Clayton State University names new executive and artistic director of Spivey Hall

katie lehman spivey hall
Katie Lehman is the new executive and artistic director of Spivey Hall. (Courtesy of Spivey Hall)

Since its opening in 1991, Spivey Hall has had only two artistic directors — Sherryl Nelson, followed by Sam Dixon. Now, a third successor takes the wheel, managing this illustrious music venue’s executive and artistic direction. Katie Lehman is a violinist who has had two decades’ worth of experience in performing arts management. The new artistic director joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to share the perspectives on classical music that she’ll bring to this new era at Spivey Hall.

Interview highlights:

A one-of-a-kind acoustic experience:

“Spivey Hall offers an unlimited opportunity to hear sound in a way we can’t hear it in very many other places. I had my first opportunity the other day to hear voice in the hall … I was absolutely taken away by the sound that is produced in that space. You can feel the sound coming from the artists off the stage, off of the baffles on the side and just enveloping you as a person sitting in the audience,” said Lehman. “It’s a sound like no place else.”

What to expect in Spivey’s upcoming season:

 “The wonderful Sam Dixon, curator par excellence of Spivey Hall for so very long, has been working diligently as his final season has developed, and that will be the ’22-’23 season, which he has largely put together and gifted me as this fabulous start to my term here,” said Lehman.

“We will do much of what we have been doing, which is to say we have gorgeous pianos, and bringing in the top pianists that we possibly can is very high on our agenda. I know that my programming will also see us seeking out even more emerging talents, young artists. I always like to refer to my wall of fame as the pictures I have hanging on the wall of artists that I brought in five years ago, and we can no longer afford,” said Lehman. “Now at Spivey Hall, we can bring in the very finest with the support of our amazing friends here.”

How Spivey Hall plans to welcome new generations of music lovers:

“The audiences of tomorrow must feel comfortable in our space. The music that we play is not the barrier, I think,” said Lehman. “We have amazing music, but if you look, for instance, at New York and you go to Poisson Rouge, for instance, it’s a nightclub in which you can hear classical music. You can order drinks, and you can enjoy it with your friends. Now that’s not what we want to do all the time, but some of the time, that’s a remarkable way to say to young people, ‘You can experience the world and the way you want to experience the world, and we will join you there.’”

“I also believe we are in a true Renaissance of composition,” Lehman said. “We are seeing an amazing younger generation of composers … who are drawing on their ethnic heritages, who are drawing on folk materials, who are drawing on their modern identity as they write music for us, and it’s music that draws on so many more cultures than the traditional Western, European and American backgrounds … I think we have glory days ahead of us in the field of classical music, but it is our responsibility to market it, to produce it, and to put it in front of people in ways that they will come to us and say, ‘This is what I want to do with my time.”

More information about the upcoming music season at Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall can be found at