Jacqueline Hairston Moses Hogan Jonathan Bailey Holland Scott Joplin Ulysses Kay Anthony M. Kelley L Viola Kinney José Silvestre White Lafitte James Lee III Tania León George E. Lewis Hannibal Lokumbe W Marsalis Quinn Mason Jessie Montgomery Carman Moore Kermit Moore Dorothy Rudd-Moore Jeffrey M WINTER 2020 n $6.95 Gary Powell Nash Brian Raphael Nabors Stephen Newby Nokuthula Ngwenyama Nailah Nombeko Nkeiru Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Julia A. Perry Zenobia Powell Perry Rosephanye Powell Florence Price Danie Bernard Roumain Carlos Simon Alvin Singleton Hale Smith Irene Britton Smith Tyshawn Sorey Derrick Sp William Grant Still Billy Strayhorn Howard Swanson Shirley J. Thompson Joel Thompson Frederick Tillis Walker Errollyn Wallen Mary Watkins Trevor Weston Evan Williams Kimo Williams Julius Williams Sharon Willis Olly Wilson Michael Woods Michael Abels H. Leslie Adams Ahmed Alabaca Eleanor Alberga Lettie T. J. Anderson Renée C. Baker William C. Banfield Beebe Terence Blanchard Edward Bland Cour THE MAGAZINE OF THE Samuel LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS Bryan Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Margaret Bonds Anthony Braxton Harry T. Burleigh V Coleman Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Will Marion Cook Anthony Davis Noel DaCosta Robert Nathaniel Dett Dickerson William L. Dawson Julius Eastman Duke Ellington Rachel Eubanks Rhiannon Giddens Anthony Green Adolphus Hailstork Jacqueline Hairston Moses Hogan Jonathan Bailey Holland Scott Joplin Ulyss Kay Anthony M. Kelley L. Viola Kinney José Silvestre White Lafitte James Lee III Tania León George E. Le Hannibal Lokumbe Wynton Marsalis Quinn Mason Jessie Montgomery Carman Moore Kermit Moore Dor Rudd-Moore Jeffrey Mumford Gary Powell Nash Brian Raphael Nabors Stephen Newby Nokuthula Ngwen Nailah Nombeko Nkeiru Okoye Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Julia A. Perry Zenobia Powell Perry Rosephan Powell Florence Price Daniel Bernard Roumain Carlos Simon Alvin Singleton Hale Smith Irene Britton Sm Tyshawn Sorey Derrick Spiva Jr. William Grant Still Billy Strayhorn Howard Swanson Shirley J. Thompson Thompson Frederick Tillis George Walker Errollyn Wallen Mary Watkins Trevor Weston Evan Williams Kim Williams Julius Williams Sharon J. Willis Olly Wilson Michael Woods Michael Abels H. Leslie Adams Ahm Alabaca Eleanor Alberga Lettie Alston T. J. Anderson Renée C. Baker William C. Banfield Samuel Beebe Blanchard Edward Bland Courtney Bryan Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Margaret Bonds A Braxton Harry T. Burleigh Valerie Coleman Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Will Marion Cook Anthony Davis Noe DaCosta Robert Nathaniel Dett Charles Dickerson William L. Dawson Julius Eastman Duke Ellington Rac Eubanks Rhiannon Giddens Anthony R. Green Adolphus Hailstork Jacqueline Hairston Moses Hogan Jon Bailey Holland Scott Joplin Ulysses Kay Anthony M. Kelley L. Viola Kinney José Silvestre White Lafitte Ja III Tania León George E. Lewis Hannibal Lokumbe Wynton Marsalis Quinn Mason Jessie Montgomery Ca Moore Kermit Moore Dorothy Rudd-Moore Jeffrey Mumford Gary Powell Nash Brian Raphael Nabors Ste Newby Nokuthula Ngwenyama Nailah Nombeko Nkeiru Okoye Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Julia A. Perry Powell Perry Rosephanye Powell Florence Price Daniel Bernard Roumain Carlos Simon Alvin Singleton H Smith Irene Britton Smith Tyshawn Sorey Derrick Spiva Jr. William Grant Still Billy Strayhorn Howard Swa Shirley J. Thompson Joel Thompson Frederick Tillis George Walker Errollyn Wallen Mary Watkins Trevor Evan Williams Kimo Williams Julius Williams Sharon J. Willis Olly Wilson Michael Woods Michael Abels H Adams Ahmed Alabaca Eleanor Alberga Lettie Alston T. J. Anderson Renée C. Baker William C. Banfield Beebe Terence Blanchard Edward Bland Courtney Bryan Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Ma Bonds Anthony Braxton Harry T. Burleigh Valerie Coleman Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Will Marion Cook An Davis Noel DaCosta Robert Nathaniel Dett Charles Dickerson William L. Dawson Julius Eastman Duke E Rachel Eubanks Rhiannon Giddens Anthony R. Green Adolphus Hailstork Jacqueline Hairston Moses Hog Jonathan Bailey Holland Scott Joplin Ulysses Kay Anthony M. Kelley L. Viola Kinney José Silvestre White James Lee III Tania León George E. Lewis Hannibal Lokumbe Wynton Marsalis Quinn Mason Jessie Mon Carman Moore Kermit Moore Dorothy Rudd-Moore Jeffrey Mumford Gary Powell Nash Brian Raphael Na Stephen Newby Nokuthula Ngwenyama Nailah Nombeko Nkeiru Okoye Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Julia Zenobia Powell Perry Rosephanye Powell Florence Price Daniel Bernard Roumain Carlos Simon Alvin Sin Hale Smith Irene Britton Smith Tyshawn Sorey Derrick Spiva Jr. William Grant Still Billy Strayhorn Howard Swanson Shirley J. Thompson Joel Thompson Frederick Tillis George Walker Errollyn Wallen Mary Watki Trevor Weston Evan Williams Kimo Williams Julius Williams Sharon J. Willis Olly Wilson Michael Woods M Abels H. Leslie Adams Ahmed Alabaca Eleanor Alberga Lettie Alston T. J. Anderson Renée C. Baker Will Banfield Samuel Beebe Terence Blanchard Edward Bland Courtney Bryan Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de S Georges Margaret Bonds Anthony Braxton Harry T. Burleigh Valerie Coleman Samuel Coleridge-Taylor W Artists and Marion Emerging Cook Anthony Davis Noel DaCosta Philanthropy Robert Nathaniel Dett CharlesMusic Dickerson William L. Dawson J Eastman Dukethe Ellington Adolphus Hailstork Jacqu Lead Way Rachel Eubanks Rhiannon UpdateGiddens Anthony R. Green Mental Health Hairston Moses Hogan Jonathan Bailey Holland Scott Joplin Ulysses Kay Anthony M. Kelley L. Viola Kinn
Black composers’ music is a rarity at American orchestras. Now more of their scores are being heard. Will it last?
