symphony NOVEMBER /DECEMBER 2010 ■ $5.95
THE MAGAZINE OF
THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
How Much Would You Pay for This
Seat? Orchestras Reexamine Ticket Pricing
SPECIAL FOCUS: The Craft of the Pops Arrangement
Orchestra in NASCAR Country Musician-Managers: From Instrument Case to Brief Case
CONCERT MUSIC… AND THE CHANCE TO SEE A CHAPLIN CLASSIC Join the symphony orchestras worldwide who have already discovered the hilarious box office hit a Chaplin film plus a Chaplin score can be... ...if Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, St Louis, Moscow, London and Kyoto can do it, then so can you ! “ I tried to compose elegant and romantic music to frame my comedies in contrast to the tramp character ” Charles Chaplin “ Like his famous character, his scores employ a perfect balance of comedy, pathos and skill ” Timothy Brock
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e’ve all been there: you find a great price online for an airline ticket, you do something else for a few seconds, you return to the site, and— bang—that low price is gone. Orchestras aren’t going quite as far as airlines with flexible pricing these days (and no one wants to generate that level of frustration), but they are examining ticket prices in often profound ways. How to make concerts widely accessible—and balance the books? How to lower ticket prices to bring in listeners—and yet not undercut perceived value? As orchestras cope with the realities of the recession, they are also looking at ways to keep the money coming in while lowering barriers to entry. In this issue, Jennifer Melick reports on orchestras that are doing everything from pricing tickets at around the cost of a coffee at Starbucks to orchestras that are radically reinventing how they do business. In 1969, a Time magazine article made some dire predictions about the state of orchestras. Basically, the magazine’s take was that orchestras were in big trouble, their financing was unsustainable, the economy was in sorry shape, and the culture at large wasn’t interested in classical music. Sound familiar? The article’s predictions for the most part didn’t come to pass, but the issues it raised have startling currency today. What might be learned from a close look at this time capsule of a story? League President and CEO Jesse Rosen convened a panel of experts to discuss the story, examine how things have changed and stayed the same, and consider what might be done in the here and now.
THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
symphony®, the award-winning, bimonthly
magazine of the League of American Orchestras, discusses issues critical to the orchestra community and communicates to the American public the value and importance of orchestras and the music they perform. EDITOR IN CHIEF Robert Sandla
SENIOR EDITOR Chester Lane
MANAGING EDITOR Jennifer Melick
ASSISTANT EDITOR Ian VanderMeulen
PRODUCTION MANAGER Michael Rush
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Stephen Alter
ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Meghan Whitbeck PUBLISHER Jesse Rosen
DESIGN/ART DIRECTION Jeff Kibler The Magazine Group Washington, DC
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symphony n ov e m b e r / d ec e m b e r 2 0 1 0
T he M aga z ine of T he L eag u e of A me r ican O r chest r as
2 Prelude by Robert Sandla 6 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events 13 Critical Questions In 1969, Time magazine depicted a dire future for orchestras. What are we to make of the similarities between then and now? by Jesse Rosen
6 Tom Kates
18 Currents What orchestras can learn from Harley-Davidson’s customer approach. A discussion with David Snead and Susan Fournier
Chart Toppers Writing a good pops arrangement is an art. by Jayson Greene
Hidden Talents For many musicians, orchestral management is proving to be a rewarding career path. by Ian VanderMeulen
Serious Fun Amateur and affinity orchestras are great outlets for sharing a passion for symphonic music with the community. by Michael Stugrin
Just the Ticket A growing number of orchestras are dramatically dropping ticket prices as a way to lower barriers to admission. by Jennifer Melick Bluegrass Symphony In Kentucky, one orchestra is making a name for Beethoven in the land of barbecue. by Andrew Adler
Steve J. Sherman
30 2010 Guide to Symphony Pops Advertisers 61 Advertiser Index Princeton Symphony Orchestra
62 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund 64 Coda Classically trained violinist Lucia Micarelli stars in a hit TV show. 66 Stat of the Arts ONLINE ONLY Classical music, by the numbers about the cover
Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources.
Coming up with the right price for a concert ticket has never been easy, and it’s become even trickier during a recession. “Just the Ticket” (page 48) describes some of the dramatic changes underway during the 2010-11 season. Cover image Downtown Picture Company/Getty Images
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SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE
Rocky Mountain Heroes
On September 11 the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra marked a solemn anniversary with “Heroic Portraits,” its season-opening concert (top) featuring the world premiere of a multimedia presentation by photochoreographer James Westwater. Giant images depicting the work of local “heroes” from eleven social service organizations provided a backdrop for Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Adding poignancy to the occasion were recent events: a series of forest fires that had raged in the foothills near Boulder the previous week (above). All those affected by the fires were admitted to the concert free of charge, and the Red Cross accepted donations in the hall throughout the evening. Led by Music Director Michael Butterman, the concert also included Jeff Tyzik’s Bravo! Colorado, a work dedicated to the memory of Gerald Ford; Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, with photochoreography by Westwater and live narration by Bill Mooney; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline at symphony.org.
Boulder Camera and Colorado Daily
Nicholas Bardonnay, WestwaterArts.com
Visa Express Lane
Touring the States just got much easier for foreign musicians. On July 20, officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) promised that average processing times for regularly filed artist visa petitions will not exceed 14 days. Previously, approvals have taken up to 120 days to process, an obstacle for orchestras and other organizations seeking to engage foreign guest artists. The League of American Orchestras, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians, members of the Performing Arts Alliance, and North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents, led efforts to improve the visa process through direct advocacy and strategic efforts with policy leaders. Top leaders at USCIS, the White House, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities have responded to address visa concerns. “This to us represents a real breakthrough,” League Vice President for Advocacy Heather Noonan told The New York Times on July 23. “We are extremely hopeful that the changes that they have planned will result in improvements for international cultural exchange.” For guidance on submitting visa petitions, visit the Artists From Abroad website, which is updated regularly, or contact League government affairs.
MUSICAL CHAIRS South Carolina’s Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra has named JONATHAN ACETO director of the HHSO Youth Orchestra.
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has tapped Arild Remmereit to succeed Christopher Seaman as music director, with a four-year contract beginning in September 2011. Remmereit made his RPO debut in May 2009, and most recently conducted the orchestra in July of this year. Since 2005 he has also guest conducted the Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Seattle
has been appointed director of development at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. JENNIFER J. BARBEE
California’s Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra has appointed MORGAN HUGHES BECKETT general manager. has been named conductor of the Canton (Ohio) Youth Symphony. ERIC BENJAMIN
The Tucson Symphony has appointed JAMES BOYD director of artistic operations.
A Tune for Each Year
has joined the Mankato (Minn.) Symphony Orchestra as its first full-time executive director. SARA BUECHMANN
Pennsylvania’s Kennett Symphony of Chester County has named BARB BULLOCK executive director. The Florida Orchestra, based in St. Petersburg, has appointed ANGELA CASSETTE operations director. NANCY HEADLEE is the orchestra’s new personnel manager.
symphony orchestras, as well as Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra and numerous orchestras in the U.K., Europe, and Asia. Following conservatory degrees in voice, piano, and composition in his native Norway, Remmereit pursued conducting studies at Aspen Music Festival and School, at Vienna’s Hochschule für Musik, and with Leonard Bernstein at the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Remmereit and his wife, Honami, currently reside in Vienna and plan to make Rochester their home.
has been appointed executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to succeed ANDREA LAGUNI , who returns to his prior post of general manager. RACHEL FINE
The Houston Symphony has named RON FREDMAN senior director, development. Georgia’s Symphony Orchestra Augusta has appointed MICAH GANGWER associate concertmaster.
The Brevard (N.C.) Symphony Youth Orchestra has named MICHAEL J. GARASI artistic director. has been appointed to the post of Douglas F. King Assistant Conductor at the Seattle Symphony. ERIC GARCIA
The Symphony Orchestra of Northwest Arkansas, based in Fayetteville, has named PAUL HAAS music director.
has been appointed principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops.
Several additions to the playing roster have been announced by the Colorado Symphony, including RACHEL HARDING-KLAUS , assistant concertmaster; BROOK ELLEN SCHOENWALD, principal flute; and NICHOLAS RECUBER , assistant principal bass.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Riverbend Music Center patrons attending the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra’s “Best of Broadway” concert this summer got a rare taste of some Kunzel Lager brewed by Cincinnati-based Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. All 200 cases of the limited-edition beer—a tribute to the late Erich Kunzel, who led the Pops for some four decades—were sold, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Erich Kunzel Pops Legacy Fund, a nonprofit established soon after Kunzel’s death in September 2009. Helping the Riverbend swillers enjoy their Kunzel Lager was the Pete Wagner Schnapps Band, which performed near the beer stand in honor of Kunzel’s German heritage.
At the Nashville Symphony, KELLY CORCORAN has been promoted from assistant to associate conductor.
has been named to the Louise D. and Louis Nippert principal viola chair at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. CHRISTIAN COLBERG
Two orchestras are paying tribute to their respective music directors with commissioned works this season. In honor of Gerard Schwarz’s 18th and final season as music director, the Seattle Symphony has commissioned eighteen works by American composers to be premiered throughout the season. Composers include Augusta Read Thomas, Joseph Schwantner, Aaron Jay Kernis, Daron Hagen, Samuel Jones, David Stock, Bernard Rands, Gunther Schuller, Bright Sheng, Daniel Brewbaker, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Robert Beaser, Chen Yi, George Tsontakis, David Schiff, Richard Danielpour, Paul Schoenfield, and Philip Glass. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, is celebrating a decade under the leadership of Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles—as well as the tenth season of the Atlanta School of composers—by premiering fanfares by ten composers, including Christopher Theofanidis, Jennifer Higdon, Michael Gandolfi, Adam Schoenberg, Norman Mackenzie, Alvin Singleton, Spano himself, and others to be announced.
Remmereit to Rochester
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has appointed SCOTT HARRISON director of patron engagement and loyalty programs. has been named general manager of the Ashland (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra. JARROD HARTZLER
began his tenure this fall as music
Music Director Jacques Lacombe with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, September 2010
MUSICAL CHAIRS director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has appointed NICKI INMAN vice president of patron services. has announced her intention to step down as music director of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2010-11 season. SARAH IOANNIDES
Oregon’s Portland Youth Philharmonic has named KEVIN A. LEFOHN executive director. The Rogue Valley Symphony (Ashland, Ore.) has appointed MARTIN MAJKUT music director. has been named concertmaster of the BismarckMandan Symphony Orchestra in North Dakota. EVERALDO MARTINEZ
The Nashville Symphony has appointed JONATHAN MARX director of communications. has been named director of advancement and patron communications at the Richmond (Va.) Symphony.
has been named director of marketing and development at the Lansing (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra. KRISTIN L. PETERSON
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has appointed NICOLE PHILIPP public relations specialist.
has been elected president of the Santa Rosa (Cal.) Symphony Association. ERIC ROSSIN
The Vancouver (B.C.) Symphony Orchestra has named PIERRE SIMARD assistant conductor.
Three senior-level appointments have been announced by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: MATTHEW SPIVEY, vice president of artistic operations; DEBORAH BRODER , vice president, BSO at Strathmore; and CHERYL GOODMAN , director of fundraising and administration for OrchKids. will step down as music director of the Duluth Superior (Minn.) Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2012-13 season. MARKAND THAKAR
California’s Glendale Symphony Orchestra has appointed LORIS TJEKNAVORIAN principal conductor and music director.
ALAIR TOWNSEND has succeeded MARTIN OPPENHEIMER as chair of the Board of Governors
for the Center of Music and Drama, managing organization for Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.
Oregon’s Eugene Symphony has announced the appointment of SARAH VEINS as principal trumpet. has been named chief of staff at Boston’s New England Conservatory. SUZANNE WILSON
The Van Cliburn Foundation, based in Fort Worth, Tex., has appointed DAVID CHAMBLESS WORTERS president and chief executive officer.
Garden State Welcome
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has appointed GIANANDREA NOSEDA to the Victor de Sabata Guest Conductor Chair.
With its opening-night gala on September 14 and inaugural subscription program on September 26 in Newark, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra welcomed Jacques Lacombe in his new role as music director. Repertoire included the world premiere of Robert Aldridge’s Suite from Elmer Gantry, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (with the Westminster Symphonic Choir and vocal soloists), and violinist Joshua Bell in SaintSaëns’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28 and “Méditation” from Massenet’s Thaïs. That was just the beginning; on September 26, a post-concert free block party ensued as the NJSO publicly welcomed Lacombe to the community. The party was co-hosted by local organizations including the New Jersey Historical Society, NJPAC, the Newark Arts Council, and radio station WBGO. Lacombe led choirs from Newark’s Bethany Baptist and Metropolitan Baptist churches; participants also included the Bradford Hayes Jazz Quartet, vocalist Kevin Maynor, the Luisito Ayala Orchestra salsa band, and an NJSO chamber ensemble.
The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra wants everyone to know how easy it is to enjoy orchestral music. For two weeks in August, “teaser” billboards around Jacksonville displayed various simple messages such as the one below. During the final week in August, the billboards were changed to display the message, “Life is complicated, but enjoying life is not,” along with a website where visitors could find discount coupons for JSO tickets and a short quiz to help would-be concertgoers choose a program. The campaign was created and developed by Jacksonville advertising and marketing agency Burdette Ketchum, which, along with Clear Channel Outdoor, Daily Billboard and Folio Weekly, has been a key partner of the orchestra, providing pro-bono time and discounted costs and services. symphony
Seeking innovative ways to help your orchestra? The Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras has the go-to source of great ideas: Gold Book Online, the national resource of successful volunteer projects, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Gold Book Online is packed with information about tried-and-true projects and events created by orchestra volunteers. And it’s available for free via the Web. “The beauty of the Gold Book is that anyone, anywhere, can read all of the information about these successful projects,” says Jane Van Dyk, president of the Volunteer Council. “There are brief descriptions of projects that could work for executive directors, staff, volunteers, and development people. These are projects that have proven track records.” Learn more at goldbookonline.org.
Movie Ticket, Popcorn, Quartet
Theatergoers at the Airport Stadium 12 cinemas in Santa Rosa, California had an unexpected encounter of a new kind in September, when students from the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensembles participated in “Get Your Play On: Putting String Instruments in Peoples’ Hands.” Held in the theater lobby from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the event was part of the ArtsSonoma Festival ’10, a two-week countywide festival of music, visual art, and dance. A quartet from the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra performed arrangements of movie music, and members of the Santa Rosa Symphony and staff offered moviegoers open-string and other simple instruction.
Courtesy Santa Rosa Symphony
A moviegoer tries out a violin, courtesy of Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensemble.
Volunteer Think Tank
EarShot composer Ryan Gallagher speaks to the audience as the Nashville Symphony and Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero prepare to play his work Grindhouse, 2010.
Orchestras looking for new works and composers looking for orchestras to play them have a matchmaker: EarShot, the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network, which brings orchestras and composers together for musicreading sessions of new American orchestral music. In addition to giving artistic and professional-development opportunities to emerging composers, the readings provide community experience by engaging conductors, musicians, board members, staff, and audiences with living composers. EarShot’s work also encompasses project planning, calls for scores, adjudication by leading composers, score and part preparation, composer mentors, and financial assistance. Five organizations have teamed up for EarShot: the American Composers Orchestra, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, the League of American Orchestras, and Meet The Composer. Orchestras and composers interested in EarShot should visit www.earshotnetwork.org for details and deadlines.
All About the Music For subscribers and friends of the Reno Chamber Orchestra, an email announcing the September 18 season opener paired a friendly slogan—“Why RCO? It’s all about the music”—with a friendly image. Standing upright in a kayak, face beaming, was “Allison Wren, 58, mountain climber, Ph.D.s in Pharmacology & Philosophy, Founder, Tahoe SUP, Entrepreneur & patent holder, Reno Chamber Orchestra lover.” The image and text, also used in print ads like the one seen here, provided a personality snapshot—one of a series that featured such “RCO lovers” as subscriber Sandy Brown; RCO bassist and Executive Director Scott Faulkner; Concertmaster Ruth Lenz; and three young Suzuki students, members of the Brady family who’ve been attending RCO concerts since the age of three.
“Why RCO? It’s all about the music.” For classical music lovers, there’s nothing quite like the Reno Chamber Orchestra. This season, enrich your life with forty gifted musicians. Five eminent guest soloists. Maestro Theodore Kuchar, the most recorded conductor of his generation. And a close-knit community of music lovers like you. Buy your ticket for a concert or the entire season today.
New Lower Prices Throughout Nightingale Concert Hall See our web site for new sectioned seating chart and concert schedule.
(775) 348.9413 | RenoChamberOrchestra.org
M e e ts
“A magical evening...unforgettable... THE BEST SHOW!!!!” — satisfied West Virginia Symphony patron
Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony is an unusual pops evening that begins with a hilarious parody of a classical concert (Dan as The Classical Clown) and ends with two restored Chaplin classics from 1917, with brilliant contemporary scores by Grant Cooper. Two full hours of comedy and music.
Catch the buzz at
Comecdeyrtos Con (412)563-0468 email@example.com
Composers are a strong presence among recent book releases. Harvey Sachs’s The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824 (Random House, 240 pages, $26) examines the premiere of one of the composer’s most recognizable symphonies within its turbulent historical context. The Cambridge Companion to Schoenberg (Cambridge University Press, 346 pages, $31.99), edited by Jennifer Shaw and Joseph Auner, focuses on the music itself, and includes both musical excerpts from the modernist icon’s works as well as images of his original score pages. David Brown’s Musorgsky: His Life and Works (Oxford University Press, 391 pages, $24.95), dubbed “a no-holds-barred biography” by the New York Times Book Review and featuring musical examples, will please historians and music theorists alike. Hot on the heels of 90th-birthday celebrations for the late Lenny, Jack Gottlieb’s Working with Bernstein (Amadeus Press, 384 pages, $24.99) offers a witty yet sensitive balance of dishy insider stuff, personal reminiscences, and musicological exegeses. Fans of Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise may want to dip into Listen to This (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 624 pages, $30), a collection of his New Yorker pieces dealing with such diverse subjects as Radiohead, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Beijing indierockers. Finally, Leon Fleisher—who has worked with many living composers—has written a searing autobiography of his personal and professional life, My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music (Doubleday, 323 pp., $26), co-authored by Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette.
Sazheila “Sheila” Reyes-Bunnag
DC Youth Orch. Turns 50
The DC Youth Orchestra Program kicked off its 50th-anniversary season on August 21 with a daylong celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where alumni joined the orchestra for performances led by Music Director Jesus Manuel Berard and Marvin Hamlisch (above), principal pops conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra and host of the event. DCYOP’s twelve-level curriculum serves more than 600 children from widely diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. After 50 years at Washington, D.C.’s Coolidge High School, the organization has recently taken up quarters at Eastern High School, a more central location with better highway and public-transit access.
Early music wasn’t big on the cultural radar a few decades ago, but today period instruments and historically informed styles are practically mainstream. At the forefront is Early Music America, the service organization that supports the early-music community in North America and raises public awareness of the genre. Founded in December 1985, EMA provides its members with publications, advocacy, and technical support. Early Music America is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a year-long round of activities that include a national conference focusing on the future of early music; the launch of a Young Performers Festival; more than 100 special concerts by members; an EMAcommissioned world premiere; and new and enhanced scholarships, grants, and competitions. Find complete information at Early Music America’s website.
