Symphony Spring 2021

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How has a year of challenge and innovation changed orchestras’ approach to programming and the concert experience?

League 2021 Conference Preview

Summer Music Festivals: Online and In Person

Rethinking Blind Auditions


Proud to be among the many fine orchestras finding new ways to bring music to the world during these challenging times. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra streams live concerts online, featuring renowned guests and original video content.

Maestro Ken Selden

Orli Shaham

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2

Zuill Bailey

Maestro Salvador Brotons

April 24th 7pm PST | 25th 3pm PST Featuring piano virtuoso Orli Shaham and guest conductor Maestro Ken Selden. Including masterworks by Sibelius and Dvorák.

Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 May 22nd 7pm PST | 23rd 3pm PST Featuring GRAMMY award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey and the return of Maestro & Music Director Salvador Brotons. Including masterworks by Bruch, Copland and Bloch.

For tickets and more information visit | 360-735-7278

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4 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events 10 Conference Preview The League’s 2021 National Conference will explore how our world has changed, what the future might look like, and how we will get there.

Berkshire Community College


2 Prelude by Robert Sandla

14 Brandon Patoc

14 Board Room Incoming and outgoing board chairs at three orchestras speak about making the transition during momentous times. by Nancy Malitz


20 Rethinking Blind Auditions Afa Dworkin moderates a discussion among Black musicians about blind auditions, which were implemented to redress the exclusion of people of color and women from orchestras. Yet musicians of color remain underrepresented. Is it time to change blind auditions?

Festival Overtures Many music festivals are gearing up to return—for a very different kind of season. by Jeff Lunden



Summer Festivals 2021 A guide to what’s on this summer—in person and virtually.


Page Views Are orchestras ready to make the jump to e-scores? by Rebecca Schmid 61 Advertiser Index 62 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund 64 Coda John Masko, co-founder of the National Virtual Medical Orchestra, on rehearsing and performing together—at a distance. Text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources.

64 Valentina Sadiul


Lockdown Learning Since the pandemic began, youth orchestras have been finding ways to rehearse and perform—safely. Some of the changes will likely be lasting. by Rebecca Winzenried

J Kat Photography


South Dakota Symphony Orchestra


Native Sounds Orchestras are performing music by composers from Navajo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and many other tribes. by Rita Pyrillis

about the cover

Clockwise from top: The Oklahoma City Philharmonic performs a section of Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s Lowak Shoppala (credit: Shevaun Williams and Associates); a student violinist in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra participates virtually; San Francisco Symphony percussionist Jacob Nissly and Stan Muncy perform an online concert (Kim Huynh); Louis Scaglione leads a Philadelphia Youth Orchestra rehearsal (Bachrach Photography); the Bravo! Vail music festival presented concerts from its Mobile Music Box last summer (Tomas Cohen Photography); French horn players from the New Jersey Youth Symphony perform at an outdoor concert ( Jon Sicat); Angel Reverol, a student in the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando program, and Leslie Fagan, assistant principal flute with the Nashville Symphony, share an e-score (Walter Bitner).


VO LU M E 72 , N U M B E R 2

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t sounds like sci fi: “the before times.” But before COVID-19, orchestra seasons were planned down to the hemidemisemiquaver, announced half a year before opening night, and then launched like so many swans—gorgeous and unruffled on top, paddling madly below. Change—when it happened—was difficult, protracted, in part because of practicalities like the availability of in-demand guest musicians, the need to honor contracts and regulations, rehearse unfamiliar rep, alert audiences, sell tickets. All that changed when the pandemic hit. Concerts were announced, canceled, postponed, rescheduled. Musicians popped up on streets, backyards, front porches. Everyone headed online. When in-person concerts became possible, strings prevailed, to limit spread of aerosols from wind instruments. Along with familiar scores by Tchaikovsky and the usual (wonderful) suspects, Mahler 4, of all things, showed up in chamber versions. And something else happened. Strings-only scores like George Walker’s Lyric for Strings and Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst were being played nationwide. Works by more a diverse range of composers, so long ignored, are suddenly being performed, often by a more diverse range of musicians. Sparked by the fierce urgency of the need for racial equity, what had been an aspiration may be headed toward becoming a reality. This issue of Symphony looks at these paradigm shifts from multiple perspectives. Incoming and departing board chairs—all of them women—discuss governance. Native American composers talk about the increase in commissions and performances of their music by orchestras. A panel of Black musicians examines how to rethink blind auditions so that orchestras become truly representative. And we report on how youth orchestras are adapting and looking ahead.


symphony®, the award-winning quarterly 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 MANAGING EDITOR Jennifer Melick PRODUCTION AND DESIGN Michael Rush ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Stephen Alter ADVERTISING ASSOCIATE Danielle



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Annual subscription $25.00. To subscribe, call 646-822-4080 or send an e-mail to member@ Current issue $6.95. Back issues available to members $6.95/non-members $8.45. Directory, 75th Anniversary, and other special issues: members $11.00/non-members $13.00. ADDRESS CHANGES

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SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE

League Issues Statement Condemning Violence Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

MUSICAL CHAIRS has joined the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra as principal tuba. ROBERT BLACK

The Wheeling Symphony in West Virginia has hired BRYAN BRAUNLICH as executive director.

On March 19, in response to the recent rise in anti-Asian American violence, the League of American Orchestras issued the following Statement on Violence and Discrimination Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: The League of American Orchestras stands in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as it faces a terrible new wave of hate crimes and racism. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are an integral part of our orchestra community and our country. AAPI discrimination precedes the pandemic and has long existed—though it has previously been ignored. The League is dedicated to fighting this racism as part of its long-term commitment to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in our own organization, and in supporting our members to do the same. The hate against our fellow Americans must stop. Discrimination, stereotyping, and aggression must stop. As we stated in August 2020, “We choose to move fully and without delay toward absolute diversity and equity within our field; and henceforth to respect the value and boundless creative capacity of every human being.”

has been chosen as the San Diego Symphony’s vice president of institutional advancement. SHERI BROEDLOW

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has appointed HAROLD BROWN as its inaugural chief diversity and inclusion officer.

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra has named composer COURTNEY BRYAN as creative partner, a post that runs until June 2023.

Australia’s Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has added two new staff positions. Soprano and composer DEBORAH CHEETHAM is the orchestra’s First Nations creative chair, and music educator and researcher ANITA COLLINS is creative chair for learning and engagement.

Kentucky’s Lexington Philharmonic has appointed KELLY CORCORAN as interim artistic advisor, a newly created position while the orchestra’s music director search is on hold due to the pandemic. The Oregon Symphony has selected DAVID DANZMAYR as its next music director, effective with the start of the 2021-22 season. He replaces Carlos Kalmar, who steps down at the end of this season.

LA Phil’s Gail Samuel to Helm Boston Symphony Orchestra


Musical Chairs

The New York Philharmonic has tapped PATRICK CASTILLO as vice president of artistic planning.

Read the League’s August 2020 Statement on Racial Discrimination at Visit the League’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Center at


The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has named ANDREAS DELFS as its next music director, succeeding Ward Stare, who departs at the end of this season. The London Philharmonic has appointed ELENA DUBINETS as artistic director.

has been named executive and artistic director of Carolina Performing Arts, the presenting organization in Chapel Hill, North Carolina founded by Emil Kang. ALISON FRIEDMAN

Aram Boghosian

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has appointed Gail Samuel, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and president of the Hollywood Bowl, as its next president and chief executive officer. When she begins her job on June 21, 2021, she will become the BSO’s first female president in its 140-year history. Samuel’s three decades of experience in orchestra management include 25 years of senior leadership at the LA Phil, where her accomplishments include recruiting a diverse staff representative of the greater Los Angeles community, sup- Gail Samuel porting the work of Music Director Gustavo Dudamel’s YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), and transforming the LA Phil’s Hollywood Bowl. She also oversaw strategic and operational program development for Walt Disney Concert Hall, the orchestra’s primary performance venue. In recent years, she worked with the County of Los Angeles to bring the Ford outdoor amphitheater under the stewardship of the LA Phil, with the goal of celebrating the community of artists in Los Angeles and their audiences. At the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she will succeed president and chief executive officer Mark Volpe, who is stepping down after 23 years.


has been selected as principal guest conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Opera in Norway. JAMES GAFFIGAN

The Conroe Symphony in Texas has named ANNA-MARIA GKOUNI music director.

Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival has elected ADAM GRAIS chair of its board of directors.

New World Symphony’s executive vice president and provost, JOHN KIESER , has added a second post as director of partnerships at the classical music streaming service Idagio. At New World Symphony, his title becomes executive producer of media.



Responding to Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders


Sounds of Santa Rosa The Santa Rosa Symphony’s youth ensembles—including the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, Debut Youth Orchestra, String Orchestra Workshop, and Aspirante Youth Orchestra—have kept busy throughout the pandemic, rehearsing and performing indoors, outdoors, and via Zoom, as health protocols dictate. The advanced-level Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless group guided by Music Director Aaron Westman, uses hybrid rehearsals: most musicians meet in person while others join Musicians in the Santa Rosa Symphony’s String Orchestra remotely. On the schedule for this spring is a concert Workshop rehearse outdoors in fall led by SRS Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, of 2020, led by instructor Karen and a recording session is planned for the fall. In Zimmerman, a bassist in the Santa addition, the young musicians are working on creating Rosa Symphony. a violin from locally sourced materials, led by Santa Rosa violin maker Andrew Carruthers. Two young composers from Santa Rosa Symphony youth ensembles have begun work on compositions for the instrument. Meanwhile, the Simply Strings program for third graders in the Roseland School District is launching outdoor sessions for students who have not met in person this season.


The Austin Symphony Orchestra in Texas has tapped DAVID PRATT as chief executive officer and executive director.

Boston’s New England Conservatory has chosen BENJAMIN SOSLAND as provost and dean, effective July 5.

has been named the Fort Worth Symphony’s next music director, effective in August 2022. As previously announced, he steps down as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra this June, and will serve as the Fort Worth Symphony’s music director-designate. ROBERT SPANO

Astral Artists, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit, has appointed LOURDES STARR-DEMERS as executive director. She succeeds founder Vera Wilson, who remains on Astral’s board of directors.

Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society has named ANTHONY TRECEK-KING as resident conductor of its Handel and Haydn Society Chorus. Michigan’s Grand Rapids Symphony has appointed CARLOS VICENTE as vice president of marketing and communications. ICM Partners has hired EMILY THRELFALL YOON as an agent in its Concerts Department, where she will focus on expanding ICM’s role at orchestras.



Karjaka Studios

Musical Chairs

James Holt/Seattle Symphony

Orchestras and musicians reacted to the recent rise in anti-Asian American and anti-Pacific Islander violence, including the March 16 murders at Asian-run businesses in Atlanta. The Seattle Symphony dedicated its annual “Celebrate Asia” concert on March 18 to victims of violence and hate crimes. Seattle Symphony President and CEO Krishna Thiagarajan said, “The recent rise in xenophobic attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is unacceptable and heartbreaking, particularly during a year that has already been so challenging. Music can offer healing where words fail, and we dedicate The Seattle Symphony’s March 18 concert dedicated to victims this concert to you. To all those affected by this senseless violence— of racist violence was led by Keitaro Harada and featured cellist Zlatomir Fung. you are not alone, we stand with you. We mourn the losses of Daoyou Feng, Pak Ho, Paul Andre Michels, Vicha Ratanapakdee, Xiaojie Yan, Delaina Ashley Yuan, and countless others.” Keitaro Harada led the virtual program at Benaroya Hall in contemporary works by Dai Fujikura, Takashi Yoshimatsu, and Akira MUSICAL CHAIRS Senju as well as Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, featuring cellist Zlatomir Fung. On April 2, Ken-David Masur, music director of the Milwaukee Symphony OrchesEDWARD J. LEWIS III has joined the Caramoor tra, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Asian Americans can no longer endure Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, NY as discrimination. He recalled that he had been bullied while growing up, as the son of president and CEO. German conductor Kurt Masur and Japanese soprano Tomoko Sakurai, and said, “The California’s New Century Chamber Orchestra has chosen RICHARD LONSDORF as executive director; time of putting your head down and being in denial of who you are and what you’re he had served as interim executive director since being discriminated or bullied for should be over.” August 2020. On April 9, New York Youth Symphony Concertmaster Myra Cui led a live chamCanada’s Montreal Symphony has named KENT NAber music concert at New Jersey’s Bergen Town Center Mall to benefit the families of GANO to the honorary post of conductor emeritus. hate crimes targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The MELISSA NGAN has been appointed concert featured musicians from the NYYS Chamber Music program in works by Bach, president and CEO of the American Composers Orchestra in New York Mozart, and NYYS alumna Jessie Montgomery. Cui commented, “I felt it was important City, succeeding Edward Yim, who for musicians to gather and perform within our local communities to raise awareness left in September to become chief against Asian hate crimes.” content officer for classical radio station

As more Americans are inoculated against COVID-19, orchestra musicians are doing something many of them have not been able to do for a year: play music for an in-person audience. And it’s happening at mass vaccination sites. In March, Yo-Yo Ma arrived for his second vaccine dose at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts with his cello and gave an impromptu performance in the post-shot waiting area (below). In early April, musicians from the Henderson Symphony Orchestra performed at the Las Vegas Convention Center vaccine clinic; Executive Director Sarah O’Connell said she hopes the orchestra’s presence calms patients. In April and May, Iowa’s Quad City Symphony Orchestra collaborated with the Rock Island County Health Department to create “Vaccine Variations,” hour-long performances by individual orchestra musicians at the vaccination site at the Camden Centre in Milan, Illinois; patients receive a discount code for QCSO performances. This winter, the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina hosted free drive-through COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in collaboration with Blue Ridge Health and the Transylvania County Health Department. And in the U.K., Salisbury Cathedral’s spectacular interior was transformed into a vaccination center (top right); the church worked with the National Health Service on the COVID-19 vaccination program. Ash Mills

Berkshire Community College

A Shot of Music

League Launches New Website The League of American Orchestras website has the same great address——but now it’s a whole new experience. The League launched its redesigned and updated site this spring, and in addition to featuring eye-catching photos of League-member orchestras, the new site makes information much easier to find with a filtered search function—and it’s all browsable on any device. “Building the new website was a transformational undertaking,” says League President and CEO Simon Woods. “We wanted our users to more easily find League resources and engage with League activities while enjoying the vibrant photos of our member orchestras throughout the site. There are so many new things to discover but I’m particularly excited about the directory introducing our staff to the field and the Envision section, which provides inspiration and ideas for the future of our artform.” Some highlights of the new • Accessing information on COVID-19 and other timely issues has become much easier, via a topic-based menu and filtered search. • The Advocate menu contains resources that help orchestras tell their stories, connect with government officials, and stay up to date about key policy issues. • The new Envision section is a showcase of forward-looking and inspiring items about the field. This content will be refreshed regularly, with guest curators who will share their own perspectives. • Throughout the site, photos submitted by League members capture the vitality of the artform. The site will feature new member photos on an ongoing basis. • Symphony magazine has a new landing page spotlighting the most recent editions, with archival issues to be added in the coming weeks. • The new Member Spotlight section focuses on individuals in the orchestra field, with each person’s custom-crafted Spotify playlist. Right now: Anwar Nasir from the Omaha Symphony. More content is on the way, including the updated Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resource Center. Visit




Musical Mittens

When Senator Bernie Sanders sat socially distanced at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on January 20 while wearing a blue surgical mask and knitted woolen mittens, a surge of musical memes by orchestras and musicians ensued. On the Capitol steps, he sits next to a tuba and a music stand displaying Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony. He sits behind the trombones of the London Philharmonic, a wouldbe timpanist; at the Toronto Symphony, he sits in front of the trombones. Seated at a piano with John Cage’s 4’33” score, he quietly contemplates … nothing. In Cleveland’s Severance Hall, he sits enigmatically on an empty stage. At Carnegie Hall, he sits next to the ghost light on a stage empty except for a piano. At Tanglewood, he sits on a folding chair near picnickers. He sits among musicians at a Minnesota Orchestra chamber concert. And multiple Bernies sit, socially distanced, in the audience at Cincinnati’s Music Hall, waiting for the music to begin.

Clearing the Air with Music During the pandemic, most of us have gotten accustomed to concerts popping up—on porches and sidewalks, in storefronts and parks. One unusual concert took place this February in Marsha Jackson’s backyard in the south Dallas neighborhood of Floral Farms. Jackson’s home is adjacent to a property that had become a dumping ground for discarded roof shingles by a recycling company, and after three years the pile had grown so large it was referred to as shingle mountain. The toxic waste brought high levels of air pollution to the neighborhood and numerous health issues for Jackson. Quincy Roberts, a classically trained singer and board member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, is president of Roberts Trucking Company, which was awarded the contract to raze shingle Dallas Symphony Orchestra violinist Bruce Wittrig and violist Dan mountain, and in celeWang perform outside Marsha Jackson’s home in Dallas, February bration of the mountain’s 26, 2021. removal, Roberts arranged a surprise concert, just for Jackson and her neighbors. The concert featured Dallas Symphony Orchestra violinist Bruce Wittrig and violist Dan Wang as well as tenor Lawrence Brownlee performing from the Dallas Symphony’s Concert Truck, which has been traveling throughout Dallas during the pandemic with neighborhood concerts.

Two New Board Members at League The League of American Orchestras has announced that two new members have joined its Board of Directors. Sharon D. Hatchett (top photo), a member of the League’s Volunteer Council and past president of Southside Friends of the Chicago Sinfonietta, will serve a three-year term on the League Board. Rhonda Hunsinger (bottom photo), executive director of the South Carolina Philharmonic, joins the Board as an ex-officio member (chair, League of American Orchestras Group 5/6 Managers). In addition to her service on the League’s Volunteer Council, Hatchett, who hails from Aurora, IL, is principal of the Hatchett Group LLC; president, Together is Better Alliance NFP; member, Council of Legal Advisors Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; member, Advisory Board, Coaster Cycles; retired global leader, Information Technology Legal Matters, General Motors; and former board member, Detroit Institute of Arts, Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art. Hunsinger, based in Columbia, SC, is executive director of the South Carolina Philharmonic; former board member, One Columbia for Arts and Culture, Lexington Village Square Theatre, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals; and Riley Institute Fellow, Diversity Leaders Initiative, Furman University.

CORRECTION: We misidentified a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musician on page 9 of the Score section of the Winter 2021 issue. The caption should have read: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra flutist Jennifer Steele performs at Fallingwater in October 2020 as part of the orchestra’s Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience. Symphony regrets the error.


2021 Avery Fisher Career Grants Announced

Head Sounds

This year’s Avery Fisher Career Grants have been awarded to five musicians: cellists Sterling Elliott and Oliver Herbert, violinists Geneva Lewis and Kevin Zhu, and pianist Eric Lu. Each recipient receives an award of $25,000, to be used for specific needs in advancing a musical career. The Avery Fisher Career grants provide professional assistance and recognition to talented instrumentalists, as well as chamber ensembles, who the program believes to have great potential for major careers. Since 1976, 161 Career Grants have been awarded, and all recipients are currently 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients (left to right): Sterling active musicians. This year’s Elliott, cellist; Oliver Herbert, cellist; Geneva Lewis, violinist; grants were announced on Kevin Zhu, violinist; Eric Lu, pianist. Photo credits (left to right): New York classical radio Will Hawkins Photography; Todd Rosenberg; Motti Fang-Bentov; station WQXR in a virtual Seungho Choi; Benjamin Ealovega. ceremony on March 11 hosted by Elliott Forrest. The ceremony featured recorded performances from each of the recipients as well as brief interviews with them. The 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grant virtual ceremony is available for on-demand viewing on the Avery Fisher Artist Program website at

In February, composer Anna Clyne found herself making tech history while preparing for a performance of her 2020 work Stride by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Clyne could not be at rehearsals at Orchestra Hall with the orchestra and conductor John Storgårds, but thanks to an idea she concocted with her audio engineer husband, Jody Elff, she was able to listen and watch virtually. Elff created a mannequin head equipped with microphones and cameras that transmit stereo sound and panoramic images. At home, Clyne, wearing a virtual headset and ear buds, could listen and watch in real time; musicians heard her voice offering feedback. The Detroit Symphony is not the only ensemble to deploy the technology. Indiana’s South Bend Symphony Orchestra used it to prepare for an April 24 concert at the Morris Performing Arts Center led by Music Director Alastair Willis and featuring Clyne’s

James Levine, one of the most influential conductors of his generation, but whose career ended in ignominy, died on March 9 in Palm Springs, California at age 77. Levine occupied some of the most prominent positions in classical music: he was music director of the Metropolitan Opera for four decades, beginning in 1976. He also served as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2011, and was music director of the Ravinia Festival, where he led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s summer residencies from 1973 to 1993. At the Metropolitan Opera, he conducted more than 2,500 performances and is credited with transforming its orchestra into a top-ranked ensemble. At the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he programmed standard repertoire as well as works by Arnold Schoenberg, John Harbison, Milton Babbitt, Charles Wuorinen, and Elliott Carter. Levine, born in Cincinnati, started musical life as a pianist. While still a teenager, he began conducting operas at the Aspen Music Festival and School. From 1964 to 1970, he was an assistant conductor at the Cleveland Orchestra, and in June 1971 he conducted his first Met performance, of Puccini’s Tosca. He became the Met’s principal conductor in 1973 before being named music director in 1976. In addition to canonic operas, he led the company’s first performances of operas including Mozart’s Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Moses und Aron, and Berg’s Lulu, as well as the world premieres of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. His later career was marked by multiple health problems—spinal stenosis, a torn rotator cuff, and Parkinson’s disease—and he began conducting from a motorized wheelchair. He resigned from the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2011. He stepped down as music director at the Metropolitan Opera in 2016 to become music director emeritus. His final years ended in scandal after several men went public with claims of sexual harassment and abuse by Levine. An investigation by the Metropolitan Opera found “credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers.” Levine was fired in 2018. Levine denied the accusations and sued for breach of contract and defamation; he was awarded $3.5 million in a 2019 settlement. His final performance at the Met was Verdi’s Requiem, in December 2017.


Sarah Smarch

James Levine (June 23, 1943-March 9, 2021)

A February rehearsal of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra employed Ted, a mannequin head outfitted with microphones and cameras, which transmits audio and video.

Sound and Fury and Haydn’s Symphony No. 60. Clyne watched the South Bend Symphony rehearsal through the mannequin, equipped with a 360-degree camera and a collection of microphones, offering her a live, immersive view and crisp stereo audio. The mannequin has a name—or names. In Detroit, it was Ted. In South Bend, it’s Pat.



On the Move The Kansas City Symphony is on the move—across the street. The orchestra plans to shift its headquarters to the Webster School building in the Crossroads Arts District, allowing it to centralize administrative, musical, and creative operations in the building, which is across the street from its current administrative offices. The orchestra is working with Helix Design and Straub Construction to create a modern space while preserving the character of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. “The Webster School building will be the front door to the Kansas City Symphony, where we will provide new ways for the community to interact with us through recitals, educational programs, events, and opportunities to meet our musicians,” says Danny Beckley, Kansas City Symphony executive director. “This will be a perfect complement to our mainstage performances just next door in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This historic space will help us provide context to the art of symphonic music, which will deepen engagement with our community.” Two other orchestras have also moved to new The Webster School building will offices. In December, the Billings Symphony become the new headquarters of the Kansas City Symphony. in Montana moved its offices downtown to a building that will give the orchestra more visibility in the community and space to perform small concerts, along with a recording area, storage, and archives. In mid-2020, California’s Monterey Symphony moved to new offices in Carmel, which inspired it to present “Balcony Sessions” chamber concerts while its performances at the Sunset Center were on hold during the pandemic. Musicians have been playing from the balcony for an in-person audience of up to twelve people in the courtyard; performances are also live-streamed.

