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iterally and figuratively, orchestras are opening their doors as seldom before. Sometimes that means taking the music to the streets. When Baltimore was wracked by violent protests following the death of Freddie Gray—the mayor declared a state of emergency—members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Marin Alsop gave an impromptu performance on the sidewalk in front of Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for hundreds of listeners. And it wasn’t just a one-off: a few weeks later, the orchestra partnered with youth orchestras and other local groups for a “Music for Peace” concert at a Baptist church in a neighborhood hit by the protests. In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, when news flashes across the planet in seconds, orchestras are finding ways to respond to events outside the concert hall rapidly and with imagination. Immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, U.S. orchestras from Washington, D.C., to Colorado Springs to Santa Cruz responded with music, heartfelt commentary, and—when appropriate—eloquent moments of silence. Through music, orchestras offer consolation and express solidarity with the community. Often their collective efforts are practical, as when orchestras hold benefit concerts for victims of natural disasters in their hometown or support relief efforts for political refugees. Orchestras are connecting with their communities in myriad ways, inviting new and underrepresented communities to experience the power of live orchestral music. Diversity. Inclusion. New music. All these and more are creating fascinating dialogues within theAd-2016_Layout overall embrace1of4/25/16 the enduring orchestral Akustiks Symphony 11:00 PM Page 1works that continue to speak to hearts and minds.
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symphony SU M M E R 2 0 1 6
THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
2 Prelude by Robert Sandla
6 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events
Grant Park Music Festival
22 Board Room How can orchestra boards become A+ boards? BoardSource’s Leading with Intent shares key findings and provides guidance.
Courtesy of Participant Media
18 Critical Questions Jesse Rosen speaks with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Bill Rauch about keeping the canon relevant.
Orchestras Responding to Crises When tragedy strikes, orchestras can harness the power of music to help communities heal. by Susan Elliott
“We Belong Here” Examining the phenomenon of hip-hop at the symphony. by Winston Cook-Wilson
Engagement Fever An explosion of educational activities in Germany is changing the country’s orchestral landscape. by Rebecca Schmid
Commission, She Wrote Julia Adolphe and Melody Eötvös share their experiences as the first two composers in a groundbreaking new program for female composers.
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
In Concert with City Hall The importance of keeping orchestras in the sights of hometown political figures. by Steven Brown
52 about the cover
68 Advertiser Index 70 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund 72 Coda Two years ago, violist Marlea Simpson won a Project Inclusion fellowship from the Chicago Sinfonietta. Then she was hired as the ensemble’s principal viola—while still a conservatory student.
Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline l at symphony.org.
Clockwise from top: Kendrick Lamar with the National Symphony Orchestra, October 2015. Photo by Yassine el Mansouri. Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s free “Peace Concert” in front of Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, April 2015, performed in the wake of upheaval after Freddie Gray’s death. Photo by Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun. Charleston Symphony Orchestra Music Director Ken Lam in front of the Charleston Gaillard Center, the orchestra’s newly renovated concert venue. Photo courtesy Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Sixteenyear-old Lowell Hoyt conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra, as Yannick Nézet-Séguin looks on, at a PopUP concert in April. Photo by Jessica Griffin. Julia Adolphe, one of two inaugural participants in the League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers Readings and Commissions Program, seen here with mentor composer Steven Mackey.
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SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE
There was plenty of buzz before, during, and after the Philadelphia Orchestra’s free popup concert at the Kimmel Center on April 7. In the lobby before the concert, members of the public had the chance to lead the orchestra’s string sections, with Lowell Hoyt (in photo at right) selected to conduct the full orchestra onstage. The orchestra also announced HEAR, a new set of communityfocused initiatives in Health, Education, Access, and Research. Health: The orchestra is partnering with Broad Street Ministry and Temple University to pair orchestra musicians with music therapists and clients at Broad Street Ministry. Education: A partnership with Eastman Music Company will help provide instruments to aspiring musicians, and the orchestra is expanding its work with the School District of Philadelphia and During the Philadelphia Orchestra’s PopUP concert on April 7, sixteen-year-old Lowell Hoyt the All-City Orchestra. Access: The orchestra conducts “The Toreadors” from Bizet’s Carmen, as Yannick Nézet-Séguin (right) looks on. will strengthen existing programs and add new ones, to include PlayINs, Sound All Around, school and family concerts, and TeenTix. Research: The orchestra will study the Broad Street Ministry pilot program’s impact, in partnership with Temple University. President Allison Vulgamore said, “HEAR will expand the orchestra’s reach on and off the stage, and utilize our talents and resources in support of the social compact we share with all Philadelphians.”
Courtesy University of Memphis
Memphis Symphony Heads to School
On May 5, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced a partnership that will move its base of operations to the University of Memphis, while still maintaining a presence at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, its current performance venue. The orchestra is rebranded as the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in Residence at the University of Memphis, and its headquarters will move this fall to Newport Hall on the U of M campus. Memphis Symphony musicians will complement faculty at the U of M School of Music, with guest conductors and Left to right at announcement of new partnership: Memphis Symphony soloists offering master classes for U of M students. Another interim CEO Jennifer Bradner; Brett Egan, president of DeVos Institute of Arts Management; Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell; M. David Rudd, component of the collaboration—the Institute for the Arts, Sopresident of the University of Memphis; John Chiego, director of the cial Enterprise and Entrepreneurism—will involve the orchestra University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music; and (speaking) and university working with community partners to make arts Memphis Symphony Board President Gayle S. Rose and culture a catalyst for social change. From a financial standpoint, Board President Gayle S. Rose called the partnership “a game-changer for the MSO,” following several difficult post-recession years that entailed musician and staff cutbacks. U of M President M. David Rudd predicted the collaboration will “become a model for future relationships between professional symphonies and universities.” Robert Moody will lead his inaugural concert as principal conductor on October 1 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra Expands Community Focus
Silk Road Screenings
East Texas Milestone
The East Texas Symphony Orchestra was recognized for its contributions to the community at a ceremony in downtown Tyler on March 16, when it received a stone plaque at the city’s Half Mile of History, exactly 80 years after the orchestra’s first concert on March 16, 1936. The Half Mile of History is a permanent, outdoor, half-mile loop in downtown Tyler featuring plaques commemorating significant people, places, or events in Tyler and Smith counties. Originally known as the Tyler Symphony Orchestra, today the orchestra, led by Music Director Richard Lee, performs at the University of Texas at Tyler as well as the smaller Liberty Hall.
The Atlantic Classical Orchestra, on Florida’s east coast, has announced the appointment of DAVID AMADO as music director, effective July 1, 2016. has been appointed music director of the Jackson (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra effective in the 2017-18 season, when STEPHEN OSMOND steps down after 40 years. MATTHEW AUBIN
has concluded her tenure as music director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. MEI-ANN CHEN
The Charlotte (N.C.) Symphony Orchestra has named MARY DEISSLER president and CEO. will assume the principal conductor post at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Symphony and Chorale in the 2016-17 season. GUILLERMO FIGUEROA
Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society of the University of Michigan has Figueroa announced that KENNETH C. FISCHER will retire June 30, 2017, following a 30-year tenure. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has promoted NICHOLAS HERSH to associate conductor. THOMAS HONG steps down as music director of the Mansfield (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra on June 25, 2016.
How can music change the world? Yo-Yo Ma’s now sixteen-year-old musical collective, the Silk Road Ensemble, aims to find out. In a Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, founder of the Silk Road Ensemble new documentary, The Music of Strangers, Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) looks back at Silk Road’s efforts to cross-pollinate culture and tradition through music. The film features Yo-Yo Ma, Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, Iranian kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle) virtuoso Keyhan Kalhor, and Chinese pipa player Wu Man. The Music of Strangers had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015 and began screening at U.S. theaters in June, with showings on HBO later in 2016.
Courtesy of Participant Media
Idaho’s Sun Valley Summer Symphony has appointed JENNY KRUEGER executive director.
has been named music director of the Grand Junction (Colo.) Symphony Orchestra, effective with the 2016-17 season. CHARLES LATSHAW
The Los Angeles Philharmonic has announced that SUSANNA MÄLKKI will become principal guest conductor in the 2017-18 season.
Arts Consulting Group has appointed PETER MRAZ associate vice president in the firm’s Chicago office.
In Utah, “75 and Counting” To celebrate its 75th anniversary during the 2015-16 season, the Utah Symphony elected to go local: 75 special events and performances throughout the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Among the “75 and Counting” events were appearances in hospitals and care centers, a Beat Beethoven 5K run, cooking classes, a ski day with Music Director Thierry Fischer at Deer Valley Resort, and a performance of the national anthem at a Utah Jazz basketball game. Masterworks Series performances featured collaborations with Utah Opera, Ballet West, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Madeleine Choir School. In early April, the orchestra released Dawn to Dust, a recording featuring live performances of commissioned works by Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly, and Andrew Norman. The celebrations weren’t only local: in April, the orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time in more than 40 years. Utah Symphony musicians perform at a Utah Jazz basketball game, among the orchestra’s 75 special anniversary events throughout Salt Lake City in 2015-16.
has been appointed music director of Ontario’s Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. GEMMA NEW
has concluded his tenure as music director of the Binghamton (N.Y.) Philharmonic. JOSE-LUIS NOVO
The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. has named RACHELLE ROE public relations director for its classical-music affiliates, including the National Symphony Orchestra. PATRICIA O’KELLY has stepped down as the NSO’s managing director of media relations following a 40-year tenure.
has stepped down as artistic director and principal conductor of the St. Cloud (Minn.) Symphony Orchestra. CLINTON SMITH
The Florida Orchestra has appointed GRACE SIPUSIC chief development officer.
has been named director of advancement at the Maryland Symphony Orchestra (Hagerstown, Md.). EMILY C. SOCKS
The Louisville Youth Orchestra has appointed DEANNA THAM music director, effective July 1, 2016. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Principal Oboe ALLAN VOGEL has retired from the orchestra; he had held the principal post since 1974.
has stepped down as music director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra (Springfield and Bloomington, Ill.). ALASTAIR WILLIS
Who says orchestras have no sense of humor? On April 1, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra announced that its musicians were ditching tuxes and gowns in favor of bib overalls by the Detroit-based Carhartt firm (left). Other April Fool’s Day spoofs included an April 1 story in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer reporting that Richard Waugh, a Cleveland Orchestra violist who stands 6 feet 8 inches tall, had been drafted to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers pro-basketball team. The University of Michigan announced a new policy banning cell phones in its concert hall and installing pay phones. In New York City, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre announced a reality television series, Desperate Measures, in which composers vie to be the next big name in new music, featuring Speed Composing and “composer confessionals.” On April 1, Classics Today reviewed a new recording of The Who’s Tommy featuring the Berlin Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with Ben Heppner and Roger Daltrey “morphed into a single vocal entity for ‘Pinball Wizard.’ ” And finally, a new “recording” of Beyoncé piano transcriptions demonstrated (right) that even Alfred Brendel wasn’t immune.
The Fort Collins Symphony’s March 5 concert featured images by community members including this one of the Colorado Rockies.
Pairing orchestra performances with images—moving or still—is a popular concert format, and the Fort Collins Symphony in Colorado gave this idea a local twist for its March 5 concert. Community members were invited to submit photos featuring the natural beauty and culture of northern Colorado, with winning shots shown during the orchestra’s performances of Richard Meyer’s A Fiddler’s Fancy and Calvin Custer’s Central Coach Special. As Music Director Wes Kinney led the orchestra, the ten winning photographers’ images were shown in a display created by multimedia artist Nicholas Bardonnay. During the performance, the audience voted for their favorite three images, which were framed and presented to the photographers at the orchestra’s May concert.
El Sistema Goes to Summer Camp
El Sistema Lehigh Valley
This summer, students from El Sistema programs across the U.S. will head to Colorado and New York to participate in two youth-orchestra camps in the inaugural National Take a Stand Festival. An initiative of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Longy School of Music, and Bard College, Take a Stand offers young musicians the opportunity to learn from exceptional artists and become part of a national community of musicians from underrepresented populations. Working with the musicians will be master teachers, conductors, and El Sistema faculty. At the conclusion of the first music camp (Aspen Music Festival and School, June 24-29), students will give a concert led by Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Aspen Music Festival and School. At the second camp (Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, August 16-20), students will give a performance led by Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and music director of the American Symphony Orchestra. Cellist Jonathan Colon and bassist Kiana Gonzalez (in photo), from Pennsylvania’s El Sistema Lehigh Valley program, are among the musicians heading to the Bard festival in August.
Starman When David Bowie died in January at age 69, the world was swept up in an outpouring of affection for the rock legend. In the Netherlands, a church rang its bells to the tune of “Space Oddity,” the Lumière light show in Brussels was set to Bowie’s music, and a volunteer orchestra at MIT performed Bowie-inspired music by Philip Glass. Orchestras around the
U.S. programmed their own tributes,
Big Ears, the eclectic music festival first held in 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee, has hosted everyone from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood to the Dirty Projectors, but this year the star attraction was a symphony orchestra. Before a packed house at the Tennessee Theatre on March 31, Steven Schick and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (pictured above) performed John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer-winning Become Ocean, Bryce Dessner’s Lachrimae, and Philip Glass’s Naqoyqatsi with cellist Maya Beiser, with all three composers in attendance. Adams, the festival’s 2016 artist in residence, participated in a free public discussion with Schick at a Knoxville pub, and Adams’s large-scale percussion piece Inuksuit was performed by the contemporary-music ensemble Nief-Norf outside the Ijams Nature Center. It was the second year the Knoxville Symphony appeared at Big Ears; in 2015 they performed music by Max Richter: Vivaldi Recomposed and excerpts from The Leftovers TV series.
The Sound of Peace
Music has long been an instrument for promoting peace, and this spring the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra honored that idea with a commission celebrating some of the most revered peacemakers of our time. On April 15, the orchestra gave the world premiere of Peacemakers by James Aikman, ICO’s first composer in residence and an Indianapolis native. The multimedia work recognizes nine global peacemakers from the 20th century: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar Sadat, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jimmy Carter. Music Director Matthew Kraemer led the concert, which featured area ensembles including the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Encore Performing Arts as well as soloists. Mike Halerz’s accompanying video (in photo) incorporated footage of Robert Kennedy’s remarks in Indianapolis on the evening of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. americanorchestras.org
taking on “Life On Mars,” “Changes,” “Let’s Dance,” and “Under Pressure,” among others. The Buffalo Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, and the Virginia Symphony performed Bowie hits with Jeans ’n Classics singer Jean Meilleur and his eight-piece rock band. In June, the Atlanta, Houston, and Indianapolis symphonies offer Bowie tributes with Brent Havens, conductor and arranger at Windborne, which pairs rock music with orchestras. Havens directs Bowie concerts at the Pittsburgh and Dallas symphonies in July, and the Florida Orchestra’s Bowie evening in February 2017. The Buffalo Philharmonic’s Bowie show in March was so successful that the orchestra is repeating it in July at a free outdoor concert.
• Penny Anderson Brill, viola—Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Music and Wellness Program • Shannon Orme, bass clarinet—Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Neighborhood Residency Initiative
The award recipients (from top at right) and their orchestras are:
• Beth Vandervennet, cello—Oakland Symphony’s Music for Excellence Program
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
• Brian Prechtl, percussion—Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids
• Jeffrey Paul, Principal Oboe—South Dakota Symphony Orchestra’s Lakota Music Project
The five orchestra musicians were selected by a panel of industry professionals through a competitive nomination process. The awards include a $2,500 grant to each musician, as well as an additional $2,500 grant to their home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for its musicians. The awardees and their orchestras receive their awards at the League’s National Conference in Baltimore, June 9-11, 2016. The musicians also participate in a Conference presentation and separate webinar, providing the orchestra field with opportunities to learn from their experience. Community work is defined as meaningful service through music: education and community engagement programs at schools, hospitals, retirement homes, community and social service centers, places of worship, and wherever people gather for civic, cultural, and social engagement. Those served may include low-income or at-risk populations, homebound elderly, immigrants, veterans, prisoners, and students of all ages, as well as members of the general public who may not otherwise have access to or are not traditionally served by orchestras. “These five musicians serve as models and mentors to the entire orchestra field,” says Jesse Rosen, the League of American Orchestras’ president and CEO. “Their commitment and dedicated work, whether by inspiring under-served students, bringing comfort in healthcare settings, or bridging cultures through their artistry, is on the leading edge of orchestras’ service to their communities. We are grateful to Ford Motor Company Fund for helping support this vital program and for enabling us to publicly acknowledge and share the important work of these musicians.” “It is a pleasure to honor these dedicated musicians who bring the joy of music from the stage to the community,” says Yisel Cabrera, community relations manager, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Thank you for taking the extra steps to entertain, educate, and lift people’s spirits. Bravo!”
Steven Stucky 1949-2016 Steven Stucky, a prolific composer of orchestral, chamber, choral, and vocal works, and a longtime faculty member at Cornell University, died February 14 at his home in Ithaca, New York. The cause was brain cancer. He had composed for at least a dozen prominent U.S. orchestras. Stucky was composer in residence at the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an extraordinary 21 years (1988-2009), and it was that orchestra that commissioned and premiered his Second Concerto for Orchestra, for which Stucky was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2005. His oratorio August 4, 1964, commemorating a fateful day in the life of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which premiered it in 2008 and brought it to Carnegie Hall for the 2011 Spring for Music festival. Stucky, who in 2014 became professor emeritus at Cornell University and joined the Juilliard School’s composition faculty, served as teacher or mentor to such composers as Julia Adolphe, David Conte, Melody Eötvös, Hannah Lash, Fang Man, Marc Mellits, Robert Paterson, and Sean Shepherd. Cornell, where Stucky had taught for 34 years, presented an April 18 memorial concert, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra marked Stucky’s passing with two performances of his 1986 orchestral work Dreamwaltzes in May. And on April 20, a free concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring the LA Phil New Music Group and guest artists included Stucky’s Album Leaves, Boston Fancies, and Nell’ombra, nella luce. The event was titled “Radical Light: A Concert for Steven Stucky,” after his orchestral work Radical Light, which the LA Phil had premiered in 2007. Steven Stucky symphony
The League of American Orchestras has selected five exemplary orchestra musicians to receive the Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service. A new program made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund, the awards celebrate orchestra musicians and the essential work they do in their communities.
