When Jane Kenworthy moved to Stockton from Fairfax, Virginia in 2008, her first impressions were good ones.
"I fell in love with Stockton," said Kenworthy. "I love the diversity mix. I love the fact that there are lots of different kinds of people coming to the concert hall. Orchestras need to be open to everybody. How are we really going to democratize American orchestras in the 21st Century? I saw Stockton as the perfect place to work on that."
Over her six-year tenure, despite immense financial challenges posed by the Great Recession, Kenworthy, Maestro Peter Jaffe and the Stockton Symphony Association reached significant milestones in community engagement. Two examples include the launch of a Pops Series of concerts and the creation of Harmony Stockton, a five-day-a-week, free, after-school music education program in south Stockton. The program is modeled after the El Sistema in Venezuela and was made possible through a partnership with University of the Pacific, Stockton Unified School District, and the United Way.
"Whenever I get discouraged I go down to Marshall and watch those kids," said Kenworthy of the program which has been in place since 2011 at Marshall Elementary school. "That’s meaningful work."
Kenworthy cites the symphony's launch of Amigos for the Artes, the first Latino support group for an orchestra in the country, as another important achievement.
"I think the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that this orchestra is really now trying to reflect the diverse makeup of this city, both in the board and the programming. We are starting to look like Stockton. It’s been a really heartfelt thing for me," said Kenworthy.
“Jane has poured her life and soul into the Stockton Symphony for over six years, working more diligently and assiduously on our behalf than anyone will ever know," said Maestro Jaffe. "Her decades of experience in our field have helped to elevate our organization, sharing the joys of classical music and expanding the ways in which we contribute to the community. Her professional drive, broad knowledge, and intensity have laid the foundation for a bright future. For this we will always be grateful.”
Financial challenges facing the symphony meant Kenworthy and Jaffe were chronically understaffed. But their small group perserverance paid off in the form of major grants, including James E. Irvine Foundation grants totaling $575,000 across six years. Sponsorship contributions in 2013 rose by 50 percent compared to 2008 levels. And individual contributions in 2014 increased by 75 percent over those in 2007.
Kenworthy will step down at the end of the month, she announced at the Stockton Symphony Association’s (SSA) annual meeting June 16. Kenworthy is moving to Oregon to be closer to her son and to take over at the Ashland-based Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra.
In a news release the Stockton Symphony Association announced that several candidates have been identified as possible interim directors for the SSA, as the organization begins a national search for a new CEO.
“Stockton loves its symphony,” said Kenworthy. “In my entire career, I have not seen a more enthused or dedicated group of people than those who make up the SSA community. I’ll miss them!”