New League Guide: Making the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras

The League of American Orchestras has published Making the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras, an online guide with concrete answers and practical resources that orchestras can use to advance anti-racism and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at all levels of their organizations. Developed in collaboration with a team of orchestra musicians, music directors, board members, and staff, the guide is intended to help the orchestra field take action to become more inclusive and welcoming of all people and all differences. The guide provides practical advice, content, and support, and is designed to help those in orchestras to make the case for this vital work and to navigate key questions as they take action for change. Orchestras have a long history of discrimination, and Making the Case is offered amid America’s current reckoning with 400 years of oppression against Black people, the police killings and disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and Brown Americans, and recent violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Making the Case follows the League’s Statement on Racial Discrimination issued in August 2020. Read Making the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras.




Embracing a Changed World The world has radically changed from just a year ago, as orchestras have grappled with the pandemic and have sought to confront racial injustice. The League’s 2021 National Conference will explore what must change from the past, what the future might look like, and how we will get there. by David Styers


rchestral music has evolved over centuries and it will continue to evolve and thrive—differently. The time is right for orchestras to now embrace a changed world and build an inclusive and open future. With light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and an overdue need to address racial equity, this time presents new opportunities for a vibrant reinvention of our art form and our institutions. The League of American Orchestras’ online 2021 National Conference, June 7-17, will pose big questions, examine where we are, and look ahead to the future. Providing actionable, engaging content; diverse perspectives; provocative, timely discussion; and network development, the Conference will focus on five critical questions: 1. Concert Hall vs. Digital: What new opportunities and challenges are emerging, and how do we balance the need for both engagement and revenue? 2. Better Together: What responsibilities and opportunities do orchestras have to deepen their relationships with their communities? 3. Showing Up for Racial Equity: What shifts across the board can we make, in order to progress towards a more equitable, post-pandemic future?


What new tools and approaches do we need, in order to sustain and expand this work? 4. New Directions: How has a year of adversity and awareness changed our approach to programming and the concert experience? 5. Reframing the Narrative: How do we make a compelling case that resonates with government, funders, and the public as a new chapter in the work of orchestras begins? We must thank all the individuals and organizations that have helped us put together such a vibrant gathering of people, perspectives, and ideas at this year’s National Conference, among them the consulting firm McKensie Mack Group and many others. For a list of the League’s funders and sponsors for this year’s Conference, visit The League sincerely appreciates their support. Here are just a few highlights of what to expect this June.

Inspiring Music and Speakers

The Conference will showcase the rich range of music-making by American orchestras of every description from across the country. The Interschool Orchestras of New York, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Omaha Symphony will give live-streamed concerts, and the Albany (NY) Symphony, Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New Bedford Symphony, and San Diego Symphony will be featured in previously recorded concerts. World-renowned musician, composer, and bandleader Wynton Marsalis will kick off the Conference on Monday, June 7 in an interview by League President and CEO Simon Woods. Marsalis will share his core beliefs, which are based on the principles of jazz: individual creativity (improvisation), collective cooperation (swing), and facing adversity with persistent optimism (the blues). In 1983, Marsalis became the first and only artist to win classical and jazz Grammy Awards in the same year; he won in both categories again in 1984. An educator and leading advocate of American culture, Marsalis will reflect on what he sees as the future of the arts and orchestras in expanding musical offerings and audiences. Marsalis co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center, the first-ever new, permanent constituent at the NYC performing arts center since its start. A prolific and inventive composer, he has performed and composed across

Conference 2021 The League of American Orchestras 2021 National Conference, “Embracing a Changed World,” takes place June 7-17 online. Visit for more information and to register.



Musician, composer, and bandleader Wynton Marsalis will launch the League’s 2021 National Conference on Monday, June 7 in an interview by League President and CEO Simon Woods.

the full jazz spectrum—from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz—and has composed a violin concerto and four symphonies that introduced new rhythms to the classical canon. In “A Time to Embrace Change,” the closing plenary session on Thursday, June 17, a conversation between Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Emil Kang, the Mellon Foundation’s program director for arts and culture, will address how we must place the arts and artists at the center of thriving, healthy communities. The largest supporter of the arts and humanities in the U.S., the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is committed to ensuring equitable access to excellent arts and cultural experiences.

Anwar Nasir, chief revenue and advancement officer of the Omaha Symphony, will moderate the June 8 How Has Technology Changed Orchestras Forever panel discussion.

Colleen Dilenschneider, chief market engagement officer for IMPACTS, a predictive market intelligence and technology firm, will lead the Making Connections: Leveraging Symphonic Strengths in a Pandemic-Impacted Nation session on June 8. Blake-Anthony Johnson, CEO of Chicago Sinfonietta, will moderate the June 8 We Do This Work Together: Creating Pathways for Meaningful Action in the Face of Racial Injustice panel discussion.

Denise Wilmer Barreto, co-founder and executive producer of Serget Productions, Chicago, will lead the June 8 When We Don’t Give Up: Facing Resistance to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Work session.

The League’s online 2021 National Conference will pose big questions, examine where we are, and look ahead to the future.

Laura Reynolds, executive director of the Boise Philharmonic, will moderate the June 9 Survive to Thrive: Why Community is Central to Our Success panel discussion.

Thematic Days

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, vice president and artistic director of social impact at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, will lead the Arc of Art and Community Solidarity session on June 9.

Each of the five critical questions will frame a day of the Conference by providing an in-depth look into issues most affecting orchestras. On Tuesday, June 8, “Concert Hall vs Digital: What new opportunities and challenges are emerging, and how do we balance the need for both engagement and revenue?” will explore what we have learned during the pandemic about digital content: it will always be part of our future, yet it will never replace live performance. This day is about the future interplay between live and digital—and the different experiences and potential of each medium.

Titus Underwood, principal oboe of the Nashville Symphony, will moderate the June 15 The Summer of 2020 discussion with a panel of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color orchestra professionals.

Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center, will lead the June 16 Your Values, Your Impact, Your Stories session, which focuses on the story-telling skills that orchestras must sharpen to communicate their value.

Josh Kohanek

• Making Connections: Leveraging Symphonic Strengths in a PandemicImpacted Nation with Colleen Dilenschneider, chief market engagement officer for IMPACTS, a global leader in predictive market intelligence and related technologies • How Has Technology Changed

Ed Yim, chief content officer and senior vice president of WQXR 105.9 FM Classical Music, will moderate the Artistically Responsive Orchestra panel discussion on June 15.

Michelle Burns Miller, president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra, will lead the June 16 Making the Case in 2021 panel discussion on how orchestras can articulate their roles in society.


Each of these five days of the League’s 2021 Conference will conclude with a facilitated online open chat space for attendees to reflect upon and share their thoughts and surface ideas about imple­mentation and impact, following the presentations and discussions of the day. Orchestras Forever, panel discussion exploring the changing role of technology and the rise of the orchestra media company, moderated by Anwar Nasir, chief revenue and advancement officer of the Omaha Symphony On Wednesday, June 9, “Better Together: What responsibilities and opportunities do orchestras have to deepen their relationships with their communities?” will address how orchestras’ relationships

with their communities will be redefined after the pandemic and will examine the roles orchestras play in the economic revival of their cities and towns. This day is about how orchestras can build even deeper relationships with their communities and create new dimensions of cultural belonging. • The Arc of Art and Community Solidarity with Marc Bamuthi Joseph, vice president and artistic director of

Pre-Conference Seminars Prior to the start of Conference, Pre-Conference Seminars will take deep dives into specific topics, June 1-4: Leadership in a Time of Crisis with Susan Reinecke of the Center for Creative Leadership (extra fee, June 2): Participants will gain greater situational awareness of when to focus on crisis leadership versus crisis management; identify effective and ineffective crisis leadership and the impact of authenticity, transparency, compassion, and interdependence on success; learn how to prioritize, act, and communicate strategically at each stage of a crisis—no matter the chaos and ambiguity; develop skills to maintain agility and resilience throughout a crisis; and develop ways to pivot in order to thrive while taking advantage of new conditions and opportunities and reconfiguring the organization. What Do You Need in a Post-Pandemic Board? with Susan Howlett of Susan Howlett Consulting (extra fee, June 3): As we emerge from the reverberating impacts of the last year, boards will have to think and behave differently if orchestras are to remain relevant. This interactive session will help participants: identify what you need from your board to navigate a shifting landscape; discern which board attitudes and behaviors no longer serve you, and how to move toward more useful ones; and equip board members to champion your orchestra’s evolving identity. Expect conversations about equity, tools for addressing conundrums, and opportunities for real-time problem-solving. Embracing Changed Fundraising: Keeping Your Donors in a Time of Renewal with Bob Swaney of Robert Swaney Consulting (extra fee, June 4): Now that orchestras are preparing for performances on the stage and for audiences returning to the concert hall, new donor expectations are emerging. Using the lessons learned during the shutdown, this seminar will help participants: retain generous contributors; address budding new best practices for donor retention, as viewed through a lens of fundraising; and experience interactive exercises to help equip your organization as it prepares to attract, keep, and grow the donor base in a pandemic-recovery environment.


social impact at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts • Survive to Thrive: Why Community is Central to Our Success, panel discussion sharing strategies, insights, and actionable ways that orchestras can authentically engage with communities to increase access, deepen trust, and develop enduring sustainability, moderated by Laura Reynolds, executive director of the Boise Philharmonic On Thursday, June 10, “Showing Up for Racial Equity: What shifts across the board can we make, in order to progress towards a more equitable, post-pandemic future? What new tools and approaches do we need, in order to sustain and expand this work?” will examine the commit¬ment necessary to advancing values and actions of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in all facets of American orches¬tras. Made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this day will examine ways

The 2021 Conference will showcase the rich range of music-making by American orchestras across the country. to support a paradigm shift that holistically embeds EDI values in our organizations’ cultures, practices, and norms. It will also continue to advance discussion and action for orchestras at all stages of their EDI work. • When We Don’t Give Up: Facing Resistance to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Work with Denise Wilmer Barreto, co-founder and executive producer of Serget Productions, Chicago • We Do This Work Together: Creating Pathways for Meaningful Action in the Face of Racial Injustice, panel discussion focusing on what commitments orchestras have made to racial-justice work and how orchestras will remain accountable, moderated by Blake-Anthony Johnson, CEO of Chicago Sinfonietta symphony


J U N E 7 - 17, 2021

Embracing a Changed World

76th National Conference Online


On Tuesday, June 15, “New Directions: How has a year of adversity and awareness changed our approach to programming and the concert experience?” will provide a look at the future of repertoire planning and what orchestras’ priorities should be. This day will explore how the past year has altered the way orchestras program and present concerts. • The Summer of 2020 with Titus Underwood, principal oboe of the Nashville Symphony, and a panel of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) orchestra professionals • The Artistically Responsive Orchestra, panel discussion exploring how the concept of nimbleness could be the orchestra model of the future, moderated by Ed Yim, chief content officer and senior vice president of WQXR 105.9 FM Classical Music On Wednesday, June 16, “Reframing the Narrative: How do we make a compelling case that resonates with government, funders, and the public as a new chapter in the work of orchestras begins?” will examine the story-telling skills that orchestras must sharpen to communicate their value. This day will look at orchestras’

ongoing responsibility to communities and the need for equitable access to music education. • Your Values, Your Impact, Your Stories with Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center • Making the Case in 2021, panel discussion looking at perspectives on how orchestras can articulate their role, moderated by Michelle Miller Burns, president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra Each of these five days will conclude with a facilitated open chat space for attendees to reflect upon and share their thoughts and surface ideas about implementation and impact, following the presentations and discussions of the day. Networking and Learning

The Conference will also feature smallgroup Constituency Meetings by peer group, many of them taking place on Monday, June 14, to focus on each group’s most pressing concerns. Whether you are connected to the orchestra field as an executive director, trustee, volunteer, staff member, conductor, composer, or musician, there will be Constituency Meeting

agendas designed specifically for you. Throughout the Conference, the online Exhibit Hall will connect you with Conference exhibitors and sponsors. On Friday, June 11, attendees will have a full day to visit virtual exhibit booths and

Every day of the Conference provides in-depth looks at the most pressing issues facing orchestras. attend innovation sessions to hear from experts in the fields of acoustics, finance, brand strategy, audience retention, and patron engagement, among others. And we will be having meet-and-greet opportunities prior to the opening and closing sessions for everyone to connect with colleagues and make new friends. So, join us online in June for your own professional exchange of ideas, resources, and tools to embrace the change necessary to lead, support, and champion your orchestra and the vitality of the music it performs. DAVID STYERS is the director of Learning and Leadership Programs at the League of American Orchestras.




The transition of board leadership at orchestras is always a delicate balancing act, and the pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to board chairs—as well as unexpected opportunities. Here, incoming and outgoing board chairs at three orchestras reveal how they view their roles, what they foresee for the future, and how they got involved with orchestras in the first place. by Nancy Malitz


he coming season is likely to be one of the most challenging for symphony orchestras in recent history. For organizations in the midst of board-leadership transitions, there is a complicated array of concerns to be considered. Some challenges are shared by the industry as a whole—the constantly shifting threat of the pandemic itself, the impossibility of predicting when audiences will return, and the urgent need to remain flexible and ramp up digital skills. Still, with the latest round of federal financial relief as well as the increasing numbers of Americans who are fully vaccinated, many in the orchestra field are cautiously hopeful about the coming season. In the midst of this time that is transitional in so many ways, we check in on three orchestras in the midst of their own board-chair transitions. The three pairs of incoming and outgoing board chairs represent the larger-budget Chicago Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony, as well as the smaller-budget Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. Board transitions in San Francisco and Annapolis took place in 2020, while in Chicago the board baton hand-off is set for November. All of the board chairs, past and present, are focused on finding


new opportunities during this time, as they work to make those opportunities a reality in collaboration with top administration: Executive Director Edgar Herrera in Annapolis, President Jeff Alexander in Chicago, and Executive Director Mark C. Hanson in San Francisco. Each board chair has her own distinctive style, even as they all have in common the need for their orchestra to adapt to the “new normal” for performances, increase and deepen their community connections, and address racial equity at their organizations. As these board chairs continue to navigate the new COVID and post-COVID reality, they offer their thoughts about what lies ahead. CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Helen Zell, outgoing board chair Mary Louise Gorno, board chair-elect Helen Zell, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s outgoing board chair, was elected board chair in 2015 and concludes her term in late 2021. Zell recalls that the CSO’s digital presence had to be invented almost overnight when COVID struck. “I now think of COVID as an opportunity, not a stumbling block,” Zell says. “I hate to say our website was stodgy, though it really was, in some respects. But we went from zero to

60 fast! There were all these wonderful ideas that our dynamic (Vice President of Sales and Marketing) Ryan Lewis had, and he began to implement them as he took advantage Helen Zell has served as the Chicago of all this down time to rejigger the Symphony Orchestra’s board chair since 2015, website and think when she became the of ways to commu- first woman to occupy nicate.” that position in the orchestra’s history. The orchestra’s new digital channel, CSOtv, has video programs on demand including legendary TV concerts from the archives, with much of the content offered free. Although the orchestra is planning its first return to live concerts at the Ravinia Festival this summer, there was no full-season subscription offering in January, as is customary, and going without traditional subscriptions at this time is among options still being considered while the situation remains fluid: “Subscriptions are not relevant,” Zell says. “People are uncertain, and they want some assurance that they can have control over what they are going to do, and they don’t want to make huge financial outlays. But do I think we’re going to abandon live music in favor of a digital presence forever? Of course not.” Zell has subscribed to the CSO for more than four decades, and she was active in top committees for years prior to joining the board. “There were times when it was hard for me to envision a win-win for the orchestra, given the decline of music education, the banking collapse in 2008 followed by investment struggles, and then, after that, a recent painful work stoppage [in 2019], followed by COVID,” she said. “But we have a support group of incredibly dedicated people, some on symphony


Todd Rosenberg

Passing the Baton

“If I could change anything, it would be to re-program the mindset of the people who run this country to the belief that classical music participation in the school years has just as much value as football.”— Helen Zell, outgoing board chair, Chicago Symphony Orchestra ted to the historical precedent as to what constitutes a first-class ensemble, and it’s a hundred people. That’s what our hall is built for. When I was last in Vienna at the Musikverein, I sat and thought about what it was like a couple hundred years ago, and how it is still going strong. One advantage the Europeans have over us is the government’s support of the art form. If I could change anything it would be to re-program the mind-set of the people who run this country to the belief that classical music participation in the school years has just as much value as football.” For Zell, that early participation in music started with piano lessons—and having a father who served on his own local orchestra board. “My dad’s job took us to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, [where] he was offered a position as board chair of the Baton Rouge Symphony, which was almost in bankruptcy. He became friendly with the conductor. Dad brought him over to our house. I played a silly little piece for him on the piano—I was maybe ten or eleven—it wasn’t an audition, but it made a big impression to have him watch me play. I learned to play the piano and loved every minute of it.” Zell kept up the music when her family moved to New

York, where “My teacher convinced me that I was the next Horowitz, and I even had a piano quartet with three other people my age, an experience that just kind of solidified everything.” Mary Louise Gorno, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s chair-elect, assumes her new board duties in November. She Left to right: Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Brant Taylor, wants to see the Chicago current CSO board chair Helen Zell, and CSO board member Symphony become an Roderick Branch. orchestra “without walls, whether the point of entry is a jazz concert or a wonderful experience point where we can feature the highwith Beethoven’s Ninth,” she says. “And est level of quality and at the same time we want to be talking with our full combecome more nimble and more innovamunity. We want to make sure that our tive. I’ve done a lot of thinking whether own symphony community stays reflective we want to put our foot on the brakes. If of that diversity, whether in programming anything, we should hit the accelerator. To opportunities or thinking about our board infuse new energy into these great instituand members and staff. What does an tions that so excel at what they’re doing orchestra look like today? And what could may be the greatest opportunity that we it look like?” will ever have.” Like Zell, Gorno has strong memories of early exposure to music, and not just ANNAPOLIS SYMPHONY classical music: “Detroit was exploding ORCHESTRA with music: Soul, gospel, the blues— Jane Casey, board chair, 2018-20 Aretha Franklin, what a woman!” she Jill Kidwell, current board chair says. Her first exposure to classical music Jill Kidwell, the Annapolis Symphony was “Brunch with Bach,” a Sunday series Orchestra’s current board chair, rememat the Detroit Institute of Arts featurbers the day in mid-March 2020 when ing musicians of the Detroit Symphony most of the nation’s orchestras got shut Orchestra that she attended with her down. “It has been a rough year for our family. “Later, as a grad student at the musicians,” she says. “The orchestra is University of Chicago,” she says, “I would committed to doing all that it can to supget discount student tickets at $10 for port them financially and to keep them afternoon performances [by the Chicago safe. They have lost income. And last year Symphony], even box seats, and so I was they also lost what they love to do the immersed in the very best. I was still living most, which is to perform together, for an in that area when I called to purchase my audience.” first subscription, and I was told I needed A year later, things have improved to give a donation, however small. And I significantly. Staffing a COVID check-in thought, ’Oh, okay, I have been a benefistation at Annapolis’s Maryland Hall, the ciary all these years.’” orchestra’s primary performance venue, in For Gorno, who is also a member of the March 2021, Kidwell greeted the string League of American Orchestras’ board players as they arrived for one of their of directors, the hope is that the Chicago many “virtual concert” recording sessions. Symphony can come back “refreshed and “Listening in the concert hall, out of the wiser” after COVID, and “build to the way of the cameras, it was as if I had Todd Rosenberg

the young side. The endowment is bigger than it has ever been. Fundraising is still strong. And we have started collaborating with artists from the theater and dance community, such as John Malkovich and the Joffrey Ballet. “I think we have to take a deep breath. Do we make the orchestra smaller? I don’t think so. Basically we are commit-


Todd Rosenberg

Mary Louise Gorno will succeed Helen Zell as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s board chair in November 2021.

emerged from a black-and-white world to technicolor,” she says. “The musicians were so happy to be performing again.

Mary Louise Gorno, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s incoming board chair, wants to see the CSO become an orchestra “without walls, whether the point of entry is a jazz concert or a wonderful experience with Beethoven’s Ninth. And we want to be talking with our full community.” One of them handed me an envelope with a check made out to the ASO and a note that said, ‘Let’s keep the music going.’” The musicians have been performing, though not, as of press time, for an in-person audience. The orchestra has a collection of videos it says are comparable technically to the work of larger orchestras. “I think we have hit the ball out of the park this year, thanks to Music Director José-Luis Novo, who is quite brilliant,


and who has handled everything thrown at him,” Kidwell said. “We are hoping to add some winds and brass this season. And we now have an audience that knows it can watch from home. The videos are beautiful. Novo understands what it is like to film while performing. The first concert series was done at Strathmore Music Center, which has recording capability, and we found a subcontractor to help with the video. It’s going very well.” Another bright light, a real showpiece, is the expansion of the orchestra’s training academy for young musicians, who can start as young as four, and includes needbased reduced tuition and full tuition waivers for qualifying students. It’s the brainchild of the orchestra’s concertmaster, Netanel Draiblate. “He’s quite a force,” said Kidwell. “It was his idea. The goal is diversity.” The planning process for the Annapolis Symphony Academy began with conversations as far back as 2015, says Jane Casey, who stepped down as board chair in 2018 but remains a board member and serves on the finance committee. “Maestro Novo, our music director of fifteen years, is Spanish. But as with most orchestras, we were not where we would like to be in terms of equity, diversity, and inclusion. If we want our onstage orchestra to look like our audience, we have to look to them when they are young. We started the Academy on the premise that there was a gap in the marketplace for young musicians to learn how to play together in small groups. Our target was 50 percent White, 50 percent non-White, 50 percent in need of financial assistance. We have been able to hit those targets.” During her time as board chair, Casey led the search for a new executive director and found the ideal candidate in Edgar Herrera, a trained pianist who previously had served as executive director of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and director of marketing, public relations, and communications at the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. He was also a participant in the League of American Orchestras’ 2004-05 Orchestra Management Fellowship Program. At the time he was hired,

in May, Herrera was doing foundation work in Mexico City—and then COVID struck. Herrera was unable at first to travel to the United States, and did his job remotely. Casey worked at making the physical move happen—which did finally take place in October. Despite the

Jill Kidwell, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s current board chair, says, “It has been a rough year for our musicians. The orchestra is committed to doing all that it can to support them financially and to keep them safe. They have lost income. And last year they also lost what they love to do the most, which is to perform together, for an audience.” difficulties, says Casey, “If it had not been for COVID, we would not be where we are today with streaming. What I’m seeing is really a digital transformation, not just a digital strategy.” Both Novo and Herrera are native Spanish speakers, and they made the decision during the pandemic to add Spanish subtitles to the spoken portions of the orchestra’s streamed performances; in Annapolis, the Hispanic/Latino community comprises 16.8 percent of the city’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. census. It’s all part of the orchestra’s increased focus on its community. SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY Sakurako Fisher, board chair, 2012-December 2020 Priscilla B. Geeslin, current board chair Outgoing San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher still marvels at the experience of serving on the committee that chose Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen to take over the music directorship upon the close of Michael Tilson Thomas’s quarter-century tenure. She noted how thrilled the musicians involved in the search effort became, once it dawned on everyone that they symphony


out of their comfort zone. They liked the idea of his pushing the envelope.” The San Francisco Symphony became involved in a discussion about what the definition of “classical” actually means. “Is it a fixed place in time?” Fisher asked. “But we are not a fixed-placein-time entity. Our musicians are wildly Jill Kidwell has served as Jane Casey, chair of the the Annapolis Symphony Annapolis Symphony creative, and we are Orchestra board chair since Orchestra’s board of trustees asking them to bring January 2020. from 2018 to 2020. some of that expression into the hall. Contemporary music, some of it gets a had found their guy: “There were musibad rap. It’s not all atonal twelve-tone cians, management, and board people all music. It just means new. We recently involved in this search. The musicians featured five women composers, and it actually wanted Esa-Pekka to take them

was so great, the music was so beautiful. Why haven’t we looked at this before? I’m convinced that what great boards do is help an organization ask these kinds of questions, to keep moving them forward and holding everyone accountable.”

