The 2017-18 season marks Mary M. Briggs ninth year with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, first as Executive Director, and for the past six years as President and CEO. Under her leadership, the Orchestra is being acclaimed for its continuing artistic excellence, it’s commitment to the community, and as a leading cultural organization in the Lowcountry.

Under her direction, a successful search for a new conductor concluded with the selection of John Morris Russell as Music Director and Conductor for the symphony in 2012. Consistently winning international praise for his extraordinary music-making and visionary leadership, his commitment has yielded a new level of artistic excellence to the symphony and has won the admiration of former and new symphony-goers alike. Recently, Briggs successfully negotiated a new contract with Maestro Russell extending his tenure for four more years.

With Briggs’ initiative, the orchestra has been engaging talented young musicians with reputations nationwide as concert soloists. Many of them received their training through The Sphinx Organization, whose goal is to encourage classical music talent in the Black and Latino communities. This opportunity gives talented young musicians real-world experience at the beginning of their careers.

With her committed focus on music education, new youth programs have been initiated in our local community, including programs at the Hilton Head Boys & Girls Club and in the local school system. The multi-state Youth Concerto Competition and world-renowned Hilton Head International Piano Competition continue to grow and flourish.

Nationally recognized, this past year Briggs was named Vice-President of the Level Five Orchestras in the national League of American Orchestras, was selected to attend the Sphinx Medals of Excellence event at the United States Supreme Court, and invited to attend the Carnegie Hall Youth Program training.

Locally, Briggs served as Chairman of the Advisory Board of Women in Philanthropy, is a member of the Hilton Head Rotary, the Greater Island Council, the Community Visions Board of Directors, the Arts and Cultural Council of Hilton Head, the Lean Ensemble Theater Board of Directors, and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Chorus, often serving as chairman and co-chairs of various committees.

Under Briggs’ guidance, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra has grown to be one of the area’s leading cultural organizations. Its reputation for quality and diversity in music has been recognized by its growth in subscribers, with tickets sold reaching record highs. Concerts have increased from nine to eighteen a year and new educational initiatives in the schools are planned, all signifying the Symphony’s continued growth and success for the years to come.