Orchestras Feeding America
2010 In the midst of the reality of hunger in America, the ongoing Orchestras Feeding America food drive provides one bright spot. Over the last two years, more than 250 orchestras in all 50 states collected over 300,000 pounds of food for the nation’s hungry, making this the single largest orchestra project serving communities nationwide. The League of American Orchestras invites orchestras of every description to sign up for this year’s drive. While March is the official Orchestras Feeding America month, all orchestras conducting food drives are encouraged to participate and add to the 2011 national total. A sample press release, hunger facts, flyer and poster designs, and lists of most-needed food items are posted on the League’s website. For more about the 2011 Orchestras Feeding America food drive, contact Margaret Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 646-822-4037.
League Names Roy Development VP
The League of American Orchestras has appointed Robin J. Roy, a development professional with more than 25 years of experience in the educational, health, and nonprofit fields, as vice president for development. Prior to beginning work at the League in October she had held senior development posts at Columbia University, most recently with its Department of Neurology and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain. Before entering the health care field, Roy earned a master’s degree in musicology from Smith College and pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in the field of Italian Renaissance sacred music. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College and an M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University’s School of Business.
Mural, Mural on the Wall
The Pacific Symphony was immortalized this summer when the city of Mission Viejo, California unveiled a mural featuring orchestra musicians and a likeness of Music Director Carl St.Clair. The tile mural, displayed at the Oso Creek Trail near the Oso Viejo Community Center, where the orchestra performs free summer concerts, measures more than twelve feet wide by three feet high and features four-by-eight-inch border tiles with measures of Postcard and Radiant Voices by former composer-in-residence Frank Ticheli. Students in the Pacific Symphony’s Arts-X-press program (pictured below with the completed mural) joined other community members in the project, which was led by Jennifer Koons, Cha-Rie Tang, Melanie Yarak, and Janet C. Panozzo from Laguna Clay Company.
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Theme and Variations A 1969 article in Time magazine predicted a dire future for American orchestras. How have things really played out? What does that recent past mean for orchestras today and in the future? Industry experts offer perspective.
As a group, the symphony orchestras of the U.S. are unsurpassed in quality by those of any other nation in the world. Yet today they are in trouble—loud, unavoidable, cymbal-crashing financial trouble. In Buffalo and Rochester, the two Philharmonics are so pressed for funds that they are talking merger; so are the Cincinnati and Indianapolis orchestras. The Detroit Symphony, which has just emerged from a 34-day musicians’ strike, is in such economic straits that it may have to disband. “Between 1971 and 1973,” predicts Manhattan Fund Raiser Carl Shaver, an expert in orchestral finances, “we stand a very good chance of losing at least one-third, if not half of our major symphony orchestras.” The facts are summed up in a new study prepared for the nation’s top five orchestras—New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago—by the management-consultant firm of McKinsey & Co. Because rocketing costs—most notably, sharply increased salary scales—have not been met by a similar gain in income, the orchestras’ combined annual operating deficit rose from $2.9 million in 1964 to $5.7 million in 1968. The loss will soar to $8,000,000 by the 1971-72 season unless drastic steps are taken… One reason for the crisis is that money for the arts is tighter than it has been in years. Because of more pressing social needs, the Federal Government, as well as many state governments, has cut back its spending on culture. Much of the money that formerly came from the big corporations is now going into the ghettos. As for private donors, explains the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Zubin Mehta, the same reliable philanthropists also give to museums, hospitals and universities, and they have just about reached the limit of giving. Foundation money, like the $80.2 million that Ford gave to 61 orchestras in 1966, must be matched by orchestra-raised funds; many of the symphonies have not yet found the donations to qualify for such grants. “Every year our expenses go up,” says Mehta, “but the donations remain the same.” “American Orchestras: The Sound of Trouble” in Time magazine, June 13, 1969
he observations in this 1969 Time magazine article about orchestras sound disturbingly familiar today. What do we make of the similarities? Is it that nothing ever changes? Did we figure out what to do then, so there’s no need to worry now? Or are we in a whole new world where nothing from the past has any relevance? Rather than be boxed in by those two rather limiting perspectives, I decided to ask three people who have been involved in orchestras and arts and culture for a long time about what was really happening then, what orchestras did about the problems, and what we might learn from those experiences that could help us today. In 1969, Peter americanorchestras.org
Pastreich was in his fourth year as manager of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Bill Foster had recently joined the National Symphony Orchestra viola section. Russell Willis Taylor admits she was in middle school in 1969, but she brings a uniquely qualified experience and perspective to these questions as the head of National Arts Strategies. I hope you will find their conversation as interesting as I did. Jesse Rosen: In 1969 there were 28 of what were called “major” symphony orchestras in the United States. Five of them had 52-week seasons. Today virtually every one of them is in business and thirteen of them have 52-week seasons. Not only did the calamitous drop-off of
by Jesse Rosen
Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras
institutions not occur as the Time article predicted, but the institutions actually grew in the length of their seasons and in attendance. The analysis within the article was that orchestras were spending down their endowments, their recording income was being threatened by new agreements, there was less public funding, not enough demand for 52 weeks, and deficits were on the rise. I would be interested to hear your observations about what was happening in orchestras then, what your analysis is, and if it is consistent with Shaver’s analysis offered in the Time article. If not, how would it be different? Peter Pastreich: The middle 1960s were a period of incredible growth for orchestras. The Ford Foundation announced its grants in ’64 and started paying them out in ’66, as I recall. The National Endowment for the Arts had just started giving money to orchestras in, I believe, 1968. For most of us this was a period of incredible optimism. When I got to the Saint Louis Symphony in ’65, we had a 30-week season. When I left it in ’77, we had a 52-week season, and the same thing had happened in Pittsburgh and in Cincinnati. This article was written right in the middle of that period. The Wolf Report from 1992 said that between 1950 and 1964 the average growth in budgets of the top fifteen orchestras was 3.9 percent. From ’64 to ’67, the average
William Foster joined the National Symphony Orchestra's viola section in 1968 and was assistant principal viola from 1980 until 2006. He is chairman of the Electronic Media Committee of ICSOM (the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians).
Russell Willis Taylor is president and CEO of National Arts Strategies, which provides leadership training for arts and cultural organizations across the United States. She’s shown here delivering the keynote address, “There Are No Crises, Only Tough Decisions,” at the League of American Orchestras’ 2010 National Conference.
Peter Pastreich is executive director of the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. He was executive director of the San Francisco Symphony from 1978 to 1999, and occupied the same position at the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, among others. He led the League of American Orchestras’ Essentials of Orchestra Management program from 1999 to 2010.
Jeff Roffman Photography
more orchestras, but to have more of them that were sustainable. The challenge for leadership in any cultural institution, not just in the symphony field, is to raise private sector money that’s not inflationary, and to raise money that covers the full cost of whatever it is you’re delivering, not that feeds something that then becomes an additional overhead and then, when the money goes away, you don’t have the financial underpinning for it. Peter Pastreich: Ford required a minimum one-to-one match for its endowment grants—in many cases three- or four-to-one—and those matches, with one or two exceptions, happened. So the Ford grants resulted in well over $160 million going into orchestras [$1.1 billion in today’s dollars]. Orchestras obviously got better at raising money. I think that the Ford Foundation achieved virtually everything it set out to achieve; it was one of the most intelligently put together set of grants ever made in our field. Orchestras got some money for endowment and some money for operating while they were raising the endowment. Virtually every orchestra still has that money and is still earning an income from it. Jesse Rosen: Peter, you could probably talk a little bit about how symphony boards have changed during this time. Haven’t they become much more professional? Peter Pastreich: I think boards changed and managements changed. In fact, one could say that we managed our way out of the problem. Because a whole new generation of managers took over in the middle 1960s, mostly young people with a very different view. Becoming manager of the Saint Louis Symphony meant that I
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management and the boards feeling “now is the time for us to make orchestras more professional than they have been”—that we all moved ahead and in many cases, so rapidly that we started building deficits. Bill Foster: In 1962 ICSOM [the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians] was founded, and part of what I think Peter’s talking about—the increased activism of orchestra musicians—was because of that organization and their increased power within the union and their ability to ratify contracts. Rules, representation of their choices—all those things were a result of ICSOM’s organization and development. Russell Willis Taylor: When I started my job ten years ago at what was then the National Arts Stabilization Fund (now National Arts Strategy), I dug out of the archive a box of documents from the Ford Foundation that had been protected sort of like the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. One of the documents that I read was the internal, candid, confidential report about why they had closed the symphony program. Stripping it down to its most basic, what they felt they had done was to increase and institutionalize the size of the problem; as Peter just said, “We were all getting bigger and that meant we were getting bigger deficits.” Essentially, as the orchestras were growing, Ford made significant gifts to their endowments. As the size of endowments increased, this became a misunderstood aspect of negotiations with united labor. They had more money in the bank, but their operating deficits were getting bigger. This had not achieved what the Ford Foundation wished to do, which was not just to have
growth was 18.5 percent and then from ’67 to ’71, it dropped to 7.1 percent. So this article was written, essentially, after a period of almost 20-percent-a-year growth in the big orchestras, because they were all adding weeks and adding salaries. According to Wolf, the total deficit of all of the orchestras in America for the year of 1971 was about $2 million. That was scary, but in fact it was nothing like what one sees today. I think we all were encouraged by the Ford Foundation and by the coming of the National Endowment for the Arts, and orchestras were expanding enormously in a big hurry. Bill Foster: 1969 was my first year in the National Symphony Orchestra. Later that year, we had a nine-week strike, so it was somewhat difficult here in Washington. But after that, we saw great growth. At that time, our orchestra had a 45-week season; a number of years later, within that growth period, we went to 52 weeks. The orchestra expanded in numbers of musicians when Rostropovich was hired as music director in the late 1970s, so there was a big bump in the budget at that time. So we don’t track exactly the history that Peter’s laying out there. Peter Pastreich: All of us were having trouble because we were expanding. There was a gigantic change just prior to the Time article where the musicians got more power, and justifiably so, and there was a general movement to change what orchestras were like. In 1965 virtually no one could make a living just playing in the Saint Louis Symphony; the musicians all had other jobs. So there was a drive in all of those orchestras—partly the musicians becoming more activist, partly
joined the club that was the major orchestra managers—a group of mostly older men with a very conservative view. They had opposed—as had their boards—federal support of orchestras. Within five years, that had totally turned around. The boards and managements were for federal and state support of orchestras, and had begun working to make that happen. So there was a giant change in the boards and in the management over that period in response to many factors, including the coming of ICSOM, the change in the way we viewed orchestras, and the way we viewed the future of orchestras. Bill Foster: Well, I think that generation of managers and the kind of sophisticated and knowledgeable leadership within ICSOM understood their workplace, they understood symphony orchestras. It was a challenging relationship, but I think it was a very highly productive relationship between those managers and the kind of leadership that came to the top in symphony orchestras. I’m thinking of [such influential musicians and labor leaders as] the Irv Segalls, the Fred Zenones, etc., who were really institutionally savvy enough to deal in a constructive, creative, and challenging way with those very creative and dynamic managers. Jesse Rosen: There were two observations in the Time article from two music directors that I thought were really interesting. One of them was that we run a high risk of over-familiarity of the canon, to paraphrase Sir Colin Davis, and the other was the comment from Erich Leinsdorf about new music and Baroque music. Leinsdorf said, “This is a musical problem and it needs a musical solution.” They both spoke about the structure of the orchestra and both proposed, years ahead of Ernest Fleischmann, the idea that the orchestra would be an amalgamation of groups that could be subdivided to go and play chamber music and new music and Baroque music and opera, etc. Peter Pastreich: In 1968, the the National Symphony’s union contract, for the first time, permitted the splitting of the orchestra. Up until then, the orchestra could perform only as a full orchestra. americanorchestras.org
Saint Louis was the second orchestra to negotiate this. Suddenly, chamber orchestras were possible and practical; half the orchestra could be playing Bach and Mozart in one hall and the other half playing a children’s concert in another. Russell Willis Taylor: If I understand the premise of this article, it is that most
of the spare capacity contained within contracts went into additional performances, as opposed to community work or getting younger people involved. This theme comes through to the present day. If we have additional capacity—i.e., if we know we can sell full houses, X number of concerts—then what should we be
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doing with the rest of the time that we have with our players? It’s interesting that as long ago as 1969, there was an understanding that this spare capacity over peak financial performance was there. I know there are some orchestras in the country that are doing really interesting things with that spare capacity and turning it
into things that are not concerts. But for 40 years, that question’s been called. Peter Pastreich: I think it’s a very good question, but again, if you look at the orchestras in the context of 1965 to 1969, when they had such short seasons, there were plenty of reasons for them to concentrate mainly on doing more con-
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certs. Many of those “more concerts,” for instance, were for kids, or were outdoor concerts in parks. In 1965 Congress had passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and this permitted orchestras to start doing things in schools that we hadn’t done before. Most orchestras didn’t have summer seasons at all until the late 1960s, when they added large numbers of free and open-air concerts. So the size of the audience for symphony orchestras expanded gigantically as a result of what happened in the sixties. To say now, in 2010, that orchestras should have been doing more community activities doesn’t make any sense at all. They were doing exactly what they should have been doing: expanding their audience, bringing symphony orchestras and the great symphonic repertoire to people who, before, weren’t hearing them at all. Russell Willis Taylor: I think we’re now at a different point where the broader demographic nationally suggests that audiences are going to continue to shrink for traditional long-form presentation of classical music. We’re now at a kind of new reimagining point. Jesse Rosen: We probably could all agree that this is a challenging time for symphony orchestras and there has been a lot of financial distress. There have been many constraints in scope and scale; there have been concessions from musicians and layoffs of staff and cutting of staff salaries, etc. On paper, this is the same thing that we experienced back in 1969. What can we take from that period in ’69? Is there anything that we learned, anything that we succeeded at, anything we didn’t get right that people leading orchestras today should be thinking about? Russell Willis Taylor: Well, you could invert Zubin Mehta’s observation that costs went up and revenue down. You could have a period where costs didn’t go up any more than income. Peter Pastreich: What Zubin said, “Every year our expenses go up, but the donations remain the same,” was wrong, if he actually said it. Don’t forget this is the same Time magazine that was telling us we were winning the war in Vietnam. symphony
We did get to a point where we overcommitted and spent more than we had, or were likely to have. Today we don’t have the NEA, new state arts councils, and the Ford Foundation coming online, and we have to pull back a little bit on how much we’re spending on staff salaries, on orchestra salaries, on everything. I don’t think orchestras are faced with going out of business now any more than they were in 1969. But we are in a period when we have to reduce the rate of inflation in our institutions or risk bankruptcy. That doesn’t mean we risk losing our orchestras. Bankruptcy is not a pleasant experience. Bill Foster: I think every orchestra, every institution, the musicians, the boards, and managements, has to deal with their situation as a unique situation. I don’t think there’s one panacea for saving American orchestras. There are some orchestras that are in very serious trouble, there are other orchestras that are functioning at a pretty high level. I don’t remember any time when anybody felt that orchestras—even the successful ones— weren’t struggling in some way to fulfill their financial obligations. But this is a particularly difficult time because of the economic downturn, and I think musicians throughout the industry understand that there are particular situations where they’re going to have to do extraordinary things in order to get through these times. Russell Willis Taylor: I would agree with what both of you have said. Some of the business problems and habits that we’re dealing with now are not just the result of the downturn, but in fact, have been systemic in this field for a very long time. Bill Foster: When a downturn like this hits, all institutions are vulnerable to some extent, but some are extremely vulnerable because they were on the edge already. Russell Willis Taylor: That’s really what I was getting at when I said you could invert as a business target or a business reality, perhaps, having your resources for a period of time outstrip your aspirations. Businesses tend to try and grow by accruing spare capacity, financial and otherwise, and then growing. But if you look at the way these americanorchestras.org
organizations have grown—and it’s not just symphonies, it’s a lot of the nonprofit sector—the peculiar way that our market works is that sometimes we achieve growth by having to stretch goals and capacity at the same time. It’s a difficult and challenging way to run a business. It’s not the fault of manage-
ment to have aspirations—that’s exactly what leadership is supposed to be. But it is a problem if management in any field doesn’t learn from history. This Time article, whether it’s true or not, raises some interesting questions about at what point will we tackle some of these fundamental issues.
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Two-Way Street flag to me: the organization is violating a relationship tenet at its core. The next thing that comes to my mind is, “Whoa, how many of them are there like this? Are we executing any specific programs to help solve this problem?” David Snead: Is this two-way mechanism an important relationship idea? Susan Fournier: Very. Sometimes a company acts one way when the consumer is thinking about things very differently. In the extreme, the company can end up doing things that actually hurt the relationship. David Snead: Why is it hard not just for orchestras, but for many organizations, to have a two-way relationship? Why does it default to a one-way relationship? Susan Fournier: On one level, it’s fear of the customer. We have a perception that we are “managers”—we control, we
ne of the best-attended sessions at the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference in Atlanta last June was “Knowing Your Customers and Not Just Their Pocketbooks: Getting Inside the ‘R’ in Customer Relationship Management.” In it, New York Philharmonic Vice President for Marketing David Snead and Boston University Associate Professor of Marketing Susan Fournier discussed orchestras’ relationships with audience and community—and the unexpected ways that orchestras could better connect with concertgoers and use that to build sustained support. The two marketing gurus recently met to share their insights about how orchestras can relate to audiences; highlights of their conversation are below, and you can watch the full discussion at the League’s YouTube channel; just look for “Fournier Interview.” David Snead: Susan, you have written about 70 articles and case studies on marketing and consumers and brands, and consulted with something like 20 firms including Zildjian Cymbals and HarleyDavidson. Before you were at Boston University, you were at Dartmouth, Harvard. So when Susan talks, people listen. Keeping customers, getting more from the people you already have coming in the door, is the number-one thing we can do to build sustainable revenue streams for orchestras. At the New York Philharmonic, we learned that if we could increase
our renewal rate of current subscribers by five percentage points, that would lead to more than $7 million of revenue over a five-year period. For any orchestra, that’s real money. Does this idea of building relationships for improved retention only apply to big orchestras? How can smaller ones do this? Arts marketing consultant Kate Prescott is working on a research project for a number of large orchestras, and part of the research is asking customers how they feel about their local orchestra. In one response about a major, householdname orchestra, a customer said, “The orchestra is reminiscent of my first wife: beautiful but haughty, does what she pleases with no regard for my opinion and freely spends my money without asking.” That’s one customer talking about how they feel about their really, really good orchestra. What does this comment say to you? Susan Fournier: This quote provides invaluable insight into the customers that you have or, in this case, may not have much longer. We can understand our customers, or we can really understand them, and if you tell me that the analogy is a divorced couple, then I’m getting a deep understanding about what kind of relationship is going on and what I might need to do to manage it. When you’re in a relationship, it’s two-way: someone speaks, someone listens; someone acts, someone responds. This person is saying, “The organization operates without regard for me.” This quote raises a huge red
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There’s more to marketing than placing ads, and more to branding than a logo. Two marketing experts share their secrets, and ask the question: how can orchestras be like Harley-Davidson?