Alicia Dal Lago
League Names Five Musicians to Receive Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service
Crowdsourcing Akron ASO Sounds of Akron
What does Akron, Ohio, sound like? This spring, the Akron Symphony found out. Sounds of Akron, a crowdsourced symphony commissioned from composer Clint Needham, got underway in 2015, when members of the Akron community were invited to submit sound clips from Akron— anything from traffic noise to squeaky sneakers on a court or a favorite local rock band—to the composer via a smartphone app, and geographically “tag” their recordings to create a sound map of Greater Akron. Music Director Christopher Wilkins led the April 16 premiere of Sounds of Akron at E.J. Thomas Hall. The project was covered everywhere from the Akron Beacon Journal and ClevelandClassical.com to Crain’s Cleveland Business. Sounds of Akron was funded by a $175,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which supported a similar collaborative symphony last November with Tod Machover’s Symphony in D for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Concerto Soloists P R O U D LY R E P R E S E N T S
Martin MAJKUT Music Director,
Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra
Jonathan McPhee conducts the combined Lexington Symphony and Symphony New Hampshire, and vocal soloists, in “The Essential Ring, Part I,” April 2016.
Hojotoho! Two evenings, two orchestras, two operas from Wagner’s epic Ring cycle. This mammoth undertaking happened on April 2 in Lexington, Massachusetts and again on April 3 in Nashua, New Hampshire, when Jonathan McPhee led the Lexington Symphony, Symphony New Hampshire, and vocal soloists in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. McPhee, who is music director of both orchestras, dubbed it “The Essential Ring, Part I,” with the two operas boiled down to just over two hours—not the six-plus hours they normally take. The cast included bass-baritone Alfred Walker as Ring meddler-in-chief Wotan, mezzosoprano Joanna Porackova as his wife, Fricka, and soprano Jane Eaglen as Brünnhilde. The cycle continues this fall with the second, final installment: “The Essential Ring, Part II,” with Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. americanorchestras.org
Jorge MESTER Music Director,
Filarmónica de Boca del Río
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (FI)
Artistic Director & Conductor, Paducah Symphony Orchestra
andré RAPHEL Music Director,
Wheeling Symphony Orchestra
Peter RUBARDT Music Director,
Gulf Coast Symphony
Meridian Symphony Orchestra
Pensacola Symphony Orchestra
Andrew SEWELL Music Director,
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Piedmont Wind Symphony
Oklahoma City Philharmonic
William Chapman-Nyaho John O’Conor Thomas Pandolfi Antonio Pompa-Baldi Alexander Schimpf Bryan Wallick Ilya Yakushev
Kinga Augustyn Ilya Kaler Alexander Sitkovetsky Livia Sohn
Denise Djokic Hai-Ye Ni
Ana Vidovic Fabio Zanon
Native American Flute R. Carlos Nakai
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Meet Cincinnati’s New Diversity Fellows
2015-2016 ROSTER Gabriel Cabezas, cello Nikki Chooi, violin Caroline Cole, harp Sara Daneshpour, piano Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet Jordan Dodson, guitar Luosha Fang, violin Xavier Foley, double bass Kathryn Guthrie, soprano Jasper String Quartet Eunice Kim, violin Ayane Kozasa, viola Henry Kramer, piano Christine Lamprea, cello Born Lau, viola Kristin Lee, violin Benito Meza, clarinet Sejoon Park, piano Timotheos Petrin, cello Project Fusion, saxophone quartet Sarah Shafer, soprano Danbi Um, violin Viktor Valkov, piano Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo Chrystal E. Williams, mezzo-soprano Jonathan Wintringham, saxophone Annie Wu, flute Dizhou Zhao, piano ASTRAL 230 S. Broad Street, Suite 300 Philadelphia, PA 19102 www.astralartists.org 215.735.6999
Music Alive in Action
It’s been a busy season for Music Alive, the composer residency program jointly run by the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. Three-year principal composer residencies are just wrapping up at the Albany Symphony (N.Y.), Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (Ohio), Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Symphony (Calif.), and Seattle Symphony. Highlights include the composer collective Sleeping Giant’s program with the Albany Symphony on March 19, pairing works by each of the collective’s six composers with masterpieces from which they drew inspiration. At the Detroit Symphony, Gabriela Lena Frank’s collaborative community work American Anthem with Detroit-based American House Senior Center received its world premiere on April 27. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance premiered Stella Sung’s opera The Book Collector in May with the Dayton Opera, Dayton Philharmonic, and Dayton Ballet. Narong Prangcharoen continues his work Alecia Lawyer, founder and artistic with the youth ensembles of the Pacific Symphony, director of the River Oaks Chamber and Trimpin’s three-year residency with the Seattle Orchestra in Texas, speaks with composer Rick Robinson during a preSymphony concluded in December following an concert talk as part of his Music Alive eight-week workshop with Path with Art, which New Partnerships residency. ROCO uses art to help those recovering from homelesspremiered Robinson’s Getcha Groove ness, addiction, and other trauma. Then there are On in September 2015. Music Alive’s one-week residencies known as New Partnerships. Missy Mazzoli, Carl Schimmel, Laura Schwendinger, and Jingjing Luo enjoyed successful residencies at the Boulder Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony, and Princeton Symphony, respectively. In July, Annie Gosfield’s New Partnerships residency with the Chautauqua Symphony (N.Y.) will include the presentation of her Almost Truths and Open Deceptions for the Chautauqua Symphony and a new orchestral work for the Music School Festival Orchestra. Joel Luks
Consider partnering with Astral to enhance your performances and excite your audiences.
Andrew Higley/University of Cincinnati
The exceptionally talented musicians on the Astral roster will engage your listeners, making classical music both accessible and relevant.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music have selected five string musicians for the inaugural class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. They are violist Emilio Carlo, 21; cellist Diana Flores, 26; cellist Blake-Anthony Johnson, 25; violinist Vijeta Sathyaraj, 27; and bassist Maurice Todd, 37. The fellowship program, supported by a $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to increase diversity in the ranks of American orchestras. “Our fellows represent the future of American orchestras,” said CCM Dean Peter Landgren. Trey Devey, president of Cincinnati Symphony Concertmaster Timothy the CSO, said the program will “provide a Lees (left) and CCM Dean Peter Landgren truly transformative experience for these (right) with Diversity Fellows Diana Flores, Emilio Carlo, Vijeta Sathyaraj, Blake-Anthony exceptional performers at a crucial time in Johnson, and Maurice Todd their careers.” The fellows will receive full tuition support from CCM, a graduate stipend of $10,000 per year, a Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000, and compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO. Each fellow will perform the equivalent of five weeks per season, with one week focused on community engagement and educational activities.
On a Spree
Every August since 2012, the Montreal Symphony’s Classical Spree (“La Virée Classique”) has drawn enthusiastic crowds to four action-packed days of cultural events throughout the city. This year’s Spree, from August 10 to 13, includes the orchestra’s free concert at Olympic Stadium, which last year attracted 45,000 people with an abridged MSO Assistant Conductor Dina Gilbert, in dark jacket version of Bizet’s Carmen. This at right, led this interactive conducting session during Classical Spree 2015. summer, Music Director Kent Nagano leads multiple concerts and interactive sessions with audiences, and there will be three free parks concerts and 30 low-priced 45-minute concerts by OSM and other musicians, plus performances and activities geared toward families. New this summer are projections of films/concerts, street performers, young musicians and singers, and food trucks. The orchestra reports that Classical Spree is an important piece of its effort in developing new audiences. Last summer, 130,000 people attended the festival, with people age 25 to 44 representing 27 percent of audiences.
You’re wrong about
“I never knew that a pantomimist could be so intelligent. I guess you proved me wrong.” — Stacy, age 11
Like Stacy, you can discover that mimes are not all as stupid as they look. Dan Kamin makes classical music into visual fun for young and old. An intelligent addition to any family series.
An art installation at Steinway & Sons’ recently opened Manhattan showroom, Spencer Finch’s eye-catching Newton’s Theory of Color and Music (The Goldberg Variations), is a “visual interpretation of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.”
Steinway Moves Downtown In the minds of many music-lovers, 109 West 57th Street in Manhattan will always mean Steinway & Sons. But after 90 years, the piano manufacturer has moved out of its storied 1925 flagship space, with its ornate marble and handpainted domed ceilings, and into a new home fifteen blocks south. Architect Annabelle Selldorf designed the 40,000-square-foot space, which includes a 74-seat recital hall, live-streaming capabilities, rehearsal and recording studios, and the fabled Steinway & Sons Concert & Artist Piano Bank, where musicians can try out different instruments. americanorchestras.org
See how wrong you are about mimes at
Comecdeyrtos Con (412)563-0468 firstname.lastname@example.org 13
Noteboom Governance Center Grants to Nine Orchestras
Nine orchestras have been selected by the League of American Orchestras to receive 2015-16 Noteboom Governance Center Grants for Board Development. The grants provide financial support to orchestra boards to strengthen their governance practice. The 2015-16 grant recipients are: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra; Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra; Idaho State-Civic Symphony; New West Symphony; Plano Symphony Orchestra; South Bend Symphony Orchestra; Texarkana Symphony Orchestra; and Tucson Symphony Orchestra. The League of American Orchestras’ Noteboom Governance Center was created in recognition of former League Board Chair Lowell Noteboom, honoring his longstanding commitment to improving governance practice in American orchestras. The Center is supported by leadership gifts from Richard and Kay Fredericks Cisek, The Clinton Family Fund, Marcia and John Goldman, and the Sargent Family Foundation. Visit americanorchestras.org/Noteboom for more information.
League’s Story Bank: Powerful Perspectives
Healthcare providers, parents, musicians, orchestra administrators, and students—their inspiring first-person perspectives help illustrate the vital impact of orchestras on communities. The League of American Orchestras’ Story Bank showcases videos, articles, and infographics featurTop, audience ing these individual members at a performance of the voices. Check out New Jersey Symphony the Story Bank’s Orchestra’s Autism newly posted content Community Program, and learn first-hand and, above left, Grand about San Francisco Rapids Symphony violinist Diane McElfish Helle performs as Symphony’s innova- part of the orchestra’s Music for Health Initiative. tive SoundBox series, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Autism Community Program, and more. It’s a wonderful resource for learning more—and for informing others—about orchestras’ innovative education and community engagement work. Find the Story Bank at americanorchestras.org, and don’t forget the League’s Public Value Toolkit, available to all members at americanorchestras.org. To learn more about the Story Bank, or to share your orchestra’s story, contact publicvalue@ americanorchestras.org.
Tony DeSare singer/pianist
“Two parts young Sinatra to one part Billy Joel, meshed seamlessly.” —The New York Times
2016/2017 SYMPHONY APPEARANCES INCLUDE: Houston Symphony Minnesota Orchestra Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Edmonton Symphony Orchestra The Philly Pops The Florida Orchestra Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Charleston Symphony Orchestra Oklahoma City Philharmonic Ft. Wayne Philharmonic The Cleveland Pops
734.277.1008 (office/mobile/text) 2040 Tibbitts Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48105 symphony
2017/18 concerto roster
1 fei-fei dong, piano 2 daniel hsu, piano * 3 steven lin, piano 4 ko-eun yi, piano 5 alexi kenney, violin 6 hye-jin kim, violin 7 in mo yang, violin
8 brandon ridenour, trumpet 9 lysander piano trio 10 donald sinta quartet, saxophones * first prize, 2015 cag competition
booking steven shaiman senior vice president, director, artist management email@example.com vincent russo assistant director, artist management firstname.lastname@example.org charles letourneau special advisor email@example.com
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
BOOKS IN BRIEF The Artist as Citizen by Joseph W. Polisi, with a Foreword by Wynton Marsalis. Amadeus Press, 199 pp./20 photos, $24.99. Spanning Polisi’s 32 years as president of the Juilliard School, this collection of writings updates the 2005 edition. Among the additions are “Why,” a convocation address to the 2014 class at Aspen Music School urging them to support the creation of “challenging, as well as comforting, works of art”; and “Music Education in the Twenty-First Century,” a speech delivered last November at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music outlining plans for the Tianjin Juilliard School, which he hopes will launch in September 2018. Polisi’s overall thesis, as he writes in his Prologue, is that 21st-century artists “must be not only communicative through their art, but also knowledgeable about the intricacies of their society… so that they can effectively work toward showing the power of the arts.”
A Dictionary for the Modern Conductor by Emily Freeman Brown. Rowman & Littlefield, 419 pages, $85 (hardcover), $63.99 (Kindle edition). An unusual blend of glossary, biographical dictionary, and guide to prominent orchestras and musical institutions worldwide, this is a volume that even the most score-literate and well-traveled conductor should find revealing. Its thousands of glossary entries range from the most basic (“adagio,” “doppler effect”) to such delights as “digitación” (a Spanish term referring to instrumental fingering choices), “in battere” (downbeat), and “Eight O’Clock Pops” (a concert series started by Erich Kunzel with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra in 1965). Among the seven appendices is an essay called “Six Pieces That Changed Everything” analyzing key works by Beethoven, Debussy, Stravinsky, Copland, Penderecki, and Corigliano. Brown holds a DMA in orchestral
Marilyn Rosen Presents In the SpotlIght
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conducting from the Eastman School of Music, and is currently director of orchestral activities and professor of conducting at Bowling Green State University. Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise by Douglas W. Shadle. Oxford University Press, 330 pp. $55 (hardcover), $52.55 (Kindle edition). Shadle, an assistant professor of musicology at Vanderbilt University, delves deeply into the forgotten history of symphonic composition by Americans born between 1777 and 1874, whose work was largely eclipsed by that of their European contemporaries. He identifies symphonies by 54 composers, highlighting 21 of them—from Charles Ives, Amy Beach, and George Whitefield Chadwick to such obscure but prolific symphonists as George Frederick Bristow (1825-1888) and Asger Hamerik (1843-1923)—in his exhaustively researched text.
Know Your Audience
Talk about synergy. Last fall, the Wallace Foundation published Taking Out the Guesswork: Using Research to Build Arts Audiences, a free guide that helps arts organizations use market research to forge meaningful connections with different audiences. Based on evidence from ten arts groups across the United States, the book provides detailed guidelines on how to learn more about current and potential audiences, create effective promotional materials, and track the results of audience-building initiatives. This summer, delegates at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference in Baltimore get the opportunity to connect with Bob Harlow, the book’s author and a market-research expert, at a compelling session drawing on Taking Out the Guesswork. For more from the Wallace Foundation—and to download Taking Out the Guesswork for free—visit www. wallacefoundation.org. symphony
Katie Wyatt, executive director, Kidznotes
Invest in one, invest in many Through our leadership programs, the League invested in Katie, who now invests in nearly 300 kids annually from Title-1 schools in Durham and Raleigh, N.C. Supporting the League means investing in people, their communities, and the future of classical music. Donate now at americanorchestras.org.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has the canonic western playwright in its very name and his 400-year-old plays as its signature. But under Artistic Director Bill Rauch, the theater company has found fresh success by embracing forward-thinking approaches to diversity, inclusion, and non-traditional casting. Balancing tradition and innovation, contemporary commissions with enduring classics, the festival is attracting diverse new audiences while keeping devoted fans. What are the parallels for orchestras? by Jesse Rosen One of the most exciting creative challenges of our time is to imagine orchestral repertoire as it relates to this moment in America. For some, this is an easy task. After all, orchestras play music that is “timeless” with “universal” appeal. Play it well and the music will do the rest. Others, however, are searching for bridges that connect the canon to today and creating new work that arises out of the currents now flowing through American life. This is not an either-or proposition, but it does strike me that performing great music at the highest possible level is something orchestras have been doing for quite some time; they have developed a set of highly functional practices to deliver that outcome. The search for relevance, on the other hand, is a more recent imperative, one with fuzzier goals, still-emerging practice, and lots of trial and error. To get a fresh perspective, it occurred to me to speak with Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. With a laser-like focus Bill and his company have been reconceiving not only Shakespeare but the very role of theater in ways that bring both center stage into the maelstrom of America today.
JESSE ROSEN: I came across an article talking about you and your work, and it mentioned the Oregon Shakespeare Festival before you got there—it was really funny—as “a theme park /nature preserve for the Western canon.” BILL RAUCH: People’s minds conjure some interesting images when they hear of a Shakespeare Festival in southern Oregon!
“I try to celebrate everything that is special about Shakespeare—and also to have my eyes and heart wide open to everything that is loaded about the cultural specificity of his work.” JESSE ROSEN: Maybe you can talk about how you think of Shakespeare’s work as kind of an anchor or cornerstone of the Western canon, and how you see it in today’s world. Presumably it is something other than a theme park or nature preserve. BILL RAUCH: Shakespeare is our middle name, and originally the company exclusively produced the work of Shake-
Whither the Canon?
Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras
speare. Although that canon began to expand as long ago as 1970, Shakespeare is still the middle name, and it’s still—well, you know how people say that when you go to a steakhouse, you order steak. You go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, you see Shakespeare. For first-time audience members, Shakespeare is still, pardon the expression, the gateway drug. It’s the thing that gets people hooked on our company. I profoundly believe in the work of William Shakespeare and its humanity. At the same time, I find the phrase “universal” very problematic. Shakespeare tapped into the human experience in a really uncanny way with the words he wrote, the characters he created, and the themes he explored. So all of the clichés about Shakespeare being for all time and belonging to all cultures—I feel that in terms of the energy and the writing, and at the same time I’m really mindful that Shakespeare’s work is part of the European canon. It’s 400 years old, it is an ultimate example of dead white male art, and I can’t pretend that all sorts of cultural dynamics don’t exist when it comes to Shakespeare and contemporary audiences. I try to celebrate everything that is special about this artist, and also to have my eyes wide open and my heart wide open to everything that is loaded about the cultural specificity of the work. symphony
revolutions today, sparks fly in terms of new connections, new thoughts, juxtapositions in really dynamic ways. The reason I got turned on to doing The Winter’s Tale in this way happened when I was talking with an Asian-American board member who said, “You’ve had Latino and African-American and racially diverse looks at Shakespeare, but you’ve never looked at a Shakespeare play through an Asian-American lens. ” I immediately started coming up with play ideas and she kind of rejected all of them,
fresh, innovative ways allows us to see the plays in new ways and to see the communities that are telling these stories in new ways. JESSE ROSEN: A rhetorical question: Shakespeare has been around all these years, and has held up pretty well. Why go down this road? BILL RAUCH: People talk about the tradition of Shakespeare, and I want to problematize the word “tradition” right away. If we talk about the original productions of Shakespeare, they were done by an all-male acting company, for an audience that was much more economically diverse than most professional theaters in this country perform for. They were done in what was essentially modern dress.
“Approaching the material in fresh, innovative ways allows us to see the plays in new ways and to see the communities that are telling these stories in new ways.”
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
We try to do that in a lot of different ways. We are very, very eclectic about how we approach Shakespeare. We’re five years into an experiment of culturally specific approaches to Shakespeare in production. I did a Measure for Measure that was set in a contemporary urban Latino neighborhood. We did a Comedy of Errors that was set during the Harlem Renaissance. This year we’re doing a production of The Winter’s Tale where the Kingdom of Sicilia is essentially dynastic China. For years and years, our Shakespeare has been racially diverse, usually with a cross-section of our racially diverse acting company, but these particular productions have tended to be racially or culturally specific. They have allowed our audience, and in particular, certain communities of color, to connect to Shakespeare’s words in a very specific way that has been really dynamic and quite exciting. JESSE ROSEN: When I saw Hamilton, one of the things that struck me was that my relationship to the period of the American Revolution and our Founding Fathers was pretty abstract. When the roles were played by people of color, I immediately, rightly or wrongly, look at them and say, “These are people who have experienced oppression.” Seeing the show unfold with that very strong sense about those characters really changed how I thought about the American Revolution, and what it must have felt like to have been those people who were our Founding Fathers—seeing them portrayed by actors who conjured a completely different emotional response in me. I’m wondering if that is the sort of thing that happens when you cast that way with Shakespeare. BILL RAUCH: I think there’s no such thing as a neutral approach to Shakespeare. Even an all-white cast in a Shakespeare play makes a cultural statement, and says something about the world that we are living in right now. One of the things that is really brilliant about Hamilton is the fact that the Founding Fathers who were behind the Revolution did feel oppression. When you have the overlay of who is leading
Bill Rauch, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
but she pointed to Winter’s Tale, because it’s a play in which a very patriarchal society becomes ill because the daughter is not valued, and the society will never be whole again until the daughter is returned to the family, and the daughter is valued for the primacy of her role. I had tears rolling down my face as she said this, because it was so profound. It was an observation that she could make that I would not have made. As someone who is not Asian American, I would not have had that particular cultural insight into the connection between traditional Asian culture and this play that moved her so much. Approaching the material in
People were wearing castaway clothing from the nobility; they might throw on a shmatta to represent a different period, but they were wearing contemporary clothing. When people talk to me about tradition, I want to get at, “Are you talking about productions that try to capture the conditions of those original performances?” There are so many traditions, and ultimately there is really only a tradition of innovation, which is every age trying to connect to the heart of the writing in a way that makes sense for the people in that time and place. That, to me, is the great tradition, so our acting company is almost at 60 percent actors of color this year. It is a given, as we cast our Shakespeare plays, that we are going to have a group of actors that reflect our larger society and the movement of the United States to becoming a majority minority country—a country in which people of color are the majority. Those are our storytellers, and then we get into the very interesting questions: in this particular story, are we telling the story in a way that looks at how race,
Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
T. Charles Erickson
In a scene from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2016 production of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, directed by May Adrales, actors James Ryen and Will Dao argue over what to do as Saigon falls.
ethnicity, gender, age come into play in the story? What artistic experiments are we doing in terms of those factors not being relevant to the storytelling? What happens when King Lear has three daughters, each one of whom is a different race? What happens when we look at a piece that is all about bloodlines, and family groupings follow racial lines, but the bloodline arguments are played out in terms of race and ethnicity in the casting?
“The art that I want to make and respond to—whether it’s from the classical canon, interpretations of the classical canon, or newly minted work—is work that gets my synapses firing in terms of who we are today in the United States.” There are so many different ways to reflect the here and the now, and costumes are the least of it. Lots of times, audience members get hung up on costumes, and are the costumes Elizabethan or not. Whether you’re in blue jeans and t-shirts or you’re in beautiful Renaissance gowns, there are many different ways that we are grappling with the oldness of the language in the contemporary moment that we find ourselves in. What are the male/female relationship givens that are expressed on stage? How are people approaching the language? How are they speaking the
language? Is there a difference between had tremendous commercial pressures to working-class and upper-class characters succeed at the box office. He was also an in terms of the articulation of the words? inventor of language. He took language There are so many ways in which we that he was hearing on the street and have to make decisions as directors and language that he was making up. There are artistic directors about the old text and extraordinary parallels between the most the contemporary moment, and it having innovative artists working in hip-hop today been written in England versus it being and great classical writers in terms of using produced in the United States. There are language in surprising, explosive ways. so many ways those dynamics play out, That’s one way we have looked to make and the artists are navigating the wonconnections between the canon and conderful challenges of finding the meeting temporary movements. We’re always lookplace between then and now, and here and ing for writers who use language in dythere. namic, fresh, surprising ways. Because of JESSE ROSEN: Our orchestral art their use of language, we think some new form for the most part is not text-based plays belong juxtaposed with the work and not pictorial in any concrete sense. of William Shakespeare, the great Greek Thinking about your understanding of tragedians, the great classics of the golden Shakespeare and a canonic playwright and age of musical comedy. What are the great how to bridge that work into our current movements in world drama where there time and circumstances, if you were to was a confluence of populism and artistic imagine a parallel in the world of symphonic music, what comes to mind? BILL RAUCH: I don’t know how much I’ve thought about it in relation to symphonic music, but I certainly think about it all the time with our season programming. I have glibly said, but I think it’s true, if Shakespeare were writing today, certainly hip-hop would be one of the idioms that he would use, because he was such a populist. He The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 staging of Shakespeare’s Twelfth was creating extraordiNight was directed by Christopher Liam Moore, with (from left) Elijah Alexander as Orsino, Sara Bruner as Viola, and Gina Daniels as Olivia. narily deep art that also Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Allen Elizabethan Theatre in Ashland, Oregon, is open to the sky and seats 1,200 people.
Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
own companies? Why, as a creative artist, is that so important to you? BILL RAUCH: There are so many levels on which I could answer that The Oregon Shakespeare Festival gave the world premiere of Lisa question. On a very Loomer’s Roe in 2016, directed by Bill Rauch. Here, Operation Rescue personal level, I am a member Ronda Mackey (Amy Newman, center) tries to convince a gay man who’s been woman (Gina Daniels) not to have an abortion at a clinic. with my husband for innovation? How can we foster that in the 32 years. Although I’ve not walked in the new work that we’re commissioning? shoes of a person of color in this country, JESSE ROSEN: The commitment that I think that being part of a minority in you and Oregon Shakespeare Festival terms of my sexual orientation has made make to diversity and inclusion and equity me more thoughtful about issues of is really extraordinary—it is multi-layered diversity. Both of my kids are mixed-race, and multi-dimensional. Why such an so it’s also a very personal issue for me extraordinary commitment, so much so in that way. I have a brother who’s deaf that you play a national leadership role in and has cerebral palsy. So some of it is being a place for people to have conversajust personal in terms of who I am and tions and action around diversity in their who my family is, and I’m interested in
questions of how we navigate difference in our society. I also think diversity gets to the heart of the experiment that is the United States, in terms of people from all over the world making their home in our country and how that is both successful and not successful. As an artist, the art that I want to make and respond to—whether it’s from the classical canon, interpretations of the classical canon, or newly minted work—is work that gets my synapses firing in terms of who we are today in the United States. When somebody’s creating a bridge between a work that’s 400 years old or 2,000 years old and what’s going on in the streets of our country right now, I am energized. When I can glimpse that long bridge of human history, travel on that, and be more responsible to the people that are yet to come, to my kids’ kids and all the generations ahead, that energizes me as an artist and as an audience member.
The State of the Board How can orchestra boards become A+ boards? Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, a wideranging survey of nonprofits from BoardSource, offers key findings and guidance.
ince 1994, BoardSource has published comprehensive surveys of current nonprofit board practices, policies, and performance, based on responses from chief executives and board chairs to questions about board demographics, meeting practices, culture, fundraising, and performance. BoardSource published its ninth survey, Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices 2015, in January of that year. While there was lots of good news to share, the bottom line was that nonprofit leaders give nonprofit boards a “B-minus” grade in overall performance. The final, written report explored why that is, and—more importantly—what we can do about it. I encourage you to visit www.leadingwithintent.org to read the full report. Here, however, are a few key findings—as well as some advice about how we can get beyond B-minus— followed by excerpts from the report that League of American Orchestras members might find of particular interest. Getting the people right is fundamental: Leading with Intent 2015 found that if a board isn’t thoughtfully composed as it relates to skill sets, leadership styles, and diversity of thought and background, it is less likely to excel in other areas of board performance. But unfortunately, • only one in five chief executives strongly agree that they have the right board members
• 58 percent of chief executives say it
is difficult to find people to serve on the board—up from 44 percent in 2012 • board diversity has improved slightly, but a full 25 percent of boards remain exclusively white What boards can do: • Make strategic board recruitment a priority. Make sure that your recruiting efforts are connected to your overall strategic vision and plan, and that you’re thinking through the skills, backgrounds, and networks you need to have as a part of your board’s composition. For stepby-step guidance on strategic board recruitment, check out BoardSource’s Board Recruitment Center. • Structure yourself for success. If your board doesn’t already have a governance committee responsible for leading and managing board recruitment and performance, consider creating one. Boards need to get outside of their comfort zones: Leading with Intent found that boards do well at functions related to compliance and oversight, but face challenges with their strategic and external work. In an operating environment that is characterized by constant change, this is a wake-up call: Boards need to get outside of their comfort zones and provide stronger external leadership—especially in fundraising and advocacy—that enables their organizations to adapt and adjust to change.
What boards can do: • Set strong expectations. When talking to current and potential board members, be clear about the important external role that board members need to play in supporting your mission. Make sure that each individual board member is comfortable reaching out to his or her networks and spheres of influence, whether it’s about policy decisions that impact your mission, charitable support that you need to fuel your work, or community partnerships that you could build to magnify your impact. For more on the important role that board members can play in advocating for their missions, visit http://standforyourmission.org/. • Celebrate success. One of the secrets to engaging board members in activities that they may be nervous about is to thoughtfully celebrate successes whenever they take place. It reinforces how important those activities are, and creates pride of ownership and positive peer pressure within your board’s culture. Investments in board development are worth the effort: Building and strengthening a board takes ongoing, intentional effort. Leading with Intent explores the pain points that many boards are experiencing, and highlights the important role that board selfassessment can play in improving board performance. What boards can do: • Get serious about board development. Challenge your governance committee to craft a holistic board development program for your board, with thoughtful goals around recruitment, orientation and education, regular assessment, and board succession planning. BoardSource offers resources for this work. symphony
• Share your commitment to strong
board performance. Organizations that take board leadership and governance seriously are stronger and more sustainable, and that’s something that donors and the public care about. Take a moment to share your board’s commitment to essential board leadership practices by updating the “People & Governance” section of your online GuideStar Exchange Profile.
eading with Intent 2015, BoardSource’s national survey of nonprofit board practices, was completed by 850 chief executives and 246 board chairs from a wide spectrum of the nonprofit sector, with annual operating budgets of less than $1 million to $10 million or more. Chapters in Leading with Intent include Board Composition and Structure, with sections on board size and terms of service, and recruitment and elections; Board Responsibilities, including advocacy and public policy, and financial oversight and accountability; and Leadership and Board Dynamics, including board development and CEO relations. Below is an excerpt from the Board Composition and Structure chapter focusing on diversity and inclusion. Diversity & Inclusivity: Who’s at the Board Table?
To succeed in an increasingly diverse world, nonprofit organizations need to remain relevant and connected to their communities. Their leaders—board members and chief executives—need to represent diverse points of views. While the nonprofit sector has seen modest progress in increasing racial/ethnic, gender, and age diversity among chief executives and board members, diversity is more than a numbers game. It also requires inclusive policies, practices, and behaviors that nurture and value different perspectives and experiences. To value diversity is to respect and appreciate race, ethnicity, and nationality; gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation; age; physical, mental, and developmental
If we want nonprofit organizations positioned to deliver the kind of impact and results that our world needs, then B- boards aren’t going to cut it. We need to focus our energies and resources to support boards that are working diligently to strengthen their performance, and we need to challenge those that are not to set a higher bar for themselves and their missions. We need our boards to strive to be A+
boards. That’s what our missions need, it’s what they deserve, and it’s what is within our reach if we commit to making it happen. In January 2017, BoardSource will release Leading with Intent 2017. We’re in the process of conducting this new survey now. Will boards have improved their grades? Stay tuned. Anne Wallestad, President and CEO, BoardSource
abilities; religion; and socioeconomic status.
chairs, vice chairs, secretaries, and treasurers—generally parallel overall board diversity, with the notable exception of the chair: women account for 48% of board members and 46% of chairs. The larger the organization, the more likely the chair is to be white, over 40 years of age, and male. Only 35% of CEOs give their boards an A or B on increasing board diversity. Our findings show a lack of concerted planning and follow-through. Most CEOs report that their boards have discussed the importance of expanding board diversity (74%) and actively recruited members
What We Found Board portraits reveal slow progress in racial/ethnic and age diversity. People of color remain underrepresented in nonprofit leadership. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 64% of Americans are white. Of our current survey respondents, 89% of CEOs are white and 80% of board members are white. Small, local organizations have slightly more diverse boards in terms of gender and age. The demographics of board officers—
Nonprofit Leadership Demographics Figure 5. Nonprofit Leadership Demographics (Q2.3, 3.2. 3.3, 3.4, 1.14, 1.15, 1.16 CEO)
Notes On boards, people of color increased from 16% in 2010 to 20% in 2014. But 25% of boards remain all White.
People of Color
More than 65% of small and 75% of medium organizations have female CEOs, but only 37% of large organizations do.
Board members under 40 years of age increased from 14% in 2010 to 17% in 2014.
Importance of and Satisfaction Diversity Figure 6. Importance of and Satisfactionwith with Diversity (Q3.1, 3.2 Chair; Q5.1, 5.2 CEO) How satisfied are you with your board’s current level of diversity? Chair Dissatisfied or very Dissatisfied
gender Persons with a Disability lgBtQ
Dissatisfied or very Dissatisfied
To what extent would expanding diversity increase your ability to advance your mission? Chair
Why It Matters Meaningful diversity requires having different voices and faces around the board table and then creating a culture of inclusion. Research suggests that transformative change requires functional and social inclusion. When all members are free from marginalization and alienation, the full board can be authentically engaged. More work must be done to turn wellintentioned policies into more inclusive boards. To support greater engagement, boards should commit to inclusion by establishing written diversity policies, developing intentional plans to recruit diverse board members, providing equal access to board leadership opportunities, and paying careful attention to social inclusion practices.
DISCOVER THE NEXT GENERATION FROM G. SCHIRMER
decisions. In terms of board member relationships, less than one-third of CEOs report that their board members cultivate personal friendships with diverse members to a great extent.
Nathan Lee Bush
What We Found More than one-half of nonprofit boards have practices and policies that support functional inclusion, but less than onehalf describe behaviors that reflect social inclusion. Functional inclusion is characterized as policies, structures, practices, and processes designed to increase the inclusion of individuals from diverse or traditionally marginalized communities. In 2012, 38% of participating organizations had a written diversity statement. In 2014, that number increased to 50% and more organizations incorporated diversity into formal policies. Social inclusion occurs when individuals from diverse backgrounds participate fully in the interpersonal dynamics and cultural fabric of the board. In terms of board work, more than one-third of CEOs report that diverse members participate to a great extent in contributing to, influencing, and making board
Charlotte de Mezamat
Why It Matters A diverse board sends a message and sets a powerful example about the organization’s values. Having board and staff leaders who reflect society and, more specifically, the organization’s constituents is important in understanding constituent needs, cultivating community connections, and establishing credibility. CEOs are least satisfied with their board’s racial/ ethnic diversity but see it as most important to their organization’s mission. On one hand, it is reassuring that CEOs and chairs are least satisfied with the board’s racial/ethnic composition (as compared to gender and age), since it is the area where the board has the least amount of diversity. On the other hand, the lack of progress remains disappointing because they view race/ethnicity as
the most important aspect of diversity for advancing the mission.
from diverse backgrounds (80%). Yet only 56% report that the board has reviewed and revised its recruiting efforts, and only 19% indicate that the board has developed an action plan to increase diversity.
Rachel Ford, executive director, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
Invest in one, invest in many Through our leadership programs, the League invested in Rachel, who now invests in the healing power of music â€“ exactly when patients need it the most. Through live performances in healthcare facilities, the KSOâ€™s awardwinning Music & Wellness Program helps the healing process of more than 4,500 patients every year. Supporting the League means investing in people and their communities. Donate now at americanorchestras.org.
