Rochester's Civic Music director announces retirement

Steven Schmidt has helped bring live music to city stages for more than three decades

Riverside Concerts General Manager Steven Schmidt (Post Bulletin file photo)

Steven Schmidt, who is preparing to introduce another season of bands during the Down By The Riverside concert series, has announced he will retire this year.

The general manager and artistic director of the Rochester Civic Music department has worked for the city for more than 32 years.


Schmidt joined the organization in 1989 and has led the city’s music and artistic programming for the past three decades. He will retire in September 2021.
"We celebrate what Civic Music has achieved under his leadership and wish him the best as he takes this step to enjoy retirement," City Administrator Alison Zelms said. "In the coming weeks and months we will work with Steve, his team and others to ensure Rochester residents and visitors continue to have access to offerings as we reinvent once again how to provide programming in the future.”

Under Schmidt’s leadership, Civic Music has served more than million concert goers through the summertime Mayo Park concerts, which have featured performances by acts such as Asleep at the Wheel, Little Joe Y La Familia, The Dixie Chicks, Kansas, Collective Soul, and George Thorogood and the Destroyers.


Two years ago, the department launched the forWARD concert series, which brings music to neighborhood parks. In addition, programming such as Riverside Live!, Global Music, Artists-in-the-Schools, and Live from Med City have been championed by Schmidt and his team.

Schmidt is the recipient of a Sally Irvine Ordway award for Commitment, recognizing lifetime achievement, contribution and leadership in the arts and/or culture and nominee for a William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming, and a Mayor’s Medal of Honor Award for Excellence in City Service. In addition to serving as the leader of Civic Music, he is a touring and recording singer/songwriter/musician.

Prior to joining the city staff, Schmidt was managing director of the T.B. Sheldon Auditorium Theatre in Red Wing and director of arts resources for the city of El Paso, Texas.

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