July 23, 2024

He saw a sign — and it beckoned him to the Rogue Valley Symphony

New Rogue Valley Symphony operations manager Asadour Santourian stands below the awning that caught his attention when he visited Ashland last year. He assumed his new position July 1. Jim Flint photo
July 10, 2024

RVS hires Asadour Santourian, an Aspen Music Festival veteran, as operations manager

By Jim Flint for

Chalk one up for customized awnings.

Asadour Santourian, Rogue Valley Symphony’s new operations manager, was visiting Ashland last year, saw the RVS awning over its office on Lithia Way, and stopped in to introduce himself.

“He checked us out, decided this is where he wanted to live, and applied for the opening we had at the time,” said Joelle Graves, RVS executive director.

“Well, here we are now with his living in Ashland and accepting the position. We are pinching ourselves. He is delightful,” she said.

All the pinching going on may be due to the platinum credentials he brings to the position.

Recognized as a creative programmer, career strategist and successful consultant, Santourian was vice president of artistic administration and artistic adviser of the Aspen Music Festival and School for 18 years. He also was artistic director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

He also has served as a member of the Recommendation Board of the Avery Fischer Career Grants, a lecturer for the L.A. Philharmonic, director of artistic planning for the Minnesota Orchestra, a member of several international musical competition juries, and along the way has garnered seven ASCAP awards for “adventurous programming of contemporary music.”

Santourian, 66, replaces former operations manager Juan Gallastegui, who became executive director of the Bremerton (Washington) WestSound Symphony July 1.

Valley’s amenities a draw

The charm and amenities of Southern Oregon were not insignificant in Santourian’s decision to apply for the job.

“Visiting Rogue Valley last July made a deep and positive impression on me,” he said. “The expanse of scenic splendor, the friendly people, the opportunities for live theater and live music of all sorts, and the many wonderful bookstores all gave me a sense of the area.”

“The Rogue Valley Symphony is poised on the threshold of growth and development.”

— Asadour Santourian, RVS operations manager

He hopes to build on the symphony’s past while adding his own approach, working in partnership with Music Director Martin Majkut, Executive Director Graves and the rest of the RVS team.

“The Rogue Valley Symphony is poised on the threshold of growth and development,” he said.

He believes his Colorado experience prepares him well for the challenges and opportunities presented by RVS. The Rogue Valley reminds him of Aspen’s location in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“The most important elements I learned there were collaboration, cooperation and the importance of relevance to the community and to the constituency,” he said.

He says those things can help identify what the community is looking for, and how RVS can respond through innovation and programming.

A musical family

Santourian is Armenian by birth and heritage. He was educated in Lebanon and Massachusetts. Both his parents loved music and enjoyed singing.

“My dad possessed a beautiful singing voice and my maternal grandfather similarly was musically gifted,” he said. “I inherited my love of music from both parents.”

Santourian studied piano and voice from an early age, and he chose a university with a strong music program to pursue his love of music. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Boston University’s School for the Arts (now College of Fine Arts).

He looks forward to getting better acquainted with the communities RVS serves, and plans to trek some of the area’s wooded trails during his free time.

“I enjoy moderately level hiking, and that’s one of the reasons for my relocation,” he said.

Patrons will have an opportunity to meet Santourian at the season opener. He’ll be among those greeting attendees of RVS’s summer pops concert, “Hollywood’s Greatest Hits,” Aug. 23-25 at Medford’s Craterian Theater.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Freelance writer Jim Flint is a retired newspaper publisher and editor. Email him via

Related story: Curtain Call: Rogue Valley Symphony is going to the movies (July 11, 2024)

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