Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Executive Director Christopher Barton technically received more than one diploma when he crossed the Winthrop Coliseum stage in 2012. His daughter, now 10, drew him a second diploma and held up a sign that read, “Congratulations Daddy, you have graduated today.”Barton said he feels lucky that Winthrop’s Master of Arts Administration program gave him the ability to spend time with his family—which also includes his wife and a 9-year-old son—while also working full time.“The faculty, the way the program was designed, the low residency, the independent learning…it was built around the idea of working professionals advancing their education,” he said.Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, Barton discovered his love of music while in high school. He earned a degree in music from Appalachian State University where the idea of pursuing a career in orchestra management took hold. After an internship at the NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center he began work with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and later moved on to arts marketing with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte College of Arts and Architecture.Barton decided to further advance his career by enrolling in Winthrop’s Master of Arts Administration program. The program involved a lot of independent study and research. He spent one Friday evening and one day Saturday each month in lectures, and for a week each summer, he and his peers visited arts organizations across the region. He particularly enjoyed his interactions with Professor of Fine Arts Laura Gardner and his advisors, Dottie Metzler and the late Robert Weis.He said the program was so much more valuable and enriching than he could have ever expected.“It shaped everything about how I approach my work, about how I think of non-profit arts administration,” he said. “It made me a better writer, it made me better at leading meetings.”After graduation, Barton served as executive director for the Flagstaff Symphony in Arizona. He returned to the East Coast this past summer, when he was appointed executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.“There is no typical day,” Barton said of his duties. “I’m responsible for and work with a great staff on everything about marketing and fundraising, to artistic planning, and maintaining our venue. It’s also a community relations job. There’s always something new to be working on.”But it’s a dream come true for him.“Becoming a working professional and being able to do exactly what I wanted to do was a dream,” he said. “That master's program elevated everything about my education and my work experience.”
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