Louisville Ballet Names Philip Koester Executive Director

Organization Announces New Leadership in Seasoned Industry Expert

LOUISVILLE, KY Louisville Ballet has announced its new Executive Director, Philip Koester, seasoned industry expert and Louisville native. Koester joins Louisville Ballet from the Kentucky Opera, where he most recently served as Chief Revenue and Advancement Officer. Prior to Kentucky Opera, Koester was Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl. He has also held senior leadership positions at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Opera. 

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to welcome Phil to his role as Executive Director,” said Ralph de Chabert, Louisville Ballet Board President. “Phil is the rare combination of accessible and analytical, with a human-centered, future-focused leadership approach. His depth of experience in engaging new audiences and communities also closely aligns with our efforts and desire to better connect with, and reflect, the entire community.”

Robert Curran, who joined Louisville Ballet in 2014, will continue to co-lead the organization in his role as Artistic Director. 

“As an organization, of course we look for leaders who are experts in their field and who bring with them relationships, skills, and experience to help us move toward our vision,” said Robert Curran, Artistic Director for Louisville Ballet. “But more than that, we look for someone who captures the spirit of who we are – someone with a commitment to relationship-building in our communities, a passion for reaching audiences across traditional boundaries in new, meaningful ways, and an awareness of our strengths and areas of opportunity as an industry. We’re excited to have Phil join us, to help us with the work of leading Louisville Ballet into a new era.”

Koester has a proven track record of shaping organizational strategy, generating record revenues, and advancing the mission of numerous organizations through fundraising and community engagement efforts. He has been recognized by the League of American Orchestras, Opera America, and Tessitura as a thought leader in digital innovation and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Examples include his work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to help establish both the CSO Latino Alliance and African American Network initiatives during his tenure.

“I’m thrilled to join Louisville Ballet and to have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success of this dynamic organization,” said Koester. “I am looking forward to partnering with Artistic Director Robert Curran and collaborating with the Board of Directors and staff as we lead the organization into a sustainable and successful future. I’m also excited to build meaningful relationships between Louisville Ballet and community residents, both locally and across the Commonwealth. And as someone from Louisville, I am truly energized to help lead a Company that continues to make a big artistic impact in my hometown.”

Louisville Ballet recently announced spring performances for its 70th Anniversary Season as well as the inaugural Dysart Award, an international prize for choreographers on the rise, presented to Anne Jung. The organization has more innovative, exciting, and boundary-pushing performances planned for future seasons. Koester is particularly energized to arrive as Louisville Ballet begins planning for its 75th Anniversary Season which will begin in 2026.

Louisville Ballet, co-led by Artistic Director Robert Curran and Executive Director Philip Koester, is an evolved, but accessible artistic organization that boldly and beautifully communicates stories both classic and new. We exist to move, to evoke emotion, to provoke thought, and to challenge perceptions. We are artists, athletes, and activists. We are inventors and inspirers. Currently celebrating our 70th Anniversary Season, we have been one of the nation’s leading ballet companies since 1952. As the official State Ballet of Kentucky, we have hosted some of ballet’s biggest names including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, and Wendy Whelan, performed for tens of thousands of people, and reached over 20,000 school children throughout the Commonwealth with educational programs annually.