“If it had not been for COVID, we would not be where we are today with streaming. What I’m seeing is really a digital transformation, not just a digital strategy.”— Jane Casey, former board chair, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, 2018-20 The announcement of Salonen as music director came in late 2018—and with it the news that he would adjust the orchestra’s artistic model. As part of the redefined job,

“These are the stars of the next generation.” - T H E WA S H I N G T O N P O S T


Randall Goosby


Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

Xavier Foley

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intricately filmed solution to the challenge of writing for an orchestra when only six players could be on stage at a time, unless it was a breath-based instrument, in which case only one. The orchestra has also taken this time away from in-person performances to refocus its energies in other areas as well. “COVID has been super trying, forcing us to do things we had procrastinated on, and getting us to do a lot of work on accelerating diversity,” says Fisher. “Michael [Tilson Thomas] led us to that place where we could really make that deep intrinsic commitment to bringing more people into the tent, and taking a look at what that will mean when it becomes more natural. One of the things he taught me for sure was that you can never zone out, because you never know what to expect. I love that sensation.” Priscilla B. Geeslin, who took office as the San Francisco Symphony’s board chair in December 2020, says, “I’ve always


Incoming and outgoing San Francisco Symphony Orchestra board chairs Priscilla Geeslin (left) and Sakurako Fisher (right).

been lucky to work with great development people,” in her prior work with universities, museums, opera companies, and other Bay Area cultural institutions. Geeslin admits the pandemic presents a daunting situation, financially and otherwise: “It’s going to be incredibly difficult for all of us

pulling out of this. Certainly COVID gives us that opportunity to start making digital changes we’ve all been talking about. We’ve just been nibbling at the edges. “We’re thinking about some virtual salons, starting in June or July, maybe two a month. We used them as a way last

Kim Huynh

The San Francisco Symphony recently became involved in a discussion about what the definition of “classical” actually means. “I’m convinced that what great boards do is help an organization ask these kinds of questions, to keep moving them forward and holding everyone accountable,” says Sakurako Fisher, who stepped down as the San Francisco Symphony’s board chair in December 2020.

Brandon Patoc

Salonen works with eight Collaborative Partners: a group of musicians and other artists who curate programs for the orchestra. Salonen started his new job in 2020, when the pandemic forced the orchestra to pivot to virtual formats—including multiple filmed episodes curated by Salonen and the eight partners. Among the partners is composer Nico Muhly, whose first work for the ensemble, Throughline, presented an

San Francisco Symphony percussionist Jacob Nissly and Stan Muncy perform Ellen Reid’s Fear / Release for the orchestra’s 2020-21 filmed Throughline: San Francisco Symphony—From Hall to Home virtual season.



NANCY MALITZ is the founding music critic of USA Today, an editor at ClassicalVoiceAmerica. org, and publisher of She has written about the arts and technology for the New York Times and Opera News, among other publications.

Kristen Loken

“But the issue for people is not just about opening the hall. Restaurants have to open. People need to feel comfortable about coming back into the Bay Area. I do think they will. I think they are hungry for it. I hope that is the case.”

Sakurako Fisher, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Executive Director Mark C. Hanson sit down to sign the contract appointing Salonen as the San Francisco Symphony’s music director, December 2018.

summer to give an update on what was happening. It will also be an opportunity to have musicians talk about what they have been doing during the lockdown, what they’re working on, how they’re keeping up their skills, which always fascinates me.”

“It’s going to be incredibly difficult for all of us pulling out of this,” says Priscilla B. Geeslin, the San Francisco Symphony’s newly elected board chair. “Certainly COVID gives us that opportunity to start making digital changes we’ve all been talking about. We’ve just been nibbling at the edges.” Geeslin is still new to her working relationship with Salonen, but they meet regularly. “I’ll see him leading a rehearsal. We will share Zoom calls. We had an in-person meeting, which I felt terrible about, because I only had coffee at the house and I had to tell him I hoped he didn’t take cream. He is a delight, though. In talking about what he wants to do, I become more and more excited to see where all this is going, particularly for the digital side of it. He’s incredibly flexible.


Rethinking Blind Auditions Blind auditions, in which musicians perform behind a screen to shield their identity, were instituted to redress the longstanding exclusion of people of color and women from orchestras. Blind auditions were successful in some regards, but the percentage of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color musicians has not risen significantly over the years. Is it time to rethink blind auditions? Here, Afa Dworkin moderates a discussion in which several Black musicians offer their views on where things stand now, share their lived experience, and suggest new ways to approach the audition process to create more diverse, equitable American orchestras. Discussion moderated by Afa Dworkin. Starting in the 1970s, American orchestras implemented “blind auditions,” whereby screens concealed musician candidates from the audition committee and promised anonymity. The impetus for blind auditions was to address orchestras’ enduring racial and gender disparity: most orchestra musicians were White men. By eliminating visual characteristics such as race and gender, blind auditions meant that a musician’s artistry became the central consideration, and that in turn would lead to greater representation and hiring of long-excluded musicians. Orchestras would look more like the communities they served. However, it should be acknowledged at the outset that the term “blind auditions” is a misnomer, since very few orchestras have engaged in truly blind auditions. Most orchestras have a process which determines a musician’s readiness for an audition based upon the individual’s resume and, more importantly, the vast majority of orchestras eliminate the screen during the later rounds of the process, thus introducing direct opportunities for bias. Until blind auditions, auditions were held as they are for actors, singers, dancers—you saw exactly who was auditioning. When positions opened at orchestras, conductors often handpicked players in advance. Frequently, even learning about auditions depended on word of mouth, and knowledge of opportunities

AFA DWORKIN: Though this conversation is about blind auditions, I hope that we look at it more broadly, remembering that blind auditions are only a method toward creating a more representative, more vibrant, more diverse, and richer collective that is the orchestra of tomor-


belonged to a self-reinforcing network. Musicians’ unions were segregated until the federal government ordered the merger of Black and White unions in 1967. Some adjustments were made to blind auditions along the way: carpeting was installed when people realized that the sound of women’s shoes indicated gender. But despite the name, the process was never entirely blind. Particularly in terms of gender, blind auditions changed the face of orchestras. In 1970, according to a 2000 Harvard study, women comprised about 6 percent of musicians at some larger orchestras. In 1978, according to the League of American Orchestras’ 2016 Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field study, the percentage of women musicians at orchestras was 38.2 percent, and in 2014 women comprised 47.4 percent of orchestra musicians. The League study reported that the percentage of musicians with Asian/Pacific Islander backgrounds rose from 5.3 percent in 1980 to 9.1 percent in 2014. However, the percentage of musicians identified as African American/Black in 2014 was 1.8 percent, and 2.5 percent identified as Hispanic/Latino. Those percentages had not significantly increased over time, and they have risen only marginally since. Orchestras continue to be among America’s least racially diverse institutions. Is it time to reconsider blind auditions?

row. While they are a central piece relative to the enduring lack of representation in orchestras, auditions are merely a means to an end—a method or a process—for an intended result. Alex, what other adjacent or equally important and tangible actions need to be

considered when we’re visualizing our end goal of creating and building an artistic collective that is an American orchestra today or tomorrow? Should we be focusing on blind auditions as much as we have been, and are there equally important elements that contribute to a lack of progress symphony


ABOUT THE SPEAKERS and could turn us around? ALEX LAING: The screen is a tool, not a system. I’ve been fortunate to get to work with my brother Justin Laing in his consultancy, Hillombo. Through that work I’ve gotten introduced to a lot of things, in particular a way that Justin sometimes brings the work of Donnella Meadows, Ibrahm X. Kendi, and the Heifetz and Minsky “Adaptive Leadership” framework into dialogue with each other. All three of those sources would say there’s no such thing as a broken system, and the results that we are seeing in terms of hiring and auditions are the outputs of a system operating correctly—though the stated intention of the system might be otherwise. Donella Meadows wrote a

If we’re looking for different results, we have to be doing things differently, our methodology must change. –Afa Dworkin piece called “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System,” in which she says that the most impactful place to intervene in a system is at the level of mindset. If the question about auditions was, where should we be focusing in order to cascade the biggest difference in the system, believing that the system is operating correctly for itself right now, I would locate the screen as being towards the margins of this system. It’s a tool that relates to this question of “diversity in orchestras,” but where there’s a need for attention—in addition to looking at the tools and the techniques and the procedures—is around our mindset. What’s the aesthetic or mindset argument for this and how does that show up? DWORKIN: Perhaps the focus needs to be on how orchestras want to see themselves, how they act as inclusive bodies that intentionally attract musicians of color so that what they offer is a richer, more diverse, more representative version of themselves. How to get there depends on whether they do the right work at the onset.

Jennifer Arnold joined the Richmond Symphony as Director of Artistic Planning and Orchestral Operations in the fall of 2019 to further her work in increasing representation on orchestral stages. She spent fifteen seasons as a violist with the Oregon Symphony and served as Director of Artistic Operations for 45th Parallel chamber music collective in Portland. She is a faculty member of the Sphinx Performance Academy and a violist with the Gateways Festival Orchestra, Sphinx Symphony, Chineke!, and the community engagement quartet mousai REMIX. Arnold is a member of American String Teachers Association, Suzuki Association of Americas, American Federation of Musicians, and Urban League, and enjoys volunteering, mentoring, karaoking, and traveling. Follow her on most social media platforms @24caratviola. Afa S. Dworkin is a musical thought leader and cross-sector strategist driving national programming that promotes diversity in classical music. She serves as President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization, the nation’s leading organization transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. She designed and built Sphinx’s programming since its inception, which included creating more than 100 partnerships worldwide. A frequent speaker and writer on racial equity in the arts, Dworkin has written for the New York Times and Strings Magazine, and has spoken at events at the League of American Orchestras, Chamber Music America, and ICSOM, among others. A trained violinist, she is on faculty at Roosevelt University’s master’s in arts administration program. Jeri Lynne Johnson founded Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra in 2008 as a model for the 21st-century American orchestra. In its brief time, the Philadelphia-based Black Pearl has emerged as a powerful advocate for artistic excellence and racial equity in classical music, winning numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2015, Johnson created DEI Arts Consulting to share her strategic and creative solutions for cultural institutions. As a conductor, Johnson was awarded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship in 2005. She has since broken barriers in Europe and the U.S. as the first African American woman on the podium for many orchestras, and has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, the Bournemouth Symphony (U.K.), and the Weimar Staatskapelle (Germany), among others. Alex Laing, principal clarinet of the Phoenix Symphony, is a nationally recognized instrumental artist, speaker, and thought leader whose work represents a modern take on orchestral practice. He was recently a soloist with the Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall, and has collaborated on Tyshawn Sorey’s Cycles of My Being, in Thomas Hampson’s Song of America: Beyond Liberty project, and as a member of Gateways Festival Orchestra. Laing has spoken at the conferences of the Association of British Orchestras and the League of American Orchestras and, as a teacher, has partnered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA). Violinist Melissa White has performed around the world as a soloist and a chamber musician. She makes her debut this season with the Cincinnati and Albany (NY) symphony orchestras; past engagements include the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Pops, Louisville Orchestra, and the Atlanta, Baltimore, Colorado, Detroit, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. A first-place laureate in the Sphinx Competition, she is a founding member of Harlem Quartet, with which she has performed and engaged in educational activities throughout the U.S. and internationally since 2006. A native of Michigan, she holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and New England Conservatory.


LAING: It’s about mindset. You could use a screen and have an orchestra made up entirely of Black women, and you could not use a screen and have an orchestra made up entirely of Black women. The real determinant in that would be your mindset, in terms of why you want that result and what that is about for you artistically, as an ensemble. Mindset is where I think there’s the opportunity to cascade change. Because of the work I get to do with my brother, I was able to deliver a provocation for the Association of California Symphony Orchestras where I riffed on this question of paradigm and mindset, and how you answer the question of “for what purpose?” For a symphony orchestra, if the answer to that “for what purpose” question necessitates having a more diverse orchestra, then you would have a more diverse orchestra. You would either use a screen or not use a screen in pursuit of that. DWORKIN: Jeri, could you discuss your view on why we haven’t been able to evolve our mindset heretofore—not to any measurable extent where we could say that the difference was made by way of having orchestras be more representative on a systemic level. Could you reflect on what might stand most significantly in our way, and also the role of blind auditions relative to that. JERI LYNNE JOHNSON: Alex and I first met at the Shift Festival in D.C. at the Kennedy Center, and the speech that I gave there was about transforming the paradigm. To me, language is a very important indicator of people’s thought processes. One of the points I made in that speech is that, when we speak about diversity in future terms, that speaks as though diversity is not a feature of reality. Diversity is a fact. The sooner that orchestras begin to deal with the fact of diversity, that will help shape mindsets about what they do. Diversity is not an endpoint that describes a set of fixed variables. Diversity describes the relationships between members of a living system, whether it’s an orchestra, a school, a society. To the extent that relationships between the members of those living systems continue to change


and evolve, the process of achieving and maintaining diversity is a lifelong core operational process. Blind auditioning, the screen, is a tool, not a system. Maintaining and achieving diversity within a living system is a constantly shifting target that doesn’t stop after one or two years. There are no reductionist, external methodologies or practices or tools that will achieve something permanently and finally. It is a living system, and this is the way that people have to think about how you adapt your organization. This is an adaptive strategy for not just surviving

The screen is a tool, not a system. Mindset is where I think there’s the opportunity to cascade change. –Alex Laing the moment politically, but for thriving within society as a functioning part of a democracy as an arts institution. Going back to mindset: understand that diversity is a fact of reality. Starting with that fact, what do you do? DWORKIN: The biggest hurdle for our sector to overcome is the unfortunate myth that whenever we speak about representation or diversity or inclusion, we need to succumb to a compromise relative to artistic merit and need to expect a lesser standard. This tale is long overdue for being eliminated and combatted. There is no lack of talent, not even a lack of preparedness. There is a respectable roster of qualified, poised, incredibly talented, and prepared musicians of color. What we have lacked is true change, because orchestras have not prioritized it. There seems to be now a greater volume of conversations among orchestras, to be precise the 103 orchestras that partner with the National Alliance for Audition Support [a collaboration among the Sphinx Organization, New World Symphony, and the League of American Orchestras]. That conversation seems to be about: we’re ready to do something differently, let’s develop new methodologies and new ways to prioritize this so that

we can come out of the pandemic and set a different tone relative to diversity in orchestras. My biggest objective, personally and professionally, is to make sure that when we look back on this year of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of triple pandemics, we don’t say to ourselves, great, we’ve created more diversity committees, engaged a few keynote speakers of color, and are now centering the work of Black and Brown artists a couple of times a year, rather than once. Let’s not permit ourselves a reality where our stages and decision desks go without tangible change. What can we tell orchestras to do or not to do, so that when we get back on stage we can be proud of our efforts? How do we begin to see a real shift of what is both on stage and behind the stage? JOHNSON: It’s critically important to involve everyone in the process. These can’t be externally driven; they need to be internally motivated projects and activities. That’s not to say that there aren’t tools and resources and strategies where we leverage inflection points in the system. It’s about how we do it in a much more nuanced and conscientious manner. For example, everybody is focused on fellowships, which are an important tool, but from the standpoint of getting people actively engaged in this work, we need to go beyond fellowships into creating mentorships that are inclusive mentorships, not just diverse mentorships. What I mean is that there is a more reciprocal relationship between a mentor and a mentee, where everybody can learn from each other, where the flow of information and experience and insight is not unidirectional. Young people or new people coming into orchestras have insights and experiences and points of view that are of deep value to an orchestra as we continue to maintain relevance and survive in a new era. These are the kinds of relationshipbuilding that go beyond simply attracting people of color to the artform or a particular organization to maintaining and developing them long-term. DWORKIN: I have been a bit more encouraged this year by hearing members of orchestras who are allies but not necessymphony


sarily musicians of color talk about how they want to help their orchestra get there. There’s more of that spirit of activism and a desire to do something differently. We’re coming to terms with the fact that if we’re not asking ourselves for different results, we cannot follow the same methodology—it’s just not logically possible. How do we instill a sense of accountability? JOHNSON: Democracy is everybody’s responsibility. There are many different ways of accountability. I don’t know that there’s any one point in a system that we can point to and say, this is where we should be accountable. I think all people who believe in this work and want to undertake this work and see change—it is up to all of us. That doesn’t mean we’re all responsible for all the change, but we are responsible for ourselves and for our roles in this process to whatever extent we feel comfortable and compelled to engage in the process. Everyone can do something. When we talk about diversity, equi­ ty, and inclusion, the inclusion part of orchestral culture is critically important. We should empower people at every level of the organization, whether it’s orchestra musicians, librarians—who are also musicians—in the orchestra to feel empowered to engage this work and to feel that they have something to contribute. Inclusion isn’t just inclusion from the standpoint of visual diversity and representation, it is including everyone and encouraging them to join in this process of change. JENNIFER ARNOLD: There are two very different conversations that we’re having. The first conversation is about the actual audition process in its current form. I think that if you did a fair, fully blind audition—meaning invite people, stop leaving people out, don’t pre-advance anyone, and have the screen up for three rounds—I believe an orchestra could actually be more diverse right there, without changing too much of the process. If that comes from an honest place, if orchestras are honest about how musicians are hired and eliminate certain things, you will see a more diverse orchestra without even changing some of the things that people are talking about in this industry.

It’s important that musicians are honest about how they got their job, and maybe that was the way we used to do it because that’s the way our teachers did it. But we’re in 2021, we want a different type of orchestra that includes everyone, and those policies won’t work anymore. Fully blind auditions with screens up, pre-advancement removed, and an open audition will help tremendously. That said, in 2021 and moving forward, the job requirements and qualifications are different for orchestra musicians. Reevaluating the whole process and the job—I’m all for that. The bare minimum at this point is that the screen should be up, and we should remove pre-advancements. Pre-advancements are in all the contracts. I’m going through contracts right now for all kinds of orchestras, from the smallbudget to the largest-budget orchestras,

Diversity is a fact. The sooner that orchestras begin to deal with the fact of diversity, that will help shape mindsets about what they do. –Jeri Lynne Johnson and there’s always a way to get in an orchestra without even auditioning. That’s a problem. DWORKIN: Many professional musicians of color in American orchestras have shared that having a fully blind audition from the very beginning to the very end, and giving everyone who wishes to audition an opportunity, will improve things right off the bat. We should also change our mindset. It’s long overdue for us to begin envisioning ourselves as more diverse organizations. Relative to the job description of an orchestral musician today, what do you think about the possibility of establishing a committee of professionals who assess the fitness of a musician that goes beyond their ability to play an excerpt? As in, their ability to serve as a strong ambassador for the mission of that orchestra, their ability to relate to the community which it serves or in which it resides, their communication

skills, their talents as a teaching artist. All qualities and skillsets would be assessed in addition to one’s ability to play three minutes of Don Juan excerpt. Those would be considered when trying to ascertain somebody’s readiness to join an orchestra. Do you see it as sensible, realistic? ARNOLD: That’s great. However, my biggest issue would be that if you see the person, biases come in. Particularly if it’s an interview process before the screen comes down, which it would be. I’ve been interviewed for finals, and the questions that were asked—some were inappropriate. “How old are you?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Those questions shouldn’t be asked. My own experience makes me think about that. Whatever method we use to keep auditions as blind as possible would be great, and once a job is offered, then maybe the ability to speak in front of an audience, work with young people, play new works, are rolled into the tenure process. Or maybe there’s a question about “please list your experience with community engagements” that won’t take away from the blind process. I don’t want inherent bias affecting the outcome. MELISSA WHITE: I have been thinking about who learns about auditions and when invitations are given out, because auditions are maybe not so widely advertised. Who is getting invitations to audition, who are they coming from? When we think of diversifying what an orchestra looks like, we should also think of diversifying who we are getting the word out to. When auditions come up and an orchestra is thinking of who they want to reach, where are they going to reach people? Conservatories oftentimes have wonderful musicians, but so do universities with music programs. A lot of times, smaller schools aren’t told about auditions. Students and young musicians don’t necessarily know where to look or who they should be talking to about these opportunities. When word gets out on auditions, it’s important to diversify where that announcement is made and who it gets to. As musicians, we talk a lot about em-


bracing our individuality. Once musicians join an orchestra, of course it’s important that the individuality is the orchestra. But the orchestra is made up of individuals, and musicians oftentimes are multifaceted in what we excel in. What if orchestras started to embrace that and allow musicians to show their fullness in whatever that may be? Once auditions are done and perhaps on the tenure track, asking musicians what skillset they add to this body becomes part of the conversation. It’s exciting—perhaps someone wants to see this orchestra because a certain musician is in it and the musician excels at improving, so that’s worked in. Even if it’s not in a concert, but in some way allowing musicians to continue growing in their multifaceted personalities and letting that shine through. DWORKIN: It’s an opportunity for orchestras to consider musicians joining their ranks as individual artists who add something artistically and culturally to the collective. Understanding and caring about that seems like it would be a natural thing. Particularly for today’s generation of artists, millennials and onward, an individual musician may become a point of attraction that encourages them to consider a pathway into an orchestra—if they know that’s valued. ARNOLD: A couple of major concertmaster auditions are coming up. Individualism and what a musician is in the 21st century have been on my mind. I was thinking about auditions and repertoire, still having violas play Bartók, Hindemith, and Walton at auditions. You could have Mozart concerti or solo Bach in a round, of course, but why not also let musicians decide what they’re going to play for their audition, maybe for their solo piece, for one round. If someone picks a solo piece by Jessie Montgomery or Valerie Coleman, you’ll see who is inclusive. Some of the orchestras that are talking about auditions right now are not changing repertoire to show what they want to be, who they want musicians to be, and what the organization is about for the future. If you want more diverse people to come to your audition—beside recruiting, which


I think is the number one thing—people are not going to show up if your orchestra is not publicly putting it out there that it’s inclusive. DWORKIN: Let’s talk about repertoire. For the past decade, I have spent time as part of the Sphinx Organization encouraging and cajoling and shaming orchestras into diversifying what is put on stage, and encouraging folks to simply open up and make themselves interested in an incredible volume of works by living and historical Black and Brown composers. There’s no lack of excellent literature. Statistics from the League of American

