Former Center Stage exec to head Carmel Bach Festival

Debbie Chinn, former managing director of Center Stage, has been named executive director of the Carmel Bach Festival, effective this spring.

The festival, held in July, has been a significant part of California's cultural life for 75 years and has developed a fine reputation far beyond the West Coast.

In August 2010, a few months after Irene Lewis announced she was being forced out as artistic director of Center Stage after nearly two decades, Chinn resigned from the company.

She said at the time that she wanted Center Stage to "be free to chart its own course without being confined by past practices -- even if that meant reconsidering my own position."

She had been managing day-to-day operations at the company for two years.

Chinn, who plans to move from her current home in Towson to the Carmel area in the spring, brings a wide range of experiences to her new post.

Her resume includes administrative stints with the San Francisco Symphony, California Shakespeare Theater, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and Center Theatre Group of the Music Center of Los Angeles.

She has also served on the boards of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Theatre Communications Group, and the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. 

In a statement released Wednesday, Chinn said she ...

was "deeply inspired" by Carmel Bach Festival music director Paul Goodwin's ideas for the future of "profoundly impressed by the devoted support from the Festival's ever-growing community."

Goodwin returned the compliments, saying "we connected immediately, and I'm looking forward to an exciting and fruitful partnership.”

Festival board president David Nee praised Chinn's "superb record of embracing innovation while preserving the great traditions from which it springs."


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