Music in the Mountains on Thursday named Annie Simonson the festival director. Simonson will head this summers festival and succeeds Susan Lander, who resigned in December as executive director. Landers last day will be March 30.
Simonson will give up her seat on the festivals board of directors to take the new position. She and her husband, Doug, have lived in Durango part-time for 20 years and also live in Austin, Texas.
Simonson joined the Music in the Mountains board last April and has served on the Fort Lewis College Foundation Board, the Community Foundation Board, and the Hermosa and Durango Fire Protection Authority boards. She worked for eight years as director of community relations at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort and also is a member of the Durango Friends of the Arts.
I have a passion for the festival and what it does for this town, Simonson said. Its as important a part of Durango as the train, Fort Lewis College or the beautiful mountains and rivers. I also know what it takes to put it on, and they know Im going to jump in all hands on deck right away.
Terry Bacon, president of the Music in the Mountains board of directors, said Simonson was hired for a transitional period as the board searches for a permanent replacement. Lander is leaving after 11 seasons, and Bacon said the board hopes to find similar long-term stability but that Simonson is a perfect fit in the interim. He said the difference in titles gives Simonson and the board flexibility should she decide to remain on staff with the festival when a new executive director is hired.
Annies not looking at this as a longtime career move, and our aspiration is to have an executive director with a great deal of classical music experience who has run a festival like this, Bacon said.
Of course, thats a very small pool of people, and theyre hard to find. This wasnt the time to go looking for such a person, and Annie gives us a perfect solution whether it takes one, two or three years. Shes a patron of the festival, knows everyone involved, shes well-organized with good management and people skills and a good fundraiser.
Simonson began work Thursday and will work with Lander until Lander leaves in March; shell stay on in a part-time capacity through July to assist Simonson with this years festival.
Its lessened my fear about whats going to happen next, Lander said. Once you leave an organization like this, you have no say anymore, but you still worry. Eleven years is a long time, but I feel so much better knowing Annies taking over.