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Dr. Ayden Adler

Professor of History and Music at DePauw University

Dr. Ayden Adler: successful musician and professor.

Dr. Ayden Adler was appointed dean of the School of Music at DePauw University in 2016 and currently serves as Professor of History and Music. With degrees from Princeton University (A.B.), the Juilliard School (M.M.), and the Eastman School of Music (M.A., D.M.A., Ph.D.), her professional background and experience encompasses music performance, scholarship, teaching, and administrative positions at some of the nation’s most esteemed music institutions. Her students teach at top universities and perform in major ensembles.

At DePauw University, Dr. Adler lead the 21st Century Musician Initiative, which realigned faculty and student approaches to 21st-century music education. Dr. Ayden Adler also secured $10M for scholarships beginning with the class of 2021; commissioned a new opera, The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, composed by Gabriela Lena Frank, with libretto by Nilo Cruz, in partnership with the Fort Worth Opera, San Diego Opera, and UT Austin; and secured Yo-Yo Ma for a fall 2017 performance with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago at DePauw.

In her previous role as dean of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, Dr. Adler redesigned the academic program to address 21st-century needs of music students by providing high-level training in audience engagement, community engagement, and digital engagement, musician health and wellness, entrepreneurship, and leadership development. She also oversaw the creation of NWS’s multi-million-dollar digital arm, MUSAIC (www.musaic.nws.edu).

Before working in higher education administration, Dr. Ayden Adler served as Executive Director of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in New York City. As the public face of this fiercely democratic organization where musicians work collaboratively to make artistic decisions, she provided direction and leadership towards the achievement of Orpheus’ artistic and administrative goals. During her tenure, she raised over $9M through individual, corporate, foundation, and government gifts and grants. With support from the Mellon Foundation, she expanded the Orpheus Institute, through which Orpheus musicians mentor the next generation of musicians and business leaders in shared leadership, entrepreneurship, and communication. Dr. Adler has also served as Director of Education and Community Partnerships for the Philadelphia Orchestra and as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Director for Learning Development.

As an orchestral musician, Ayden Adler performed in many countries under esteemed conductors, including Loren Maazel, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Alan Gilbert. She served as a member of the horn sections of the Jerusalem Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for over a decade. As a chamber musician, she performed with Christoph Eschenbach, Ricardo Morales, Klaus Thunemann, and Mark Inouye, among others. She has recorded for the Harmonia Mundi label and is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards).


While performing in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Adler taught horn, natural horn, music history, and arts leadership at the Eastman School of Music. Her academic research focuses on the history of orchestral institutions and the role of arts and culture in society. Dr. Ayden Adler is a frequent speaker and panelist and regularly gives presentations at national and international arts and culture forums that address issues of civic and economic relevance, diversity, entrepreneurship, leadership, and new technologies in the context of historic and current business practices at arts institutions. Her research interests also include racialization and anti-racism, critical race and whiteness studies. She is a Chief Executive Global Fellow of National Arts Strategies and currently serves as an accreditor for the National Association of Schools of Music and as a member of the Committee on Academic Leadership and Administration for the College Music Society. Her current book project, “Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music”: Serge Koussevitzky, Arthur Fielder, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is under contract with the University of Illinois Press.