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THE MAGAZINE OF
THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
Public Purpose How orchestras are connecting with communities in new ways
National Alliance for Audition Support
In the Loop: Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Orchestras, Composers, and Current Events
Leonard Slatkin at the DSO: 10 Years of Extraordinary Leadership Free webcasts of every Classical Series concert at dso.org/live Educational webcasts available to schools via dso.org/classroom Innovative William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven Southeast Michigan communities Free community performances by musicians in hospitals, senior centers, and places of worship Soundcard program for students unlocking entire season for just $25 203 works by 122 living composers over ten seasons 35 outstanding new musicians hired
Thank you Leonard for helping make the Detroit Symphony Orchestra the most accessible orchestra on the planet!
The 10th Quadrennial
INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN COMPETITION OF INDIANAPOLIS August 31 – September 16, 2018 Jaime Laredo, Jury President
Four Decades of Discovery “The Indianapolis” proudly recognizes all of its distinguished Laureates.
“The Indianapolis” might well be the world’s leading violin competition in terms of cumulative prizes and career development for its winners. – The Strad
Leonidas Kavakos Clara-Jumi Kang Marco Rizzi Stefan Milenkovich Liviu Prunaru David Chan Robin Sharp Bin Huang Augustin Hadelich Dami Kim Sungsic Yang David Kim Svetlin Roussev Yuval Yaron Yuriko Naganuma Barnabás Kelemen Bella Hristova Ivan Chan Tessa Lark Soyoung Yoon Benjamin Beilman Jinjoo Cho Nai-Yuan Hu Antal Zalai Andrey Baranov Judith Ingolfsson Jaakko Kuusisto Susie Park Haoming Xie Ida Kavafian Soovin Kim Pavel Berman Mihaela Martin Chin Kim Ye-Eun Choi Frank Huang Ji Yoon Lee Juliette Kang Alina Pogostkina Andrew Haveron Simone Lamsma Yoojin Jang Andrés Cárdenes Celeste Golden Boyer Annick Roussin Yura Lee Virginie Robilliard Sergey Khachatryan Kyoko Takezawa Ji Young Lim Michiko Kamiya Martin Beaver Ju-Young Baek Olivier Charlier
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VO LU M E 69, N U M B E R 3
symphony SU M M E R 2 0 1 8
owadays you don’t know where an orchestra will pop up to play. This spring, the entire National Symphony Orchestra—led by no less than Music Director Gianandrea Noseda—gave a free public concert at that most public of venues, Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. Imagine encountering that as you’re rushing to catch the Acela. Also this spring, an ensemble from the NSO performed in a chapel at D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery; presumably the wisecracks about moribund congressional careers were few. A while back, Cleveland Orchestra musicians were showing up in the produce sections of neighborhood markets, and the last several years have seen a marked rise in live performances nationwide by orchestra musicians in intensive-care units in hospitals, schools, retirement homes, outdoor celebrations, prisons, and underserved communities. It’s great to hear orchestras in these settings. Often, bystanders evince surprise, not just at hearing an orchestra for free, right here, right now, but in a larger sense, too: our town has an orchestra and anyone can hear it? And there’s the charm of contrasts: Beethoven on Track 5, Dvořák among the avocados, Mozart in the mall. But these close encounters—and they are happening at orchestras of all sizes, all over the country—are also emblematic of something much more substantial: orchestras are reimagining themselves, rethinking how they relate to their communities, shifting from occasional outreach to deep engagement. That sea change requires long-term organizational investments of resources and energy, with no diminution of high artistic standards. Ad-2018_Layout Making more music for more people in 1more ways: it’s a challenge, but Akustiks Symphony 1 5/8/18 6:32 PM Page orchestras and the art form are more than up for it.
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MARIKA BOURNAKI VIVIAN CHOI MISHA DICHTER RICHARD DOWLING ALEXANDER GHINDIN ROBERT HENRY
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TAKA KIGAWA MOLLY MORKOSKI SPENCER MYER
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JOHN NOVACEK DIANE WALSH
MUSIC DIRECTOR, MASSAPEQUA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA MUSIC DIRECTOR, PARK AVENUE CHAMBER SYMPHONY
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MUSIC DIRECTOR, BLUE PERIOD ENSEMBLE MUSIC DIRECTOR, LONGMONT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
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Violinists ROBERT DAVIDOVICI JOENNE DUMITRASCU
MUSIC DIRECTOR, SPRINGFIELD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (MA) MUSIC DIRECTOR, TRAVERSE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRINCIPAL CONDUCTOR, PRO ARTE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF BOSTON
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THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
4 Prelude by Robert Sandla
8 Colby Bryson and Alec Lyons
8 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events 16 Tuning Up for Diversity Upping the number of Black and Latinx musicians at U.S. orchestras, with the new National Alliance for Audition Support. by Susan Elliott 22 Critical Questions Talking about music at the League’s Conference. by Jesse Rosen
26 Frank Ishman
26 At the League A roundup of recent League activity for composers, conductors, Congress, and more 32 Board Room How orchestras are advancing diversity and inclusion in the board room. by Steven Brown
Remembering José Antonio Abreu Colleagues and friends pay tribute to the founder of El Sistema.
Shifting Into Gear The 2018 Shift Festival of American Orchestras went to the concert hall, museums, nightclubs—even the zoo.
Rethinking Subscriptions Orchestras are adapting their subscriptions to appeal to today’s consumers. by Heidi Waleson 77 Advertiser Index 78 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund 80 Coda Bringing the orchestra field together to meet in person was a primary purpose of the League at its founding in 1942. It still is. Text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources.
40 Glenn Ross
In Chicago We Trust Why are Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra bringing music to people in prison? by Dennis Polkow
San Diego Symphony
Symphonic Statements Orchestras and composers are responding to world events with new scores, and older works are sometimes taking on new resonance. by David Patrick Stearns
about the cover
As part of the 2018 Shift Festival of American Orchestras in April, the National Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Gianandrea Noseda performed a free lunchtime pop-up concert in the Main Hall of Washington, D.C.’s iconic Union Station. Shift is co-presented by Washington Performing Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in cooperation with the League of American Orchestras. Photo by Jati Lindsay. See page 44 for story.
SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE
In March, a group of Utah Symphony musicians, plus Music Director Thierry Fischer, traveled to Haiti to participate in the weeklong National Orchestra Institute. It is the second year of the project, which took place in Cap Haitien, in northern Haiti. Musicians raised funds to pay their own expenses, and the initiative is a partnership with a nonprofit called Building Leaders Using Music Education (BLUME Haiti). The first NOI in March 2017—which concluded with performances by Haitian musicians of movements from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, Bizet’s Carmen, and Grieg’s Peer Gynt—got a “wildly positive” response from In March, a group of musicians from the Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer worked with 95 student musicians in Haiti during the second weeklong National Orchestra Institute. Pictured above with musicians students, wrote Utah Symare Fischer (in white shirt) with Assistant Conductor Pierre Leroy (in blue shirt). phony violinist Yuki MacQueen recently in MusicalAmerica.com. MacQueen’s in-depth Musical America report noted that many of the Haitian students are themselves teachers at their own schools, and that their instruments are “woefully substandard.” During breaks from sectionals, MacQueen wrote, “students would spontaneously break out into jam sessions of pieces from the Suzuki violin method, Haitian folk songs, or even pop music.” The Utah Symphony group brought along luthier John Paul Lucas and bow maker Evan Orman to teach all-important instrument repair skills. Scott Harrison, executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, flew down to teach a music manageLuthier John Paul Lucas teaches the art of string-inment seminar. At the Utah Symphony strument repair to a student at the 2018 National Orchestra Institute in Haiti. musicians’ Facebook page, photos from the institute documented that many daytime rehearsals and coachings were held outdoors—indoor lighting and elecUtah Symphony cellist Andrew Larson works tricity can be scarce commodities in Haiti. The week concluded with an orchestra of 95 with a student at the 2018 National Orchestra student musicians performing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, which reportedly received Institute in Haiti. a foot-stomping standing ovation.
All photos this page: Colby Bryson and Alec Lyons / Utah Symphony Musicians Facebook page
MUSICAL CHAIRS TANYA BANNISTER is the new president of Concert Artists Guild, the New York-based arts management organization for early-career classical musicians.
Florida’s Jacksonville Symphony has appointed COURTNEY BRYAN composer in residence for the 2018-19 season. is the new music director of the Civic Orchestra of Tucson. Music Director HERSCHEL KRELOFF will step down after leading the orchestra for 38 years. CHARLES BONTRAGER
The Cleveland Institute of Music has appointed TAMMIE BELTON director of human resources.
Kendrick Lamar performs with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, led by NSO Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, October 2015.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer Prize in Music In April, rapper Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his 2017 album DAMN., becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the category since it was established in 1943. Lamar was the unanimous choice of a five-person jury: critic and Columbia University journalism professor David Hajdu; composer David Lang; Paul Cremo, director of the Metropolitan Opera’s commissioning program; Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor of English and African-American studies at Columbia University; and violinist Regina Carter. The announcement sparked fierce debates and a flurry of post-Pulitzer media coverage that included a Billboard interview with Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy—who oversees the process but does not vote—explaining how the jury came to its decision. The two other finalists were Quartet by Michael Gilbertson and Sound from the Bench by composer Ted Hearne, who described Lamar as “one of the greatest living American composers.” Last year’s Pulitzer Prize in Music went to Du Yun for her opera Angel’s Bone. That first music Pulitzer, in 1943? To William Schuman for Secular Cantata No. 2: A Free Song.
Diversity Matters: Annapolis Symphony to Launch Academy This fall in Maryland, keep an eye out for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s new education initiative for middle-school and high-school students in Anne Arundel County. ASO Executive Director Patrick Nugent says that the new Annapolis Symphony Academy aims to create a creating more diverse pool of orchestra musicians by “promoting accessibility to classical music to all who seek it in any demographic, cultural, or social sphere.” The orchestra plans for half the academy’s students to be African-American or Hispanic-Latino, with an estimated 20 students in the first year. The academy will include private lessons as well as ensemble coachings, master classes, performance opportunities, and access to Annapolis Symphony Orchestra rehearsals. Scholarships and tuition waivers are available for qualifying students. ASO Concertmaster Netanel Draiblate is the program’s director and founder, and he will head the academy’s faculty, which will include Annapolis Symphony string players and other musicians. americanorchestras.org
New Jersey’s Wharton Institute of the Performing Arts has appointed Chang HELEN CHA-PYO artistic director of the Wharton Institute and conductor of the New Jersey Youth Symphony. JOHN DEVLIN is the new music director for the Hawaii Youth Symphony.
Canada’s Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has appointed ANGELA ELSTER vice president of the orchestra’s school of music and community programs.
Yassine el Mansouri
YU-AN CHANG has been named assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has named BLAISE DÉJARDIN principal cellist.
The Minnesota Orchestra has appointed KATHRYN GREENBANK associate principal oboe, effective in September.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has appointed trumpeter MICHAEL GAUSE and flutist ADAM SADBERRY as its 2018-19 African-American Orchestra Fellows.
is the Santa Barbara Symphony’s new director of education and community engagement.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has appointed EARL LEE associate conductor, and music director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, effective in September. The Charlotte Symphony in North Carolina has named CHRISTOPHER JAMES LEES resident conductor.
DEBRA NAGY has been named principal oboe of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has appointed GRACE SIPUSIC vice president of development and SAMEED AFGHANI as general manager. JULIE SORENSEN is the new artistic director of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony.
The InterSchool Orchestras of New York has named DAVID WECHSLER director of education.
The Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Canada has appointed DANIEL WILEY assistant conductor.
CALEB YOUNG will become associate conductor of Indiana’s Fort Wayne Philharmonic in September.
Many orchestral training programs for musicians regularly collaborate with local orchestras and other groups in their hometowns. But two new partnerships are forging long-distance relationships. The New York Youth Symphony and Michigan’s Interlochen Center for the Arts have launched a program for young musicians from across the social and economic spectrum, with scholarships for musicians from underserved communities and a co-commissioning and programming initiative for orchestral composers. Each year NYYS awards need-based fellowships to five of its musicians, and Interlochen will match the fellowships, with the five fellows invited to attend Interlochen Arts Camp with financial support. In addition, Interlochen and the orchestra will award $3,000 to one of the three winners of the New York Youth Symphony’s annual Double-bassists Diego Martinez and Alice Kazal, musicians in Intercompetition for composers between ages 18 and 30. The winner will receive a commission to write a new orchestral work to be performed by lochen’s 2017 World Youth Symphony Orchestra. NYYS at Carnegie Hall and by Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen Arts Camp. This summer, California’s Music Academy of the West and the London Symphony Orchestra start a partnership program. During the program, principal musicians from the LSO will teach and mentor Academy fellows in Santa Barbara, and twelve fellows will spend ten days in London performing and receiving audition training with the LSO. The LSO will travel to California in 2019 and 2021 to perform side by side with Music Academy of the West fellows.
Jeff Goldberg / ESTO
Cross-Country Treks There are orchestras that return year after year to perform at Carnegie Hall. And then there are those special occasions when orchestras that have never performed in the hall make debuts there—or return there for the first time in many years. This winter and spring, there were three such events. In February, the Louisiana Philharmonic made its Carnegie debut, led by Music Director Carlos Miguel Prieto. It was the orchestra’s first return to New York City since 2005, when it performed a joint concert with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center to benefit LPO musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina. This February’s concert featured Philip Glass’s Days and Nights in Rocinha and Silvestre Rivueltas’s La noche de los Mayas Suite. The orchestra also performed Glass’s Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, showcasing soloists Jim Atwood and Paul Yancich, who played nine timpani between them. On the same weekend in April, Michigan’s Grand Rapids Symphony returned to perform in Carnegie Hall for the first time in nearly thirteen years, followed the next night by California’s Pacific Symphony, making its debut in the hall. Marcelo Lehninger, in his second season as Grand Rapids Symphony’s music director, conducted Villa-Lobos’s Chôros No. 10, performed with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Ravel’s Bolero; Villa-Lobos’s Momoprecoce and De Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, both with piano soloist Nelson Freire; and Fauré’s Pavane in F-sharp minor. The Pacific Symphony, continuing Carnegie Hall’s season-long focus on Philip Glass, featured Music Director Carl St.Clair conducting Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna, together with the Pacific Chorale. Also on the Pacific Symphony program were “Meetings Along the Edge” from Passages, a collaborative work by Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar; and Shankar’s Third Sitar Concerto, featuring Anoushka Shankar, the composer’s daughter, as soloist.
Raising Capital in San Antonio It has been a year of news headlines for the San Antonio Symphony. Starting last summer, the orchestra faced significant financial challenges and changes in board management and oversight. In January, the Symphony Society of San Antonio announced that funding concerns were forcing it to cancel the rest of the season and suspend operations. Four days later, following an outpouring of community support, new board Chairwoman Kathleen Weir Vale announced a reversal, and the 2017-18 season continued in abbreviated form. The orchestra began an aggressive fundraising campaign, and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and county leaders became actively involved as well, obtaining support such as challenge grants. This spring, the orchestra announced that it had raised well over $6 million. The orchestra says it expects to balance the budget by the end of its fiscal year, in August. Fittingly, the 2018-19 season, announced in April, will feature September screenings of the 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope, with the orchestra performing the John Williams score. And some of the concerts that were canceled in 2017-18—for example, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, and a guest appearance by pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane— have been rescheduled. symphony
Interlochen Center for the Arts
Michelle Miller Burns: Minnesota Orchestra’s Next President and CEO
The Minnesota Orchestra has appointed Michelle Miller Burns president and CEO, effective September 1. She succeeds Kevin Smith, who will retire on August 31. Burns goes to Minnesota from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where she is executive vice president for institutional advancement and chief operating officer. She previously served as the Dallas Symphony’s vice president of development and interim president and CEO. In the latter role, she successfully oversaw the orchestra’s ratification of a new three-year contract with its musicians, achieved a contributed revenue goal of $24 million, and ended the 2016-17 season with a balanced budget. Burns was born in Iowa, grew up in the Chicago Michelle Miller Burns area, and played violin in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. She holds a bachelor of music in arts administration from Northwestern University, where she studied violin performance. She is a graduate of the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, and completed the Chicago Management Institute program at the University of Chicago’s business school. Her orchestral career began in the administration of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she held multiple positions over fifteen years. Burns’s initial contract with the Minnesota Orchestra is for five years.
