Walter Blodgett retired in 1974 and was succeeded by Czech-born organist Karel Paukert, who greatly expanded his predecessor's responsibilities by playing some 30 organ recitals each season and serving as artistic director for a year-round series of some 40 classical chamber music concerts featuring vocal soloists and choral groups; pianists, violinists, and other instrumentalists; and chamber music ensembles. The varied programs included Western music from medieval and Renaissance works to the very latest contemporary creations. Paukert also began the Gala Music Series, a subscription series of world-class performers, and the Aki Festival of New Music (1977–85; 1999–2003), a month-long biennial festival that featured a full range of contemporary music, from avant-garde performance art to composer retrospectives to the latest in electro-acoustic music. Paukert retired in 2004.
In 1997, the Department of Performing Arts was established and Massoud Saidpour was named artistic director. He extended the museum’s programming into world music, dance, and contemporary performances, initiating the VIVA! Festival of Performing Arts and the Carnevale World Music and Dance Series—two subscription series featuring world-renowned performers from around the globe. To date, performers from more than 90 countries have presented their musical traditions in these two series.