Cannizzaro named executive director for the philharmonic

Cannizzaro named executive director for the philharmonic

Clare Cannizzaro, front, takes over as the new executive director of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic as former executive director Sally Stroup leaves the post.


Clare Cannizzaro is the new executive director of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic. The native of New Martinsville, West Virginia took the reins on Jan. 1 from former executive director Sally Stroup, who had held the position since 2015.

Cannizzaro said she has some very big shoes to fill in taking over from Stroup. The two started working together about two months ago to smooth the transition. Two months may not sound like much, but Cannizzaro feels prepared.

“Sally has been the best mentor and torch thrower there is,” Cannizzaro said.

In addition, while the pandemic has made live performances impossible, Cannizzaro said it has actually helped her focus on learning the ropes.

“I can’t wait to get back to in-person concerts,” Cannizzaro said. “It has been such a huge loss to anyone interested in the arts and to the musicians themselves. And people are starved for personal interaction.”

Increasing community involvement, educational outreach and the philharmonic’s social-media presence are among Cannizzaro’s goals, as is bringing in world-renowned artists to perform with the philharmonic.

Cannizzaro comes from a dance background. She met her husband, Bartolo, the current production manager of the KSU Tusc PAC, while touring and said she quickly realized if the two wanted to work together, she would need to branch out into theater management.

Cannizzaro and Bartolo were managing the U.S. tours of international companies by the time she was 27 years old.

“Our first contract was with the Helikon Opera out of Moscow, and we toured the U.S. and Canada with them for three months,” Cannizzaro said.

In addition, Cannizzaro managed Tap Dogs, the “Oliver” national tour, a number of French dance companies and the Illusionists of Broadway “Magic of the Holidays” tour, among others.

“I thrive on connecting people,” Cannizzaro said. “I have friends all over the world who I would love to bring here to perform with the orchestra. I have a friend who has played all the pipe organs in Austria, as well as a friend who is a Tony nominee. I’d really love to have her come and sing with the orchestra.”

While dance was her first love, Cannizzaro said theatrical management has become a close second. “I love taking care of people, organizing and finding solutions where others may feel it’s not ever worth trying,” she said.

Filling those shoes

Stroup has been involved with the philharmonic since the 1970s when she performed as a bass trombonist in the orchestra under the direction of Margery Henke. She had met her husband Steve while pursuing a degree in music education at the University of Colorado. Steve also joined the philharmonic as principal hornist.

Stroup took the position of executive director in 2015 after retiring from a teaching career. She successfully expanded the children’s chorus to a year-round venue and built a solid education committee among other achievements.

“I loved the job,” Stroup said. “I love the orchestra and choirs and the people in them. They work very hard to keep the organization alive.”

One of the biggest projects undertaken during Stroup’s tenure has been reaching out to area schools. Together with Robin Martins, who was the education chair at the time, Stroup tapped into the national Link Up program out of Carnegie Hall.

Link Up introduces students grade 3-5 to the orchestra through an interactive curriculum in which they learn to sing and play an instrument in their classrooms before going on to perform with a professional orchestra.

According to Stroup, the philharmonic also offers schools and the public videos of orchestra members performing and of conductor Eric Benjamin leading classes.

“Our new education chair, Melanie Glazer, has been simply awesome in making these videos and others easily accessibly online for teachers.”

Stroup feels confident about leaving the orchestra and choruses to Cannizzaro’s care.

“I feel very protective of the orchestra and choruses,” Stroup said. “So the person I was looking for to take over had to be a very special person. When I met Clare and heard all of her accomplishments, I knew she was the person we needed. I feel blessed to have been in this position and proud that I’m leaving it in very good hands.”

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