How do you get from Carnegie Hall? You get an offer to run one of the most vibrant performing arts organizations on the West Coast.
Jeremy Geffen, who has been an important tastemaker in New York during his dozen years on the artistic planning team at Carnegie Hall, is leaving to become the executive and artistic director of Cal Performances, the arts producer and presenter at the University of California, Berkeley.
“What appeals to me about Cal Performances is that it’s the intersection of many strands of music, dance and drama, with the intellectual curiosity of one of the world’s top university environments,” Mr. Geffen, 44, said in a telephone interview about his new post, which was announced on Tuesday afternoon. He will start in Berkeley on April 1.
The West Coast is increasingly the center of American musical experimentation, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic the most adventurous symphonic ensemble in the country and the San Francisco Symphony having recently named the composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen its next music director.
Cal Performances has long been an important music presenter; this season’s lineup includes the cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Daniel Barenboim conducting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra; and the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. But it also features dance companies, including the Mark Morris Dance Group and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; theater troupes from around the world; and the creation of new work.
One of its most ambitious offerings this season will be “Dreamers,” an oratorio it commissioned about the lives of young, undocumented immigrants by the composer Jimmy López and the playwright Nilo Cruz. Mr. Salonen will conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra and the soprano Ana María Martínez in the premiere on March 17.
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Mr. Geffen has taken a leading role in Carnegie’s artistic planning, including its annual citywide festivals in recent years, and its fostering of new work, including its 125 Commissions Project in celebration of the hall’s 125th anniversary. He said that he looked forward to collaborations at Cal Performances that would tap the expertise and energy of the Berkeley campus.
“If there is any type of experience that has been meaningful to me, it’s identifying either uncelebrated or unknown talents — whether that’s compositional or performing — and giving them a platform,” he said. “Because almost every time, they have knocked the ball out of the park.”
Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, said Mr. Geffen would be missed for his deep knowledge and prodigious memory. “There comes a time in everybody’s life when they want more responsibilities, broader responsibilities, and to run an institution themselves,” he said in a telephone interview.
In Berkeley, Mr. Geffen succeeds Matías Tarnopolsky, who left last summer to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra. It will be a return to the West Coast for Mr. Geffen, who was born in South Africa and raised in Orange County, Calif., where he first developed his interest in music.
“I would not have been in music at all had not been for being in the public school system, and we had an instrumental music program at my junior high school and high school and that’s where I got my training,” he said, adding, “I want to share those experiences, I want to share those opportunities.”