If you did a fair, fully blind audition—stop leaving people out, don’t pre-advance anyone, and have the screen up for three rounds—I believe an orchestra could be more diverse right there. –Jennifer Arnold Orchestras a few years ago tell us that less than 1 percent of all literature performed by American orchestras as part of main subscription series is by people of color. That’s hardly a milestone. We have been seeing encouraging season announcements, and it’s terrific that some of these deserving works are beginning to be programmed. How do we encourage orchestras to embrace that, recognize the wealth that’s here already and the beauty and excellence inherent to these works by Black and Brown composers, and make it a consistent practice to have the repertoire be reflective of the rich diversity in our communities? ARNOLD: A lot of people have been reaching out to ask for my list of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] composers and artists. I refer them to,, or People in the industry need to take time, just like I have, and sit, listen to music, get to know composers, get to know artists. At the last in-person SphinxConnect, I handed my card to composers. I said, “I’m Jen

Arnold, I’m at the Richmond Symphony, I’d like to know who you are.” That’s not a promise to commission anyone, it’s just introducing myself. When we’re talking about auditions and how to diversify everything, the whole industry needs to have a restart. We do things because we’ve always done them that way, and it’s time to stop that. People in the programming industry need to put themselves out there instead of having people come to us. There’s also a conversation that people are uncomfortable having, about BIPOC composers versus women composers. Maybe orchestras are doing better incorporating women, but if all your women composers and all your women conductors are White, are you really diversifying your season? JOHNSON: I would look at the issue of the brand of an orchestra writ large in the general public’s mind. Your ability to program composers of any kind goes back to what your brand is. Is your brand “we are all about the past,” or is your brand “we are all about the now”? Is your brand exclusion or is your brand belonging? To the extent that your brand strength as an organization is such that no matter what you put on your program, your audience is down for whatever you’re doing, you can be as bold as you wish in your programming. DWORKIN: Simply changing something for a season won’t make a difference. However, redefining who we are to our community will. That takes initiative and risk taking, but we’ve seen how in a digital age, enforced by COVID, we’ve been flexible and agile. We’ve done things that we thought would never be possible in a digital space. Orchestras are reimagining themselves. We could and must do the same thing by reimagining ourselves from a cultural and a diversity standpoint. WHITE: In this new virtual realm, we can change the concept of public relations and what orchestras send when they want to get the word out for an upcoming program or season. Love it or hate it, social media is out there. Why not use that for people to get to know the artist, what they’re listening to, what they’re watching symphony


that inspires something they write if it’s a composer. What were the transformative performances they gave or saw that sparked inspiration? What if a PR kit included more of that sort of information, so before you go you get a little bit of acquaintance? It doesn’t have to be expensive; it can be accessible to anyone around the world. It’s starting to make our world smaller with what we have at hand, and what we use anyway. Then it’s not like people are coming to hear a stranger on a program. LAING: I’m thinking about the constraint that Ibram X. Kendi’s framework places on us around racism and antiracism, and the unavailability of the option of “not racist.” We’re looking at orchestras at the level of mindset and asking, are we racist or antiracist? If we were to say that we are aspiring to be antiracist as our mindset, what actions, behaviors, and indicators flow from that? Auditions, repertoire, where the hall is located, real estate, relationship to community, the indicators so you know that you’re doing the work. There was a piece by Project Zero at Harvard called “The Qualities of Quality” about how you define excellence in the first place. That piece was about arts education, but the idea travels. Are you defining excellence in a way such that you could have an American orchestra that didn’t include Black music and Black musicians and call it excellent? BJ Fogg [behavioral scientist at Stanford University] has a model for behavior that says, “Behavior is what happens when motivation, ability, and a prompt all come together.” What we’ve seen to the surprise of a lot of us is how the behavior of orchestras around programming has changed dramatically in the last eighteen months. Did we gain some new ability? I think that what we got was a prompt and some motivation that then allowed us to access the ability that we already had. With auditions, maybe we should spend our energy imagining what would need to change for different behavior in hiring— that’s what we are really looking for. ARNOLD: A conversation I have at the Richmond Symphony is that in

thing we do, we think about how something looks to the BIPOC community. If repertoire for your auditions is not diverse, that’s a problem in 2021. Audition rep needs to be looked at, and I don’t mean just the classical works, I mean style. More orchestras are playing different styles.

Let’s add that into auditions. It’s also programming. We had a virtual gala recently, and originally the repertoire for the virtual gala was all White male composers. And I was like, we just don’t have programs of all White male composers, even for a short gala. I suggested something else, and





the orchestra was wonderful and recorded it. Every aspect has to be thought about, throughout the organization, asking in every single thing: what does this look like to people who don’t feel included? DWORKIN: It isn’t just hiring a musician, or a handful, it’s also hiring professionals and artistic leaders who bring new expertise and help shape what everything looks like. I can say from a personal standpoint through our Sphinx LEAD program that there are plenty of artistic thinkers, administrators, and planners who are ready to lead as we reshape and redefine ourselves. At every step, leadership, which starts from the board, really needs to make some decisions which may depart from traditions. If we’re looking for different results, we have to do things differently, our methodology must change. For some orchestras it may mean asking, are we an antiracist collective that wants to define itself as actively eradicating particular kinds of behaviors? Other orchestras might ask, are we evolving and trying to define ourselves but find certain practices unacceptable, and want to change those, or maybe change one at a time? Melissa, you have a portfolio career where you do everything from improvising to playing the “canon” classics to teaching to inspiring. You’re also a cultural entrepreneur. Orchestral playing isn’t part of that portfolio. What is the picture of an ideal orchestra, perhaps a year from now, that might attract to that potential line of work? WHITE: Most of my work is not in the orchestral world, but I think back fondly on when I was playing with Orpheus [the conductorless NYC-based chamber orchestra] regularly, and I absolutely loved it. What I loved most was that it combined the chamber-music aspect of playing, which is so intimate and communicative in a spontaneous way, along with the idea that we as the musicians, from the front to the back in every section of the orchestra, are giving input to create this artistic expression and experience at the highest level of excellence. It can’t work like that if you have a hundred-piece orchestra, but at the same time this idea that you have to listen across the sections


and not simply look up at one person, is something I am drawn to. Music making should stay fresh like that. An orchestra that is able to keep the freshness and the identity of the individuals who make up the orchestra and actually thinking of diversity as an ever-evolving concept is interesting to me. That, and having the orchestra be nearly a world community. It’s the personnel on stage, the music being performed, the conductors, the soloists, everybody behind the scenes who makes it all work, so that it is a living organism that’s constantly thinking about how they can embrace change and take this organization into the future.

When we think of diversifying what an orchestra looks like, we should also think of diversifying who we are getting the word out to. –Melissa White Orchestras have a bigger job than simply giving great concerts every weekend or four nights a week. I’d love to see an orchestra that really becomes a living organism that embodied that change, their community, and then globally what the arts are—which is daring to be bold, daring to be different, and being okay if it’s not widely accepted. We have to take that as artists, and we’re usually willing to put ourselves out there. DWORKIN: Jeri, what will have changed a year from now that would make you think, this is in the right direction, this is positive, authentic, fundamental for the field? JOHNSON: Black Pearl with a $10 million budget [general laughter]. I say that jokingly, but also kind of seriously. Let’s invest in models that demonstrate the change we want to see. We invest a lot in change we’re hoping to make, which is an aspirational process. But let’s also show what success looks like at the end of that process and invest in high-impact organizations. There are several nimble, agile, highly impactful organizations, and the

influx of money isn’t just about the money, it’s about bringing cachet and attention to these models that can then increase their impact by getting more people to notice them and their willingness to try new things. ARNOLD: I hope in a year that people take a deep dive into their audition process. That’s the number one thing for me, honestly. I really want people to think about it and make meaningful change—especially because there are so many auditions coming up. The time is now to address auditions. It’ll be a huge mistake not to. That’s my first thought. My second thought is that I really believe that people in my job need to communicate better and start sharing repertoire lists. There are so many great commissions coming out, especially social justice-wise and by BIPOC composers. There are so many works being created and commissioned in the next five years, but no one is sharing them. We need to come together so that these works have repeat performances. In a year, I hope there’s some sort of database where people can be like, “this sounds exactly right for my community, let me program this, let me reach out.” I envision orchestras that look very different. I hope they keep highlighting Black and Brown artists in the way that they have this year. I hope they keep the momentum. I hope they create opportunities for new artists to shine. And I hope people open their ears and learn and listen to new works. That’s my thought for a year from now. LAING: I would be excited for orchestras that are moving away from universality towards particularity. I would love to see orchestras examining their mindset as it relates to racism and antiracism, and deciding to commit themselves explicitly towards being antiracist orchestras. And committing to discernible, smart goals—not just aspirations—to hiring across the organization, including the musicians. Moving from universality to particularity, moving from racism to antiracism, and committing to some hard, discernible targets in service of those changes in mindset. symphony


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Film and concert composer Brent Michael Davids, a citizen of the Mohican Nation, is among the artists whose works are being increasingly commissioned and performed by orchestras.

Guardians of the Canyon, Brent Michael Davids’ score evoking the Indigenous people who have lived in the Grand Canyon for centuries, was performed with Havasupai dancers at the Grand Canyon Visitors Center Plaza in June 2019.

Music by composers from Navajo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and many other tribes is increasingly being performed and commissioned by orchestras as they seek to broaden the range of music they perform. While these artists are working in a classical European tradition, they embrace their cultural heritage and see music as a way to express Indigenous worldviews. by Rita Pyrillis





South Dakota Symphony Orchestra

he physical beauty of the Grand Guardians of the Canyon. It premiered in Creating meaningful partnerships with Canyon has inspired countless art2000 at the Grand Canyon Music FestiIndigenous composers and communiists, but when concert and film val as part of the Continental Harmony ties takes time to develop, but an increascomposer Brent Michael Davids was Project, a nationwide community arts proing number of orchestras are eager to try. asked by the American Composers Forum gram marking the millennium. The projSpurred by a desire to diversify institutions (ACF) in 2000 to create a work celebratect, which was funded by the ACF and the that are among the least racially diverse, ing the national park, he sought inspiraNational Endowment for the Arts, created orchestras are looking for ways to bring tion and input from the people who have commissions and residencies for 58 comunderrepresented voices into the field. As a lived there for millennia: the Havasupai. posers to create musical works celebrating result, Native American classical compos“There are all sorts of pieces written about Grand Canyon that are landscape-driven and devoid of people,” says Davids, a citizen of the Mohican Nation. “I wanted to let the people of the canyon speak.” When Grand Canyon National Park was created in 1919, the voices of the Havasupai were not heard, Davids says. Swaths of their traditional lands were taken for public use, resulting in historically tense relations with the National Park Service. Davids knew that building trust would require more than a few phone calls. He made several trips to the Havasupai Reservation, which is located at the bottom of Havasu Canyon and is accessible mainly by foot. It’s an eight-hour hike The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Porcupine Singers in front of Crazy Horse Memorial after a Native Americans’ Day performance of the Lakota Music Project at the Memorial in 2010. one way. There he met with tribal officials and members of a dance troupe called Guardians of the unique cultures nationwide. Guardians of ers such as Davids, Jerod ImpichchaachaaGrand Canyon. They told him about a the Canyon is a chamber-scale score for ha' Tate, Raven Chacon, Michael Begay, healing ceremony called the Ram Dance metal flute, crystal flute, wood flute, two and Barbara Croall, one of the few Native that was revived after tribal members dispercussionists, and Havasupai traditional women composers, are busier than ever. covered two slaughtered bighorn sheep dancers. Major organizations including the San along a trail. The sheep are sacred to the “They brought back this dance to heal Francisco Symphony, Spokane Symphony, Havasupai, and the incident rattled the the canyon, but in the process it was healSouth Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and small community. They performed the ing for them too,” Davids recalls. “The colToronto Symphony Orchestra are increasdance for Davids and agreed to let him inlaboration had a real impact on the coming the number of commissioned works by corporate it into his piece, which is called munity.” Native artists, and smaller orchestras and university ensembles are also commissioning and performing more pieces. Davids A Note on Nomenclature: The terms Native American and American Indian are recently completed a live film score for the used interchangeably in this article. Native people prefer to be identified by their tribal Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble and affiliations, but when speaking of all of the Native Americans in the continental United has several other projects in the works. States, the above references are acceptable, according to the Native American While there has been steady interest Journalists Association. Tribal affiliations of individuals in this piece sometimes appear in works by Native American composers in parentheses next to their names. In Canada, Indigenous peoples are called First since at least the 1970s—when Louis W. Nations. The term “Native” is used as an adjective to describe art, music, and fashion. Ballard, a Cherokee-Quapaw composer There’s no consensus on the term “Indigenous,” which is also used in this article, but (1931-2007) who is considered the father it generally refers to culturally distinct ethnic groups native to a particular place and of contemporary Native American comshould be capitalized. position, wrote Incident at Wounded Knee—


pandemic, and missing and murdered Indigenous women, have put Native communities in the media spotlight. In the 1970s, the struggles of the American Indian Movement brought attention to Indigenous issues and inspired Ballard to write his groundbreaking piece, which

Tracey Salazar

“We need to move beyond stereotypical ideas of what Native American music sounds like,” composer Charles Shadle (Choctaw tribal affiliation) says. “It’s not just a brief moment of Indian exoticism that we bring into the concert hall.”

Bryan Akipa, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, danced before the start of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra’s Lakota Music Project events at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. in 2019.

San Francisco Symphony

some say that social-justice movements have fueled the current surge. Protests over oil pipelines, police violence, the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19

was given its premiere performance in 1974 by Minnesota’s St. Paul Chamber Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Incident at Wounded Knee reflected on the 1973 conflict between the FBI and tribal members on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, as well as the massacre of hundreds of Lakota people by the U.S. Army at Wounded Knee in 1890. Recently, the historic confirmation of Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) in March as U.S.

Jerod Tate conducts San Francisco Symphony musicians in the orchestra’s recent Currents: Thunder Song episode, which explores the intersection of American Indian and classical musical cultures, with music by composers Louis W. Ballard and Rochelle Chester, and from the Pomo tradition.


Secretary of the Interior has brought renewed hope for relations between Indigenous peoples and the federal government. Haaland, a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the first Native American woman to lead a cabinet agency. The Department of the Interior is responsible for managing treaty obligations made to tribal nations, as well as overseeing the nation’s natural resources. “Issues involving Indigenous people are increasingly in the public consciousness and interest in Native American artists is heightened at the moment,” says composer Charles Shadle (Choctaw), who teaches music composition and theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “What’s more important to me is that if there’s attention on contemporary classical composers in this community, it creates possibilities for the younger generations. It makes for a tradition that looks not just backward, but forward.” Shadle says that contemporary classical Indigenous music is at a crossroads, just as music by African American composers was in the 1950s, when orchestras and audiences expected to hear compositions based on spirituals. “We need to move beyond stereotypical ideas of what Native American music sounds like,” Shadle adds. “There is a spectrum of composers that are explicitly whatever tribe they are and others who are implicitly that, and those differences are going to be interesting to audiences. It’s not just a brief moment of Indian exoticism that we bring into the concert hall.” Fascination with Indigenous cultures is nothing new—White composers have been incorporating Native American themes into their works since the late 1800s with the rise of the Indianist movement. While contemporary classical Native composers are writing for Western Eurocentric orchestras, their works are often an expression of their cultural heritage and tribal worldviews. Ballard, who grew up on the Quapaw Reservation in Oklahoma, fully embraced his culture and incorporated its music into his compositions. He paved the way for Native American artists who embrace their cultural identities through their orchestral music, like Chickasaw composer Jerod Tate, who calls Ballard “the Rosetta Stone of Native American classical composition.” symphony


San Francisco Symphony

Performers in the Thunder Song episode of the San Francisco Symphony’s Currents video series included Thomas Leon Brown aka Machuchuk and Ron Montez from the Pomo Elem Indian Colony, seen here in a behind-the-scenes photo.

Tate. Tate was recently commissioned by Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts to create an opera in the Chickasaw language. The piece, called Shell Shaker, is scheduled to premiere in March 2022. It’s been a busy time for Tate. In 2019, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, located

in his home state, performed Lowak Shoppala (Fire and Light), an eight-movement orchestral suite that interprets traditional Chickasaw storytelling. Recently, he worked closely with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic to bring the newly discovered works of classically trained Oklaho-

In February 2019, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic performed “Scene 4: The Clans” from Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate’s Lowak Shoppala, an eight-movement orchestral suite that interprets traditional Chickasaw storytelling. The work was commissioned by American Composers Forum a m epremiered r i c a n o r by c h Oklahoma e s t r a s . oYouth rg and Orchestra and the Chickasaw Nation in 2009.

Shevaun Williams and Associates

“I never thought my Chickasaw identity and my classical music identity would have anything to do with each other,” says Tate, whose ten-minute Talowa’ Heloha (Thunder Song) was recorded by the San Francisco Symphony for its Currents video series and released on April 1. Tate curated music and artists for the video, which includes works by other American Indian composers and from the Pomo tradition. “Composers who identified with their cultural identity were my role models,” says

San Francisco Symphony

“I never thought my Chickasaw identity and my classical music identity would have anything to do with each other,” says Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate. “Composers who identified with their cultural identity were my role models.”


Taking a bow at the Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s 2019 performances of Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate’s Lowak Shoppala, from left: textile artist Margaret Wheeler, OKC Phil Music Director Alexander Mickelthwate, Tate, and dancers.

ma composer Jack Kilpatrick to the stage. Kilpatrick grew up in a Cherokee community, married a Cherokee woman, and incorporated Native American music into his compositions. While he was not born Cherokee, Kirkpatrick’s contributions to Indigenous music are no less valuable, ac-

cording to Tate. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic presented some of Kilpatrick’s works during its 2020-21 season as part of the orchestra’s “Oklahoma Stories” series. Conductor Alexander Mickelthwate, who joined the Oklahoma City Philharmonic as music director in 2018, says that

he is committed to placing the stories of Indigenous peoples center stage—a passion that grew from his time as music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Canada, where he worked with many First Nations composers and musicians. Mickelthwate, who was born in Germany, says that, for him, the notion of music bringing people together is more than just a cliché— it’s the story of his life. “I really don’t have a political agenda, but both my parents grew up in East Germany before the Wall,” he points out. “I witnessed reunification from both eastern and western relatives, so the idea of unity is part of my being. And to use music to do that is beautiful.”

Kiowa drummer John Hamilton was a soloist in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s September 2019 “American Stories” concert featuring Jack Kilpatrick’s An American Indian Serenade. 32



Shevaun Williams and Associates

Shevaun Williams and Associates

“It’s not good enough to have Native artists out in front but with someone else in control behind the scenes,” says Oglala Lakota composer, visual artist, and violinist Suzanne Kite. “You have to give Indigenous artists the reins and then trust them.”

Delta David Gier, music director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, was inspired by a similar sentiment when he co-founded the Lakota Music Project in 2005. Gier, who had joined the orchestra the year before from New York City, where he was assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic, wanted to use his platform to address racism in South Dakota. It was a steep learning curve. “My first lesson was to shut up and listen,” he says. “In my training you build programs and execute them, but you can’t do

I got it,” he says. “The racism out here is bad. I wondered, what could we do to help from our little bubble on the reservation? I believed that when the outside world sees who we are in our element of song and dance, they will forget the negative stereotypes and see us in a different light.” In 2017, the South Dakota Symphony launched, under Jerod Tate’s direction, a weeklong summer composition academy for Native and non-Native high school students. While symphony performances on the main stage can foster cultural understanding, it is in a classroom—where

South Dakota Symphony Orchestra

Ongoing Artistic Exchange

Tracey Salazar

Teagan Bollonger participated in the South Dakota Symphony’s Music Composition Academy for Native and non-Native high school students in 2019. “The emotion spilled out of me and into the music,” she says.

South Dakota Symphony Orchestra Music Director Delta David Gier was conductor of a 2019 Lakota Music Project performance at the Washington National Cathedral featuring the Dakota String Quartet, Dakota Wind Quintet, Emanuel Black Bear, and Bryan Akipa.

that here. It takes time and trust to build those connections. I didn’t want to create a program and plop it down on a reservation and say, ‘here, this is good for you.” Together with Lakota community leaders and musicians, Gier developed the Lakota Music Project more than a decade ago to help advance cultural understanding between White and Native American musicians. Its first commissioned piece was Black Hills Olowan, a concert work by Brent Michael Davids in 2009 featuring the Porcupine Singers, a revered Lakota singing group from Pine Ridge. Emanuel Black Bear, a singer and keeper of the drum for the Creekside Singers on the Pine Ridge Reservation, was initially wary of Gier’s idea but eventually came around and joined the project. “It took me a while to understand his vision, but after the first couple of performances

aspiring composers hear their music played for the first time—that healing seems possible. Teagan Bollonger, an 18-year-old member of the Sisseston-Wahpeton Oyate who participated in the composition academy in 2019, recalls the first time she and her family heard her composition Stolen Sisters played by a professional quartet. It was written in memory of her auntie who was murdered at age 18, before Teagan was born. “It was very emotional,” she says. “My mom couldn’t listen to it at first. I didn’t know the whole story, but my mom told me my auntie was running along of the road and some guys picked her up and beat her and dumped her body on the road. I was afraid that could happen to me, or my sister. The emotion spilled out of me and into the music.” Young Indigenous composers with little to no formal training are capable of creat-

ing deeply complex works, says Diné composer Michael Begay. He is an example of that promise. He began his career as a student in the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP), which was founded in 2001 by Davids in partnership

Diné composer Michael Begay began his career as a student in the Native American Composer Apprentice Project. Today, Begay is an instructorin-residence with the project, and his scores are performed by orchestras nationwide. with the Grand Canyon Music Festival, and today Begay is an instructor-in-residence with the project. Orchestras around the world have performed Begay’s works, which range from string quartets to more experimental scores. Among his most recent projects is a micro-opera titled Sandstone for soprano, cello, and percussion. It was commissioned by Shelter Music Boston, which brings classical chamber music concerts to homeless shelters, for a series of concerts by NACAP students called


“How can relationships between orchestras and Indigenous cultures exist in an equitable way?” asks Sandra Laronde, executive and artistic director of Red Sky Performance, which is collaborating with the Toronto Symphony. “How do we as Indigenous people ensure that our aesthetic doesn’t get lost in the process?”

Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

Voices of the Land performed by the Shelter Music Boston ensemble. Begay recently finished a piano solo for Carnegie Hall’s “Voices of Hope: Artists in the Time of Oppression” virtual series, which addresses social justice issues and features works by several Indigenous composers, including Davids and Croall. Begay knows first-hand the obstacles

that young Indigenous composers face in getting their music heard, particularly on reservations where formal music education is scarce. His first teacher was the car radio, where he listened to everything from classical to country western to heavy metal as his family traveled around the Southwest while his father looked for work. He first heard orchestral music at the movies and was enthralled by the film scores for Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. Begay understands that for his students at NACAP and at the South Dakota summer proThe four Indigenous music creators participating in the recently gram where he taught announced Red Sky/Toronto Symphony Orchestra collaboration for two years, music is an (clockwise from top left): Bryden Gwiss, Lancelot Knight, Mali Obomsawin, Stan Louttit. emotional outlet. “I let the students to speak and tell their stories because what you hear in the muit can’t be contained. Whatever is thrown sic is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. at that kind of spirit has to come out. Yes, “The bloodline of their stories is deep and there are limitations—of the instrument,

Tanya Tagaq, an Inuk throat singer and artist from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), Nunavut, has appeared with Canada’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, including at the orchestra’s 2014 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.