Susan Fournier and David Snead at the “Knowing Your Customers and Not Just Their Pocketbooks: Getting Inside the ‘R’ in Customer Relationship Management” session at the League of American Orchestras’ 2010 National Conference.
have the power—as opposed to thinking that relationships are co-owned, reciprocating engagements. A lot of us are afraid of what happens when we release that control. What are the customers going to do? What are they going to say? David Snead: Is there a company that you think is really good at two-way relationships? symphony
Susan Fournier: You mentioned my favorite company, Harley-Davidson. That whole organization is oriented around the consumer. Harley releases control to the customer. Harley communities are owned by the riders. That’s been a fundamental belief driving Harley’s 25 years of doubledigit growth, current recession notwithstanding. David Snead: But for a cultural, nonprofit organization that is missiondriven, does that concept apply—that the consumer should be in control? Susan Fournier: Absolutely. It’s still a business that needs revenue to sustain itself. It still has a brand that has meaning or doesn’t, that has resonance or doesn’t. Orchestras are still delivering a product to consumers, and the reality of successful marketing organizations is that they are customer-driven. If you’re to create value and distinguish yourself from competitors, it’s a mandate. Coca-Cola learned the basic lesson when it tried the New Coke experiment: bottom line, the consumer always owns the brand. David Snead: But we have an artistic mission; we need to be able to take risks; we need to be able to play music that’s new, that people haven’t heard before. How do you do that while keeping the customer in control? Susan Fournier: It’s a balancing act. Yes, you want to bring forward new musicians, new composers, broaden people’s minds, educate—that is still a fundamental mission. But it doesn’t mean you advance the mission to the exclusion of the consumer. David Snead: You mentioned the term “brand meaning.” What do you mean by that? Susan Fournier: Brand meaning is where it all starts. Branding creates value, in a shareholder-value, financial-equity sense: monetary value. Studies show that if you build a strong brand, you have not only greater returns but also lower risk. But to build a strong brand, the brand has to stand for something that matters in the person’s life and in culture. The brand has to lay claim to resonant meanings to become strong. americanorchestras.org
David Snead: I thought the brand meaning was the logo. Susan Fournier: That’s a widely held misperception: that brand equals the logo, the colors, the graphics. But that’s just how people recognize your brand. When they recognize it, what’s triggered in their minds? What are the associations behind that logo? That’s really the brand, and the brand has a place or a role to play in the person’s life—or it doesn’t. David Snead: How do you, managing a brand at an orchestra, find out what the brand means? Susan Fournier: It’s a multi-pronged task because, first of all, there’s an internal component of your brand. A brand isn’t just something that we push externally to attract people to buy or experience. It’s also something that lives and breathes inside the organization. The brand meaning has to be supported by the whole business. Then there’s the brand meaning that exists out there in the culture, inside the head of a listener, a participant, a supporter. You need to do qualitative research among all stakeholders to understand the role your brand plays and what the brand means. David Snead: You talked about brand resonance. What is that? Susan Fournier: Resonance suggests that the meanings enter my life, mind, thoughts, and reverberate. There’s the personal-resonance side—those meanings matter to me and the person I want to be or the life I want to live. There’s also cultural resonance and this is, I think, a big issue for orchestras. Is what you’re offering part of the broader scheme of things for today’s society? And there’s organizational resonance, too. Can the organization pull off these meanings? Do they have the support systems ? Is everyone attuned to the same meaning? Toplevel leadership is a necessary condition for brand leadership, but it’s not sufficient. At Harley-Davidson, the leadership mission is to serve as brand steward and champion. Harley makes bikes, but what they’re really selling is masculinity and freedom and a certain lifestyle, and internal branding is all about understand-
ing and protecting that. Leaders have to believe that brand is the most important thing; they have to support brand investment. You also have to have everyone else on board with this mission, from the secretary all the way up, including all the people who co-create this brand experience. Hiring, evaluation, training: everything has to be in support of the brand. It’s a holistic environment, where people understand that the brand is important, they know what the brand means, and they know their daily responsibilities to keep it strong. David Snead: What does living the brand mean? Why does the finance guy or gal have to live the brand? Susan Fournier: He or she will be making decisions to support or not support the brand. It’s all about resource allocation. There may be a decision to change or not change a concert hall. Going with the cheaper option might make fiscal sense, but to portray the brand values maybe we should have a facility for community engagement, a place where people can gather and be educated in music. The finance guy has to agree that we can afford to build that, to staff that, to support that. If s/he is not on board, support will go elsewhere and the brand will die. David Snead: Harley has a close-tothe-customer group. What is that? Susan Fournier: Harley has systems to enable this culture. One of them is this close-to-the-customer group. It only has a couple of people, but their express purpose is to make sure that management remains close to the customer so that they could see the brand and product through their eyes. The group made sure that you, as an executive, got into the field six times a year and hung out with your riders, or in orchestras’ case, your viewers and listeners. They make sure that the insights you gain from those customers mattered in your decisions. They make you reflect and do a little homework after being in the field. David Snead: Who has to do this? Susan Fournier: Every executive, every manager. It’s deep empathy and intimacy that you’re trying to develop. That affects how you make decisions.
David Snead: At one of the orchestras that I’ve worked for, every month the senior staff had to call ten customers and interview them and report back about what they learned. That’s the kind of thing that you’re talking about? Susan Fournier: That’s a second device that Harley-Davidson employs:
one group in a given year made 1,024 phone calls among a staff of seven. Some of those phone calls were, you know, “Hi, David, how are you? I noticed that you went to the concert last night. What did you think?” Some of them are pointed, but others were just, “Hi, I’m from the Philharmonic. What do you think about
how it’s going lately?” That’s part of their requirements—to stay in touch. These weren’t people in a customer outreach group or customer service and complaint departments; these are managers. David Snead: What do you mean by “customer relationship”? Susan Fournier: A relationship isn’t just a customer relationship management program and it isn’t just what happens when people buy you. Think in terms of human relationships: very personal, very varied. While we might hope that all brand relationships are like marriages, most are friendships, casual acquaintanceships, even flings, secret affairs, divorces. You have to know what kinds of relationships people are having if you are going to manage them according to their own rules. David Snead: Most orchestras know what concerts people have been to, they know the transaction level of the relationship. What do they need to know to understand the customer and relationship? You talked about the difference between knowledge and understanding and information and meaning. Susan Fournier: A lot of our CRM activities are huge databases, where everything is quantified: How many tickets did you buy? When did you buy them? How much did you spend? Everything comes down to a zero or a one or a number in a spreadsheet. That’s information, and it’s fine, don’t get me wrong. But in relationships, it’s more about this word we have been using: meaning. Meaning is different from information. It’s taking all the little bits, saying, “What larger sense do I make out of this? What’s the more holistic, contextual understanding that takes the whole person into consideration?” Information systems are diametrically opposed to meaning-creation. If you have context and complexity, which I would argue you need to have in a relationship—well, information systems can’t handle complexity. Relationships have to get to that deeper level of understanding. You have to commit to a systematic, programmatic, marketing research agenda. symphony
You also have close-to-the-customer initiatives where executives and managers go in the field. You have to understand who your customers are and the lives they’re living. You have to understand the whole person. And create meaning-driven segmentation schemes that can help you develop actionable plans. David Snead: At the New York Philharmonic, we have 30,000 subscribers. Understanding all 30,000 sounds like a daunting task. Perhaps at a smaller orchestra this would be easier, although I understand that it’s a matter of prioritization and spending time. But if you do that enough, you can aggregate that into segments of people who have certain thoughts or feelings about you, and use that to create programs. The other level is having a culture with a strong current going both ways, so that the consumers feel empowered to let you know what they think. Quite often, we don’t let them know that there’s a way for them to tell us what’s on their mind. With the Web, it’s very easy for people to tell you what’s on their minds. Then somebody’s got to read all that and when it’s a problem, act on it. Susan Fournier: I’d like to bring up one point: you mentioned 30,000 subscribers. Harley-Davidson has 1.2 million members in its so-called community. I think a majority of those feel that they are related-to very closely. David Snead: How did they set that up? Susan Fournier: It gets back to where we started: you have to commit. Once you realize your relationship with your customers is one of your most valuable assets—maybe the most valuable—it’s a pretty straightforward process to create a system for understanding your customers, and then applying that to your business. Without the commitment to really knowing and understanding your customers, you’re instead committing to running your business in the dark. That’s a pretty scary place to be these days, when the cost of getting it wrong is something very few of us—especially orchestras—can afford. americanorchestras.org
Jeff Tyzik works with Sharon Isbin at a rehearsal for a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert that included Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and Three Pieces for Guitar and Orchestra, arranged by Tyzik.
Philadelphia Orchestra Association
Turning hit tunes, movie music, and standards into orchestral scores that please audiences and challenge players is a delicate art. Some of today’s top arrangers tell their stories.
Peter Nero (left) with legendary music producer Clive Davis during the recording of Summer of ’42 at Columbia Records, 1972
by Jayson Greene
To industry insiders, the term “orchestral pops arrangement” too often conjures the uninspiring image of whole notes sitting flat on a page—“goose eggs,” as professional musicians dryly call them. Everyone needs orchestral pops arrangements, but you don’t often hear one praised to the skies for its transcendent brilliance. Which is truly a shame. Transforming “hit tunes”—be they from Broadway musicals, pop songs, film scores, video games, or television shows—into coherent pieces of concert music is one of the orchestral field’s most underrated and misunderstood art forms. Like any craft, it’s an aesthetic realm with its own strongly held sets of “do’s” and “don’ts,” its own pantheon of masters, and a bustling, highly opinionated assortment of practitioners who take the work they do very seriously. A successful pops arrangement is a high-wire balancing act: between displaying the orchestra’s capabilities and staying out of the way; between snipping/reshaping a piece and preserving its integrity; between putting your stamp on a familiar tune and upstaging it; between disappearing artfully and being seen. What is the secret to a good pops arrangement? If anyone knows the answer to this question, it would probably be pianist, polymath, and pops conducting icon Peter Nero. Nero is founding director of the renowned Philly Pops, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg; Nero, winner of a Best New Artist Grammy in 1961, has written some 600 arrangements. “The first thing a good arrangement does is present something the audience can relate to the first time around,” he says. “In order to ask audiences to come back for repeated hearings, there has to be an immediate appeal. It has to communicate right away. The next thing is to make it challenging for the orchestras. Not just difficult for the sake of being difficult, but to ensure that it engages the players. You want them to play it the way they’d play Beethoven. Sometimes, orchestras
will open up one of my arrangements and see black dots all over the page, and they’ll be taken aback. Then I say, ‘Don’t worry, this arrangement plays itself.’ It’s an old recording joke that gets a chuckle, but it sets the tone. You want to say, ‘We’re going to have a good time playing this, but we are also going to be serious.’ ” It’s a tricky tone to strike, and the questions it raises carry over into the notes on the page. How much to twist and rearrange a familiar tune into new shapes without losing the audience is another one of the art form’s signature challenges. “If the tune has been around for fifty years and has been done fifty different ways, then you have some freedom to stretch out,” Nero says. “The best and most effective way to stretch is with harmony, the things you can do to a simple tune. The best example I can think of is Rachmaninoff. When I listen to masters like Art Tatum, I hear the harmonic logic of Rachmaninoff—that cushion you put under the tune, making it new.” Nero continues: “I did an arrangement of ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,’ from My Fair Lady, for my first album, and that’s a good example. There are some off-the-wall harmonic changes in there. It’s in E-flat, but in the opening statement I’m already in G-flat major. It’s a temporary modulation, and I’m nowhere near done messing around; I still haven’t hit Eflat yet. Next line, I go into A-major. But I never change the tune. As long as the audi-
“A talented arranger will identify the thematic material in a film score and use those themes to create a concertworthy representation of the music,” says Richard Kaufman, shown leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a “Friday Night at the Movies” concert.
ence can pick that tune out, what’s underneath it is just to hold their interest—they can readily identify it, but they’ve never heard it this way before.” Jeff Tyzik, principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Vancouver (B.C.) and Oregon symphony orchestras, manages that balancing act all the time: he’s a composer in his own right in addition to being an in-demand pops conductor and arranger, and he has taken the leap, somewhat unusual for pops conductors, into guest-conducting the RPO’s regular subscription series. Tyzik has worked as a record producer as well, in both the classical and pop worlds. As a result, he sits at just about every crossroads that might bring an arrangement to a conductor’s podium. “I’ve worked shows with guest artists where they bring in their own charts, and I see a lot of bad ones,” Tyzik says. “A bad chart doesn’t let the orchestra be as great as they are, sound as great as they can sound. It’s the main reason pops musicians get frustrated with pops.” He adds, “You spend a lifetime to get in the position to play in a professional orchestra—being a musician is very similar to being a professional athlete—and then you’re given high-school-level charts at best. “I can tell in five minutes, when I’m conducting an arrangement, whether the arranger has ever stood in front of a symphony orchestra, or if they’ve just sat in
a room with a control board and faders they can move up and down to make things loud or soft,” Tyzik says. One of the pops arranger’s most important tasks, it turns out, is coaxing music that was conceived entirely within the technology-assisted hothouse of the commercial studio into the hands of a living, breathing orchestra. “In the studio, string sounds are mostly used as what’s called a ‘pad’—long notes, whole notes—and they’re used to give just this warm kind of sound in the background to make the track feel rich,” Tyzik notes. “Nine times out of ten, they are from synthesizers. So commercial arrangers will then translate that technique to live performance, and the strings sit there all night just playing whole notes. And it’s so boring. They don’t realize that in the classical repertoire, the people who have the most technically difficult music to play most of the time are the strings. So when I write for strings, I make sure they really have interesting things to play. Sometimes they’re shocked at the music I give them.” Balance among instruments, too, can be an issue when crafting orchestral arrangements, and the culprit in this case is often the same: arrangers with little to no experience working with an actual orchestra. “You have to understand the acoustic balances between brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion, and it’s even more crucial if you have a rhythm section,” Tyzik says. “I mean, one snare drum can wipe out a whole string section! It may work fine when they are playing back off their computer, but if you’ve never conducted classical repertoire you just don’t have a good feel for what can work in a live setting.” From Page to Stage
Richard Kaufman has a lifetime’s worth of experience conducting music in the pops genre. His particular area of expertise is presenting film music in concert. In addition to his role as principal pops conductor of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony, symphony
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MASTER PETER’S PUPPET SHOW
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where he celebrates his twentieth anniversary next season, he has led numerous performances of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Friday Night at the Movies” series for five seasons, which mixes film scores with classical repertoire featured in movies, as well as concerts of film music with the Cleveland Orchestra. He was a session violinist with a storied film-score resume that includes such classics as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the immortal disco landmark Saturday Night Fever. He speaks eloquently about the strengths of those scores, as well as the unique challenges posed to the pops arrangers and orchestrators tasked with bringing them to the concert stage. “When we were recording the Jaws score,” says Kaufman, “it was very clear that the music was going right to the primal center of the movie. When I saw the completed film afterwards with a composer friend, I asked him ‘What did you think?’ And he turned to me and he very simply said, ‘It’s the perfect score.’ The subtlety, the extraordinary use of the orchestra, the amazing use of quiet music by americanorchestras.org
John Williams is so brilliant that instead of being beaten over the head with fear, it kind of sneaks up on you. Oftentimes, when you hear the ‘shark theme,’ you never see the shark: nothing happens! When the shark actually does appear, you just leap right out of your skin.” So what happens to Jaws in the concert hall? Does the “da-dun” theme lose its jolting power when you subtract the shark? Not necessarily. “One of the things I love about film music in the concert hall,” Kaufman says, “is that it can be appreciated by the audience without sound effects, without dialogue. The true creativity and meaning of the music is allowed to stand alone. It reminds me of the great opera overtures and ballet music, which were written to be heard in the context of a story but now they are alive and well in the concert hall, creating some of the greatest moments in classical concert music. Even without dancers, the music of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet stands on its own in a concert setting as an extraordinary piece of music. The same is true for Broadway: the Carousel Waltz, with or
without dancers, is still wonderful.” When film music is divorced from its onscreen context, another crucial, oftoverlooked aspect of the pops arranger’s art reveals itself. Film scores are rarely ready to be ripped from the screen and plopped, whole, on stands. Often, the route from screen to stage is a long, tricky one. “It would be one thing,” Kaufman notes, “to simply play the entire original score in concert—which might just have the audience muttering to itself, ‘Gee, why didn’t we just rent the film?’,” Kaufman notes. “It’s quite another thing to take parts of the original score and shape it to where it becomes a new concert piece, where the music stands alone successfully. In the absence of the visual, the piece must take the listener on a purely musical journey. “If you take, for example, a Beethoven symphony, it’s perfect in its construction,” Kaufman adds. “In a film score there may be 75 minutes of music, and the themes are separated by moments that are dictated by onscreen action. A talented arranger and orchestrator will listen to the score,
ample, there is a wonderful suite available, and it pretty much tells the story of the film in a concert setting. Korngold’s Robin Hood Suite does a similar thing: you can’t hear the entire film’s music, but the different movements of the suite take us on that journey in music, and describe to us the characters, the excitement, the story. In a funny way, it’s an adaptation of the film itself.”
Matt Catingub leads a recording session.
identify the thematic material, and use those themes to create a concert-worthy representation of the music. John Williams’s genius, for instance, goes far beyond writing scores for film. It lies in his ability to also take the music he’s written for a particular film and create a piece of music that jumps off the stage in the concert hall. Other people who did that well include Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, many others. To experience Franz Waxman’s music from Sunset Boulevard, for ex-
Both Sides Now
Matt Catingub, pops conductor of the New Mexico Symphony and principal conductor of the Honolulu Pops, has worked on both sides of the screen-to-stage equation. The son of jazz vocalist Mavis Rivers, who was signed to Capitol Records by Frank Sinatra when the Rat Pack era was in full swing,
Catingub has connections to pops-arrangement royalty: the legendary Nelson Riddle arranged his mother’s first album. George Clooney drew upon Catingub’s first-hand expertise when he hired him to score the actor/director’s film Good Night and Good Luck. “I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but George basically got his start by moving from Kentucky to L.A. to become his aunt Rosemary’s driver,” laughs Catingub. “He lived in that world with her when he was growing up, so he very much knew what he was doing and what he wanted for Good Night and Good Luck. He told me, ‘It’s a period piece, it’s the mid-’50s, we’re in New York, and I want jazz from that era and I want the arrangements to sound like that.’ It was a very definitive set of guidelines. Writing it was a labor of love, since I grew up with that music too.” The score Catingub produced does a remarkable job of evoking the era: lean, suave, effortlessly cool jazz that freezes the film in its time like no piece of art direction could. It was Nelson Riddle’s arrangements, as well as the work of the legendary tenor
A DAY IN THE LIFE... THREE PHANTOMS IN CONCERT
Black & Blues 26
Philadelphia Orchestra Association
Peter Nero and vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway recording the Philly Pops’s Holiday POPS! CD, November 2001
saxophonist Ben Webster, that provided a model for Catingub. “At the time,” he says, “Nelson Riddle, Billy Mays, Gordon Jenkins, all those wonderful writers, that’s what they did 24/7, and they got to work with these singers with a regularity that’s unheard of today,” says Catingub. “They learned their craft. They learned what to write, and most importantly what not to write. I think what made Nelson Riddle so great as an arranger for Frank Sinatra is that he knew exactly how to fill in the blanks, if you will, without stepping on Mr. Sinatra. Not many people get the chance to do that much anymore. In their arrangements, they were composers in their own right. What they created are in themselves masterpieces.” Riddle’s name comes up again and again, always with reverence. “Riddle is one of the great masters,” affirms Steven Reineke, music director of the New York Pops, principal pops conductor of the Long Beach and Modesto symphony orchestras, and associate conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Reineke himself has written hundreds of pops arrangements, and having learned his craft under the wing of one of the pops world’s most beloved figures—the late, legendary Erich Kunzel—he has a lot to say about it. “Arranging a pop tune is like a painter standing at his easel,” he says. “You grab a dab of this and a dab of that, mix and match to create your own hue. Anyone who has studied the masters, who comes from classical training, can take a tune and basically do it in any style imaginable.” Reineke’s apprenticeship with Kunzel gave him a fine appreciation for the aramericanorchestras.org
ranger’s art. “From Erich, I learned a lot about technical aspects of arranging— double this here, make it divisi here,” Reineke says. “But some of the most enjoyable projects, and what I think may become my best arrangements, are things that I really wasn’t that interested in to begin with, that Erich wanted me to do! For example, I had to do an arrangement of ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.’ Now, how many people have already done ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina?’ I thought, boy, what in the world am I supposed to do with this? And it turned out to be one of the most rewarding, fun projects I’ve done, because I really got conceptual with it.” He continues: “My arrangement was for orchestra only: it begins with an Argentine tango, almost like a dream sequence, and then we get swept away into a steamy night club, with a tango version of the tune. Then, about halfway through, it gets a little more militaristic, and underneath we start to hear a Bolero rhythm. I was thinking about Juan Perón there. And I do the last part of the tune à la Ravel’s Bolero, with ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina’ over the top. It’s always the big show-stopper, a tour de force with the orchestra. That’s real arranging; being able to take something famous and familiar and putting your own stamp on it without covering up what people love about it.” Like Jeff Tyzik, Reineke keeps a foot in both the classical and the pops worlds. He is a composer as well, and his symphonic works have been performed by the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, among others. “I had to, a long time ago, adopt a different philosophy: to me it’s all about just being good music, and not trying
to put a label on what is straight symphonic and what is pops,” Reineke says. “You can take a tune by Paul Simon and make it sound like Tchaikovsky or Rimsky-Korsakov orchestrated it. Whether I am conducting the fourth movement of The Pines of Rome, which I sometimes put on pops concerts, or doing the music of ABBA, I’m going to treat it the same way. I think it needs to be given the same amount of care, and I expect the same quality of excellence from the musicians as well.” Other arrangers echo this theme. “The reason I love being a conductor in the pops world is that it allows for a tremendous range of music,” says Kaufman. “Pops encompasses so many “Arranging a styles: music for the concert hall; music written pop tune is for film, for Broadway. like a painter It’s a really big umbrella, standing at his and that’s what I love easel. You can about it.” Tyzik contake a tune by curs: “I did a concert of what we called ‘British Paul Simon Pops,’ and right next to my Beatles arrangeand make it ments and my James sound like Bond arrangement I Tchaikovsky was doing ‘Jupiter’ from The Planets, I was doing or RimskyElgar, and I was doing Korsakov Malcolm Arnold. It was orchestrated all in the same concert, and people listened to it,” says everything and they reSteven sponded to everything. Reineke, pops My philosophy has always been just to present conductor great music with high at several musical integrity and orchestras. audiences will love it.” If the pops arrangement remains an invisible art, then, surely it has something to do with the egoless nature of both the craft and its practitioners. “If you’re going to be really good at it, I believe you have to find something good about the material you’re working with,” Reineke says. “I
try to take everything that I’m either writing or conducting at the same value, and to avoid putting any judgments on it.” He concludes: “The biggest thing I learned was always to put the audience number one. Consider them first. And secondly, it’s about the musicians: consider them, and what you’ve got to work with here. They’re professionals; make sure it’s at that level, that caliber. Basically, that means get your ego out of the way, and do the job to the best of your ability.”
