New Executive Director announced!


Press Contact: Allison M. Ruppert  |

Pittsburgh, PA, September 16, 2020—City of Asylum Pittsburgh announces the appointment of Andrés Franco as Executive Director effective October 1, 2020. Mr. Franco, a resident of Pittsburgh’s central Northside neighborhood and native of Columbia, comes to City of Asylum from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), where he most recently served as Resident Conductor. By special arrangement, Mr. Franco will continue to serve as a guest conductor of the PSO through the end of the 2020-21 season.  

As Executive Director, Mr. Franco will lead City of Asylum’s exiled writer program, performance activities, and economic development initiatives. Mr. Franco has worked with City of Asylum over the past three years as a partner, coordinating multiple performances by PSO musicians at the organization performance venue Alphabet City.

“On behalf of the Board and staff of City of Asylum, it is my pleasure to welcome Andrés Franco to City of Asylum. We are delighted to have him take on leadership responsibility at the critical moment for our mission and our world. We look forward to his leading City of Asylum in the next stage of its growth,” said Henry Reese, the Co-founder and Chairman of City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Diane Samuels added, “Andrés Franco’s warmth, energy, creativity, and imagination as well as his commitment to literature, music, and social justice give me confidence that he will lead City of Asylum brilliantly into a wonderful next chapter of its life.”

Henry Reese and Diane Samuels founded Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum in 2004. “I deeply admire City of Asylum’s mission to protect, celebrate, and build on creative freedom. The writers in residence—both past and present—inspire us with their courage and compel us to express ourselves freely. As a resident of Pittsburgh’s Northside, I have experienced first-hand the transformative power of its programs at the local, national, and international levels, and I am honored to join the organization as Executive Director. I look forward to working with the Board and staff to continue creating a stronger and more inclusive community,” said Mr. Franco

“Andrés Franco has been a treasured member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra family for six seasons, where he has made a significant impact with his engaging style and deep commitment to audiences of all ages, including inventive programming with City of Asylum. This appointment is great news for the region and for City of Asylum which deserves someone as special as Andrés. We know our audiences will miss seeing him lead the orchestra, but we’ll all look forward to creative collaborations with him in his new role,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

About Andrés Franco – A frequent guest conductor in the U.S., Europe, and South America, Mr. Franco has appeared with the symphonies of Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Eugene, Elgin, Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Mississippi, Omaha, Springfield, and St. Louis; the philharmonic orchestras of Boise and Oklahoma City; and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Worldwide, he has conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León/Spain, the Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes/Mexico, the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru, as well as the Bogotá Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, Medellin Philharmonic, and EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia. He has also appeared at the Cabrillo, Grant Park, OK Mozart, Oregon Bach, Round Top, and Texas Music festivals.

A native of Colombia, Mr. Franco is dedicated to preserving and performing the music of the Americas. During his career he has led many performances of works by Latin American composers such as Carlos Chávez, Gabriela Lena Frank, Alberto Ginastera, Jimmy López, Arturo Márquez, José Pablo Moncayo, Ástor Piazzolla, and Silvestre Revueltas.

Andrés Franco served as assistant, associate, and resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2015-2020), music director of Tulsa’s Signature Symphony (2015-2020), associate and resident conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (2009-2014), and as music director of the Philharmonia of Kansas City (2004-2010).

Andrés Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, as well as master of music degrees in piano performance and conducting from Texas Christian University.

He is married to Victoria Luperi, associate principal clarinetist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

About City of Asylum:  City of Asylum’s mission is to build a more just community by protecting and celebrating creative free expression. Now in its 15th year, City of Asylum operates the largest writer sanctuary program in the world, has re-developed over $12.5 million of abandoned property on Pittsburgh’s Northside, and presents over 150 globally focused arts and humanities programs annually at its state-of-the-art cultural center, Alphabet City. All City of Asylum programs are free to the public.


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