A thousand-gallon water tank, five puppeteers in wetsuits, fabrics, feathers, fishing lures, glitter, plastic, bubbles—and Hector Berlioz’s wild, hallucinatory Symphonie fantastique score, performed onstage by pianist Christopher O’Riley. Yes, it’s the return of puppeteer Basil Twist’s 1998 plunge into Berlioz’s symphony, an underwater ballet choreographed to the music, with the tank onstage behind the piano. It’s playing at least through mid-July at the HERE Arts Center in Manhattan, where it debuted twenty years ago with recorded music. This is the show’s first New York outing performed with live music, the virtuosic Liszt piano transcription performed by O’Riley, seated at a Steinway, not wearing a wetsuit. Berlioz’s best-known symphony seems a perfect fit for Twist’s surreal blobs of color and fabric and water—Symphonie fantastique concerns one man’s increasingly unhinged obsession with a woman. (Berlioz was infatuated with actress Harriet Smithson when he wrote it.) Basil Twist is also the creative force behind several other underwater-puppetry adaptations: Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Rite of Spring and de Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show. Richard Termine
Christopher O’Riley performs Liszt’s piano transcription of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique while five underwater puppeteers create Basil Twist’s hallucinatory designs. americanorchestras.org
Matthew Loden to Head Toronto Symphony The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has a new chief executive officer. In July, Matthew Loden will head from Philadelphia to Canada to begin his new post, taking the reins from Interim CEO Gary Hanson. Since January, Loden has served as interim co-president at the Philadelphia Orchestra, alongside Ryan Fleur. Loden, 50, joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as executive vice president of institutional advancement in 2012, where he expanded fundraising initiatives, was responsible for strategic direction and business alignment, and oversaw board, philanthropic, communication, and external-relations efforts. Previously, he was vice president and general manager of the Aspen Mu-
Martha Mooke (center) and Born Lau were solo violists in the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia’s recent “Improvisionaries” concert, led by Music Director Dirk Brossé.
This spring, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia took the humble viola and put it center stage with a program that featured not one but two violists. First, Martha Mooke—a multi-genre composer and violist who has performed with classical ensembles as well as rock musicians David Bowie and Patti Smith—was soloist for the premiere of her own Invisible Hands for electric viola and orchestra. The piece was performed twice on the program, led by Music director Dirk Brossé, with Mooke at various points improvising, walking through the orchestra, and adding electronic effects. Then Born Lau, a young violist who won Astral’s 2012 National Auditions and holds degrees from the Colburn Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, performed Hummel’s Fantasie for Viola and Orchestra which included his own improvised cadenza. The orchestra’s 2017-18 season, dubbed “Improvisionaries,” has been exploring improvisation from the 17th through the 21st centuries, as well as links between jazz and classical music.
sic Festival and School, where he led operations and strategic efforts and helped design elements of a $75-million redevelopment of the campus. He has also been director of admissions for the Shepherd School of Music at Houston’s Rice University and artistic director of Young Audiences of Houston. Loden holds degrees in violin performance from Oberlin Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music.
Since Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project launched in 2011, more than 800 lullabies have been written and recorded by participants in the program, which pairs pregnant women, new mothers, and family members with musical artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies. Now, a new recording, Hopes and Dreams, features fifteen lullabies written by parents from across New York City, as performed by Fiona Apple, the Brentano String Quartet, Lawrence Brownlee, Rosanne Cash, Joyce DiDonato, Janice Freeman, Rhiannon Giddens, Angélique Kidjo, Patti LuPone, Natalie Merchant, Dianne Reeves, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pretty Yende, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Among the U.S. orchestras that have participated in the Lullaby Project are the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic, and Seattle Symphony. The program’s goal is to support maternal health, aid child development, and strengthen the bond between parent and child.
Teaching artist Sarah Elizabeth Charles (at piano) works with Dariys Medina to write her lullaby, “Wildest Dreams,” during a Lullaby Project workshop in Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing.
Key Glockenspiel Professionals Depend on Yamaha. With a touch that matches Yamaha concert grand pianos, hammers made of deer antler for a restrained reverberation, and the first ever single-layer action to create a uniform feel, the new key glockenspiel from Yamaha gives professionals ample reason to depend on Yamaha.
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Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring shocked the world in 1913 when it premiered in Paris. This spring, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Ballet, and nearly 60 young dancers brought fresh energy to the work with a newly choreographed version that incorporated themes of migration, fleeing war, and the search for a homeland. The new Rite came into being after Charlotte Symphony Music Director Christopher Warren-Green contacted Hope Muir, artistic director of the Charlotte Ballet, two years ago about doing a collaboration. Apart from annual performances of The Nutcracker, the orchestra and Charlotte Ballet had not worked together on a project this large since a 1990s collaboration on Orff ’s Carmina Burana. Choreographer for the new Rite was Peter Chu, who heads a Las Vegas contemporary-dance company known as chuthis and has choreographed the TV series So You Think You Can Dance? Chu worked with the Charlotte Ballet and young dancers from its Reach scholarship program to create the modern take on Stravinsky’s work. It’s all part of what the orchestra has described as an increased focus on “the notion of the arts as a change agent.” For Muir, in her first season as the Charlotte Ballet’s artistic director, the collaboration “was a wonderful beginning to what I hope is a continued partnership with Charlotte arts organizations.”
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has released a study showing that the orchestra’s performance and operations activities have an annual impact of more than $261 million on economic activity in Massachusetts. Conducted by Stephen Sheppard, an economics professor at Williams College, the study is based on findings from 2015 to 2017 and covers six different BSO components: the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, Tanglewood, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and Symphony Hall. The $261 million represents an inflation-adjusted increase of approximately 40 percent ($74 million) when compared to a similar independent study completed in 2008, when it was reported that the BSO’s economic impact in the region was $167 million. In addition to his statewide findings, Sheppard analyzed the BSO’s impact on the two main regions in which the orchestra operates, showing an impact of $148 million in Suffolk County, where Boston is located, and $103 million in Berkshire County, where Tanglewood is located. A significant increase in visitor spending was noted, particularly at Tanglewood, where total visitors increased by 11 percent.
Charlotte Ballet dancers and scholarship dance students from Charlotte schools take a bow after the Charlotte Symphony/ Charlotte Ballet’s new Rite of Spring, conducted by Music Director Christopher Warren-Green (center), April 2018.
Marathon Mahleriana Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein were music directors of the New York Philharmonic—about a half-century apart. Bernstein made performing Mahler’s symphonies one of his life passions, and in true over-the-top Lenny fashion this winter the New York Philharmonic presented “Bernstein’s Mahler Marathon: The Sony Recordings” at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. The free thirteen-hour marathon featured Bernstein’s recordings of Mahler symphonies with the Philharmonic. During the marathon, Bernstein’s marked scores from the Philharmonic’s Leon Levy Digital Archives were projected in real time with the music, and music students and fans volunteered to “page turn” the digital scores. Radio and TV host Fred Child served as emcee, and there were readings from Bernstein’s writings on Mahler as well as video clips of Bernstein talking about Mahler. A few days before the marathon, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center also presented a “Bernstein/Mahler ‘Titan’ Training” to prepare audience members for the marathon, and the library hosted Leonard Bernstein at 100, a traveling exhibit from the Philharmonic archives including Bernstein’s marked scores, scripts, photographs, videos, and the podium he used at summer concerts in the 1940s. At the New York Philharmonic’s thirteen-hour Bernstein/ Mahler marathon this winter, the break between Mahler Symphonies No. 5 and 6 included “Maestro Moves” exercises inspired by Leonard Bernstein, led by Evan Leslie of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
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Women composers have long been underrepresented on concert programs. But increased public attention and a slew of recent initiatives suggest that historic imbalance may be shifting. Since 2014, the League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers Readings and Commissions program has commissioned ten composers to write pieces for orchestras (see the “At the League” column in this issue for more about the program). In the U.K. this year, London’s Trinity Laban Conservatory added a women composers initiative, and the BBC Proms and 44 other U.K. arts groups are collectively advocating for gender parity among composers. In Ireland, an organization called Sounding the Feminists is curating chamber music programs devoted to music by women composers Composer Florence Price, at the who were “active but hidden as composers over piano in 1941. the centuries.” Among the women gaining belated recognition is African American composer Florence Price (1887-1953); several U.S. orchestras are performing her works, and the first recording of Price’s two violin concertos was released this winter, performed by the Janáček Philharmonic and soloist Er-Gene Kahng, concertmaster of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra. Also appearing with greater frequency on concert programs are works by Clara Schumann, Cecile Chaminade, Ethyl Smith, Lili Boulanger, and Amy Beach. Music by living women composers is also starting to be performed more frequently. In 2017, all three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, including winner Du Yun, were women. One challenge has been insufficient resources connecting composers with orchestras and other presenters. In January, New Music Box reported that after years of behind-the-scenes work, composer Rob Deemer launched a huge Women Composers Database, created with the help of students at SUNY Fredonia. It’s in spreadsheet format, can be accessed by anyone—and includes 3,150 composers. The idea is for conductors, performers, and others to use it to research and create more diverse concert programs. Chamber Music America has a new Composers Equity Project, a database that includes women, gender non-conforming, and minority composers. Meanwhile, the nonprofit Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy—which has been working steadily for years to get more music by women composers performed—has online resources that include a 283-entry list of works by women composers; repertoire suggestions for mostly historic composers, with information about how to obtain music and links to audio files; and orchestral scores by women of African descent.
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Tuning Up for Diversity
Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization
The new National Alliance for Audition Support aims to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at American orchestras by expanding the numbers of emerging Black and Latinx musicians.
by Susan Elliott
New World Symphony
Howard Herring, president of the New World Symphony
hree leading classical-music organizations have joined forces to launch a new initiative to increase diversity at American orchestras. The new National Alliance for Audition Support represents a collective effort by the Sphinx Organization, New World Symphony, and the League of American Orchestras, and will offer mentoring, audition preparation, financial support, and audition preview showcases for Black and Latinx musicians. Supported by a four-year, $1.8 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional financial and programmatic contributions from U.S. orchestras, the Alliance was announced this spring and is already underway, with eighteen Black and Latinx musicians participating in optimal performance training, mock auditions, and feedback sessions in Miami.
The National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) addresses a persistent imbalance in representation at American orchestras. While the percentages of musicians of Asian descent and women instrumentalists in American orchestras have risen markedly in recent decades, the percent of African American musicians has moved only from 1.4 percent to 1.8 percent over 40 years. Between 1995 and 2014, the percentage of Latinx musicians rose from 1.6 percent to 2.4 percent. NAAS represents the first field-wide program offering comprehensive and customized audition support. It is part of a surge of activity in this area, with numerous new programs also announced by individual orchestras and conservatories. In December 2015, the League of American Orchestras and the Mellon Foundation convened a two-day meeting to unsymphony
Symphony and Sphinx at which student and professional Black and Latinx musicians, industry leaders, administrators, and other stakeholders discussed solutions to the underrepresentation of Black and Latinx musicians in orchestras. A second gathering included representation from all sectors of the orchestra field including Black and Latinx professional musicians; the event focused on designing a national instrumental mentoring and audition training initiative. At Sphinx Connect in February 2017 and at Sphinx Connect in February 2018 the concept of the Alliance was presented and was also the subject of discussion and feedback from musicians of color. Last year, Rosen and Matthew VanBesien, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic at the time, and Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival, which supports classical musicians of African descent, canvassed the field to gauge their interest and willingness to invest in programs to increase diversity. Says Rosen, “They all said ‘Yes, absolutely; we’d like to be stakeholders, not just funders.’ ”
derstand the barriers to diversity in classical music—and determine ways forward. Fifty people attended the event, among them musicians, administrators, representatives of community music schools, conservatories, and community-engagement experts. “People were really eager to make change happen,” says League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. Subsequent diversity forums convened by the League built on that initial convening and kept the momentum going, while ongoing task forces focused on specific aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at orchestras. In recent years, the League has made DEI a central part of
its agenda, not only at the meetings and events it hosts for specific constituencies, but at its National Conference, an annual, industry-wide gathering. The League’s 2016 Conference, in Baltimore, with its theme of “The Richness of Difference,” addressed diversity in numerous sessions and events. The closing forum considered actions orchestras might take, individually and collectively, to be more responsive to and reflective of the diversity of America today. And the 2017 and 2018 Conferences continued and expanded the concentration on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The design of NAAS also benefitted from multiple convenings by New World
The 2017 Diversity Forum (above), held at that year’s League of American Orchestras’ National Conference, was the League’s third convening of leaders from the field to address priorities including a national diversity audition fund, national musician mentorship and audition training, field-wide board and staff diversity, and music education pathways. Pictured at the Forum (left to right): Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival; Dalouge Smith, president and CEO, San Diego Youth Symphony; violinist Melissa White, 2001 Sphinx Competition winner and founding member of the Harlem Quartet; and Anne Parsons, Detroit Symphony Orchestra President and CEO.
Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras
The National Alliance for Audition Support aims to increase diversity at American orchestras by offering mentoring, audition preparation, financial support, and audition preview showcases for Black and Latinx Musicians. The NAAS is made up of The Sphinx Organization, the lead program and fiscal administrator for the Alliance; the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras. A group of Black and Latinx professional musicians will be advisors for the Alliance. The NAAS is supported by a four-year grant of $1.8M from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as contributions from orchestras across the U.S. The Alliance is grateful to the American Federation of Musicians, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, and the Regional Orchestra Players Association for their participation and support. For more on the National Alliance for Audition Support, visit www.americanorchestras.org/NAAS. americanorchestras.org
can American and Latino Musicians,” 21 alumni of orchestral minority fellowship programs were surveyed. Many reported that, while the technical experience had been invaluable, they sometimes felt alone, isolated, and unwelcome. Changing that climate is not going to be easy. “We have some humility around this work,” says Rosen. “Active discrimination in orchestras and the phenomenon of Black and Latinx musicians never even considering an orchestra career because of a culture that feels exclusionary—those issues are part of our own legacy and history. Our own data tells us that there’s been virtually no change over decades. I feel we need to be very aware of how powerful our past is and how complicated these issues are in making orchestras more receptive to and supportive of different people.” Which brings up the question of buyin. Orchestras have said they want to be
The result of all these conversations is the National Alliance for Audition Support. It aims to increase the number of Black and Latinx musicians at orchestras, and it does that by preparing and nurturing them so that when they audition for orchestra jobs, they are fully prepared— not just technically, but psychologically. The key ingredients to achieving that goal: training, and the money to pay for it; and travel, and the money to pay for it. Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of Sphinx, the Detroit-based nonprofit that works to achieve diversity in the arts, explains that the content of NAAS’s programming is “musiciancentric,” determined with input from an advisory board of minority musicians, including members of the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics, the Seattle Symphony, and others. Sphinx also distributed a detailed questionnaire (still in circulation, with about 300 responses at press time) to musicians of color currently in or aspiring to be in a professional orchestra. Says Dworkin, “We asked them,
‘What are the obstacles from your standpoint; what resources are missing; what can we do to overcome them?’ ” The responses consistently pointed to the audition process. “Musicians don’t always know about openings, so working to create a centralized information system will be helpful,” says Dworkin. “In preparation for auditions, coachings can be critical, but getting to the right coach and having those resources is where we hope to step in. Plus, it may take ten or fifteen auditions on average to land a gig. That can be both expensive and tiresome: we hope to support the process and create a different reality.” Another issue, and the one that may be the hardest nut to crack: “There are assumed biases and climate challenges,” says Dworkin. “Black and Latinx musicians don’t necessarily want to be part of an orchestra where they are the only person of color or perhaps one of two.” In a diversity study published by the League last year, “Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras’ Efforts to Include Afri-
The National Alliance for Audition Support had its genesis, in part, in a two-day meeting (above) convened by the League of American Orchestras and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in December of 2015 to address the barriers to diversity in orchestras. The 50 attendees included musicians, administrators, representatives of community music schools, conservatories, and community-engagement experts. Seated left to right: Sandra Bailey, principal bassoon, Chicago Sinfonietta, second bassoon, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; Adedeji Ogunfolu, associate principal horn, San Antonio Symphony; Alexander Laing, principal clarinet, Phoenix Symphony; and bassoonist Garrett McQueen, second bassoon, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
John Kieser, executive vice president and provost of the New World Symphony
“stakeholders, not just funders,” but what does that mean? “Orchestras have a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to this program, because they’re continuously auditioning,” says Rosen. “They also realize that, as a community, it’s time to step up.” Plus, orchestras hold the keys to the success of NAAS, because their own musicians will be serving as mentors and teachers to NAAS participants. Currently, the League is surveying its symphony
Cellist Joy Payton-Stevens performs at the Sphinx Competition with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, an all-Black-and-Latino orchestra of top professionals from around the country. The Sphinx Organization is one of three partners, with the League of American Orchestras and New World Symphony, in the new National Alliance for Audition Support.