GETTING PEOPLE IN THE DOOR IS HARD WORK. THESE STUDIES CAN HELP. Taking Out the Guesswork: A Guide to Using Research to Build Arts Audiences Learn about three tasks key to successful audience building: understanding potential audiences, creating effective promotional materials, and tracking and assessing progress. The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences Ten arts organizations that took on ambitious audience-building projects. This guide identifies nine practices their most successful efforts had in common.
Download these reports and many more free resources to help build audiences: Wallacefoundation.org
VO LU M E 7 1 , N U M B E R 1
symphony WIN T E R 2 02 0
o list is definitive. Just a few years ago, a roster of African-American classical composers might have missed Florence Price—even though her music is increasingly heard at orchestras today. Price burst on the scene with great fanfare in 1933 when no less than the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the premiere of her Symphony No. 1. Price continued to compose and her works continued to be performed, but seldom again by such prominent ensembles. After her death in 1953, her music pretty much vanished from concert halls. It took the 2009 discovery of some of her scores in a run-down Illinois property to bring renewed attention to Price and her work—which in turn led to the current blossoming of performances of her music. All of which is to say that although the list of nearly 100 black composers on the cover of this issue of Symphony hopes to be comprehensive—it runs from historical figures like Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was a peer of Mozart, to contemporary composers like Jessie Montgomery and Nkeiru Okoye—it is necessarily contingent. There are more classical composers of color than can fit on the cover of one issue of one magazine. Black composers were strikingly underrepresented at American orchestras for decades, but now a surge of interest in their works is leading to more performances, more commissions, more perspectives, more music. That cultural shift reflects larger societal movements sweeping the country as well as the growing expectation that orchestras— onstage and off—look like the communities they serve. Our cover story reports on where things stand now and asks if these developments will endure going forward.
THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
symphony®, the award-winning quarterly magazine of the League of American Orchestras, discusses issues critical to the orchestra community and communicates to the American public the value and importance of orchestras and the music they perform. EDITOR IN CHIEF Robert Sandla MANAGING EDITOR Jennifer Melick PRODUCTION AND DESIGN Michael Rush ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Stephen Alter ADVERTISING ASSOCIATE Danielle
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THE HAMMERED, CAMBERED, COPPER STANDARD
The Yamaha 8300 Series Timpani doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just change the game. It rewrites ancient history. Building on over two-thousand years of innovation, the whole 8300 Series is sure to stand the test of time for years to come. We redesigned the frame for top-tier durability, introduced cambered copper bowls for big, resounding volume and added more sizes to fit more styles. Even ancient instruments can break new ground. Visit Yamaha.io/Timpani to learn how the time-honored timpani can still revolutionize the way we play today.
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THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
2 Prelude by Robert Sandla
6 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events 14 Board Room Heidi Waleson examines how sweeping changes in philanthropy are affecting orchestras.
Hidden Voices For decades, black composers were conspicuously underrepresented at orchestras. The past few seasons have seen an increase in performances of music by black composers. Will it last? by Rosalyn Story
Pod Wave Classical music podcasts are surging, reaching new audiences along the way. by Hannah Edgar
Healing Chords Orchestras and musicians are helping to destigmatize mental illness. Their efforts are backed up by scientific research. by Michele C. Hollow
Young at Heart Tips and updates from folks on the front lines presenting family concerts. by Keith Powers
52 Guide to Emerging Artists
34 Erik Patton
62 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund 64 Coda As 2020 begins, we look back at what some important voices from inside and outside the orchestra field had to say on Symphony’s Coda page.
46 about the cover
Text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources.
A partial list of names of black composers from the past and present just scratches the surface of a wide range of orchestral music that audiences hear only infrequently. On page 20, Rosalyn Story delves into the history of this music, and asks today’s composers and conductors what the future might hold. Cover design by Michael Rush
Pathfinders Six of today’s emerging artists talk about their visions for the classical music world. by Vivien Schweitzer
SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE
League of American Orchestras 520 8th Avenue Suite 2005, 20th Floor New York, NY 10018
League staff at the new office.
Stephanie Berger Photography
The League of American Orchestras has moved! The move to 520 Eighth Avenue, between 36th and 37th streets in New York’s Garment District, will allow the League to benefit from a contemporary workspace that promotes collaboration among staff and improved engagement with members through up-to-date videoconferencing and digital learning capabilities. Additionally, with rents steadily increasing at the League’s former office on West 60th Street, the move will reduce yearly occupancy costs by about $250,000. The establishment of a new national headquarters is the cornerstone of a $2 million investment in member service, including a new website, digital learning capacity, and an information technology ecosystem. A major fundraising campaign, Playing Our Part: The Campaign for the League of American Orchestras, is underway with $1.4 million committed to date. The campaign was launched with a lead gift of $400,000 from League Emeritus Director Bruce Clinton of The Clinton Family Fund. The League has a staff of 29, with two government relations personnel in Washington, D.C. It had been at its Columbus Circle location since 1999. The phone number for the League, 212 262 5161, and email addresses remain the same, including member@ americanorchestras.org.
