to her at

Susan DeMaggio contributed to this report.