Kim Kiely Photography
Orchestras Photos, clockwise from top left: At Virginia’s Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Janna Hymes speaks to the audience at the orchestra’s first concerts following the Paris terrorist attacks last November. On September 23, 2008, the Philadelphia Orchestra was to perform a free Neighborhood Concert at City Hall. That afternoon a Philadelphia police officer was killed in the line of duty, the fourth officer slain on the job in eleven months. After discussions between the orchestra and the mayor’s office, the concert went ahead, but as a memorial for city police officers who had been recently slain. After violent protests erupted in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore Symphony gave a free “Peace Concert” for the community in front of Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on April 28, 2015. David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony, and Kevin McBeth, director of the IN UNISON Chorus, during a concert at Greater Grace Church in Ferguson, Missouri last spring. The location of the St. Louis Symphony’s annual IN UNISON Chorus concert changes each year, but Ferguson’s Greater Grace Church was selected for 2015 as a gesture of support from the orchestra.
Responding to Crises: It’s All About the
riday, November 13, 2015. The City of Paris is attacked by terrorists; 150 people dead, 300 injured. The world is overwhelmed with shock, fear, and a gnawing sense of imbalance, of life in freefall. The news explodes with gruesome images, screaming headlines; social media fans the flames. St. Louis Symphony Music Director David Robertson is in his car on the way to Powell Hall to conduct the evening’s concert. He hears the news on the radio. But his agenda that night is prescribed: Anton Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”), and Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. How to respond, what to say—to the musicians, to the audience.
“You try when you’re making programs to always be thinking about what is relevant,” he says when prompted to remember that night. “Then all of a sudden you get these moments when something becomes relevant without you realizing beforehand that it would be.” If Beethoven was describing his joy at wandering through the Vienna Woods in the Sixth—“No one can love the country as I do … every tree seems to speak to me saying ‘Holy! Holy’ ”—Webern was mourning the tragedy of his mother’s sudden death in his spare, short pieces. Strauss, meanwhile, was, at age 84, contemplating his own death; the final couplet of the fourth and last song is translated, “How tired we are of wandering. Might this perhaps be death?” symphony
Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun St. Louis Symphony
When tragedy strikes—in a city’s streets, a war zone, a public space half a world away—words from the orchestral stage, or concerts spontaneously arranged and open to all, can harness the power of music to offer solace, promote healing, and provide a communal space for reflection. by Susan Elliott “People ask, ‘Is classical music relevant?,’ ” says Robertson. “And then in some strange way, art starts to imitate life—it’s almost spooky.” Like many orchestral concerts that night, this one started with words from the podium. Robertson, described in one review as “visibly shaken,” chose to quote Leonard Bernstein’s words in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly, than ever before.” That same weekend, Philadelphia Orchestra President Allison Vulgamore also chose Bernstein’s words to introduce the concerts. She explained how Hannibal Lokumbe’s One Land, One River, One People, being performed in its premiere, americanorchestras.org
offered messages of hope and unity. Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin then opened the evening with the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” So did the Detroit, Santa Cruz, and San Antonio symphonies. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra dedicated its performance of the Verdi Requiem to the victims of the attacks; the New York Philharmonic asked for a moment of silence before the concert. The Seattle Symphony’s response was to offer a free download of a recent performance of Georgian composer Giya Kancheli’s Nu.Mu.Zu., which translates to “I. Don’t. Know.” Kancheli has said that he composed the piece, co-commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and the National Orchestra of Belgium, because he dreams “about a world in which fanaticism, sectar-
ian strife, and violence are no longer the dominant features of world order.” The Seattle Symphony had given the American premiere of the piece at the end of October, just a few weeks before the Paris tragedy. “After the recent terrorist attacks in my home country of France, and elsewhere, we felt strongly that this music should go out into the world and be shared with everyone,” said Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot in a statement. Orchestras were not the only organizations offering solace to pre-planned gatherings that weekend. But there’s something about the power of music, especially instrumental music, that can fill an emotional void in a way that words simply cannot. Think about it: bombings, funerals,
The Medium Is the Message
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Library of Congress/New York Philharmonic Archives
Fischer’s first concert as music director of the Utah Symphony fell on September 11, 2011, also the start of the season. At the time, having spent most of his career in Europe, he was a relative unknown in the U.S. Appropriately for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, he had chosen John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls, which had been commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic, to open the evening; aware that it was customary among U.S. orchestras to play the national anthem on opening night, this newcomer decided to go against convention. He also rejected the idea of speaking from the stage, or of
Three days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Leonard Bernstein, then music director of the New York Philharmonic, delivered a speech at a benefit for the United Jewish Appeal at which he explained his decision to perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” with the Philharmonic in a televised tribute to Kennedy. Bernstein’s handwritten speech is above.
weddings—the world turns to music. “You have this responsibility,” says Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer, who had, by happenstance, programmed an all-Ravel concert on the evening of the Paris attacks, “not only to do good concerts but to show people that you are there with them. That we are one. Artists should be above reality. We aim for beauty, for utopia. An orchestra can share that with its community.” Virtually every orchestra canvassed for
this article emphasized the relevance of its respective program to the occasion. But in fact it isn’t so much the piece of music that reaches in and touches the human soul; it is the eloquence and depth of its delivery. “When music is made at not just an entertainment level, but at a fundamental level of communication between people,” says Robertson, it offers “something restorative for the human condition. Music has all sorts of things to tell us and ways to help us heal if we are willing to listen.”
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra oboist Michael Lisicky organized the April 28, 2015 outdoor performance by members of the orchestra during the days of protest and upheaval in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.
making a grand, applause-filled entrance before such a somber piece. Instead, the concert began in darkness, with Fischer already on the podium. As the piece began, with sounds of distant sirens and the whispered word “missing,” the lights were brought slowly up. “The effect was eerily potent and at the same time reverential,” wrote Utah arts journalist Edward Reichl, “as recorded voices began to intone some of the names of those missing in the attacks on the Twin Towers. The piece also ended in the same manner—in quiet reflection and without applause.” Robertson has also programmed that piece, and brought it to New York for a symphony
Something that said, ‘We have to accept it, it’s horrible, life goes on, and we are here.’ And I was thinking very strongly that I could not show emotion—that I needed to say things as they are, without ego.” While both Fischer and Robertson function professionally as the symbols of their orchestras to their communities, both felt their remarks were personal. “I was speaking as Thierry,” says Fischer. “I did not feel like I was the music director or somebody special. If you are a modern orchestra, it’s your mission to show from time to time that you are not only worrying about the tempo of the minuet.”
“You have this responsibility,” says Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer, “not only to do good concerts but to show people that you are there with them. That we are one.”
“What Can We Do?”
Janna Hymes, music director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, always speaks from the stage before a concert. “I talk about different things,” she says, “how we prepared, the course of a piece, why and how it was written. If it’s contemporary I’ll explain how to listen to it. People really seem to enjoy it. When I don’t do it we get a lot of complaints.” (The orchestra, based in Virginia, changed its name from Williamsburg Symphonia this spring.) The orchestra’s first concerts after the Paris attacks were on November 16 and 17. In yet another instance of art imitat-
concert at Carnegie Hall in April of 2006. “We took a whole group of St. Louis school children from our children’s choir,” recalls Robertson, “many of whom were in New York for the very first time, singing this to an audience of New Yorkers. The New York Times had just published the cell phone transcriptions from the Twin Towers before they fell. We played the score and, I tell you, reality just comes in and plays along. It’s amazing.” This past November, Fischer did choose to speak on the night of the Paris attacks, especially given the all-Ravel program (La valse, Une Barque sur l’océan, Boléro, and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges). Here’s what he said: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Abravanel Hall. It is purely by coincidence that we have programmed a concert of all French music this weekend, but this coincidence has provided us with an opportunity to offer our support to the people of Paris during this dark time. Music is a very powerful force and we sincerely hope that, in some small way, our efforts tonight as artists might contribute to the healing of the world.
“It was not about putting on a show,” says Baltimore Symphony Orchestra oboist Michael Lisicky. “It was just about music, about everyone being on the same level. We were all part of the same neighborhood.” audience: “I just said that, while we had experienced a terrible tragedy in Paris, we needed to focus us what makes this a great world. It touched a lot of hearts. After we finished the piece, there was not a dry eye in the house. It was our moment to give back to the community.” Even though Hymes is accustomed to
At the New York Philharmonic following the Charlie Hebdo massacre of January 2015, Music Director Alan Gilbert addressed the audience about his decision to keep the concert program as planned, citing the words of Leonard Bernstein, “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly, than ever before.”
Fischer estimates his remarks lasted all of 25 seconds, but took more than an hour to devise. “As artists, we have to show people that we are not on another planet,” he says. “I really wanted to say something, but it had to be short, impactful, and simple.
ing life, Fauré’s incidental music to Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Pelléas et Mélisande was on the program. “It would not have been wise for me not to say something,” says Hymes. “I’m not the most political person, but the world we live in right now is so scary and dangerous and unexpected, that I felt like I needed to say something positive.” Rather than focus on the story behind the music, Hymes sought to reassure her
In October 1989, then-Music Director Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus helped initiate civic healing five days after the Loma Prieta earthquake, playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to an audience of more than 20,000 in Golden Gate Park.
speaking from the stage, she says, her words on this occasion struck a deep emotion within: “I was very shaken. It was hard to just turn around and conduct.” She reports that some listeners came back the second night to hear the piece again. Hymes remembers another time nearly fifteen years ago when she was a freelance conductor living in Maine. It was just after 9/11, and she, like many, felt the need to do something, anything. “I was think-
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Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Philadelphia Orchestra performed at a memorial concert on September 16 at the Mann Center in Philadelphia, led by thenMusic Director Wolfgang Sawallisch.
Informative and entertaining, with accessible discussion of the music itself, as well as lively historical and cultural background information.
ing, ‘I’m a musician, and I’m a conductor. What can I do?’” Her answer was to put on a concert. She picked up the phone and started calling all the musicians she knew in the area and beyond. “People came out of the woodwork,” she says. “It was amazing.” In the end, a three-plus hour concert at Maine’s Camden Opera House ensued, with a cast of singers, cellists, pianists, and violinists. Together they raised $12,000 for the Red Cross.
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In response to the Paris terrorist attacks, the Seattle Symphony offered a free download of its performance of Giya Kancheli’s Nu.Mu.Zu., which envisions a world free of fanaticism and sectarian strife.
The Seattle Symphony and Music Director Ludovic Morlot perform Giya Kancheli’s Nu.Mu.Zu at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium at Benaroya Hall in November for a live recording, which was released as a free download. “After the terrorist attacks in my home country of France, and elsewhere, we felt strongly that this music should go out into the world and be shared with everyone,” said Morlot.
In April of 2015, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra oboist Michael Lisicky wasn’t aiming to raise money, but he too was struck by the need to do something. Downtown Baltimore had just been declared
to be in a state of emergency after violent protests broke out following the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American who died from injuries sustained while in police cus-
tody. Businesses were looted and destroyed, cars burned, people injured. The National Guard was called in; a curfew imposed. Lisicky remembers sitting in a coffee shop not far from one of the hardesthit areas downtown and asking himself, “What can I do?” It was the morning of Tuesday, April 28, the sun was shining, the rioting of the night before had quieted. He decided to put together a small Baroque orchestra and play a little Bach for passersby the next day, outside, in front of Meyerhoff Hall, which is located about three-quarters of a mile from the center of
Conductors Daniel Boico Christoph Campestrini Steven Fox Nir Kabaretti Bernard Labadie Richard Lee Mathieu Lussier Dirk Meyer James Paul Gregory Vajda Pianists Anderson & Roe Piano Duo Katherine Chi David Kadouch Alexander Korsantia Benedetto Lupo Dubravka Tomsic Gilles Vonsattel Violinists Nikki Chooi Timothy Chooi Mayuko Kamio Elina Vähälä French horn David Jolley Ensembles Calefax Reed Quintet I Musici di Roma Jasper String Quartet Kelemen Quartet New York Brass Arts Trio Signum Quartet Trio Valtorna Special Projects Acte II Cirque de la Symphonie+ Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective Ute Lemper Sopranos Tracy Dahl Karina Gauvin Christy Lombardozzi Shannon Mercer Kelley Nassief Christina Pier Mezzo-Sopranos Kristin Gornstein Abigail Nims Barbara Rearick Claire Shackleton Contralto Emily Marvosh Tenors Frank Kelley Jesús León Tilman Lichdi Christopher Pfund Steven Tharp Daniel Weeks Lawrence Wiliford Baritones Anton Belov Jochen Kupfer+ Richard Zeller Bass-Baritones Stephen Bryant Michael Dean Kevin Deas Basses Nikita Storojev Chorus La Chapelle de Québec +non-exclusive 174 West 4th St., Suite 109 New York, NY 10014 phone212.421.7676 fax212.935.3279 webdispeker.com
Helping Communities Heal
In addition to the orchestras covered in the accompanying article, here are examples of activities by North American orchestras in response to recent tragic world and local events.
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic added Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings to its concerts on the November 14-15 weekend, and sent the following email to concertgoers before the event: “With heavy hearts, our attention turns to Paris in this time of tragedy. Tonight we join with those around the world in solidarity and pay tribute to those affected by the recent attacks.… Often it is through the expression of music, art, and creativity that healing can begin.” The Detroit Symphony Orchestra dedicated its concert and webcast on November 14 to the victims of the Paris attacks, and performed the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” Guest conductor Fabien Gabel, who is Parisborn, led the concert. In Texas, the San Antonio Symphony, led by Music Director Sebastian LangLessing, played “La Marseillaise” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” at its performances following the Paris terrorist attacks. The Santa Cruz Symphony in California dedicated its November 14 concert to Paris. Two of the works on the program were by French composers—Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 and Debussy’s Clair de lune—and the evening opened with “La Marseillaise.” Music Director Daniel Stewart led the concert. At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the orchestra, choristers, and backstage personnel performed the French national anthem under the baton of Plácido Domingo, who led the November 14 matinée performance of Tosca. In Ottawa, Canada, the National Arts Centre Orchestra performed the French national anthem at its November
14 concert. Conductor Jack Everly stated that he and the orchestra wished to pay tribute to the people who died in Paris. An orchestra spokeswoman reports, “The musicians wanted to do this, and the audience was very moved. People immediately stood and applauded when the music began.” At the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., visiting conductor Gianandrea Noseda spoke from the stage on November 14 to dedicate the NSO’s performance of Alfredo Casella’s Elegia eroica to the people of France.
“After we finished the piece, there was not a dry eye in the house. It was our moment to give back to the community,” says Janna Hymes, music director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra in Virginia.
Syrian Refugee Crisis:
the riots. “I didn’t want to do it in the hall, where you have to cross a barrier and open a door,” Lisicky says. “This was supposed to be for anybody who was out and just wanted to stop by. It was about music— about offering a half-hour where people could just take a breath” from the recent upheaval. “I called every musician in the orchestra; I didn’t want to leave anyone out,” recalls Lisicky. “I told them, ‘We’re just going to get together and read through this music
In January of this year, musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, performed a benefit concert for Syrian refugees at a Catholic church in a Minneapolis suburb. Principal Cello Anthony Ross and Assistant Principal Cello Beth Rapier (the two are married) organized the project to aid relief efforts for the millions of refugees who have fled war-torn Syria. Funds raised went to the American Refugee Committee, which is based in Minnesota.
Shooting Victims: In Michigan, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra dedicated its February 27 concert to the victims of shootings by a city resident the previous week. “The traumatic events that took place last Saturday evening, leaving many families and friends suddenly without their loved ones, are surreal and heartbreaking for our community,” said Symphony President and CEO Peter H. Gistelinck. “In light of such tragedy we have seen a community brought together.… The dedication of this performance, to the family and friends of these victims, is the least we can do to show our love and support.”
New York Philharmonic Archives
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, New York Philharmonic musicians formed chamber groups to play free lunchtime concerts as solace and support for people living and working in lower Manhattan. The ensembles gave thirteen concerts at venues including the World Financial Center, South Street Seaport, Liberty Plaza, and Federal Hall. Here, Philharmonic musicians give a free concert in downtown Manhattan on November 5, 2001.
On May 9, 2015, Music Director Marin Alsop led a “Music for Peace” concert with members of the Baltimore Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, OrchKids, Peabody Institute, and other local groups at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, which is located in a neighborhood hit by violent protests over the death of Freddie Gray.
“ Working with Marcus Roberts is always filled with surprise. It gives me so much pleasure and the deep satisfaction of making music.” – Seiji Ozawa, Musical Director Ozawa Matsumoto Festival
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and see what happens. We won’t begrudge you if you don’t come, but we hope you will.’ I didn’t care whether we had an audience or not.” Thirty-six hours later, at noon on a sundrenched day, several hundred people— black, white, young, old—showed up to hear about 40 members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform in front of the hall. Operations staff had set up the music stands and chairs and cleared the area; library staff had pulled “everything from Baroque to Beethoven,” says Lisicky, since no one knew which players would show up with what instruments. The public relations staff helped to get the word out. “It was a total group effort,” says Lisicky. They did play a few Baroque numbers, including the second movement of Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite (a.k.a. “Air on a G-string”), along with the Overture to Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music. They even dug out the city anthem, “Baltimore, Oh Baltimore,” written in 1914 and not performed by the orchestra in some 50 years. They closed with the Finale to Beethoven’s Second Symphony, conducted by Music Director Marin Alsop. “It was such a special moment,” says Lisicky. “It was not about putting on a show. It was not about preaching. It was just about music, about everyone being on the same level. We didn’t have to tell them who we were; we were all part of the same neighborhood. “At the end, when we all left, the city was still on a curfew and some of us had to drive past tanks and machine guns.” If ever there was an example of an orchestra serving its community in times of crisis, this was it. And perhaps the best part of it was that it was spontaneous— born of its musicians’ need to do something, to reach out, to provide comfort in the way they know best: through the unspoken connection that music so eloquently provides. SUSAN ELLIOTT writes frequently on the arts and is the editor of MusicalAmerica.com.
