Marking the end of an era for Australia’s national chamber music organisation, Mary Jo Capps will step down as CEO of Musica Viva at the end of 2018 after a tenure of almost 20 years, the organisation’s Chairman Charles Graham announced today. Capps, who was last year awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Melbourne for her contribution to music, and the inaugural Arts Leadership Award by Creative Partnerships Australia the year before, was appointed CEO of Musica Viva in 1999.

Carl Vine, who was appointed as Artistic Director in November 2000, will step down at the end of 2019 as part of the organisation’s long-term succession strategy and his final season will be Musica Viva’s 75th anniversary program in 2020.

Mary Jo Capps, Carl Vine, Musica VivaMary Jo Capps and Carl Vine. Photo © Keith Saunders

“Musica Viva has gone from strength to strength, thanks in no small part to the inspired leadership of Mary Jo and Carl,” Graham said. “Indeed, they have played a pivotal role not only in our company’s ongoing success but also in shaping a strong and vibrant international arts sector. I would like to express my profound thanks, both personally and on behalf of all those who have had the great fortune to accompany them in achieving this vision.”

Capps and Vine will leave behind a considerable legacy. Under their leadership, Musica Viva has established the most active commissioning program of any Major Performing Arts organisation, which includes flagship programs such as the Ken Tribe Fund for Australian Composers launched in 2011 and the Hildegard Project dedicated to female composers, launched in 2015. Capps and Vine have also overseen the growth of the Musica Viva in Schools program, and the creation of the biennial Musica Viva Festival. They saw the organisation take over artistic and operational direction of the Huntington Estate Music Festival and assumed responsibility for the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in partnership with ANAM and the Melbourne Recital Centre. They also oversaw the creation of the Futuremakers program, the organisation’s artistic leadership initiative launched in 2015 with inaugural Futuremakers Artists Arcadia Winds. Capps and Vine have also shored up Musica Viva’s financial position, doubling revenues since 1999 and creating reserves equal to 90 percent of annual turnover.

“It has been an enormous privilege to steward the incredible organisation that Musica Viva has become over its nearly 75 years,” said Capps. “International artists constantly remind us that there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world, while the responses from students and teachers all over Australia give me great hope for the future of music.”

“I am indebted to the many amazing colleagues, musicians and stakeholders who have made every day at Musica Viva a joy,” she said. “My debt is particularly deep to Carl Vine, who has been the North Star as we have navigated the inevitably varied waters of bringing people together to explore and enjoy what I would argue is one of the pinnacles of human creativity: chamber music.”

“It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have passed since I assumed the artistic reins at Musica Viva,” said Vine. “My task was made immensely easier by a first-rate support team, most specifically Tim Matthies followed by Katherine Kemp, supported in turn by the finest concert logistics team on the planet. Nothing would have been possible without the constant support and unflinching honesty of Mary Jo, and without the continuing endorsement of successive chairmen of the company’s board.”

“Musica Viva has now engulfed half of my adult life, and it has been an unbelievable honour to devote these years to exploring the supreme creative social phenomenon that is classical chamber music,” said Vine.

Musica Viva has said that the search for a new CEO will begin shortly, with an announcement expected later this year. The new CEO, along with the Board and a firm of domestically as well as internationally focussed HR consultants, will then choose a new Artistic Director to succeed Vine.

“The Board and stakeholders of Musica Viva gratefully acknowledge the position of managerial stability and artistic vitality that are the hallmarks of this legacy,” concludes Graham. “Thanks to their foresight and dedication, we are in the fortunate position to begin a careful and considered search for the right leaders to guide this remarkable organisation into the future. Theirs are big shoes to fill and it will be no easy task!”