Christopher Wahl

“Orchestras can be very hierarchical places,” says Toronto Symphony Orchestra CEO Matthew Loden. “We are trying to take a page from Indigenous learning, which is more collaborative.”

Given the orchestra field’s increasing commitment to tapping the talents of underrepresented communities, Begay and other Indigenous composers may have reason to be optimistic about the future. The challenge will be for orchestras to learn how to create partnerships with Native American composers and musicians that are equitable and respectful, according to Matthew Loden, CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. “When you ask people to enter a culture modeled after nineteenthcentury European armies, they will flail around whether they are jazz musicians, rock musicians, or Native musicians,” he says. “Orchestras can be very hierarchical places. We are trying to take a page from Indigenous learning, which is more collaborative.” The Toronto Symphony is currently working with Red Sky Performance, a

Barbara Croall

of the Navajo Nation, of my town, of my high school—but you have to build with it. Take those things that are your struggles, put them under your feet, and stand up.” Begay, who is 38, has no degree in music or composition but that will soon change: he will study composition at the Johns

Authentic Commitment

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has performed works by Odawa First Nation composer Barbara Croall since 1996. Her piece Innenohr (Inner Ear) was presented by the TSO as part of a livestream on March 11, 2021. In photo: Croall during rehearsals with TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno.

Hopkins Peabody Institute starting this fall. Having a degree brings him closer to his dream of being commissioned to create large symphonic scores. “It’s been 20 years since I was first brought into this field,” he says. “I knew I had a spark back then. I even knew when I was a kid that I’d be doing all this. But I want do bigger things.”

Toronto-based company that produces contemporary Indigenous dance and music performances. The project, a filmed performance of one of Red Sky’s signature pieces, Mistatim, will bring together four Indigenous music creators and eight TSO musicians. It’s scheduled to premiere in September 2021.

“We have always been music creators, that’s nothing new,” says Sandra Laronde (Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe), executive and artistic director of Red Sky. “The bigger question is, how can relationships between orchestras and Indigenous cultures

While there has been steady interest in works by Native American composers since at least the 1970s, some say that social-justice movements have fueled the current surge. exist in an equitable way? Not where one dominates the other. And how do we as Indigenous people ensure that our aesthetic doesn’t get lost in the process?” Oglala Lakota composer, visual artist, and violinist Suzanne Kite, 30, says that audiences are hungry for “Indigenous sounds” but worries that many orchestras don’t understand how to collaborate with Native artists. “I grew up in an orchestra culture and it’s not always giving and reciprocal,” says Kite, who uses new media and digital technologies to explore contemporary Lakota epistemologies through performances, sculptures, and sound installations. “Coming out of the classical music world, they could really do with some radical voices and experimental practices. I personally don’t want to hear Beethoven again and again.” Kite, who teaches music cultures at the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts in Valencia, California, is a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University in Montreal. Her work was performed at the 2019 Toronto Art Biennial and she is currently collaborating with Chicago-based quartet Third Coast Percussion on pieces for their next season. “It’s not good enough to have Native artists out in front but with someone else in control behind the scenes,” she said. “It’s really about putting them in charge of the work. You have to give Indigenous artists the reins and then trust them.” RITA PYRILLIS (Mnicoujou Lakota) is a freelance writer in Evanston, Illinois. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek, among other publications.


Festival Overtures Last summer, most music festivals were on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this year many festivals are gearing up to return—for a very different kind of summer season. As classical music fans head to outdoor stages or log in to soak up the sounds of orchestral music, what can they expect to see and hear? by Jeff Lunden Zach Mahone

Courtesy Ravinia Festival

The Tyler Gate at the Ravinia Festival, in Highland Park, Illinois, where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has a summer residency. In 2021, the CSO will return, performing in a smaller configuration, and the smaller indoor Martin Theatre will be closed.


The New York Philharmonic, one of Bravo! Vail’s four resident orchestras, performs at the festival, before the pandemic. The festival now presents outdoor concerts from its Mobile Music Box and smaller-scale programs at its regular outdoor venue, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, with COVID protocols in place.



Ashley Wilkerson


or the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with live performances throughout the classical music industry, including summer music festivals. Most cancelled in-person concerts in 2020, but against all odds, some festivals did find innovative ways to get live music to audiences last summer. “We’re in the lemonade business now,” says Caitlin Murray, executive director of the Bravo! Vail music festival. “We’re going to just make lemonade wherever we can.” When it became clear that Bravo! Vail’s resident orchestras—the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields—couldn’t come to the Colorado resort last summer, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, the festival’s artistic director, along with some family members and friends—including sister Kerry McDermott (violin), brother-in-law Paul Neubauer (viola), and the festival’s founder, Ida Kavafian (violin/viola)— formed a small pod and gave free 30-minute chamber music concerts around the Vail Valley from the Music Box, a brandnew, custom-built trailer/stage. “It’s probably been the most meaningful experience

A pre-pandemic photo of an outdoor concert at Wyoming’s Grand Teton Music Festival, with the spectacular backdrop of the snow-capped Grand Teton mountain range.

Courtesy Ravinia Festival

Courtesy Ravinia Festival

Marin Alsop, the Ravinia Festival’s chief conductor and curator, conducts the Chicago Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) in 2019, before the pandemic. Performances will be scaled down in size this summer.


Courtesy Ravinia Festival

In San Diego, Mainly Mozart came up with a stereotypically Southern California solution: drive-in chamber music concerts, in an overflow dirt parking lot at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The festival tested the concept with two concerts on July 11, each with 70 cars whose occupants listened on FM radios, with their windows down.

Audience members stroll outside the pavilion at the Ravinia Festival. This summer, there will be seating of pods of two, four, or six people in the pavilion and on the lawn.

of my career,” says Murray. “We did 41 concerts with it. The smallest was for one couple and their children in their driveway, and the largest was probably close to 175, which was the maximum that we could have.” They went to donors’ homes, assisted living facilities, the fire department, and a

local day camp, where they performed for the children of essential workers. And the festival presented eight socially distanced concerts, for free, in their regular outdoor venue, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, with COVID protocols in place, including a reduced-capacity audience.

Tomas Cohen Photography

Last summer, the Bravo! Vail music festival presented 30-minute concerts around Vail Valley from its new Mobile Music Box trailer/stage. The festival plans to continue to give free concerts throughout the community from the Music Box, even after the pandemic is over.


Programming free chamber music concerts last summer from the Music Box, a custombuilt trailer/stage, was “the most meaningful experience of my career,” says Bravo! Vail Executive Director Caitlin Murray. Those concerts, which featured the Mendelssohn Octet, were said to be the first presented by a major arts organization in the United States, since the COVID pandemic began. “It was the most emotional concert I have ever attended,” says Nancy Laturno, Mainly Mozart’s chief executive officer, of the first performance. “There were a lot of tears on the stage. There were a lot of tears in the audience.” And, instead of applause, the audience showed its appreciation by honking car horns. By summer’s end, the drive-in concerts were no longer an experiment—a local caterer sold charcuterie, vendors hawked T-shirts showing Mozart in a red convertible, and there were banners and large LED screens



Robert Kusel

Emma Kail is executive director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, which is constructing an outdoor stage for two weeks of socially distanced orchestra concerts this summer. Musicians will also perform indoor concerts in their 700-seat theater, with a top capacity of 200.

Concerts at this summer’s Grand Teton Music Festival will look different than one from 2018 in Walk Festival Hall, led by Music Director Donald Runnicles. This summer, indoor concerts at the 700-seat theater will take place with a top capacity of 200.

dance offerings, plus the highly anticipated world premiere of Omar, a new opera by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels. Instead, archived chamber music concerts were broadcast on South Carolina Public Radio and made available as podcasts. Some festivals went all-virtual. Usually, 200 musicians from the United States and abroad come to Wyoming’s Grand Teton Music Festival, but not last summer. Instead, a handful of performers who live in adjoining states drove to Jackson Hole to perform chamber music in the empty Walk Festival Hall for a digital festival of seven concerts. The Ravinia Festival, in suburban Chicago, is normally home to a

“Our team here has been spending a lot of time looking at what the sports leagues, amusement parks, other orchestras, and our counterparts in Europe are doing,” says Jeffrey Haydon, president and CEO of the Ravinia Festival, where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is in residence. While some summer festivals managed to give in-person concerts in one form or other last summer, many festivals weren’t so lucky. “It was absolutely wrenching,” says Nigel Redden, the Spoleto Festival USA’s general director, of the summer of 2020. The Charleston, South Carolina organization cancelled its entire season, postponing chamber music, theater, and

J Kat Photography

Gabe Palacio

onstage. Once festival organizers realized the concept could work, they opened the concerts up to 300 cars in the parking lot. Laturno explains that the experience was so emotional “because we feel like we’re doing something undoable, something impossible, something that makes us really proud and reminds us how important art is to unifying us and healing us.”

summer series of concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as pop and jazz performances. Last summer Ravinia cancelled the entire 2020 season and created Ravinia TV, a series of fourteen minidocumentaries on YouTube, with different guests talking and performing. Meanwhile, in San Diego, “The day when I realized we were going to lose the summer was not a good day last year,” recalls Martha Gilmer, chief executive officer of the San Diego Symphony. In July 2020, the orchestra was gearing up to open The Shell, a new 10,000-seat open-air venue on the San Diego Bay, with a series of gala concerts. The eagerly anticipated opening was postponed until this summer. In the interim, the San Diego Symphony has been streaming concerts with its musicians during its regular season. So, what will summer music festivals look like in 2021? In a word: different. Tickets will be on smartphones, program booklets will be digital. Audiences will be

A Mainly Mozart Festival performance at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the Mainly Mozart festival began performing in July 2020. Audience members listen from their cars on FM radios.


J Kat Photography

Music Director Michael Francis conducts the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, which since last summer has been performing at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

J Kat Photography

Parks, Pavilions, and Pods

Patrons at one of the Mainly Mozart festival’s Valentine’s Day concerts at Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, California. MET Orchestra Concertmaster David Chan served as conductor for the February 13 and 14 concerts.

tage of summer festivals is their open-air aspect. Many in the classical industry are feeling cautiously hopeful about the return of in-person music festivals this summer, in whatever form they are offered.

The Mainly Mozart festival’s first drive-in chamber concert in a parking lot at the Del Mar Fairgrounds last summer “was the most emotional concert I have ever attended,” says Nancy Laturno, Mainly Mozart’s chief executive officer. masked and socially distanced, whether in seats or lawn areas. And concerts will be shorter—many presenters are eliminating intermissions altogether. Because of the uncertainty of the timing of the vaccine rollout and the continued spread of the disease, announcements of programs and performers were not yet finalized at press time. With scientists consistently pointing to the outdoors as one of the safer places to be during these times, one big advan-


Courtesy San Diego Symphony

Courtesy Mainly Mozart

smaller, as will orchestra sizes. Of course, there will be strict safety protocols for performers and audiences, with the latter

The Cleveland Orchestra, which has been giving online concerts from Severance Hall during the 2020-21 main season, plans to present ten in-person concerts at its summer home, the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, “with a Classical-size orchestra on stage,” says President and CEO André Gremillet. On the advice of the Cleveland Clinic, the orchestra will be spread out onstage, requiring a smaller ensemble. “We’re not going to play Mahler,” says Gremillet. “It’s going to be mostly Classical and early Romantic repertoire. You can have some 20th-century works, but you’re much more limited. So it’s going to be a little more mainstream repertoire than we would normally have.” The orchestra is projecting a considerably reduced audience capacity—30 per-

In San Diego, finishing touches are being put on the San Diego Symphony’s new performance venue, The Shell, a permanent structure at Embarcadero Marina Park South. The venue offers panoramic views and state-of-the-art sound and light systems and is now set to open in July 2021.



The San Diego Symphony performs at its former outdoor venue at Embarcadero Marina Park South, which had to be set up and torn down each summer; it will be replaced by the permanent Shell this year.

people will not be vaccinated. That’s the simple math right now.” “Our team here has been spending a lot of time looking at what the sports leagues are doing,” says Jeffrey Haydon, the new president and CEO of the Ravinia Festival, “what the amusement parks are doing, what are our counterparts are doing in Europe and frankly, other orchestras

Denzel Washington

cent inside the pavilion and 20 percent on the lawn, for a maximum of 4,000 people per concert—pending approval from state, county, and local government. “To be honest, I don’t know how the demand is going to be,” says Gremillet. He thinks the return of audiences—most of whom come from northern Ohio—is “going to be gradual, especially this summer. You know, a lot of

Cleveland Orchestra violinist Katherine Bormann, bassist Charles Carleton, and violist Lembi Veskimets perform at Cleveland’s UH Seidman Cancer Center in 2020, when the Blossom Festival was cancelled due to the pandemic. This summer, the festival plans to return to the Blossom Music Center, the orchestra’s summer home, to present ten in-person concerts.

“The day when I realized we were going to lose the summer was not a good day last year,” says Martha Gilmer, chief executive officer of the San Diego Symphony. The opening of The Shell, the orchestra’s new 10,000-seat open-air venue on the San Diego Bay, has been postponed to this summer. and ending in mid-September. Haydon says, “First, that gives us a little more time to plan, selfishly. Secondly, it gives us more time for the world to kind of figure itself out with the vaccine.” After last summer’s season of chamber music, Bravo! Vail hopes to bring back its four resident orchestras this year. “That will look different than it normally would,” says Bravo! Vail’s Murray. “We’re fully anticipating that the orchestras will need to be socially distanced on stage.” Performing with smaller ensemble sizes, she says, “opens up an entirely new world of repertoire for us.” As for audiences, she says the festival expects to have capacity restrictions again this summer, though “that remains a moving target.” Ravinia, Blossom, and Bravo! Vail have outdoor performance venues and the infrastructure that goes with them, but other


Lauren Radack

Courtesy San Diego Symphony

in the country.” Ravinia leaders are also consulting with local hospitals and health departments to make sure there’s a safe environment for audiences and musicians this summer. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which has an annual summer residency at Ravinia, will perform in a smaller configuration. As in past years, Ravinia will also present jazz and rock acts, though many of the bigger names aren’t touring until 2022. The smaller indoor Martin Theatre will be closed, and the festival is consulting with a civil engineer to work out plots for seating of pods of two, four, or six people in the pavilion and on the lawn. Performances will start later than usual this summer, beginning in early July

Roger Mastroianni

A pre-pandemic photo of the Blossom Music Center, the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra. The festival plans to return for ten concerts in 2021.

festivals will need to build new outdoor stages. For the Grand Teton Music Festival, that means constructing an outdoor stage, where the organization will present two weeks of orchestra concerts for socially distanced audiences; the festival will

also present indoor concerts in its 700seat theater, with a top capacity of 200. The Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston will construct two outdoor stages, for a pared-down offering this year. (As with most festivals, details of Spoleto’s 20201 programming had not been announced at press time.) One stage will be built on the banks of the Ashley River, “where some of the beauty of Charleston will be on view,” says Spoleto’s Nigel Redden. “I want the festival this year to be remembered for beautiful moments; that we are


Parking Lots, Contactless Ticketing, Few Intermissions Roger Mastroianni

In San Diego, finishing touches are being put on the San Diego Symphony’s new performance venue, The Shell. Surround-

ed by water, the space offers panoramic views— a marina, the city of San Diego, the Bay, and the resort city of Coronado— plus state-of-the-art sound and light systems and a tiered lawn/concession area. But when it opens in July, audience capacity will be limited, food concessions will be closed, tickets will be contactless, and program booklets will be digital. At the moment, it looks like most concerts will be

Julia Lynn

“The biggest mistake that anyone can make is to think that the world is going back to the way it was before,” says André Gremillet, president and CEO of the Cleveland Orchestra, which plans to return to the Blossom Festival this summer with health protocols i​n place.

doing things in the face of complex adversity. And, obviously, our audience is going to be much, much more limited than we’ve been used to in the past. But I think that if they come, when they come, those people who come should have an experience that they remember.”

When the 2020 Blossom Festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, small ensembles from the Cleveland Orchestra performed at a variety of locations, such as this park concert by second-chair brass players Jack Sutte (trumpet), Jesse McCormick (horn), and Richard Stout (trombone). This summer, the orchestra plans to return to the Blossom Music Center, its summer home, to present ten in-person concerts.

A Spoleto Festival USA chamber concert at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard, one of several outdoor spaces where the festival will present concerts this summer, including one being built on the banks of the Ashley River.



Hilary Scott

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider records a concert at the Linde Center for Music and Learning at Tanglewood in July 2020, when the Tanglewood Festival was closed to the public due to the pandemic. The Boston Symphony Orchestra anticipates a return this year to the Tanglewood Festival, its summer home.

PMF Facebook page

presented without an intermission. Fortustraight to their hotel,” says Laturno. “We nately, San Diego’s warmer weather allows have a nurse and testing station at the hofor concerts past the summer. “We are retel. So, they are tested immediately upon ally gearing up that September, October, arrival. They are socially distanced onstage, November, even some of our Christmas which means we need a stage about three holiday programing would still be at the times larger than we would need, which is Shell because, as you know, we do have also a big expense. They all play in masks nice weather all year long,” says Chief Exand the wind players have extra spacing.” ecutive Officer Martha Gilmer. At Bravo! Vail, Caitlin Murray says “backMainly Mozart, also in San Diego, stage is going to look a lot different this plans to present a series of all-star orchesyear. There won’t be hospitality buffets, and tra concerts in June, drawing players from symphony orchestras all around the U.S. and abroad, pandemicpermitting. But the festival will have to find another venue—the parking lot at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is being converted into a COVID super vaccination site. And Chief Executive Director Nancy Laturno hopes that each concert can be repeated at an as yet-to-be announced site in Orange County. Logistics, which are always a concern for summer festivals, have become exponentially more complex Violinist Amy Sims and pianist Christi Zuniga perform in a Peninsula Music Festival chamber music concert in February during the pandemic. These 2021 at Kress Pavilion, Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. The Peninsula days, when musicians ar- Music Festival's annual summer concerts were cancelled last rive in San Diego, “they go summer but are expected to return this summer.

musicians are going to probably be asked to come to the concerts dressed.” Ravinia’s Haydon says, “Basically it’s essential personnel only backstage. It may be that the orchestra members come dressed, ready to play, and they have a tent outside and just sort of pass through—an ‘in’ door and ‘out’ door for the stage. So, you don’t get that natural bunching that takes place backstage with the stagehands and the orchestra musicians.” What’s it like being an arts administrator in the middle of a global pandemic? André Gremillet, of the Cleveland Orchestra, is blunt. “Listen. I mean, it’s been hell. But I choose to focus on the opportunities.” In addition to keeping his 103-year-old orchestra afloat, he’s thinking about what lessons the music industry has learned during the pandemic that can be applied after it’s over. “For example, are we going to have more concerts without intermission? You know, that might be a good thing. Are we going to have a digital world that’s going to be very different? It was part of our vision before the pandemic, which is why we were relatively quick in getting this set up. We just accelerated the implementation. The biggest mistake that anyone can make in my role is to just think that the world is going to be back to the way it was before. And to plan for that—I think that would be a big mistake and a lost opportunity.” Bravo! Vail’s Caitlin Murray says even when the pandemic’s over, the festival’s mobile Music Box will continue to give free concerts throughout the community. “It’s been one of the one of the most incredible experiences of my life to get to do this—living through this horrible, challenging, difficult time. And getting to do work that gives people 30 minutes to block it all out and find joy. I’ve never believed in what we do more.” But, in the meantime, she adds: “I truly believe it’s our responsibility to keep music playing right now, as long as we can do so safely and responsibly. That’s the key if you have to find that balance. And I think we are fighting that path forward through this. And it’s completely inspiring and incredible to be a part of.” JEFF LUNDEN is a freelance arts reporter whose work is frequently heard on NPR and other public radio outlets.


Two trombonists herald the six-week Colorado Music Festival, which this summer will feature the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, world premieres, chamber music, guest artists, and more.


Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Santa Cruz, CA July 31 to August 8 Online Only The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music’s 59th season features world premieres by composers Gabriela Lena Frank, Jake Heggie, and Sean Shepherd. The Festival’s second virtual season includes dance, photography, video, and animation, with renowned guest artists and the award-winning Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Cristian Măcelaru. Festival Conductor: Cristian Măcelaru Festival Artists: David Murikami, animator; Molly Katzman, choreographer; Theo Chandler, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jake Heggie, Jeremy Rapaport-Stein, Sean Shepherd, Meng Wang, composers; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Camille Seaman, photographer; Benjamin Beilman, violin Featured Group: St. Lawrence String Quartet For Information: Ellen Primack 147 S. River Street Suite 232 Santa Cruz, CA

(831) 426-6966 @cabrilloFest

@cabrillofestival Festival Mozaic San Luis Obispo, CA Due to the current pandemic disruption, the 2021 season of Festival Mozaic is still in flux. Please visit for the most up-to-date information. For Information: David George, General Manager Ojai Music Festival Ojai, CA September 16 to 19 Online and In-Person Attendance Celebrating its 75th milestone, the Festival represents an ideal of adventurous and open-hearted programming in the most beautiful settings with audiences and artists to match its aspirations. Ojai

welcomes back Music Director John Adams, who will focus on composers of today whose music will be threaded throughout the Festival, including Samuel Carl Adams, Dylan Mattingly, Gabriela Ortiz, Gabriella Smith, and Carlos Simon. Festival Artistic Direction: Ara Guzelimian Festival Conductor: John Adams Festival Artists: Timo Andres; Víkingur Ólafsson, piano; Anna Margules, recorder; Miranda Cuckson, violin; Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi Featured Group: Attacca Quartet Orchestra Affiliation: Ojai Festival Chamber Orchestra For Information: Ojai Festival Chamber Orchestra Gina Gutierrez 201 South Signal Street Ojai CA 93023 (805) 646-2053 @ojaifestival


Information regarding these Summer Music Festivals was accurate at press time. However, the pandemic may cause schedule changes, postponements, or cancellations. Check each organization’s website and social media for the most current information.