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Hip-hop artist Bun B performed at the Houston Symphony’s 2013 “Houston in Concert Against Hate,” presented in collaboration with the AntiDefamation League. Houston Symphony Associate Conductor Robert Franz led the concert.
Ben Van Houten
Below: At the Seattle Symphony’s June 6, 2014 concert, rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot performed his 1992 hit “Baby Got Back” with the orchestra and Music Director Ludovic Morlot. The concert turned into an impromptu dance party after women from the audience were invited onstage.
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Kendrick Lamar performs with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, led by NSO Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, October 2015.
by Winston Cook-Wilson
he single most powerful moment in Kendrick Lamar’s sold-out October 2015 National Symphony Orchestra concert at the Kennedy Center, according to the NSO’s Rita Shapiro and Justin Ellis, came just before the encore. “He quieted the audience down to nothing and said, ‘This is your moment. We belong here, we are here,’ ” Ellis remembers. “There was this pure, piercing silence … and then he just kicked into ‘Alright,’ ” the biggest single from his March 2015 Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly. “There was a palpable energy in the audience I have not felt in any other performance,” says Ellis, the orchestra’s artistic administrator. “Some people have it in gospel churches.” Ellis is not alone in his critical assessment. Pitchfork reviewer Marcus Moore called the concert “a triumph for americanorchestras.org
Examining the past, present, and possible future of hip-hop at the symphony.
hip-hop overall”; Rolling Stone’s Al Shipley commended the “vital” program’s curation, calling the program “a seamless suite with a narrative flow.” To Ellis, the main attraction of the show was Lamar’s motivational ability with the crowd, which The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhauser described as “a crowd-pleasing intensity that’s often only hinted at on his albums.” At the Kennedy Center, Lamar’s songs from To Pimp a Butterfly, as well as other Lamar themes and songs, were interwoven into a single new artistic entity; the intricate orchestrations, no mere backing chords, followed months of work between a team of arrangers, Lamar bandleader and musical director Dion “Dzyne” Filey, and Ellis. Ellis says the project was “life-consuming” and “the most time he had ever spent” on a professional project. And, notes Ellis,
“Concerts like this are not moneymakers for the rap artists—for a Kendrick, Madison Square Garden will be—but there’s a significance to it.” The Compton rapper’s appearance with the NSO, in the opinion of many, turned out to be one of the most culturally significant live music events of last year. Kendrick’s musically and lyrically dense, genrebending catalogue is one of the most popular in contemporary hip-hop. Following a debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, the politically charged content of his Pimp a Butterfly only became more relevant as the tumultuous year went on. “The week before the concert in October, in D.C.,” Ellis recalls, “the Million Man March was chanting one of the songs, ‘Alright.’ Obama had just said Kendrick was one of his favorite artists, and
concerts are happening in concert halls could seem surprising, given rap’s often raunchy, politically charged lyrics. But NSO Executive Director Rita Shapiro says programs that combine populist appeal and artistic integrity can yield big cultural rewards: “I think we’re all working really hard to reach new audiences, and that has to be more than a buzzword. You have to Composer Derek Bermel, artistic director of the American actually do it. There is a place in Composers Orchestra, uses rap-derived rhythms in his the portfolio of the symphony compositions. He hopes more orchestras will immerse themselves deeply in hip-hop tradition. orchestra to work with completely different genres, especialthat ‘The Blacker the Berry’ was one of his ly genres that touch contemporary culture.” favorite songs.” In February, Lamar went on to win Grammys for Best Rap Song Seattle Symphony and Sir Mix-a-Lot and Best Rap Performance for “Alright,” Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 2014 appearance with and Best Rap Album for Butterfly. the Seattle Symphony might be the most In many ways, the dynamic NSO perwidely disseminated orchestra/rap colformance at the Kennedy Center felt laboration, thanks to a viral video that tolike a culmination of recent years, during day boasts 3.5 million views. The event has which live collaborations between rappers been etched in memory as That One Time and symphony orchestras were becoming a dozen-plus audience members shimmied increasingly common. The NSO’s sucand twerked on the stage of Benaroya Hall cess with the concert could be to the strains of “Baby Got one of the benchmarks against Back.” In hindsight, it’s strikwhich other orchestras will ing how starkly the critical stake their future hip-hop-rereaction then contrasted with lated endeavors. The NSO/Lathe way Kendrick Lamar’s mar concert came less than two event with the NSO was years after the Seattle Symreceived in 2015. Assorted phony’s team-up with homepundits excoriated the ortown ’90s pop-rap icon Sir chestral arrangement of the Mix-a-Lot. Other recent col- Rita Shapiro, rapper’s 1992 hit. However, laborations include the Brook- executive Aaron Flagg, in this magalyn Philharmonic’s outdoor zine, likened the uproarious free performances with rapper director of performance to the premiere Yasiin Bey (formerly known the National of The Rite of Spring, igniting as Mos Def ) in 2011-12; the Symphony a welcome and impassioned Houston Symphony’s 2013 public discussion about mu“Houston in Concert Against Orchestra, says sic played by a professional Hate” performance with hip- Kendrick Lamar orchestra that happens all too hop artist Bun B, in collabora- was “blown away rarely today. tion with the Anti-Defamation To Simon Woods, presiLeague; and this April’s Cin- by hearing his dent and CEO of the Seattle cinnati Pops Classical Roots music performed Symphony, both weighty concert with hip-hop artist/ac- by a symphony analysis and outrage feel intor Common. congruous with events of As orchestras aim to broaden orchestra” at that night. “Anybody who audiences and stretch them- the first of two was in the hall—and it’s reselves artistically, they are be- rehearsals for ally captured in the video— coming more comfortable knows that there was a real programming rap in a variety the October 2015 joy in the participation that of contexts. The fact that such show. happened on stage,” Woods
says. “There was a spontaneity that is not traditionally associated with symphony orchestras, which people kind of assume are more buttoned up institutions.” The proof of the collaboration’s success, he argues, is easy to find. “If you look at the comments on YouTube, there are hundreds to the tune of ‘I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. What a great thing.’ ” Woods only wishes that not so much of the coverage of the event focused on just a third of the Sir Mix-a-Lot portion of the program that night. Gabriel Prokofiev— a composer, deejay, and former hip-hop producer who blends electronic music and turntablism into his orchestral compositions—arranged another Sir Mix-a-Lot original: the rapper’s “Posse on Broadway,” a 1988 tribute to partying in Seattle. The symphony also premiered a rhythmically complex commissioned work by Prokofiev, for electronics and orchestra, entitled Dial 1-900-Mixalot. As Prokofiev explains in his program notes, the piece “explores several aspects of Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s music and lyrical character.” Pointing to this piece in particular, Woods counters the notion that the concert was “some kind of middle-of-the-road [pops] production.” With crossover programming in general, he insists, the Seattle Symphony is “much more interested in the slightly more edgy, arty end,” and creating daring stylistic syntheses that take both parties out of their comfort zones. The mark of a good crossover collaboration, for Woods, is a “sense of mutual participation,” leading to both sides coming away feeling “enriched.” Beethoven Meets Hip-Hop in Brooklyn
Composer Derek Bermel, artistic director of the American Composers Orchestra, is an avid hip-hop fan. He uses rap-derived rhythms in many of his own compositions, and in 2011 and 2012 he helped put together two of the earliest and still most creatively daring collaborations between a major orchestra and an MC in the country. (In rap, MC refers to an artist/performer who creates and performs vocals of his own original material.) These were two outdoor free performances by the late Brooklyn Philharmonic, under the baton of Alan Pierson, which featured contributions from legendary New York rapper, actor, and activist Yasiin Bey. symphony
The shows were each intrepid, experimental mashups, offering a fresh and unapologetic vision of how hip-hop and art-music styles can meaningfully be synthesized. In addition to arrangements of his own songs, Bey performed the recitation in Frederic Rzewski’s 1971 minimalist work Coming Together in the group’s 2011 concert. The next year, Bey rapped original verses over Bermel’s hip-hop-influenced Landscapes (from his “Migration Series”) and the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. “At first, Yasiin said, ‘I’m having a hard time finding a way into this piece, because it’s so different than where or who I am,’ ” Bermel explains. “I sent him [Beethoven’s famous 1802 letter] the ‘Heiligenstadt Testament,’ because that is such a personal glimpse into where his mind was at that point. Once Bey got that, he said ‘I got this now.’ ” As Bermel sees it, “Composition was an act of triumph over pain for Beethoven at that point, and that was something Bey could relate to.’ ” Though Bermel hopes more orchestras will immerse themselves deeply in hip-hop
In April, the rapper Common performed “Glory” from the 2014 movie Selma with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra during its annual Classical Roots concert, which celebrates African-American musical heritage through gospel, R&B, and spirituals.
tradition, as he did when working with Bey, he realizes that an important first step is having symphony orchestras interact with rap artists. “Orchestras working with pop stars is a phenomenon that has been going on since the beginning of the 20th century, and that can be a fruitful kind of project,” Bermel states. “Different projects serve different functions. It’s possible that americanorchestras.org
which is definitely more hardbitten—were mitigated by the fact that the concert was built around a theme (“honoring vocal pioneers against civil and human rights abuses,” as he explains it) and the audience would be full of schoolchildren and families. (This was the first time Bun had performed in front of his mother.) Ultimately, the rapper felt positively about the In 2011 and 2012, the Brooklyn Philharmonic gave two free outdoor performances featuring rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly performance, in which he also known as Mos Def), led by Alan Pierson. joined the orchestra and gospel choir for a performance of just having a collaboration, period, might John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “It was an inbring a new audience into the symphony. credible way for me to express myself and Even just going through the motions can represent hip-hop culture,” he says. “There be a good thing.” In Bermel’s mind, there were definitely people there who were takis significance inherent in giving rap arten aback. But they still enjoyed it.” ists the ability to express their perspective Longtime Chicago rap icon and actor in spaces that have historically been closed Common’s performance with the Cincinoff to them. Even as a smaller part of pronati Symphony Orchestra this April was, grams by orchestras, rap collaborations can in many ways, similarly conceived. It was, still be important. as Director of Artistic Administration Sam Strater explains, an attempt to inteRoots Connections in Houston and grate a hip-hop voice into a larger, themed Cincinnati performance: the Cincinnati Pops’ annual The Houston Symphony’s 2013 “Houston Classical Roots concert, which the orchesin Concert Against Hate,” a collaboratra calls an “annual celebration of African tion with hip-hop artist Bun B, served as American musical heritage,” and like the both a 100th-birthday party and a fundHSO program also features a church choir. raiser for the Anti-Defamation League, Common’s song was one of the rapper’s the civil rights organization founded in own: his recent Academy-Award-winning October 1913 by the Independent Order collaboration with R&B star John Legof B’nai B’rith. Following the death of his end for Selma, the acclaimed 2014 Martin musical partner in 2007, Bun—one-half of Luther King Jr. biopic. “Glory” is as much the duo UGK, among the most significant a highly melodic pop ballad as a hip-hop hip-hop acts in the city’s history—is now song, with a built-in lush orchestration, so regarded as an important solo artist in his unlike most rap/orchestral performances, own right, and currently teaches a course very little reinterpretation was necessary. “ at Rice University on religion and hip-hop ‘Glory’ has a more standard song structure, culture. For the 2013 concert, the idea to which makes this a bit different,” Strater work with the local legend—sometimes explains. “The concert is more about what referred to as the “second mayor of HousCommon represents than about hipton”—came courtesy of the Anti-Defamahop. This is not a Common concert, this tion League. is more about having Common here to The choice of repertoire was also the represent—obviously himself, but also a ADL’s. “They wanted me to do ‘Where style.” is the Love’ by the Black Eyed Peas,” says Performances in which a hip-hop artist Bun B. The rapper offered to write his own briefly stands in as a “representative” can lyrics to the music, and the offer was accome across as ploys to score “outreach” cepted, as long as he provided the words points rather than serious attempts at enahead of time. Bun’s reservations about gaging with the artist’s particular musical doing a predesignated, non-original song vision. To many professional orchestras, outside of his stylistic comfort zone— though, small-scale, tightly curated pro-
National Symphony and Hip-Hop
The gears for the National Symphony’s concert with Kendrick Lamar were set in motion before NSO administrators knew how timely the event would end up being. Shapiro recalls the genesis of the project:
“I have a family member who works in [the pop music] world. He said to me, ‘You need Kendrick Lamar.’ I said, ‘I know that name,’ and started Googling him. He said, ‘He is the hottest rapper in the country.’ ” Shapiro quickly realized, however, just how worth “moving heaven and Earth” this project was. “Most of my board said, ‘Who’s Kendrick Lamar?’ ” Shapiro admits. “But the moment they told their adult children, I was everybody’s best friend.... ‘Yes, I can try to help you get tickets.’ ” Tickets for the one-night-only event ended up selling out online in less than twenty minutes. Ellis recalls seeing “close to 10,000 people on the virtual waiting list, waiting to buy the last ticket.” The whole thing came together after a months-long email correspondence with Lamar’s label Top Dawg Entertainment, with a concert date set just three months ahead of time. In the pop world, this is considered fair warning, but in the symphony orchestra realm it’s almost impossibly last-minute. Meanwhile, Ellis and arranger Tim Davies—who had worked with the NSO on
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grams are as far as they can reasonably go with rap-related programming. Many symphonic audiences—even the pops community, who by now are used to shows featuring R&B artists like Boyz II Men or Fantasia Barrino, whose music often intersects stylistically with hip-hop—remain leery of the genre. “We’re all trying to figure out how to do rap crossover concerts excellently,” says Houston Director of Popular Programming Lesley Sabol. “At least in my market, I can’t put rap-and-orchestra concerts in front of my subscribers because there would be mutiny. The median age of our audience is, I think, 55. It’s challenging.” If Bun B returned to the HSO to perform his own music, Sabol notes, it would have to be as part of a “oneoff ” or a “summer special.”
Q-Tip—MC, producer, and co-founder of the hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest—was recently appointed the Kennedy Center’s first artistic director for hip-hop culture.
their collaboration with New York rapper Nas in 2014—dealt with the daunting issue of preparing the charts. Ellis and Davies flew to Burbank, California to meet with Kendrick’s bandleader and musical
1938 with Benny Goodman, that was 40 director, Dion “Dzyne” Filey, and to deteryears after the genre became a thing,” he mine a set list that would work for both explains. “We’re kind of in that moment Lamar’s backing band—the Wesley Theohere. It’s time for orchestras and classiry—and the orchestra. “In hip-hop—with cal institutions to start doing something Kendrick, especially—he’s not doing the about having hip-hop represented in what same song the same way each time,” Elthey do.” lis explains. “So we got the rehearsal stems But to some in the classical community, [audio tracks] of him rehearsing with his merging rap-concert-going communities band, and Tim arranged and orchestrated and traditional classical and pops audiencaround a click track.” Davies’s charts, proes into a new, idealized type of symphony duced with the help of a small team of audience will always be a pipe dream, pure arrangers, greatly enhanced the scope of and simple, and will not help build an Kendrick’s already-lush songs, which are orchestra’s core audience. To the Seattle often inflected with hints of classic funk, Symphony’s Simon Woods, that critique soul, and even post-bop jazz. is completely beside the point, and reveals Davies and Dzyne’s music is stunning, a dangerously conservative mindset. For but the concert might well have not made him, worrying about retention rate doesn’t the impact it did had Kendrick not been enter into programming methodology, “I so deeply invested in the project. “He apdon’t take the view that some people take, proached this as a very serious engagewhich is ‘We do lots of other stuff around ment,” Ellis recalls. “He knew the role he orchestra music in order to bring people to was playing in society, and what it meant our core product,’ ” he argues. for him to be doing his music “Orchestras are an incredible at the Kennedy Center, with platform for playing lots of this orchestra, in this city. He different kinds of music. Each rewrote lyrics in his songs thing we do attracts a different to reflect what was happencommunity.” ing at that moment, that day One thing is obvious: conin D.C., even about politics.” cert halls are invariably filled The occasion was also signififor rap-goes-to-the-symphocant in that it marked the first ny events. If there was ever any time Lamar would be playing “When jazz was doubt about rap’s crossover a lot of the music on his new introduced at potential, the record-breakalbum live. Shapiro recalls that Carnegie Hall in ing success of Lin-Manuel the rapper was “blown away by hearing his music performed 1938 with Benny Miranda’s off-Broadway-toBroadway rap musical Hamby a symphony orchestra” at Goodman, that ilton—this year’s Pulitzer the first of two rehearsals for was 40 years Prize winner in the drama the show. category—has effectively put In Shapiro’s view, it is be- after the genre coming a matter of consensus became a thing,” it to rest for many members that symphonic institutions says Sam Strater, of the orchestra community. For Bun B, also, the popularneed to champion hip-hop in ity of Hamilton is also deeply one way or another, and that the Cincinnati significant, exemplifying the orchestra boards and pro- Symphony type of project he’d like to see grammers cannot, in good Orchestra’s from art-music institutions faith, continue to tacitly align themselves with the categori- director and hip-hop artists going cally skeptical portion of their of artistic forward. “I think Hamilton is public. The Cincinnati Sym- administration. showing us that there are new phony’s Sam Strater believes ways to tell stories, that they that the classical world can’t “We’re kind of can be culturally impactful,” ignore the fact that hip-hop in that moment Bun B says. “You don’t have to has been at the vanguard of here with have a great sense of hip-hop musical innovation for nearly to get Hamilton, right? I think four decades. “When jazz was orchestras and people are now starting to see introduced at Carnegie Hall in hip-hop.” that hip-hop has been repreamericanorchestras.org
The Young Musicians Foundation’s free “Yeethoven” concert in Los Angeles this April featured a mash-up of music by Beethoven and rapper Kanye West, led by Yuga Cohler.
senting America out in the world, and is a legitimate art form to be appreciated and respected.” Long-Term Investment
It will take more demonstrations of sustained interest to draw hip-hop artists and fans to the concert hall as a regular destination. Even Bun B, despite enjoying his experience with the HSO, feels that the setting—with its attendant social conventions and perceived high ticket prices—is not an easy fit for hip-hop. He is more enthusiastic about the possibility of putting an orchestral spin on his own music outside of a standard concert setting. “I would love to do something with the symphony that’s filmed for posterity and kind of goes out more virally, rather than in front of a group of people,” Bun B says. He cites social media tactics like those used by Migos, a Southern rap group, which has gotten 700,000 YouTube views of one of their club hits, performed by a pick-up chamber orchestra. The Kennedy Center took an important step toward long-term investment in hip-hop in February, when its president, Deborah Rutter, appointed Q-Tip— MC, producer, and co-founder of one of the genre’s most innovative and naturally charismatic groups, A Tribe Called Quest—to be the Center’s first artistic
At the Houston Symphony’s 2013 “Houston in Concert Against Hate,” hip-hop artist Bun B and actress Alfre Woodard received honorary medals from the Anti-Defamation League’s Jerry Axelrod and Martin B. Cominsky.
director for hip-hop culture. Q-Tip, who has been an icon in the hip-hop community for well over 25 years, said that he hopes to help put together programs that give some context to the genre. “With
hip-hop constantly changing and evolving, it is easy to forget the history and legacy that precedes it,” he said in a press statement. “I want to begin at the beginning of the culture to help people see its
roots, better understand its present, and responsibly create its future.” Making Kendrick Lamar’s “We Belong Here” mantra ring true for both hip-hop performers and first-time audience members in concert halls will take time, and will require classical music institutions to take some risks with their core audiences along the way. The NSO’s Ellis acknowledges that getting a broad-scale, experimental initiative to work requires building trust with the community. He believes that Q-Tip’s appointment is a concerted step toward doing that. “You can say that you’re committed to presenting Latin music, or music of Catholicism,” Ellis continues. “But until you actually name someone associated with it, you don’t really have the ambassador, or the chutzpah, to say: ‘We’re committed to this art form.’ ” WINSTON COOK-WILSON is a freelance writer and musician living in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Grantland, SPIN, and The Village Voice. He writes regularly about culture at Inverse.com.
