This afternoon, Aaron Greenwald—who grew Duke Performances into the world-class performing-arts powerhouse we’ve come to take for granted—announced on Facebook that he was stepping down as executive director immediately.

“It’s been an unbelievable time at Duke Performances, and we’ve gotten to do incredible stuff,” Greenwald told the INDY this afternoon. “I like labor, but I just got to the point where I needed to do a different kind of labor. It’s a lean office, and we’ve continued to be more and more ambitious, as Duke and the evolution of Durham have allowed us to. But as a forty-two-year-old with a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I didn’t feel like I could keep up with doing all the things I need to on behalf of the organization and to be present in the way that I wanted to be.”

While Greenwald’s sudden departure comes as a surprise, mid-season isn’t as strange a time to leave as it might seem, as the current season is well underway and the next one is taking shape.

“The [holiday] break was a good time to ruminate on this, and it was a decision we came to as a family,” Greenwald says. “I’m pleased that Duke and the staff have been supportive. We’ve been able to put a lot of the fundamental blocks of the next season in place, and a lot of the classical programming, which often books further out—but it also leaves a lot of space for the more creative programming we’ve been known for.”

Associate director Eric Oberstein, a longtime Duke Performances employee, will be taking the helm as interim director following Greenwald’s departure. “I feel like Duke Performances is on firm ground with Eric coming on,” Greenwald says of the Grammy-winning record producer who began as his intern. “He’s a terrific guy with enormous capacity.”

In the twelve years that Greenwald served as Duke Performances’ executive director, the achievements he’s proudest of are increasing the types and the number of programming, getting Duke Performances off campus, and being a major commissioner of new work.

“We made a pretty broad expansion of programming across genres,” he says. “It doesn’t seem so pioneering now, but the fact that more than a third of this season takes place off of Duke’s campus—that would have been unthinkable twelve years ago. I’m also proud of the way we were able to work with different partners in community, from Hayti to Pinhook to The Fruit to The Carolina Theatre to DPAC, on occasion. And in addition to the abundance of programming, which was intentional and labor-intensive, we also made a commitment to an abundance of commissions, which doesn’t happen lots of places.”

As for Greenwald, he says he has some consulting jobs lined up but isn’t sure what is next for him yet. It’s a loss for the Triangle but a well-earned rest for one of its hardest-working presenters.

“The trajectory of the organization over the last twelve years has been amazing, in terms of shows, the venues we use, the budget we have; we have a board now, we have more staff,” he says. “That was a big boulder to push up the hill, building that from a staff of, I believe, two and a half people when I started. I wasn’t sure I had another ten years of that kind of pushing.”