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Billings symphony in 'great shape' as top man prepares to leave

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 08:38:19-04

BILLINGS - After four years with the Billings Symphony, executive director Ignacio Barron Viela is moving to Nevada.

The announcement came on Tuesday, that Barron Viela will become the president and C.E.O. of the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra starting in late October.

And as he leaves, the Billings Symphony is ready to continue his work.

Barron Viela started with the Billings Symphony in January of 2019.

"I'm very honored and grateful for all the things we have accomplished together and I will keep that in my memories for for years to come," Barron Viela said.

During this time here, he went through the remodeling of the Alberta Bair Theater, which meant using other venues.

And with the challenge of COVID, he says the Billings Symphony was one of nine orchestras in the country to continue performing and live streaming the concerts.

"When I look back and I see you know, difficult times and challenges, I see resilience," Barron Viela said. "And I applaud the staff, the board and the orchestra for all the resilience that has been shown."

A new office in downtown Billings, the Sukin Series during the summer and merging with Billings Youth Orchestra are among some of the accomplishments for the symphony, along with bringing in world-renowned musicians including a guitarist from his former home in Spain.

"The Spanish Nights performance was standout," Mark Soudei, principal trombone for the Symphony, said about the October, 2021 concert. "Probably the best I've heard the orchestra in a long time and you know it's something that's very dear to him, obviously from his ethnicity and such."

Souedi says the symphony did not need a trombone player that night.

He said Barron Viela brought Raphael Guirre, the guitar player, to his music class at Rocky

"Not only just how he was able to connect with the orchestra, but how he was able to do that with the community," Souedi said. "And how he won the hearts over of the community."

"He really brought new vigor and foresight for the Billings Symphony and we've seized it and are moving forward with it," said Scott Brown, vice-president of hte Symphony board.

Brown said Barron Viela has left the organization in great financial shape.

"I've gotten to work with him, but he's become a friend as well," Brown said.

"I'm excited for him," said Souedi. "I'm very happy for him. It's bittersweet for sure."

"It was a family decision and my wife and I will be moving to a new place, a new state," Barron Viela said. "And of course, we will not be strangers. We have a lot of connections in Billings, so we're not disappearing. We're going to come back very often and see everyone here and we hope to be reconnected in Billings."

Barron Viela's last day is Aug. 25.