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Engagement German orchestras can no longer take a love of classical music for granted. Now an explosion of educational activities is changing the country’s orchestral landscape. 44
n a winter afternoon in the foyer of Berlin’s Philharmonie, a group of teenagers blew into glass bottles and yelled in time to the conducting of Berlin Philharmonic trombonist Thomas Leyendecker. Audience members crowded around the small stage or peered down from the railings. The free concert featuring composers from the 1960s-era Fluxus movement brought together student performers with musicians of the Philharmonic and a pianist from the contemporary music ensemble Zeitkratzer. They had prepared for two weeks through in-school visits.
by Rebecca Schmid
Such activities were not always the case in Germany. But a steady decline in school music programs, the need to address a more ethnically diverse population, and the awareness that native-born children, too, are further removed from the country’s classical tradition have spawned an explosion in engagement activities and interactive formats, from “baby concerts” for the youngest music lovers to real-time painting sessions onstage. According to the German Orchestra Association, educational events almost doubled between 2003-04 and 2013-14, rising from 2,141 to 4,159 across the country. Concerts for children and young people rose from 742 symphony
Young musicians experiment with handmade instruments at a Berlin Philharmonic children’s concert.
to 1,365 during the same period. Meanwhile, the number of straight symphonic concerts fell slightly, from 6,027 to 5,494. For orchestras in the United States, educational engagement is part of the institutional DNA, and though it is tempting to equate the shift toward education in Germany with a similar trend on the American landscape, some basic differences apply to German orchestras. In Germany, despite scattered casualties such as the recently confirmed merger of the Southwest Radio orchestras, keeping alive 131 symphonic bodies for a population of just over 80 million is a national badge of pride, and both generous public subsidies and corporate sponsorship are the envy of some struggling European neighbors. americanorchestras.org
Although there is the same struggle to build new, younger audiences, the German Orchestra Association tracked a rise in overall attendance between 2004-05 and 2010-11. While there has not been a similar study since 2011, last season’s numbers reveal stable attendance across the country, according to the Association. In addition, orchestras in Germany still function as government-supported institutions. German Orchestra Association Executive Director Gerald Mertens says that German orchestras are increasing educational engagement less for audience development than as a way to legitimize themselves as public institutions. While orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the need to establish more rel-
Meeting musicians and trying out instruments during an open house at Konzerthaus Berlin
Trying a violin with a musician from the Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Young musicians encounter the professional musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic at a MusikPlus event.
evance in their communities, German institutions are not as focused on generating “the audience of the future.” Says Mertens, “The result is probably the same as in the States, but the intrinsic motivation is different. To justify oneself politically, I can say, ‘I am not just a high-culture institution, but I have engaged myself for families, grandchildren, and grandparents. I have a wide portfolio showing that I reach a broader swath of society than the standard classical-music audience.’ ” Although it is increasingly common to recruit sponsors for specific engagement projects, the majority of funding comes from state support. (Subsidies account for 81 percent of orchestra budgets in Germany, according to the latest study of the Ger-
man Orchestra Association.) In Germany, a ucation or engagement, while The Berlin Philharmonic another third participate in steady decline represents an exception. projects alongside these more While largely funded by the in school music motivated players. city of Berlin, its education programs, the Work begun by the Phildepartment, created in 2002 harmonic’s education deawareness that at the initiative of then-mupartment early in this centusic director Sir Simon Rattle, children are ry has had a catalytic effect. enjoys full sponsorship of the removed from Orchestras that formerly unDeutsche Bank. Education derstood unmoderated perthe country’s Department Director Anformances of Prokofiev’s Pedrea Tober nevertheless un- classical-music ter and the Wolf as children’s derscores the importance of tradition, and the fare have introduced interacfulfilling an obligation to the tive, experimental formats, need to address community at large: “Everymany of which reveal the one pays taxes for culture in an ethnically influence of the Response Germany. If we want cultural diverse population Method on which former institutions to have the same London Symphony Orcheshave spawned societal backing as they have tra flutist Richard McNihad, then we have to make an explosion col built the Philharmonic’s sure we are palpable and rel- in engagement education department. The evant for everyone.” In 2015, method breaks down musical activities. the orchestra worked with structures into simple elea total of 166 schools, 40 ments and allows young chilmore than the previous year and about four dren to recreate the piece with means such times as many as in 2002. Events ranged as clapping rhythms or playing percussion from “creative studios” exploring jazz singinstruments, with the result that they uning or contemporary dance to a children’s derstand the work as their own. production of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. Whether because of the Response Tober estimates that a third of the orchesMethod’s proven effectiveness in the mutra’s 128 musicians are highly active in edsic of Stravinsky and beyond, or because of
(c) Dortmund Philharmonic-Woda
In a rehearsal room at the concert hall, Dortmund Philharmonic musicians play and explain music for young people; the musicians also visit the children in their schools or kindergartens.
Andrea Tober, director of education at the Berlin Philharmonic: “We have to make sure we are palpable and relevant for everyone.”
the German-speaking world’s pre-existing openness to modern and contemporary repertoire, a 2010 study by the Robert Bosch Foundation together with the Salz burg Mozarteum found that orchestras in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have widened their children’s concert repertoire from a focus on “obvious works” such as Peter and the Wolf to include “the entire spectrum of the symphonic catalogue.” The study also revealed that, when given the opportunity, orchestras favored joining forces with contemporary music ensembles in pedagogical performance activities. In contrast, education programs in the U.S. tend to focus on more traditional music. The Berlin Philharmonic’s Tober believes that modern and contemporary repertoire is particularly effective with students who haven’t studied instruments and developed preconceived ideas. “In new music,” says Tober, “one can use formal principles to interpolate artistic processes with the wonderful side effect that one really perceives music differently—not just the traditional harmonic scheme, but the fact that sounds themselves can create energy.” For Berlin Philharmonic violist Matthew Hunter, who has taken an active role in engagement activities, the goal is “to access children in every way possible.” His initiatives have ranged from having fourth-graders create a musical storm with percussion instruments to hanging a giant canvas in the foyer of the Philharmonie on which third-graders painted their response to a performance of Helmut Lachenmann’s 2000 work Sakura Variations, which is based on a Japanese children’s song. “I don’t think we can affect every single child,” Hunter says. “But I’m absolutely certain that some come away yearning for an ability to communicate with sound.” Getting Close to Musicians
Across town from the Philharmonie is the Konzerthaus, the former East Berlin concert hall that is home to its own orsymphony
chestra, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Christine Mellich, the orchestra’s concert and theater pedagogue, speaks passionately about a project in which high-school students are preparing to perform a freshly commissioned work by the German composer Dieter Schnebel together with his instrumental and theatrical ensemble, Maulwerker. In a program including other Schnebel works, student performers will vocalize and execute the composer’s signature body language, learning graphic notation for first time. In the new work, for performers and synthesizer, members of Maulwerker will execute body language together with the children. In another work, the children will perform alongside a cellist. The Konzerthaus currently offers 180 educational events annually, up from 160 events in the 2014-15 season. Intendant Sebastian Nordmann, however, envisions in-school visits and youth concerts as part of an overall strategy: to open the house up to the city rather than make isolated attempts at audience-building. (Nordmann’s programming can involve more than just performances onstage: for a recent French-themed festival, the concert hall’s windows projected red, blue, and white light onto the plaza and the ushers wore berets.) The Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer, who arrived as Konzerthausorchester music director in 2012, has americanorchestras.org
played a vital role, adapting age-specific programs he had developed with his Budapest Festival Orchestra. “Previously there was a stage and an audience,” says Nordmann. “The same was true for children’s programs. The decisive change happening now is that children don’t just sit in the audience but are brought into contact with the work and the musicians. And it is a favorable market: the kids are interested. We cannot say if they will one day become subscribers, but we all know a strong impression in childhood stays in the head.” He adds that, given children’s ability to listen without preconceived ideas about what is good and bad, the house’s “junior department” should ensure that they develop an early appreciation of newly composed works. All the same, the Konzerthaus offers pedagogical programs about historic composers through series such as “Bach Marathons” and “Mozart Matinees,” which are geared toward listeners of all ages. A Nationwide Movement
Orchestras in smaller cities, too, have plunged into more differentiated programs and educational formats. The Dortmund Philharmonic, in the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia, has for three seasons run an ambitious education program called “Expedition Klassik.” The
Ingrid Schrader, intendant of the Hofer Symphoniker in the city of Hof
Ensembles at the the Hofer Symphoniker’s music school venture beyond the classical to include a children’s rock band.
orchestra offers approximately three Expedition Klassik events per month, from “Lieblingstücke,” where audience members can request their favorite pop song to be performed by violin and orchestra, to an “Orchesterwerkstatt,” in which orchestra members demonstrate how their instruments are played. The attendance rate for youth concerts is almost 100 percent, and overall attendance rose from 68 percent in 2013-14 to 75 percent last season. Barbara Volkwein, head of Musikvermittlung (which translates as “music communication”) at the Dortmund Philharmonic since 2012, points out that tickets cost under 10 euros thanks to public funding. But she also cites a generational shift among today’s players. “They know that orchestras can only survive if they pass on their know-how,” she says. “It is not just about looking after the audience of tomorrow. Young people have to understand classical music as part of musical life and life in general. They will only understand that if our musicians go to schools and show them how a woodwind quintet sounds. Or if we attract young people with crossover concerts and Hollywood hits. They nevertheless get a classical orchestra.” Volkwein does not consider “youth” to be restricted to a specific age group, but rath-
er should apply to those who are “young in the head,” citing a series called “Groove Symphony” that brings a deejay together with the orchestra. A pressing issue for Germany’s cultural institutions is how to create an inviting atmosphere for immigrant children and their families. With the influx of roughly one million refugees from the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans in 2015, orchestras across the country have organized events such as “Welcome Concerts” or “Integration Days.” The Berlin Philharmonic has plans next season to invite Syrian musicians to present their instruments, ac-
cording to Tober. The orchestra previously held a chamber music series called “Alla Turca” which sought to connect with Berlin’s 200,000-member Turkish community, the largest outside Turkey. The Konzert haus Berlin, with the support of the real estate company degewo AG, has since 2011 run a series in a housing project of the Neukölln district, which has an immigrant population of about 33 percent. The program currently involves eight schools
in workshops that culminate in visits to performances at the Konzerthaus. By contrast, orchestras in small cities such as the Dortmund Philharmonic or the Hofer Symphoniker, in upper Bavaria, favor allinclusive programs so as not to isolate any given ethnic group. The Hofer Symphoniker has run its own music school since 1978. The school was founded for the simple, if prescient, reason that Wilfried Anton, the former
intendant, recognized the need to develop the younger generation’s understanding of classical music, calling the orchestra a “socio-musical instrument.” In 1994, the school began partnerships with other state schools, from elementary to vocational. Current Intendant Ingrid Schrader says that the institutional structure in which all players’ contracts stipulate up to six hours of teaching formerly drew ridicule. Now, other institutions ask for advice. The inhouse school recently added the Suzuki method and a course for adults who want to freshen up their piano skills. It will next add music therapy. Run as a private institution but supported largely by the state of Bavaria, the orchestra generates 46 percent Konzerthausorchester Berlin Intendant Sebastian Nordmann: “The decisive change happening now is that children don’t just sit in the audience but are brought into contact with the work and the musicians.”
It’s what we can’t see that we all need to understand.
of its own income—an unusually high percentage given the predominance of public funding in the country, where government support provides an average of 81 percent of budgets. Schrader also cites an attendance rate of nearly 100 percent. The city of Hof ’s population is under 50,000. Networking
“The results have been inspirational and we will be forever grateful for their partnership and support.”
Anne Parsons, President and Executive Director Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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As education receives increasing emphasis in institutions across Germany, national networks have emerged to consolidate and, in some cases, ensure, the quality of initiatives. In 2003, the German Orchestra Association launched a nationwide network to strengthen ties between orchestras and schools. In 2006, the “Netzwerk Junge Ohren” (Network for Young Ears) was created to professionalize educational outreach across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The network consortium awards an annual prize to a musical production designed for young audiences and publishes its own magazine written largely by and for educators. In 2014, radio station ARD involved 22,000 students across Germany in “Das Dvořák-Experiment,” which included conducting workshops, pantomime training, a flash mob, a pan-flute orchestra, and a live stream of Dvořák’s Ninth Symsymphony
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Hofer Symphoniker flutist Martin Seel with students at one of the orchestra’s music education events.
phony performed by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. The project continued with George Gershwin as the focus in 2015, and this year revolves around Vivaldi. Education and engagement have also become a cause at conservatories in small cities such as Detmold, Hannover, and Lübeck, which offer bachelors’ and masters’ programs in Musikvermittlung (music communication), sometimes combined with
music management. For the Berlin Philharmonic’s Andrea Tober, it is essential for institutions to join forces and maximize their resources. This season, the Philharmonie is presenting a children’s production of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince in partnership with a recently created department of Berlin’s University of the Arts, where budding pedagogues workshop concepts
for art projects together with school-aged children. A final concert was presented this April for five-year-olds. Philharmonie violist Matthew Hunter, who served as the project’s artistic director, emphasizes the need for the Philharmonie to be an open forum. “When we’re onstage, we want to give the greatest concert we can give,” he says. “That’s the point. We want to be the best. But the institution as a whole doesn’t want to be arid.” He then finds a more pointed metaphor: “We had a concert last night with conductor Bernard Haitink. When you see the authenticity of his motion, you want to be worthy of it. When I perform for the kids, I ask them to listen and recognize the authenticity of my feelings. If I can in some way communicate that, I’ve achieved my mission.” REBECCA SCHMID is a Berlin-based writer who contributes regularly to the Financial Times, International New York Times, Musical America Worldwide, and other publications.
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Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
In Concert City Hall
Orchestras can thrive by building alliances with a city’s mayor and elected officials— by demonstrating their role at the center of a lively arts scene that attracts business, bolsters civic pride, and enhances the community’s quality of life.