JAYSON GREENE is production editor of eMusic and the former associate editor of Symphony.
Got an opinion? Join the discussion! Has your orchestra’s approach to pops programs evolved? What are the key elements of a good pops arrangement?
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Guide to Symphony’s Pops Advertisers The following pops attractions and conductors are advertisers in this issue of Symphony. Advertisers have provided Symphony with contact information on all pops attractions that appear within their advertisements. What follows does not imply endorsement by the League of American Orchestras or Symphony. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive, but to be a reference point for orchestra professionals charged with pops programming. Please also see our Ad Index on page 61 for a full listing of advertisers in this issue.
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Continued from page 31
Professor Kubínek meets the Symphony Tomáš Kubínek email@example.com kubineksymphony.com
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Talents by Ian VanderMeulen
For many musicians-turned-managers, their experience as players provides them with valuable perspective on the administrative side.
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
Executive Director Melanie Clarke demonstrates how to hold a violin at a Princeton Symphony Instrument Petting Zoo.
elanie Clarke wants snacks provided at every Princeton Symphony Orchestra rehearsal. Why is the organization’s executive director concerning herself with such seemingly trivial matters? “Because I know how hungry I was and how much I would love to have something cool to drink at the break,” says the violinist and former Princeton Symphony player. “Many people might dismiss it as a silly or unimportant thing, but it’s actually creating the kind of environment I want to have. We probably can’t do enough for our musicians. We probably can’t give them enough work or pay them as much as they should be paid. But we do the best we can.” In other words, certain minor details can have a huge impact on musicians. Who better to see that than a former player? Clarke is only one of countless orchestra managers who can draw upon such personal experience. Musicians turning to management come to the profession having already cultivated a deep knowledge of the orchestral repertoire and a fervent passion for the future of classical music. And in an industry where a barrier often seems to exist between musicians and management, experience as a performer can be valuable for managers, facilitating communication and understanding across the aisle. At the same time, those with this type of experience point out it’s not always a prerequisite. “Obviously I have my own appreciation for what they do because I’ve done it,” says Orchestra of St. Luke’s Executive Director Katy Clark, a former violinist with the BBC americanorchestras.org
Symphony. “But I’m not sure it’s missioncritical to have had that experience in order to be a good manager.” Whatever path a musician takes to a career in orchestra management—and some of their paths have been circuitous—one thing is clear: it’s not easy for most highly trained musicians to find their way into the profession. Part of this may require a change in values. Many serious musicians don’t want to even consider a career other than performing. Others may simply be unaware of exactly what an orchestra manager does, or how rewarding the work can be. “Each of us has our own journey to follow,” says Peter Kjome, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony and former principal oboe. “If someone is reflecting on where they can make the best use of their talents and skills and make their best contribution, and if arts management is the right thing for them, then we in the field owe it to them to make sure that information is easily accessible.” Players In Our Midst
If the stories of a small subset of musicians-turned-managers shed light on the transition, it’s that there are many potential points of entry. Princeton’s Clarke, and other administrators such as Kansas City Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne and Arkansas Symphony Executive Director Christina Littlejohn, cultivated their managerial skills along with their musicianship. Byrne’s introduction to the management side came at age nineteen when he accepted a librarian position with the United States Marine Band in Washington, D.C., a post he originally saw as a chance to get a foot in the door as a tuba player. By the time a position opened up in the band, he’d decided that despite his high level of performance ability, “my strongest skills were on the administrative side.” After Byrne had worked his way through the management ranks, an opportunity opened up in Kansas City. “I’ve always felt that I have done my job better by virtue of the fact that in my heart I thought of myself as a musician first,” Byrne says. “So many of my decisions are facilitated by an understanding of what it
tell me. They viewed me as much an orchestra person as management.” Kjome and Cleveland Orchestra General Manager Gary Ginstling, a clarinetist, both made the switch from playing to management by going to business school and working first in the for-profit sector before returning to orchestras. Ginstling had a fairly successful freelance career as a musician in and around Los Angeles, but soon had an epiphany not unlike Byrne’s.
where he played, Kjome says, “I don’t miss playing, because I enjoy what I’m doing so much and feel tremendously fortunate and fulfilled.” Kjome continues to draw on important lessons from his days at 3M. “One is the ability to influence and work with those who may not report directly to you,” he says. “You may have formed a team to go and work on a given issue, putting together folks from different departments to work
takes to play at the professional level.” Clarke, who through high school and college studied with the famed violin teacher Broadus Erle at Yale University, spent her early working years doing strategic planning in the healthcare industry before freelancing as a musician, first with New Jersey’s Haddonfield Symphony (now Symphony in C), and then the Princeton Symphony. Her transition into the role of executive director was a gradual, organic one, from running the Princeton Symphony’s education programs to taking over development responsibilities and finally stepping in when the previous
Cleveland Orchestra General Manager Gary Ginstling, a clarinet player
executive director, Joshua Worby, left. Christina Littlejohn had majored in cello at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, but also found editing the campus newspaper to be stimulating and rewarding. During a family vacation toward the end of her college years, Littlejohn happened on a newspaper article about Robert Jones—then acting chief operations officer at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra—and decided that arts management was the ideal career for her. When she arrived as general manager at Symphony Concerts of Mobile in 1995, she had the opportunity to help that presenting organization build its house band, the Mobile Symphony, while also playing in the orchestra. “On one level I know it made it easier when we were doing our music director search,” Littlejohn says. “I was right there in rehearsals. I didn’t have to guess what was going on with the musicians. Any issues they had they could just walk up and
Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Peter Kjome, an oboist, in the orchestra’s home, DeVos Hall
With so many talented clarinetists out on special projects.” Another lesson Kjome there, Ginstling thought, perhaps he could learned was “the power of data-driven demake the biggest impact on the adminiscision-making. Even though our ultimate trative side. He went back to school, got goal is music and bringing concerts and edan MBA, and worked for Silicon Valley’s ucational programs to the community, we Sun Microsystems for several years before have that rigor underneath as a foundation taking the job of executive director at the for what we’re doing.” Berkeley Symphony in 2004. But even for someone with a Kjome had to swallow a more background in business—couEven for bitter pill: within only a year someone with pled with a knowledge and love or two of moving from second of music—managing an orchesto principal oboe in the Grand a background tra can present a uniquely chalRapids Symphony, the Clevein business— lenging environment. Kjome land Institute of Music grad be- coupled with a recalls how, roughly six weeks gan to experience physical comafter taking over in Grand plications related to playing the knowledge and Rapids in September 2008, oboe and ultimately decided to love of music— the market hit its first signifiend his performance career. He cant drop, and the organization managing got an MBA from Northwestwas faced with the prospect of an orchestra ern University’s Kellogg School having to cut expenses to balof Management and went on ance the budget. “We wanted can present to do strategic planning work to ensure that we maintained a uniquely for 3M Company. Twelve years our full range of concerts and challenging later, serving as president and educational programs,” he says. CEO at the same orchestra environment. While some businesses, he symphony
notes, might have an easier time addressing such financial issues by significantly cutting product, “We wanted to keep our promises to the community.” In many cases, having the know-how to meet such distinct challenges is where League of American Orchestras education programs can play an important role. Ginstling and Kjome both took the League’s ten-day Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar before their move from the for-profit sector back to the orchestra world, and both characterize it as an invaluable experience. Clarke took Essentials just before being promoted to executive director in Princeton and calls the “copious notes” she took during the course her Bible. Orchestra of
Christina Littlejohn, executive director of the Arkansas Symphony and a cellist
seem to be a huge part of what makes the work so rewarding. “The multitude of issues that you have to deal with and the complexities that you have to face are incredibly stimulating and fun,” says Ginstling, “and really hard in very different ways from being a performer.” Clarke concurs. “I have loved [orchestra management] so much because it combines my love for music with my interest in a community and having a community reflect the music.”
Kansas City Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne, a self-described “recovering tubist”
sic quite difficult. It’s not that you can’t be given information about it, but if your goal is really to win an audition in an orchestra, it’s very tough to keep all those balls in the air. The satisfactions that can come from being a manager of an orchestra aren’t well understood by music students or even professionals.” This goes to the heart of what the League’s Essentials course teaches. “The goal of Essentials is to give people that 360-degree experience,” says Kahn, “not only in terms of the functional roles, but as human beings. What does it take for everyone associated with orchestras to do the best work in service of orchestras?” Kahn mentions two highly successful musicians in particular who recently took Essentials and, rather than shifting into orchestra management, took their new perspective back to their other work. Shea Scruggs took Essentials but has continued in his
A Holistic View
St. Luke’s Executive Director Katy Clark opted for the League’s Orchestra Management Fellowship Program after five years playing violin for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her interest in orchestra management was sparked by her experience serving on that orchestra’s players committee, which allowed her to cultivate an understanding of the challenges of communication between an orchestra’s musicians and management team. Those on a committee may, for example, have more detailed information about what happens in the back offices than their fellow players. “Dissemination of information is a real issue in big orchestras,” she says. For those musicians who’ve found their calling in management, these challenges
The demands of a job managing an orchestra, to which everyone surveyed would attest, mean that retention of talent at the highest levels of management is an ongoing challenge. “Our field needs people as gifted on the administrative side as we have on the artistic side,” says Polly Kahn, vice president of learning and leadership development at the League of American Orchestras. In other words, while artistry of the highest quality is the top priority, good decisions and practice are necessary in the economic, structural, and operational arenas in order to sustain it. Given that so many musicians have found that work to be fulfilling, and come already equipped with a unique vision and deeprooted passion for the art, how can we get more musicians involved? It’s no big secret why it may be difficult to offer management as a career opportunity to young musicians. For those at conservatory, training for a career in performance takes a certain single-minded focus on perfecting one’s instrumental skills, says Katy Clark. “It does make the full and total appreciation of other career paths in mu-
Violinist and Orchestra of St. Luke’s Executive Director Katy Clark (right) with Bobye List, executive director of the Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfield Foundation
pursuit of a performance career as assistant principal oboe at the Baltimore Symphony. Michael Parloff retired after 31 years as principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera in 2008. Having been active on the orchestra’s players committee and independently as a concert presenter, Parloff took Essentials. But rather than go into orchestra management, he has started a concert series in New Jersey called Parlance Chamber Concerts, where he continues to perform. Broadening the musician’s view of the orchestra world is certainly an important aspect of the Manhattan School of Mu-
email, “it is increasingly necessary that they learn to view the world they are about to enter from a pragmatic and multidimensional perspective.” And for those graduates of Essentials or the Manhattan School’s Orchestral Performance Program who do go on to careers in orchestra management, it would be a mistake to view the shift as a cop-out. “There are any number of people,” says Kansas City’s Byrne, “who are or would be excellent managers and are here not because they could not perform, but because they chose a different path. Making the switch from performing to manageFrank Byrne, now executive director of the Kansas City ment is not in any fashion secSymphony, spent his early professional years playing in ond best or a consolation prize.” the United States Marine Band while also serving as music Rather, it is an opportunity to librarian. make a difference in the future of orchestras, and work on a variety of issues one wouldn’t necessarily face sic’s graduate program in orchestral perforas an orchestral performer. Clark notes that mance. Catherine Cahill, a 1984 graduate one of the big projects at Orchestra of St. of the League’s Orchestra Management Luke’s is the construction of the DiMenna Fellowship Program and currently presiCenter for Classical Music, a new builddent and CEO of the Mann Center for the ing for rehearsal and performance slated to Performing Arts in Philadelphia, teaches a open in 2011. “It’s enormously satisfying course in the business of orchestras that is for me to get to work on making a room required for students in MSM’s Orchesthat’s the perfect rehearsal room—having tral Performance track. “I’m very clear with sat in many that were not,” she them from the outset that the “Our field says, laughing. class is not designed to teach Furthermore, managing an them to be arts administraneeds orchestra also requires many tors,” Cahill says. “The class is people as non-musical skills that indesigned to give them a greater gifted on the strumentalists develop as part depth of awareness of the universe they will be attempting to administrative of their training anyway. “So much of leadership is just flatinhabit—i.e., an orchestra—and side as we out listening,” says Littlejohn, what are all the moving parts, have on the emphasizing the value in “the what are all the business pieces, what are all the essential things artistic side,” training you get when you listen to your ensemble-mates they need to know if they’re gosays Polly talk to you through their ining to be effective both in their Kahn, vice struments.” Princeton’s Melajob and in determining where nie Clarke agrees. “Musicians they want to land.” president of have to confidently present For Parloff, the flutistlearning and when they’re playing, and that’s turned-concert-manager, this leadership something you have to do as type of perspective is invaluable. “Whether music students development the manager and leader of an ultimately choose to enter the at the League orchestra.” Kjome went so far as to write his admission essay world of concert management of American to business school around a list or stay within the world of of transferable skills, and “why performance,” he writes in an Orchestras.
Training Day A healthy and growing talent pool of well-trained, dedicated professionals is critical to maintaining institutional vitality and future growth of orchestras. The League of American Orchestras is committed to recognizing and encouraging effective and visionary leadership in the orchestra profession, and helping new and veteran leaders develop the skill sets necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The League’s work includes identifying and meeting training needs, circulating new ideas and best practices, providing tools and guidelines for action, seeking talented new people, and, crucially, promoting discussion. For more information about the League’s variety of leadership training programs, visit americanorchestras.org and click on “Learning & Leadership Development.”
being a professional oboist was the ideal preparation for a business career,” he recalls. “Leadership and listening was one thing, but there was a fairly long list.” “Our musicians, not only are they wonderful musicians, but they are very smart,” Clarke says. “Many of them could be running the Princeton Symphony. And this is a total circle now! I really think there are so many musicians in the orchestra who could be doing my job, and doing it really well, because they understand the business. Someday I’d like to pass it on to one of them.” IAN VANDERMEULEN is assistant editor of Symphony.
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David Bernard leads the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in performance at the Schimmel Center for the Arts in New York.
Amateur and affinity orchestras give musicians not only a personal creative outlet, but a means of sharing their passion for symphonic music with their communities.
Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra
by Michael Stugrin
Conductor Derek Harrah leads Dublin, Ohioâ€™s Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra in a holiday concert.
their musicians operate on a par with some regional orchestras. (It is worth noting that the root of the word amateur comes from the Latin amare, meaning to love. Only in later years did the word take on its modern interpretation, which connotes not only the pursuit of something as a pastime rather than a profession but also carries with it an implication of lack of experience or competence.) Many amateur orchestras call themselves community orchestras, and they range, literally, from coast to coast: the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, near Seattle, Washington; Des Moines Community Orchestra, in Iowa; the Town & Country Symphony Orchestra, in St. Louis; Neponset Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, outside of Boston; the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, in Bel Air, Maryland; the Downey Symphony Orchestra, in Los Angeles “We love County; the Greenwich that we fill Village Orchestra, in New up the halls York City; the Symphony at our big of the Potomac, in Montgomery County, Maryland; concerts, and the Summerville Com- but we love munity Orchestra, in South it even more Carolina. They have diverse when we memberships of amateur take our musicians, often includ- music out ing college and even high into the school students; they may community or may not hold auditions; for those and they focus on their who would immediate community or not hear it even a neighborhood. otherwise,” Then there are affinity orchestras. This term, in its says Dr. broadest sense, describes an Lisa Wong orchestra whose players are of Boston’s unpaid musicians who share Longwood a strong connection, such Symphony as an employer or a profes- Orchestra, sion. For some affinity or- which chestras, the driving force focuses on is simply their members’ the medical intense passion for playing. profession. Among the better known affinity orchestras organized around a profession are the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra; the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, in Boston; the Texas Medical Center Orchestra of Houston; the Life Sciences Orchestra, in Ann Arbor,
Michigan; and the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra. There are also affinity orchestras formed around gender and sexual orientation. Groups such as the Community Women’s Orchestra in Oakland, California, Women in Music Columbus, and the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra consist solely of female players and have a mission to champion the work of female composers. In New York, the Queer Urban Orchestra, founded in 2009, is a gay and lesbian affinity orchestra, but says its membership is open to all adult musicians regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Queer Urban Orchestra says it strives to promote equality, understanding, acceptance, and respect. Another category of affinity orchestra is the corporate orchestra, consisting entirely or mostly of employees from one company. After decades of mergers and budget cutbacks, many corporate orchestras have gone silent or morphed into community orchestras with a broader base of players. Among corporate orchestras still playing are Boeing Company’s Orchestra of Flight, in Seattle; the Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra, in Dublin, Ohio; and the Microsoft Symphony, in Redmond, Washington. Recently, two of the oldest corporate orchestras have been reconstituted as stand-alone community orchestras: the Hewlett Packard Symphony Orchestra, in San Jose, California, is now the South Bay Philharmonic; and the 3M Club Symphony Orchestra, in St. Paul, Minnesota, is now the East Metro Symphony Orchestra.
a Friday evening in May in Los Angeles, Dr. Ivan Shulman rehearsed his orchestra for Saturday’s concert. A few hours later, he was called to a nearby hospital to perform two emergency surgical procedures, both pacemaker implants. The next night, at a church in nearby San Fernando Valley, Shulman led the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Franck’s Symphonic Variations, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnole. The small church, which hosts four different congregations in an ethnically diverse community, was chosen because the original venue for the concert had been inadvertently double-booked and was not available. Shulman had never seen the new venue, nor had the orchestra ever practiced there. Still, Shulman says the concert was well received and his group hopes to play there again next season, adding, “We introduced orchestral music to a few hundred people, including some kids, who almost certainly had never attended a concert before.” For many orchestras across the country, a weekend like this is not unusual. While the larger orchestras—those with salaried musicians and staff—tend to dominate their local music scene and media coverage, numerous amateur orchestras play away in relative obscurity, but with infinite exuberance. These orchestras don’t aim to compete with professional orchestras. Instead, they offer a grass-roots alternative that gives their members the chance to continue as active musicians and share their passion for music with their communities. Playing in such an orchestra is a welcome break for full-time professionals in fields such as medicine, law, computer and software development, and healthcare services. How to categorize these orchestras can be complicated, particularly if they are not among the League of American Orchestras’ approximately 860 member organizations. There are numerous amateur orchestras in the U.S. in which the players and conductors are unpaid, and either have full-time jobs outside of music or are retired. Some music directors of these groups accept the term of amateur, pointing to the often fine line between highly accomplished professional and amateur athletes; but others bristle, saying
Getting the Rust Out
arly in 2010, nearly 400 of the more than 600 amateur musicians who had applied received an exciting email from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: “You have been selected to perform with the Rusty Musicians Orchestra, on stage at the Music Center at Strathmore with members of the BSO under the baton of Maestra Marin Alsop.” The Rusty Musicians Orchestra was designed to celebrate the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s fifth anniversary at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland. The program is similar to one that Alsop pioneered when she was principal conductor with England’s Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The only criteria for participants were to be older than 25, play an orchestral instrument, read music, and pay a $10 application fee. Over two evenings last February, eight groups of students performed alongside BSO players in a 40-minute program of the fourth movement from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra the “Nimrod” movement from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Music Director Marin Alsop hugs The experiment was a success, and it was repeated in amateur cellist Max Weiss at the BSO’s Rusty Musicians program. September at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Taking the concept of community-building a step up, in June the BSO launched the BSO Academy, a week-long program with daily sessions of performance and instruction held at the BSO’s Baltimore home, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. For tuition of $1,650, plus accommodations and fees for optional private classes, 50 adult amateur musicians were exposed to a program of immersive music instruction and playing with BSO members. “Our musicians were excited about working on the academy,” Meecham says. “The schedule was packed with section sessions with BSO players, master classes, seminars, practices, chamber music in the evenings, and a look behind the scenes at how an orchestra operates.” Given the strong initial interest, Meecham says the BSO will likely repeat the Rusty Musicians Orchestra experiment and consider expanding the BSO Academy, perhaps adding a track for pre-professional students. “We want to look at how an orchestra can reach more people, especially to connect with and develop people’s interest in music.”
The Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra consists mostly of employees of Cardinal Health, Inc., a hundred-billion dollar health services company, in Dublin, Ohio. Its music director, Ron Reich, a software specialist in Cardinal Health’s IT Department and a violinist, started the group in his basement in 1997 with another Cardinal employee. The duo quickly became a ten-member chamber ensemble, and the orchestra today has 60 players, about three-quarters of whom are Cardinal employees. The group’s conductor is Derek Harrah, a software specialist at Cardinal, who once took a course in music theory and composition while studying for degrees in math and chemistry at Ohio State University. For more than a decade, the orchestra has brought classical music to nursing homes and senior centers throughout its area. At one such performance a few years ago, the audience included the mother of one of Cardinal Health’s founders. Within days, someone from company management was
knocking on Reich’s door expressing the company’s interest in expanding the group’s local presence. Today, the company pays for sheet music and invites the orchestra to play at company management meetings and holiday parties. Reich also says the Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra has raised over a hundred thousand dollars on behalf of local charities. Programming and performances, and even rehearsals, are challenging: at any given time key players are traveling on company business or otherwise not available. Reich says the group often calls on Women in Music Columbus for volunteer string players, and even Columbus Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Charles Weatherbee occasionally joins the ensemble. Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra’s repertoire features brief classical standards along the lines of Verdi’s Grand March from Aida, Lecuona’s “Malagueña,” and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. But there can be surprises along the way. Reich and Harrah are particularly proud of what
they believe is the U.S. premiere in 2010 of a brief piano concerto by Shostakovich, “Assault on Beautiful Gorky,” from the Soviet-era film The Unforgettable Year 1919. “I heard this piece a few years ago on a U.K.based internet radio station,” says Harrah. “It was at the top of the classical chart. We found that the music had never been imported to the U.S. It was our first premiere.” Of the twenty or so community orchestras in California’s Silicon Valley, George Yefchak, principal conductor of the South Bay Philharmonic, in San Jose, believes that his orchestra differentiates itself by inclusivity. It calls itself “an open-source symphony” which means, says Yefchak, “We let anybody in! We are trying to give opportunities to heartfelt players to play. We have people with skills ranging from high-school level to near professional.” Most of the South Bay Philharmonic players are working professionals with advanced degrees in engineering, mathematics or chemistry, and have had music training. Yefchak himself intermittently studied piano and then oboe in high school, and played during graduate school at Michigan State, where he received a doctorate in chemistry. Today, in addition to conducting the South Bay Philharmonic, he is a member of the technical staff at Agilent Laboratories and is co-principal oboist of the nearby Redwood Symphony Orchestra. The South Bay Philharmonic has unusual roots: until 2009 it was the Hewlett Packard Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1993 by Music Director Herb Gellis and a few musician-engineers, for sixteen years it was one of the most accomplished (and wellfunded) corporate orchestras in the U.S. HP moved on, spinning off half of its business into what is now Agilent Technologies. The Hewlett Packard Symphony Orchestra no longer exists, but many of its members are now building the South Bay Philharmonic into what they hope will be a top-notch community orchestra for San Jose. The orchestra has 50 members, many of whom are professionals at HP, Agilent, Google, and other Silicon Valley companies. Gellis says that the South Bay Philharmonic is a labor of love. With no outside funding, the players pay dues of $20 per concert. The group currently performs three concerts a year, usually at the Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose. Concerts are free and donations are split with the church. Each performance attracts 50 to 100 peosymphony
ple, mostly friends and family of the players and church members. Gellis and Yefchak relish the opportunity to blaze new territory, even if it is close to home in Silicon Valley. The recent season’s highlight was a concert of all American music that featured William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 1, “AfroAmerican,” a composition from 1930 that was the first full symphony written by an African-American composer. Attendance at this concert was the largest of the season, due in part to several dozen followers of Still’s work who drove from all over California to attend. Medicinal Music-Making
The Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest community orchestras in the United States with its origin in the health professions. Founded in 1953, it was initially composed of three dozen doctors, dentists, veterinarians, nurses, other medical staff, and two doctors’ wives. Its first concerts were performed at the stately Philharmonic Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. Over the years, the orchestra played to sold-out audiences, hosted guests including Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Jerry Lewis, and drew crowds of more than 1,000 to outdoor concerts in Beverly Hills and Roxbury Park in Los Angeles. Today, Music Director Ivan Shulman points out that the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony is confronting some of the same challenges as professional orchestras. “We need to define who we are today because our core older audience is dying off,” he says, “and there are many other community orchestras in the Los Angeles area. In addition, our name does not give us much visibility or even reflect who we are today.” Of the current 50-player roster, only ten
are physicians. Still, with a near-60 year history, there is resistance to changing the group’s name. Shulman says that the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony, which is a nonprofit organization, is working on a new governance structure and engaging in more concerted fundraising so that it can afford a regular rehearsal space. Shulman is in his twentieth year as music director, and he seems to embody the characteristics that affinity orchestras need for survival. “Until I semi-retired in 2006, for most of my adult life I was a full-time surgeon, parent, and musician,” he says. “It is amazing that people are capable of doing several things with equal passion.” Well before he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and embarked on a medical career, music was a central part of Shulman’s life. As a child, he studied oboe with his father, Harry Shulman, principal oboist for the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini. In 2008, while still maintaining a part-time private medical practice and doing medical missionary work in Kenya and the Philippines, Shulman went back to school to earn a master’s degree in music at California State University at Long Beach. His thesis on Ives’s Second Symphony won the music department’s Outstanding Thesis Award. Boston’s music scene is dominated by world-class orchestra, opera, and ballet companies, yet the Longwood Symphony Orchestra seems to be heard and seen everywhere. Dr. Lisa Wong, the orchestra’s president, says that the group, its musicians drawn primarily from Boston’s medical community, has never strayed from its mission of performing high-quality concerts while supporting medically related nonprofit organizations. Longwood Symphony Or-
Broadly, the term affinity orchestra describes an orchestra whose players are unpaid musicians who share a strong connection, such as an employer or a profession.
chestra’s “formal season” is four concerts in New England Conservatory’s beautiful Jordan Hall and two summer concerts in Lenox, Massachusetts, at Tanglewood Music Center’s Seiji Ozawa Hall, the main venue for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Festival. Longwood’s music director and conductor is Jonathan McPhee, also music director of the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Lexington Symphony, and Nashua (N.H.) Symphony Orchestra. “We love that we fill up the halls at our big concerts,” Wong says, “but we love it even more when we take our music out into the community for those who would not hear it otherwise.” Indeed, with a roster of 120 musicians, about 80 percent of whom work in medical fields, Longwood Symphony Orchestra’s chamber groups perform at least twelve concerts every year at local hospitals, homeless shelters, care facilities for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and other special-needs facilities. While McPhee is a paid contractor and the group employs a full-time general manager, Wong and the twelve-person board balance their professional roles as doctors, medical researchers, and administrators with frequent practice, rehearsals, and performances. “Our model for providing music and service seems to be setting an example for community engagement and for keeping orchestras relevant,” Wong believes. For example, in early 2010 the Longwood Symphony and New England Conservatory participated with more than 25 other musical organizations in a global Symphonic Relief for Haiti program; this summer, a Health and Harmony on the Harbor day featured a family health fair and concert expected to draw at least 3,000 Bostonians. Making a Case for Orchestras
California’s South Bay Philharmonic performs Dvorák’s Symphony No. 8 with Conductor George Yefchak. americanorchestras.org
It was not the season wrap-up concert that reporters and TV stations were calling David Katz about, although a standing-roomonly audience for Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Poulenc’s Gloria with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and Chorus could be called newsworthy. Instead, they were calling about Diane Wood,
Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra
the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge and the orchestra’s longtime oboe and English horn player. Wood was on the short list for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court—so Katz and his Chicago group briefly enjoyed national media attention. The orchestra is funded primarily by the Chicago Bar Association, although its musicians pay membership dues and it charges $10 for tickets to its concerts. Both Music Director David Katz and Chorus Director Rebecca Patterson are paid independent contractors. Its primary performance venue is the 500-seat St. James Episcopal Cathedral, an architectural landmark in Chicago’s trendy Magnificent Mile neighborhood. The orchestra has 70 players, including judges, law clerks, attorneys, and law students. The orchestra practices in a courtroom at Chicago’s Daly Center, and presiding judges have been known to adjourn proceedings in late afternoon because they know a rehearsal or concert is pending. “The remarkable thing about our members is that they bring the same intensity and discipline to practices and performances that are required during their working day,” says Katz. “But while their work day may have been stressful, they put that aside when they come to play and actually relax. The result is that they play at a very high level, certainly higher than they would be able to play in a less motivated environment.” Katz says the orchestra does not hold formal auditions, but has a natural “self-pruning” process in which the weakest players eventually leave. Katz has been the group’s music director since it was established in 1985. At the time, he was assistant conductor, under Music Director Margaret Hillis, at the Elgin Symphony, 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Even though he lives in Connecticut and has held other conducting posts, including the Adrian Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, Katz has happily trekked to Chicago for the Bar Association’s concerts and special performances. Katz’s programming reflects his audience’s tastes and enthusiasm. The group’s 25th-anniversary season includes works by Beethoven, Dvořák, Gershwin, and Orff. The orchestra and chorus were featured performers in September’s annual Justice John Paul Stevens Award Ceremony and Gala Celebration. The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in New York City defies conventional categories such as amateur and community.
The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
At least that is David Bernard’s unequivocal opinion. In fact, he does not think his players are amateurs, although none of them makes a living in music. Bernard, the group’s founder and music director, frowns on what he calls “artistic profiling” and says it is difficult to define musicians based on how they make a living. “Our players are ‘multiprofessionals’ who, while in careers other than music, are extremely disciplined musicians who perform at a professional level with the highest dedication and accomplishment,” he says. Bernard argues that the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, founded in 1999, is one of the finest—if not the finest—of the dozen unpaid orchestras in New York City. In addition to focusing intensely on playing, the group also supports philanthropic and educational programs such as the Juilliard Pre-College Program and the Harmony Program, a nonprofit dedicated to providing music instruction in New York City public schools. Big fundraising events allow the group to perform at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln While the Center, and the Plaza larger Hotel, in addition to orchestras its permanent home tend to at All Saints Episcopal dominate Church on East 60th Street. their local In one of the counmusic scene try’s most professionand media ally and musically coverage, dense urban areas, it numerous is not surprising that amateur Park Avenue Chamorchestras ber Symphony playplay away ers combine highin relative powered careers with obscurity, considerable musical but with accomplishment. Its immeasurable 70 members include investment bankers, exuberance.
corporate executives, attorneys, physicians, and officials from city and state government agencies and the United Nations. Many orchestra members graduated from or studied at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, or The Curtis Institute of Music, and some are former members of professional orchestras. Bernard is a graduate of Juilliard and Curtis and has been assistant conductor of the Stamford Symphony in Connecticut and the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida. For David Edelson, a physician and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s concertmaster, playing with the group is deeply satisfying. “We have a love for music that never died, even as we pursued other careers,” he says. “The challenge for many of us has been to find a group that plays at a high enough level. I enjoy the artistry of music and ability to create such a high-caliber performance.” Edelson believes the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony and its players are important in what he calls the “dynamic” of New York City’s music community. Drawing its typical audience of about 400 people per concert from the neighborhood around All Saints Church, and then performing for larger crowds at fundraising events, means that “we give an opportunity for many people to be close to the music and be a part of the music life in the city,” he says. A Community of Music
In the anxiety-laden debate about the contemporary relevance of orchestras, it is encouraging that the orchestral music scene in the U.S. includes so many thriving small orchestras. Regardless of what we call them— amateur, community, or affinity—they are playing and people are listening. As Paul Meecham, president and CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, observes, “The perception gap between amasymphony
teur and professional music-making did not Download free software to exist 50 years ago. The quality of playing today in many community music groups create and manage your orchestra’s website That’s right, free. You won’t be tied to me or any other service provider. is high. It is particularly exciting to see so Call me or go to my site for details. many young musicians playing in local orchestras.” Relieved of the pressure of marketing and fundraising, affinity orchestras display clarity and immediacy of purpose: It’s all about Read the weblog dedicated to helping you grow your audience. the music. From a San Fernando Valley • 50 Words for Classical Music church to a senior center in rural Ohio to Marketers to Rest. Carnegie Hall, affinity orchestras seem able • What to Write in a Single-Ticket Ad. to establish a close, informal connection beYes, It Still Matters. tween musicians and audiences—and the • A Map of Social Media for Orchestras. music. • How to Cut—and When to Add— For the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Bruce Robinson Orchestra Marketing Dollars. building a community of music is a top is• List Your Orchestra’s Concerts Free: Two Online Tools. sue. “The days of just running an ad for a Saturday evening concert and expecting (713) 789-4257 people to fill the hall are long gone,” Meetwitter @orchmarketer cham says. “The challenge is to reach peoWeb • Advertising • Social ple at multiple touchpoints. Most people Strategy • Direct Mail • Design are very busy, but they will still make time for music if you reach out to them.” This year, the Baltimore Symphony Ormarketing for orchestras chestra has reached out to amateur musicians, many of whom play in local orchestras, to bring them together with its players and Music Director Marin Alsop for inSymphony ad Sep-Oct 2010 Bruce Reid Robinson LLC (713)789-4257 work (713)203-7664 cell ONE OF THE FINEST GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN struction and a concert performance. While 1 8/31/10 Baltimore’s Rusty Musicians OrchestraSymphonyadRobinsonNovDec.indd and ARTS ADMINISTRATION, AT A GREAT UNIVERSITY, BSO Academy experiments (see sidebar) IN A CITY THAT LOVES THE ARTS. might remind us of the adult baseball and tennis academies, they are actually part of Baltimore’s effort to connect with new audiences. In New York City, Bernard is convinced that the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s insistence on performance excellence combined with its neighborhood and philanthropic involvement is a model for regional and even top-tier orchestras. “To a degree,” he says, “a sustainable music organization is a miraculous thing, because it requires staying connected to the community.”
arts A D M I N I STR AT I O N
Michael Stugrin, Ph.D., is a business and arts writer based in Long Beach, California.
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Campaign For A New Direction The Campaign for a New Direction is the League of American Orchestras’ $25 million, five-year, comprehensive campaign, which is funding the new and ongoing programs and services set forth in its visionary Strategic Plan. In four years, the Campaign has raised $22.8 million – over 91% of the Campaign goal. All of us at the League of American Orchestras are extremely grateful to the following individuals for their generous Campaign support: Christopher Seton Abele, on behalf of the Argosy Foundation Douglas W. Adams W. Randolph Adams Nancy & Ellsworth Alvord, Jr., M.D. Alberta Arthurs Brent & Jan Assink Audrey G. Baird Elena Bales & Steven Bronfenbrenner Allison Ball Jennifer B. Barlament Lisa & Miles Barr Cecilia Benner Marie-Hélène Bernard Andrew Berryhill & Melinda Appold William P. Blair III Nancy Blaugrund Richard J. Bogomolny Fred & Liz Bronstein Steven R. Brosvik Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee Trish Bryan Michelle Miller Burns & Gary W. Burns Frank Byrne Catherine M. Cahill Andrew K. Cahoon & Erin R. Freeman John & Janet Canning Katherine Carleton Nicky B. Carpenter Judy Christl Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek Katy Clark Melanie Clarke Bruce & Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund Edward and Nancy Conner Fund
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â€“ Campaign support as of Aug. 31, 2010
Concertgoers line up for same-day free tickets to the New York Philharmonicâ€™s morning dress rehearsal for opening night, September 2009
Ticket by Jennifer Melick
of orchestras are dramatically dropping ticket prices—in some cases rethinking the whole pricing structure itself. The goal: lowering barriers to admission.
