After an ill-fated gamble on an outsider, the New Jersey Symphony has turned to a familiar face for its next leader. The orchestra on Wednesday named its principal oboist, James Roe, as president and CEO. Roe has been the orchestra's lead oboist (in an acting role) since 2011, and has worked as a freelance musician and an arts administrator in New York.
Roe will succeed Richard Dare, who resigned abruptly in January, nine days after he started in the job, when a New York Times investigation revealed that he inflated his resume and had a criminal past.
Since Dare's departure, longtime NJSO administrator Susan Stucker had been serving as interim president and CEO. She will now become the NJSO's chief operating officer as part of a two-pronged "leadership team." Roe will oversee the outward aspects of fundraising and marketing and Stucker will manage artistic operations, education, outreach and finance.
Roe's previous managerial experience has been with the Helicon Foundation, a chamber music presenter with an annual series in an Upper East Side townhouse. He became its executive director in 1996, and added the title of artistic director in 2006. He stepped down this week.
"Over the last two years with the orchestra I've really come to love the organization and love the people and the mission to bring music across the state," Roe said in a brief interview on Tuesday. "I really want to take this opportunity to step up."
As an oboist, Roe is a member of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and the Knights chamber ensemble. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree from Juilliard.
Roe will oversee an organization with a $13 million budget and concerts in six cities across New Jersey, including its home base in Newark. He said his focus will now lie in gathering feedback from those communities. "Orchestras have traditionally been very good at what I call broadcast mode," he said. "We want to develop a dialogue with all of our diverse audiences, reach out to them directly and hear what their needs are and see how we can serve them best."