members to determine the level of musician interest in being mentors or otherwise participating. Sphinx already has a large list of professional orchestral players who want to be involved. About 25 percent are musicians of color. “It’s a great mix,” reports Dworkin. “And the great thing about this program is that all coaches, mentors, advisors, audition expenses will be paid— we’re no longer relying only on people’s good will.” Perhaps the most intriguing idea behind NAAS is that each participant will be treated individually. “They may get matched with a mentor,” explains Rosen, “or they may get audition coaching, or they may get financial support for travel and other developmental opportunities.” Or they may get all of the above. “The idea is to make their path customized.” This is the same philosophy on which the New World Symphony fellowship program is based, says New World Symphony Executive Vice President and Provost John Kieser, and is a contributing factor to the success of its alumni. Sphinx will serve as administrator and matchmaker, finding the right coach and the right mentor for each participant, setting up review committees for auditions, overseeing the finances, and maintaining a centralized, up-to-date audition index. For auditions with unsuccessful outcomes, NAAS players will often be able to get feedback from their screeners. “It’s about supporting them,” says Dworkin, “rather than making them fend for themselves.” americanorchestras.org
Organizers anticipate that up to 50 musicians will go through NAAS over a twoyear period. Eighteen Black and Latinx musicians were chosen to participate in the first event in June 2018, an audition
intensive at the New World Symphony. They were selected from among the participants at the second annual Sphinx Organization Partnership Auditions (SOPA) in Detroit in February 2018. It’s an event at which a number of Black and Latinx musicians serious about pursuing a professional career undergo formal auditions and receive feedback from fifteen to twenty orchestra representatives and musicians, including New World Symphony Dean of Admissions Thomas Hadley. A number of participants have received invites from orchestras to do some contract work, as well as fellowship opportunities. “It serves the [Sphinx] musicians,” says Dworkin, “but it also gives the people on the feedback committee access to a pool of musicians of
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color who they can potentially employ for contract work.” Sphinx has long served as a pipeline to orchestras. “Everything after this year will be a competitive application process open to everyone, with Sphinx as the portal,” says Rosen. NAAS is designed for a range of musicians, from recent conservatory graduates to early-career professionals already playing with orchestras. “We wanted to get things going right away,” explains Rosen, “so this first program is populated by people already known to Sphinx.” Also during this 2018 pilot year, participants head to Miami Beach for an audition intensive from June 6 to 8 at the New World Symphony, the highly selective (1,300 applicants for 25 slots) training orchestra. “It will be essentially the same workshop we do for our New World Symphony Fellows,” explains the New World Symphony’s Kieser. “The workshop includes mock auditions, feedback from faculty, lessons, coaching with musicians and a performance psychologist, seminars, and more.” New World Symphony, which prepares graduates of music programs for
leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles, was co-founded 30 years ago by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas; Howard Herring is the organization’s president and CEO. For NAAS, New World Symphony is charged with providing the programmatic content. In addition to mock auditions— both live and via its advanced Internet set-up, enabling professionals from all over the country to participate—and intensive feedback, it will augment its online offerings to include more Black and Latinx instructors, performances, and interviews. New World Symphony historically has three to five musicians of color in its orchestra, and has twelve this year—better than the national average, “but still not good enough,” says Kieser. “We’re trying to diversify our fellowship.” To that end, the orchestra academy already works with such conservatories as Manhattan School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, USC Thornton School of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music to help identify potential Fellows of color. It will use those contacts to help recruit NAAS participants as well, says Kieser. NAAS is only in its infancy, and there are still many variables. All three organizations are open to feedback as things move ahead. “We are going to survey coaches, participants, everybody involved, to see how we’re doing,” says Kieser. “It’s a work in progress.” An advisory board, says Rosen, will “periodically plug into the work, so that if we need to course-correct, they can help us with that.” “We’ll be tweaking it every year,” echoes Dworkin, who points out that the application period for Year 2 will be open this June. “We may learn that the audition intensive is not the best use of our resources, or that people need more private coaching, or we need to double down on psychological preparedness,” she says. “By the end of the first year, we’ll know where the gaping holes are. Hopefully by the end of the fourth year we will start to see a difference, a real climate change.” “I am optimistic and encouraged,” says Rosen, “but I am also respectful of how challenging the work is.” SUSAN ELLIOTT is news and special reports editor of Musical America and writes frequently on the arts.
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Artistic excellence and innovative programming have never been higher at American orchestras. But as we go through a period of great cultural and social change, the time is ripe for big conversations about the artistic work of orchestras— with musicians leading the way. by Jesse Rosen
Why Don’t We Talk About Music?
Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras
t’s never happened before: each of the five keynote speakers at this year’s National Conference are musicians. They are Vijay Gupta, violin, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Jennifer Koh, violin; Demarre McGill, Principal Flute, Seattle Symphony; Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet, New York Philharmonic; and Yo-Yo Ma, cello. We have had some pretty terrific speakers at our Conferences, but musicians have been the exception, and I wonder what that says about us. When our community gathers we seem to talk about just about everything but the music. There are some who argue we have that figured out. After all, the quantity and quality of musical talent seem to continue on an endless upward trajectory. Orchestral playing is uniformly high across all sizes and shapes of orchestra. American orchestras remain in demand in world capitals. Excellence is the defining musical principle and orchestras seem to just get more and more excellent every day. The important work, so the argument goes, is to figure out how to pay for it, i.e., raise more money, sell more tickets. Well, it’s hard to argue about the importance of raising money and selling tickets. It is the never-ending work of any
In 2011, Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Vijay Gupta co-founded Street Symphony, which presents live music for communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration. In December 2017, Gupta performed with Reena Esmail (above), Street Symphony’s composer in residence and vocalist, at the Midnight Mission in Skid Row during the annual Project Messiah, a performance of Handel’s Messiah that features stories and performances from people affected by and recovering from homelessness in Los Angeles County.
enterprise to tend to its income streams. And that’s hard, because things change: competition arises and the very nature of demand changes, often getting in the way of income generation. Successful adaptation usually involves
not only changes in income-generating strategies but also changes in products. Keeping the product the same, or even investing in making the product more and more excellent, has rarely worked in a dynamic market. Orchestras are figursymphony
Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist and Street Symphony co-founder Vijay Gupta will give the keynote address at the League Conference in June.
support the continuing growth of the orchestra experience? My answer is no. For the most part, orchestras adhere to static notions of artistry and how to achieve it. For example, there was a time when what we asked of music directors was to lead great concerts, make coherent programs, and combine them in a season that had some discernible profile. And if they did that really well, all was fine. The board stayed out of the way (what could they possibly add to this highly specialized
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ing this out. We have more “product” experiments and innovations going on than ever before. It’s refreshing. Alternate venues, multimedia, video, collaborations and partnerships, apps for real-time program notes, and on and on. There is simply more variety today in the orchestra experience. I wonder, as orchestras go through this period of change, what are the principles that guide visions of the art form and artistry? Do our existing values, frameworks, practices, and organizational designs
changing audience and donor preferences and priorities) the old and narrow definition of artistic leadership as embodied in the expectations of music directors, seems very limited. The changing demands of new audiences for both what they hear and how they experience it, the explosion of orchestral compositional styles and genres, and the increasing imperatives for the nonprofit performing arts to play a civic role all seem to point to a need for an expanded definition of artistic leadership. Similarly, these changes are also prompting questions about the roles of musicians. Indeed, as orchestras work to create civic value, seize the amazing creative potential of contemporary composition, and respond to audience desires
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma (left) will speak at the closing plenary of the League’s Conference in June. He is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s creative consultant and founder of the Silk Road Ensemble, a musical collective that promotes multicultural artistic exchange through performances and collaborations. Above, Ma in performance with fellow musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman.
creative endeavor?) and the chief executive supported the music director vision by running the “business.” As orchestras increasingly move from a transactional or even manufacturing model (producing concerts of essentially known repertoire and selling them to a known audience and donor base) toward a more relational and fluid model (evolving repertoire and concert experience and americanorchestras.org
for intimate performance experiences, musicians have lots to offer. And yet our means of training musicians and auditioning them is still based on narrow definitions from the past of what constitutes competence: namely, mastery of audition repertoire and selection of those who execute excerpts at the highest level and are the best fit for the ensemble. Undeniably, some remarkable musician leaders have
New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill (above left) and Seattle Symphony Principal Flute Demarre McGill (center) will perform the world premiere of a double concerto by Michael Abels with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras at the League’s Conference in June. Above right, Anthony and Demarre McGill in performance with the CYSO at Orchestra Hall, led by CYSO Music Director Allen Tinkham.
come through the current system, but imagine the potential if orchestra practice was intentional about recruiting for the wider skill sets that are called for today. Orchestras are pushing hard against the old roles, definitions, and values. But the practices, the job descriptions, the skills, and the language are all lagging. The old definitions of excellence and artistic leadership and roles of music directors and musicians are an unnecessary constraint, a drag on what feels like enormous creative potential in our time. I don’t have an alter-
native to propose and don’t believe there is a single alternative, anyway. But I do think we are overdue in asking some key questions and having some big conversations about the artistic work of orchestras. For example:
• What are the artistic opportunities • •
and challenges for orchestras today? How do we define artistic leadership, and who owns it? What skills are needed, among musicians, conductors, composers, staff,
Violinist Jennifer Koh will speak and perform at the Conference. She will discuss how musicians and musical institutions can work to achieve inclusive representations of America.
and boards to advance the artistry of orchestras in the 21st century? How would artists, repertoire, and programming change if principles of diversity were elevated to the highest priority? How could orchestras increase their capacity to become full-fledged citizens of their communities, deploying their music and musicians in service to civic agendas? How might orchestras nourish the musical potential of everyone associated with them?
Asking these questions and pursuing their answers is not an attack on excellence, or great concerts of great music performed at the highest level of orchestral execution. It simply an invitation to ask anew what any of these words mean in today’s context, and in service to whom? And to put all my cards on the table, I will admit that while I value excellence as much as anybody, I just don’t find it to be a sufficient ideal for optimizing the abundance of creative opportunity in our midst today. I hope readers will either get to our National Conference or watch the subsequent videos of the keynotes on our website. The five artists we are hearing from this year are each pioneers, and in their own distinctive ways are finding answers to these big questions, advancing our art form, and redefining excellence and artistry. And note to self: keep the artists at the center. It’s their voices that lead. symphony
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Composers, Conductors, Congress, and More
A roundup of recent activity by the League of American Orchestras
2018 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview participants: from left, Lidiya Yankovskaya, Lee Mills, Mélisse Brunet, Raúl Gómez-Rojas, Ankush Kumar Bahl, and Nadège Foofat
2018 National Conductor Preview
The League of American Orchestras Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, held April 3-4 and hosted by the Nashville Symphony, spotlighted six conductors this year: Ankush Kumar Bahl, Mélisse Brunet, Nadège Foofat, Raúl GómezRojas, Lee Mills, and Lidiya Yankovskaya. The three men and three women—selected by an independent panel of music professionals for their experience, talent, leadership potential, and commitment to a career in service to American orchestras—
represent a wide range of backgrounds, with roots in Canada, Costa Rica, India, France, Russia, and the U.S. In addition to podium skills, they are accomplished in new and Baroque music, opera, jazz, young-musician mentorship, El Sistemainspired music education, and more. The National Conductor Preview is one of the field’s most effective pathways for orchestral search committees and industry professionals to encounter new talent. Over two days, the conductors were observed as they rehearsed with the
Nashville Symphony and Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero. The League provided educational programming for attendees as well as the conductors. Henry Fogel, former president of the League, led a presentation for preview attendees about launching and executing a successful music director search. He also led a group discussion with the conductors, advising them how to navigate the music director search process. Conductors participated in mentoring sessions with Guerrero and Nashville Symphony musicians, and Nashville Symphony staff advised the conductors in areas such as orchestra operations and fundraising. The event culminated with the six conductors leading a public performance by the Nashville Symphony, an eclectic program of works by Beethoven, Bernstein, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and contemporary composer Kip Winger. The concert was live-streamed for free and made available for viewing for 45 days after the performance. The National Conductor Preview, held every other year, is a major pipeline for emerging conductors, with more than 50 orchestras engaging participants in conductor/music director appointments as a direct result since 1995. The 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview is made possible by a generous gift from Martha Rivers Ingram. Additional support is provided by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. symphony
Supporting Women Composers
Now in its fourth year, the Women Composers Readings and Commissions program from the League of American Orchestras continues to be a vital pipeline for new orchestral music in the U.S. Administered by American Composers Orchestra and supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the program gives americanorchestras.org
Dana Linnane Frank Ishman
The League of American Orchestras assists orchestras as they navigate the permit requirements for international tours, and this summer and fall the League is also deeply engaged in efforts to improve the policies that restrict musicians from using their instruments across the globe. Next steps will build on recent successes in this area. Rules adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and policymakers in other countries this spring have now exempted most musical instruments from permit requirements for travel if they contain non-Brazilian rosewood. Changes are still needed to ensure that musicians will be able to buy and sell their instruments with ease, and to improve the process for obtaining and using the travel permits that are still required for instruments that contain ivory, tortoiseshell, and other more highly protected species material. Action in the coming months will set the stage for decisions taken by the 183 global parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), when the terms of the treaty are renegotiated in May of 2019. Read an in-depth article in the Spring 2018 issue of Symphony magazine about how rules under the international treaty that manages endangered species had severe unintended consequences for orchestras and musicians. And then stay up to date with how the League is working in partnership with global music organizations and conservation leaders by visiting the “Travel with Instruments” section of the League’s Advocacy pages at https://americanorchestras.org/advocacy-government. html.
Treaty Negotiations Ahead for Musical Instruments and Protected Species
2018 recipients of League of American Orchestras Women Composers Commissions (from top) Robin Holcomb, Andrea Reinkemeyer, and Stacy Garrop
$15,000 grants to composers and pairs them with orchestras. Recipients of the 2018 round of grants are composers Stacy Garrop, Robin Holcomb, and Andrea Reinkemeyer. Reinkemeyer’s work will be premiered by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director Carlos Miguel Prieto on January 10, 2019. Garrop’s work will be premiered by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Holcomb’s by the Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine), with further details to be announced. The Women Composers Readings and Commissions program is embedded in EarShot, an initiative of American Composers Orchestra in collaboration with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. Since the program’s inception in 2014, ten composers have received commissions. 2014 commission recipient Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release (Concerto for Viola and Orchestra) received its New York premiere
in 2016 by the New York Philharmonic. Melody Eötvös’s Red Dirt | Silver Rain was premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2015 by American Composers Orchestra. On April 6, 2018, the Columbus Symphony premiered Ciprés by 2015 grant recipient Andreia Pinto-Correia. Xi Wang, also a 2015 recipient, is working on a piece for the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra for a future season. 2016 program recipients were Chen-Hui Jen, whose work in eternal dusk was premiered by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra on January 27, 2018, as well as Wang Jie and Hannah Lash (premieres to be announced). “Thanks in large part to our Women Composers program, for the past four years audiences across America have been introduced to an array of significant new works composed by women,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation’s support has been instrumental in bringing this important work to the forefront, more
Connecting with Congress: On April 11, 2018, members of the Albany (NY) Symphony Orchestra’s Brass Quintet gave a pop-up concert on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The concert was part of the 2018 Shift Festival of American Orchestras in Washington, which brought live orchestral music to sites and venues throughout the capital city. After the pop-up concert, representatives from the Albany Symphony including Principal Trumpet Eric Berlin, Music Director David Alan Miller, Executive Director Anna Kuwabara, Marketing and Patron Services Manager Justin Cook, and the League’s Washington-based advocacy team, Heather Noonan and Najean Lee, met with a staff member from the office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
pertinent now than ever in this moment of cultural reckoning.” Orchestras Connecting with Congress
Elected officials are returning to their home districts and states with increased frequency in the months ahead, with the longest recess period taking place this August. Congressional recesses are ideal times for orchestra stakeholders to meet with their senators and representatives, whether by inviting officials or their staff to attend a community engagement event, or visiting them in their district office to sit down and discuss the local impact of federal policies. With major decisions ahead related to the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education, and tax policies, orchestras are making plans and brushing up on the League’s advice about how to be an effective orchestra advocate. Visit the Advocacy page of the League’s
website at https://americanorchestras.org/ advocacy-government.html to find background information and talking points on the latest key policy issues, a calendar of the exact dates when members of Congress will be returning to their home states, and an indispensable resource from the League, Playing Your Part: An Orchestra’s Guide to Public Policy Advocacy. League Awards Futures Fund Grants to Smaller-Budget Orchestras and Youth Orchestras
Highlighting the groundswell of innovation at smallerbudget orchestras and youth orchestras across the country, seventeen orchestras have received $30,000 American Orchestras’ Futures Fund grants from the League of American Orchestras, made
possible with the generous support of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. An additional five orchestras have been selected to receive seed grants of $6,000 each. The Futures Funds grants were announced on April 19, 2018. The League’s American Orchestras’ Futures Fund is a competitive grants program designed to advance the innovative work of orchestras. Initiatives by the 2018 grantees include performing contemporary repertoire by American composers, developing imaginative concert experiences and cross-cultural artistic programming, increasing diversity and access to music education, connecting with new immigrants and underserved populations, extending reach via digital streaming initiatives, investing in audience-development research, and working with multiple populations in rural and urban regions. Descriptions of the initiatives by the 2018 grantees supported by the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund can be found here. The $4.5 million American Orchestras’ Futures Fund program included a first round of grants for larger-budget orchestras, announced in 2017. For this 2018 round, smaller-budget and youth orchestras that are based in the U.S. and that are members of the League of American Orchestras were eligible to apply. An independent review panel selected the orchestras. Learn more about the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund here. Five Orchestra Musicians Receive League’s Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service
Five orchestra musicians will receive Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in
FUTURES FUND symphony
Community Service from the League of American Orchestras at the League’s 73rd National Conference in Chicago, June 1315, 2018. Recognizing the transformative power of music, the Awards honor those in the orchestra field who employ music for the benefit of the greater community. In partnership with their orchestras and organizations, the musicians have used music to engage, inspire, and heal multiple populations: Latinx children and teens, rural communities with limited access to quality music education, cancer patients and their families, the homeless and housing-insecure, and visual and performing artists united in support of sheltered animals. The five award recipients and their orchestras and programs are:
• Jeffrey Barker, associate principal
flute, Seattle Symphony: Lullaby Project, Sensory Friendly Concerts, Simple Gifts Initiative, among others; John R. Beck, principal percussion, Winston-Salem Symphony (NC): HealthRHYTHMS drumming with cancer and pediatric behavioral health patients; collaborative research study with physicians on the benefits of interactive group drumming; Jody Chaffee, flute II and piccolo chair, community engagement director, personnel manager, librarian, Firelands Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (OH): Providing in-school access to quality music programs for students in rural communities; Erin Hannigan, principal oboe, Dallas Symphony Orchestra: Concerts for Kindness, DSO’s Young Strings program, DSO Teen Council; Juan Ramirez, violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: Musicians in Schools, Musicians in Communities, and Talent Development Program, among others.