“Basically, everything in America is 40 percent overpriced,” wrote Joe Queenan in the Los Angeles Times in May 2010. In the column he claimed this theory could be applied to everything from his Toyota Camry ($21,000), to Yankees tickets ($300), bananas (99 cents a pound), and his son’s college education ($43,000 a year). More to the point as it concerns arts organizations, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts President Michael Kaiser wrote in a January 2010 Huffington Post column that as ticket prices have inched up over the years the arts have become unaffordable for many people, and prices need to be lowered—despite the ever-widening gap between increasing expenses and earned income from ticket sales. “For two tickets to an opera,” wrote Kaiser, “you can now buy a computer and watch Leontyne Price and Joan Sutherland on YouTube for free.” Meanwhile, according to Patrick Healy’s May 25 ArtsBeat column in The New York Times, some prices can still be raised: Broadway productions grossed a record-high total of $1.02 billion during the 2009-10 season, increasing box-office sales in spite of a 3 percent decline in attendance as compared to the 2008-09 season. The gains were explained in part by plays and musicals that sold some of their best seats for $300 or more. Dramatically lowering prices is obviously a great incentive to get someone to buy a ticket. But how low can prices go, and how many seats should be offered at a low price? How high can they go at the other end? What does it all mean from a sustainamericanorchestras.org
ability perspective? The answers to these questions are not getting any easier, and the recession has had the effect of focusing attention more intently than ever on the issue. For orchestras—and arts and entertainment generally—figuring out ticket price is made more difficult by the fact that large segments of the population continue their move toward digital entertainment and away from live entertainment. The NEA’s 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts and the League of American Orchestras’ Audience Demographic Research Review, released in 2009, both report on those trends. During a prolonged, severe economic downturn, organizations aim to make themselves accessible to cash-strapped concertgoers, even while many are operating with smaller budgets and less contributed income. For the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, ticket price has been a major concern since well before the current downturn. In 2005, the orchestra took steps toward dramatically lowering ticket prices for its neighborhood concerts, which had not been selling well. Previously priced in four tiers that went as high as $47, the tickets were reduced to $10 and $25. Season ticket-buyers were asked to “donate the difference.” Results have exceeded expectations: the number of subscriber households in the SPCO’s original neighborhood venues has increased by 50 percent since 2005. The repricing—and subsequent expansion of the number of neighborhood venues—contributed to a 145 percent growth in the subscriber base for that series. Four years later, in June 2009,
SPCO made the decision to lower its prices at Ordway, its main performance venue in Saint Paul. Tickets that had ranged from $11 to $59 are, beginning in the 2010-11 season, $10, $25, and $40, with more than 75 percent of the hall priced at $25 or less. The pricing now also applies to the SPCO’s concerts at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis, with the result that 84 percent of the SPCO’s overall ticket inventory is available for $25 or less. “Our goal is simple: we want to be the most accessible major orchestra in the world,” says Sarah Lutman, the orchestra’s president and managing director. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s pricing strategy continues to be central to its reformulated business model, where one of the keys to sustainability is less reliance on earned revenue such as box-office income. The business model—as then President and Managing Director Bruce Coppock wrote in the January-February 2008 issue of Symphony—moved Saint Paul permanently away from thinking in terms of the traditional three categories of contributed revenue, earned revenue, and endowment revenue. Instead, the majority of revenue comes from patrons, who support the organization in a variety of ways. Filling the hall becomes essential, even at the expense of ticket revenue; Saint Paul sees concerts as a loss leader, with lower prices stimulating attendance and early subscription and renewal rates. Small contributions are encouraged, and the long-term goal is to develop contributors into patrons.
Saint Paul’s example spurred the Evansville Philharmonic in Indiana to rescale its hall with dramatically lower prices beginning with its 2010-11 season: 70 percent of their hall sells for $25 or less. A completely different sort of low-price ticket was rolled out in 2009 by the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, with the help of funding from The Andrew W. Mellon foundation: 30-minute, $2.50 concerts, meant to spur impulse ticket purchases—one of several of that orchestra’s experiments with new performance formats. Getting outside funding for such programs can be a big help: for three seasons beginning in 2007-08, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was able to offer every subscription in the house for $25, with the support of two different corporate underwriters. The SPCO had learned from previous discounting efforts that lower prices did drive demand, and that the bulk of their new ticket buyers purchased a low-price ticket. Those struggling neighborhood concerts ended up being the catalyst for rethinking the business model. “We came to the conclusion that we were in the business of taking someone from no interest, to buying a single ticket, to subscribing, to becoming a donor,” says SPCO Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Limbacher, “and that the future of the organization from a financial sustainability perspective was completely attendant on our ability to do that. And that we shouldn’t let high prices keep us from taking people from A to Z.” Just as important, says Limbacher, “Those of us who also have responsibility for the fundraising side are finding more and more people questioning whether our performance is still relevant, based on attendance, and whether they want to fund something that appears to serve, based on this price, only the wealthiest segment of the population. It seems to me that this is an audience that totally lacks diversity of any sort. And so we really over time have come to believe that the pricing is not just a marketing strategy, it’s really who we are as an organization. When Sarah Lutman got here, she made the statement that fundamentally it’s a good thing for organizations to get more people to come to concerts—to serve more people, never mind what they’re paying.” Limbacher points out that SPCO had
working on the next budget for already been effectively lowering Getting new prices as a way to fill the hall. As concertgoers fiscal year 2011 and 2012, and long as discounting continued, he “generates a we’ve cut a million dollars out reasoned, they might as well “face lot of energy of our marketing budget.” Jessica Etten, director of marketthe fact that accessibility is part of for older ing and communications at the our institutional model, and let’s SPCO, says the orchestra used just get out of the discounting patrons to to spend $250,000 on advertisbusiness—the unseemly business see younger of charging our best customers, people in the ing—perhaps $100,000 of that on radio commercials. Lutman who really want to hear what we audience,” points out that those dollars can do, the highest prices, and after says now go into programming and everyone else is left with a lower Saint Paul other efforts. Getting new conprice, creating this economy of Chamber certgoers in the audience has paid value. So instead of doing price Orchestra other dividends as well, says Lutdiscounts for one year, we did it President man. “It generates a lot of energy for the long haul.” Members of and for older patrons to see younger the orchestra’s 4,000-member Managing people in the audience. Especially club2030 for younger concertDirector those who are already won over as goers get access to any Ordway our advocates and understand our concert for $10, and tickets for all Sarah strategy, it’s like a bell is rung evconcerts are $5 for anyone age six Lutman. ery time they see a young person to seventeen. The orchestra’s famthere and they feel like our efforts ily concerts are free, thanks to a are paying off. So it’s had a lot of grant from Target. nice multiplier effects.” LimbachThe behavior of first-time er says there were initial worries concertgoers—an overwhelming by some musicians that lowerpercentage of whom don’t come ing prices might devalue the orback for another concert, a phechestra and what it does; others from the nomenon known as “churn”—was the focus orchestra argued that “what devalues the of Oliver Wyman’s Audience Growth Iniwhole experience and the product is when tiative, which studied concertgoing behavnobody is in the hall.” Now, says Etten, “I ior at several orchestras between 2005 and never hear anyone question the neighbor2007. (For more on churn, see sidebar, page hood strategy. They just know the halls are 52.) But getting new people in the door full, and they like playing to a full hall.” for the first time continues to be critical to Saint Paul’s strategy, in the form of concert sampling. “Where classical music is on an The “Wow” Factor equal footing with people’s ability to samGlenn Roberts, executive director of the ple, they’ll sample at much higher rates,” Evansville Philharmonic in Indiana, heard says the SPCO’s Lutman. “So what we as the SPCO’s Jon Limbacher speak about that an industry need to do is position ourselves orchestra’s sustainable business model at the so that sampling is much easier for people. League of American Orchestras’ midwinter Through that, I’m pretty confident that managers meeting in January 2010. The talk classical music can appeal to a very broad spurred him to try a similar approach at his range of people, as it has for several hunown orchestra, which has an annual operatdred years already. I don’t expect that to go ing budget of $2 million. “I was impressed away just because we’re in modern times.” that the SPCO had started the pricing in Still, Saint Paul’s continued low ticket 2005,” says Roberts. “They’re still fully compricing raises the obvious question: how mitted to it, so they’ve been through hard can they afford it? “We inevitably reduced times, and they were very up-front to say, our gross ticket revenue,” says Limbacher. this is not a silver bullet, this is not a cure“But we reduced our marketing expense all. We had seen our audience base decline dramatically, so our net revenue—even in rather consistently over the past ten years, so an environment with much lower prices— it was a problem before the economic crisis. is significantly higher than it was before. The economy was just more of an impetus Our strategy has been lower prices and to look at other business models and decide rationalized low marketing expenses. I’m now is the time to change.” symphony
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The Evansville Philharmonic lowered ticket prices for its 2010-11 season at the Victory Theatre, with 70 percent of seats being offered at $25 or less (center), versus 8 percent of seats offered in 2009-10 for $25 or less (right). The orchestra initially considered pricing 40 percent of the hall at $25 or less (left) but felt it didn’t go far enough.
Roberts relayed the idea back to his one who crunches the numbers. I know board, which quickly agreed to implement the revenue that we’re going to be taking a price restructuring for the 2010-11 seaoff the books. Yet you have to figure that if son. “We thought, if we’re going to do this,” you’re going to lower the price, you’re going says Roberts, “let’s do this now, let’s take the to make up at least a portion of it in volplunge.” They first thought about rescaling ume: if you cut your price 30 percent, and the 1,800-seat Victory Theatre, where they you pick up 30 percent more ticket buyers, perform, so that about 40 percent of the it’s budget-neutral. Our board realized that seats would be priced at $25 or less—versus there is a chance that this strategy may lose 8 percent at $25 or less during the 2009money in the first couple of years, and it 10 season. “We thought it was will take a few years to gain trac“We’ve really tion. And we’re much more willimportant to have a psychological threshold of $25 or less as a price moved away ing to use our cash reserve as an point that people would think, from being investment in this, rather than ‘Hey, that’s affordable.’” But, af- obsessed by just covering operating deficits ter sitting down with incoming per capita as usual. So the general public board president Dick Arneson, revenue knows that the orchestra is not in Roberts and the board looked at and now dire straits.” the numbers and decided that we’re more Evansville’s goal was to in40 percent of the hall at $25 or obsessed crease the audience (subscripless didn’t go far enough. “It was with just tion) base by 4 percent from the great, but it maybe wasn’t quite 2009-10 to 2010-11 fiscal year, ‘capitas,’ ” bold enough to get people’s attenwhich Roberts calls a conservasays tion. So we took a deep breath, tive estimate, taking into account Evansville took out the pencil and eraser and that the economy is still rough. rescaled the hall and did it so that Philharmonic Evansville’s economy is centered 70 percent of the hall is priced Executive around manufacturing and farmat $25 or less. When I presented Director ing; last spring, a Whirlpool plant this to the board, I played a clip Glenn that had employed 1,100 people from the movie Butch Cassidy Roberts. had just closed and was moving and the Sundance Kid—the scene jobs to Mexico. The orchestra where Butch and Sundance are had previously instituted debeing chased by a posse, and they mand-based pricing—similar to take the plunge into a gorge. We what airlines use for their ticket needed the ‘wow’ factor.” prices—and discovered that alRoberts admits, “I had to swalthough their per capita revenue low pretty hard, because I’m the went up, the audience size went americanorchestras.org
down. “That is just unacceptable,” says Roberts. “We won’t be able to exist until we start building the audience. And so we’ve really moved away from being obsessed by per capita revenue, and now we’re more obsessed with just ‘capitas.’ ” In September, Evansville reported it had reached its goal of a 4 percent subscriber-base increase— the first such increase in eleven years. One of Roberts’s goals in Evansville is to regain the trust of his customers by moving away from ticket discounting. “We’re a nonprofit organization,” he says, “and we’re trying to establish not just a customer business relationship with people, but ultimately we want them to become donors. If you’re playing pricing games, and if they’re feeling like you’re always trying to squeeze out every last nickel from them, that’s not a good basis for trust.” Initial reaction to the new pricing plan has been positive. The previous season, before the new pricing, the orchestra had an 81 percent renewal rate for classics and pops concerts. As of this May, they had already surpassed that rate for 2010-11 renewals, with an 83 percent overall renewal rate. The orchestra also had to implement a waiting list for new ticketbuyers, which numbered 100 households in May; with the new pricing many lapsed subscribers have come back, so new ticketbuyers have to wait until all the renewals are in before their ticket orders can be fulfilled. Roberts says another area of positive feedback has been from his board. “When we announced the new prices at the board meeting, one board member on the spot
wrote a check for $2,500; another one sent in a check the next day for $700, and another one just a few weeks ago sent a check for $2,500 with a note saying ‘This is great.’ And we’ve already generated increased sponsorships just by telling the story.”
In Florida, the New World Symphony made a splash in 2009 when it rolled out its first series of 30-minute mini-concerts for $2.50 a ticket. The orchestra, whose regular, full-length concerts range from $15 to $100, plays three mini-concerts a night—7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m.—alternating a program A (say, Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony) and program B (Copland’s Appalachian Spring) and breaking the orchestra roughly in half so everyone has a chance to perform. About 5 million people a year stroll on Lincoln Road mall in Miami Beach, where New World is based, so it was plausible that an orchestra concert would be an impulse decision. “The premise is simple,” says New World Symphony President and CEO Howard Herring. “We want to lower the threshold, we want to make it easy, we want to make it inviting, we want to cause people to—on an impulse—choose to try our music. At $2.50, it’s a very small investment of money, and with only 30 minutes per concert, it takes them almost no time.”
rom 2005 to 2007, consultant Oliver Wyman collaborated with nine orchestras on a study known as the Audience Growth Initiative, focusing on barriers that keep firsttime classical-music ticketbuyers from becoming concert regulars—a phenomenon known as “churn.” The study found that 90 percent of firsttime ticket buyers “churned” from one season to the next, and recommended various ways to counteract churn, including “killer offers” (deeply discounted tickets) and improving lobby and bar facilities and parking. To read more about “churn,” visit the League of American Orchestras website. Symphony magazine’s two in-depth articles about the study can be found here and here.
Rat Race Studios
A Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra neighborhood concert at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, January 2009
The NWS, a professional training orchestra, describes itself as a laboratory, with one of its goals being to generate new ideas about how music is presented and experienced, and it was able to get The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to underwrite four models of new concert formats, one of which is the low-priced 30-minute concerts. “There are barriers that stand between us and new audiences,” says Herring. “And one of those barriers is price. But it’s only one of several. People are frightened to come into the hall, because they don’t know quite what the decorum is, they suspect that they won’t know how to dress, they suspect that they won’t know how to listen, they suspect that others will sense their insecurity. It’s fear of the unknown. Once we’ve got them inside, it’s our job to convince them that this music is transformative. And we believe that’s happening.” Herring says the initiative is not really about the recession, or about concertgoers with less earning power. “It’s about engaging new audiences, lowering the threshold, creating the climate for an impulse buy.” The mini-concerts most closely tie in to the part of NWS’s mission about developing a new generation of classical-music patrons. With Miami being a major tourist destination, Herring says, “We want them [tourists] to go home and seek a classical-music experience in their home city.” New World’s initial methods of spread-
ing the word about the mini-concerts was decidedly low-tech: they had staff and musicians talk to passersby, make a verbal pitch, and hand out 3-by-5 cards with the times and repertoire, inviting them to the concerts. When the orchestra moves to its new facility in January 2011—right next to its former home on Lincoln Road—it will be higher-tech, with concert information projected onto a 70-by-110-foot wall, where high-definition images will be visible at night. Throughout the day there will also be a 60-foot-long, 10-foot-tall LED wall visible from the new building’s upper lobby. The orchestra anticipates that it will be able to fill the new space’s 750 seats. A new city park directly adjacent to their front door means another 700 to 1,000 people will be able to hear the indoor mini-concerts outside. New World has hired arts management consultant Alan Brown to survey the audiences at the $2.50 mini-concerts and analyze the data; results are expected in spring of 2011. Ticket Discounting
Given the scrutiny price has been receiving, ticket discounters offer another useful perspective. In June I spoke with Jim McCarthy, chief executive officer of Goldstar, an online ticket discounter in business since 2002. Goldstar partners with organizations ranging from Broadway, cabaret, and Major League Baseball to orchestras and museums; members who have signed up symphony
things shall be added to you. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
for his e-alerts receive notifications about discounts—typically 50 percent—and pay a $4 to $5 surcharge per ticket for events purchased through his website. I asked McCarthy what he thought about the consumer psychology behind offering a significant number of concert tickets for a very low price. “The person who gets the best of those $10 seats, to use that as an example, loves that,” says McCarthy. “But the person who gets the worst of those seats is less enamored of that, right? ‘Gosh, that guy way down there paid the same amount I did.’ And you’re definitely leaving money on the table. Now, if you make it so arcane that ticket buyers basically have no idea what other people are paying, then I think you’ve gone too far in the other direction. And I think there’s some evidence to suggest that airline-style pricing—where it’s like a Magic 8 ball and you shake it and something comes out—is “The premise probably negative overall for sales, maybe not in the short is simple,” run but in the long run. Besays New cause people stop knowing how to value the product.” World A better alternative, McSymphony Carthy says, falls somewhere President in the middle, and he offers Southwest Airlines as an exand CEO ample of a company whose Howard pricing makes sense. “There Herring. are about four prices, and you can clearly understand “We want why the different prices are to lower the what they are. They’ve obvithreshold. ously learned how to capture At $2.50, it’s revenue by what’s known as price discrimination. But a very small they haven’t made it someinvestment, thing that baffles the conand with only sumer. That’s what I think I would aim for if I were a 30 minutes symphony orchestra. You per concert, may want to think about pricing your house as a serit takes vice to the consumer: how almost no can I give the consumer a time.” range of opportunities that make sense to them and that give them a different way to experience the thing? Including, for example, very inexpensive tickets in the second balcony. If you scale the house right, it means
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people are paying what they value the ticket at. And so it should work up and down the price scale.” McCarthy feels that instead of focusing on the potential top price—as in the example of a $300 or $400 Broadway ticket—presenters should spend more time “figuring out the middle. Because the combination of ticket price and the number of tickets actually sold in the middle is where the difference is going to be made.” Like McCarthy, consultant Tim Baker cautions that whatever price scheme is undertaken, it’s important to retain some flexibility. Baker—director of U.K.-based Baker Richards Consulting and a partner in a U.K./U.S. joint venture known as The Pricing Institute—notes that since classical-music customers “will happily pay high prices early to get the seats that they want,” you risk giving away money if you “start offering tickets cheaply early.” One option he has been recommending is a hybrid model using scaling of the hall and some version of dynamic (flexible) pricing, so that you can “combine the benefits of
the traditional model with a truly dynamic revenue management approach that allows prices to be adjusted according to demand, and that creates a simple, motivating price proposition for the customer.” “Ignorance and Apathy”
McCarthy acknowledges that some segment of the audience is cash-constrained and may just be waiting for a low enough price to purchase a ticket. These are people who know and like what you do, but can’t afford a $100 or $50 ticket. “But the bigger problem, not only for orchestras but for every live arts and entertainment business,” McCarthy says, “is what I call ignorance and apathy. They don’t know and they don’t care. Every marketer—certainly of symphony music—should make the assumption that the marketplace doesn’t know and doesn’t care. That’s not a cynical or a pessimistic thing, it’s just the truth. It’s a fact for everybody. The person who you should look at as the target of your discount efforts is a person who will potentially become a regular pa-
tron. Your job is not to sell them a ticket; your job is to bring them into the theater so that they’ll get interested in what you’re doing.” One further point McCarthy makes is the differing ticket-purchasing habits of the younger generation. “Younger buyers tend to be more about mixing and matching—sports one day, something else the next day. It’s like entertainment on shuffle. And they’re not as prone to buying subscriptions to things. They don’t subscribe nearly as strongly to the idea that X organization deserves my support. It’s not as though this is a generation that doesn’t want to contribute to the world—in many ways they do more than, say, baby boomers. But this sort of heavy-duty obligation side of it doesn’t work.” While a major component of the Evansville Philharmonic’s new ticket pricing seems aimed at getting back lapsed subscribers, efforts of both the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the New World Symphony are clearly aimed at getting new patrons into the house. Both Sarah
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Cheap Tickets Sampler
sale. Pacific Symphony (California): single tickets at half price. Paducah Symphony: one-day half-price sale for new subscribers. Pasadena Symphony and POPS: LIMITED-TIME OFFERS buy-one-subscriptionDuring 2009 and 2010, get-one-free for new here’s a sampling of subscribers. Portland orchestra ticket sales: Symphony Orchestra Adrian Symphony (Maine): Black Friday (post(Michigan): buy-one-get-one- Thanksgiving) $30 ticket sale free. Amarillo Symphony: for annual holiday concert. 85-hour reduced-price Utah Symphony | Utah sale on orchestra/balcony Opera: $20 premium seats tickets, celebrating the to selected performances. orchestra’s 85th year. Cleveland Orchestra: two- STUDENT OFFERS week 25 percent discount. Jacksonville Symphony Indianapolis Symphony: Orchestra: $25 Sound one-week “Happy $20.10” Check Card, good for sale. Duluth Superior student admission to every Symphony Orchestra: 72- masterworks, Friday Fusion, hour $25 ticket sale. Fairfax and Coffee series concert Symphony Orchestra for a season. Mobile (Virginia): $10 tickets for Symphony (Alabama): single concert, one day “Go for the Arts” pass for only, when purchased students and teachers, through website. Houston can be exchanged for free Symphony: concert at tickets to Mobile Symphony, Jones Hall with tickets Mobile Opera, and Mobile from $1 to $10. Illinois Ballet. Tucson Symphony Symphony Orchestra: Orchestra: student ten-day, 50 percent off new subscription package, seven subscriptions. Nashville concerts for $44. Symphony: annual one-day $20 single-ticket uring a given season, virtually every orchestra engages in some type of ticket discounting. Below, a thumbnail of what’s out there.
