Lourdes Starr-Demers to Lead Astral Artists as New Executive Director

PHILADELPHIA – Astral Artists, a nonprofit intensive mentoring program that specializes in developing the early careers of classical musicians, today announced Lourdes Starr-Demers as the organization’s next Executive Director, effective Jan. 19, 2021.

Lourdes Starr-Demers,
New Executive Director, Astral Artists

Starr-Demers, a trained musician with degrees in performance and composition, joins Astral with more than 23 years of experience in the classical music world and a strong track record of supporting highly talented young musicians.  For nine years, Starr-Demers, a woman of color, held senior positions with the Curtis Institute of Music, most recently as Senior Vice President of Artistic Operations, where her work included broadening access to performances through technology and collaborations, diversifying repertoire and guest artists to include more women and people of color, and co-chairing Curtis’ Council for Inclusive Excellence, an initiative she co-founded to explore and address systemic racism in Philadelphia, the Curtis community, and the classical music industry.  Starr-Demers was also the driving force behind the Curtis Summer programs, including the highly successful Young Artist Summer Program and Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis. She also worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra Association as both the Director of Special Events and Director of Orchestra Personnel and Operations during her 11 years there. 

In her volunteer work, Starr-Demers serves organizations in both the musical and education worlds; for the past 12 years, she has sat on the board of Network for New Music, has served board roles for Montessori Schools in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, N.J., and is a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Greater South Jersey Chorus, of which she is an active member.  Additionally, she is a sought-after speaker nationally, having presented on the topic of addressing systemic racism in a conservatory setting and on career opportunities in classical music for students of color.

“I have tremendous admiration and respect for Astral’s Founder Vera Wilson who, for nearly 30 years, has built an incredible legacy of supporting extraordinarily talented young musicians around the globe,” said Starr-Demers.  “My intent is to steward and grow that legacy by ensuring that the future of Astral remains grounded in its traditions and is guided by a forward-looking vision for the next chapter.”

“I am truly delighted with the Board’s selection of Executive Director,” said Astral’s Founder, Vera Wilson, who has been serving as Interim Executive Director and will remain active on the Astral Board of Directors. “Lourdes’ background satisfies what Astral needs in its new leader, as I believe she will be a catalyst for great ideas that will impact the organization, its roster artists, and the communities Astral serves.”

John Wright, Chair of Astral’s Board and the Executive Director Search Committee, said, “After having fielded a strong and deep pool of qualified applicants – a tribute to what Vera Wilson has built – the Board and the Search Committee feel extraordinarily fortunate to have found a person of Lourdes’ talents and accomplishments here in Philadelphia to carry on Astral’s work.”

Vera Wilson founded Astral Artists in 1992 bringing together her passion for classical music with exceptional early career soloists and chamber musicians on a professional path. Her earlier responsibilities included 20 years as Foreign Press Translator for The Philadelphia Orchestra and other prestigious institutions and senior positions at other Philadelphia and New York nonprofits.

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