Pacific Symphony SummerFest Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, CA July 4 to September 4 Online and In-Person Attendance With over three decades of presenting great music under the stars, Pacific Symphony returns again this summer to the 8,500-seat open-air Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair and Event Center. Festival Artistic Direction: Carl St.Clair Festival Conductor: Carl St.Clair Featured Artists: Pacific Symphony performing three programs: July 4 Spectacular:The Elton John Tribute; Tchaikovsky Spectacular; and Toy Story in Concert (world premiere live-to-film event). Featured Group: Pacific Symphony For Information: John Forsyte 17620 Fitch Irvine, CA 92614 (714) 755-5700 @PacificSymphony



Aspen Music Festival and School Aspen, CO July 1 to August 22 Online and In-Person Attendance One of the world’s leading summer centers for performance and musical training, the AMFS will be back, live and in person with a modified schedule in 2021. Festival Artistic Direction: Alan Fletcher, president and CEO; Asadour Santourian, vice president for artistic administration and artistic advisor; Robert Spano, music director; Renée Fleming and Patrick Summers, co-artistic directors, Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS Festival Conductors: Christian Arming, James Conlon, Roderick Cox, Jane Glover, Benjamin Manis, Nicholas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot, Gemma New, Vasily Petrenko, Joel Rinsema, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Patrick Summers, Hugh Wolff Festival Artists: Will Liverman, baritone; Amanda Forsyth, Zlatomir Fung, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Marina Piccinini, flute; Sharon Isbin, guitar; Behzod Abduraimov, Andrew Armstrong, Inon Barnatan, Yefim Bronfman, Angela Cheng, Jeremy Denk, Vladimir Feltsman, Andreas Haefliger, Tengku Irfan, Paul Lewis, Daniil Trifonov, Matthew Whitaker, Joyce Yang, piano; Julia Bullock, Jeanine De Bique, Renée Fleming, Golda Schultz, soprano; Lawrence Brownlee, tenor; Sarah Chang, James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich, Stefan Jackiw, Robert McDuffie, Gil Shaham, Stephen Waarts, Pinchas Zukerman, violin Featured Groups: American Brass Quintet, American String Quartet, Aspen Chamber Symphony, Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Aspen Festival Orchestra, Escher Quartet, Kantorei, Pacifica Quartet For Information: AMFS Box Office Aspen Music Festival and School 225 Music School Road Aspen, CO 81611

(970) 925-9042 @aspenmusic

Cindy Hohman Administrative office: 200 E. Baseline Road Lafayette, CO 80026 (303) 665-0599 @COmusicfestival

@aspenmusicfest Bravo! Vail Music Festival Vail, CO June 24 to August 5 Online and In-Person Attendance This season features the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and the return of the innovative outdoor Music Box stage. Festival Artistic Direction: Anne-Marie McDermott Festival Conductors: Joshua Bell, Stéphane Denève, Fabio Luisi, Nathalie Stutzmann, Bramwell Tovey, Jeff Tyzik, Jaap van Zweden Festival Artists: Alessio Bax, Yefim Bronfman, Anne-Marie McDermott, Daniil Trifonov, piano; Joshua Bell, James Ehnes, Gil Shaham, violin Featured Groups: Escher String Quartet, Verona Quartet, Viano String Quartet Orchestra Affiliation: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra For Information: Ronda Helton 2271 N. Frontage Rd W, Suite C Vail, CO 81657 (970) 827-5700


Music in the Mountains Durango, CO July 11 to August 1 In-Person Only For 35 years we have produced an exceptional summer classical music festival with the highest-caliber musicians from across the country in breathtaking Southwest Colorado venues. Festival Artistic Direction: Gregory Hustis Festival Conductor: Guillermo Figueroa For Information: Angie Beach 515 East College Drive Durango, CO 81301 (970) 385-6820 @musicinthemountainsCO




Colorado Music Festival Boulder, CO July 1 to August 7 Online and In-Person Attendance Colorado Music Festival presents a six-week summer concert season at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder. Under the guidance of Music Director Peter Oundjian, the Festival welcomes top musicians from around the world as well as showcasing the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra. The 2021 season includes the brand-new Robert Mann Chamber Music Series, a full week dedicated to music of the 21st century, several world premiere commissions, and more. Festival Artistic Direction: Peter Oundjian, Music Director Festival Conductor: Peter Oundjian, Music Director Festival Artists: (list subject to change) Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Ji Su Jung, marimba; Abigail Nimms, mezzo-soprano; Jeremy Denk, Stewart Goodyear, Olga Kern, Conrad Tao, Christopher Taylor, piano; Steven Banks, Timothy McAllister, saxophone; Jennifer Bird, soprano; Augustin Hadelich, Tessa Lark, Angelo Xiang Yu, violin Featured Groups: Danish String Quartet, Juilliard String Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Takács Quartet For Information:

A concert at the Chapel Serra in Shandon, California, which is one of Festival Mozaic’s performance venues.

National Repertory Orchestra Breckenridge, CO June 20 to August 1 Online and In-Person Attendance Under the baton of Music Director Michael Stern, the National Repertory Orchestra is a preeminent intensive fellowship that develops diverse, thoughtful, and socially conscious musicians through experiential learning. Festival Conductor: Michael Stern For Information: Alexis Luque, Director of Operations & Education 111 South Main Street Breckenridge, CO 80424 (970) 453-5825






Charles Ives Music Festival Ridgefield, CT August 1 to August 14 In-Person Only The Charles Ives Music Festival offers a chamber music and orchestral program for youth musicians, an adult chamber music workshop, and a concert series focused on American music. Festival Artistic Direction: Paul Frucht Festival Conductor: Eric Mahl Festival Artists: Eric Mahl, brass; Mitch Lyon, Julian Schwarz, cello; Kati Agócs, composer-inresidence; Jon Cziner, composition; Paul Frucht, composition and percussion; Marika Bournaki, George Fu, piano; George Meyer, violin and viola; Jacob Shack, viola; Julia Choi, Chelsea Starbuck Smith, violin Featured Group: Ulysses Quartet Orchestra Affiliation: Western CT Youth Orchestra For Information: Ruth Feldman CIMF at WCYO, P. O. Box 964 Ridgefield, CT 06877 (203) 894-8786 @westernconnecticutyouthorchestra


Festival Conductor: Carolyn Kuan Orchestra Affiliation: Hartford Symphony Orchestra For Information: Amanda Savio 166 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT 06016 (860) 987-5900 @hartfordsymphony


Pacific Music Institute by Hawaii Youth Symphony Honolulu, HI July 5 to July 18 Online and In-Person Attendance Youth are invited to join us at the beautiful Hawaii Convention Center for string, chamber wind, percussion, jazz, and ukulele programs. In partnership with NOI+F. Aloha! Festival Artistic Direction: Joseph Stepec Festival Conductors: Ignace Jang, Richard Scerbo, Joseph Stepec, Dean Taba Festival Artists: Steve Treseler, saxophone; Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele; Abe Lagrimas Jr., vibraphone and drums; Drew Ford, viola; Ignace Jang, violin; Additional artists TBA Orchestra Affiliation: Hawaii Youth Symphony For Information: Jeremy Lawi, General Manager 1110 University Avenue, Suite 200 Honolulu, HI 96826-1598 (808) 941-9706 ext. 700 @PacificMusicHI


Talcott Mountain Music Festival Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center Simsbury, CT July 2 to July 30 In-Person Only Pack a picnic, gather your family and friends, and enjoy the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and phenomenal guest artists performing five concerts under the stars in beautiful Simsbury, CT! Festival Artistic Direction: Carolyn Kuan






Music Director Carolyn Kuan conducts a Hartford Symphony Orchestra concert at Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center during the HSO’s Talcott Mountain Music Festival.

120 North 2nd Avenue, Suite 103 Ketchum, ID 83340 (208) 622-5607

Sun Valley Music Festival Sun Valley, ID July 26 to August 19 In-Person Only The nation’s largest admission-free classical music festival aims to instill a lifelong love of classical music. This year’s 37th Summer Season celebrates front-line heroes, classical mainstays, and musical diversity. Festival Artistic Direction: Alasdair Neale, Music Director Festival Conductors: Alasdair Neale, Music Director; Sameer Patel, Associate Conductor Festival Artists: Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Jessie Montgomery, composer; Jacomo Bairos, conductor; Joyce Yang, piano; Julia Bullock, soprano; Joshua Bell, Vadim Gluzman, violin Featured Group: Villalobos Brothers Orchestra Affiliation: Sun Valley Music Festival Orchestra For Information: Sun Valley Music Festival

Idaho’s Sun Valley Music Festival, Music Director Alasdair Neale, and guest artists will return in 2021 for three weeks of free outdoor concerts.


Grant Park Music Festival Millennium Park Chicago, IL Due to the current pandemic disruption, the 2021 season of the Grant Park Music Festival is still in flux. Please visit for the most up-to-date information. Ravinia Festival Highland Park, IL July-September The Ravinia Festival plans to reopen in July for the 2021 summer season, presenting our signature mix of genres: classical, popular, and chamber music. The health of our audiences, artists, community, and staff is our priority, and our decisions have been supported by guidance from state and local health officials as well as consultation with Northwestern Medicine. All performances will take place outside in our open-air Pavilion, with reserved-in-advance, distanced seating in the Pavilion, on the Lawn, and al fresco at our dining spaces. There will be reduced audience capacity and reduced numbers of artists onstage to maintain a healthy environment for all. We are delighted that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will return in July to its summer home here at Ravinia for its annual six-week summer residency. Our anticipation is doubled with Marin Alsop set to lead seven concerts with the orchestra in her first season as our chief conductor and curator. Our full 2021 lineup will be announced in late April along with attendance protocols. For Information: @raviniafestival




Monteux School and Music Festival Hancock, ME June 13 to July 25 Online and In-Person Attendance Founded as a school for conductors in 1943 by internationally renowned conductor Pierre Monteux, it’s one of the finest summer training programs and festivals of its kind. Based on Monteux’s belief that conductors should play in the orchestra while observing the lessons of their colleagues, thus learning from both sides of the podium, the school offers an intensive six-week program that includes a series of symphonic, chamber, and children’s concerts in a creative, supportive environment. Festival Artistic Direction: Michael Jinbo Festival Conductors: Neal Gittleman, Michael Jinbo, Ludovic Morlot For Information: Marc Thayer PO Box 457 Hancock, ME 04640 (305)205-4500 @monteuxschool


@interlochenarts nounce complete programming details for the 2021 Tanglewood season, under the artistic direction of BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons, who will lead eight orchestra programs. Tickets go on sale to the general public—along with the launch of a new contactless digital ticketing system—on May 17 at 10 a.m. For Information: (888) 266-1200 Tanglewood Safety Protocols:


Baroque on Beaver Beaver Island, MI July 30 to August 7 In-Person Only 20th anniversary season. Festival of classical music features chamber, orchestral, and choral performances of the standard repertoire and newly commissioned works. Please see website for concert schedule and current information. Festival Artistic Direction: Robert Nordling Festival Conductors: Robert Nordling Festival Artists: Anthony Trionfo, flute; Peter Ferry, percussion For Information: Matthew Thomas, Festival Director PO Box 326 Beaver Island, MI 49782 (989) 859-8893


Tippet Art Rise Center Fishtail, MT August 20 to August 22 Online Only Tippet Rise Art Center presents Tippet Rise on Tour: August Festival. The virtual festival features new concert films, readings of poetry, and live discussions with musicians. Festival Artistic Direction: Pedja Mužijević Festival Artists: Arlen Hlusko, cello; Michael Brown, Jenny Chen, Anne-Marie McDermott, piano; Geneva Lewis, violin For Information: Lindsey Hinmon 96 S. Grove Creek Rd. Fishtail, MT 59028 @tippetartrise


The Boston Landmarks Orchestra and Music Director Christopher Wilkins perform at the outdoor Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade in Boston.


Boston Landmarks Orchestra Due to the current pandemic disruption, the 2021 summer season at the Boston Landmarks Orchestra is still in flux. Please visit landmarksorchestra. org for the most updated information as it becomes available. For Information: Arthur Rishi Tanglewood Music Festival Lenox, MA July 9 to August 16 Reduced six-week Boston Symphony Orchestra concert season, to encompass approximately 50 percent of Tanglewood’s usual season offerings. On April 8, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will an-

World Youth Symphony Orchestra Interlochen, MI 7/25/2021 to 8/8/2021 The flagship ensemble of Interlochen Arts Camp features internationally acclaimed guest conductors leading the world’s finest youth musicians in three performances of classical favorites and modern masterpieces. Festival Artistic Direction: Cristian Măcelaru Festival Conductors: Week One: Christian Reif (Resident Conductor, San Francisco Symphony; Music Director, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra); Week Two: JoAnn Falletta (Principal Conductor, Ulster Orchestra; Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Virginia Symphony Orchestra); Week Three: Cristian Măcelaru (Music Director Designate, Orchestre National de France; Chief Conductor, WDR Sinfonieorchester; Music Director and Conductor, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music) Featured Group: World Youth Symphony Orchestra Orchestra Affiliation: Interlochen Arts Camp For Information: Brent Wrobel, Director, Interlochen Presents 4000 S. M-137 Interlochen, MI 49643 (231) 276-7200 @interlochencenterforthearts

The Lake Placid Sinfonietta and Music Director Stuart Malina perform at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.


Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival Santa Fe, NM July 18 to August 23 Online and In-Person Attendance This internationally renowned summer festival, held in a stunning southwestern setting, demonstrates the depth and breadth of the chamber music repertoire—which includes Festival-commissioned works—through high-level programming and performances. Festival Artistic Direction: Marc Neikrug Festival Artists: HK Gruber, Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Julia Harguindey, Christopher Millard, bassoon; Timothy Eddy, Joseph Johnson, Eric Kim, Mark Kosower, Keith Robinson, Peter Stumpf, Peter Wiley, Kajsa William-Olsson, cello; Romie de Guise-Langlois, Todd Levy, Ricardo Morales, David Shifrin, clarinet; Guillermo Figueroa, Alan Gilbert, David Robertson, conductor; Doug Fitch, director/designer; Mark Tatum, double bass; Bart Feller, Tara Helen O’Connor, Joshua Smith, flute;



Roberto Capocchi, guitar; Grace Browning, harp; Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord; Stefan Dohr, Gregory Flint, horn; Nicholas Houfek, lighting designer; Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano; Robert Ingliss, Liang Wang, oboe; Colin Currie, Jacob Nissly, percussion; Debra Ayers, piano/ celesta; Zoltán Fejérvári, Kirill Gerstein, Nicolas Namoradze, Juho Pohjonen, Gilles Vonsattel, Huw Watkins, Haochen Zhang, piano; Mark Fisher, trombone; Christopher Stingle, trumpet; Brett Dean, Margaret Dyer Harris, L. P. How, Scott Lee, Paul Neubauer, CarlaMaria Rodrigues, Theresa Rudolph, Steven Tenenbom, viola; Harvey de Souza, Alan Gilbert, Jennifer Gilbert, William Hagen, L. P. How, Paul Huang, Daniel Jordan, Leila Josefowicz, Ida Kavafian, Benny Kim, Amy Oshiro, Daniel Phillips, violin Featured Groups: Dover Quartet, FLUX Quartet, Miami String Quartet, Orion String Quartet For Information: Steven Ovitsky PO Box 2227 Santa Fe, NM 87504 (505) 983-2075

Lake Placid, NY 12946 (518) 523-2051 @officiallpsinfonietta



Eastern Music Festival Greensboro, NC June 26 to July 31 In-Person Only Eastern Music Festival, a nationally acclaimed classical music festival and educational institution, celebrates 60 years of musical excellence this summer. Check our website for program and schedule announcements. Festival Artistic Direction: Gerard Schwarz Festival Conductor: Gerard Schwarz Featured Groups: Eastern Festival Orchestra, EMF Chamber Music Artists, Young Artists Orchestra and Ensembles For Information: Christopher Williams, Executive Director PO Box 22026 Greensboro, NC 27420 (336) 333-7450



Julie Averette/Eastern Music Festival


North Carolina’s Eastern Music Festival will offer five weeks of performances, under the artistic direction of Gerard Schwarz. In photo: a 2019 Eastern Music Festival euphonium-tuba masterclass with Demondrae Thurman.


The Lake Placid Sinfonietta Lake Placid, NY July 7 to August 15 Online and In-Person Attendance Twenty professional musicians and spectacular guest artists comprise this exciting summer chamber orchestra, which has performed in Lake Placid, New York and the surrounding Adirondacks each summer since 1917. Festival Artistic Direction: Stuart Malina Festival Conductor: Stuart Malina Festival Artist: Alexander Kerr, violin For Information: Deborah Fitts, Executive Director P.O. Box 1303



Blossom Music Festival Cuyahoga Falls, OH July 4th Weekend through Labor Day Weekend The 2021 Blossom Music Festival will mark a return to in-person concerts after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season. The Cleveland Orchestra will present a mix of classical and pops concerts for audiences in its scenic home, Blossom Music Center. For health and safety, audience capacity will be limited and a variety of safety measures will be put in place. Check for the full festival schedule and for health and safety protocols and procedures. Blossom Music Center has provided an inviting summer home for The Cleveland Orchestra since it opened in 1968. Located just north of Akron, Ohio, and about 25 miles south of Cleveland, Blossom is situated on 200 acres of rolling hills surrounded by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. For Information:


Britt Music and Arts Festival Jacksonville, OR July 30 to July 31 Online and In-Person Attendance Inspired by our intimate and scenic hillside venue, we provide diverse live performances, an incomparable orchestra season, and dynamic education

programs that create a sense of discovery and community. Festival Artistic Direction: Teddy Abrams Festival Conductor: Teddy Abrams Festival Artist: Caroline Shaw, composer Orchestra Affiliation: Britt Festival Orchestra For Information: Mike Gantenbein 216 W. Main St. Medford, OR 97501 (541)779-0847 @BrittFestivals


Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival Portland, OR July 1 to August 1 Online and In-Person Attendance Chamber Music Northwest presents a four-week 2021 Summer Festival in scenic Portland, Oregon. The festival celebrates an engaging variety of chamber music for both in-person and streaming audiences. Festival Artistic Direction: Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim Festival Artists: Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Fred Sherry, Paul Watkins, cello; David Shifrin, clarinet; Pierre Jalbert, David Ludwig, Marc Neikrug, composer; Helen O’Connor, flute; Jason Vieaux, guitar; Ian Rosenbaum, Ayano Kataoka, percussion; Gloria Chien, Marc-André Hamelin, piano; Tara Matan Porat, piano/composer; Branford Marsalis, saxophone; Jennifer Johnson Cano, soprano; Paul Neubauer, viola; Bella Hristova, Soovin Kim, violin Featured Groups: Brentano Quartet, Dover Quartet, East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), Flux Quartet, Jupiter Quartet For Information: Nicole Lane 2300 SW 1st Ave, Suite 103 Portland, OR 97201 (503) 223-3202 @chambermusicnorthwest


Sunriver Music Festival Sunriver, OR August 13 to August 23 Online and In-Person Attendance Nestled in the Central Oregon High Desert, Sunriver Music Festival presents premier classical, pops, and world-class soloists with the Festival Orchestra. The 44th season moves forward with resilience, creativity, and imagination with The Maestro in Action! featuring acclaimed artistic director finalists Kelly Kuo and Brett Mitchell conducting. The outdoor concert series will showcase performances at the Sunriver Resort Besson Commons and the Sunriver SHARC Amphitheater. Festival Artistic Direction: Kelly Kuo and Brett Mitchell Festival Conductor: Kelly Kuo and Brett Mitchell Festival Artists: Amit Peled, cello; Daniel Hsu, piano



Featured Group: Eroica Trio For Information: Meagan Iverson, Executive Director P.O. Box 4308 Sunriver, OR 97707 (541) 593-1084

(856) 875-6816





Mann Center for the Performing Arts Philadelphia, PA May 1 to October 31 Online and In-Person Attendance The Mann Center for the Performing Arts has served for many decades as Philadelphia’s premier outdoor performing arts summer festival, presenting a wide array of cultural programming and popular events. Festival Artistic Direction: VP of Artistic Planning & Chief Innovation Officer Toby Blumenthal; Artistic Advisor Evans Mirageas Festival Artists: Highlights include but are not limited to The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Philly POPS, Opera Philadelphia, and SOUNDWALK, with Ellen Reid, composer and sound designer, and music performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra SOUNDWALK Ensemble. Artists and programs subject to change. Please visit for our full season lineup. Orchestra Affiliation: The Philadelphia Orchestra; The Philly POPS For Information: President and CEO Catherine M. Cahill; Vice President of Artistic Planning & Chief Innovation Officer Toby Blumenthal 123 South Broad Street, Suite 815 Philadelphia, PA 19109 (215) 546-7900 @themanncenter


Philadelphia International Music Festival Philadelphia, PA May 31 to June 13 Online Only Solo Intensives at PIMF include lessons, master classes, and personal Q&As with Philadelphia Orchestra members: Hai-Ye Ni, Principal Cello; Ricardo Morales, Principal Clarinet, Jeffrey Lang, Associate Principal Horn; and others Festival Artistic Direction: Kimberly Fisher, Principal Second Violin, The Philadelphia Orchestra Festival Artists: Hai-Ye Ni, Principal Cello of The Philadelphia Orchestra; Ricardo Morales, Principal Clarinet of The Philadelphia Orchestra; Boris Allakhverdyan, Principal Clarinet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Jeffrey Lang, Associate Principal Horn of The Philadelphia Orchestra Orchestra Affiliation: Principal Players of The Philadelphia Orchestra For Information: Jacob Heil, Operations Director 2954 East Grant Avenue Williamstown, NJ 08094

Deer Valley Music Festival - 17th Season Deer Valley Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater Park City, UT June 25 to August 7 In-Person Only The Deer Valley Music Festival is the summer home of the Utah Symphony. The eight-week series in July and early August takes place in spectacular Park City, Utah. Festival Conductor: Conner Gray Covington Festival Artists: The Beach Boys; Kristin Chenoweth, vocalist; Ben Folds, singer/songwriter; Capathia Jenkins, vocalist; Kool & the Gang; Little River Band; Changyong Shin, piano; The Temptations; Super Diamond Orchestra Affiliation: Utah Symphony Orchestra For Information: Cassandra Dozet 123 West South Temple Salt Lake City, Utah 84101 (801) 533-6683 @utahsymphony



Seattle Chamber Music Society Seattle, WA July 16 to August 27 Online Only World-renowned musicians will film twelve concerts at the Center for Chamber Music in Seattle. Concerts will be streamed online and available to view on demand. Festival Artistic Direction: James Ehnes Festival Conductor: Connie Cooper For Information: 600 Union St. Ste 220 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 283-8710 @SeattleChamberMusic



Peninsula Music Festival Door County, WI August 21 to October 1 Online Only The Symphony Series • A Chamber Music Series • Recital Series. Experience world-renowned conductors, acclaimed guest artists, and the eighty musicians of the Festival Orchestra from around the world. Festival Artistic Direction: Christoph Ptack

Festival Conductors: Rune Bergmann, David Danzmayr, Yaniv Dinur, Marcelo Lehninger, Ward Stare Festival Artists: Oliver Herbert, cello; Susanna Self, flute; Inna Faliks, Stewart Goodyear, Peter Jablonski, Antonio Wu, piano; Bella Hristova, Rachel Barton Pine, Simone Porter, Angelo Xiang Yu, violin For Information: Help Desk 10431 N. Water Street, PO Box 340 Ephraim, WI 54211 (920) 854-4060 @peninsulamusicfestival


The Utah Symphony performs at Deer Valley Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater in Park City, Utah.


Grand Teton Music Festival Jackson, WY July 2 to August 21 Online and In-Person Attendance The Grand Teton Music Festival’s mission is to provide exhilarating musical experiences. This summer, the GTMF is celebrating its 60th Season. Festival Artistic Direction: Sir Donald Runnicles, music director Festival Conductor: Sir Donald Runnicles, music director Festival Artists: Thomas Lehman, baritone; Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello; Stéphane Denève, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Gemma New, conductor; Angela Jones-Reus, flute; Elisabeth Remy Johnson, harp; Irene Roberts, mezzo-soprano; Yefim Bronfman, Denis Kozhukhin, piano; Julia Bullock, Heidi Stober, soprano; Robert Watson, tenor; Michael Mulcahy, trombone; James Ehnes, Leila Josefowicz, violin; Capathia Jenkins, vocalist Orchestra Affiliation: Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra For Information: Emma Kail, executive director 175 S. King Street Jackson, WY 83002 (307)733-3050





Artotems Co

The Santa Fe Youth Symphony performs before the pandemic with musicians from the orchestra’s mariachi program, which provides mariachi music instruction for students aged 12 to 18 in Santa Fe.