Lutman and Howard Herring talked about how important concert sampling is. In Russell Willis Taylor’s talk at the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference this past June, she reminded arts presenters that they do not control the value of a concert—the customers do. That value is not simply the ticket price, it’s also time, learning the norms of the concert hall, and the effort of paying attention to new music. The most basic function of lowered ticket price, of course, is to get bodies in the door, and sampling can help do this. It can get people past the barrier of price, as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra puts it, or past the barrier of ignorance and apathy, americanorchestras.org
FREE A sampling of free orchestra concerts in 2009 and 2010: Altoona Symphony Orchestra (Pennsylvania): Labor Day weekend park concert. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: 4,000 lawn tickets to single concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, for all Fulton County residents. Boston Symphony Orchestra: tickets for active military to Veterans Day concert at Symphony Hall. Chicago Symphony Orchestra: concert in honor of Burnham Centennial, part of a daylong series of free events, partnering with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Detroit Symphony: free community concerts. Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra: sixteen holiday concerts for general public, hospital patients, and police, fire, rescue, and military workers. Jacksonville Symphony: “Cover the Town with Sound” day of free community concerts by ensembles from the orchestra, throughout greater Jacksonville. Knoxville Symphony
Orchestra: four string quartet performances at Borders bookstore. National Philharmonic (Maryland): all children aged 7 to 17 admitted free to all concerts. North Carolina Symphony: outdoor concert in Moore Square, with orchestra musicians joined by Red Clay Ramblers. Orchestra of St. Luke’s: one-hour concerts in New York City’s five boroughs. Pacific Symphony (California): three concerts in Orange County parks. The Peoples Symphony: Almost free (not actually a symphony orchestra): $10 tickets (sometimes less) for this New York-based chamber-music series, founded in 1900, presenting artists like eighth blackbird, violinist Daniel Hope, and pianist Hélène Grimaud. Redlands Symphony (California): music of Native American and Latino composers. Stockton Symphony (California): family concert onstage at University Park on the CSU Stanislaus Stockton campus, part of a literacy/ book fair, also saluting Hispanic Heritage Month
as Goldstar’s McCarthy says, or to make the concert so cheap and so unintimidating, as with the New World Symphony, that it can be an impulse buy. In the end, it’s hard to argue with the SPCO’s Limbacher when he says, “Having an empty hall is a bad thing.” But the same solution won’t work for every orchestra. Sarah Lutman cautions, “We’re happy to talk about what our rationale was, what actions we took, and what our success has been. But we’re not out to prescribe our tactics for everyone. We do feel an enormous lift as an organization from having thought about building our case beyond artistic excellence, which by the way, is extremely hard night after night—I mean,
and the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence. OPERA, JAZZ In response to the economic downturn, the Sacramento Opera lowered its prices midway through the 2009-10 season by up to 39 percent. For the 2010-11 season, it continues the price cutbacks with an across-the-board 20 percent decrease. The Metropolitan Opera continues its $20 same-day rush tickets, launched in 2006. Beginning in 201011, Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company is selling $12 standing-room tickets (sponsored by TD Bank). For the third year running, Washington National Opera offered Target Free Opera in the Outfield, a live opera broadcast from the Kennedy Center Opera House to the Washington Nationals’ HD scoreboard at Nationals Park. On Wednesdays, Jazz at Lincoln Center offers $10 tickets for most Rose Theater performances for the coming week.
that’s an obsession for us! It’s just not our only obsession anymore. And I think other orchestras are finding other paths. This path happens to be working really, really well for us.” JENNIFER MELICK is managing editor of Symphony.
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Blue By raising artistic standards and forging solid relationships with its community, the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra has made Beethoven king in the land of bluegrass and BBQ.
RiverPark Center, on the Ohio River, is the venue for many of the Owensboro Symphonyâ€™s concerts.
It’s about 6 p.m. on a muggy August Saturday, and the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn is in the midst of its typical weekend feeding frenzy. Famished customers cluster around the buffet, heaping their plates with beef brisket, chicken, pork ribs, and Western Kentucky’s singular contribution to the barbecue pantheon: slow-roasted mutton. Just a few steps away, seventeen-year-old Erin Ballard stands ready to wipe up any bits of food that stray from their appointed pans. A senior at Owensboro Catholic High School, she’s steeped in the ways of this culinary landmark. But on this particular evening, her enthusiasm is directed at another local cultural icon: the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra. “My friend is Oliver Palmer, and his father is Nicholas Palmer, the conductor,” Erin said, moving nimbly to avoid a passing tray overflowing with macaroni and cheese. “He’s a really cool guy. I’m a big music person—I’m in march-
ing band at school,” she continues, praising the orchestra for performances ranging “from patriotic to classical” genres. “I know a lot of people who listen to their concerts.” Ballard is hardly alone. The Owensboro Symphony is inextricably linked to the identity of this city, in ways that transcend the traditional relationship between music and municipality. It may be a part-time ensemble, but it’s very much a full-time presence. To understand how this orchestra works, and why it’s become so essential to the community around it, you need to appreciate the character of its host city. Located about 100 miles west of Louisville, tucked away alongside the Ohio River, Owensboro is home to approximately 55,000 residents, making it the state’s third-largest urban area. The river, a vast waterway separating Kentucky from Indiana, has for generations helped define the city’s commercial evolution.
Owensboro Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau
by Andrew Adler
Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
The Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, with Music Director and Conductor Nicholas Palmer and the Owensboro Symphony Chorus, at an April 2010 performance of Carmina Burana at RiverPark Center’s Cannon Hall
Owensboro is centered along Frederica Street, a broad thoroughfare that begins barely a block from the river and extends southward for miles until it transforms itself into US Route 431. It’s an eclectic, often contradictory expanse of streetscape and highway, where refined stateliness often butts up against honk-if-you-loveriblets urban sprawl, a place where the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art gives way to Big River Rubber & Gasket. That said, Owensboro boasts a richness, indeed, an authenticity, that maintains a balance between city and country sensibilities. It’s overwhelmingly white (more than 90 percent), and once was decidedly blue-collar. Industrial might once ruled here: General Electric employed thousands. Now the local economy is far more service-based, particularly in healthcare. The Owensboro Medical Health System, for instance, occupies a vast tract of ground along Parrish Avenue—the same busy street that’s home to the fabled Moonlite Inn. Outsiders tend to associate Owensboro with a kind of populist streak, reflecting what Zev Buffman, president and CEO of the city’s RiverPark performing arts center,
calls “the line of thinking that barbecue and bluegrass rule.” There’s some truth in that. Indeed, the International Bluegrass Music Museum is one of the area’s principal attractions. Besides the Museum of Fine Art, the city boasts the Owensboro Museum of Science & History, several college-based arts programs, and the Theater Workshop of Louisville (with repertoire ranging from 5 Guys Named Moe to Lettice and Lovage). Yet classical music has long held its own here, and prospered, against more smallcity cultural norms. The orchestra began operating in 1919, incorporating in 1967 as the Owensboro Civic Orchestra. For years it gave concerts inside a high school auditorium, striving to produce a grand sound in a decidedly less-than-grand space. All that changed when RiverPark opened in 1992. The facility, conceived as an anchor for downtown commercial development, featured a 1,400-seat hall designed and built specifically for the orchestra. In an instant, the Owensboro Symphony could boast an advantage not enjoyed by similarly sized regional orchestras, which often perform in theaters designed first as multipurpose spaces.
“We had to totally rethink how the orchestra would play,” recalls Greg Olson, who has spent several decades as a double bassist and who now also serves as the OSO’s personnel manager. “It was hard to get your arms around the difference in the complete resonance the hall had, as opposed to a high school auditorium with its back-in-your-face echo. It was like playing with a very poor instrument for a long time, and then suddenly getting a good one.” Though the orchestra annually gives only a modest number of subscription services in Cannon Hall—the 2010-11 season comprises three classical programs, a Christmastime holiday pops concert, a bigband program plus a semi-staged performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville— it’s become a highly sought-after gig. Like most part-time, per-service ensembles, the Owensboro Symphony depends on an eclectic roster of musicians. Many come from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, about 100 miles to the north. “One of the interesting things about this group is that it’s very young,” observes Concertmaster J. Patrick Rafferty, 63, whose career includes a stint as Milsymphony
Owensboro Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau
waukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster from 1986 to 1991. “It’s full of very talented students—not just undergraduates, but a lot of them who could be out playing professionally full time.” Rafferty, an associate professor of violin at the University of Louisville School of Music, is in his third season with the OSO. “It’s a group that comes together five, six, or seven times a year, they put together things in a few days, and it’s amazing what comes out.” A great deal of what emerges is in the hands, soul and brain of Palmer, now in his twelfth The International Bluegrass Music Museum is one of Owensboro’s attractions. season as the orchestra’s music director. Trim and gregarious at 53, he earned a bachelor’s depersonnel and develop cergree in composition from Hartain aspects of the repertory vard, where one of his roomthat had not been touched mates was Paul Moravec, who’d a whole lot. I think we’ve go on to win the 2004 Pulitzer done those things.” Prize in Music. The OSO has long enOwensboro may be a far cry joyed a symbiotic relationfrom Cambridge and the Ivy ship with the Evansville League, but there is no hint Outsiders tend Philharmonic in neighboring of elitist posturing in Palmer’s Indiana. Evansville lies just to associate approach to the job of music across the Ohio River from director. In fact, sometimes he Owensboro with Owensboro, and numerous goes out of his way to empha- a kind of populist musicians play in both orsize that he can be a playful guy chestras. Not long ago the streak, “the line at heart. During the OSO’s regroups’ schedules were coorcent Broadway-themed “Con- of thinking that dinated to avoid conflicting cert on the Lawn” at nearby barbecue and services, and the orchestras Kentucky Wesleyan College, now jointly audition Indiana bluegrass rule,” Palmer made his entrance in a University students. chauffeured white stretch limo as RiverPark One reason the OSO has roughly the size of New Jersey. performing arts succeeded in this arrangeDuring intermission, he stood ment is the amenity factor. center CEO Zev by graciously as Owensboro “It’s how we treat the playMayor Ron Payne awarded him Buffman puts ers,” Palmer explains. “They the keys to the city in honor of it. But classical stay in a nice hotel when they Palmer’s twelfth anniversary as come here, they are fed—and music has conductor. we are very respectful of Beneath this jovial exterior, long held its their time and challenging however, Palmer is a serious, own here, and them with exciting repertory. intensely focused musician. He That’s how we have been prospered. does not regard himself merely able to retain people.” as an entertainer. His goals are considerThe repertoire covers quite a bit of exably more ambitious. “One of the things I pressive territory. “For the last couple of certainly wanted to see was artistic growth years, I’ve tried to perform a lot of French in the orchestra,” Palmer says. “I started repertory,” Palmer says, “just because it’s with an excellent ensemble when I came something I really enjoy and it’s a great way here. We wanted to have more stability in to build an orchestra.” Palmer also believes americanorchestras.org
in the power of Classical-period works. “A lot of orchestras and cities like us who have big halls don’t play Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven, but we do.” At the same time, he says, “we like to consider ourselves a bigtoned orchestra that has a large dynamic scale,” appropriate for “Strauss tone poems, Mahler symphonies, and a lot of contemporary works by American composers.” As an example of this last category, Palmer mentions the Kentucky premiere two seasons ago of Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America, produced in partnership with a local theater company. The program also included music by Leonard Bernstein and Virgil Thomson. Recently the OSO commissioned Moravec to compose a piece, and several seasons ago the orchestra made a recording of music by Arnold Rosner on the Albany Records label, giving the world premiere of his instrumental suite The Tragedy of Queen Jane. Listeners have responded favorably to the orchestra’s range of activity, Palmer says. “We have to really engage the audience here. We’ve made it our point not to be educators that sound too high and mighty, but we have been accessible, we have been communicative. We do pre-concert talks where I speak from the podium, and frequently we’ll have composers speak.” Community Connections
At Kentucky Wesleyan’s summer concert, listeners from infancy to infirmity arrayed themselves on a wide lawn. Children licked
degree it benefits from being small and part-time by hewing to what it does best; the OSO is not about to contract for 300 services a year. It remains a decidedly lean outfit. “I’ve often told the board that it’s harder to put together this $750,000 budget than one for $450 million,” confesses OSO Executive Director Bill Price, who came to the orchestra after retiring as a senior hospital company executive. “We’re trying to keep track of every nickel and dime, and make sure we don’t spend more than we have.” Price and his fellow staffers are in their second straight Owensboro among the 100 year of taking a 10 percent pay best places to live in the U.S. cut, in part to offset a decrease “We can bring people like poin individual giving. “The tential donors, or executives, number of contributors didn’t to a performing arts center, drop,” Price says, “but the and tell them we have an oramount they were giving did.” chestra,” Payne says. The city Throughout good and not is embarking on a $500 milso good times, “our board lion project to build a new “We’ve made it has always been very fiscally hospital, and is investing $120 sound,” Price says. “We have our point not to million to construct a new never, as far as I can rememconvention center. Owens- be educators ber, had a deficit budget. And boro’s fairly diverse economy that sound too we’ve been able to build a rehas largely shielded it from serve of about five months of high and mighty, the extremes of the financial operating expenses in cash, downturn. “We have weath- but we have which is very sound.” The ered this recession pretty well,” been accessible, OSO finished its last fiscal Payne says. “This is a dynamic year $500 in the black. “We communicative,” little community that’s on the have great support from the move. We have a very low cost says Music community and corporate of living, we’re very safe, and Director sponsors,” says OSO Board we have great schools.” President Waymond Morris, Nicholas Palmer. The city’s relative prosperhimself mayor of Owensboro ity has directly benefited the from 1994 until 2004. “They OSO. Owensboro and surrounding Dahave been pretty steady, and held on.” viess County provide a sizable chunk of Morris adds that the OSO’s music acadthe orchestra’s $750,000 annual operating emy, with multiple rehearsal and meeting budget. “As long as I’m mayor it’s very sespaces, has become a significant source cure,” promises Payne, mentioning that the of income. “We allow people to rent the city managed to close out its last fiscal year major hall there for weddings, etc,” he with a $1 million surplus. Historically, arts says. “It helped bring back the downtown organizations have been a consistent part area of our city.” The academy and the of our budget,” he says, “in the sense that orchestra’s administrative offices sit diwe funded those organizations just like we rectly across from the RiverPark Center. fund other departments in our city.” It is run by Zev Buffman, a high-octane, The Owensboro Symphony has exhigh-velocity former Broadway impresario erted similar financial discipline. To some who—to the astonishment of more than a
shaved ice in unlikely hues of purple and green, while their parents dined on blankets and at picnic tables, glasses clinking in the night. It was small-d audience democracy, not quite what you’d find during the more formal programs at RiverPark, yet reflecting an honest, unpretentious pride in a homegrown orchestra. The OSO connects to its community as well through its in-house music academy, which provides lessons to area young people, and via the OSO-run Owensboro Youth Orchestra. Just this season, the OSO appointed youth orchestra conductor Tom Stites as the main orchestra’s associate conductor. Stites, who made his OSO debut last season leading the “Imperial March” from Star Wars while costumed as Darth Vader, arrived in Owensboro after more than 30 years as a high-school band director in Johnson City, Tennessee. His full-time job is directing arts programs for the Owensboro public school system. Stites says that he has been impressed by the city’s commitment to the arts, which is unusual for a town its size. “It’s one of those things that, when you’re choosing between two or three different options in your life, you can say, ‘This is a town that values culture, and this is a place I want to live.’ ” Indeed, Owensboro has staked a big chunk of its reputation on that value system. “While the orchestra adds to our quality of life, it’s also a great economic development tool,” explains Ron Payne, the city’s mayor, touting a summer, 2010 survey by Money Magazine that listed
Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
The Owensboro Symphony performs at Owensboro’s English Park on the banks of the Ohio River, July 4, 2001.
Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation
few observers—relocated to Owensboro in 2003 to take the RiverPark job. Buffman lauds the cooperative spirit between RiverPark and the OSO, declaring it “a happy marriage where everybody is accommodating. One of the keys that makes it a lasting relationship—not only landlord and tenant—is that we regularly share every bit of information that we think would benefit each other, or potentially harm each other, so there are no surprises.” Though Cannon Hall also accommodates touring shows and various kinds of entertainment, it remains dedicated to the art of orchestral performance. Buffman gets evident enjoyment telling how acoustical treatments, the orchestra shell, and so on can be swapped out for an amplification-friendly environment in less than a day. And when the OSO performs there, “it still has some of the best symphony sound that I’ve ever heard,” Buffman says. “Ultimately, the Owensboro Symphony will have to be sustained by its core constituents, the residents who live and work in the city, and who in a very real sense own this ensemble.”
“I think people in Owensboro take great pride in the orchestra,” Palmer says. “To raise the amount of money it took to build a wonderful facility like RiverPark, to have Cannon Hall built as a dedicated symphony hall— that’s not typical. It says that the people in this community really value this orchestra.” You don’t have to convince Jane Stevenson, an elegant, silver-haired woman who was occupying a lawn chair as the OSO spun out its Broadway tunes that August night. Asked how she regarded the orchestra, she responded in three simple words: “We are blessed.” ANDREW ADLER is music critic at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.
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$5,000 – $9,999
Artsmarketing Services Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada Arup, New York, NY BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. William G. Brown, Hobe Sound, FL Nicky B. Carpenter, Wayzata, MN †§ CCS, New York, NY Classical Movements, Inc., Alexandria, VA Con Edison, New York, NY Corporation for International Business, Barrington, IL DCM, Inc. – Consulting and Teleservices for the Arts, Brooklyn, NY Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, San Francisco, CA Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, New York, NY Mr. Cannon Y. Harvey, Denver, CO Art and Martha Kaemmer Fund of HRK Foundation, Saint Paul, MN § Lee Lamont, Longmont, CO *† The Lerner Foundation, Highland Heights, OH § Peter B. Lewis, Coconut Grove, FL § W. Curtis Livingston, Nantucket, MA † Jim & Kay Mabie, Northfield, IL § Lee R. Marks & Lisl Zach, Philadelphia, PA §
The League of American Orchestras extends special gratitude to members of the American Orchestra Foundation who generously support the League with annual gifts of $50,000 or more. Foundation members share an extraordinary commitment to symphony orchestras and the music they perform.