Now in its third year, the League’s Ford Musician Awards program, made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor americanorchestras.org
The Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras Salutes the League on its 75th Anniversary As the only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestra experience, the League links more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America, providing invaluable resources over the years. This includes volunteers who demonstrate outstanding support for their orchestras.
Concerto Soloists Conductors David CHO Music Director, Lubbock Symphony Orchestra
Martin MAJKUT Music Director, Queens Symphony Orchestra (NY)
Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra (OR)
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (FL)
Artistic Director & Conductor, Paducah Symphony Orchestra
andré RAPHEL Andrew SEWELL
Music Director, San Luis Obispo Symphony Music Director,
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Piedmont Wind Symphony (NC)
Oklahoma City Philharmonic
Denise Djokic Hai-Ye Ni
Celil Refik Kaya Ana Vidovic Fabio Zanon
Native American Flute R. Carlos Nakai
William Chapman-Nyaho John O’Conor Antonio Pompa-Baldi Alexander Schimpf
Genova & Dimitrov
Kinga Augustyn Ilya Kaler Livia Sohn
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Company Fund, honors and celebrates professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary and meaningful service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement. The musicians were selected by a panel of peer 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 the musician’s home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for musicians. Visit https:// americanorchestras.org/conducting-artistic-programs/the-ford-musician-awards. html for more information.
topher James Lees. On April 20, Music Director Courtney Lewis conducted the Jacksonville Symphony in readings of Nicholas Bentz’s E.W. Korngold Goes to Kikkatsu, Will Healy’s Kolmanskop, Ursula Kwong-Brown’s Night & Day, and Meng Wang’s Blooming in the Long Dark Winter’s
Night. Mentor composers working with the emerging composers were Melinda Wagner, Chen Yi, and Alex Mincek (Fort Wayne); Trevor Weston, Wang Jie, and Robert Beaser (Charlotte); and Courtney Bryan, Marcos Balter, and Steven Mackey ( Jacksonville).
Orchestral Soloists & Conductors
EarShot New Music Readings: 3 Composers, 10 Scores, 3 Orchestras
This winter and spring, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony, and Jacksonville Symphony became the latest orchestras to present readings of works by emerging composers through EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network. EarShot is administered by American Composers Orchestra in collaboration with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. EarShot’s New Music Readings are the culmination of several days of rehearsals, feedback sessions, and work with mentor composers. The process gives composers the opportunity to hear their scores and get feedback from orchestra musicians and conductors, and orchestras get to perform music—hot off the press—by up-andcoming composers. In all, ten new works received public readings between February and April. On February 7, Fort Wayne Philharmonic Music Director Andrew Constantine conducted readings of Nathan Kelly’s Redwood, Sohwa Lee’s Palindrome, and Robert Rankin’s Nijinsky Dances. On March 1, the Charlotte Symphony performed readings of Niloufar Iravani’s Fantasy, Jihyun Kim’s At Dawn, and Felipe Nieto’s Artesiana Sonora, led by Charlotte Symphony Assistant Conductor Chrisamericanorchestras.org
Tessa Lark 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Recipient
Michael Brown 2018 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist
Contact: Marianne Sciolino 212-721-9975 | www.samnyc.us | email@example.com
Diversity and inclusion are central issues at orchestras, not only in the most visible spheres—in the audience and among the musicians—but in the board room as well. As orchestras are recognizing that their leadership ranks should reflect their communities, several orchestras reveal how they are working toward true board room diversity. by Steven Brown
he Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras take pride in their diversity. Nearly two-thirds of the ensembles’ 600-plus budding musicians are people of color, Executive Director Susan Lape says. With students graduating every year, the group is always on the lookout for new members who will help it remain inclusive. For years, though, the youth orchestra didn’t advertise its auditions. Applications far outnumbered the openings, Lape explains, so the group’s leaders saw no reason to spend money on ads. Then, as Lape remembers, an African-American board member spoke up at a meeting, saying, “Look. I know you don’t think you need to budget for this. But you have to believe that my African-American, high-achieving son receives a piece of mail from Harvard every day. They’re recruiting him. They’re not saying, ‘We have too much supply, so we’re not going to budget for this.’ If you want to see the students becoming increasingly diverse, you want to make the students feel that
they’re welcome and that you’re looking for them.” Lape recalls the moment: “We said, ‘You’re right.’ ” The orchestra began to invest in putting out the word when audition time approached, and its diversity has flourished.
Orchestras need to engage in becoming more diverse, says New Jersey Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Gabriel van Aalst: “It’s the right thing to do, and it’s for the betterment of classical music in this country.” That’s just one example, Lape says, of how having an inclusive board helped an orchestra make better decisions. Studies in the corporate world have found repeatedly that businesses with diverse boards perform better than others. Lape’s story from the Chicago Youth Symphony illustrates the same lesson in the nonprofit world. Nevertheless, many orchestras—like many businesses—have
Aiming for Board Room Diversity Members of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Debut Orchestra, spring 2017
lagged in making their boards more inclusive. Orchestras are now moving to address the gap. This is not to downplay the manifold contributions of the visionary groups that have long embraced inclusion in the orchestral field. In 1987, conductor Paul Freeman founded in the Chicago Sinfonietta expressly to tackle the orchestral field’s lack of diversity. Over its two decades, the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization has been dedicated to the development of young black and Latinx classical musicians. Those groups have diversity as their explicit missions. “People have been saying this for years: diversity is good for business, because diverse minds produce better results,” says Gabriel van Aalst, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s president and CEO. “Orchestras need to engage in this area. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s for the betterment of classical music in this country.” As orchestras get serious about trying to serve their entire communities, they’re recognizing that their leadership ranks should embrace and reflect the entire population. “Diversification starts at home,” says audience researcher and arts-management consultant Alan Brown. “Diversification starts at the board level. If you want to change your organization, you have to change you who are.” That may sound obvious. But acting on it takes dedication and focus. symphony
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras Board Chair Henry Turner and Executive Director Susan Lape at CYSO’s 2017 Gala
Courtesy of Detroit Symphony Orchestra
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra won a place in the history of orchestral inclusiveness in 1968, when it enlisted conductor Henry Lewis as the first African-American music director of a major U.S. ensemble. But only in the past several years, van Aalst says, has the orchestra begun seriously “grappling with the issues of diversity and inclusiveness not only in the orchestral space, but in New Jersey as a state.” For an orchestra in one of the nation’s most diverse states, “it’s really important for us to reflect the communities we serve,” van Aalst says. The group performs concert series not just in Newark,
Musicians of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Accelerando Strings
but statewide, in towns and cities whose demographics vary widely. “If we’re going to be intentional and thoughtful around engaging with community leaders, we want them on our side,” says van Aalst. “And we want to ask them how the NJSO can become a resource for community needs, rather than us foisting what we believe is right for the community. That’s been a big change for us—to become more reflective and ask what people need of us.” As one of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s first steps, the board set up a diversity committee comprising board members, musicians, and staff. Surprisingly, that wasn’t as simple as it may sound: making the group a full committee of the board, van Aalst notes, required a change in the orchestra’s bylaws Third graders at Duke Ellington Elementary open new violins provided having to do with by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for their participation in the how committees are Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble, a new entry-level training structured. group, presented by the DSO’s Wu Family Academy in partnership Over the last several with Detroit public schools. americanorchestras.org
years, the orchestra has enlisted a diversity consultant and launched programs and initiatives to connect with more diverse audiences and communities. And since being appointed music director in 2016, conductor Xian Zhang has spearheaded outreach to Chinese communities, van Aalst says. The orchestra will present its first Chinese New Year festival next February. The 2018-19 subscription season will feature inclusiveness through a variety of works, from a focus on compositions by women to a concerto for the Indian sarod, a stringed instrument somewhat like a sitar. While the staff planned all that, the board began looking for people from under-represented groups to bring onto its roster. Out of 22 board members who have joined in the past four years, four came from diverse backgrounds, NJSO Senior Manager of Public Relations and Communications Victoria McCabe says. A Latina attorney and past board member, Carmen Corrales, returned last winter in order to focus on diversity. The same group of board additions included newcomer Peter Webster, an AfricanAmerican who is an executive at Aon, the financial-services firm. How did the orchestra find him? In one of the clas-
“What I hear resoundingly is that people want to feel valued,” says New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Board Member Peter Webster. “They want to know that they’ve got a voice—that when they show up, somebody notices them, and that they’re cared for.” programs at other business groups, he says, have taught him a lesson that orchestras can apply to their audiences. “What I hear resoundingly is that people want to feel valued,” Webster says. “They want to know that they’ve got a voice—that when they show up, somebody notices them, and that they’re cared for.” An orchestra builds its board from people who bring a wide range of assets. They may offer professional skills in business or other areas. They may have influence with segments of the region’s population. They may link the orchestra with the education world’s students and resources. They may
have influence with corporate or foundation funders. They may have deep pockets of their own. Many nonprofits expect their board members to make specific financial contributions. But to help pave the way for more diversity among its leaders, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra relaxed its requirements for donations. That’s a recognition, van Aalst says, that some people bring assets other than cash. If the board had instead maintained a stricter policy and made case-bycase exceptions, that might “encourage the idea that there were some full, paying board members and some who were there on charity. We wanted to create an environment that has equality—and respect.”
munities, and they’re helping us recruit new board members,” Forsyte says. Current board members’ networking and peer connections also yield prospects. And as the orchestra’s connections and programming extend further into the community, they feed a virtuous cycle. “We’re out in the community because we want to serve the community, not because it’s a quid pro quo,” Forsyte says. “That’s inspiring to philanthropists. And that culture does emanate from the
The Pacific Symphony, based in California’s increasingly diverse Orange County, has a similar history to the New Jersey Symphony’s. It long engaged in “episodic outreach,” Pacific Detroit Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors Chairman Symphony President John Mark Davidoff and Treasurer Faye Alexander Nelson during the Forsyte says. But it began orchestra’s 2017 Classical Roots Celebration. focusing on inclusiveness more deeply in 2016, with organization. The way our staff behaves, assistance from a capacity-building grant the way we solicit advice, the setting up from the James Irvine Foundation. That of advisory groups, all will lead volunteers helped make diversity “part of our DNA,” and philanthropies to see the orchestra in Forsyte points out. The orchestra has ema different light. And they become more braced new people, ideas, and programs. willing to involve themselves.” “We’ve been making aggressive efforts to When newcomers come onto the engage with leaders from different comsymphony
Courtesy of Detroit Symphony Orchestra
sic ways: Board Co-Chair David Huber, another financial-industry executive, knew him through business circles. Aware that Webster had loved music since childhood, Huber and the orchestra’s leaders told him about the organization, from its trailblazing hiring of Lewis to its programs teaching young people to play instruments. Webster recalls being struck by “the richness of that. I was thinking, ‘Wow. I don’t know how many people know this,’ ” he says. When he first heard the orchestra in concert, “it was unbelievable. The energy I felt from the orchestra was so exciting. It really spoke to me. So I began inviting people from my community to come with me to concerts and events.” At Aon, Webster takes part in a workplace inclusiveness initiative called Aon BUILD (Blacks United in Leading Diversity). That project and similar
Courtesy of Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors Chairman Mark Davidoff and Classical Roots Celebration Co-Chairs Therese Peace Agboh and Janice Cosby speak during the 40th annual Classical Roots Celebration, March 3, 2018.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s #ChoraleYou “sing-ins,” which are part of the NJSO Accents series of pre- and post-concert events to enhance the concertgoing experience, draw a diverse crowd and are part of the orchestra’s efforts to connect with multiple communities.
Definitions of Diversity
As the United States moves toward a majority-minority population, orchesamericanorchestras.org
tras operate amid an array of colors and nationalities. Newark has a large AfricanAmerican population, but New Jersey also contains Chinese communities statewide, van Aalst says; Bergen County has a big Korean group. The Pacific Symphony’s home of Orange County, California, includes a sizable Latino population in Santa Ana, and the region has long welcomed newcomers from across the Pacific Rim. The orchestra established At the 2017 FiddleFest in Paterson, young musicians from the New a Chinese-American Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s NJSO CHAMPS program (Character, league in the 1990s, Achievement, and Music Project) perform with young musicians from President John Forsyte fellow El Sistema New Jersey Alliance programs. Rob Davidson
board, the group makes sure to weave them in and encourage them to speak up. A “strong orientation process” is just the beginning, Forsyte says. “Newcomers have a partner on the board, whether you call that a mentor or a social partner,” he explains. “We seat ongoing board members with new people all the time, which helps avoid the clique formation that can happen on boards with longtime members. We create many task forces around strategic issues. You have to get people engaged immediately in the tasks and committee work that will help build their sense of connection to the mission.” And the members’ efforts on behalf of the orchestra compound over time. Board Executive Vice Chair Charles Zhang, who has helped lead the orchestra’s diversity programs, headed a 2016 Chinese tour by the affiliated Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. That trip, Forsyte explains, established links that helped lead to the grownup Pacific Symphony’s China tour this May. “It’s kind of a domino effect of successive and increasingly important initiatives, which tie it all together,” Forsyte says.
says, and the group is working to connect with the area’s Vietnamese and Taiwanese communities. When orchestra leaders of 30 or 40 years ago thought beyond the field’s traditionally white audiences and musicians, they focused mainly on African-Americans. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, based in a city with a substantial black population, came under scrutiny at the time for the mismatch between the city’s demographic and the faces in the concert hall. To redress that imbalance and better connect with its hometown’s substantial African-American population, 40 years ago the Detroit Symphony Orchestra established its Classical Roots program, which spotlights African-American composers and musicians. The orchestra has added other initiatives over the years to support increased opportunities for
League Resources The League of American Orchestras’ online Noteboom Governance Center offers a comprehensive range of support, strategies, and programs designed to strengthen governance practice in orchestras. Visit https://americanorchestras.org/boardmembers-volunteers/the-governance-center.html for governance information and resources including the League’s Diversity and Inclusion Resource Center, case studies, guidelines, the Music Director Search Handbook, and more.
African-Americans in classical music, among them an African-American Composer Residency, Emerging Composer Program, and the long-running African-American Fellowship Program for early-career musicians. Today, 26 percent of the Detroit Sym-
phony’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees—totaling about 100 members— come from minority groups, says Director of Communications and Media Relations Matthew Carlson. African-Americans on the Classical Roots steering committee add further diverse viewpoints. But
Real change means getting at what’s below the surface.
“we’re never done,” DSO Board Chair Mark Davidoff says. “It’s a commitment. It’s not something you check the box on. Peter Webster, a recent addition to the board of Given the changes in the New Jersey Symphony demographics and the Orchestra, says, “The changes in generaenergy I felt from the tional perspective, the orchestra was so exciting. search for diversity is It really spoke to me. So I began inviting people from a continuous process. my community to come I can’t look around with me to concerts and the board and say, events.” ‘We’re thumbs-up good.’ Because there’s no such moment. It’s all about the continuation of the effort.” As orchestras welcome morediverse members into their boards, they have recognized “We want to ask that an individual’s community leaders how the New Jersey Symphony background and Orchestra can become a experience go resource for community beyond ethnicity, needs,” says NJSO says Susan Lape, of President and CEO Gabriel the Chicago Youth van Aalst. “That’s been a big change for us.” Symphony Orchestras. A Hispanic or African-American person might be most interested in tackling subjects other than community engagement; a white board member may have insights about inclusiveness. As Detroit’s Davidoff puts it, “Diversity on the board is not just about race or whatever one or two indicators of an under-represented population you want to consider. It’s perspective. It’s where people have come from or where they’re going. It’s their professional view. It’s a holistic view of the person. And it’s the ecosystem of those people together that evolves into diversity of thought and diversity of perspective.”
“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
Partners in Performance, Inc.
Building resilient, adaptive, human-centered organizations www.partnersinperformance.us
The Work Continues
The ultimate purpose of diverse boards, of course, is to help their orchestras broaden their reach into their communities. Here’s what three groups have in the works. symphony
Chamber ensembles from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will perform community concerts in Newark and five other cities in coming seasons, thanks to a multi-year grant from Prudential Financial. The program, still in the planning stages, will begin in Newark, where Prudential’s headquarters are located, then expand. To help formulate programming that serves the Newark community’s interests, the orchestra set up a committee “that isn’t made up, as it sometimes might be, of trustees and staff,” van Aalst says. “Instead, that group is made up of community leaders across Newark. So we have Hispanic representation, African-American representation, corporate representation from Prudential. We’re covering a lot of the bases of the various communities in just this one city. We are now asking people to help us play what’s relevant to them.”