Lockdown Learning Though in-person instruction has been mostly shut down since the pandemic began in 2020, youth orchestras have been finding myriad ways to rehearse and perform, socially distanced. And some of the changes will likely be lasting, informing music education in the future.

Ken Jacques

by Rebecca Winzenried

Above left, the San Diego Youth Symphony and Music Director Jeff Edmons in a performance photo taken before the pandemic. Above right: Since last year, the San Diego Youth Symphony has been operating virtually for most activities, including this Zoom-based performance featuring the ensemble’s string section. The youth orchestra is postponing planned 75th-anniversary celebrations and instead preparing for the virtual premiere of a new work entitled You Are Amazing, in collaboration with several other youth orchestras.




confines of their usual practice routines. Conductors from participating orchestras offered video instruction on different aspects of the piece, giving students insight into new perspectives and learning styles. (In addition to Santa Fe Youth Orchestra, the other twelve youth orchestras in the

In some ways, the project was a natural extension for the Santa Fe Youth Symphony, which often collaborates with ensembles around the region—although in this case, the normal concerns of how and where to get students together were not factors. “We were taking advantage

“When we were in-person it was, baton up … instruments up … go,” says Santa Fe Youth Symphony Executive Director Andrea Cassutt. Now conductors reserve time at the beginning and end of online rehearsals for students to talk. project are Albuquerque Youth Symphony, Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestra, Greater Boulder Youth Symphony, Houston Youth Symphony, Huntsville Youth Orchestras, Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra, Mid-Columbia Youth Orchestras, Rowan Youth Orchestra, San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra, Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Yakima Ensemble for Strings.)

of something we wouldn’t have thought of before, because we would have focused on being together in person and what that might have involved with travel, etc.,” said Cassutt. “The reduction in all of those logistics makes the connections easier.” Reaching across the border was not that much of a stretch for the San Diego Youth Symphony. It had planned a joint performance with the Tijuana Youth Symphony—based in Mexico, just 20 miles

John Stolen


his May, the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association will debut a new video on its virtual spring concert, a performance of Soon Hee Newbold’s American Landscape featuring its two orchestras, along with members of twelve other youth orchestras from eight states. Meanwhile, the San Diego Youth Symphony plans to go international with a similar concept, collaborating with Mexico’s Tijuana Youth Symphony, plus several other youth orchestras from the San Diego area, for the premiere of You Are Amazing by Brian Balmages. Each is a sweeping, socially distanced project with the potential to involve as many as 800 student musicians, connecting them in a way that none could have anticipated just a year ago. Back in early 2020, the youth orchestras involved, like their youth orchestra counterparts around the country, were struggling to deal with the pandemic shutdown that had forced them to become virtual entities overnight. They had little online experience to guide them, because a digital presence had never mattered much. Youth orchestras, after all, were schooled in the idea that in-person learning and performances are paramount to music education. That thinking has changed as youth orchestras have weathered more than a full academic year in various stages of lockdown and emerged energized, in unexpected ways. In Santa Fe, the American Landscape project has meant expanding outreach in a very literal way. The Santa Fe Youth Symphony’s program has always incorporated regional influences, with mariachi and jazz ensembles alongside its orchestras. “Our organization, at its core, is based on inclusivity,” says Executive Director Andrea Cassutt. “We’re in a place that has many different cultures represented, so we’re pretty regularly looking at, how do we connect?” The question now facing Cassutt: How does her orchestra make a connection in the middle of a pandemic? For the American Landscape project, Santa Fe Youth Orchestra conductors William Reece Waag and Ryan Finn began reaching out to colleagues at youth orchestras across the country. The project combated some of the isolation of social distancing by taking students beyond the

The New York Youth Symphony reconvened in December to record a concert of music by Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman, and Florence Price at Manhattan’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music.


Playathon in March 2021. It was not a scenario that anyone would have hoped for, but this time around the event was heralded more than a month in advance with a web page including a countdown clock, a fundraising goal tracker, video of a remotely coordinated performance of Sibelius’s Finlandia, and a virtual practice challenge. Like many other youth orchestra programs, the NJYS did not drop a beat following the shutdown, conducting rehearsals online within a week, even though it had no experience doing so. Cha-Pyo soon realized that adjustments had to be made to keep young musicians engaged. Instead of three-hour rehearsal blocks, Zoom sessions became one hour of rehearsal coupled with new offerings such as master classes and music theory instruction. Students received one hour of credit acknowledging their participation for each hour of engagement in the program, a requirement that parents said provided some needed structure.

“People are really focusing on the silver lining of what technology has brought us,” says San Diego Youth Symphony President and CEO Michael Remson. “What have we learned that will let us do more for our kids?” away—as part of its 75th anniversary in the 2020-21 season. The celebration was also set to include a new work from Balmages, a composer known for creating music for young musicians. The title of his new work, You Are Amazing, comes from an inspiration the composer had early in the pandemic shutdown, a time when he was questioning the place of music education and his own role in it. While out for a walk, he came across a message chalked on the sidewalk: You are amazing. He took it as a new starting point. Balmages’ story, in turn, sparked an idea for San Diego

debut of their collaborative music video with the partner youth orchestras: All About Music, Civic Youth Orchestra, East County Youth Orchestra, Fortissimo, La Jolla Music Society’s Community Music Center, the Tijuana Youth Symphony, and Villa Musica. The timing of shutdowns nationwide in March of 2020 was particularly bad for youth orchestras that were on the verge of presenting celebratory festivals, endof-year showcases, and major fundraising events. The New Jersey Youth Symphony, based in New Providence, was two weeks

Including Underrepresented Voices

The New Jersey Youth Symphony also had to rethink commissions that were in the pipeline from four composers. All the commissioned composers are from New Jersey, and their diverse back-

Youth Symphony President and CEO Michael Remson. Why not use the new piece to go ahead with the joint Tijuana performance, and ask the half-dozen other youth orchestras around San Diego to join in? Planned anniversary events could be postponed, but this would signal to young musicians that their individual contributions were important, and that youth orchestras were central to the community. “That you are amazing,” says Remson. “As a way to say, we’re still here, we still matter.” They are shooting for a mid-April


away from its annual Playathon, a popular fundraiser involving dozens of students performing over several hours at a nearby mall. The organization quickly assembled a virtual event, with video clips of individual musicians, that ended up surpassing its fundraising goal. “It was really kind of a remarkable day, looking back,” says Artistic Director and Conductor Helen ChaPyo. “I’m still feeling that whiplash in my neck, from going from zero to 100. We had no time to figure it out.” The NJYS performed its second virtual

Jon Sicat

Before the pandemic, the New Jersey Youth Symphony commissioned composer Aferdian (also known as Aferdian Stephens) to write a symphonic piece to premiere in May and then perform on tour in Italy. Instead, the orchestra performed the work virtually.

French horn players from the New Jersey Youth Symphony perform at an outdoor concert in Centennial Park in New Providence, New Jersey, wearing specially designed masks to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

grounds—Chilean, Peruvian, Lebanese, and Black—intentionally reflect the state’s rich immigrant and cultural communities. Recognizing that social-distancing guidelines would hinder the number of musicians even if a live, in-person performance symphony


ents’ hesitancy about his choice of a career ary when it began welcoming a limited path that seemed atypical for a Black teen. number of students back to in-person reThe casual, frank conversations offered hearsals. Music Director and Conductor young viewers a window into the lives of Louis Scaglione led the first session, with successful musicians, and a chance to pose 48 students in attendance and others parquestions about more nitty-gritty music ticipating from home via Zoom. A laptop challenges such as technique, performance, and motivation. Another New York Youth Symphony video series, The Unsung, focused on figures historically underrepresented in classical music: South American, Asian, African American, and women composers. The orchestra had planned to spotlight music by Black women on its 2020–21 concerts, acA virtual chamber music concert featuring the clarinet section of the New York Youth companied by the release of Symphony. its first recording, featuring works by Jessie MontgomA socially distanced New Jersey Youth Symphony rehearsal in ery, Valerie Coleman, and and webcam were set up in front of him, the parking lot of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Florence Price. With its so he could see and be seen, and new miin Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Carnegie Hall venue still crophones placed to make sure students at shuttered, those concerts home could hear clearly. It was different. It tor as well as its director of percussion— were scrubbed, but the NYYS was able to was weird. And it was an important step, posed a different challenge. It involved capture the recording in December, live Scaglione says, just to see the joy on the a collaboration with New Jersey-based and in-person, without an in-person audistudents’ faces. “They were seeing friends Nokia Bell Labs to develop a system that ence, at the DiMenna Center for Classical they had only been seeing on Zoom for would transform audience members’ cell Music in Manhattan. ten months. It was really quite emotional phones into speakers, immersing them in It was preceded by months of study on for me. It’s been my quest over many the sound and essentially making them the safest size of ensembles, seating armonths to get us to this point.” part of the performance. Austin and NJYS rangements, use of personal protective Scaglione had been consulting regumusicians continued to work on the proequipment, logistics of moving young mularly with his “medicine cabinet” from cess with engineers at the lab’s campus By keeping the music going and connecting with in Murray Hill, but there was no getting around the fact that the work depended on young musicians about their own lives, says a live performance with an audience. This New Jersey Youth Symphony Artistic Director winter, Cha-Pyo was keeping her fingers and Conductor Helen Cha-Pyo, “We are frontline crossed that it could be performed by the end of this academic year, perhaps in an workers for the mental health of our students.” outdoor performance. Last summer, the NJYS also collaborated with the New York Youth Symphony sicians in and out, and studies of air flow the board’s COVID response committee. on Artist Stories, a series of video converin the building. For all of the recognized Led by Lydia Ogden, a physician who has sations with influential artists of color. advantages of working remotely—safety specialized in global vaccine policy (and a Among them was oboist Toyin Spellmanand the possibility to reach more people— parent of recent PYO graduates), the comDiaz, an Imani Winds founder, who spoke a return to in-person rehearsals and permittee created a 50-page manual outlining of how her perspective was shaped as a formances remains the goal. The NYYS safety protocols and procedures. The effort member of the DC Youth Orchestra Probegan with small group repertoire readings was especially tricky for an organization gram, where she says she was surrounded at the DiMenna Center in late fall. that draws young musicians from Pennby people who looked like her. Also part of sylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, from the conversation was Metropolitan Opera Roads to Return multiple cities, counties, and school disOrchestra Trombonist Weston Sprott (he The PYO Music Institute (formerly the tricts that were all operating under differalso is dean of the Juilliard School’s prePhiladelphia Youth Orchestra) moved a ent safety standards. paratory division), who recalled his parlittle farther down that road in FebruThe year had already been unsettling in Susan Peterson

were to become possible, “We had to go back to the drawing board and make all the instrumentation different, instead of being a full orchestra,” says Cha-Pyo. One composer was asked to focus on percussion, another on strings and piano, and a third on winds and brass. Another piece, by Mesia Austin—a Black composer who is an NJYS conduc-


The first rehearsal with students in attendance since the pandemic began “was really quite emotional for me. It’s been my quest over many months to get us to this point,” says Louis Scaglione, director/conductor of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.

Community Classes, Yoga WarmUps

When Richmond Symphony Orchestra musicians were recruited during the shutdown for online sessions with its affiliated Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra program, Principal Viola Molly Sharp opted to lead a yoga practice. She

a very tragic time.” An “Evening of Harmony” event on June 19—Juneteenth, a holiday marking the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States—replaced the virtual gala and the PYO Music Institute was formally introduced. A need to connect with students on an emotional and intellectual level beyond the repetition of lessons and rehearsals has become increasingly apparent. Like educators everywhere, youth orchestra directors, conduc- A Zoom performance by PYO Music Institute musicians. tors, and teaching artists have kept an eye on the toll that being introduced students to the warm-up she locked down at home, away from peers, does before performances to stretch, conand often without clear direction, has centrate on her breathing, and focus her taken. Virtual rehearsals, like those at the attention, offering a glimpse into how proSanta Fe Youth Symphony, now include a fessional musicians deal with stress in their social check-in. “When we were in-person lives and work. “Our musicians do teach it was, baton up … instruments up … go,” sectionals regularly, but in those cases the says Cassutt. Now conductors reserve a bit of time at the beginning and end of online rehearsals to allow students to talk. Breakout rooms may be kept open so students can share things they are working on among themselves, or just see how their friends are dressed. At the NJYS, Cha-Pyo has In March 2020, just before the pandemic become accustomed to lockdowns, students from Richmond public hearing from students, elementary schools participated in the via text, about little isRichmond Symphony Orchestra’s workshop sues or with apologies with electronic violinist Tracy Silverman. for not being focused in rehearsal because of disstudents are only interacting with the orLouis Scaglione, director/conductor of the Philadelphia Youth tractions in their home chestra musicians who are teaching their Orchestra and president of PYO Music Institute, leads a environment. “We are instrument. It’s usually very focused on the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra rehearsal, with musicians widely frontline workers, let’s repertoire they are preparing for perforspread out for social distancing. Some musicians participate in person, while others join via Zoom. not forget that,” she mance. So they got this opportunity to see Bachrach Photography

major ways for the organization, which had been set to relaunch under the PYO Music Institute brand. An official unveiling had been set to take place at its March 2020 gala. Posters with the new logo were printed; gift bags were readied. Gala activities had to be delayed to a scheduled 80thanniversary concert in May 2020. When that, too, was cancelled, Plan C became a virtual gala in mid-June. But that was also cancelled in the wake of the racial-justice protests gripping Philadelphia and the nation. A festive event, even virtual, seemed inappropriate. Instead, Scaglione, who had been preparing students for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, used rehearsal time to reflect on the “Ode to Joy” text before turning the virtual discussion over to special guests from Philadelphia’s Black community. “Students were able to connect with a segment of our community that was profoundly impacted and hear directly from them,” he says. “It became a beautiful moment of reflection in

says. “We are frontline workers for the mental health of our students.”




“Any community music school seeks to serve as many people as it can,” says Walter Bitner, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra’s director of education and community engagement. Bitner fully expects that some aspects of virtual learning will be part of the new normal.

A violinist in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, which has been providing instruction virtually since last spring, when classes and rehearsals went online.

Amy Pintea

musicians in a different context,” Walter Bitner, the Richmond Symphony’s director of education and community engagement, says of the digital sessions that venture beyond the music itself. Richmond Youth Symphony Orchestra students also participated in a pilot program for a new community music school last summer. Bitner had been exploring the idea of creating a program that could fill the gaps he saw in a city without many options for music instruction outside of the schools. The concept was always for a brick-and-mortar facility, but when youth Richmond Symphony Orchestra Principal orchestra classes and rehearsals went virPercussion Cliff Hardison leads a virtual tual last spring, Bitner saw how the musectional rehearsal with Richmond Symphony sic school could be reformulated. The Youth Orchestra percussionists in fall 2020. Richmond Symphony School of Music ­(RSSoM) launched in October with both youth and adult classes, after a three-week Plans for eventual classes in an actual summer pilot program to smooth out techmusic school building in Richmond have nical issues and ready a dedicated website. not been abandoned. But Bitner, like his Response to RSSoM was so positive youth orchestra colleagues, fully expects that the winter session grew from 17 to 25 classes, ranging from subjects geared to student musicians, such as improvisation and music theory, to broader offerings that could be offered to adults in the community, such as a class on the contributions of Black composers. “Any community music school seeks to serve as many people Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra musicians rehearse, in a photo as it can,” says Bitner. taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We hope that offering a variety of classes and topics would that some aspects of virtual learning will be initiate interest from people who might part of the new normal. The value of supnot necessarily be drawn to something plemental video instruction or rehearsals is the symphony does.” The orchestra reports being realized: a survey by the New Jersey that strong evidence has already emerged, Youth Symphony indicated that 97 percent as RSSoM enrollees have come from of parents said they would sign their chilacross the country and Europe. dren up for online classes in the future.

“People are really focusing on the silver lining of what technology has brought us,” says San Diego’s Remson. He points to the library of videos that teaching artists have banked during the shutdown for their early-childhood education program. Best intentions had been to do so all along, but like so much in the realm of technology, there was just never enough time or resources. “Well, now we have the time,” says Remson. “Let’s put it to use and be ready. What have we learned that will let us do more for our kids?” At the PYO Music Institute, Scaglione notes that upgrades to its rehearsal spaces will allow future students to log on for remote master classes or auditions; the online sectional rehearsals and score discussions being archived will be a ready source for closer study. Which is all in keeping with the organization’s new identity. “Was it part of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra? Not at all,” says Scaglione, but goals have changed. New tools and technologies have been unboxed, and even when the PYO and other youth orchestras return to a normal pace of rehearsals and performances, he says, don’t expect them to be packed back up and stashed in the proverbial attic, never to be seen again. REBECCA WINZENRIED is a New Yorkbased arts writer and a former editor in chief of Symphony.


Alan Poizner

At the opening plenary session of the League of American Orchestras’ 2019 National Conference in Nashville, young musicians in the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando Program performed alongside their teachers and Nashville Symphony players using Newzik technology.

Page Views Digital technology has come to pervade all walks of life, from academia to banking, and COVID-19 has only stepped up the pace. But sheet music—the familiar paper score—has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Are orchestras ready to make the jump to e-scores?

by Rebecca Schmid



erforming from digital sheet music is no rarity in today’s world, at least for some soloists and chamber musicians. But orchestras are another matter: Coordinating within sections of musicians and across the whole ensemble is a complex process that has traditionally been powered by human dialogue, pencil, and paper. At the same time, the potential advantages to e-scores are numerous, so institutions are grappling with how to make the transition in a non-disruptive

manner for musicians, librarians, and administrators alike. As more orchestras have embraced tech due to the pandemic with streaming concerts, enhanced digital presences, and contactless ticketing, e-scores may be on the rise. Publishers are picking up the pace. Universal Edition in 2019 unrolled UE NOW, making 1,000 items from its catalogue available for rental within Newzik’s app. Boosey & Hawkes more recently upped the ante in a digital partnership called symphony


dimusco; the platform already has some 40,000 titles available across iOS, Android, and Windows, with plans to include a range of publishers and eventually develop its own hardware. Many musicians, meanwhile, have the forScore app downloaded on their personal tablets, raising the question of which solution—in the unpredictable world of start-ups—will ultimately gain the most traction. Hardware and software providers are slowly making inroads. European start-ups such as Scora and Blackbinder offer automatic scrolling functions that are meant to spare musicians the distraction of having to turn pages at all. The Japanese company Gvido offers glare-free screens through ink-based technology. The one player to have made significant impact in recent times is the Paris-based Newzik, which— rather than develop its own hardware— provides a custom-designed app, tutorials, and rental of iPad Pros, Apple pencils, and Bluetooth pedals. Highly visible institutions such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera have adopted their services, within a limited realm of activities. Inexorable as the evolution toward digital may be, it will take place gradually. A survey of the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Austria, which enlisted Newzik for two test concerts, revealed that the orchestra musicians were split down the middle about the app’s readiness to support the implementation of e-scores. While many players actually prefer to practice from tablets given the practicality of having hundreds of titles uploaded onto a single portable device, most are still not comfortable using the technology onstage given fears about technical glitches or crashes. The logistics and budget necessary to introduce a uniform system also pose huge challenges to librarians and administrators. The low-brass players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra already perform from their own tablets, and at the 2019 Tanglewood Festival, the annual Boston University Tanglewood Institute training program for young professional musicians used Newzik’s services in a concert for sextet. BSO Librarian Mark Fabulich says that the possibility of having bowings entered across a section with a single click is intriguing for “someone who spends hours a day marking changes, with eraser

ings all over my office.” But he also doesn’t imagine the switch will happen overnight. “Do I see it as inevitable? Yes. What is the time frame? I don’t know. It won’t be five years. This transition that we’re seeing within the Boston Symphony will be player by player, until it becomes so prevalent that more and more people get comfortable. The technology also has to get more affordable.”

Inexorable as the evolution toward digital may be, it will take place gradually. At least as significant as financial considerations are the preferences of musicians. New York Philharmonic Associate Principal Trombone Colin Williams does not consider an automated system for entering markings practical because of individual approaches: “When you’re in the middle of a performance, you’ve got a million things going on. Everyone is trying to concentrate on their own stylized shorthand.” Having observed the extent to which his students prefer tablets to paper, however, he says that the next generation may bring a “critical mass of people who are more comfortable in the digital medi-

um. But an orchestra is like a huge ship; it doesn’t turn on a dime. So it will take a little while for these ideas to percolate.” Williams believes that smaller orchestras without exten- Kimberly Kraft McLemore, the sive library space Nashville Symphony’s and personnel could vice president benefit from going of education digital. As more and community and more people engagement, says that using e-scores own tablets, he also “falls in line with the wonders whether it future of classical would be possible music changing.” to integrate these personal devices “so that it won’t be an institutional purchase.” But a mix of paper and digital only creates more work for librarians, who have to oversee both handwritten and computerized markings. And an automated system such as Newzik potentially redefines the role altogether. Lawrence Tarlow, the New York Philharmonic’s principal librarian since 1987, calls digital sheet music “a solution in search of a problem,” asking, “Who will manage these systems? The

Angel Reverol, a flute student in the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando program for young musicians, shows his instructor, Leslie Fagan, assistant principal flute with the Nashville Symphony, how to use a tablet with a digital score during a rehearsal.


Test Runs

One orchestra administrator was motivated to introduce e-scores when a storm blew the paper scores off half the players’ stands during an open-air concert. work.” But she acknowledges that technology presents potentially “limitless options. I think if there were a way for our edited materials to be sent back to the publisher and reviewed and adopted, that could be helpful.” At older orchestras like the New York Philharmonic, which performed its first

concert in 1842, a library’s collection of parts carries the imprint of institutional memory. Tarlow recounts that during a performance of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy un- After the New World Symphony der Valery Gergiev tested e-scores in not long ago, the a chamber concert, initials H.G.—for Alison Verderber, the Harry Glantz, the orchestra academy’s orchestra’s principal Library Fellow in 2018-20, called trumpet during the the experience interwar period and “very positive” but a major soloist of his cautioned that “a lot generation—were of musicians aren’t spotted in the left- ready to make the change.” hand corner of the trumpet part. That’s a bit of musical history, passed down from hand to hand. Colin Williams says that during rehearsals for Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, an enigmatic double slash in the “Infernal Dance” turned out to indicate

Martin Dimov

After the New World Symphony tested Newzik in a chamber concert of eighteen players a couple of years ago, a survey revealed that 60 percent of the musicians involved believed the librarian should be responsible for monitoring the iPads and pedals. Alison Verderber, the Library Fellow at the Miami Beach-based orchestra academy from 2018 to 2020, called the experience “very positive” since the musicians—most of whom are in their midtwenties—are generally tech-savvy. The organization planned to purchase eighteen iPads and continue its collaboration with Newzik, but Verderber cautions that “a lot of musicians aren’t ready to make the change. I personally love paper materials, so would be very sad to see them go. But my responsibility as a librarian is to be as familiar with the technology as possible and be prepared for when musicians do decide that they want to switch.”

