Neale Perl, who has served for 10 years as president and CEO of the Washington Performing Arts Society, announced Wednesday that he would step down at the end of the 2012-13 season — taking some of his board members, he said, by surprise.
“I'm an ambitious person,” said Perl, 56. “I’ve done this for ten years; that’s 600 performances. I jut don’t see myself doing it for another ten years.” He added, “I had a vision for WPAS. I did what I set out to do.”
WPAS is Washington’s leading presenter of classical music concerts; its seasons also include dance, world music, and jazz. It has come to stand for a certain kind of blue-chip, traditional approach, offering a Who’s Who of classical music names — Yo Yo Ma, Gustavo Dudamel, Evgeny Kissin — usually in beloved repertory standards. Perl’s vision included expanding the organization’s education programs, starting the Capitol Arts Initiative and a series of tuition-free summer camps.
Perl does not yet have another position lined up; he’s open to offers. “I have at least one more great job in me,” he says.
“But I’m not going anywhere yet,” he said. And, referring to his custom of appearing on stage with a microphone to introduce every WPAS concert, “Either the good side or the bad side is that you’re going to have to put up with another 60 curtain speeches.”