At a “bon voyage” press event for the Pacific Symphony’s 2018 visit to China, members of the orchestra’s board of directors and (at center, from left to right) President John Forsyte, Chinese Consul General of Los Angeles Zhang Ping, and Music Director Carl St.Clair met at the Consul General’s residence on April 27, 2018.
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras will carry out an inclusiveness audit funded by a $30,000 grant awarded in April by the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a new program from the League of American Orchestras. Made
possible through the generous support of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation and administered by the League, the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund is a competitive grants program designed to advance the innovative work of orches-
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Courtesy of Pacific Symphony
From left: Ling Zhang, Board Executive Vice Chair Charlie Zhang, Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte, and symphony supporter Betty Huang at the 2016 opening of the Charlie and Ling Zhang Center for Musical Arts and Education, where the orchestra’s offices are now located.
tras. Along with looking for ways to increase opportunities for diverse young musicians, the CYSO’s inclusion audit will examine the group’s board, which comprises about 30 percent people of color. That’s a solid percentage for the board of a performing arts group—but it is half the ratio of the CYSO’s ensembles themselves. “We’d love to see our board membership be more proportional to that
of our student body,” CYSO Executive Director Lape says. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Social Progress Initiative, announced in 2017, aims to make the orchestra a force for social progress, Davidoff says. The orchestra will reevaluate all its programming through the lens of helping drive the city of Detroit’s resurgence, following several difficult years in the city. The first
steps include launching or expanding programs that offer free private music lessons; free entry-level instruction for underserved youth in the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles; ensembles for adult amateurs; and partnerships with community organizations. “Because we have a diverse board, that helped us understand various perspectives of the community and how we might evidence our sincere and genuine commitment,” Davidoff says. “We wouldn’t have gotten there if we didn’t have the kind of board we have today.” STEVEN BROWN, a Houston-based writer specializing in classical music, is the former classical music critic of the Orlando Sentinel, Charlotte Observer, and Houston Chronicle.
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Remembering José Antonio Abreu
O José Antonio Abreu at the League’s National Conference, 2008
El Sistema USA has created a webpage, https://elsistemausa.org/rememberingmaestro-abreu/, where you may share stories, letters, memories, and articles about Abreu.
n March 24, the world lost a hugely influential figure in José Antonio Abreu, the founder of Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and El Sistema, the social-action program with music performance as its centerpiece. Born on May 7, 1939, Abreu was trained as a musician and an economist. In 1975, he formed the first orchestra of what would become El Sistema. And since then, El Sistema, a government-funded program, has provided free music education in Venezuela to thousands of children, most of them living in poverty. Some of the program’s graduates have gone on to top orchestra posts, including conductors Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Rafael Payare, music director designate of the San Diego Symphony, while others play at orchestras internationally. El Sistema-inspired programs have blossomed across North America as orchestras and others bring music into children’s lives, usually for free, and the teaching model has been replicated in Europe, South America, and elsewhere. At its Na-
tional Conference in 2008, the League of American Orchestras brought industrywide attention to El Sistema with sessions on the program and its impact, and a public conversation between Abreu and League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. Numerous North American orchestras, conservatories, and grassroots organizations have launched programs inspired by the El Sistema model. Some 20,000 students enrolled in El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States are a major part of his worldwide legacy. The programs are too numerous to name them all, but they include Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), a program of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; OrchKids, run by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Sistema Winnipeg, a program of Canada’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; Play On, Philly!, a Philadelphia-based independent program; and KidzNotes, an independent program in Durham/Raleigh, North Carolina. Here are personal tributes from orchestral leaders and youth educators who knew and worked with Maestro Abreu.
“El Sistema’s impact on American orchestras has been profound. El Sistema has been an amazing spark, awakening orchestras to their enormous potential for playing an active role in creating a just society,” says League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. symphony
Left to right: League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen, composer Tania León, and José Antonio Abreu in Caracas, Venezuela in 1992.
Maestro José Antonio Abreu was an extraordinary musician and leader who revolutionized the orchestral field’s thinking on cultural equity and on the idea of access to the arts as a basic human right. I remember meeting him first in 1992, when I traveled to Caracas with my colleague Tania León, the Cuban-American composer, to begin plans for an American Composers Orchestra festival of Venezuelan music at Carnegie Hall. Tania knew all about El Sistema and José Antonio Abreu, and of course we paid him a visit. It was inconceivable to me then that the principles of El Sistema could ever take hold in America. As the movement has in fact arrived, its impact on American orchestras has been profound. El Sistema has been an amazing spark, awakening orchestras
to their enormous potential for playing an active role in creating a just society. I don’t say this because hundreds of orchestras have created El Sistema-inspired programs. The number is actually about twenty. But hundreds of orchestras have begun to use the incredible power of music to serve, bind, and heal their communities. Many of these orchestras were first introduced to Maestro Abreu in 2008, when he accepted our invitation to address 4,000 delegates at the National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, Colorado. In conversations with Marin Alsop and with me, Maestro Abreu showed us how the promise of the most vibrant orchestral experience lies in opening up the connections to our common humanity. Maestro Abreu’s El Sistema has modelled just how that works, and in doing so, he has been a gift to all of us in music— a true testament to the transformational power of orchestral music. —Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras
Dr. Abreu was a visionary leader whose contributions to music and education cannot be understated. His pioneering initiative in making classical music a possibility for every child through the El Sistema program served as the inspiration for our very own OrchKids program in Baltimore, which is now one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Currently serving over 1,300 students in Baltimore City, OrchKids celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. We launched the program with just 30 students at one school, and we now have a presence at seven different sites throughout the city. OrchKids offers in-school, after-school and summer programming, providing music education, instruments, academic instruction, meals, and performance opportunities at no cost to students and families. I am
José Antonio Abreu with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop at the League’s National Conference in 2008. That same year, Alsop founded OrchKids, the BSO’s free, El Sistema-inspired music education program. americanorchestras.org
José Antonio Abreu and Katie Wyatt, executive director of El Sistema USA
enormously proud of the program and know that none of this would have been possible without the extraordinary vision of Dr. Abreu. His legacy lives on through our fantastic OrchKids students and all of the other children and young people throughout the world whose futures have been indelibly changed for the better by his tremendously influential work. —Marin Alsop, music director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; founder, OrchKids music education program
To my beloved Maestro José Antonio Abreu, My heart is overwhelmed. What comes to mind is a haiku by Jorge Luis Borges that crowns the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome: “Callan las cuerdas, la música sabía lo que yo siento.” The music and arts have lost one of their brightest figures. Maestro José Antonio Abreu taught us that art is a universal right and that inspiration and beauty irreversibly transform the soul of a child making them a better, healthier, and happier human being, and in turn, a better citizen. For me, José Antonio Abreu was an inspiration, an artist, a friend, a father, and a teacher. He showed me the arcana of music with the same strength with which he taught me that the right to beauty is inalienable. He approached the universal classics with the same passion that got me closer to my roots. I owe who I am today to Maestro Abreu’s generosity, humanity, and vision. I feel an immense privilege to have shared a life next to someone of his dimension. My commitment to his legacy is eter-
Craig T. Mathew / Mathew Imaging
es inalienable; me acercó a los clásicos universales con la misma pasión con que me acercó a mis raíces. Lo que soy se lo debo a su generosidad, a su humanidad y a su visión. Siento un inmenso privilegio que me haya tocado compartir la vida al lado de alguien de su dimensión. Mi compromiso con su legado es eterno e inquebrantable. Este es un compromiso además con Conductors and fellow Venezuelans Gustavo Dudamel and José los millones de jóvenes y Antonio Abreu niños en Venezuela y en el mundo que, como yo, vieron como su vida cobraba sentaido en nal and unwavering. This is also a comel momento mismo en que sublimemente mitment to the millions of young people eran tocados por la música. Mi comand children in Venezuela and around the promiso con el Maestro Abreu y con El world, who, like me, saw how their lives Sistema es un compromiso con el futuro, gained meaning at the very moment they con esos niños que aun no han descubierwere touched by music. My commitment to a la música y al arte. A ellos, y a los milto Maestro Abreu and El Sistema is a lones marcados por el legado del Maestro commitment to the future, to those chilAbreu, les digo ahora que el viaje apenas dren who have not yet discovered music comienza. and art. To these children, and to the milSeguiremos tocando, cantando y luchanlions touched by Maestro Abreu’s legacy, I do por el mundo que el Maestro Abreu would like to say that this is just the besoñó, y por el legado de futuro que nos ha ginning of the journey. dejado. We will continue to play music, sing and —Gustavo Dudamel, music director, Los fight for the world that Maestro Abreu Angeles Philharmonic dreamed of, and for the future legacy that he has left us. A mi Maestro, José Antonio Abreu, Mi corazón está abrumado. Me viene a la cabeza un haiku de Jorge Luis Borges que corona la Academia de Santa Cecilia, en Roma: “Callan las cuerdas, la música sabía lo que yo siento”. La música y el arte han perdido a una de sus más luminosas figuras. El Maestro José Antonio Abreu, como nadie en nuestros tiempos, nos enseñó que el arte es un derecho universal y que la inspiración y la belleza transforman irreversiblemente el alma de un niño, convirtiéndolo en un ser humano más pleno, más sano, más completo, mas feliz y, por ende, en un mejor ciudadano. José Antonio Abreu fue para mi una inspiración, un artista, un amigo, un padre, un maestro. Me regaló los arcanos de la música con la misma vehemencia con que me enseñó que el derecho a la belleza
Meeting Dr. José Antonio Abreu and visiting the famed El Sistema program in Venezuela helped me realize that my pathway to become a productive person and professional musician was due to many people paving the way for me over the years. At that time, I was a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, having beat incredible odds to emerge from a challenging community outside of Atlanta, Georgia into one of the most demanding conservatories in the country. What drove Dr. Abreu to do his work was a deep understanding that the symphony orchestra is the best tool for developing social discipline in the lives of the most vulnerable youth. In my first meeting with him, he said, “The fundamental principle of El Sistema is that culture for the poor cannot be a poor culture.” That one phrase reminded me of the rich experience I had with music from an early age and highlighted the heart of the challenge we face as we all work together to ensure equitable experiences for people of all backgrounds. We must keep his legacy alive as we strive to make sure everyone is included in a musical process that will help the community live into its best self. —Stanford Thompson, founder, Play On, Philly! music education program
In 2010, members of the Sistema Fellows Program at New England Conservatory went to Venezuela to learn firsthand about the program. Pictured with Abreu (left to right): Dantes Rameau, Stanford Thompson, Lorrie Heagy, Rebecca Levi, David Malek, Abreu, Jonathan Govias, Christine Witkowski, Daniel Berkowitz, Katie Wyatt, Alvaro Rodas
Courtesy El Sistema Japan
one million children in 66 countries who are changing their lives through music. Western orchestras worship the virtuosity of technical perfection. El Sistema reveres the virtuosity of communication. What matters in El Sistema-inspired orchestras is what happens to people: to the lives of their members, to the communities they serve. For WestEducator Eric Booth on the launch day of El Sistema Japan, in the ern orchestras, Abreu’s city of Soma, Japan, in Fukushima Prefecture, July 2012. lasting legacy may be that they find their future purpose (and future audiences) in dedication to the virtuosic human mission of great music. José Antonio Abreu didn’t “have” a —Eric Booth, educator and co-author, vision—he “was” the pursuit of his vision. with Tricia Tunstall, of Playing for Their He lived an ascetic life, working endless Lives, about the international growth of El hours and frequently forgetting to eat, to Sistema. advance El Sistema. He spoke in inspirational cadenzas that few realized were meticulously crafted mini-compositions. There was no personal ego in the man; there was only music and its power to change lives. Dear Maestro Abreu, How did he think of his legacy? Once, I learned of your death this Saturday, afhe told me the greatest accomplishment of ter a long day of rehearsal. My heart broke El Sistema was that in our time, we can at the news and at the same time was think of music as a form of rendering sergrateful. After tireless pursuit of a better vice to others. He also said that El Sisteworld for all of us, you deserve rest. You ma is the first time a big idea from Latin would not take it while you were alive, and America has been adopted worldwide as even in death your legacy is driving us to a solution to intractable social problems. do better, to do more—always. The proof of both versions is the nearly This weekend, I played in Beethoven’s
Third Symphony, the “Eroica,” and the funeral march was not yours. Yours was the hero’s welcome, the surging, jubilant, wonderful mess of strings, timpani, and brass, all racing to the finish. I was out of my seat with emotion as I played, thinking of the first time I met you onstage in Caracas, thinking of all the times I had seen you since, as you followed your youth orchestras from their childhood into overwhelmingly successful careers. You followed all of us, you knew all of us, and you supported us to “luchar” for our better selves. Your beloved “Sistema” has survived regime changes, political upheaval, and national tragedies. Because of the way you taught us to be—passionate teachers, contributors, and citizen artists — it will survive around the world for many generations to come. We continue to “trust the young.” I hope you knew about the youth movement to end gun violence in the United States now; I attended a protest march in Durham during the break Saturday between rehearsals. It was full of music—you would have been proud of them. You would have encouraged their spirit. Thank you for sharing the power of music to change hearts and minds, to change lives, and to change the future for children living in poverty all over the world. Your spirit lives on in the 2 million students and musicians in Sistema-inspired programs around the world, and you will be cherished and remembered. —Katie Wyatt, executive director, El Sistema USA; founder, Kidznotes music education program, Durham/Raleigh, North Carolina.
Young musicians in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids free music education program perform at the League’s Conference in Baltimore, 2016.
Shifting into Gear
The 2018 Shift Festival of American Orchestras in Washington, D.C. showcased orchestras in the concert hall—and beyond. Above: As part of its Shift mini-residency, the Albany Symphony’s new-music ensemble Dogs of Desire staged a free event at the Blind Whino SW Arts Club in Washington, D.C. Works by young composers were on the slate, along with jazz singer and new-music composer Theo Bleckmann and atmospheric visual accompaniment and lighting from video artist Hannah Wasileski.
rchestras were everywhere in Washington, D.C. this spring, as the Shift Festival of American Orchestras brought live music to unexpected venues like a community museum, a cool late-night club, and that most public of spaces, the massive Main Hall of D.C.’s iconic Union Station. And while many orchestras do “musical instrument petting zoos” for kids, the Shift festival suited the deed to the words when the National Symphony Orchestra presented a musical instrument petting zoo at—Carnival of the Animals, anyone?—the National Zoo. Running from April 9 to 15, Shift celebrates the vitality, identity, and artistry of
U.S. orchestras and chamber orchestras by creating a wide-ranging experience in the nation’s capital. The week-long festival is composed of mini-residencies, with each orchestra presenting education events, symposia, and community activities in venues around Washington, along with full-orchestra performances in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. For the first Shift festival, in 2017, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Boulder Philharmonic, The Knights (Brooklyn, NY), and North Carolina Symphony came to town. This year’s festival featured the Albany Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and D.C.’s symphony
own National Symphony Orchestra. They performed new music, unusual repertoire, works that evoked the natural surroundings of their hometowns, and scores with personal connections to their music directors. Beyond that, Shift shone a spotlight on some of the ways that American orchestras are rethinking their relationships with their communities. Shift is co-presented by Washington Performing Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in cooperation with the League of American Orchestras. americanorchestras.org
The day before the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Kennedy Center performance, the Caminos del Inka chamber ensemble and Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who was born in Peru, performed works that explored South American music at the National Museum of the American Indian (above). Caminos del Inka’s repertoire spans traditional, classical, and contemporary music from South America, particularly the Andean region, by composers such as Osvaldo Golijov, Gabriela Frank, Jimmy López, Diego Luzuriaga, and more. The concert was free and open to the public.
As part of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s mini-residency at the Kennedy Center during the Shift festival, the orchestra led a version of its signature “Second Chance Strings” program for local adults. Students from Indianapolis’s Metropolitan Youth Orchestra sat side-byside with D.C. adults, teaching them the basics of holding and playing the instrument, culminating in an enthusiastic group performance of the Pachelbel Canon in D.
At the Kennedy Center, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra celebrated the rich cultural life of Fort Worth’s Latin American communities as well as Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s Peruvian heritage in a program juxtaposing music by composers from South America and the United States. Two works were inspired by literary connections: the East Coast premiere of Jimmy López’s orchestral suite Bel Canto—a Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra commission from López’s 2015 opera, based on Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel of the same name—and Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, based on Plato’s “Symposium,” with violinist Augustin Hadelich. Also featured was RIFT, a symphonic ballet by Anna Clyne that was choreographed for dancers from Texas Ballet Theater (above), who shared the stage with the musicians.
At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (above), the Albany Symphony performed “The River Flows Through Us,” an evocative program exploring how bodies of water connect and influence their surrounding communities, examined through the history of the waterways of upstate New York. Led by Music Director David Alan Miller, the program featured, among other contemporary scores, Dorothy Chang’s The Mighty Erie Canal, a mini-oratorio for children’s chorus and orchestra with the National Cathedral School Chorus, Voices of Glassmanor, and the Children’s Chorus of Washington.
