Joseph Kluger, president of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1989, will step down on August 31, the orchestra announced.
Kluger has accepted a position with AEA Consulting, an arts consulting firm.
“It has been a privilege to serve this great orchestra and to work with such an unparalleled group of virtuoso musicians, under the leadership and vision of music directors Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Christoph Eschenbach, three of the finest conductors in the world today," Kluger said in a statement. "Because of our collective achievements, I believe it is the right time to make a transition."
“Joe Kluger’s knowledge and passion for music has been the foundation of our partnership since I became music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra,” said Eschenbach, the orchestra's current conductor. “Joe and I have had a wonderful relationship from the very beginning of the recruitment process right up until today, and I know this will continue. Joe’s departure is a loss to the symphony world."
Under Kluger's leadership, the Philadelphia Orchestra hired Sawallisch and Eschenbach, moved into its new home at the Kimmel Center, and, most recently, signed an innovative recording contract with the Finnish label Ondine. According to the orchestra, the ensemble's budget, endowment, and contributions all rose dramatically during his tenure.
At the same time, however, the ensemble struggled with deficits. Musicians went on strike in 1996 and nearly walked out again in 2004 during lengthy contract negotiations.
Despite the two bitter labor disputes, cellist John Koen, chair of the Philadelphia Orchestra Members' Committee, joined in wishing Kluger well. "After the 1996 strike Joe and I worked increasingly closely on orchestra business and I have come to appreciate his many talents and abilities,” Koen said. "I have learned a great deal about leadership by observing him."
Kluger suggested in his own statement that the consulting position was a transitional move. "While I have not decided whether my next position will be in the arts, academia, consulting, or something more commercial," he said, "it is the right time in my life to find another arena in which to apply the skills and experience I have acquired during a 27-year career in orchestra management."
According to the orchestra, Kluger is the second-longest serving top executive in its history, after the legendary Arthur Judson, who was the orchestra's manager from 1915 to 1935.