Judging by the reception given to San Francisco Opera’s General Director Designate at a press conference this past week, Matthew Shilvock is a very popular choice as successor to David Gockley, who retires next July.
Young (not quite 40), British-born, and unassuming, Matthew Shilvock spoke with quiet, self-assured eloquence and passion, of his plans for the opera company which he obviously holds dear and which has most certainly flourished under the direction of David Gockley.
As Mr Shilvock acknowledged, he has “a very large pair of shoes to fill”, but – having worked alongside the man he describes as his “mentor, friend, counsel and guide” for over 13 years – Shilvock is surely well qualified to take San Francisco Opera forward on the upward trajectory in which it is currently traveling.
With a background in music performance and history, Matthew Shilvock read music at Christ Church, Oxford, and obtained his Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, specializing in the nonprofit arena. Having devoted his career to executive management in the performing arts, he initially worked with New Chamber Opera in England, and PORTopera in Portland, Maine. In 2002, he became a Fellow with OPERA America (the national service organization for opera companies in North America), carrying out assignments at Pittsburgh Opera, Janice Mayer & Associates and Glimmerglass Opera.
His first opportunity to work alongside David Gockley came in 2003, when Gockley – then General Director at Houston Grand Opera – invited him to serve as his liaison. Two years later, Shilvock moved to San Francisco Opera, as a member of Gockley’s transition team, and until 2007 served as the General Director’s Associate. Promotions then followed rapidly – Director of New Initiatives, Assistant General Director, and – since 2010 – Associate General Director, in which capacity he heads up five departments – Music Operations, Electronic Media, Education, the San Francisco Opera Center and Rehearsal. Since March this year he has also served as Interim Director of Development.
Over the past decade, Shilvock has led some of David Gockley’s most important initiatives – including the creation of media and education programs, facilitating the provision of commercial releases on home video, television and the internet, and also the development of the live simulcast performances by San Francisco Opera at AT&T Park.
Indicating that it’s too early at this stage to share any of his artistic plans for the future, Matthew Shilvock admitted to feeling “blessed to exist in a city of such energy and possibility” – and what is quite clear is that he is passionate about connecting audiences with what he terms “the emotional core of opera”.
He is also tremendously excited about the opening next year of the Diane B Wilsey Center and the anticipated “interplay” between the Center and the War Memorial Opera House, giving the Company additional space “to be even more experimental in our thinking”.
Amongst the interesting concepts which he floated are his desire to collaborate with “the wonderful collection of arts organizations” in the Civic Center and Hayes Valley, with a view to the creation of a specific arts district, welcoming to all and easy to get to – making it one of the most engaging and active arts centers in the country – “a jewel of the Bay Area” as he describes it.
He is also keen to explore what he terms “fundamental questions” about San Francisco Opera’s place – locally, nationally and internationally – and is particularly excited to investigate opportunities for strategic connections with the Pacific Rim, which he refers to as “one of the fast growing opera markets in the world”.
Matthew Shilvock becomes San Francisco Opera’s seventh General Director on August 1, 2016. Acknowledging the Company’s “long tradition of finding, nurturing and celebrating the very finest talents”, he is committed to ensuring that San Francisco Opera “remains in the forefront of artistic excellence and innovation, whether on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House or in the Diane B Wilsey Center for Opera”.
Source of additional information:
San Francisco Opera