During the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Shift mini-residency in Washington, D.C., Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya addresses the crowd during a free concert by the Caminos del Inka chamber group at the National Museum of the American Indian. The concert focused on traditional and contemporary music from South America.
The Albany Symphony’s program at the Kennedy Center focused on the impact of waterways on their surrounding communities. Among the works: Dorothy Chang’s mini-oratorio The Mighty Erie Canal (for children’s chorus and orchestra), as well as three works commissioned by the Albany Symphony: Joan Tower’s Still/Rapids and Michael Torke’s The Manhattan Bridges—both featuring pianist Joyce Yang—and Michael Daugherty’s Reflections on the Mississippi, a concerto for tuba and orchestra featuring guest soloist Carol Jantsch, principal tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra (in photo).
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At the Kennedy Center, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra showcased scores by composers from Poland, inspired by Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski’s heritage. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein joined the orchestra for Witold Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra; also featured was the rarely heard Credo by Krzysztof Penderecki. Pictured with the Indianapolis Symphony musicians are Urbanski (behind podium), vocalists Erin Wall, Renée Tatum, Alyssa Martin, Thomas Cooley, and Liudas Mikalauskas, and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Children’s Choir.
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The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra brought its Teddy Bear Concerts to Busboys & Poets, a Washington, D.C. community space and restaurant, to introduce preschool and kindergarten students to the orchestra through an interactive performance featuring story, movement, and live music. Featuring five musicians from the ISO and narration, The Garden Symphony followed a ladybug’s search through the garden for her own special song and explored how music creates a sense of place and home. The event was free and open to the public.
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At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Music Director Gianandrea Noseda led the National Symphony Orchestra and vocalists (from left) Andrew Bogard, Rexford Tester, and Madison
Leonard, in a program that drew inspiration from Noseda’s Italian heritage as well as his experience at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, where he held his first important conducting post.
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During Shift, musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra ventured to the Congressional Cemetery, a 206-year-old National Historic Landmark on Capitol Hill, to perform a free chamber music concert.
Below: The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra brought its Teddy Bear Concerts to Busboys & Poets, a Washington, D.C. community space and restaurant, to introduce preschool and kindergarten students to the orchestra through an interactive performance featuring story, movement, and live music. Featuring five musicians from the ISO and narration, The Garden Symphony followed a ladybug’s search through the garden for her own special song and explored how music creates a sense of place and home. The event was free and open to the public.
At the Kennedy Center (above), the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra showcased scores by composers from Poland, inspired by Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski’s heritage. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein joined the orchestra for Witold Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra; also featured was the rarely heard Credo by Krzysztof Penderecki. Pictured with the Indianapolis Symphony musicians are Urbanski (behind podium), vocalists Erin Wall, Renée Tatum, Alyssa Martin, Thomas Cooley, and Liudas Mikalauskas, and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Children’s Choir.
Below: During Shift, musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra ventured to the Congressional Cemetery, a 206-year-old National Historic Landmark on Capitol Hill, to perform a free chamber music concert.
At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Music Director Gianandrea Noseda led the National Symphony Orchestra and vocalists (from left) Andrew Bogard, Rexford Tester, and Madison Leonard, in a program that drew inspiration from Noseda’s Italian heritage as well as his experience at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, where he held his first important conducting post.
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Orchestras and composers are responding to world events with new scores. And in today’s political climate, older works are sometimes taking on new resonance. by David Patrick Stearns
ymphony orchestras aren’t taught to be rugged, though that’s what was required of the percussionists of the San Diego Symphony in January when they played along an area of the Mexico-U.S. border known as “No Man’s Land” with no easy access. The usual concert rules didn’t apply. With American musicians and spectators on one side of the border and a group of Mexican percussionists and spectators on the other, John Luther Adams’s 2009 Inuksuit, a piece intended to resonate with natural surroundings, had rather more significance. Nobody said it was any kind symphony
of a protest amid U.S. immigration policies that are an especially divisive issue in southern California. On the surface, the event was a free performance in the San Diego Symphony’s month-long festival “It’s About Time: A Festival of Rhythm. Sound. And Place,” curated by composer Steven Schick. But with all the work required to create and hear the binational performance, significance was unavoidable. “Just to get to the location, people had to walk a mile or more,” says Greg Cohen, the San Diego Symphony’s 38-yearold principal percussionist. “It had rained previously and some of the roads were washed out. We had two trucks loaded americanorchestras.org
rise all over the world, but I’m also talkwith percussion on roads where there was ing about the unprecedented threat to our no guard rail.” survival as a species. How could orchestras Orchestras didn’t always get out so not engage in those big questions?” much. They tended to stay in their acousMartin Luther King Jr. memorial contically appropriate concert halls, speaking certs, annual traditions at some orchestras, universal languages that originated in prehave long been a forum for celebrating the vious centuries. Now their evolving sense wider humanitarian ideals that King stood of social responsibility has them explorfor. Next spring, the New York Philharing terrains where their pop-music counmonic and incoming Music Director Jaap terparts might hesitate to tread. Between van Zweden will devote three weeks to concerts in glittering new theaters while touring China, Philadelphia Orchestra musicians play in Works that speak to current social schools for migrant workers. issues occupy a more central place Newly written works that speak to current social issues at orchestras from New York to are hardly unknown among Tallahassee and beyond. orchestras—think of John “Music of Conscience” concerts that inAdams’s 2000 oratorio El Nino, in which clude John Corigliano’s 1990 Symphony a Latino incarnation of the Holy FamNo. 1 (“Of Rage and Remembrance”), ily is contrasted with a glowering police which was a musical flashpoint during the presence; the work has been championed early years of the AIDS epidemic. David by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony, among others. Composer John Luther Adams, whose works Now, such works occupy a more cenoften evoke the natural environment. tral place at orchestras from New York to Tallahassee and beyond. But in contrast to opera companies—which have navigated political issues at least as far back as the time of Verdi, when the Nabucco chorus “Va, pensiero” became an unofficial anthem for Italian nationalism— orchestral music doesn’t often have the benefit of words for statement-making. The lack of any clear route for symphonic social engagement, however, doesn’t seem to keep anybody away from these uncharted waters. “The art form is a potential avenue of connection. It can help bridge differences in some way. And it’s almost the responsibility of the pre-eminent artistic institutions of whatever location to try to have people connect in those ways,” says San Diego Symphony percussionist Cohen. It goes beyond overtly political matters, says composer John Luther Adams, whose years living in Alaska prompted descriptive, perhaps neo-Impressionist works such as Become Ocean, Become River, and Become Desert that remind listeners on all sides of environmental issues what unLang’s opera prisoner of the state will be spoiled natural phenomena might sound performed alongside Beethoven’s Fidelio: and feel like. “All thinking people are tryboth pieces about political imprisonment, ing to figure out how to move forward in this mess we’ve created for ourselves,” one set in the future, the other in the past. In addition to the “Music of Conscience” says Adams. “Certainly, Fascism is on the Donald Lee
San Diego Symphony
The scene at the U.S.-Mexico border in southern California on January 27, when San Diego Symphony musicians gave a free, binational performance of John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit, a percussion work intended to be played outdoors. Mexican musicians simultaneously performed the score—on the other side of the border wall.
Above: The New York Philharmonic presented composer Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields at the NY Phil Biennial in 2014. Julian Wachner led musicians from the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street in the work, which reflects on Pennsylvania’s coal-mining culture around the turn of the twentieth century. Anthracite Fields won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
importance of having a great symphony orchestra in their lives.” Yes, context: creating greater meaning among already established works. New Yorkers can hear the Corigliano symphony as a case history in the fatal consequences of government discrimination and neglect. “We want to be in our city,” says Deborah On the West Coast last Borda, president and CEO of the New York year, Oregon Symphony Philharmonic. “A sense of context that is patrons wouldn’t miss the irony of Copland’s Lincoln larger than the music is a way of getting Portrait, which features people to think about the larger importance Lincoln’s own words about of having a great symphony orchestra in freedom and equality, being narrated by Star Trek their lives.” star George Takei, whose Japanese-American parents were forced to live in a World War II-era the fire led to reforms in workplace safeinternment camp the same year—1942— ty regulations and influenced the rise of that the Copland piece was written. workers’ unions. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, which “We want to be in our city,” says Debodevastated Puerto Rico last fall, the rah Borda, president and CEO of the New Philadelphia Orchestra’s long-scheduled York Philharmonic. “A sense of context concert performances of Bernstein’s West that is larger than the music is a way of Side Story were turned into fundraisers getting people to think about the larger
for Puerto Rican victims of the natural disaster, raising $34,000. Yet the produc-
concerts, the season’s new-music commissions include Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth, about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York that killed roughly 146 workers, the majority being immigrant women. The tragic results of
Composer Julia Wolfe, whose recent works have focused on the personal and social impact of twentieth-century American industrialization.
tion took on unintended larger meanings as the federal government drew heat for its slow response to the island-wide tragedy. At other times, repertoire can seem beside the point. It almost didn’t matter what the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra played when they took a break from previously arranged Far East tour concerts to visit schools for Chinese migrant workers. The point is that the musicians showed up. Contemporary Concerns
New works are arriving with increasing visibility. Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, employing the dying utterances of unarmed African-American men, premiered in 2015 as a choral work with a small group of instruments. Newly scored for chorus and orchestra, the work will rise again in March 2019 in performances by the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Rahim Alhaj’s Letters from Iraq—with texts describing the American occupation of that country—united Arab musicians with members of the Michigan americanorchestras.org
Philharmonic for performances in March 2017. In February 2018 at the Louisville Orchestra, Music Director Teddy Abrams unveiled a collaboration between composer and poet Sebastian Chang and Iraqi artist Vian Sora to create Between Heaven and Earth, a multimedia work reflecting life in war-torn Baghdad. Often, these are occasions for community partnerships. The Michigan Philharmonic partnered with the Dearborn-based Arab American National Museum for Letters from Iraq. The coming New York Philharmonic season has the International Rescue Committee and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center as significant partners. If there’s a stealth element for developing community involvement, it’s the mere presence of choirs. In Tallahassee, it’s Morehouse College Glee Club and Florida A&M Concert Choir. Amateur singers tend to draw friends and family that might not normally attend such concerts. Viewed in retrospect, such events look easier than they are. Fact is, they truly
Above: Led by Music Director Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony performs the world premiere of John Luther Adams’s Become Desert in March 2018. The work is for an ensemble of five orchestral and choral groups, which are placed throughout the concert hall. The Seattle Symphony commissioned Become Desert as well as Adams’s Become Ocean, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
New York Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda
take the symphonic institutions out of their comfort zone. One obvious example is San Diego Symphony’s weather-imperiled Inuksuit—“it almost didn’t happen” due to the rains, says Cohen—and logistics weren’t easily sandwiched be-
San Diego Symphony
San Diego Symphony Principal Percussion Gregory Cohen, who participated in the symphony’s 2018 performance of John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit at the U.S.-Mexico border.
tween other festival events. Plans for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s foray into Syrian migrant camps outside Vienna during its spring 2018 European tour were
called off when things simply didn’t work out. But you never know when—between concerts—musicians will just hire transportation on their own and arrive in
distressed, music-starved locales, maybe even unannounced. Symbolic value aside, such events are, at their core, one-on-one communication. During one Far East tour, Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Philip Kates took his violin to an earthquake zone and helped establish a fundraising drive to rebuild schools. Partisan political statements are avoided. But in a symphonic world where concerts are planned years in advance, sometimes performances can be ambushed by current, unforeseen events. A long-scheduled guest appearance by conductor Valery Gergiev with an orchestra might suddenly be picketed because of the conductor’s connections to Vladimir Putin. This spring in Philadelphia, demonstrators angered by the treatment of Palestinians exiting Gaza protested the
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Philadelphia Orchestra’s long-planned 2018 tour to Israel. In such situations, orchestras generally focus on the big picture. “As soon as we engage in any political dialogue, we lose our purpose,” says Ryan Fleur, interim co-president of the Philadelphia Orchestra. That purpose, he says, is cultural diplomacy. With any luck, that approach also circumvents problems among board members with opposing political views. During the early 1990s, when the Corigliano symphony was presented by the New York
Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra turned its longplanned concert performance of Bernstein’s West Side Story last fall into a fundraiser for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, which had recently suffered widespread destruction. In photo: Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Philadelphia Orchestra and cast. At the lyric “Nobody knows in America, Puerto Rico’s in America” in the song “America,” cast members held their hands over their hearts and took a long pause in honor of what had happened in Puerto Rico.
Philharmonic as part of an event involving display of the famous AIDS quilt, which memorialized those lost to the disease, Borda admits there was “some pushback” from the board. And now? “If we’re a little controversial, I think we can take it. We’ve survived 176 years.”
The central point—first, last, and always, says John Luther Adams—is music that comes from a deep artistic impetus. “Otherwise I risk composing bad propaganda,” he says. “Music is a powerful, mysterious force, this magic thing that can transform
H I S T O RY I N T H E M A K I N G
“The art form is a potential avenue of connection. It can help bridge differences in some way. And it’s almost the responsibility of artistic institutions to try to have people connect,” says San Diego Symphony Principal Percussion Gregory Cohen.
Isabel Santiago, who played the role of Anita in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s October 2017 performances of West Side Story, helped with fundraising for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. The orchestra partnered with Puerto Rican aid organizations in the effort.
individuals and entire cultures.” But music is also pliable. Instrumental music, in particular, can be co-opted for a variety of purposes. Perhaps the most extreme example is that of Anton Bruckner, whose symphonies were claimed by Nazi ideology during World War II, despite their strictly religious original intentions. Adams was thrilled that Inuksuit made a statement at the U.S.-Mexico border, and trusts event curator Steven Schick, to whom the piece was originally dedicated. But does Adams think about how his music might be used elsewhere, when his back is turned? “Yes, I do. All the time,” he says. Composer Julia Wolfe’s text-based works—Steel Hammer (2009) and Anthra-
cite Fields (2014), both of which are about American industrialization—would seem to be less vulnerable to alien interpretation. But even though Wolfe grew up near the Pennsylvania coal-mining culture that she portrays in Anthracite Fields, many of the people she so sympathetically interviewed on the research end of the piece no doubt voted differently from her in the last national election. Might her work be seen one day as championing causes she never intended? She may have a bit of insurance against that in the forthcoming Fire in my mouth, which draws on oral histories from immigrants—and then some. “I’m not saying that you need to think ‘this.’ I’m hoping to shed light on things, and say what
The Louisville Orchestra’s February 2018 concerts included “War + Peace,” which featured works by composers including Ives, Barber, Ravel, Schoenberg, and Vaughan Williams and the world premiere of Sebastian Chang’s Between Heaven and Earth, a piece inspired by and composed in collaboration with Iraqi visual artist Vian Sora. In photo: Music Director Teddy Abrams leads the new score as Sora’s artwork is displayed.
Frankie Steele/Courtesy of Louisville Orchestra
Composer Sebastian Chang and visual artist Vian Sora collaborated on Between Heaven and Earth, a new multimedia work reflecting on life in war-torn Baghdad. The Louisville Orchestra gave the world premiere of the work in February, on a program with other scores focusing on war and peace.
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happened,” says Wolfe. “But, I have to say, there are little messages embedded in it.” Fire in my mouth is in many ways emblematic of a social-consciousness trend that was waiting to happen. Wolfe, 59, initially made her name with severe mini-
In March 2017, musicians from the Michigan Philharmonic joined oud player and composer Rahim AlHaj (center) to perform selections from his Letters from Iraq, which focuses on war— and its aftermath and consequences. The event took place at the Arab American Museum in Dearborn. AlHaj spoke before each of the work’s movements, relating the essence of the letter upon which the movement was based.
malist instrumental works as a founding member of Bang on a Can, the downtown Manhattan composer collective, often for unconventional ensembles—ones that she says “challenged the system” with, for example, scoring for multiple bagpipes. But
Chris Lee and the New York Philharmonic Archives
In 1992, when the New York Philharmonic gave the New York premiere of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, which Corigliano described as a reaction to the AIDS crisis, AIDS quilts memorializing those lost to the disease were displayed in Avery Fisher Hall. Concertgoers were invited to share their feelings. The concerts were dedicated to those who had died of AIDS, those living with AIDS, and those who help and support them. The symphony was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which gave its world premiere in 1990.
having spent formative years in the counterculture environs of the University of Michigan, she says that even those works had extra-musical subtext, if known only to her. “I’ve always had a feeling of, how politically active can I be or should I be? I think being an artist is a political act unto itself,” she says. “At a time when writing music often involves pleasing somebody else, commercially speaking, being an artist is a very independent expression.” Wolfe’s move into text-based works gave her extra urgency. Steel Hammer, which evokes the African-American folk hero and railroad builder John Henry, was begun without a commission. Carnegie Hall came forward with a commission, though considering how untested her work was in mainstream concert venues, it’s no surprise that it was performed in Carnegie Hall’s smaller Zankel space. Anthracite Fields, which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music, began at the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, and was heard at New York Phil Biennial, a two-week festival devoted to new music. But Fire in my mouth—whose subject haunted Wolfe as she frequently passed the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire when teaching at New York University—will be premiered by the New York Philharmonic in January 2019 on a regular subscription concert. Borda says she believes in “putting it organically into the middle of what we’re doing.” While composers say that even the most generous commissioning circumstances with major orchestras have limited rehearsal, Wolfe had three workshops for the new piece in various university settings where she tried out industrial noises, such as the roar of amassed sewing machines. “It’s kind of shocking. And it’s great,” says Wolfe about the commission. “I have to say I’m probably an odd choice. I’m more of an outsider, so they’re actually taking a chance.” Wolfe would have written the piece anyway, and for less-exalted circumstances. But with classical music becoming a platform for socially conscious music, such risks can be taken. And they are. DAVID PATRICK STEARNS is a musicology graduate of New York University and writes about classical music for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Opera News, WQXR, and others.