Argosy Foundation, Milwaukee, WI Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown, Winston-Salem, NC Bruce & Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund, Chicago, IL Mr. Richard W. Colburn, Northbrook, IL Julie F. & Peter D. Cummings, Palm Beach Gardens, FL The Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, Grand Rapids, MI John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, Atherton, CA Shirley Bush Helzberg, Kansas City, MO Mrs. Martha R. Ingram, Nashville, TN Jan & Daniel R. Lewis, Coral Gables, FL Cynthia M. Sargent, Northbrook, IL
New York State Council on the Arts, New York, NY James B. & Ann V. Nicholson, Detroit, MI § Charles & Barbara Olton, New York, NY †§ Palomino Entertainment Group, Williamsburg, VA Mary Carr Patton, Orange Park, FL Peter Pastreich, San Francisco, CA *†§ The Albert B. & Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation, Lyndhurst, OH § SD&A Teleservices, Inc., Los Angeles, CA Penelope Van Horn, Chicago, IL †§ Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster, New York, NY *§ Adair & Dick White, Atlanta, GA §
NATIONAL FRIENDS OF THE LEAGUE Benefactor ($2,500 – $4,999)
ASCAP, New York, NY Ms. Marin Alsop, Baltimore, MD The Amphion Foundation, New York, NY Bennett Direct, Milwaukee, WI Richard J. Bogomolny, Gates Mills, OH § Mr. David Bohnett, Beverly Hills, CA Dr. Roland M. Carter, Chattanooga, TN Edward & Nancy Conner Fund, San Francisco, CA § Bruce Coppock, Mendota Heights, MN § Emma E. Dunch & Elizabeth W. Scott, New York, NY ·§ Fisher Dachs Associates - Theater Planning and Design, New York, NY Mrs. Charles Fleischmann, Cincinnati, OH † Mr. James M. Franklin, Inverness, IL § Jeanne & Gary Herberger, Paradise Valley, AZ § Mr. & Mrs. A.J. Huss, Jr., Saint Paul, MN § IMS, Madison, WI James D. Ireland III, Cleveland, OH § Mrs. Loretta Julian, Oak Brook, IL § Joseph H. Kluger, Gladwyne, PA § Christopher & Margo Light, Kalamazoo, MI *† Judy & Scott McCue, Evanston, IL +§ Terje Mikkelsen.com, Oslo, Norway Robert & Judi Newman, Englewood, CO Patron Technology, New York, NY Mr. Seymour Rosen, Valhalla, NY † Deborah F. Rutter, Chicago, IL †§ Mr. Richard P. Simmons, Sewickley, PA Tom & Dee Stegman, Cincinnati, OH § TALASKE | sound thinking, Oak Park, IL Rae Wade Trimmier, Birmingham, AL § James Undercofler, Philadelphia, PA § Alan D. & Connie Linsler Valentine, Nashville, TN § Anonymous (2)
Sustainer ($1,000 – $2,499)
Douglas W. Adams, Dallas, TX § Alberta Arthurs, New York, NY § Brent & Jan Assink, San Francisco, CA § Audrey G. Baird, Milwaukee, WI *§ Frances & Stephen Belcher, Severn, MD William P. Blair, III, Canton, OH *†§ Elaine Amacker Bridges, San Angelo, TX Fred & Liz Bronstein, St. Louis, MO ·§ Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee, Washington, DC *•†§ Michelle Miller Burns & Gary W. Burns, Chicago, IL ·§ Cabot Creamery Cooperative, South Duxbury, VT Mr. Chuck Cagle, Franklin, TN Catherine M. Cahill, Philadelphia, PA ·§ Morton D. Cahn, Jr., Dallas, TX The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Chicago, IL NancyBell Coe, Santa Barbara, CA Colbert Artists Management Inc., New York, NY Robert Conrad, Cleveland, OH § Margarita L. Contreni, Brookston, IN The Cooking Group, Dallas, TX Martha & Herman Copen Fund, New Haven, CT
HELEN M. THOMPSON HERITAGE SOCIETY George J. D’Angelo, M.D., Erie, PA Gloria dePasquale, Narberth, PA § John Farrer, Bakersfield, CA Scott Faulkner & Andrea Lenz, Reno, NV § Aaron A. Flagg & Cristina Stanescu Flagg, New York, NY § Michele & John Forsyte, Santa Ana, CA ·§ Mr. & Mrs. F. Tom Foster, Jr., Brentwood, TN § Catherine French, Washington, DC *•†§ Edward B. Gill, San Diego, CA § Clive Gillinson, New York, NY †§ Joseph B. Glossberg & Madeleine Condit Glossberg, Chicago, IL § Ms. Marian A. Godfrey, Philadelphia, PA § Michael S. Gordon, Newport Beach, CA Gary Hanson & Barbara Klante, Cleveland, OH § Mark & Christina Hanson, Milwaukee, WI ·§ Daniel & Barbara Hart, Buffalo, NY ·§ Jennifer Higdon & Cheryl Lawson, Philadelphia, PA § Dr. & Mrs. Claire Fox Hillard, Albany, GA Mr. Michael J. Horvitz, Cleveland, OH § Patricia G. Howard, Cazenovia, NY + Jerome & Beverly Jennings, Winston-Salem, NC Mr. Russell Jones, New York, NY § The Jurenko Foundation, Huntsville, AL Ms. Polly Kahn, New York, NY § The Joseph & Nancy F. Keithley Foundation, Shaker Heights, OH § Erwin A. Kelen, Minneapolis, MN § Mr. & Mrs. Norman V. Kinsey, Shreveport, LA Larry & Rogene Kirkegaard, Chicago, IL Judith Kurnick, Penn Valley, PA § Dennis W. LaBarre, Cleveland, OH § Mr. & Mrs. Wilfred J. Larson, Naples, FL † Fred Levin & Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, Mill Valley, CA § Robert & Emily Levine, Glendale, WI § Mr. & Mrs. Phillip N. Lyons, Newport Beach, CA § Alex Machaskee, Cleveland, OH § Annie & William Madonia, Cleveland, OH § Mr. James Marpe, Westport, CT Steve & Lou Mason, Dayton, OH †§ Paul Meecham, Baltimore, MD § Zarin Mehta, New York, NY § LaDonna Meinders, Oklahoma City, OK § Beth E. Mooney, Cleveland, OH § Michael Morgan, Oakland, CA § Thomas W. Morris, Cleveland Heights, OH § Diane & Robert Moss, Key Biscayne, FL § James W. Palermo, Chicago, IL ·§ Graham Parker, New York, NY Steven C. Parrish, Westport, CT Anne H. Parsons, Detroit, MI ·§ Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Gates Mills, OH § Mr. & Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Jr., Waite Hill, OH § Peggy & Al Richardson, Erie, PA †§ Ms. Barbara S. Robinson, Cleveland, OH § Jesse Rosen, New York, NY § Robert & Barbara Rosoff, Glens Falls, NY § Mr. & Mrs. H.J. Rossmeisl, Jr., Birmingham, AL +§ Don Roth, Davis, CA *†§ Jo Ellen Saylor, Edina, MN Schiedmayer Celesta GmbH, Wendlingen, Germany Nancy & Barney Schotters, Greenwood Village, CO Sciolino Artist Management, LLC, New York, NY Fred & Gloria Sewell, Minneapolis, MN § Helen P. Shaffer, Houston, TX Joan H. Squires, Omaha, NE ·§ TRG Arts, Colorado Springs, CO Dr. Jane Van Dyk, Billings, MT § Matthew VanBesien & Rosie Jowitt, Houston, TX ·§ Allison Vulgamore, Atlanta, GA ·§ Tina Ward, Saint Louis, MO ·§ Dr. Charles H. Webb, Bloomington, IN § Franz Welser-Möst, Cleveland, OH § Stacey Weston, New York, NY § Neil Williams, Atlanta, GA † Jan Wilson, New York, NY § Anonymous (2) §
Patron ($600 – $999)
AT&T Foundation, New York, NY Lois H. Allen, Columbus, OH Sandra Sue Ashby, Jacksonville, FL americanorchestras.org
Dr. Richard & Janet Barb, Indianapolis, IN Marie-Hélène Bernard, Boston, MA ·§ Mr. Robert A. Birman, Prospect, KY Nancy Blaugrund, Albuquerque, NM § Mr. Frank Byrne, Kansas City, MO § Katherine Carleton, Toronto, ON, Canada § Judy Christl, Bonita Springs, FL § Ms. Katy Clark, New York, NY ·§ Amy & Trey Devey, Cincinnati, OH ·§ Mr. D. M. Edwards, Tyler, TX § Susan Feder & Todd Gordon, Irvington, NY Ryan Fleur & Laura Banchero, Memphis, TN †·§ Natalie Forbes, New Haven, CT Mrs. William A. Friedlander, Cincinnati, OH § Karen Gahl-Mills & Laurence Mills-Gahl, Syracuse, NY § The GE Foundation, Fairfield, CT Michael Gehret, Lawrenceville, NJ Mr. Kareem A. George, Detroit, MI ·§ Maryellen Gleason & Kim Ohlemeyer, Phoenix, AZ Kathie & Ken Goode, Cincinnati, OH § Richard Gray, Chicago, IL Mr. André Gremillet, Jersey City, NJ Howard Herring, Miami Beach, FL Mr. Robert E. Hoelscher, Cedar City, UT Lauri & Paul Hogle, Atlanta, GA § Holly H. Hudak, Chicago, IL § Mrs. Laura Hyde, Tyler, TX Kendra Whitlock Ingram, Baltimore, MD § Ms. Helena Jackson, Duluth, MN James M. Johnson, New York, NY § Wendy Kelman, Beverly Hills, CA Ann Koonsman, Fort Worth, TX Andrea Laguni, Los Angeles, CA Carolyn & Wayne Landsverk, Portland, OR David Loebel, Lebanon, NH Hampton Mallory, Glenshaw, PA † Fred & Lois Margolin, Denver, CO Terri McDowell, Lookout Mountain, TN Mrs. Charlotte W. McNeel, Jackson, MS Evans Mirageas, Minnetrista, MN Steven & Donna Monder, Cincinnati, OH † Parker E. Monroe, Oakland, CA Heather Moore, Dallas, TX Gerald Morgan Jr., Midlothian, VA J.L. Nave, III & Paul Cook, Fort Wayne, IN ·§ Brenda Nienhouse, Spokane, WA ·§ Kristen Phillips & Matt Schreck, Hartford, CT Vicky & Rick Reynolds, Cincinnati, OH § Brian A. Ritter, Albany, NY William A. Ryberg, Hailey, ID Roger Saydack & Elaine Bernat, Eugene, OR † Mr. Louis Scaglione, Philadelphia, PA § Grace & Jim Seitz, Naples, FL + Ms. Rita Shapiro, Arlington, VA R. L. Sias, Oklahoma City, OK † Mr. Ari Solotoff, Portland, ME ·§ Barbara J. Soroca, Stamford, CT § Mr. John Stahr, Corona Del Mar, CA Mr. Gideon Toeplitz, Richmond, MA Melia & Michael Tourangeau, Salt Lake City, UT Jeff & Melissa Tsai, Pittsburgh, PA ·§ Robert J. Wagner, Maplewood, NJ § Edward Walker, Oklahoma City, OK § Pamela J. Weaver, Greer, SC Melody Welsh-Buchholz, Crestwood, KY § Gary & Diane West, West Chester, OH Melinda Whiting & John Burrows, Riverton, NJ Paul R. Winberg & Bruce Czuchna, Eugene, OR Lisa M. Wong, M.D., Newton, MA Carol Sue Wooten, Fort Smith, AR † Rebecca & David Worters, Raleigh, NC § Edward C. Yim, New York, NY ·§ Paul Jan Zdunek, Pasadena, CA Anonymous (1) * Charter Member † Directors Council (former League Board) · Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni • Donald Thulean Fund for Artistic Excellence + Includes Corporate Matching Gift ‡ In-Kind Donation § Includes Campaign Gift ^ Deceased
The League of American Orchestras graciously recognizes those who have remembered the League in their estate plans as members of the Helen M. Thompson Heritage Society. Nina C. Masek, co-chair, Sonoita, AZ Janet F. & Dr. Richard E. Barb Family Foundation, Indianapolis, IN Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee, Washington, DC John & Janet Canning, Westport, CT Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek, North Oaks, MN Martha and Herman Copen Fund, Mt. Carmel, CT Myra Janco Daniels, Naples, FL Samuel C. Dixon, Morrow, GA Henry & Frances Fogel, Chicago, IL Susan Harris, Ph.D., Ann Arbor, MI Steve & Lou Mason, Dayton, OH Shirley D. McCrary, Mooresville, AL Lowell & Sonja Noteboom, Minnetonka, MN Charles & Barbara Olton, New York, NY Peter Pastreich, San Francisco, CA Rodger E. Pitcairn, Rockville, MD Robert & Barbara Rosoff, Glens Falls, NY Robert J. Wagner, Maplewood, NJ Tina Ward, Saint Louis, MO Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster, New York, NY Anonymous (1)
NATIONAL COUNCIL The League of American Orchestras is grateful to its National Council members for their generous support. Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown, co-chair, Winston-Salem, NC Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek, co-chair, North Oaks, MN Nancy & Ellsworth Alvord, Jr., M.D.^, Seattle, WA Mr. & Mrs. William G. Brown, Lake Forest, IL Trish Bryan, Cincinnati, OH John & Janet Canning, Westport, CT Nicky B. Carpenter, Wayzata, MN Melanie Clarke, Princeton, NJ Henry & Frances Fogel, Chicago, IL John Gidwitz, New York, NY Ellen & Paul Gignilliat, Chicago, IL The Phoebe W. Haas Charitable Trust A as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno, Philadelphia, PA The Irving Harris Foundation, Chicago, IL Mr. Cannon Y. Harvey, Denver, CO Mark Jung, Menlo Park, CA Art and Martha Kaemmer Fund of HRK Foundation, Saint Paul, MN Catherine & John Koten, Barrington Hills, IL Lee Lamont, Longmont, CO The Lerner Foundation, Highland Heights, OH Peter B. Lewis, Coconut Grove, FL W. Curtis Livingston, Nantucket, MA Jim & Kay Mabie, Northfield, IL Lee R. Marks & Lisl Zach, Philadelphia, PA Shirley D. McCrary, Mooresville, AL Catherine & Peter Moye, Spokane, WA James B. & Ann V. Nicholson, Detroit, MI Lowell & Sonja Noteboom, Minnetonka, MN Charles & Barbara Olton, New York, NY Cathy & Bill Osborn, Chicago, IL John Palmer, Cincinnati, OH Peter Pastreich, San Francisco, CA Mary Carr Patton, Orange Park, FL The Albert B. & Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation, Lyndhurst, OH Patricia A. Richards, Salt Lake City, UT Mr. David Rockefeller, New York, NY Drs. John & Helen Schaefer, Tucson, AZ Connie Steensma & Rick Prins, New York, NY Penelope Van Horn, Chicago, IL Ms. Ginger B. Warner, Cincinnati, OH Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster, New York, NY Adair & Dick White, Atlanta, GA The Simon Yates & Kevin Roon Foundation, New York, NY
Primetime Gig Violinist Lucia Micarelli bridges several worlds, and now finds herself in an unusual position for a classically trained musician: she’s one of the stars on a hit TV series.
most of which were non-classical. I was always lucky enough to be given musical freedom, and would regularly incorporate classical repertoire and sensibility into my playing. When I toured with Josh Groban, I took a mid-show solo that started with the opening of the Sibelius violin concerto, then morphed into “Kashmir,” the Zeppelin song. In all my years of training, I never thought I’d play Sibelius to a packed arena! It’s interesting,
HBO/Paul Schiraldi (both photos)
s a child, I studied with Dorothy DeLay in Juilliard’s pre-college division. She had a pretty hardcore regimen— you needed to learn a set amount of repertoire by the time you were fifteen or sixteen. It was difficult, but I think it’s a bit easier to absorb when you’re young. My parents are not musicians, but my dad loves opera and jazz and my mom is the classic Korean mom: she came to every lesson I ever had until I was seventeen years old. She knows so much about violin technique just from observing. I owe everything to her. I still play on the phone via Skype to my mom a lot—she can tell instantly if I need to work on my bow arm. I don’t think I heard any non-classical music until I was in my late teens. I remember hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time—it totally blew my mind. So much freedom, so much power, so emotional... it took me a bit by surprise. I wanted to be Jimmy Page, or rather Itzhak-Perlman-meets-Jimmy-Page. After Juilliard I went to the Manhattan School of Music to study with Pinchas Zukerman. He was amazing, but after a year I left school to go on tour with the neo-classical rock-metal group Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It was an opportunity to try something so different from anything I had previously known— traveling, arenas, pyrotechnics. I had to at least have a taste. At the end of that run, I got called to tour with Josh Groban, then Jethro Tull, and it just kept snowballing. I ended up touring with different artists nonstop for the next five years,
I own a ridiculous amount of music. I’m also constantly trolling the web for performance videos and recordings I haven’t seen or heard before. It’s nice to have all that material online available for reference—every musician I know finds inspiration on the internet in some form or another. Recently, my father re-acquainted me with his favorite artists like Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, and Frank Sinatra. He still remembers every word to every song. Playing the role of Annie on Treme is a wonderful experience, though it has its challenges. New Orleans music—Cajun, traditional jazz, blues—is so varied that getting my brain around all those styles can be confusing at times. Luckily, there are great musicians involved with the
Lucia Micarelli as Annie in two scenes from HBO’s Treme, about post-Katrina New Orleans. Above right: with Steve Zahn (center) and Kim Dickens (right)
too, how people react to something like that. Audience energy is such a huge part of the overall concert experience, and it’s nice to have that back-and-forth with the crowd. They are part of the performance, you are part of the performance, and together you create something larger than the sum of its parts. I never feel as though I’m having a “solo” moment, it’s always a collaboration. Even in a classical situation, playing a concerto or chamber music is a team effort. People working together to create an experience.
show, so there’s always someone around who has expertise in whatever kind of music Annie is playing that day. I play my own violin on the show, a modern violin by Jeffrey Robinson. I enjoy this job so much because I’m constantly learning—from the musicians of the city to the (amazing!) cast, directors, writers, and crew. And I like the character I play. Annie makes sense to me—a young woman finding her way in the world, through music, in music, with music. It’s a fascinating journey. symphony
Orchestras Feeding America
2011 Over the past two years, hundreds of orchestras from across the country have collected more than 300,000 pounds of food for local Feeding America food pantries and soup kitchensâ€”making a big difference to those who need help most in their communities. We are so proud to have been a part of this effort, and hope your orchestra will join us for Orchestras Feeding America 2011. For more information or to join us, visit americanorchestras.org.
Stat of the Arts ■ Number of world, U.S., and Canadian premieres by North American orchestras in Symphony’s 2010-11 premieres listing*
■ Number of those 157 premieres that result from a commission
■ Number of those 110 works commissioned by a single orchestra, individual, or other entity
■ Number of premieres with between two and nine co-commissioners
■ Number of co-commissioning orchestras for Osvaldo Golijov’s new work honoring former League of American Orchestras President and CEO Henry Fogel, premiered by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra on October 16, 2010
■ Prior to July 20, maximum processing time for regularly filed foreign-artist visas and petitions at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Up to 120 days
■ Current maximum processing time for regularly filed foreign-artist visas and petitions, following advocacy efforts by the League of American Orchestras and other organizations
■ In a recent British study in which subjects were asked to compare performances by female solo violinists wearing three different outfits, ranking in technical proficiency and musicality given to those in standard concert dress
■ Ranking for female violinists wearing T-shirt and jeans
■ Ranking for female violinists in “nightclub attire”
■ In a random sampling of nineteen American orchestra websites, number that recommended “business casual,” “business-appropriate,” “professional business,” or “office casual” as appropriate attire for new concertgoers
■ Number of above websites recommending “business or church-style clothing”
■ Number of above websites stating anything “from Birkenstocks to ball gown” is appropriate attire
*As of October 5, 2010
What to Wear?