Stephanie Berger Photography
A New Home for the League
Member Services Associate Daniel Els-Piercey, Production and Design Manager Mike Rush, and Director of Member Services Kim Schneider.
Italian conductor Jader Bignamini, 43, has been appointed music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, beginning with the 2020-21 season. He succeeds Leonard Slatkin, who ended his tenure as music director in 2018 and is music director laureate. Bignamini was selected by an eight-member search committee of DSO musicians, board, and staff. Bignamini was introduced to Detroit audiences when he stepped in for Slatkin to close the DSO’s 2017-18 season, and returned this past October to lead Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Bignamini will conduct three weeks of the DSO’s 2020-21 season, and his first full season as music director will be 2021-22, when he will spend twelve weeks in Detroit. His initial contract runs for six years. Born in Crema, Italy, Bignamini trained as a clarinetist and studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory. He is resident conductor of Milan’s Orchestra Sinfonica La Verdi. Bignamini’s current season includes debuts with the Toronto, Houston, and Dallas symphonies and the Minnesota Orchestra. He has led productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Bayerische Staatsoper, Vienna State Opera, Dutch National Opera, and Bolshoi Opera.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Detroit Symphony’s Next Music Director: Jader Bignamini
Lakota Music Project on the Road
MUSICAL CHAIRS American Composers Forum and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians have selected ELIZABETH A. BAKER , ADEGOKE STEVE COLSON , and RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA to participate in the ACF | connect program. Each composer will receive a $7,500 commission to write a work for Chicago’s Great Black Music Ensemble. AUBREY BERGAUER , former
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has appointed RAINER EUDEIKIS as principal cello and ZHENWEI SHI as principal viola. Celebrity Series of Boston, the performing arts presenter, has named EMILY BORABABY as chief advancement officer.
Indiana’s Evansville Philharmonic has appointed KIMBERLY BREDEMEIER as executive director. The Music Academy of the West has chosen JAMIE BROUMAS for the newly created position of chief artistic officer.
Symphony Orchestra’s executive director since 2015, has been named executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, effective in March. The Las Vegas Philharmonic has appointed CHRISTINA CASTELLANOS as principal flute.
has been selected as the California Symphony’s executive director. LISA DELL
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Dell has appointed JOSEPH DUBAS as principal trombone, ANNA KOLOTYLINA as principal viola, and NIKOLETTE La BONTE as principal horn.
Timothy M. Schmidt
BEN CADWALLADER , the Vermont
Boston-Leipzig Fest: Music, Speeches, Beer
has been named concertmaster of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which appears under the auspices of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. KATHRYN EBERLE
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has appointed DEREK FENSTERMACHER as principal tuba.
will become board president of the San Francisco Symphony in December 2020, when Sakurako Fisher steps down. PRISCILLA B. GEESLIN
Silkroad, the music nonprofit founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, has named KATHY FLETCHER executive director.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has appointed LINA GONZALEZ-GRANADOS as its Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprentice, February 2020 through June 2021. DALE HEDDING has been appointed the orchestra’s vice president of development. has been named artistic director of California’s Ojai Music Festival, effective in 2021. He replaces Chad Smith, who was recently named executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. ARA GUZELIMIAN
Arizona’s Tucson Symphony Orchestra has selected STEVEN P. HAINES as president and chief executive officer.
Richard Strauss’s Festive Prelude for organ and orchestra calls for a massive ensemble, and this fall the combined forces of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra delivered—to the tune of 118 musicians onstage at Boston’s Symphony Hall, which extended its stage by thirteen feet for the event. The October 31 gala performance highlighted the BSO/GHO Alliance, a German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier with BSO Music Director and Gewandhaus Orchestra five-year partnership between the Kapellmeister Andris Nelsons at Boston’s Symphony Boston Symphony Orchestra and Hall on October 31, 2019. Gewandhausorchester launched in February 2018 by Andris Nelsons, who is music director of both orchestras. The alliance also features co-commissions, educational initiatives, and more. It was the first full residency in Boston for the Leipzigers, a week that included five performances by musicians from both ensembles, separately and together. German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was on hand on October 31 to welcome the audience and announce the official culmination of the Federal Republic of Germany’s year-long celebration of its friendship with the United States. The program also included Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante in B-flat for oboe, bassoon, violin, and cello, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. At the end of the performance, there were beer and pretzels: what would a German-American fest be without that?
executive director of the California Symphony, has been named to the newly created position at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music of founding executive director and vice president of strategic communications.
In October, musicians from the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Lakota Music Project visited Washington, D.C. as part of PostClassical Ensemble’s Native American Festival. Founded in 2005, the Lakota Music Project is a collaboration between the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and leaders of the Lakota community, and features cross-cultural performances by the orchestra and musicians from Lakota and other tribes. In Washington, Musicians from the South Dakota Symphony performers and speakers included Orchestra and the Lakota and Dakota tribes outLakota elder Chris Eagle Hawk; Ronnie side the National Museum of the American Indian, Theisz, professor emeritus of Ameriwhere they performed in October. can Indian Studies at Black Hills State University; Lakota singer Emmanuel Black Bear; and Dakota cedar flutist Bryan Akipa. Concerts and talks took place at the National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. SDSO Music Director Delta David Gier says the Lakota Music Project aims to “address racial tensions in South Dakota and across the region of the upper Midwest” by bridging cultures. Emmanuel Black Bear said, “Racial issues exist because of ignorance and not knowing. By showing our way of life, they will understand who we are as a people. We sing a lot of old songs, and so does the orchestra. No matter what race you are … it’s the music.”
has been selected as executive director of North Dakota’s Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. PAUL HEGLAND
California’s Santa Rosa Symphony has appointed JENNIFER HUANG as conductor of its Aspirante Youth Orchestra. has been named chief communications and marketing officer at Lincoln Center in New York City. LEAH C. JOHNSON
The Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City has appointed ALEX JOHNSTON as director of the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.
has been named president and CEO of South Carolina’s Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. ALAN JORDAN
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has named HA YOUNG JUNG as principal bass, GREGORY LaROSA as principal timpani, and ERIN VANDER WYST as principal librarian.
