NJ Symphony Orchestra’s New CEO Connects Music to Life-Long Learning

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra named Richard Dare as its new president and CEO. Dare is set to join the orchestra in January. He sat down for an interview with NJ Today Senior Correspondent DesirĂ©e Taylor to talk about his background, what attracted him to the NJSO and why the arts matter to the state’s economy.

Until recently, Dare was CEO and Managing Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He remembered his introduction to the NJSO as one that left him more than a little impressed.

“I listened to the music and I was absolutely blown away, I was not expecting the orchestra to be as good as it is,” said Dare. “And when I finally had a chance to see it, my mind began in a tumult of how could this fit together, what else could it do, how could it be something that more people in New Jersey would see.”


Dare has been credited as a major factor in the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s success. He said his experience in Brooklyn taught him about the importance of building meaningful connections with the community.

“New Jersey has an opportunity to reach out all across the state,” he said. “It has a great chance to reach people and to the extent that it can really connect with an audience and figure out what matters to people who live in New Jersey, what matters in every single town, what matters in every single place that it touches, every single child that it touches.”

Dare’s career path to classical music is an unconventional one. He spent most of his professional life as an entrepreneur taking U.S brands overseas, primarily in Asia. What he learned from building large scalable corporations, he says, is that consumers respond to products that have meaning.

“They don’t really go in and buy clothes just to buy clothes,” he cited as an example. “People buy clothing because they want to find something that will show on the outside what kind of a person they really feel like on the inside and I think the same thing with all kidds of products and services.”

After more than 15 years involved in one business venture or another, Dare sought a new direction with an eye on the arts. “I didn’t have any experience in it but I thought I’d really like to find out about that because there’s something that without the intermediation of a product people are looking at ideas that really matter to them, how their lives can be meaningful.”

According to Dare, the connection between the arts, music in particular, and New Jersey’s economic future, is a powerful one.

“My experiences as an entrepreneur made me really aware that the future I believe for New Jersey, as well as a microcosm of the United States, is really going to come out of people who are good at creativity, who are very facile at being creative, who could bob and weave and change, and so forth, but also people who are analytical, who really understand numbers, and who are able to apply this reason with this sort of intuition,” said Dare.

Factory jobs that have moved overseas are not coming back, he says. Areas of economic growth, he predicts, will be found in the science and technology fields such as bio-technology, nanotechnology, alternative energy and new forms of public transportation. Dare argues that the people sought by those industries will be those with superior analytical and creative skills. And the arts, he says, can play a vital role in developing those skills.

“It seems to me the most effective thing that we found to get people from early childhood on up to late adulthood to become creative and to become analytical and to keep growing over the course of their lifetime is to immerse them in the arts, and I would say particularly in music.”

He hopes that his business background will be helpful in managing the NJSO’s budget, which he describes as particularly strong. “They have a budget in the neighborhood of $13 million a year or so. They just raised $35 million last year. Actually in comparison to the general trend, they’re pretty strong and that’s something I’m very interested [in].”

Dare says the NJSO will get the new year started right away with a flurry of activities scheduled for January 4, 5, and 6 as part of its winter festival. Maestro Jacques Lacombe will be returning after a triumphant tour in Europe where he conducted the opera Carmen. For more information, visit