Alan D. Valentine, President & CEO of the Nashville Symphony is excited to announce the hiring of Tonya McBride Robles as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO). McBride Robles replaces outgoing COO Jonathan Marx and joins the Nashville Symphony starting September 6.
McBride Robles comes to the Nashville Symphony with more than 20 years of experience working with symphonies and choruses across the East Coast. She has served in leadership positions with Annapolis Symphony Orchestra; The Metropolitan Chorus in Arlington, Va.; City Choir of Washington, D.C.; Concert Artists of Baltimore; San Antonio Symphony; and, most recently, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where she spent the past six years as the organization’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She also has worked in elementary education as both a teacher and an administrator internationally in Spain, Japan, and Ecuador.
During her tenure at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), McBride Robles was a critical partner in reaching a five-year agreement with the musicians in 2020, the first multi-year contract in many years. The orchestra toured internationally for the first time in 13 years, with a successful 2018 debut at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh Festival, and released numerous critically acclaimed recordings. She also led efforts to significantly increase BIPOC representation in artistic programming and engaged the BSO’s first Artistic Partner – Baltimore rapper and spoken word artist Wordsmith.
Additional past orchestra experience includes a successful term as Executive Director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, during which time the orchestra endowment doubled, and management amicably settled a progressive three-year agreement with the musicians’ union.
McBride Robles is married to Mike, a retired U.S. Naval Officer, and together they made thirteen moves, with international assignments to Spain, Bahrain, Japan, and Ecuador. Their son, Sam, is a third-year acting student at the Institute of the Arts Barcelona.
“I’m thrilled to join the talented team of board, staff, and musicians at the Nashville Symphony, having long admired its innovative approach to programming that balances deep respect for classical music while embracing the significance of other American musical art forms,” McBride Robles said. “Nashville is a thriving and vibrant city, and I’m excited to return to my Southern roots. I’m grateful to a true industry leader, Alan Valentine, and to the search committee for this amazing opportunity.”
Reporting to the President & Chief Executive Officer, Nashville Symphony’s COO is responsible and accountable for overseeing the day-to-day operations of both the Nashville Symphony and its home, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The COO’s purview includes artistic programming, education and community engagement programming, orchestra operations, and marketing and communications, with a focus on both mission-critical activities and operating results.
“Tonya’s depth of experience, consummate professionalism, passion for orchestral music, and demonstrated commitment to building more diverse and inclusive institutions made her the unanimous choice among our search committee, which consisted of Board members, staff and musicians,” Valentine said. “She is the ideal person to help lead the management team as we work to fulfill the objectives of our new strategic planning framework, which will set us on a course to become even more deeply engaged with our community. I would like to express my appreciation to the executive recruiting firm Catherine French Group, who helped us find the candidate so perfectly attuned to our organizational needs and aligned with our vision for the future. I am excited that Tonya is joining our team, and very much look forward to working with her.”
Nashville Symphony also bids farewell to current COO Jonathan Marx, who has been with the Nashville Symphony since 2008 and will leave the organization at the end of July to pursue a Master of Science in Social Work at UT-Nashville. Over the past 14 years, Marx has been a pivotal presence for the Symphony, having served previously as Vice President of Communications. Driven by a passion for serving the community and promoting an inclusive work environment, he has been a leading partner in crafting two strategic plans and the institution’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion plan, and has played an integral role in the institution’s reemergence from the pandemic.
“Jonathan Marx leaves an indelible mark on the Nashville Symphony as he departs to pursue his passion for helping others in new ways,” Valentine said. “From his time in our communications department to leading that department, and then ultimately stepping into the COO role not long after the pandemic began, Jonathan’s contributions to the Nashville Symphony have been enormous, and we are grateful for his service. We wish him well in his new endeavors.”