The Oregon Symphony has appointed composer and singer-songwriter GABRIEL KAHANE to the newly created post of creative chair, through the 2021-22 season. has been selected as acting CEO of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, replacing James Boyd, who stepped down on December 31. MIMI KRUGER
Florida’s Venice Symphony has named ASHLEY LIGHT director of development.
The Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts, parent organization of the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet, has appointed BRETT LONEY director of development.
will become music director of the Orchestre National de France, effective September 2021. He will retain his post as music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. CRISTIAN MACELARU
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has named STEFANI MATSUO concertmaster. ANTHONY McGILL , principal
clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, has been named to the additional post of artistic director of the Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has named HAMISH McKEICH principal conductor in residence.
has been named chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s board of directors. RALPH W. MULLER
has been selected as principal English horn of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. KYLE MUSTAIN
has been chosen as host of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Friday live concert broadcasts on Minnesota’s Classical MPR station. Pianist JON KIMURA PARKER has been appointed as the Minnesota Orchestra’s creative partner for summer programming, a newly created position. MELISSA OUSLEY
The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has named JONATHAN PARRISH executive director.
In theaters and concert halls, the debate continues: phones on, or off ? Audiences increasingly expect to stay connected during performances, but nobody welcomes the jangly alerts and rings that plague live concerts. This fall, New York’s Lincoln Center was one of several venues to test Yondr, a product that seals cellphones in locked pouches during concerts. At Lincoln Center’s annual White Lights Festival, concertgoers were invited to turn off their phones and put them inside the Yondr pouches, which were locked by ushers using a device similar to a department-store security tag. The pouches were unlocked by ushers at the end of the concert—and upon request during intermission, in a designated “phone use area.” Explaining the experiment, Lincoln Center Artistic Director Jane Moss said, “The promise of a hyper-connected An usher at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall helps concertgoexistence through technology ers seal their cellphones in Yondr pouches during a November has, in many ways, made us 2019 concert. far less connected to ourselves, to one another, and—importantly—to what can be deeply moving, communal experiences offered by live performing arts.” Postscript: The pouches are not soundproof, and humans are still humans. A phone alarm went off at a Lincoln Center concert when its owner forgot to silence the device.
LA Phil’s Centenary Trifecta The Los Angeles Philharmonic wrapped up its 100th anniversary year with a celebratory evening on October 24 that culminated in a dazzling outdoor light show by aerial drones. But the real fireworks that night might have been onstage at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where three LA Phil music directors—current Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor Emeritus Zubin Mehta, and Conductor Laureate EsaPekka Salonen—led the orchestra in works by Lutosławski, Wagner, Ravel, and Stravinsky, and the world premiere of Daníel Bjarnason’s From Space I Saw Earth. The piece was commissioned for the orchestra’s centennial and written for the three From left: Conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Zubin conductors, who stood at engraved Mehta, and Gustavo Dudamel acknowledge the podiums; twenty Youth Orchestra standing ovation at the orchestra’s October 24 gala Los Angeles participants positioned concert celebrating the orchestra’s 100th birthday, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. throughout the hall played along on hand-held crotales. The performance was accompanied by confetti drifting down from the ceiling. The LA Phil’s centennial season brought more than 54 commissions, plus initiatives including a free street festival spread across the city. The orchestra also broke ground on new headquarters for YOLA in nearby Inglewood and launched the LA Phil Resident Fellows program, which aims to create more diverse and inclusive orchestras. symphony
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has named HANNAH HAMMEL principal flute and SARAH LEWIS assistant principal oboe.
Tune In, Turn Off
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Board News at the League
MUSICAL CHAIRS Kentucky’s Owensboro Symphony Orchestra has appointed GWYN PAYNE as deputy chief executive officer, working alongside Dan Griffith, who will retire as executive director later in 2020. Canada’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has promoted JULIAN PELLICANO from resident conductor to associate conductor. has been appointed executive director of Michigan’s Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. TYLER RAND
California’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts has named CASEY REITZ as president.
is serving as the Utah Symphony’s interim president and CEO, after Paul Meecham stepped down in September. PATRICIA A. RICHARDS
The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra has appointed JOHN ROMMEL as principal trumpet and JUSTIN GINGRICH as principal timpani/percussion. Carnegie Hall has selected ABHIJIT SENGUPTA as director of artistic planning. Connecticut’s Stamford Symphony has named MICHAEL STERN music director. Stern will retain his posts at the Kansas City Symphony, where is he music director, and the IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee, of which he is founder and artistic director.
Six new members have joined the League of American Orchestras’ Board of Directors. Each will serve a three-year term. In addition, two individuals have been elected to ex-officio positions on the board. The six new board members are: Charles Dickerson III, founder, executive director, and conductor, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles; Jerrold L. Eberhardt, former chairman and current vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Mary Louise Gorno, vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Jennifer Koh, violinist and artistic director of arco collaborative, a music nonprofit; Isaac Thompson, vice president for artistic planning, New York Philharmonic; and Sheila J. Charles Dickerson III Williams, board member and vice-chair of community engagement, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Two ex-officio members have joined the League board: Terry Ann White, Amarillo, TX (Volunteer Council) and David Whitehill, Asheville Symphony, Asheville, NC (Orchestra Executive Director). The board’s officers have been reelected: Douglas Hagerman, chair; Melanie Clarke, co-vice chair; Steven C. Parrish, co-vice chair; Helen Shaffer, secretary; and Burton Alter, treasurer. Read the complete announcement about the new League board members at Jerrold L. Eberhardt americanorchestras.org/2019board.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has appointed conductor and trumpeter BYRON STRIPLING principal pops conductor, effective in October 2020.
has Stripling been chosen as executive director of Minnesota’s Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. BRANDON VANWAEYENBERGHE
Louisiana’s Shreveport Symphony Orchestra has named KIRSTEN YON as concertmaster. Mary Louise Gorno
Sheila J. Williams
will become chief conductor of Australia’s Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2022. SIMONE YOUNG
Indiana’s South Bend Symphony Orchestra has appointed JUSTUS ZIMMERMAN as executive director.