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In Chicago We Trust Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti is an artistic force in Chicago—and all over the planet. So why are he and Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians heading into detention centers to share music with the inmates? It’s all part of the orchestra’s goal to connect with communities throughout the city. by Dennis Polkow
fter a twelve-year absence, Riccardo Muti returned in January 2017 to Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Italian opera house that he had led for nearly two decades. The visit was so newsworthy that it made headlines in Europe, even sharing the front page with the Trump inauguration. But Muti wasn’t leading an opera company: he was touring with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble that he has been leading as music director since 2010. The La Scala visit was part of the orchestra’s tour to the music capitals of Europe; it and domestic tours to the West Coast last fall and the East Coast this winter were met all met with widespread acclaim. Back in Chicago, however, is where the hard work happens to make all this possible. Muti and the orchestra make some of that work—the artistic process— transparent, by opening select CSO rehearsals to donors, media, seniors, students, veterans, and the like. At one of these last May, Muti asked the musicians to play the first movement of the Brahms Fourth Symphony at the start of the rehearsal. “They know it, I know it, but we have never done it together,” Muti said to the onlookers. “The result may be wonderful, or it may be a disaster!” Afterwards, Muti turned to the applause and said, “You see? They are very good! They hardly need me! Now, just a few things…” And he proceeded to do gentle open-heart surgery on every phrase of
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a free outdoor “Concert for Chicago” in Millennium Park on September 21, 2012 during his opening residency of the 2012-13 season.
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
At Apostolic Church of God in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood on October 13, 2017, Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the free, annual community concert, the second appearance for Muti and the CSO at the South Side church.
the score, calling on the players, as Concertmaster Robert Chen described it after that night’s concert, “to pull more out of ourselves than we knew we had.” Whether he is throwing out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game, performing “Chelsea Dagger” in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, or reviewing his favorite area
to all. When Muti arrived in Chicago for a press conference a few weeks after the May 2008 announcement of his CSO music directorship, he made some remarks that ended up setting an institutional tone for the next decade: “I will try not only to bring my musical ideas—not revolutionary, just my ideas—and through these, to
Whether he is throwing out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game, performing in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, or reviewing his favorite area Italian eatery on the local news, Riccardo Muti has become Chicago’s most recognized cultural ambassador. Italian eatery on the local news, Muti has become Chicago’s most recognized cultural ambassador. And in case too much is made of the Muti side of the extraordinary Muti/CSO equation, Muti constantly reminds the city what a “jewel” it has in its hometown orchestra. Equally important to Muti, however, has been to open up the doors of the CSO
enrich the people of Chicago and through tours, the world. But also to bring music to parts of Chicago society that are far away from the enjoyment and enrichment of music. We are here to serve the community—not only those who come to the concerts, but we need to go out to people away from the world of music.” Muti’s initial call to community engage-
ment was supported by the CSO’s thenCEO and President Deborah Rutter, who brought Muti to Chicago, and since 2014 by Rutter’s successor, Jeff Alexander. “Most people look to the music director as the public face of the institution,” says Alexander, “so my management style is to be less of a public persona and more behind-the-scenes than may have been true for some of my predecessors. I see myself as an enabler of Maestro [Muti]’s and of the musicians we rely on to make great music. As chief administrator, I am here to enable and support the artistic efforts as well as the educational activities and community engagement activities of the organization. It’s very important for a symphony orchestra to get out into the community.” To that end, Muti’s first concert as CSO music director in September of 2010 was a free outdoor “Concert for Chicago” in Millennium Park, attended by over 25,000 people. A similar free concert has taken place at the beginning of every one symphony
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
Young concertgoers experience the trombone following a Civic Fellowship Brass Quintet concert at the National Museum of Mexican Art.
and have contact with us. More and more I think that the system that we still have today of the ceremony of the public comes into the concert hall and the orchestra and the conductor are dressed like penguins, is becoming a ridiculous relic. We have to find a way to be much simpler so we can reach people.” Another initiative Muti began during his first week, which has continued every
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti won’t let the clock distract him during his open rehearsal with musicians in the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra during a multi-day residency hosted by Cal Performances as part of the CSO’s West Coast tour in October 2017. americanorchestras.org
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
of Muti’s eight seasons since, alternating downtown outdoor appearances with indoor neighborhood concerts. The tradition continues in the fall to open the 2018-19 season. “One of my ideas when I first came here was to bring music to areas of the city and people that were not close to Orchestra Hall,” Muti recalls. “That we go where the people are and people are free to come in
year since, is that he and a contingent of CSO musicians and guest artists visit a juvenile correctional facility. Because of rehearsal and concert schedules, these visits have to be on a day off, usually a Sunday; Muti spends the morning preparing in his studio, and then he, CSO musicians, and vocalists present a program at the detention center later in the day. All of them, including Muti, volunteer their time. Entering these correctional facilities is a serious matter: all the artists, as well as the handful of guests, go through background checks, are given a list of dos and don’ts, put through a metal detector, and hand-frisked. They can bring nothing inside: no keys, no cellphones, only a mandatory photo ID to gain access behind the barbed-wire gates, which are controlled by guards buzzing outsiders in one at a time, with every name checked against a list. Jonathan McCormick, director of the CSO’s Negaunee Music Institute, which oversees the orchestra’s educational, engagement, and community programs as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training ensemble for emerging musicians, came to work at the CSO a few months before Muti arrived. “Like so many others,” says McCormick, “I came to Chicago to be close to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I have loved this orchestra for as long as I can remember. I became enamored by the Solti era and the quality of the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association President Jeff Alexander
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
At the Illinois Youth Center in Chicago on September 25, 2016, Riccardo Muti thanks Chicago Symphony Orchestra Principal Percussionist Cynthia Yeh following her performance for the young men at the facility.
music that the orchestra was making.” McCormick remembers the initial institutional reaction to Muti’s call to community engagement that included visiting prisons, as Muti had done in Italy. “That was somewhat of a surprise,” McCormick
tory of trauma, put them behind bars, and basically initiate them into a system that, statistically, they will participate in for the rest of their lives?” The Chicago-based Storycatchers Theatre, which helps young people in the
The inmates, whose world is behind walls and who sing of incarceration, sit transfixed as Muti plays piano for a mezzosoprano. recalls, “but it was very encouraging that the minute we started to talk about prison programming, not one of the musicians ever said to us, ‘Why would we be doing that?’ They made very clear that this was a community of people that they would like to get to know and to help in any way that they could. I think there has been a societal shift of the perception of, especially, the juvenile justice system: is it appropriate to take a young person with a complex his-
court system transform their traumatic experiences into cultural expression, became a partner in the CSO’s visits to correctional facilities, as did the London-based Music in Prisons. “We had no experience whatsoever going into juvenile prisons and detention centers and offering musical programming,” says McCormick. “We knew that Maestro [Muti] would annually be able to go into a facility and offer an interactive recital, but we also knew that
we wanted to do something that would really put the young people at the center of the project. We ended up setting up a jungle gym of instruments for them to use: guitars, basses, keyboards, as well as microphones. And over the course of six hours a day for five days, they create original music based on their life experiences and then perform them at the end of the week for residents of the facility and invited guests.” Participants are invited to experiment, and there is a team in the room that includes two teaching artists from Music in Prisons; volunteer musicians from the Civic Orchestra, the training orchestra of the CSO; and a composer. “As the young people experiment more on the instruments, they develop proficiency, they start to play chords, they begin writing lyrics,” says McCormick. By the time of Muti’s second visit to the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville, in 2011, some of the residents had been insymphony
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
At the Illinois Youth Center in Chicago on September 28, 2014, Riccardo Muti discusses music-making from the piano with a young man at the juvenile justice facility.
spired enough by Muti’s previous visit that they began writing a musical theater piece. A chorus sang “Incarcerated Girls,” which longingly spoke of their situation with a pop-Broadway-style refrain. They also performed a Latin choral setting. Muti listened very intently before taking the stage himself. “Very nice, congratulations!” he said.
“Thank you for sharing your feelings with me. That is what music really is: feelings, no? That is what we do, too, at the Chicago Symphony: we share our feelings. Everything we are doing for you today is about love. Music without love is just noise: you cannot make music without love. “How many of you have heard of Mo-
zart?” he continued. “You know, he may be the greatest composer who ever lived and is a demonstration of the existence of God in that he spent such a short time here— he died very young—but never wrote music that was cheap. He had a very hard life, he traveled all around Europe, but he couldn’t get a job because the jobs were always given to others of inferior quality. It is often the case, even today.” Sitting at the piano, he played the introduction to “È amore un ladroncello” from Mozart’s Così fan tutte. “This music is very joyful, no?” Muti asked. “It teases you, it goes along joyfully, and then comes doubt, expressed in the music,” he said, as an expected major chord shifted to an unstable augmented triad. “Can you hear that?” Muti asked, and most of the inmates nod their heads and respond in recognition. “Bravi, because I needed three years to understand this.”
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Symphony Ball!” “Muti has the type of personality that commands the respect of the kids, but he could even make the guards flinch,” says CSO Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny, a regular participant in these visits to juvenile detention centers and prisons. “You’re at
attention when he’s up there. One young lady expressed an interest in an aria Joyce DiDonato sang when she came with us, so I sent her a DVD of the opera that had the aria Joyce was singing. One thing I definitely want to do is keep a promise like that, because these people have had their
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
Introducing a song by Tosti set in Muti’s native Naples—“not Florida, Italy,” he quipped—Muti made a similar point by showing how the music “puts the sea in front of you, no?” as if smelling the sea air while playing. The music shows the “sun and sky as well, but suddenly there is a cloud.” The inmates, whose world is behind walls and who sing of incarceration, sit transfixed as mezzo-soprano Sarah Ponder, a Chicago Symphony Chorus member and CSO teaching artist, sings Tosti’s “Ideale” with Muti accompanying her. At a reception area where the residents have made a rectangular cake still in its pan, Muti cheerfully takes a piece on a paper plate, samples a taste with a plastic fork, and jokingly tells them, “This is a better cake than we had last night at the
Todd Rosenberg Photography
Jonathan McCormick, director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Negaunee Music Institute, performs alongside residents of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and musicians of the CSO during a weeklong “Music in Prisons” songwriting project in 2014.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the CSO’s creative consultant, performs with members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago during a Concert for Peace at St. Sabina Church in 2017.
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Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ©Todd Rosenberg Photography
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Bassist Daniel Armstong demonstrates his instrument for a Chicago public school student.
next season we’re celebrating the centennial of the Civic Orchestra and of doing concerts for children: both are a century old and have been continuously operated. I think each music director has nurtured his legacy and taken his own approach. And the fact that we are now investing
promises dashed probably so many times.” Is all of this a cosmetic change only for the Muti era, or is such community engagement part of the DNA of the institution? “I think to an extent, it has been part of our DNA for most of the orchestra’s history,” says McCormick. “For example,
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Chicago Symphony Orchestra Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny is a regular participant in the orchestra’s visits to juvenile justice facilities.
nearly $6 million a year and that we have over $30 million dollars in restricted funds in our endowment to make sure that the work will carry forward—with new ideas, new leadership—is significant. I do think we’re in an especially historic time right now, however. When people speak in the future of the Muti era, they will not only remember it as an extraordinary time of music making, but as an extraordinary time of reaching out.” At the inaugural concert of the CSO’s African American Network at the Apostolic Church of God on the city’s South Side in October 2016, Muti told the capacity crowd, “We come not just to play a concert, but to share our feelings, love, and friendship.” The orchestra launched the network to connect with Chicago’s African American community through shared musical experiences and relationship-building. The orchestra also has an active Latino Alliance serving the Latino community. At that October 2016 concert, Muti continued, “Let’s be a family. In music, there is nothing to understand, only to feel, and feelings are the same for all people.” Writer, broadcaster, and Newcity Chicago columnist DENNIS POLKOW has been reporting on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for more than 30 years.
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Subscriptions “Reimagining the Orchestra Subscription Model,” a wideranging 2015 study by the League of American Orchestras and the Oliver Wyman consulting firm, analyzed statistics and trends in orchestra subscriptions while offering new ways forward. What fresh thinking and new approaches did the study spark? How are orchestras adapting their subscriptions to appeal to today’s consumers?
by Heidi Waleson
A brochure for the Nashville Symphony’s upcoming season outlines the multiple subscription packages and benefits available to subscribers.
eimagining the Subscription Model,” an eight-month, data-driven study undertaken by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman at the request of the League of American Orchestras, was released in 2015 and presented at that year’s League Conference. The study quantified previously anecdotal information in the field about the worrying decline in traditional subscriptions. It also identified ways in which, with some serious rethinking, the subscription model—in its broadest sense, an upfront purchase of multiple tickets for future use—could still work, even with commitment-shy millennials. The study noted that while traditional, curated subscriptions were declining (17 percent over ten years), customized subscriptions, in which subscribers could choose from available concerts and dates, were actually increasing (by 67 percent). Remark-
Standing ovation at a recent Nashville Symphony concert.
ably, fewer than half of the orchestras that provided data to the study offered customized subscriptions at that time. The study also identified the two main reasons that lapsed subscribers did not renew: the first was price, and the second was lack of flexibility in the products coupled with an unwillingness to commit far in advance. Overall, the results suggested that orchestras needed to bring their subscription model into line with more contemporary ways of approaching customers, including customization, offering diverse kinds of packages, and improving the value proposition of their offerings with payment plans, for example. “This landmark study is a prime example of how the League and its members can work together to understand crucial issues for our field,” says Karen Yair, vice president of the League’s Knowledge Center, which managed the study for the League. “By pooling and analyzing members’ own ticketing information alongside financial data collected for many decades by the League and new information from orchestra audiences, we were able to reveal new opportunities for audience engagement that could help to see the subscription model redefined for a new generation.” One major piece of good news from the study was that the potential audience was larger than the one currently in the americanorchestras.org
concert halls. Changes to the subscription packages, and tailoring outreach and acquisition strategies to millennials and Gen Xers, it suggested, could attract those people. One idea was to increase the level of engagement with ticket buyers, in the
manner of Netflix and Amazon, targeting them specifically and making them feel special, in a shift from than the traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach. Another was that paid memberships, with exclusive events and perks, would be a
“Reimagining the Orchestra Subscription Model” In the fall of 2015, the League of American Orchestras and Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm, released “Reimagining the Orchestra Subscription Model,” a major study that provided comprehensive, data-based analysis of trends in orchestra subscriptions—and offered strategies for revitalizing subscriptions to meet current expectations. The study is based on the largest sales data set from orchestras to date and is the first industry-wide, longitudinal study of ten years of data to focus on revenues and sales trends. The researchers found that subscriptions, though declining, are still a viable tool—but they need to be brought into line with contemporary marketing practices. Visit https://americanorchestras. org/reimaginingorchestrasubscription for more on “Reimagining the Orchestra Subscription Model.” The League of American Orchestras is grateful to Oliver Wyman for their donation of time, resources, and expertise. Additional funding is provided by generous grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Courtesy of Peninsula Music Festival
Courtesy of Peninsula Music Festival
At the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin, Music Director Victor Yampolsky leads the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra.
way to help concertgoers develop more of a relationship with their orchestra. “At the heart of the work is a redefinition of the relationship between individuals and the organizations they care about,” says Yair. “It’s about understanding what loyalty really means, and how it can be cultivated, within the Netflix generation.” In the years since the study was published, some orchestras have made use of the findings in the study to take steps— small and large—into the future. At Wisconsin’s Peninsula Music Festival, which is small and concentrated, offering nine concerts over a three-week period in August, Executive Director Sharon Grutzmacher felt empowered by the study’s findings to try something new. “The study told us that we could be more aggressive in marketing,” she says. For the 2016 festival, Peninsula offered a special first-time subscriber price of $100 to $150 for all nine concerts, selling seats on the sides and the very front of the 700-seat hall—seats that usually remained empty. The response was encouraging, Grutzmacher says. People purchased the subscriptions, and more than half of them renewed for the next year, at higher, non-introductory prices (the least expensive regular subscription package costs $280). Many of those first-time
Courtesy of Peninsula Music Festival
The Peninsula Music Festival puts welcome signs on subscribers’ seats for the first concert each season.
