Purple border

Billings Symphony Executive Director announces departure

The Billings Symphony announced on Tuesday that Executive Director Ignacio Barrón Viela will leave the Billings Symphony to pursue another opportunity. The Reno Philharmonic has selected Barrón Viela as President & CEO, following a national search.

“We appreciate Ignacio’s work over nearly four years and all that he has accomplished in that time,” said Billings Symphony Board President Leslie Blair. “He truly put the Billings Symphony on the national and international map.”

Ignacio Barrón Viela, executive director of the Billings Symphony, is pictured at the Symphony’s 2021-2022 season opening event at the Alberta Bair Theater.

During Barrón Viela’s tenure, he led the charge for the organization to adopt diversity, equity and inclusion policy and worked with Montana senators and the Spanish Consulate to bring foreign artists to Billings. He helped the Symphony acquire a downtown building, which was donated to the organization in 2019 by the Sukin family, and oversaw renovations and fundraising, including a major grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust.

“He created partnerships with national and local associations for grants and donations, cultivated donors with record-setting donations, and doubled our net worth and endowment, leaving our organization in excellent shape for continuing our success,” Blair added.

Under Barrón Viela’s leadership, growth in corporate and individual giving along with growth in grant and foundation support has allowed the Billings Symphony to more than double its net assets to $5.7 million and increase its annual operating budget to $1.8 million. Financial growth included a major gift in 2022 from Billings-based philanthropists and longtime symphony patrons John W. and Carol L.H. Green, who gifted $1 million to the Billings Symphony to sustain the executive director’s position — the largest individual gift in the organization’s history.


From left, Carol Green, Ignacio Barrón Viela, and John Green are pictured at the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale offices, 2820 Second Ave. N. In January the Greens donated $1 million to the Symphony, the largest gift in the organization’s history, to sustain the executive director position.


Barrón Viela also helped the organization navigate the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions placed on arts organizations across the country and paved the way in the nation with live-streaming concerts. He worked closely with Anne Harrigan, Billings Symphony Music Director, to produce high levels of musical performances in multiple venues, nearly tripling the organization’s event and concert output by launching the Sukin Series and digital and livestreaming programs and helping the organization launch its first Family Series.

“Ignacio worked closely with Anne Harrigan and the Billings Symphony staff to produce numerous outstanding programs for our patrons,” said Vice President of the Board Scott Brown. “He was instrumental in opening the door for the merger with Billings Youth Orchestra, which will expand our audience and promote symphonic music with the young artists of Billings. It’s been a pleasure working with him and getting to know him, not just as a nonprofit community leader, but as a friend.”

From left, Billings Symphony Music Director Anne Harrigan, Courtney Little Axe, and Billings Symphony Executive Director Ignacio Barrón Viela are pictured following a performance of “Buffalo Crossing” in October at the Alberta Bair Theater.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished together, along with Anne, the musicians, the staff and the Board,” added Barrón Viela. “I am going to miss everyone, but I am confident that the Billing Symphony has a great future ahead. There is a lot of vibrancy and excitement in the 72nd season and the continuation of our growth.”

The Symphony continues this growth trajectory with new positions opening in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, including the addition of personnel and youth orchestra manager and an executive and administrative assistant.

“I am honored to have been part of this journey with the Billings Symphony, and I wish Anne Harrigan, the musicians, the staff, the Board and everyone associated with the Billings Symphony all the very best as it commences its 72nd season,” added Barrón Viela. “I am proud that the mission to enrich lives through music has remained in the center, and that the growth has been proportional to the mission, and hopefully the community continues to support and value that.”

The Billings Symphony Board of Directors will advertise the position and conduct and nationwide search for the John W. & Carol L. H. Green Executive Director, and the position is posted to the Billings Symphony website.

The Billings Symphony is celebrating its 74th year!

May 16, 2024

The Billings Symphony is celebrating its 74th year with a 2024-25 season not to miss. Take in all the high notes by becoming a symphony subscriber – don’t miss out…

Read More

Seattle-based Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman and Friends to Perform Sweeter Than Roses at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral in Billings, Montana

May 2, 2024

Billings, MT – May 2, 2022 – The Billings Symphony is pleased to announce the upcoming Sukin Series concert featuring Schenkman & Friends (Now known as Sound Salon) performing Sweeter…

Read More

Billings Symphony Orchestra to share new season with Laurel patrons May 2

April 25, 2024

JACI WEBB Outlook Editor Apr 22, 2024 The Billings Symphony Orchestra is taking to the road to promote the new season and new opportunities for young patrons. Next stop —…

Read More

Billings Symphony Orchestra to Present Season Finale on April 27 at the Alberta Bair Theater

April 15, 2024

BILLINGS, MT (April 12, 2024) – The Billings Symphony is thrilled to announce the exciting finale to its 2023/24 season, taking place on April 27 at the Alberta Bair Theater.…

Read More

An evening of performance, exhibition, and exploration through art, music, dance, and film

March 28, 2024

Friday, April 5th, Billings, MT — Join us the “closer | together, moheh | stestove” event. Northern Cheyenne student musicians, dancers, and artists will accompany renowned Los Angeles-based musician and…

Read More

High-flying aerialists join BSO for thrilling concert

March 26, 2024

JACI WEBB – Laurel Outlook Editor – Maestra Anne Harrigan opened the Billings Symphony Orchestra “Cirque” concert last weekend with the question, “Are you ready?” She correctly predicted that the…

Read More

The Billings Symphony Orchestra Announces Auditions for Tenured and Substitute Musicians

February 26, 2024

FEBRUARY 26, 2023, BILLINGS MT – The Billings Symphony announces auditions for the Assistant Concertmaster and all String Sections. Live auditions for these tenured positions will take place on Sunday,…

Read More


February 22, 2024

Billings, February 22, 2024 – Brace yourself for an enchanting evening filled with the captivating sounds of Irish music as Arkins, Bigley & Coulter: A Celtic Evening takes center stage…

Read More

Symphony Sounds: Song for Humanity

February 6, 2024
Read More

Johnny Gandelsman: Grammy-winning artist and Silkroad violinist presents a transformative musical journey at the Billings Depot

February 1, 2024

Billings, February 1, 2024 – We are delighted to introduce Johnny Gandelsman, one of the most revered violinists of our time and a Grammy-winning artist, as he graces both the…

Read More