Youth orchestras across the country are home to thousands of young classical musicians, and every summer since 2013 more than 100 outstanding teen musicians have come together as the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA), a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Participating in the orchestra is quite a coup: the instrumentalists (ages 16-19) undergo a threeweek training residency, work with major figures in orchestral music, and perform at Carnegie Hall and other venues. Then they take their American music-making around the world. This August, NYO-USA embarked on a European tour—led by no less than Sir Antonio Pappano—with performances at Young Euro Classic in Berlin; the Edinburgh International Festival; the BBC Proms in London; the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly was the soloist in Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été in Berlin, and American mezzo Joyce DiDonato took the solo spot in the Berlioz for the rest of the tour. Other repertoire this summer included Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie, and two new works written for the orchestra by NYO-USA apprentice composers Benjamin S. Beckman and Tyson J. Davis, who were mentored by composer Sean Shepherd. NYO-USA also participated in multiple events and concerts with youth ensembles in the Netherlands, London, and Hamburg. americanorchestras.org
During its European tour this summer, the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, led by Sir Antonio Pappano, performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.
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2020 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview
Six conductors have been chosen to participate in the League of American Orchestras’ 2020 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, April 1 and 2 in New Orleans. The conductors will lead the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra over two days of rehearsals, culminating in a free public concert at the Orpheum Theater. The League’s Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview provides conductors the opportunity to showcase their abilities for search committees, artist managers, and audiences. The 2020 conductors are: Bertie Baigent, assistant conductor, Colorado Symphony; Tong Chen, assistant conductor, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Gonzalo Farias, associate conductor, Jacksonville Symphony; Norman Huynh, associate conductor, Oregon Symphony; Yuwon Kim, conducting fellow, Curtis Institute of Music; and François López-Ferrer, assistant conductor, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. They were chosen by a panel of artistic executives from a pool of more than 150 applicants from around the world. Since 1995, the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview has showcased 90 conductors, with more than 50 orchestras making conductor/music director appointments as a direct result. The 2020 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview is made possible by generous grants from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Learn more at http://bit.ly/brunowalter.
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PROGRAM NOTES Informative and entertaining, with accessible discussion of the music itself, as well as lively historical and cultural background information. Program book editing and layout Special program book articles Understandable musical analysis Text translation 24-hour turnaround on rush jobs Notes for chamber ensembles Audio examples for web sites See samples at:
www.wordprosmusic.com Elizabeth A. Kahn, Ph.D. Joseph S. Kahn, Ph.D. phone: 919 851-2410 email@example.com
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In October, the New York Youth Symphony presented Joseph Conyers, assistant principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra and co-founder and executive director of Project 440, with the Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education. At the awards ceremony in Manhattan, Conyers spoke about his advocacy for music education through Project 440, a Philadelphia non-profit that provides innovative programming for young musicians: “Music education Double-bassist and music educator Joseph Conyers is at the core of much of my work speaks at Tribeca Rooftop in Manhattan, where he received the New York Youth Symphony’s not only because I feel every young Kessselman Award for Arts Education in October. person should have access to music, but because I strongly feel that music can be used as a tool with which we can empower the youth from some of our nation’s most marginalized communities.” Also receiving a New York Youth Symphony award that night was musician and NYYS alumna Melissa Eisenstat, who was the organization’s president from 2012 to 2019. The event included performances by NYYS musicians, led by Music Director Michael Repper, and the NYYS Jazz Band, led by Director Andy Clausen. More than 6,000 young people have participated NYSS programs since its founding in 1963. 9/4/05, 12:21 PM
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Joseph Conyers Honored by New York Youth Symphony
AFM-EPF Announces Proposed Benefit Reductions In early January, the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF), in which many orchestras participate, announced details of a proposal to reduce benefits in an effort to avoid insolvency under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. The AFM-EPF covers more than 50,000 people, including orchestra musicians, Broadway musicians, and freelance musicians and recording artists, and is the largest musicians’ pension plan in the U.S. The proposal is currently under review by the U.S. Department of Treasury, will be posted online by the Treasury Department for public comment, and will also come to a vote by plan participants. If approved, benefit reductions would begin on January 1, 2021. Details of the proposal are available on the AFM-EPF website and in a newsletter and notice shared on January 7 with plan participants. The League of American Orchestras has been keeping orchestras engaged in efforts to call on Congress to take immediate action that would improve the status of multiemployer pension funds. Orchestras and musicians can learn more about legislative proposals and opportunities to weigh in through the AFM-EPF site at afm-epf.org.