Sharon Grutzmacher, executive director of the Peninsula Music Festival, at work.
renewers even liked their previously “undesirable” seats so much that they wanted to keep them. In another effort, the box office identified single-ticket purchasers who bought multiple concerts, and called to offer them discounts if they bought a subscription for the following year. Subscribers were also offered payment plans, another idea from the study. In discussing the value proposition of subscriptions, the study had cautioned orchestras that raising prices—a practice that, over the last several years, had masked the decrease in audience numbers because income remained stable—was not sustainable. Indeed, it was close to the breaking point at which subscribers would stop buying altogether. Grutzmacher was able
to present that expertise to her board, and to persuade them that using new ideas to sell more tickets was preferable to continuing to raise prices, as they had been doing. “We had had a decline in subscription. We lost some loyalists, because we priced them out. We are the most expensive performing arts group in the whole area.” Overall, the new efforts have been a success at Peninsula. “We had gotten to a low of 250 season subscribers; now we have around 320,” Grutzmacher says. “They may not always come to all nine concerts. But they paid for them, and it’s money in the bank for us.” Refining the Message
Sean Kelly, the vice president of marketing at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, came back from hearing about the study at the 2015 League Conference ready to try something new. “The DSO feels same pressure as everyone with subscriptions; we’re willing to try anything,” he says. He thought the “Buy Now Choose Later” idea had possibilities, but he didn’t want to turn it into a voucher program. “In my experience, you can sell those, but people don’t redeem them, and you don’t get renewals,” he says. “It’s a lot of managing for little long-term upside.” Instead, that August the DSO sent out an offer inviting purchasers to buy six or eight concerts for the following season. symphony
Sean Kelly, vice president of marketing at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
overlapped with things we provide to donors. We couldn’t see a clear path forward that wouldn’t put donations at risk. If, say, we had a ‘Platinum Lounge’ and charged $599 for it, that would be a risk to our Stradivarius patrons, at $1,300, who have their own lounge.”
because we have such generous exchange privileges. You actually have more choice with a fixed subscription due to exchanges than you have with a ‘choose your own.’ ” Other suggestions from the study were not as successful for the DSO. The orchestra tried out a “pay as you go” model, in which payments were split into monthly installments. Only ten purchasers opted for it, so the program was discontinued. And the suggestion that orchestras cul-
A Spirit of Experimentation
In the years since the 2015 subscription study was published, some orchestras have made use of the findings in the study to take steps into the future. tivate new purchasers by creating some kind of a membership experience turned out to be controversial. Such perks have long been the province of development departments, and in some cases, the marketing people got a “hands off ” message from their colleagues in fundraising. In Dallas, Kelly says, “I was interested in the idea of creating a membership, like you have with an Amex gold card, that includes things the customer is willing to pay for. However, so many of the offerings
Those who did buy would then be called and asked to pick their events. “It’s hightouch,” Kelly says. Interestingly, he notes, the postcard generated 294 purchases of that particular offer, but it had an additional effect: there were over 1,000 more purchases of regular fixed subscriptions or Choose Your Own packages compared to previous years at that time. The DSO continued the program in subsequent seasons, and continued to get a good result. Says Kelly, “For me, it is less about people actually seeking a Buy Now Choose Later package than it is a message that gets them to consider us as an option at that moment in their lives.” By offering a less restrictive package, the DSO reminds purchasers that they actually want to buy a regular series. In fact, Kelly points out, he had an “aha” moment about refining the messaging attached to these kinds of series: as he sees it, the “traditional” subscription doesn’t have to be a curated package. “It’s really ‘choose your own,’
Setting the scene for a concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. americanorchestras.org
At the Nashville Symphony, Daniel Grossman, vice president of marketing, is hoping to roll out some kind of membership program for younger ticket buyers next season. “Our work with millennials is more in the single-ticket area,” he says. “We do have a development-based group, the Crescendo Club, for people under 40, with events. Next year, we’re coming out with the Crescendo Pass for millennials. It’s a set amount—maybe $200—that gets you four concerts through the year, and you have around two weeks before each concert to decide if you are going to use your tickets. It’s not fleshed out yet, but the idea is that you can redeem the tickets for a large number of concerts. We’ll hold a block of tickets in the hall, since for millennials, sitting together is a priority, and we’ll have some mixers around the concerts, possibly for a cause or something that gives you insight into what happens onstage. Our assistant conductor, Enrico Lopez-Yañez, is a millennial—it was his idea.” The Nashville Symphony had already been experimenting with Compose Your Own packages when the subscription study came out, and its findings reinforced their work with that, and prompted the orchestra to create smaller curated subscriptions as well. “We saw that we needed to have different products for different people,” Grossman says. The first CYO subscriptions, in 2014-15, offered only classical concerts, but, as Grossman recalls, “We thought it was too restricted, and we wanted to embrace more types of programming.” The Symphony presents 25 to 30 non-symphonic concerts a year, so for 2015-16 it included those on the Choose Your Own packages, as well as pops and other events. The broadening strategy worked: CYO subscriptions jumped that year from 2,800 to 3,700, and the income from them more than doubled. Grossman adds, “Smaller curated packages came out of the Oliver Wyman study. We’re having
“We saw that we needed to have different products for different people,” says Nashville Symphony Vice President of Marketing Daniel Grossman.
The findings of the study resonated profoundly with Aubrey Bergauer, who became the executive director of the California Symphony in 2014, the year before the study was released. Under disciplined so there is only one next step her leadership, the Walnut Nashville Symphony Vice President of Marketing Daniel for any patron. For first-year subscribers, Creek-based orchestra had Grossman (left) with luthier Avshi Weinstein opening night of the next step is to renew.” The method has already begun to implethe Nashville Symphony’s Violins of Hope concerts in March 2018, which featured instruments played by Jewish musicians worked: “Every segment has grown, even ment some of the tactics during the Holocaust as part of a citywide initiative examining the donor base.” The overall audience has and strategies it identified. the roles of arts and culture in issues like social justice and free nearly doubled in size since Bergauer’s “Our data matched what the expression. arrival four years ago. Subscription has study said,” she says. “It was grown as well: 31 percent in number of a huge confirmation.” When households and 26 percent in revenue. Bergauer took the job, the orchestra offun with them, and they are keeping our The success of this individualized apfered only six-concert subscriptions; she subscription numbers up and our revenue proach dovetails with the findings of the immediately introduced smaller curated steady.” In 2015-16, Nashville had a subpackages and choose-your-own scription revenue high of $2.84 million; options. The need to offer choices in 2016-17, revenue dipped slightly, but California Symphony Executive Director Aubrey Bergauer and flexibility was a no-brainer subscriptions went up from 7,100 to 7,400 addresses the audience at a recent concert. for her. “Any renewal is better packages. The orchestra finds that it is “enthan no renewal,” she says. “By gaging people with smaller packages, and being rigid as an organization, rolling them up to bigger ones the next we are pushing people away.” year.” Why didn’t orchestras recognize Hilary Brown, who joined the Chicago this before? “I think the prevailSinfonietta in January 2018 as chief maring theory is, we will lose money keting officer, is also thinking about how if we allow smaller packages. But the Oliver Wyman study can be applied if you flip that on its head, three to her organization. Over the last several concerts for $99 is better than $0. years, she says, the Sinfonietta has seen a It was not so obvious a decade gradual increase in the number of people ago, when subscriptions were the interested in customizable subscriptions, main revenue driver.” which appeal to new, younger audience In addition to expanding its members. A monthly payment plan was subscription offerings, the Calialso tried for a year before Brown’s arfornia Symphony has entirely rival at Sinfonietta; she is thinking about rethought its audience develophow it might be usefully revisited. One of ment model, focusing on the Brown’s goals is to determine which ways retention of its current audience to attract audiences are the most meaning-
hony Courtesy of California Symp
rather than pursuing new acquisitions who come once, and then never return. Bergauer calls it “the long haul” method. “Orchestras are great at attracting new audiences but not at retaining them,” she says. “The biggest difference between us and others is that we do not solicit any buyer for donation until you are a second-year subscriber or higher.” This is not a big financial loss, since, Bergauer says, donations from single-ticket buyers and first-year subscribers are typically very small. Instead, the orchestra individualizes its approach to audience members. “We are focused and
ful for her organization, and she is looking at making the buying and educational experience more accessible to people who are just learning about the orchestra, working through social media, and engaging key influencers who can “heighten the awareness of the Sinfonietta brand.” She also likes the idea of developing “VIP exclusivity” perks: “In my experience as a marketer, they are wildly effective,” she says.
At its Subscriber Appreciation Days in March, the California Symphony places thank-you cards on subscribers’ seats. Inside each card is a thank you message, signed by several members of the orchestra and administration.
Oliver Wyman study, which identified how current patrons like to interact with places where they make purchases. As Bergauer points out, “Normally, when someone comes to the organization for the first time, the orchestra bombards them with messages: ‘You bought a single ticket. Now, buy a package.’ They are getting telemarketing calls, a notice of the next concert, a request for a contribution. That’s four messages. But because they are unfocused, the patron feels like we are asking and asking and taking, rather than having a thoughtful engagement with them. We want to keep the patron at the center, and make it about them, not us. If can get someone to attend a second time in a twelve-month period, their value to you skyrockets. Once they’ve come a second time, they are a top prospect for a new subscription.” Like many orchestra executives, Bergau-
er wants to attract and retain younger audiences, and her Orchestra X focus group project, launched in 2016, was designed to help the California Symphony find out what millennials and Gen Xers perceived as barriers to orchestra attendance. The orchestra invited people in that demographic range—who, Bergauer says, “should come to the symphony, they are culturally aware, have expendable income, and attend other entertainment”—to purchase concert tickets for $5 (“because free has no value”) in exchange for their feedback at a facilitated discussion group at a local brewpub, over pizza and beer. “We walked them through everything, from the online experience— finding information, selecting a seat, going through the purchase process—to things like knowing where to park, or what to wear, the program book, and the program notes.”
Chicago Sinfonietta’s annual Dia de los Muertos concerts evoke a suitably sinister and celebratory atmosphere at Symphony Center.
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with both historical and musical information. The concert descriptions also now include information about why the orchestra has chosen that particular piece (for example, if it has never played it before). The material is also arranged as bullet points rather than paragraphs, so the information is readily accessible. While the Orchestra X project was mostly relevant to single-ticket efforts, Bergauer says, the California Symphony decided to carry the new bullet point format over to subscriptions, and adopted it in the brochure. The renewal rate, already high at 85 percent, went up to 89 percent. Overall, the percentage of subscribers in the 30-45 age range has doubled in four years, from Music Director Mei-Ann Chen leads the Chicago Sinfonietta and guest vocalists in Ask Your Mama, with music 4 percent to 8 percent. The by Laura Karpman and words by Langston Hughes, at Chicago Sinfonietta’s 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert. only age demographic that is shrinking is 65 and over, and the California Symphony audience, BerOne key takeaway, Bergauer says, was gauer says, is getting younger. “The music is not the problem. EveryBergauer is interested in developing body said they felt such awe and amazethe membership idea suggested in the ment seeing a live orchestra. Most of time, study, but at the moment, she says that she the industry tackles audience problems doesn’t have the staff or the resources to with programming, like shorter concerts, tackle it. However, her observations contradict some of the prevailing wisdom that California Symphony millennials like being around other milExecutive Director Aubrey lennials. “Young people don’t want to be Bergauer says that one key segregated from everyone else,” she says. “Yes, they want to see people that look like takeaway from the orchestra’s them, just as people of color do, but we focus groups for millennials heard from our Orchestra X focus groups and Gen Xers was “The music that they love people-watching, they love the age ranges, and they want to be a part is not the problem. Everybody of that.” She has tried special events that said they felt such awe and are open to all: to accompany a program amazement seeing a live of French music, a wine-tasting flight was sold in the lobby before the concert and at orchestra.” Music Director Donato Cabrera leads the intermission. “It was a cool, fun thing,” she California Symphony. recalls. “People across the age spectrum or rush hour times, or movies. This group like wine. So let’s build an organization of said, the programming isn’t the problem. people who love classical music that trananalogy, was it a comedy or drama? “I can It’s pretty much everything else.” scends age.” look at the repertoire to know whether a For example, the group said that they concert is interesting to me,” Bergauer found online information about the consays. “People who don’t know the repercerts uninformative. Titles mattered to HEIDI WALESON is the opera critic of the them, and a title such as “Season Opener” toire can’t do that.” The symphony has now Wall Street Journal. Her book, Mad Scenes and redesigned its online concert pages to inwas meaningless and felt like insider baseExit Arias: The Death of New York City Opera and clude more information about the pieces ball. Rather, they wanted to know what the Future of Opera in America, will be published (and links to their Wikipedia entries), made the concert special; in the Netflix in October 2018.
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LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS With the support of our valued donors, the League continues to have a positive impact on the future of orchestras in America by helping to develop the next generation of leaders, generating and disseminating critical knowledge and information, and advocating for the unique role of the orchestral experience in American life before an ever-widening group of stakeholders. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following donors who contributed gifts of $600 and above in the last year, as of May 3, 2018. For more information regarding a gift to the League, please visit us at americanorchestras.org/donate, call 212.262.5161, or write us at Annual Fund, League of American Orchestras, 33 West 60th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10023. $150,000 and above
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LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRA’S NOTEBOOM GOVERNANCE CENTER 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. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following donors who have made commitments to support the Center. Alberta Arthurs Dr. and Mrs. Malcolm Brown † John and Janet Canning † Richard and Kay Fredericks Cisek † Melanie Clarke Bruce and Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund Gloria dePasquale Phillip Wm. Fisher Fund Marian A. Godfrey Marcia and John Goldman Margot and Paul Grangaard, in honor of Lowell and Sonja Noteboom Douglas and Jane Hagerman Daniel R. Lewis † Dr. Hugh W. Long Steve and Diane Parrish Foundation Mary Carr Patton Daniel Petersen † Barry A. Sanders † Sakana Foundation Sargent Family Foundation Cynthia Sargent Sewell Charitable Fund Penelope and John Van Horn Tina Ward •† The Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation Anonymous (1)
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HELEN M. THOMPSON HERITAGE SOCIETY The League of American Orchestras graciously recognizes those who have remembered the League in their estate plans as members of the Helen M. Thompson Heritage Society. Janet F. and Dr. Richard E. Barb Family Foundation Wayne S. Brown and Brenda E. Kee † John and Janet Canning † Richard and Kay Fredericks Cisek † Martha and Herman Copen Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Myra Janco Daniels Samuel C. Dixon • Henry and Frances Fogel † Susan Harris, Ph.D. Louise W. Kahn Endowment Fund of The Dallas Foundation The Curtis and Pamela Livingston 2000 Charitable Remainder Unitrust Steve and Lou Mason † Lowell and Sonja Noteboom Charles and Barbara Olton † Peter Pastreich † Walter P. Pettipas Revocable Trust Rodger E. Pitcairn Robert and Barbara Rosoff † Robert J. Wagner Tina Ward •† Mr. and Mrs. Albert K. Webster † Robert Wood Revocable Trust Anonymous (1)
Emma (Murley) Kail • Jill Kidwell Anna Kuwabara & Craig Edwards • Chester T. Lane and Marianne Sciolino David Loebel Anne W. Miller † Phyllis J. Mills † Jennifer Mondie Andy Nunemaker Pacific Symphony Board of Directors Donald F. Roth † David Snead Joan H. Squires • Gabriel van Aalst Edith and Tom Van Huss Robert Wagner Eddie Walker and Timothy Fields Melinda Whiting Burrows and John Burrows † Directors Council (former League Board) • Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni + Includes Corporate Matching Gift * Deceased
LEAGUE AT 75
The Human Connection As the League of American Orchestras marks its 75th an niversary this season, we’re sharing important parts of our history. And one of the most critical pieces of that history is bringing people together to meet face to face: connecting with old friends and meeting new colleagues, catching up on the latest news. The League links instrumentalists, conduc tors, managers, administrators, board members, volunteers, business partners, who all have one thing in common: a passion for orchestral music. They share that passion at the League’s annual Con ference, management seminars, and artistic Leading the Way: The League’s Emerging Leaders Program is a programs—sparking new insights ten-month leadership program offering mentoring by top leaders in and learning, or debates about that the field, one-on-one coaching, and in-depth seminars with leadership hot new conductor or the latest experts. Participants in the piece by John Luther Adams or League’s 2018 Emerging Leaders Program with, at left in second row, Julia Wolfe. Even as technology seminar leader John McCann. makes virtual communication easier and easier, there is still no substitute for that essential human touch. Caitlin Whealon
Talking About Music: The League presented workshops for music critics nationwide for several years. Above, the fourth annual Music Critics’ Workshop, held in Cleveland in 1956, per the hand-typed caption, from left: “Miss Theodate Johnson, Musical America; Ronald Eyer, editor, Musical America; Miss Mildred McKee, music critic, Topeka Daily Capital; Miss Beverly Wolter, arts editor, Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel; John S. Edwards, president, American Symphony Orchestra League and manager, Pittsburgh Symphony.”
Catching up in Person: Greeting colleagues at the League’s 2017 National Conference.
A Real Nice Clambake: The League’s 1976 Conference, in Boston, featured a geographically appropriate dinner for delegates.
Take the A Train: Participants in the League’s 2012 Essentials of Orchestra Management course shared the ultimate adventure: a ride on the New York City subways.
nASHVILLE SYMPHONY Welcomes You to Music City
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2019 League Conference June 3 to 5 | Nashville, TN
Hear the Nashville Symphony & Chorus perform Carmina Burana with the Nashville Ballet on June 3 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
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