John Robinson, the Santa Barbara Symphony’s executive director and one of the key figures on the local arts scene, is stepping down from that position.

Robinson, who has run the symphony since July 2002, is relocating to San Francisco with his wife, Shoko Kashiyama, and their four- and eight-year-old sons. His last day on the job is Nov. 19.

Kashiyama, who has been working as executive assistant to the president of Fielding Graduate University, has accepted a position with the San Francisco Symphony. She’ll serve as executive assistant to Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

“She’ll be sort of a big-scale enabler for his ideas,” Robinson said. “She’ll also work with guest conductors to help make sure their visit is up to the standards that MTT has set. It’s a very cool job. I’ll get a lot of vicarious pleasure out of it.”

“Shoko and I both moved here from New York City, but her parents are in San Francisco. Such an incredible professional opportunity, combined with proximity to family, made this move a no-brainer.”

So Robinson will go from running an organization with a $2.4 million annual budget to playing the role of Mr. Mom—at least for a while.

“Shoko followed me here to Santa Barbara,” he noted. “It seems right to reciprocate and follow her to a city that is sure to have professional opportunities for me, although we’re not sure what they’ll be.”

Robinson will stay on the job through the first two concerts of the season, which will also give him time to “finish some strategic planning work.” He said the symphony’s board of directors has already formed a search committee, and he expects a new executive director will be in place by early next year.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is keeping the organization in the black,” he said.

Robinson said his time with the Santa Barbara Symphony “has been a wonderful experience. It’s been a great community to work in—very supportive of the arts.”


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