Obituary: Wichita Symphony Executive Director Mitch Berman, 58

Posted on: September 7, 2011

In Tuesday’s (9/6) Wichita Eagle (Kansas), Ron Sylvester writes, “Musicians, administrators and supporters of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra were grappling Tuesday with the death of its executive director of 31 years. Mitch Berman, 58, died Monday night at home, two months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. ‘It is a big shock,’ said Daniel Hege, musical director and conductor of the symphony said this afternoon by telephone from Syracuse, N.Y. ‘We all knew he was terminal. But when he was actually taken from us, it was all very sudden.’ Kurt Harper, secretary of the board overseeing the symphony, said Mr. Berman had seemed in good spirits just days before he died. … Mr. Berman grew up in southern California but fell in love with Wichita after he joined the symphony in November 1980. He came to Kansas after serving as an assistant operations manager with the Long Beach Symphony. … ‘He remembered every piece the Wichita Symphony had ever played during the lifespan of the orchestra,’ Hege said. … Those passions and attention to detail may be one reason that the Wichita Symphony has survived tough times. … Although the musicians agreed to a 10 percent pay cut earlier this year, the orchestra didn’t face the financial strains of those in larger cities during the recent recession, or similar struggles in the early 1990s. The Wichita Symphony’s budget quadrupled under Mr. Berman’s management.”

Posted September 7, 2011