Biz Buzz: SLO Symphony names a new director

Brian Hermanson
Brian Hermanson

Brian Hermanson has been named executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony.

Hermanson will head the symphony orchestra as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall, communications director Patty Thayer announced Friday.

“We’re very happy to have him,” said Michael Zigelman, president of the symphony’s board of directors. “He really impressed us as the guy who can take us to the next level.”

A musician and recording artist, Hermanson earned a bachelor’s degree in clarinet performance from the acclaimed Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

A founding member of the Cerulean Wind Quintet, Hermanson also founded the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra and served as its executive director. He served as after-school programs director of Crockett Elementary School, a Houston charter school that received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and won Oprah Winfrey’s Wildest Dreams competition.

Most recently, he served as executive director of the Cobb Symphony Orchestra in Kennesaw, Ga.

“He seems to have a passionate commitment to the educational side of what we do,” Zigelman said. “Especially in these times, we feel that’s extremely important.”

As schools are forced to reduce or cut their music programs, he said, “Organizations like ours have to step in and fill the breach.”

Hermanson replaces Sandi Sigurdson, who stepped down last year after 15 years as symphony director. She now heads Leadership San Luis Obispo, a countywide training program operated under the auspices of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

At 29, Hermanson is the symphony’s youngest executive director to date, Thayer said.

“He definitely brings youth and energy” to the post, Zigelman said.

Hermanson is set to assume his new post April 15, Thayer said.

She said the symphony plans to formally welcome its new executive director at its May 1 season finale concert.

— Sarah Linn

Businesses lauded for aesthetic efforts

The Ciopino Seafood Grille won best of show at this year’s Beautification Awards hosted recently by San Luis Obispo’s Downtown Association.

Ciopino and its owners, Leonard and Wendy Cohen, were honored for the restaurant’s hip, yet comfortable “warehouse feel,” similar to what customers would find on the wharf in San Francisco or Seattle, according to a Downtown Association announcement.

Other businesses garnering honors included the Higuera Street’s Wineman Hotel building (the Chairman’s Award), as well as the hotel’s Wineman sign (the Executive Director’s award).

Awards committee chairman Marshall Ochyslki also gave certificates to more than two dozen businesses and buildings for new construction and remodels to signage and awnings, as well as to those businesses demonstrating a high level of care and maintenance of their properties, according to the Downtown Association’s announcement.

— Melanie Cleveland

Joan L. Parker, president of Empowering Financial Solutions Inc., has moved her financial and investment advisory firm from Pacific Street to Broad Street Village at 3591 Sacramento Drive in San Luis Obispo.

Parker established her firm two years ago after leaving R.E. Wacker Associates, where she was director of financial planning services for 12 years.

— Melanie Cleveland