Camille Kolles


Camille Kolles has provided leadership in the field of arts administration and the growing area of music as an agent of social change for nearly 20 years. Her tenure has been marked by a pioneering vision that anticipated the changes currently taking place in the field of classical music and its intersections with community development. Her approach to work widens the appeal to a community’s spirit by investing in new ways to spark the imagination, stimulate meaningful conversation, and enrich the human experience in unpredictable ways.

As Executive Director of the Carmel Bach Festival from 2008-2012, she established a new vision to transcend the traditional boundaries of classical music that sparked a re-invigorated audience base and the captivation of new fans. Under her new multidisciplinary framework for programming, she launched a performance series in unconventional locations, a film series, an annual composer commission, and the “Bach Lounge”, also creating the historic first-time collaboration between the Carmel Bach Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival. She built the organization’s infrastructure, successfully steered the organization through the economic downturn of the period, and led musician union negotiations resulting in the first agreement from the national union to expand electronic promotion for a part-time union orchestra.

While at the helm of the Minnesota Chorale, Kolles created and developed the award-winning Bridges™ outreach series now its 20th year, the InChoir adult education series, and the Emerging Conductor program, and founded the Minneapolis Youth Chorus in partnership with the Minneapolis School District. During her tenure, the Chorale became the first symphonic chorus in the nation to lead a composer residency under New York-based Meet the Composer’s New Residencies program. Kolles first encountered El Sistema in 2000 when she took the Minnesota Chorale to Venezuela for the international America Cantat Festival as one of two U.S. choirs invited to perform, along with choirs from around the world.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Catherine University with degrees in piano performance and business administration and earned a Masters of Public Affairs degree focusing on human development and social innovation from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She joined the Board of Youth Orchestra Salinas (YOSal), an El Sistema-inspired program, during its launch in 2010, and continues to serve on its advisory council. Previous affiliations include serving on the Board of Chorus America and as an advisor to Minneapolis-based think tank Push the Future. An accomplished musician, Camille is a free-lance pianist who performs repertoire ranging from classical to pop.

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