M E E TS
Orchestras Feeding America
Over the past twelve years, the Orchestras Feeding America food drive has seen over 370 orchestras from across the country collect and donate more than 530,000 pounds of food. The efforts of these orchestras have helped spread the word about how and why orchestras are so valuable to their communities, beyond providing amazing music. The League of American Orchestras invites orchestras to join the 2020 food drive to help those in need. How to take part? Sign up at the Orchestras Feeding America section of americanorchestras.org to add your orchestra to the list of 2020 participants and to receive free materials to help promote your drive, including guidelines, a list of most-needed food items, hunger facts, and flyers to spread the word about your drive. By taking part in Orchestras Feeding America, your orchestra helps makes your hometown—and the world—a better place. For more information about getting involved, contact Rachelle Schlosser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ludwig Goes to Florida The Beethoven 250th-birthday mania continues, this time with a local focus. The Florida Orchestra has invited five Florida-based composers to write fanfares inspired by Beethoven, to be performed throughout the 2019-20 season. The new works were co-commissioned with Florida colleges and universities where several of the composers are faculty members. The first fanfare, Imagined Adventures: AutoBonn by Kevin Wilt, premiered on October 11 at the Straz Center in Tampa on a program with Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, led by Music Director Michael Francis. Wilt stated that the musical motives for AutoBonn, which is about the dream of speeding along in a sports car, are taken from the presto movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14. Paul Richards’s Return the Echo (inspired by the last movement of the Ninth Symphony) was performed in December, followed by Orlando Jacinto Garcia’s the impending silence (about Beethoven’s hearing loss) in January. The orchestra will perform Benjamin Whiting’s as-yet unnamed work in March, and Jason Bahr’s The Light Shines in the Darkness (Lux in tenebris lucet) in May. americanorchestras.org
“A magical evening...unforgettable... THE BEST SHOW!!!!” — satisfied West Virginia Symphony patron
Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony is an unusual pops evening that begins with a hilarious parody of a classical concert (Dan as The Classical Clown) and ends with two restored Chaplin classics from 1917, with brilliant contemporary scores by Grant Cooper. Two full hours of comedy and music.
Catch the buzz at
Comecdeyrtos Con (412)563-0468 email@example.com 11
New England Variations
Participants Selected for League’s Emerging Leaders Program
Twelve orchestra professionals are participating in the League of American Orchestras’ Emerging Leaders Program, the field’s prime source for identifying and cultivating the leadership potential of talented orchestra professionals. The eightmonth program began on November 1, 2019 with a three-day meeting in Manhattan and will include one-on-one coaching, in-depth seminars with leadership experts, visits with leaders in cultural and performing arts institutions, virtual convenings, and a capstone project at the League’s 2020 National Conference. The curriculum develops participants’ individual leadership capabilities and advances strategic thinking, resiliency, and innovation throughout the orchestra field. Launched in 2014, the Emerging Leaders Program (and its previous iteration, the Orchestra Management Fellowship Program) has furthered the development of more than 200 alumni—many now orchestra executive directors and senior administrators. Participants in the 2019-20 ELP are: Karina Bharne, Symphony Tacoma; Robin Freeman, San Francisco Symphony; JT Kane, New World Symphony; Giuliano Kornberg, Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera; Rachel Lappen, Cleveland Orchestra; Monica Meyer, Virginia Symphony Orchestra; Brian Prechtl, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Roitstein, Orchestra of St. Luke’s; Ignacio Barron Viela, Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale; Sarah Whitling, Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Leah Wilson-Velasco, Walla Walla Symphony; Michelle Zwi, Philadelphia Orchestra. The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit http://bit.ly/ leagueemergingleadersprogram to learn more.
American Composers Orchestra opened its 2019-20 season in November with a program called “New England Echoes,” but it wasn’t exactly Currier and Ives nostalgia. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton performed songs by Charles Ives with a fresh twist: new orchestrations for chamber orchestra by Jonathan Bailey Holland, Hannah Lash, and Hilary Purrington, commissioned by the ACO. More new work included the world premiere of Purrington’s concerto for guitar and orchestra, Harp of Nerves, with soloist JIJI (the artist uses all capital letters for her name). Of the new guitar concerto, which was commissioned with support from Paul and Michelle Underwood and additional support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Purrington wrote, “Throughout the concerto’s three movements, the orchestra serves as an extension of the guitar. This relationship also inspired the title—the entire ensemble becomes a kind of nervous system with the soloist acting as its control center, tethered to all members of the orchestra.” ACO Music Director and Conductor George Manahan led the concert at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, which also included the New York City premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s 2016 Evidence.
JIJI was the soloist for the world premiere of Hilary Purrington’s concerto for guitar and orchestra with the American Composers Orchestra and Music Director George Manahan in November at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall.
Sugar Plums for All Photo courtesy of Boulder Ballet
Everyone loves The Nutcracker. But for special-needs individuals and their families, attending a performance of the ballet can be a challenge—all that Tchaikovsky, performed live by a full orchestra; all the confusion of dealing with crowds; all those dancing mice. On December 7, for the second year in a row, Colorado’s Longmont Symphony Orchestra and the Boulder Ballet presented The Gentle Nutcracker, a sensory-friendly, one-hour version of the ballet tailored for neuro-diverse audiences. Accommodations included leaving the house lights on at 35 percent, having professional support available, creating a designatPromotional material for the Longmont ed quiet area, and accepting noise and movement by patrons. The two organizations also Symphony Orchestra and Boulder Ballet’s sensory-friendly production of The Gentle presented full performances of The Nutcracker that same December weekend. Longmont Nutcracker. Symphony Music Director Elliott Moore commented, “I have spoken with parents of neuro-diverse children who express to me how petrified they are of taking their children to live performances. Sadly for them, the most common solution is to simply forgo attending live events. While our Gentle Nutcracker is for a neuro-diverse audience, it is also a performance that is designed to allow families to be just that: families!”
This fall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ new REACH campus opened in Washington, D.C. The $250 million expansion, designed by Steven Holl Architects, includes classrooms, studios, rehearsal rooms, a plaza and pedestrian bridge, an outdoor video wall, and spaces designed to encourage audience-performer interactions. Inaugural celebrations in September featured a free sixteen-day festival with a parade and block party; performers and events included the National Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Washington Ballet, a screening of The Muppet Movie, singer/songwriter Angélique Kidjo, jazz musicians Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Daniel Bernard Roumain’s spoken word/dance/music work The Just and the Blind. As part of its mandate, In September, as part of sixteen days of free performances and events to mark the openREACH will present a rich variety of performing arts ing of its new REACH expansion, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosted a programming and events. sunrise yoga session during a day focused on Sound Health: Music and the Mind. The Kennedy Center is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, and Washington Ballet.
