SoNA director to resign after 2013-14 season

Karen Kapella


Karen Kapella, executive directory of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, will resign after the 2013-14 symphony season in May, according to a news release.

Kapella, who has been with SoNA for six years, said she is leaving to spend more time with her family.

The organization’s board of directors has formed a committee charged with conducting a national search for a new executive director.

Interested applicants should visit for more information.

Full news release:

Symphony of Northwest Arkansas Executive Director Karen Kapella has announced plans to resign effective at the close of the current 2013-14 symphony season in May. After six productive years with the not-for-profit organization, she will be leaving her leadership position in order to spend more time with family. The symphony’s board of directors has established a search committee charged with conducting a national search for a new executive director.

Kapella led the “Transformational Taskforce” in 2008-09 to bring symphonic music back to Northwest Arkansas — by reinventing the former North Arkansas Symphony, which was first established in 1954, into the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) as it is known today. She served as chairperson of SoNA’s board of directors in 2010, and was named executive director in 2011.

Under Kapella’s leadership, SoNA has experienced remarkable growth and success. The organization honorably eliminated past debt and was rebuilt from the ground up, including entirely new board leadership and the hiring of a new maestro, Paul Haas. SoNA’s artistic quality is said to rival, if not exceed, that of orchestras found in larger metropolitan areas. Now in its third successful season, SoNA has achieved:

  • Financial stability and growth, from $161,000 in debt (2008) to $552,144 revenue (2013), to over $650,000 revenue (2014)
  • A grant of $411,000 from the Walton Family Foundation, with disbursements in fiscal 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • The establishment and growth of an endowment
  • A 42-percent increase in season subscriptions from 2012 to 2014
  • Seven consecutive sold-out concerts (from fiscal 2013 to date)
  • A recently launched education program
  • Increased assets, including the ownership of high quality percussion instruments and an expanded music library through grants from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation
  • Establishment as a resident company of Walton Arts Center

“I speak for the entire SoNA Board in saying that we will never be able to thank Karen enough for all she has done to provide the vision and leadership to help reorganize and build SoNA into the professional musical experience it is today,” says Cindy Benward Smith, chairperson of SoNA’s board of directors. “She has provided expertise in all areas of development needed to create the kind of professional orchestra that Northwest Arkansas deserves. The board is committed to continue building upon the foundation of quality in all aspects of orchestral music.”

The plan is for the new director to work with Kapella for a period of time in order to ensure a smooth transition for all. After the transition, Kapella plans to spend time with family, especially her mother –the person who instilled in her a passion for music.

Despite her departure as executive director, Kapella’s love and support for SoNA will continue.

“Time has flown since 2008 when I embarked upon this journey to bring music back to Northwest Arkansas,” says Kapella. “The past six years have provided some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I’m so grateful for God’s gift of music, for His direction and blessings throughout this time, and for the many people who have played a major role in not only our symphony’s rebirth, but in its success and exciting growth. Northwest Arkansas can be very proud to be home to our wonderful orchestra. I look forward to passing the baton to a new director, and to becoming a patron and continued donor.”

Interested applicants are invited to visit for complete job posting and application process.