July 27, 2012

Founder of the Baltimore Concert Opera to lead Wilmington- based company Announcement kicks off fund drive

WILMINGTON, Del. (Jun. 27) – Brendan Cooke, a fifteen-year veteran and leader in the opera industry, has been appointed the new General Director of OperaDelaware, the company announced today. Cooke, 37, succeeds Leland Kimball, who is retiring after 30 years’ service toOperaDelaware, seven years as General Director.  Cooke joins OperaDelaware from the Baltimore Concert Opera, a company he founded three years ago in response to the collapse of the Baltimore Opera Company. Cooke and his board of directors launched this startup opera company with $700 in personal funds. Under Cooke’s leadership, Baltimore Concert Opera has experienced exponential growth since 2009, and will enter its fourth season in 2012. In addition to his entrepreneurial skills, Cooke brings to OperaDelaware extensive experience in front and back-office operations, fundraising, facilitation of corporate and community partnerships, education, sales, and marketing.

“We are delighted to welcome Brendan to our leadership team at OperaDelaware,” said Tony Winchester, president of OperaDelaware’s Board of Directors. “He is energetic, innovative, and passionate about opera. He believes that opera holds the power to capture the imagination
and delight every person, from the most ardent rock fan to the most particular connoisseur of the classics. With Brendan at the helm, OperaDelaware is in a great position both for growth
and bold new initiatives that will broaden the circle of opera lovers from Claymont to Fenwick Island.”
In celebration of Kimball’s service and Cooke’s appointment, an anonymous friend of OperaDelaware has launched a $10,000 Challenge Grant in support of the company’s promising future. Under this program, the donor will provide $1 for every $2 paid by individual donors and/or
their personal foundations to OperaDelaware. New and/or increased donations received by Aug. 15 will be eligible for the matching funds. Donors who act before the deadline could deliver as much as $30,000 to the company.
Cooke’s arrival follows a six-month national search for a general director, conducted by the Genovese Vanderhoof and Associates under the guidance of Kimball and OperaDelaware’s board of directors.
“Brendan’s passion for opera, his success in winning new fans, his unwavering dedication to quality, and his solid business skills made him a standout candidate for this position,” Kimball noted. “He’ll be an important asset not just to OperaDelaware, but to our state’s arts and education community as a whole. I leave this job I’ve loved for three decades in excellent hands.” Cooke holds a Master’s degree in Music from the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Loyola University of New Orleans. After founding the Baltimore Concert Opera, Cooke continued his career in Arts Administration as a member of the marketing team for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where he was Group Sales Manager for the organization.
Cooke also is an accomplished bass/baritone who has appeared in more than 30 productions, including roles in La Traviata, La Boheme, Tosca, Carmen, HMS Pinafore, and more. He has sung with the Lyric Opera of Baltimore, the Sarasota Opera, Opera North, Opera Vivente, and many others. Cooke also performed regularly as a guest soloist with symphony orchestras throughout the country. “I am truly humbled that the board of OperaDelaware has chosen me to lead this storied institution,”
said Cooke. “I can’t wait to get started. I thank Lee Kimball and the board for their extraordinary dedication to making OperaDelaware a fiscally responsible company where great talent can flourish and where
donors and friends can invest with confidence. I look forward to making new friends here, becoming a part of this vibrant community, and seeing brand new faces in our audiences, both at The Grand and at
our wonderful Studio Series.”

Friends and donors interested in participating in the Challenge Grant may visit www.operade.org, or call OperaDelaware’s Development Director Carin Brastow at 302-658-8063, ext. 3260.