Philanthropy Update Sweeping changes in philanthropy—and the culture at large—are affecting the who, what, when, and why of contributions to orchestras. How are motivations for philanthropy shifting, what does the rising reliance on donations from individual donors portend, and do recently enacted tax laws help or hinder giving? By Heidi Waleson
eleased last June, “Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018,” which looks at the philanthropic behavior of Americans, revealed some sobering data. Although total giving had increased, from $410.02 billion in 2017 to $427 billion in 2018, giving by individuals had dropped an inflation-adjusted 3.4 percent. This was disturbing news for orchestras, since individual giving is key to their financial survival. Orchestras rely on contributed income for nearly half of their budgets: the 2017 Orchestra Statistical Report from the League of American Orchestras showed contributed income from private support comprising 43 percent of the total and revenue from performances comprising 36 percent. Endowment draws and transfers made up 10 percent of budgets, government funding 3 percent, and other earned revenue 8 percent. Most of the contributed income comes from individuals, in gifts of all sizes, ranging from substantial contributions from trustees and major donors to numerous contributions of $250 or less. The base of donors giving to support the work of orchestras in their communities is broad, suggesting that orchestras must concern themselves with giving trends among those who give in smaller amounts
and who may later increase their giving. As the League reported in its Orchestra Facts study of 2014 data, each year from 2010 through 2014, roughly 75 percent of the gifts made by non-trustee individuals were under $250, including 45 percent
League of American Orchestras Vice President for Advocacy Heather Noonan (at center in white coat) is joined at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. by nonprofit advocates. From left: Wes Coulam, Washington Counsel Ernst and Young; Ben Kerhsaw, Independent Sector; Laura Walling, Goodwill Industries; Robert Holste, The Pew Charitable Trusts; Neal Denton, YMCA of the USA; and, Steve Taylor, United Way Worldwide.
under $100, and another 30 percent in the $100-$249 range. In Fiscal Year 2017, the League reported that for orchestras in budget Groups 1 to 6, 72 percent of non-trustee individual gifts fell within the zero-to-$249 bracket. Furthermore, national studies indicate that the percentage of households that give to charity has been steadily decreasing, from 66 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2017, and that the percentage of total itemized donations that come from households with incomes of $200,000 or higher is increasing. Indications that individual giving is declining, both in total amount and in numbers of givers, could be significant for the future of orchestras: the percentage of the average orchestra budget that comes from contributions has been rising steadily, as expenses increase and ticket prices cannot keep pace. While
Indications that individual giving is declining, both in total amount and in numbers of givers, could be significant for the future of orchestras. orchestras have long explored trends in audience motivation in an effort to increase participation and ticket revenue, the time has come to more deeply explore motivation and trends in the individual giving that is a cornerstone of orchestra sustainability. The Giving USA findings also seemed to bear out concerns that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which doubled the standard deduction for taxpayers, increasing the threshold for itemizing deductions, would decrease giving. An increasing number of non-itemizers would no longer have the benefit of the charitable deduction, and if the number of itemizers dropped from roughly 30 percent of taxpayers to 11 percent, as projected, charities might bear the brunt of the change. Americans filed their taxes under the new law for the first time in 2018, making this Giving USA report the first under the new tax code. The downward trend continued in symphony
League of American Orchestras
years, is behaving differently from its predecessor generations: the Greatest Generation (born before 1925) and the Silent Generation (born 1925-1945). Fundraising consultant Robert J. Sharpe points out that traditionally, people tended to start giving when they were in their fifties, once their children were launched and they had more free time and disposable income. “That’s Orchestras rely on contributed income for nearly half of their when my parents had their budgets. This graph from the League of American Orchestras’ golden years,” says Sharpe, 2017 Orchestra Statistical Report (OSR) documents adult who is 66. However, many orchestras’ total revenue by source. That year, 135 U.S. orchestras completed the OSR survey. baby boomers had their children later. “The baby 2019. In September, the Fundraising Efboomers didn’t have golden years. In their fectiveness Project (FEP), a joint project twenties, they had BMWs instead of of the Associated Fundraising Professionbabies,” he says. With the rising price of als and the Urban Institute, reported that college, their children also cost more to fundraising and the number of donors educate, and many of those adult children dropped in the first six months of 2019, as remain dependent to some degree on their compared to 2018. Overall revenue from parents. charitable gifts was down 7.3 percent, while the overall number of donors was Developments at Orchestras down 5.8 percent. Revenue from gifts of So far, orchestra professionals and $1,000 or more was down 8.2 percent, consultants say they are closely watching while mid-range gifts, from $250 to $999, future trends, noting an increased reliance had fallen 3.5 percent. on individual giving. Jane Hargraft, who Elizabeth Boris, an Urban Institute Felrecently joined the Cleveland Orchestra as low and chair of the Fundraising Effecchief development officer after eight years tiveness Project’s Growth in Giving steerwith the Seattle Symphony, reports that at ing committee, says, “It’s very concerning. both orchestras, donations from individuAnd it’s not just the US—this is happenals—in numbers and total amount—ining worldwide. There are hypotheses about creased in recent years. Alan Silow, it: tax law changes, uncertainty in the president and CEO of California’s Santa economy, the hollowing out of the middle Rosa Symphony since 2002, reports a class. But there are no full answers.” From similar trend: annual donations have risen a larger cultural perspective, Boris also 30 percent since the orchestra’s new pernotes, “I’m concerned that we as a society formance space, the Green Center, opened are not reinforcing a culture of giving and in 2012. Santa Rosa’s box office earnings volunteerism; it is not something that have declined, with a falloff in ticket sales leadership talks about. There used to be for the orchestra’s core classical series, but visible signs of giving in the community, the increased donations have enabled it to like the donation thermometer in the balance its budget for the last 16 years. town square or the workplace.” This trend makes sense to Bob Swaney, One hypothesis is that the Baby Booma fundraising consultant who works with er cohort (born 1946-1964), which is now several orchestras. In his view, although in what should be its peak philanthropic external factors like tax policy or the americanorchestras.org
