Third Angle New Music is mounting a national search for a new artistic director. The 33-year-old music organization and its artistic director, Ron Blessinger, have mutually agreed to part ways after his 17 years in that position. He has notified Third Angle that he will end his contract next month.
“We’re grateful for the artistic leadership Ron has contributed to Third Angle over the past 17 years,” said David Machado, president of Third Angle New Music’s board of directors. “At this juncture, we’ll take the opportunity to stretch toward new horizons, which we believe should be the ongoing mandate of a new music organization such as ours.”
Flutist, educator and arts administrator Sarah Tiedemann, formerly Third Angle communications coordinator and Young Musicians & Artists executive director, will return to Third Angle in March to serve as interim artistic director. She will work closely with Lisa Volle, Third Angle executive director, and Evan Lewis, communications coordinator, to complete this year’s concert season.
Blessinger has been the fourth person to hold the role of artistic director. His innovative programming has helped to propel the organization to creative heights that have been lauded locally and nationally. Through his artistic leadership, Third Angle has earned a reputation for musical events that encourage audience members to lean forward, listen and be transported.
During his role with Third Angle, Blessinger has been a performer and executive producer of 12 recordings of contemporary classical music to critical acclaim, including a film score for Turner Classic Movies. He has supported the work of Oregon composers by creating Third Angle’s commissioning fund and record label. He has performed in hundreds of concerts as a violinist, and as artistic director, he commissioned more than 60 new works and produced residencies with leading composers, including Pulitzer Prize and Grammy winners Steve Reich, Jennifer Higdon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Zhou Long, among many others.
Blessinger led Third Angle’s ensemble on three Asian tours and a New York City debut in the Bang on a Can Marathon. He initiated the organization’s critically acclaimed Frozen Music series — using music to tell uniquely Oregon stories — including the Aalto Library in Mt. Angel, the Halprin Park Sequence in downtown Portland, and recently at the Portland Japanese Garden.
Additionally, Blessinger directed Third Angle collaborations with Oregon’s major arts institutions, including the Portland Art Museum, Portland Center Stage, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theater, White Bird Dance, Jefferson Dancers, the Architecture Foundation of Oregon and Second Story Interactive. His commitment to the work of living composers is one that the Third Angle board of directors and staff anticipate continuing.
The Third Angle New Music board of directors will conduct a national search for its next artistic director. “With record-breaking attendance this year and a strong five-year strategic plan, we have the depth of talent to take this new direction in stride and with confidence,” Machado said. “We’re proud of the strength and vitality that our organization has achieved with our audience and with the new music community locally, nationally and internationally.”
Machado called attention to recent reviews. Oregon ArtsWatch wrote that Third Angle is “Portland’s picture window to the big ideas and trends in contemporary classical music.” The nationally circulated Chamber Music magazine recognized Third Angle for “a reputation for innovation, relevance and excellence that their community trusts and values.”
“The Third Angle New Music board of directors is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and to leveraging the key components of artistic excellence and sound management that have guided Third Angle to growth and stability,” Machado said. “While we anticipate interest from new music aficionados elsewhere in the country, we’re especially eager for local musicians to express interest in the position. Portland has a wealth of talented musicians — many of whom have performed with Third Angle — and we’re excited to talk with them about the possibilities.”
Speaking on behalf of the board, Machado expressed his appreciation for Blessinger’s contributions as artistic director as well as the community’s support for the creation of new work. “The board, staff and artists look forward to a coming chapter that will best meet the evolving needs of our community.”