ashland.news
July 21, 2024

From campus to crescendo for Reperatory Singers’ new leader

Rep Singers Jessica Bailey
Southern Oregon Repertory Singers' new executive director, Jessica Bailey, left, and board member Betsy Bishop talk shop prior to a recent concert at the SOU Music Recital Hall. Jim Flint photo
November 6, 2023

Executive Director Jessica Bailey comes from a leadership post at the University of California, Santa Cruz

By Jim Flint for Ashland.news

A job with Southern Oregon Repertory Singers wasn’t in the viewfinder when Jessica Bailey and her husband took a look at moving to Ashland in 2020. After 15 years living and working in Santa Cruz, a California city of 63,000 sitting on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, they decided to opt for a setting with more of a small-town vibe.

“We were growing uncomfortable with the traffic and changing character of the city,” she said. “We looked at places with a temperate climate to relocate that were within a day’s drive of Santa Cruz (family), had a university, were great for hiking and biking, and had a vibrant art and music scene.”

Ashland checked all the boxes.

And now, three years later, Bailey has been hired as the new executive director of Rep Singers. Her predecessor, Richard Seidman, is resigning in order to pursue full-time opportunities, but worked with Bailey during a two-week transition period.

Bailey comes to Rep Singers with extensive experience in nonprofit administration and fundraising. Before moving to Ashland, she worked as assistant vice provost at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with leadership responsibility for its world-renowned arboretum, as well as its summer session, international education program and its Center for Teaching Excellence.

She has a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in political science and a Master of Public Administration degree from USC with a focus on nonprofit administration.

When she saw the announcement for the Rep Singers position, she thought her experience was a good match for the job.

“I have a passion for connecting people and for music,” she said. “I was attracted to working with the premier choral group in the area and joining an organization that is doing well.”

Believing she had the requisite skills and the energy to take on the role, she met with the board of directors.

“I was impressed with the diversity of skills and experience represented in the group and felt I could partner with the board well,” she said.

Board President Mindy Ferris and music director Paul French both expressed their delight in welcoming Bailey to the organization.

“After a months-long search, we believe we have found just the right person to lead the organization,” Ferris said.

“This is an exciting time for Repertory Singers,” French added. “Jessica has the skills to help us move into the future with confidence.”

Bailey said French’s passion for choral music is infectious.

“He has a gift for bringing music to life,” she said. “And I am impressed with the administration structure that Richard Seidman, my predecessor, has implemented. In his six-plus years at the helm, he has led the group through the pandemic and into the digital age.”

It was economics that prompted Seidman’s decision to move on.

“I need to make more income than is possible working part time,” he explained. “I will miss working for Repertory Singers, but I literally could not afford to do so any longer.”

Seidman is looking to build on his 25 years of expertise in nonprofit management and fundraising by working for an organization that inspires him and pays well.

“I’m applying for both local jobs and ones that can be done remotely. My wife and I have no intention of moving away from Ashland. I also intend to continue writing screenplays for family-friendly films with the hope of selling some of them eventually,” he said.

Seidman’s “No Seat Left Without a Behind” campaign for Rep Singers was very successful, resulting in almost completely sold-out shows in the year before the pandemic shut down the performing arts.

“Richard and I worked closely together during the transition,” Bailey said. “He is organized and generous of time and information. I expect the transition to be smooth and exciting for me.”

Bailey looks forward to helping build the future for Rep Singers.

“Once people hear the group and feel the power of a 65-person chorale singing myriad styles and languages in amazing harmony, they will be hooked,” she said. “One of my responsibilities will be to publicize the concerts and group in ways that are enticing and engaging. I see a lot of my job as meeting the people who can help ensure the long-term sustainability of Rep Singers and showing them how they can make a difference in the group’s longevity.”

Music always has been a part of Bailey’s life.

“I met my husband in a singing class,” she said. “Music is key to my health. I work out to music, and experience happiness listening to music. I look forward to sharing that passion with others.”

With the season’s first concerts, Oct. 28-29, during the transition under her belt, she is now focused on the holiday performances Dec. 16-17 at Southern Oregon University’s Music Recital Hall. “In Time of Softest Snow” will include art music, settings by familiar composers, new works and carols, both traditional and newly composed.

“I think we are all craving calm and beauty in these times,” Bailey said, “and our December concerts will provide that.”

For more information about Rep Singers concerts or to purchase tickets, go to repsingers.org.

Reach writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

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Jim

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