Richard Carson Nashville Symphony
by Steven Brown
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: At the Houston Symphony’s 2012 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Houston Mayor Annise Parker spoke from the stage (with her is WQXR Radio host Elliott Forrest). Nashville Mayor Karl Dean addressed the crowd at the Nashville Symphony’s free outdoor concert, shortly after the 2010 floods that damaged the city. Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer (left) with Gov. Gary Herbert during the orchestra’s Mighty 5 Tour of southern Utah in 2014. Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras Executive Director Joshua Simonds and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at CYSO’s 2013 Gala, at which Emanuel was presented with the Champion for Youth and Music Award. Above: Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, home of the Houston Symphony, hosted the inaugural ceremony for Mayor Sylvester Turner in January 2016. The Houston Symphony and local choruses performed, led by guest conductor Chelsea Tipton II—and Mayor Turner briefly took up the baton to lead the orchestra.
oon after arriving as the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s president and chief executive officer in late 2014, Mark Blakeman was thrust into a project bigger than the orchestra. Tucson arts leaders wanted Pima County to issue bonds to pay for renovating the orchestra’s main venue, downtown’s Music Hall, and other timeworn cultural facilities. Pitching in with efforts to get the proposal onto the ballot, Blakeman met with officials, attended committee sessions, and addressed county supervisors’ meetings. After the panel passed a referendum on that bond and six others—totaling $1 billion—Blakeman and the orchestra went into campaign mode. Tucson Symphony donors wrote checks toward campaign costs. The staff helped design promotional materials. Blakeman worked alongside Jonathan Rothschild,
mayor of Tucson—which owns Music Hall—and other officials making the case to the public. On Election Day last November, the voters nixed all seven bonds. But the story has another chapter. “After the bond election occurred, and regrettably it didn’t pass,” Blakeman says, “the mayor came back to me very quickly and said, ‘Let’s sit down together. Let’s talk about what your needs are. Let’s see what we might be able to do.’ ” Since then, the two have brainstormed about how the orchestra might play a role in city initiatives, and how the city could help the orchestra raise its community profile. “That is a wonderful, positive byproduct of our involvement as advocates for that bond initiative,” Blakeman says. “It made my identity known among the elected officials. Having gone through that process early in my tenure, I think it gave me a jump-start on having a good working relationship with the mayor and the city manager and
To lift community spirit following the devastating 2010 flood, the Nashville Symphony worked with the city and county to present a free outdoor concert. More than 3,000 people converged on Nashville’s Public Square Park.
with other elected officials.” of Charleston, S.C.—a mecca of heritageBlakeman’s experience resonates as orand-history tourism—says that no one chestras and civic leaders nationwide build has advocated for cultural groups more alliances. Elected officials rally support for passionately than he. After describing a orchestras, leverage municipal resources, series of occasions on which the Charlesand attract TV cameras to musical groups’ ton Symphony Orchestra enhanced civic red-letter days. Orchestras serve as stanspirit and events, Riley thinks back to last dard-bearers for their homefall. The city-owned Gaillard towns, enrich young people’s From annual Center, the orchestra’s main educational opportunities, Independence concert venue, reopened after and lend excitement to big Day concerts to a transformative remodeling, civic events. More and more, part of a $142 million publicorchestras are connect- performances private project that also added ing with their hometowns’ offering solace municipal offices in an adjoinunderserved communities, after upheavals, ing building. The municipal making the music up-close offices not only assist the city, orchestras have and personal. whose staff used to be scat“I’m really delighted that long taken part in tered in rented office spaces, orchestra leaders have fully big civic events. but they bring residents to the embraced the fact that they Gaillard Center in the daytime have an important role to But now they for permits and other services, serve in reaching a broad are weaving making it even more of a comrange of their communities,” themselves even munity center. Blakeman says. “It is a bit of “We were passionately coma rebirth for American or- more tightly mitted to Gaillard serving chestras.” schoolchildren,” Riley says, so into their cities’ the center’s reopening celebratextures. From Orchestra Hall to tions included young people’s City Hall concerts by the Charleston Symphony. Orchestra leaders are finding willing partSchools sent busloads of children. “One ners in city halls and statehouses. Over the of the schools was from a rural part of our past decade-plus, the U.S. Conference of region that is socially, economically chalMayors has repeatedly adopted resolutions lenged. An usher said a child came up to trumpeting the arts’ value as a commuhim after the concert. You know how chilnity resource. Joseph Riley, who stepped dren need to report things. The child said, down in January after 40 years as mayor ‘Today is the happiest day of my life!’ He
had just heard a symphony orchestra play. Isn’t that something? That’s what music can do.” From annual Independence Day concerts to performances offering solace after upheavals—such as concerts the Baltimore Symphony organized in response to the city’s 2015 riots—orchestras have long taken part in big civic events. But now they are weaving themselves even more tightly into their cities’ textures. The month before businessman and jazz pianist John Tecklenburg succeeded Riley as Charleston’s mayor, the Charleston Symphony enlisted him to perform in the orchestra’s annual holiday concert. Almost simultaneously, Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh joined the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall to narrate The Night Before Christmas. When Houston attorney Sylvester Turner took the oath of office as his city’s mayor in January, the Houston Symphony performed at the inauguration—thanks to long-term thinking by the orchestra. As Houston Symphony Executive Director and CEO Mark Hanson recalls, the orchestra’s leaders realized two years ahead that inauguration day would be an occasion: a new mayor would inevitably take over from the term-limited incumbent, Annise Parker. During the orchestra’s 2014 contract talks, negotiators arranged provisions that smoothed the way for its taking part in the inauguration. Knowing that the ceremony traditionally takes place the first Monday morning in January, the orchestra—without waiting for an agreement with the city—built that into its schedule months before the election. And the orchestra offered its services for free. “It was that important to us to be at center stage—a visible part of this citywide celebration,” Hanson says. “We wanted to remove any concern about expense from the discussion.” The Houston Symphony’s relationship with departing Mayor Parker had paved the way. When the city took charge of the annual Thanksgiving Parade in 2012, the orchestra’s brass quintet performed on the mayor’s float. Parker took part in the January 2013 press conference announcing that Colombia native Andrés Orozco-Estrada would be the orchestra’s fifteenth music director; one of the morning’s highlights came when she presented him with a Texsymphony
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
as-sized belt buckle, and the free-spirited newcomer immediately modeled it. In June 2013, city-sponsored fireworks capped the orchestra’s 100th-anniversary concert. “It’s a mutually beneficial situation,” Hanson says. “We have made it known to at least the most recent two mayors that we want to be viewed as a cultural resource they can call on, and we will do everything we can to come through. It’s great fun to brainstorm with elected officials and symphony staff about ways for both entities to benefit each other.” The Nashville Symphony and local officials swung into action after a mammoth Cumberland River flood devastated their region in 2010. The orchestra’s home, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, swallowed five million gallons of water. But within a week, the orchestra, city, and county arranged a free outdoor concert aimed at lifting the community’s spirits, recalls Mark Blakeman, who at the time was the Nashville Symphony’s chief operating officer. About 3,000 people converged on the Metro Courthouse lawn. “We want our institutions to be part of the fabric of our communities,” Blakeman says. “We can play a very important role in community events where we bring people together and unify people. The concerts are a healing experience. A symphony orchestra can transcend language barriers and other obstacles. Orchestras can provide a depth of emotion.”
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras performed for an audience of 11,000 in the city’s Millennium Park as part of the 2015 Grant Park Music Festival.
On the federal level, the League of American Orchestras worked to help make it possible for the Nashville Symphony to access more than $30 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to restore Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The League, together with other national arts organizations, worked with Congress and federal agencies to ensure that arts organizations in communities affected by disaster can be eligible for federal relief. Congress recogThe Utah Symphony gives a free outdoor concert at the Gallivan nized the public value Center in downtown Salt Lake City in August 2015. These concerts of performing arts orpublicly recognize Salt Lake County’s Redevelopment Agency, which works to improve blighted areas of Salt Lake City, encourage ganizations by approveconomic development, and support housing for low- and moderateing a provision in Ocincome households. tober 2006 that added nonprofit performing arts facilities to the list of organizations eligible for FEMA disaster relief.
Orchestras can also help communities aim for their next successes. When the Utah Symphony traveled to New York in April for its first Carnegie Hall concert since 1976,
it took along Utah Governor Gary Herbert, business leaders, and state economicdevelopment officials. They turned the trip into a cultural and commercial double-play. A phalanx of musicians and executives rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. The business contingent met with prominent New York executives including Jamie Dimon, chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase, and they courted leaders of a Fortune 100 company that is considering moving 800 jobs to Utah. “We were able to invite several of the business leaders we met to the concert,” says Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “They witnessed firsthand our amazing symphony. Our thriving arts community is something we proudly use to attract businesses to Utah.” The symbiotic relationship between the orchestra and state capital reaches back to 1970, when Utah began funding educational programs that today carry the orchestra statewide. Despite the long tradition, the orchestra takes pains to cultivate state officials’ support, says Hillary Hahn (no relation to the violinist), the orchestra’s senior director of institutional gifts. The Utah Symphony reports regularly on how it has used the state’s money and what the results have been. Before the orchestra visits a school in a given legislator’s
Arts, and Parks (ZAP) tax, which aims to enhance resident and visitor experiences through art, cultural, and recreational offerings via a sales tax of one cent on every $10. In 2014, the ZAP tax was renewed by county residents with 77 percent of the vote. Orchestras’ educational work can help galvanize attention and support from elected officials, says Joshua Simonds, executive director of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. Do the math: the 525 budding musicians in his group’s ensembles have parents and guardians, and those adults have friends. The ripple effect continues through the 4,000-plus additional students the CYSO touches through school concerts. “Your orchestra program casts a very wide net,” Simonds says. He thinks the job of cultivating officials’ support is not just for development staff and board members. Anyone who values an ensemble should become Symphony Hall, its advocate. “You have the home of the opportunity to get your stu- Boston Symphony dents and their parents and Orchestra, hosted their colleagues telling pub- Mayor Martin lic officials, ‘Arts education Walsh’s State of the City address in 2016. matters. You represent our At the event, Boston community and you need to Symphony Orchestra make arts education a prior- Music Director ity,’ ” Simonds says. “Because Andris Nelsons (in when it comes down to it, photo) addressed the audience, and that’s what politicians want. BSO musicians They want the opportunity performed. to say, ‘Yes, I agree with that,’ and make sure they have your support. The reality is, it’s all about political priorities that match the needs of the community. We need to Boston Mayor’s Office
district, Hahn invites the lawmaker to join in. “Many of them take us up on it,” Hahn says. “They meet us there, and it’s an opportunity to talk about the arts education we provide for the state and tell about other exciting events we’re engaged in.” The Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (the two organizations merged in 2002) also enjoys a very high level of governmental support through Salt Lake County’s Zoo,
This February, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (at left) joined Tucson Symphony President and CEO Mark Blakeman at the announcement of José Luis Gomez as the orchestra’s new music director.
hold them accountable and make sure they keep supporting us.” Stories of individual lives that a cultural group has touched are among the most persuasive parts of its case, says Heather Noonan, the League of American Orchestras’ vice president for advocacy. Whether a group’s backers are meeting with a local leader or a member of Congress, Noonan believes they should arm themselves with one case history from the official’s home turf. Economic-impact data from Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, the latest edition of Americans for the Arts’ report, can open the door to a conversation, but the most compelling case is often made with examples of personal impact that match an elected official’s top concerns. Noonan leads the League’s advocacy efforts on behalf of orchestras from Washington, D.C., where she and Najean Lee, the League’s director of government affairs and education advocacy, work with federal officials on issues that matter to orchestras, and help to train orchestras to be effective advocates at the local and state levels. “Creating a positive relationship with elected officials is all about building relationships and trust before there is a need to ask for assistance,” Noonan says. “In a first meeting, try asking a public official to describe what their top issues and concerns are. Connecting the strengths of your orchestra to the civic issues that matter most is one of the best ways to be relevant.” Sometimes, launching an orchestra’s relationship with elected officials can be as simple as inviting a lawmaker to a concert,
Mayors: Powerful Pacesetters
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has long touted the cultural community’s value, says Tom McClimon, the group’s assistant executive director. The Conference has adopted resolutions affirming the arts’ value in education, hailing the arts’
as Simonds points out. Keeping legislators informed about the arts community’s activities and needs comes next; Chicago Symphony Youth Orchestras went a step further by recognizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his support after he backed an important arts-education measure. Political leanings need not be a stumbling block. “The arts are as bipartisan as you can get,” Simonds says, recalling a recent artsadvocacy day in Washington, D.C. “Some of the best conversations we had were with staff of members of Congress who are not on committees dealing with specific causes we need. They were like, ‘Oh, wow, this is so great.’ You might expect them to say, ‘We’re not supporting that.’ But that was not the case.”
In 2013, Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh joined the Boston Pops and Keith Lockhart at Symphony Hall to narrate The Night Before Christmas.
contribution to health and wellness, calling for funding of the National Endowment for the Arts, and a host of related subjects. Among organizations of state or local leaders, the Conference stands alone in calling for the federal government to create a Cabinet-level position devoted
to the arts, McClimon adds. “The nation’s mayors have always placed a high value on the importance of the arts—not only for what they mean for cities’ livability, but for what they create in terms of jobs.” Houston’s former mayor, Annise Parker, was drawn to classical music from an early
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to preserve it, she says. “Mayors have a different perspective than most other public officials. In order to be a good mayor, you have to love your city. And you are in many ways the public face and voice of the city. Not to put too much of a political point on it, but mayors generally aren’t elected by saying, ‘I’m going to slash your services and your taxes, and we’re The Charleston Gaillard Center, home of the Charleston Symphony, going to do less.’ Mayreopened in fall 2015 after a renovation that was part of a $142 million ors are elected by saying, public-private project that added municipal offices in an adjoining building. Speakers at the opening included Charleston Mayor Joseph ‘This is what I’m going Riley (with microphone) and Chairwoman of the Gaillard Performance to do with the money Hall Foundation Martha Rivers Ingram (in green). you give me.’ Cities are age, when an LP of Modest Mussorgsky’s service organizations. And the arts are a Pictures at an Exhibition was one of her fabig business. But they’re also an amenity, vorite records. But even mayors who lack they’re an attraction, they employ people, that personal interest may see what the and they’re a part of the quality of life.” arts add to their communities and want Mayors can also be powerful pacesetters.
In January, the U.S. Conference of Mayors gave Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer a leadership award for spearheading the building of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2014. Groundbreaking for the center’s second phase, including a concert hall that the Orlando Philharmonic will use, is scheduled for this year. Since becoming Boston’s mayor in 2014, Martin J. Walsh has elevated the city’s cultural office to a department-level operation whose chief serves in his Cabinet. He enlarged the grant-making budget and mandated the creation of a citywide arts plan, which will be unveiled this summer after more than a year of public forums and other study, says Boston Chief of Arts and Culture Julie Burros. A new program matching artists-in-residence with city departments—partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts—has embedded violinist Shaw Pong Liu with the Boston Police Department. Though her project, Code Listen, she performs for families affected by gun violence to help them
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“Eleanor is entirely at home on stage, armed with impeccable taste, timing and a warmth that invites the audience to share the evening as with a great friend. She delivers her songs with a keen sense of style that her versatile and lovely voice is amply able to match.” Olga Mychajluk, Artistic Administrator Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony
With her uncanny ability to instantly establish a warm and sincere connection, Canadian songstress Eleanor McCain dazzles audiences with orchestras from coast-to-coast. A classically trained soprano, she manages to do what few can: sing with a purity and control that elevates her to that rare breed of singer who can perform crossover material and do it right. More than two years in the making, Eleanor’s epic project True North: The Canadian Songbook is touring North America in 2017/18 - complete with four piece rhythm section. Conceived to honour Canada’s 150th birthday, True North is a celebration of iconic Canadian pop songs reimagined for full orchestra and interpreted as only she can.
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In 2014, Utah Governor Gary Herbert tried out his conducting skills with the Utah Symphony during the orchestra’s Mighty Five Tour to southern Utah, during which the orchestra gave free outdoor concerts against the backdrop of the state’s five national parks.
heal; she also helps officers and young people build a bridge between one another by making music together. A new-works fund may emerge as part of the coming cultural plan. “The arts should reach everyone—across all of our neighborhoods, to the corners of our city’s border,” Walsh said last April in Symphony Hall, welcoming children to a Boston Symphony Orchestra youth concert. Boston boasts some of the na-
tion’s finest cultural institutions, he noted, and “we want to elevate these resources to make Boston a true municipal arts leader. It’s because we know the power of arts and culture. They help us solve problems, express ourselves, and bring us together as a community.” In South Carolina, Charleston’s Joseph Riley has shown what a mayor can accomplish in a much smaller city. One of his last hurrahs before leaving office was reopen-
League Resources The Advocacy and Government department of the League of American Orchestras acts to improve policies that increase public access to orchestral music and supports orchestras as they advocate for the vitality of music in communities nationwide. Advocacy is most effective when it starts at the community level. The League provides resources to empower orchestras to be champions for the presence of music in their communities, and supports orchestras as they work to strengthen their civic relationships. Through its Washington, D.C. office, the League represents orchestras before Congress, federal agencies, and the White House, providing policy makers with compelling and coordinated information about the public value of orchestras and the music they perform. The League is active in a range of federal policy areas, including arts funding, education, visas for foreign guest artists, cultural exchange, and nonprofit tax issues. League resources includes advocacy tools and tips; the latest news on emerging policy areas; announcements of federal funding opportunities; guides to federal rules and requirements for orchestras; advice on immigration issues, visas, and taxation; and tips for musicians traveling abroad. For more information, visit americanorchestras.org or contact Heather Noonan, the League’s vice president for advocacy, firstname.lastname@example.org or Najean Lee, the League’s director of government affairs and education advocacy, nlee@ americanorchestras.org.
ing the Gaillard Center, an inside-and-out revamp of a cavernous 1960s multipurpose theater. Funded by a combination of city money and donations—the latter led by philanthropist Martha Rivers Ingram, a Charleston native also generous in Nashville—the project transformed the hall’s acoustics and appearance. “When I first heard the orchestra in there, I almost didn’t recognize it,” says Charleston Symphony Executive Director Michael Smith, who previously played trumpet in the orchestra. “We’re just finishing our first year in the hall. The improvement has been spectacular, just because the musicians can hear each other now.” A 65 percent jump in box-office revenue compared to last season attests to concertgoers’ approval. The City of Charleston provides about $200,000 a year to bolster the orchestra’s marketing efforts, Smith says. But Riley’s leadership took a different form in the 2000s, when the orchestra ran into financial troubles. “He would not allow this orchestra to not exist,” Smith says. Riley drafted community leaders to serve on the orchestra’s board and help repair the problems. “That’s the job of a mayor,” Riley says. “I called people who were civically engaged and asked them to approach it as a civic responsibility. That’s what a mayor does: help the community in times of need.” STEVEN BROWN is a Houston writer specializing in classical music. He is the former classical music critic of the Orlando Sentinel, Charlotte Observer, and Houston Chronicle.
