Stephen Baker named Director of Marketing for Sarasota Opera


Classical pianist brings a diverse array of experience to the position

May 11, 2021
Contact: Lana Mullen, Communications Coordinator
(941) 328-1322
[email protected]

Sarasota, FL –Sarasota Opera Executive Director Richard Russell has announced the appointment of Stephen Baker as Director of Marketing. Baker was most recently the Director of Marketing and Audience Development for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, a preeminent performance venue presenting Broadway musicals and top national and international performers. Baker has an extensive background promoting classical music and the performing arts, creating and implementing dynamic branding, marketing, and audience development campaigns. 

The California native studied piano performance at the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, was a featured guest soloist with several symphony orchestras, and performed as a piano soloist with Academy Award-winning composers Elmer Bernstein and John Williams. 

Baker served as Associate Marketing Director of Carnegie Hall in New York, where he implemented a season-long campaign in celebration of Isaac Stern’s 80th birthday, with special concert performances, artistic collaborations and gala events. He went on to work with the Minnesota Orchestra as Vice President of Marketing and Audience Services, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as Associate Executive Director, and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as Vice President of Marketing and Communications. While in the San Diego area, Baker was Chair and Founding Commissioner of the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission. 

Sarasota Opera’s Executive Director Richard Russell commented “We are lucky to have someone with Mr. Baker’s experience and expertise to join us at Sarasota Opera. His extensive knowledge of music and of our community will be of enormous benefit to the company.” Stephen added, “I am thrilled and honored to be working for the internationally acclaimed Sarasota Opera, and I look forward to collaborating with the superb team here to attain the organization’s exciting vision and build on its storied history.”

About Sarasota Opera

Sarasota Opera is entering its 62nd Season of bringing world-class opera to Florida’s Gulf Coast. The company was launched in 1960, when a touring chamber opera company came to the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art. The following year the Asolo Opera Guild was formed to present the season. By 1974 the Asolo Opera was mounting its own productions at the theater. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to full-scale opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater which in 1984 (as the Sarasota Opera House) became home to the newly renamed Sarasota Opera. The building underwent a $20 million renovation and rehabilitation in 2007 enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities, including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.

Since 1983, the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi and administrative leadership of Executive Director Richard Russell since 2012. Sarasota Opera has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle, completed in 2016, that made Sarasota Opera the only opera company in the world to present all of Verdi’s works. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice and Studio Artists programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Explorations in Opera performances for local schools and the industry-leading Sarasota Youth Opera program.

Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award from the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.

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