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A veteran orchestra manager who helped JoAnn Falletta mold the Virginia Symphony Orchestra into a well-regarded regional ensemble is the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's new executive director.

Daniel Hart will leave the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, where he has been executive director for six years, to rejoin Falletta, who last week signed a three-year contract that will extend her tenure as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's music director through the 2007-08 season.

Hart's four-year contract also runs through 2007-08.

"I had the pleasure of working with Dan at the Virginia Symphony for four years and look forward to a great partnership," Falletta, who left town after conducting Sunday's season-ending performance at Artpark, said through the BPO.

The opportunity to reconnect "was too good to pass up," Hart said Tuesday from Columbus. He expects to arrive before the new concert season opens in September.

"We had a wonderful partnership in Virginia; we accomplished a lot," he said. Though the Norfolk organization faced the same fiscal challenges as most American orchestras, "we still pulled off a Carnegie Hall trip and made three recordings. And we raised some of the biggest gifts the symphony had ever received."

Hart will fit right in at the Philharmonic, predicted Angelo Fatta, orchestra board chairman.

"His years of proven success, coupled with a strong working relationship with Maestro Falletta, will ensure that the entire organization continues on its path to greatness," Fatta said.

The speedy selection of a new administrative chief, less than two months after Lawrence A. Ribits departed as president and chief executive officer, reflects the Philharmonic's return to national and international prominence under Falletta's leadership.

Hart would have been content to remain in Ohio with his wife, Barbara, and children, Allison and John, before the opportunity arose to renew his collaboration with the highly-regarded Falletta.

"Columbus is a great place to live, and we have a great orchestra with lots of irons in the fire," he said. "The Buffalo opening took me by surprise."

Hart said he was drawn to the job not only by the prospect of again working with Falletta, whom he has known for 15 years, but by the strong commitment of Fatta and other orchestra leaders.

"They hold up the BPO as a cherished institution. It's hard not to get pulled into that," he said.

Hart is credited with increasing the CSO's budget by nearly $3 million, doubling its donor base and bringing in $1.2 million in special funds for its 50th anniversary season. He also obtained the largest corporate sponsorships in orchestra history and secured a $1 million grant from the National Arts Stabilization Fund.

Hart studied double bass at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, as well as art and photography at Bradley University and the Art Institute of Chicago School. He was an instrumentalist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Rome Festival Orchestra and Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles before switching to administration 15 years ago.

He was executive director of the Baton Rouge Symphony from 1988 to 1990, the Colorado Springs Symphony from 1990 to 1994, the Virginia Symphony from 1994 to 1998 and the Columbus Symphony since 1998.


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