While the prospect of receiving a clean digital score with one click may seem appealing in principle, Verderber points out that previous markings and edits—including the correction of misprinted notes— can get lost in the non-paper transaction: “When you have a rental set circulating, we all get to benefit from each other’s

A musician in Austria’s Tonkünstler Orchestra makes notes in Newzik’s e-score during tests of the app.




New World Symphony

players themselves? Of course not. It’ll be a new skill to learn.”

Chris Lee

New York Philharmonic Principal Librarian Lawrence Tarlow (left) and composer Peter Eötvös review the score for world premiere of Eötvös’ new oneact opera in Cologne, Germany, April 2015, to ensure that the musicians’ printed music reflects the composer’s vision.

forge a partnership with a major orchesour staff members and all people working tra. Newzik has developed a 42-inch prowith scores a convenient tool.” totype using the Microsoft tablet Surface He reports that the stage managers of Pro, which was tested by the conductor the State Opera have reaped enormous Laurent Petitgirard with the Orchestre benefits from combining the audio, video, Colonne in France in late 2019. Chrisand text functions of Newzik’s app into topher Widauer, chief business developa multi-layered rehearsal book through ment officer with Newzik and former head of digital development at the Vienna State Opera, states that some conductors arrive with pocket scores or know the work by heart. He recalls that Christian Thielemann chose to conduct from Richard Strauss’s premiere score of his opera Die Frau ohne Schatten. “We will always have a mixture” of different formats, says Widauer. “And The Tonkünstler Orchestra in Austria used Newzik e-scores for two why shouldn’t we? This is test concerts. The orchestra’s musicians were evenly split about not a religion. It’s giving the app’s readiness to support the implementation of e-scores. Tonkünstler Orchestra

a very fast glissando rather than the trill most trombonists assume the composer desired. One current barrier to making the transition to tablets is screen size. Aurélia Azoulay-Guetta, Newzik’s co-founder and CEO, says that some symphony orchestra players are reluctant to switch because they are accustomed to playing on double B4 and other formats. Over 50 percent of musicians in the Tonkünstler survey said they would be more willing to play from tablets with larger screens. But the costs of renting or purchasing custom-designed tablets—which, unlike iPads, can only be used for one purpose—are prohibitive. Scora, which offers 17-inch tablets, has mostly soloists as customers, according to founder Jan Rosseel, with a large part of its business coming from the sale of magnetic tablet stands, although other product lines are growing. The development of a viable conductor’s score can be problematic. Scora sells 27-inch “Maestro” tablets but has yet to


String players, in particular, are drawn to the e-score technology due to the ease of turning pages by pedal.

New Frontiers

Kimberly Kraft McLemore, the Nashville Symphony’s vice president of education and community engagement, says that using e-scores “falls in line with the future of classical music changing.” At the opening plenary session of the League of American Orchestras’ 2019 National Conference,

sixteen young musicians of its Accelerando Program, an education initiative for student musicians of diverse ethnic backgrounds, performed Chris Farrell’s “Acceleran- New York Philharmonic do Overture” alongAssociate Principal side their teachers Trombone Colin and additional or- Williams does chestra players using not consider an Newzik tech (New- automated system for entering markings zik covered the practical because rental and program of individual fees). McLemore approaches, but recalls that, in a says that the next slight role reversal, generation may bring a “critical mass of the “students ended people who are more up training our mu- comfortable in the sicians on how to digital medium.” use the technology. The Accelerando Program is about changing the face of American orchestras. What better way to go alongside that than to say that we’re also going to change the technology?”

The Knights

cially if you don’t own them.” Tarlow raises practical concerns, saying that if an orchestra were on tour and had to play in two different cities on consecutive nights, “when do the batteries get recharged?” The Tonkünstler Orchestra developed, for its test concerts with Newzik, a charging station where 40 iPads, all of them numbered, remained onsite. The orchestra’s head of administration, Samo Lampichler, was motivated to introduce a digital system when, during an open-air summer gala a few years ago, a storm blew the

music off half the players’ stands. He says that in-person support proved crucial in the process of the move to digital scores: “The biggest challenge was to invest the time and speak with each individual musician in advance.” Lampichler purchased 35 iPad Pros, receiving an approximately 30 percent discount through Apple Business. He considers it an advantage to stay at the forefront of digital developments “because if this technology were to be widely implemented in fifteen years, then we are at the steering wheel and can participate in decisions about which direction things go.” He also believes that, once the musicians are playing from iPads, an orchestra is in a better position to innovate for education projects and introduce features such as augmented reality glasses.

For a March 2021 recording session by The Knights at the Power Station in Manhattan, Eric Jacobsen (in white shirt) and a string quartet of Knights players (all masked and socially distanced) used iPads. The score was Anna Clyne’s between the rooms, for a collaboration with the Los Angeles Opera and soprano Joélle Harvey.




Chris Lee

which they can connect in real time. But coordinating within an orchestra involves a host of unforeseen factors. Verderber recalls the challenge of clearing thirteen iPads and pedals between works during the New World Symphony’s test concert, given the tablets’ weight: “You want to be as careful as possible with pieces of technology, espe-

The Knights

Greater Bridgeport Symphony, says that string players, in particular, are drawn to the technology due to the ease of turning pages by pedal. For a Knights recording of Beethoven and Brahms concertos with violinist Gil Shaham, Jacobsen worked off a mix of paper and forScore, which he considers very efficient for creating parts and sharing annotations. But he says that any time saved by technology must be used to dig deeper into the music, ideally with all musicians in the same room. “The orchestra is an imperfect organism, and there is something very beautiful and necessary about the interaction of humans during a sectional or conversation,” Jacobsen says. “It can’t be a check-out line with fewer people and more machines.”

Logistical challenges remain. McLemore recalls that in Nashville, Newzik’s personnel were mostly busy keeping the iPad stands from falling over. Lampichler admits that players complained of headaches and sore eyes after reading from tablets, “which is easy to explain since rehearsal spaces are lit for paper music.” Maria Stieger, who plays first violin with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, says that daylight alleviates the problem but recalls the “rather harsh yellow light” of the rehearsal space in the basement of the Musikverein in Vienna as “wearing in the long term.” For string players who share a stand, one challenge is to find a level of brightness that works for both people. New York Philharmonic musician Colin Williams points out that in performance formats such as live accompaniment of film, a “glow coming off the orchestra” would be a distraction, while John Kieser, the New World Symphony’s executive producer of media, says that iPads are actually a help when shooting video because there is no need for stand lights, making the job easier for cameras. In a world that is increasingly dependent on digital technology, e-scores are the next frontier. With Newzik, users can import a YouTube link or insert a video remark

from a living composer. Cloud storage makes it possible to access material from any device. The COVID-19 pandemic has only expedited the demand for programs that allow institutions to Boston Symphony function without its Orchestra Librarian Mark Fabulich says members sharing a he’s intrigued by the common physical possibility of having space, and there is string bowings no doubt that on- entered across a line libraries, per- section with a single click via e-scores, formance via group but that the transition video, and distance- from paper to digital learning platforms will happen musician will remain part of by musician. our everyday realities. At The Knights, the Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra collective founded in 2000, 30 to 40 percent of players are on tablets, according to Eric Jacobsen, who is the group’s conductor, co-artistic director with his brother Colin Jacobsen, and one of its cellists. Eric Jacobsen, who is also music director of Florida’s Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Connecticut’s

Marco Borggreve

At a family concert by The Knights at the BRIC arts center in Brooklyn, horn player Michael P. Atkinson, center, uses his iPad while the other musicians use printed scores.

REBECCA SCHMID has written about classical music for the Financial Times, New York Times, Das Orchester, Berliner Morgenpost, Gramophone, Opernwelt, and other publications. The interface of classical music and digital technology has been a focus of her work since she covered the first iPhone app to transmit a master class live for BBC Music Magazine in 2010. Her book, Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein: A Study of Influence, will be published by Academica Press this year.



Azrieli Foundation................................ 25 Dan Kamin Comedy Concertos.............. 9 League of American Orchestras............27, C3, C4 Menuhin Competition.......................... 19 Vancouver Symphony........................... C2 Yamaha Corporation of America............ 3 Young Concert Artists........................... 17


LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS With the support of our valued donors, the League continues to have a positive impact on the future of orchestras in America by helping to develop the next generation of leaders, generating and disseminating critical knowledge and information, and advocating for the unique role of the orchestral experience in American life before an ever-widening group of stakeholders. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following donors who contributed gifts of $600 and above in the last year, as of April 1, 2021. For more information regarding a gift to the League, please visit us at, call 212.262.5161, or write us at Annual Fund, League of American Orchestras, 520 8th Avenue, Suite 2005, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10018. $150,000 and above

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Playing our Part is a campaign to support a major $2 million infrastructure investment in our service to America’s orchestras, including a new headquarters, modern website, increased digital learning capacity, and an improved information technology ecosystem. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following donors who have made commitments to support this work: Burton Alter Tiffany & Jim Ammerman † Alberta Arthurs Brian & Emily Wren Baxter Marie-Hélène Bernard • Trish & Rick Bryan ✧ Michelle Miller Burns Janet Cabot Chuck Cagle † Lorenzo Candelaria The CHG Charitable Trust, as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno ✧ Heather Clarke Melanie Clarke Bruce & Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund ✧ Bruce Colquhoun Margarita Contreni † Peter & Julie Cummings ✧ Gloria dePasquale The Doerr Foundation Marisa & Allan Eisemann Baisley Powell Elebash Fund Dr. D.M. Edwards, in honor of the Volunteer Council and Jesse Rosen Daniel & David Els-Piercey Phillip Wm. Fisher Support Foundation David J.L. Fisk Drs. Aaron & Christina Stanescu Flagg Ray Fowler Vanessa Gardner, in honor of Group 5-6 members GE Foundation Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation Marian A. Godfrey Mary Louise Gorno The Hagerman Family Charitable Fund, Douglas & Jane Hagerman Daniel & Barbara Hart • Jim Hasler Patricia G. Howard H.T. and Laura Hyde Charitable Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation † Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles James M. Johnson The Julian Family Foundation, Lori Julian Mark Jung Charitable Gift Fund Cindy & Randy Kidwell Bob & Charlotte Lewis Drs. Helen S. & John P. Schaefer † Helen P. Shaffer Connie Steensma & Rick Prins ✧

Dr. Hugh W. Long Kjristine Lund William M. Lyons John & Regina Mangum Alan Mason Steve & Lou Mason, in honor of Jesse Rosen † Barbara McCelvey Debbie McKinney † Anthony McGill David Alan Miller Mr. & Mrs. Alfred P. Moore Peter & Catherine Moye Kim Noltemy Lowell & Sonja Noteboom Steve and Diane Parrish Foundation Mary Carr Patton Karen & Tom Philion Raymond & Tresa Radermacher Patricia A. Richards & William K. Nichols Susan L. Robinson Jesse Rosen † Barbara & Robert Rosoff ✧ Linda & David Roth Sakana Foundation Sargent Family Foundation, Cynthia Sargent ✧ Michael J. Schmitz Andrew Sewell Helen P. Shaffer Laurie & Nathan Skjerseth Richard K. Smucker Irene Sohm Ms. Trine Sorensen & Mr. Michael Jacobson Ruth Sovronsky Connie Steensma & Rick Prins ✧ Laura Street Linda S. Stevens Isaac Thompson & Tonya Vachirasomboon Samara Ungar Alan D. Valentine Penny & John Van Horn Robert Wagner Kelly Waltrip Terry Ann White David Whitehill † Sheila J. Williams Lindsey Wood Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation Geraldine B. Warner Anonymous (1)




Burton Alter Alberta Arthurs Benevity NancyBell Coe Gloria dePasquale Marisa Eisemann Barbara Hostetter The Hyde and Watson Foundation Jerome Foundation Robert Kohl & Clark Pellett Kjristine Lund Marin Community Foundation Steve & Lou Mason, in honor of Jesse Rosen ✧ Anthony McGill Howard D. Palefsky The Brian Ratner Foundation Michael J. Schmitz Norm Slonaker Irene Sohm Alan D. Valentine Sally Webster, in memory of Nick Webster Simon Woods & Karin Brookes


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Jeff & Keiko Alexander Gene & Mary Arner Mrs. Dawn Bennett Beracha Family Charitable Gift Fund William P. Blair III ✧ Elaine A. Bridges Susan K. Bright Karen & Terry Brown Monica Buffington

Janet Cabot Chuck Cagle † Janet & John Canning † Leslie & Dale Chihuly Darlene Clark Bruce Colquhoun The Dirk Family The Doerr Foundation + Feder Gordon Family Fund, in Memory of Albert K. Webster Courtney & David Filner • Henry & Frances Fogel ✧ John Forsyte • James M. Franklin † GE Foundation William & Nancy Gettys Edward Benton Gill, in honor of Jesse Rosen † William & Martha Gilmer Joseph B. Glossberg Gordon Family Donor Advised Philanthropic Fund Paul Grangaard Nancy Greenbach Andre Gremillet Suzanne Gronemeyer Daniel & Barbara Hart • Jamei Haswell Patricia G. Howard H.T. and Laura Hyde Charitable Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation † Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angles Paul R. Judy The Junek Family Fund Emma (Murley) Kail • Peter Kjome The Hess and Helyn Kline Foundation Joseph Kluger and Susan Lewis Fund Donald Krause & JoAnne Krause † Bob & Charlotte Lewis Mr. John & Dr. Gail Looney Sandi M.A. Macdonald & Henry J. Grzes Yvonne Marcuse Jonathan Martin McCollum Family Charitable Fund Debbie McKinney † Anne W. Miller † Steven Monder † Bob & Kathy Olsen Barbara S. Robinson Barry & Susan Rosen Barbara & Robert Rosoff ✧ Mr. Donald F. Roth † Dr. Lee Shackelford Pratichi Shah Robert N. Shapiro Cece Smith Daniel Song Linda S. Stevens David Strickland Isaac Thompson & Tonya Vachirasomboon Marylou & John D.* Turner Gus M. Vratsinas Robert Wagner David Whitehill † Donna M. Williams Sheila J. Williams The Sam and Sonia Wilson Family Foundation Paul Winberg & Bruce Czuchna Edward Yim


Janet Lempke Barb


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. Janet F. and Dr. Richard E. Barb Family Foundation Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee † John & Janet Canning † Richard * & Kay Fredericks Cisek ✧ Martha and Herman Copen Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Myra Janco Daniels Samuel C. Dixon • Henry & Frances Fogel ✧ Susan Harris, Ph.D. Louise W. Kahn Endowment Fund of The Dallas Foundation The Curtis and Pamela Livingston 2000 Charitable Remainder Unitrust Steve & Lou Mason † Lowell & Sonja Noteboom Charles & Barbara Olton † Peter Pastreich † Walter P. Pettipas Revocable Trust Rodger E. Pitcairn Patricia A. Richards & William K. Nichols Robert & Barbara Rosoff ✧ Robert J. Wagner Tina Ward • † Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. * & Sally Webster ✧ Robert Wood Revocable Trust Anonymous (1) David Bornemann, Vice Chair, Phoenix Symphony Drs. Misook Yun & James Boyd • Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee † Don & Judy Christl † Jack M. Firestone David J.L. Fisk Eric Galatz and Lisa Tiegel Vanessa Gardner, in honor of Group 5-6 members Bob Garthwait, Jr. Marena Gault, Volunteer Council B. Sue Howard Sally & William Johnson Russell Jones & Aaron Gillies Adrienne H. Knudsen Anna Kuwabara • Robert Levine † David Loebel Ginny Lundquist Patrick McCown Diana Scoggins, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Portland David Snead Joan Squires • Edith & Tom Van Huss Charlie Wade † Directors Council (former League Board) ✧ Emeritus Board • Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni + Includes Corporate Matching Gift * Deceased


Vital Signs Many doctors and healthcare workers perform with vocational orchestras, but during the pandemic these caregivers found themselves at the center of a global health crisis— without a musical outlet to forge connections and relieve grief. Here, John Masko, co-founder and music director of the National Virtual Medical Orchestra, explains how an ensemble of healthcare professionals from around the country rehearses and performs together—at a distance.


Hunter Starnes

he first time I stepped onto the podium in front of the Yale Medical Symphony Orchestra as a college student, I felt a special energy in the air: the energy of musicians playing not as a hobby or out of professional obligation, but because they needed music. In careers that demanded perfection and emotional stability, these The National Virtual Medical Orchestra performs in Carnegie musicians needed the orchestra Hall’s December 2020 “Live With Carnegie Hall: Music as to exercise a different part of Medicine” concert. their brains, to connect with each other, to express themselves, to heal. medical caregivers desperate to return to Over the decade since, I’ve held onto the a musical ensemble, I contacted Richard feeling of that rehearsal. After graduating Logothetis, an expert Boston orchestra with my master’s in conducting in 2018, administrator and friend. We generated a my first conducting project was to help plan to recruit a National Virtual Medical start the Providence Medical Orchestra— Orchestra for monthly online performancan ensemble of doctors, nurses, paramedes, and in May we had our first roster. We ics, techs, and medical students in my managed the artistic process meticulously, hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. marking parts and iterating back and forth In March of 2020, that group, like all of with musicians. In June, our first perforthe 30 or so medical orchestras across mance—of the achingly hopeful slow America, was suddenly silenced. For medimovement of Beethoven’s Fourth—hit cal musicians, the timing could not have Facebook and YouTube. been worse. While they faced the greatest Over the ensuing months, we dialed up stresses of their careers—witnessing mass the difficulty: Brahms’s Academic Festival death and suffering daily—the vital musiOverture, Márquez’s Danzón No. 2, the fical outlet they relied on was gone. nale of the Symphonie Fantastique. As the Inundated with correspondence from group grew to 80 players in 30 states, we


Valentina Sadiul Photography


were able to share the musical talents of our medical communities Conductor with a national audiJohn Masko ence. We shared the stories of remarkable musicians like Tracey Welborn—a tenor who left professional opera in his 40s to become a nurse at a VA Hospital. Tracey joined us for Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” and Ponchielli’s “Cielo e mar.” For me, the most rewarding thing about the NVMO has been the difference it has made in the lives of our players. As one of our clarinetists put it, “The NVMO came from out of nowhere and has enriched my life with new friendships, music making, and well-being. It has connected me to so many at this time of distancing.” I have been amazed at the number of people—musicians in the orchestra and audience members—who have told me that playing in or listening to an NVMO performance was one of the most meaningful musical experiences of their lives. There’s a line in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Christmas Present says that the water he sprinkles on Christmas meals carries its greatest blessing when the meal is given to a poor family, because they need it most. I believe music works similarly. Of course, we’d all prefer to be performing together in person. But at a time when the medical profession was facing its darkest days in memory and its greatest need, music was there for them. That I could help fill that need has been the greatest gift of my conducting career. JOHN MASKO is the founding music director of the Providence Medical Orchestra and the National Virtual Medical Orchestra and associate conductor at the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra. As an assistant and cover conductor, he has worked with the San Francisco Symphony, Boston Ballet, and Symphony New Hampshire, among other ensembles.



symphony “To have a new generation of artistic minds interact with a live orchestra and discover what the music has the capability of conjuring in them, is the way to guarantee relevancy.” “Let’s renew our appreciation for the sense of occasion, separateness, and drama that clings to an orchestral WINTER 2021 n $6.95 performance in a purpose-built concert hall. Those aren’t things we can ever take for granted.” “Professional and youth orchestras alike have an opportunity to heal society using the profound beauty of our art form.” “From loss can come new beginnings.” “Transformational change must happen on all levels and will involve taking bold steps.” “Online viewing can break down barriers of cost, transportation, and fear of the unknown.” “Orchestras in America have the potential to represent more voices that are diverse, multi-cultural, and transcend the symphonic and classical tradition.” THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OFofAMERICAN ORCHESTRAS “I see the future of grand orchestras, where massive groups musicians play and sing together shoulder to shoulder, face to face, to reflect the unwavering power of humanity.” “Nothing can replace the live experience of the concert hall, opera house, or any shared space of art and music.” “Virtual performances will become an inseparable part of orchestral activities.” “Orchestras need to proactively champion the creative voices of today and work to encourage the younger generation of artists.” “We hope to create a deeper appreciation of Native American culture—past, present, and future.” “The ‘next’ for orchestras is to be created.” “It is important that the orchestra field mirrors the world in which we live.” “Diversity and inclusion had been longstanding issues in classical music, and these two words need to be at the forefront of everything the orchestra does.” “Imagine your love for the orchestral field as your child.” “Industry-wide collaboration on systemic solutions that address issues of equity and access are imperative.” “Why is the classical orchestral world so dominated by the dead-white-European male tradition?” “Orchestral leadership needs to be more knowledgeable about living composers.” “I believe the love and appetite for orchestral music are eternal.” “The civil unrest recognizing the deep scars and trauma of the Black community—along with other BIPOC groups—force orchestras to accelerate their commitments to EDI.” “We cannot afford to forget the experiences of 2020. Let us look to 2021 as a stepping stone to a better future.” “There are no gap years in music.” “Orchestras should make it a goal that every child in their community, regardless of socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to a fine musical education.” “Orchestras must have The pandemic and thecultural nation’s the courage to examine how power is enshrined within their walls and engage in serious dialogue with civic leaders to become totally integrated in civic life.” “Orchestras must reassess why long-overdue reckoning with and what they are producing online.” “To have a new generation of artistic minds interact with a live racism have profoundly affected orchestra and discover what the music has the capability of conjuring in them, is the way to guarantee orchestras. How should we relevancy.” “Let’s renew our appreciation for the sense of occasion, separateness, and drama that move forward? clings to an orchestral performance in a purpose-built concert hall. Those aren’t things we can ever take for granted.” “Professional and youth orchestras alike have an opportunity to heal society using the profound beauty of our art form.” “From loss can come new beginnings.” “Transformational change must happen on all levels and will involve taking bold steps.” “Online viewing can break down barriers of cost, transportation, and fear of the unknown.” “Orchestras in America have the potential to represent more voices that are diverse, multi-cultural, and transcend the symphonic and classical tradition.” “I see the future of grand orchestras, where massive groups of musicians play and sing together shoulder to shoulder, face to face, to reflect the unwavering power of humanity.” “Nothing can replace the live experience of the concert hall, opera house, or any shared space of art and music.” “Virtual performances will become an inseparable part of orchestral activities.” “Orchestras need to proactively champion the creative voices of today and work to encourage the younger generation of artists.” “We hope to create a deeper appreciation of Native American culture—past, present, and future.” “The ‘next’ for orchestras is to be created.” “It is important that the orchestra field mirrors the world in which we live.” “Diversity and inclusion had been longstanding issues in classical music, and these two words need to be at the forefront of everything the orchestra does.” “Imagine your love for the orchestral field as your child.” “Industry-wide collaboration on systemic solutions that address issues of equity and access are imperative.” “Why is the classical orchestral world so dominated by the dead-white-European male tradition?” “Orchestral leadership needs to be more knowledgeable about Emerging Artists Community Studying living composers.” “I believe the love and appetitePartnerships for orchestral music are eternal.” “The civil unrest recognizing scars and trauma of the community—along with other BIPOC groups— Facethe thedeep Future to Black the Fore Safer Concerts force orchestras to accelerate their commitments to EDI.” “We cannot afford to forget the experiences of 2020. Let us look to 2021 as a stepping stone to a better future.” “There are no gap years in music.”

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