New Executive Director for Peninsula Music Festival
Peninsula Music Festival’s (PMF) hunt for an executive director ended recently when the organization hired former performing-arts consultant Scott Stolarz.
“We’re so excited to have Scott and to be able to move forward out of the COVID era with him,” said David Keen, chair of PMF’s board of directors.
Keen and the other search committee members had been actively looking for a new director for the past three months or so, but they had known the position would be open since last fall. That’s when former executive director Christoph Ptack announced he would be leaving PMF to be closer to his family in Chicago. Ptack continued working with PMF to wrap up projects and help the search committee find candidates for the position.
It was a “much easier search than we had feared,” Keen said, culminating in several excellent candidates, including Stolarz.
Stolarz is originally from Illinois and lived most recently in Indiana, but his connection to Door County goes back five generations, when his ancestors immigrated to the United States and settled in Sturgeon Bay in the 1800s.
“My grandmother and grandfather were from Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay, respectively,” he said. “I spent a good portion of my summers as a kid in Door County.”
That’s why Stolarz applied for this position and moved to the county at the end of March. It’s also one reason PMF decided to hire him, according to Keen.
“Door County is such a unique place, and you really need [to hire] people who get it,” Keen said.
And Stolarz isn’t the only new blood at PMF: Last December, the organization hired conductor Rune Bergmann as its new music director.
Parlaying a Background in Music
After graduating from Elmhurst University with a music-business degree, Stolarz worked in performing-arts management for nonprofits for more than a decade. He’s also served as an independent consultant for theater companies and, most recently, was the director of operations for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
Stolarz was a teenager when he decided to pursue music as a career, encouraged by music teachers and people in his high school’s drama department. At that point, he played classical saxophone and a few other instruments, but he never saw himself becoming a professional musician. Instead, he gravitated toward positions behind the scenes.
“Even working on musical theater productions at school, I was much more interested in how to make it happen – working on the stage crew, running a soundboard,” Stolarz said.
His varied music experience is crucial because for most of the year, he’ll be working with just one other person: operations and box office administrator Claire Erickson. This limited staff necessitates a broad skill set because he will have few people to whom to delegate, Keen said. But that’s a challenge that Stolarz embraces.
“It’s a place I love and a place that has meant a lot to my family, combined with a skill set I’ve had and cultivated over the past decade,” he said.
More Changes to Come
Keep an eye out for announcements about a new music program and a new fundraising campaign. Keen couldn’t disclose much about either at this point – only that the music program will feature new works and have a “Scandinavian flair,” in keeping with its new Norwegian music director, Rune Bergmann.