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AGUSTIN ANIEVAS CHRISTOPHER ATZINGER
FACULTY, ST. OLAF COLLEGE
MUSIC DIRECTOR, MASSAPEQUA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA MUSIC DIRECTOR, PARK AVENUE CHAMBER SYMPHONY
VIVIAN CHOI RICHARD DOWLING WASHINGTON GARCIA
MUSIC DIRECTOR, MANKATO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA SCHOOL OF MUSIC
ALEXANDER GHINDIN ROBERT HENRY
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, DAYTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
CONDUCTOR LAUREATE, NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF COSTA RICA CONDUCTOR LAUREATE, CENTRAL AICHI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE, KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY
MOLLY MORKOSKI SPENCER MYER
MUSIC DIRECTOR, BLUE PERIOD ENSEMBLE MUSIC DIRECTOR, DETROIT MEDICAL ORCHESTRA
FACULTY, LONGY SCHOOL OF MUSIC OF BARD COLLEGE
PERMANENT ASSOCIATE CONDUCTOR, ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
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Melody Eötvös at the premiere of Red Dirt | Silver Rain by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, October 2015
Commission, She Wrote
The new Women Composers Readings and Commissions Program is providing mentorship and support for female orchestral composers. Two of its first participants, Julia Adolphe and Melody Eötvös, speak about their experiences.
n October 2014, Julia Adolphe and Melody Eötvös became the first two composers to receive orchestral commissions as part of a groundbreaking new program supporting women composers. Adolphe and Eötvös each are receiving $15,000, a premiere performance of their new works, plus a host of mentoring and development opportunities—as part of the League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers Readings and Commissions Program, administered by New York’s American Composers Orchestra and EarShot, the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network, and supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. americanorchestras.org
Adolphe’s Viola Concerto will be previewed on July 16 at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, prior to the New York Philharmonic’s premiere performance featuring Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps on November 17, 2016. Eötvös’s Red Dirt | Silver Rain had its premiere by the American Composers Orchestra in October 2015 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, during the SONiC: Sounds of a New Century festival in New York City. The second year of the commissioning program is already underway, with Andreia PintoCorreia and Xi Wang named as the second set of composers. Partner orchestras were still to be announced at press time.
The commissioning program is integrated into the annual EarShot composer readings at orchestras around the country, which in 2014-15 included the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and California’s Berkeley Symphony, as well as the American Composers Orchestra’s Underwood New Music Reading Sessions. During the readings, composers are mentored by established composers and participate in career development workshops. Adolphe and Eötvös were participants in 2014-15 EarShot readings, and received their commissions following those readings. All women composers who have participated in previous EarShot readings, including
Julia Adolphe’s curtain call at the New York Philharmonic’s world premiere of her Dark Sand, Sifting Light at the inaugural NY Phil Biennial, June 2014. Looking on are Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow (left) and Music Director Alan Gilbert (right).
those from past years, are eligible for future commission consideration. Below, Adolphe and Eötvös describe the process of working on their commissions and give their personal takes on being women in a field dominated by men. As their accounts make clear, financial support, frequent feedback, and mentorship opportunities are all critically important in helping them to develop as composers and trust their own voices.
JULIA ADOLPHE’s current commissions include a viola concerto for the New York Philharmonic and Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, and a large choral work for James Conlon and the Cincinnati May Festival. Adolphe has received numerous awards including a 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award and a 2015 Charles Ives Scholarship. Upcoming projects include So Donia Speaks, an opera set in presentday Iran with librettist Nahal Navidar.
s the lights dimmed in the concert hall, I felt a surprising calm wash over me. The New York Philharmonic was about to premiere my orchestral work Dark Sand, Sifting Light as part of the June 2014 inaugural NY Phil Biennial, and I had only found out about it 48 hours before. Two short days earlier, I had arrived in New York as a participant in the EarShot New Music Readings, thrilled and nervous beyond belief for one of the world’s greatest orchestras to read through my music alongside five other works by fellow young composers. Each piece was given 20 minutes of rehearsal. Three of the six works would then be selected for performance later that weekend. The readings took place on a Tuesday morning, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert and attended by six mentor composers: Steve Mackey, Christopher Rouse, Matthias Pintchser, Robert Beaser, and Derek Bermel. Following the readings, Maestro Gilbert and the mentor composers engaged in an intensive feedback session with each of the EarShot participants. They addressed each composition in great detail, giving advice on everything from
large-scale conceptual planning and coloristic choices to articulation and tempo markings. Musicians representing each section of the orchestra were present to shed light on specific questions or challenges posed by the instrumental writing. Larry Tarlow, the orchestra’s librarian, shared with us his expectations for professional music Julia Adolphe with composer Steven Mackey at a reading of her production. orchestral work Dark Sand, Sifting Light at Avery Fisher Hall, June 2014. It was a whirlwind Mackey was one of six mentor composers during the EarShot readings day, and on that eve- that preceded the premiere that month. ning, I was informed that my work Dark Sand, Sifting Light had The ensuing two days of panic on my been selected for its New York Philharend were mitigated by tremendous enmonic premiere, to take place on Thurscouragement from the mentor composday. Any changes to the parts were due ers and New York Philharmonic staff. the next morning. Needless to say, I did The premiere date arrived. I thought my not sleep that night, but instead stayed up nerves would be far beyond the breaking to make revisions to the score and incorpoint when Maestro Gilbert raised his baporate as much of the day’s feedback as I ton, but instead I felt at ease. It suddenly possibly could. Steve Mackey generously dawned on me that my composition was met with me Wednesday morning to renow in the hands of some of the greatest view the changes. musicians in the world, and that nothing Julia Adolphe with Cynthia Phelps, principal viola of the New York Philharmonic. In November, Jaap van Zweden will lead the New York premiere of Adolphe’s Viola Concerto with the Philharmonic and Phelps.
“My life has changed dramatically in the past year and a half, and I am now a fulltime composer pursuing my dreams,” says Julia Adolphe. American Composers Orchestra EarShot readings energized and transformed me as an artist and as a person. I had no idea that my week at EarShot was only the beginning of this life-changing experience. Two months later, I received a call from ACO President Michael Geller, informing me that Melody Eötvös and I had been awarded the two inaugural Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation prizes for female composers, supporting the commissioning of orchestral works. Mr. Geller promised to call again as soon as he knew which orchestra would be premiering my newly commissioned piece. I had previously heard of the Toulmin Foundation, which plays a critical role in advancing the careers of female opera composers as well. By providing commissions for women artists, the Toulmin Foundation strives to correct a serious issue facing the contemporary music scene. Not enough music by women composers is programmed or commissioned by the country’s leading music ensembles, especially music by women of color. Many people acknowledge that the climate is slowly changing for the better, with more initiatives to support diverse musical voices. Yet it is still difficult to find a diverse concert program or even to study with a female composer at a top-level university. Receiving the Toulmin Foundation’s commission has enabled me to become a americanorchestras.org
MELODY full-time composer. I took time off from studying and teaching at the USC ThornEÖTVÖS’s music has ton School of Music, where I am pursubeen performed by the ing my doctoral degree, and focused solely London Sinfonietta, on cultivating my creative process. It has BBC Singers, Tasmabeen an incredible luxury to have days and nian Symphony Orweeks on end dedicated to writing, and I chestra, the Australian have grown tremendously as a result. String Quartet, and In December 2014, the phone rang the American Composagain and Mr. Geller informed me that ers Orchestra, among others. Eötvös, a native the New York Philharmonic would coof Australia currently based in Bloomington, commission my orchestral work and give Indiana, holds a Doctor of Music from Indithe first New York performance during ana University Jacobs School of Music and a its 2016-17 season. The New York PhilMaster of Music from London’s Royal Acadharmonic requested that I compose a emy of Music. concerto for Cynthia Phelps. I cannot adequately express how incredibly supportive had never been to New York before. Alan Gilbert, Cynthia Phelps, Executive Yet there I was, on my first foray to Director Matthew VanBesien, Vice Presithe East Coast, sitting in the hot seat dent of Artistic Planning Ed Yim, and the while George Manahan lifted the bamusicians and staff of the New York Philton, ready to begin the first reading of my harmonic have been during this process. orchestra piece with the American ComOver a year has gone by since I received posers Orchestra. It was June 2014. I was this commission, and it is still hard for me still trembling a little from having to speak to fathom the reality of this exciting opbriefly to the group before everything beportunity. Writing for Cynthia’s warm, exgan. You know that weak feeling in your pressive, powerful voice is an absolute joy. legs that you know will be followed by a We are in regular contact, discussing pasface plant if you attempt to stand up right sagework and the emotional journey of the then? I don’t remember turning off the piece. Alan Gilbert continues to give me insightful, thought-provoking feedback. I have even had the opportunity to show some drafts to Jaap van Zweden, who will be conducting the New York premiere of my viola concerto on November 17, 2016. (Van Zweden becomes the Philharmonic’s music director in 2018.) My life has changed dramatically in the past year and a half, and I am now a full-time composer pursuing my dreams. I American Composers Orchestra Music Director George Manahan have been lucky to have and Melody Eötvös during a rehearsal of her composition Red Dirt had incredible teach- | Silver Rain, premiered by the ACO in October 2015 ers, specifically Stephen Hartke and the late Steven Stucky. They microphone and placing it calmly on the taught me that to be a composer, you must music stand to my right, when I was done. expose your most vulnerable self, share Wait, did I actually turn it off ? It was too your most powerful emotions, learn from late to check, because the orchestra had the artists who preceded you, and trust in started playing a variety of sounds that your own voice. I am incredibly grateful seemed somehow familiar.… I was sitting for the opportunity to share my music. right in front of the cello and bass section,
Courtesy of ACO
could go wrong. The music existed outside of me now, ready to be performed and interpreted by talented artists and shared with an eager audience. It was a dream come true. Following the concert, Alan Gilbert shared with me his thoughts about my compositional voice, words that have stuck with me and continue to inspire my writing. I was also greeted that evening by a very friendly Cynthia Phelps, the Philharmonic’s principal viola, who played a brief solo during my piece. The degree of guidance, support, and inspiration I received during those short few days participating in the League of American Orchestras and
so I was completely swamped by a satisfying wash of their rich, dark tones. I could hear the rest of my notes in there somewhere too; occasionally my ear picked them out and sorted them together. My hand wrote down some notes that I can’t remember, and by the end of the reading I recall hearing my voice speak some responses and instructions to George. It may have been something about the percussionist not having enough time to get where he needed to go, and some tempo readjustments. I think. This is honestly how I remember that first reading. It was such an important and (in retrospect) life-changing trip that I wish my brain could sustain constant coverage of every moment and replay it back on demand. I am only human, though, and we don’t have that bio-tech yet. So, while I can’t recall each glorious moment for you, I can tell you how I ended up in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall sixteen months later at a performance featuring the ACO’s world premiere of my piece Red Dirt | Silver Rain alongside world premieres by four other composers age 40 and under.
For composers, before we get to a point of self-belief we often need a reassuring pat on the shoulder, or a unanimous panel vote in favor of awarding us a bone-shattering career opportunity. The point is that our success as young Melody Eötvös “contemporary concert music” composers depends in large part on who believes in us and our ability to say what we mean in our music. Add to that the often projected complexity of being female in a malecomposer-dominated world, which elevates the importance of that support even more. Personally, I’ve never seen myself as being any different from the boys when it comes to being a composer, and it wasn’t until people started asking me how I felt about the “problem” that I noticed how stark a difference in numbers there was between the two sexes. However, this all brings to
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mind Amy Beth Kirsten’s wonderful 2012 article “The ‘Woman Composer’ is Dead” at NewMusicBox. The Toulmin commission is certainly helping this “problem” though, by providing an attainable goal for women in the early stages of their music writing. For younger (high-school aged) women to understand that composing is a viable career choice will be crucial for adjusting the female-to-male ratio of composers in the future. For me, those few days in New York left me with a strong contingent of mentoring professionals, and I knew that they had my back. Shortly after returning to my beautiful, quiet home, I got the call from Michael Geller, ACO’s president, explaining that I’d been chosen for one of the Toulmin commissions. In that instant I knew two things: first, that I was the luckiest person alive; and second, that there was a precious handful of people out there who really believed in me. I made it my goal and purpose for the next twelve months to not disappoint them. When Michael first called me with the blessed news, he had no details about whom I would be writing for or when it would be performed. But they were working on it. Soon afterward, he called again, this time with some guidelines. The duraThe Women Composers Readings and Commissions Program is conducted by the League of American Orchestras in partnership with EarShot and supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. EarShot provides professional-level working experience with orchestras from every region of the country and increases awareness of the participating emerging composers and access to their music throughout the industry. symphony
tion was to be twelve to fifteen minutes, the ACO would be performing it during the SONiC: Sounds of a New Century festival in New York in October, the score and parts were due a few months before that, and the contract was being sent through shortly. Excellent! I looked down at the notes I’d taken during the call and paused over the instrumentation.… My orchestra was actually more of a chamber orchestra: one of everything except for small string sections, and no harp. I won’t lie, my heart sank a little. Since that first call I’d been having visions (well, aural premonitions) of beautiful, lush, layered sounds and multiple divisis, lots of resonance with strings to spare…. My somber mood lasted about 30 seconds, and then I was back. Challenge accepted. As luck would continue to have it, I was then offered a fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival. Even though composers only get one pass at the festival, one of the many perks at Aspen was the option to submit something for an orchestra reading. I got what I needed: a test-reading of
“I realized, while sitting there in Carnegie Hall listening to my own music being played by one of new music’s championing orchestras, that this would be one of those moments I’d never forget,” says Melody Eötvös. the first half of my Toulmin commission. Another unprecedented advantage was being able to work on it for the whole summer with the late Steven Stucky, a singularly beautiful human being who was my guiding ears and eyes when finishing this piece. He patiently walked me through the struggles I was having with it. One of the only stumbling blocks in Aspen was the printing of my final draft. Exclusive mountain towns like Aspen can’t have everything, I guess, at least not for the fussy self-publishing composer. At the end of the day it was just a tiny hiccup, and the ACO was very gracious about granting me
an additional week to get back to Bloomington and send my hardcopy scores then. Life went back to normal for a few months, and then my husband and I were back on a plane to New York City. Now, you’ll recall that I had trouble remembering the first trip clearly.… I was about 40 times more nervous for the second trip, so my memory is once again full of weird highlights and sensations experienced out of time. Derek Bermel, one of my Underwood mentors and the director of the SONiC Festival, surprised me with his visit at the second rehearsal. In my experience, it’s always during the second rehearsal that we begin to break down all the faults and human errors that riddle our music, and this time was no exception. I also won’t deny the fact that my music is notoriously difficult to play. I realized, with George Manahan’s guidance, that my tempos were a little too fast (déjà vu from the Underwood readings!); addressing this helped tone down the difficulty, for instance in that quarter-note = 138 section where everyone’s playing
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ADVERTISER triplet-passages that mostly begin with an eighth-note rest. The orchestra also had some very fitting suggestions about balance (the string tremolos needed to be much softer) and effects (mute that trombone passage) that I was striving for. At the end of the rehearsal, Derek pointed out some potential future adjustments (the next rehearsal was the dress, so it would been disastrous to FSA 1601 have Symphony Ad 2016 trying 4/18/16 implement those changes now), as always
impeccably reading into my intentions like the musical telepath that he is. I realized, while sitting there in Carnegie Hall listening to my own music being played by one of new music’s championing orchestras, that this would be one of those moments I’d never forget. The opportunities and exposure this commission has given me will continue to echo throughout my career a composer, and I couldn’t be 11:34 AM as Page 1 more grateful or humbled by it.
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Correction: Due to a production error, the feature article “Growth Spurt” in the Spring issue of Symphony included a chart on page 38 with a missing line of text. The complete, correct chart is shown here. Racial breakdown Youth Orchestras
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Marlea Simpson is passionate about the viola. That passion has taken her from a youth orchestra to Oberlin Conservatory to a fellowship with Project Inclusion, a partnership of the Chicago Sinfonietta and Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival that aims to bring in more classical musicians from underrepresented communities. Now she’s a professional orchestra musician—the Sinfonietta’s principal viola— and begins her first summer as a pro with the Grant Park Orchestra.
the city. Our string quartet was coached by the festival’s artistic director, Carlos Kalmar, and by one of the Grant Park Orchestra’s cellists, who taught us how to present our programs for all different types of audiences. I also had lessons with several of the orchestra’s violists, and the entire viola section put together a mock audition for me, which was really great. This winter the Grant Park Orchestra held
Grant Park Music Festival
wo summers ago, I was part of the Grant Park Music Festival’s Project Inclusion program, a partnership with the Chicago Sinfonietta that provides opportunities for minority musicians. As Project Inclusion fellows, we rehearsed and performed with musicians from the Grant Park Orchestra and played in chamber ensembles at parks throughout
Pictured at the Chicago Cultural Center in the summer of 2014, Project Inclusion’s string quartet consisted of (from left) Victor Sotelo, cello; Maria Arrua and Kyle Dickson, violins; Marlea Simpson, viola.
Grant Park Music Festival
Success Story Marlea Simpson addresses an audience in Chicago’s Mozart Park during a 2014 visit by the Project Inclusion string quartet. At right is fellow quartet member Maria Arrua.
three days of auditions for violists, and I was awarded a slot in the viola section starting this summer. We’ll be presenting two programs each week for ten weeks, and it looks like a great season. I know I was fortunate to be exposed to classical music from an early age. My stepdad, who’s a luthier, got me started on violin, and my grandparents were very supportive as well. I played in the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, starting at the lowest level and working my way up through middle school and high school. I was part of my high school orchestra, and I now play in the orchestra at Oberlin Conservatory, where I’ll be finishing my bachelor’s degree next spring. Early on I wasn’t aware of being a minority musician, but now I realize that most of the orchestras and ensembles I’ve played with have not been very diverse at all. The Sinfonietta certainly is, but it’s obvious to me how little diversity there is in orchestras across the country. I would love to see that change. To me, one of the best parts of the Project Inclusion fellowship was the opportunity to expose young children to classical music, often for the first time. We worked with the festival’s Classical Campers music and arts immersion program, and we performed throughout the city in neighborhoods where classical music was never heard at home. To be able to reach those young people through music was thrilling! I’ve never thought of myself as a role model, but what a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to inspire others. That’s a challenge I’m honored to take on.
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