ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Fresh off its Grammy win, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra announced today a new president and CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard, effective July 1.

Bernard is not the first woman to serve in this capacity with the symphony, but a spokesman says she is the first woman CEO and president since the 1930s.

Marie-Hélène Bernard (Courtesy of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra)

Marie-Hélène Bernard (Courtesy of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra)

Since 2007, Bernard served as executive director and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, known as the nation’s oldest continuously performing arts organization. She has previously served as chief of staff, project manager, and orchestra manager for the Philadelphia Orchestra; orchestra manager for the Cleveland Orchestra; and president and CEO of the Canton (OH) Symphony Orchestra.

During her eight-year tenure at the Handel and Haydn Society, Bernard is credited with helping revive the organization artistically and financially as it approached its 200th anniversary. Under her leadership, H+H also experienced a 30 percent increase in patrons under the age of 44; a budget and an endowment that grew to almost double their original size; partnerships focused on diversity and inclusion; the release of eight titles on the CORO label, one international tour, two domestic tours and a regular local and national broadcast presence.

Barry Beracha, Chairman of the St. Louis Symphony Board of Trustees said: “Marie-Hélène Bernard brings a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience to the St. Louis Symphony. She is a strong leader with a personable, collaborative approach to communication and management. She brings many great things to this important position. I am confident she will be welcomed to St. Louis and look forward to working with her to further the development and growth of our wonderful St. Louis Symphony.”

St. Louis Symphony Music Director David Robertson said: “I am delighted in the appointment of Marie-Hélène Bernard who will be a wonderful partner in our continued success with the St. Louis Symphony. She combines high artistic ideals with a deep knowledge of the profession and a wonderfully open and engaging personality. I’m looking forward to working with her.”

Marie-Hélène Bernard said: “I am honored to join the St. Louis Symphony and to support this great American treasure. With David Robertson at the helm, some of the world’s finest orchestral players, a chorus, staff, board & volunteer association whose talent and commitment is extraordinary, and one of the most engaged audiences anywhere, St. Louis has so much of which to be proud. I am thrilled to partner with David, the board, the staff and the community to ensure that this most innovative and resilient of American orchestras continues to thrive and flourish.”

Her resume states in part that Bernard began her career in orchestra management in 1996, having won a prestigious fellowship with the League of American Orchestras. During the fellowship, she completed residencies with the New York Philharmonic and Minnesota Orchestra.

A Québec native, Bernard studied communications, media, and literature at Jean-de-Brébeuf College, law at the University of Montréal, and holds a Master’s degree in arts management from Concordia University (Montreal). She practiced corporate, tax, and intellectual property law for six years in Canada and remains a member of the Québec Bar Association. Bernard plays viola da gamba and serves as Treasurer and President-elect of Early Music America.

Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony is the second-oldest orchestra in the country and is now in its 135th season.

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