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Joseph Specter Named General Director of Austin Lyric Opera

AUSTIN — Austin Lyric Opera (ALO) today announced the appointment of Joseph Specter as general director.

Specter, who was selected by the ALO Board of Directors after an extensive national search, is an experienced administrator who draws from a deep understanding of the arts and corporate environments. He will begin work with the Opera on April 16, 2012.

Specter comes to ALO from the Metropolitan Opera, where he has served as director of institutional relations since 2010. Prior to the Met, he was a senior client service associate at the investment firm Lord Abbett & Co., where he worked with institutional investors in the marketing and relationship management areas.

“We believe we have found an extraordinary talent and a wonderful person in Joe Specter,” Jo Anne Christian, chair of the board, said. “His skill and enthusiasm make him an ideal leader of ALO and a great asset to the Austin arts community.”

A former professional baritone, Specter earned an artist diploma from Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, and is a graduate of the double-degree program between Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music. During his career as a singer, Specter performed more than 20 opera and musical theater roles with companies throughout the United States. In 2009, Specter founded Lucy’s Brother, a company that creates novel music publishing products, seeking to make opera accessible to a broader audience and to provide valuable tools to working singers and teachers. He named the company after Lucia’s brother Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor—the first opera he ever saw and the first leading role he sang in his career.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join this wonderful company, which has played such a vital role in the arts in Austin for the past quarter century,” Specter said. “I greatly look forward to working with Maestro Buckley, the ALO staff, and the Board of Directors as the company begins this exciting new chapter.”

Specter will move to Austin with his wife Kate and two daughters, ages 4 years and 9 months.

“Joe Specter is the perfect person to lead ALO as we embark on our next 25 years,” Wendi Kushner, who headed the general director search committee, said. “His enthusiasm and passion for the art form is sure to resonate with Austin audiences.”

Richard Buckley, artistic director and principal conductor, said, “I am pleased to welcome Joe to the company and enthusiastically look forward to working with him. He and I share a passion for the art form and a commitment to take Austin Lyric Opera to new levels of artistic accomplishment and institutional strength.”

Kevin Smith, former president and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Opera, who came on board in July 2011 as Austin Lyric Opera’s interim general director, will continue his work as an advisor and consultant during the transition.

Now in its 25th Anniversary Season, Austin Lyric Opera was founded in 1986 by Joseph McClain and the late Dr. Walter Ducloux. Austin Lyric Opera, along with Ballet Austin and Austin Symphony Orchestra, is one of the founding resident companies of The Long Center, Austin’s creative home. More information about ALO is available online, austinlyric.wpengine.com.

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