Austin Opera Announces New Board Of Trustees
Austin Opera today announced four new members have joined the Company's Board of Trustees for the 2018-2019 season: Ernest Auerbach, John English, Jonathan Sessler, and Alan Williams. Their terms began July 1, 2018.
"One of Austin Opera's greatest strengths is its passionate, committed, and generous Board," said General Director & CEO Anne Burridge. "John English, Jonathan Sessler, and Alan Williams will be wonderful stewards for the company, and we're so pleased to welcome back Ernest Auerbach. Their professional expertise and philanthropic support will be invaluable as we work together to advance the Opera's new strategic plan."
Ernest Auerbach returns to the Austin Opera Board after serving from 2010-2017, including a term as Board President from 2011-2013. Ernest, a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, and his wife Jeanette have been longtime donors and supporters of Austin Opera. He retired as a corporate general manager and held senior positions at Xerox, CIGNA, New York Life Insurance International, and AIG.
John English and his wife Janice have been donors to the Austin Opera since the 2017-2018 season. John has been passionate about opera since his experience at age 10 with Il barbiere di Siviglia. John, an eCommerce entrepreneur, currently owns several businesses and previously oversaw eCommerce for Lone Star Tangible Assets. He and his family live in Georgetown, Texas.
Jonathan Sessler is the Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry at the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is an organic chemistry professor. He holds over 75 issued patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and was the 2016 UT-Austin Inventor of the Year. Jonathan has been a committed supporter of Austin Opera since 1997, often attending performances of the company's productions numerous times.
After retiring as the CEO of Travisoft, a software solutions company he founded, Alan Williams and his wife Sandra moved to Austin to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They were introduced to Austin Opera by friends and quickly became very involved as season subscribers, giving partners, and gracious hosts to Austin Opera performers. In addition to their passionate support for the opera, the Williamses are also avid art collectors.
Founded in 1986 as the city's first professional opera company, Austin Opera employs hundreds of local and International Artists each year to produce operatic productions designed to inspire, entertain, and instigate discussion among Austin audiences. Last year, more than 15,000 individuals attended one of Austin Opera's three productions. Under the leadership of General Director & CEO Annie Burridge, the company is building a reputation for producing high quality opera across a wide range of repertoire that celebrates Austin's diversity and contributes to its thriving arts and culture. The company recently received the OPERA America Innovation Grant as well as the National Endowment for the Arts 2018 Art Works grant.
The company's education programs are built around the core productions and are administered with artistic integrity as well as social and economic diversity and inclusion. More than 11,000 Central Texans participated in educational offerings last year. Austin Opera's educational offerings include free student programs for grades K-4 and 5-12, as well as community programs for ticket holders and Central Texans who are interested in the performing arts and opera. The Austin Opera Guild assists with the expert planning and execution of many of these educational programs. The opera's other affinity groups, La Noche de Opera and UrbanNites, offer educational forums as part of the memberships.
The upcoming 2018-2019 season will feature a festive staged concert performance of Otello and fully-staged productions of Silent Night and La boheÌme. The inaugural production of the new Opera ATX artistic initiative is Soldier Songs. To learn more about Austin Opera, visit www.austinopera.org or follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter at @austinopera.