Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Announces New Executive Director

By David Salazar

D. Riley Nicholson has been appointed as the next Executive Director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, effective Oct. 1, 2023.

Previously serving as the Executive Director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) since 2020, Nicholson led various initiatives to advance the organization, including the adoption of a new vision, diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan, and strategic plan. Under his leadership, SoNA expanded its mainstage season, introduced community outreach concert series called SoNA Beyond, and enhanced educational programming. Nicholson’s dedication to commissioning new works and spotlighting contemporary voices garnered critical acclaim for SoNA. He has also held positions as Project Manager for the Center for New Music, Marketing Consultant for Dance Film SF, and served on the Board of Directors at Berkeley Ballet Theater and Post: ballet.

Nicholson will take over for Ellen Primack, who will step down from her role in September after 33 years of leadership.

“I am thrilled to have Riley Nicholson join the Festival as our new Executive Director,” said Claire Schneeberger, President of the Board of Directors, in an official press statement. “He brings a breadth of experience and creative energy to Cabrillo Festival’s mission of building a vibrant community dedicated to the creation of new and innovative music.”

“My choice to work with the Cabrillo Festival is rooted in my life’s work and passion for the contemporary arts,” Nicholson added said. “Cabrillo’s commitment to the creation and performance of profound, relevant, and innovative music aligns perfectly with my artistic vision.”