Students at Sonoma State University can expect to see more interaction between the Green Music Center and the rest of the campus if the GMC’s new executive director, Jacob Yarrow, has anything to say about it. Yarrow, who accepted the new post last month, comes to Sonoma State from the University of Iowa where he was programming director for Hancher Auditorium for the last eight years. He will start his new job at the GMC in June.
“As programming director at the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium, I take the lead in developing our artistic projects and building a season of compelling performances,” Yarrow said. “We put great emphasis on building engagement with our campus and community through working with fascinating artists from a variety of cultural traditions.”
Yarrow said he plans to use his experience at the University of Iowa to employ similar tactics at the GMC.
Yarrow will be taking over for both Zarin Mehta, co-executive director of the Green Music Center since 2013, who announced his retirement last fall, and Interim Executive Director Stan Nosek, who is also the university’s interim vice president for administration and finance.
Yarrow had high praise for both the GMC facility and its current programming.
“The Green Music Center is a stunning facility with an excellent reputation,” Yarrow said. “I’ve paid attention to the excellent programming since it was founded.”
According to Yarrow, watching the GMC over the last few months is what really cemented his decision to move. “As I learned more about Sonoma State, I grew increasingly inspired by the sense of energy and possibilities on the campus,” he said.
Coming off an eight-year employment with the University of Iowa, and six years previous to that as executive director of Garth Newel Music Center in rural Virginia, Yarrow said the prospect of working not just with the GMC but also with Sonoma State and the local community excites him.
“I look forward to working with constituents on campus and throughout the area,” Yarrow said. “I’m particularly interested in learning about the work of students, faculty, and staff and finding areas where we can intersect. Together we can determine the best strategies to make the GMC an integral part of the region. Building on the successes of the first five years, we will create more great experiences and find new ways to build a sense of community.
At Hancher Yarrow worked to develop relations with organizations on campus like the Muslim Student Association. “We’ve slowly built a relationship that allows us to work together to meet the common goal of celebrating Islamic culture and supporting muslim students on campus,” Yarrow said. “That goal is reflected by upcoming guest artist performances and Hancher hosting an event put on by the Muslim Student Association.”
Before he can project any significant changes to the GMC, Yarrow said he first has to spend time learning from the students, faculty, and organizations at Sonoma State. “Community grows out of building relationships and learning about what other organizations and individuals are trying to accomplish,” He said. “For a performing arts organization to be essential to the life of the campus, you have to actively build those relationships and be involved with the conversations that are happening on campus. Those interactions have to grow organically out of the people and ideas that are already present,” he said.
Henry Hansel, chair of the GMC Board of Advisors, said he firmly believes that Yarrow is the right choice.
“I am elated with whom the university has selected,” Hansel said in a statement. “His diverse experiences as an arts industry leader and as an educator are exactly what the GMC needs right now. His background and experience are such that he’s really going to be able to connect with all the constituencies we serve: our audience, the university and especially students. I could not be more excited to start working with him.”
Yarrow, 45, is a Beckley, West Virginia native who started out as a touring musician and junior high school music teacher. Across his career he played the alto saxophone, flute and clarinet, and performed in jazz bands and orchestras. He earned his bachelor of music degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a master of music degree from the University of North Texas.
Yarrow will be relocating with his wife Debbie and their two teenage daughters