Springfield Symphony Orchestra Names Interim Exec. Director
Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert

January 10, 2022 — The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, a Springfield nonprofit that seeks to enrich the cultural landscape of western Massachusetts through classical music programs, last week announced it hired an interim executive director, its second since last spring, amid an ongoing dispute with the musicians’ union.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO), the largest Massachusetts symphony outside of Boston, named Paul Lambert, former vice president of enshrinement services and community engagement at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as interim executive director. He started in the position on Friday.

Lambert succeeds John Anz who left the SSO to take a position at another organization, who served since April, after Susan Beaudry stepped down after serving four years in the job to start her own business.

Paul Friedmann, vice chair of SSO’s management committee, said, “Paul is a seasoned and respected leader in the region and played a key leadership role at the Basketball Hall of Fame,” noting that Lambert “is acutely aware of how important local entertainment and arts institutions like the Hall of Fame and the Symphony contribute to the quality of our lives in Western Massachusetts.”

Lambert, a longtime SSO subscriber, said, “Through good faith and creative problem solving, I look forward to the return of wonderful, live symphonic music to the stage at Symphony Hall.”

The SSO, which last performed publicly in Springfield Symphony Hall in March 2020, has been deadlocked over a new contract with the musicians’ union, which, the Management Committee suggested could affect the organization’s viability.

“The core of the SSO’s dispute with the union is whether the SSO should have the operational flexibility to permit its long-term survival,” the Management Committee wrote in a recently published open letter published.

According to the Management Committee, increasing operational losses over time, resulting in withdrawals from the SSO’s endowment beyond those planned to cover operational losses, totaled $3.1 million for the 2016-17 through 2019-20 seasons.

Unrestricted funds as a portion of SSO’s total endowment have declined from 61% of the endowment in 2011 to 33% by 2020, the Management Committee said, noting, “At the rate of operational losses the SSO has been incurring, the unrestricted funds will be exhausted in the next few years.”

Compounding the financial picture has been a steady decline in concert attendance “over many years,” with fewer than half of the seats in Symphony Hall being filled for classical concerts before the pandemic.

Before working in the basketball industry, Lambert served as general manager of the Cape Playhouse in Dennis for seven years, and as executive director of the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut. He also served as a production stage manager for many years.

Lambert serves on a number of local boards and community organizations, including the National Conference for Community and Justice; former board chair of New England Public Media; The Loomis Communities; and on the boards of The Cape Cod Center for the Arts, the South Hadley Cultural Council, Longmeadow UNICO, and the Springfield Rotary.

Lambert earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater from Boston College.