The Bangor Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday morning that David Whitehill, executive director for the BSO since October 2007, will be leaving his post with the orchestra in December to take a similar job with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in Asheville, N.C.

Whitehill, 34, said the decision wasn’t easy, but in the end, boiled down to being closer to family — he and his wife Jessica are expecting a baby in November.

“Very simply, the move for me is moving closer to family. The opportunity to be within a day’s driving distance from both my parents and her parents is an opportunity that’s hard to pass up,” said Whitehill. “With a child on the way, it changed our thoughts dramatically about having access like that.”

Nevertheless, Whitehill said he will leave Bangor with a sense of both fondness and sadness.

“Bangor has been an incredible place for me and my family,” he said. “It has opened its heart to me, and I have been able to grow with it. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another place as special as Bangor, and that has an organization that has the type of connection to community as the BSO. The symphony is healthy, it’s vibrant, with a dedicated board and staff and passionate musicians.

“I hope I’ve been a good steward. I know they have been,” he added.

The BSO board of directors will assemble a search committee for a new executive director in the coming weeks. BSO board President Joyce Clark-Sarnacki said Whitehill’s departure was sad, but he has the full support of the board and the BSO staff.

“Though David’s contribution has been enormous and his loss will certainly be felt, the board of directors, Lucas, and Sarah all affectionately support his commitment to family and their future,” said Clark-Sarnacki, referring to music director Lucas Richman and Sarah S.P. McCarthy, director of development and marketing. “David will remain in his position and here in Bangor through mid-December, in order to help ensure a smooth transition.”

Whitehill worked in an administrative capacity with orchestras in California for more than 10 years before joining the BSO, including Orange County’s Pacific Symphony, the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Laguna Beach Music Festival and the Chapman University School of Music, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in performance and orchestral conducting, and instrumental education.

During his tenure with the BSO, Whitehill oversaw a tightening of the orchestra’s budget, the appointing of a new music director in Lucas Richman, a renewed commitment to musical education with the growth of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra and community programs to bring families and students to concerts, a yearly series of master classes with visiting BSO soloists and the introduction of a yearly pops concert, among many other successes.

The BSO’s season-opening concert is set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, with a program of all American composers.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.