economy influence the climate for giving, orchestras should focus on what they can control. And while some people worry that orchestras may seem less compelling to donors than curing cancer or ending hunger, he stresses that orchestras actually have an advantage: they are local. “Orchestras have a fairly local base of support, and they are ‘on’ so much of the time that they have a unique opportunity to engage at all kinds of levels, in ways that national and worldwide charities can’t,” Swaney says. “We need to engage our patrons and donors more as volunteers and advocates, so that they feel, even if they are giving at lower level, that they have a personal relationship with the orchestra, and if they want to get closer, they can.” Regarding the pool of future donors, an October 2018 report from the Do Good Institute, which studies philanthropy, policy, and societal issues as part of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, charted declines in charitable behavior among young people. What’s behind the decline? “Young adults frequently need to gain experience and build strong community ties,” said Nathan Dietz, senior researcher at the Do Good Institute, “before they become actively engaged contributors to civic activities.” How to address the concern? According to Dietz, young adults “also need awareness of opportunities and encouragement to participate in philanthropic activities—this is where the business community, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and even the government must play an active role to help turn around these downward trends.” Real engagement helps with donor retention, Swaney points out. “Nonprofits are good at getting donors, but not as good at keeping them,” he says. “The trend started about a decade ago in higher education and health and human services; orchestras caught up about five years ago. What seven or eight years ago might have been a 25-30 percent attrition of donors of gifts under $1,000, in many places is now 50 percent or 60 percent. These are brand-new donors, which you invest a lot of time and money to get, and half
orchestras is the fact that large gifts, particularly from trustees, are becoming an increasingly important factor in orchestra finances. As the League’s Orchestra Facts report of 2016 pointed out, the growth in individual giving from 2010 to 2014 was substantially due to trustee donations, and many in the field report that the trend continues. Some orchestras have noted that rise and adapted accordingly. When Silow arrived in Santa Rosa in 2002, he says that the 30-member board was giving a total of $70,000 annually. That changed once he established clear expectations for board participation, and last year, the A graphic from Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy documents how much Americans gave to charities— same-sized board contributed including arts groups such as orchestras—in 2018. $583,000. “Nonprofit boards have of them don’t come back the next year. That’s the floor, not the ceiling.” Santa always been responsible not just for govWhat we are working on now, even in Rosa has added pops and family concerts, ernance, but for financially supporting and really solid orchestras, is the focus on true and free community concerts with a focus guiding the organization, and I think that stewardship.” on the region’s Latinx population. The part of the role is increasing in imporSwaney says that the three basic orchestra has also greatly increased the tance,” says Pat Richards, former board motivators for giving haven’t changed in size of its education program so that it is chair of the League of American Orches30 years. They are: “I like the orchestra;” tras and continuing board member. At “What the orchestra does for the commu“Nonprofit boards have always the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, where nity is valuable;” and “What the donation Richards is interim president and CEO been responsible not just for does for me personally—a tax deduction, a governance, but for financially and past board chair, the board is startname in the program.” What has changed ing a new task force to help its members supporting and guiding is the most effective message: a focus on become more comfortable with personthe organization, and that the orchestra’s public value as opposed to ally soliciting donations from friends and part of the role is increasing need. “If orchestras are their doing jobs community members. “A lot of boards are well, they’ve aligned themselves with the made up of very high-powered people— in importance,” says Pat goals and priorities of their particular executives and community leaders—but Richards, former board chair city and community, and can add value they don’t like to be put in situations of the League of American to those goals,” Swaney says. “Since most where they might not succeed,” she says. Orchestras and interim giving is local for symphony orchestras, Getting board members to become accuspresident and CEO of the that creates a wonderful environment of tomed to requesting donations will, it is Utah Symphony. investment, engagement, and priority.” hoped, help them to help their orchestras. One expanding focus in board developThink Local one of the largest in California, with four ment emphasizes the skills and networks The Santa Rosa Symphony has done just youth orchestras serving 30,000 young that board members bring to their that. “We are constantly looking at how people. “People will support education orchestra’s governance and civic mission, we become more relevant to different segeven without being classical music lovers,” beyond the capacity to “give or get” that ments of the community,” Silow says. “It’s Silow says. was traditionally expected of board memnot just about artistic excellence any more. One statistic that has resonated with bers. To better represent and serve their
Jane Hargraft, chief development officer at the Cleveland Orchestra, notes that tech, now a dominant sector in the economy, is more global than local, with tech workers moving every few years—making it more challenging for orchestras to build longterm relationships with them.
communities, orchestra boards are inviting individuals from diverse backgrounds to join. Their presence and active participation demonstrates the organization’s authentic commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion—and those individuals’ personal networks expand the orchestra’s connections and relevance to multiple communities. Board participation is a big factor in another concerning issue for national fundraising: demographic, economic, and generational change. Richards sees challenges for board recruitment today: “Our boards are aging, and it’s more difficult to recruit younger members. It’s partly generational, with different attitudes towards giving and community involvement, but it’s also economic, since corporate headquarters have been absorbed into larger corporations. Many of the executives are regional; they travel a lot, and don’t have time to invest in the community.” Jane Hargraft, of the Cleveland Orchestra, notes that tech, now a dominant sector in the economy, is more global than local, and that tech company employees tend to move on after a few years, without putting down roots. In cities with transient populations, orchestras that were once able to rely on a pipeline of casual attendee single ticket buyers who became subscribers who became donors who became trustees may no longer have the luxury of that long game. Another persistent, and as yet unanswered, question concerns the giving propensities of millennials: are they really less generous, as some studies have indicated? And if, as has also been suggested, they want to see the impact of their donations, what may be the consequences for cultural institutions, as opposed to health and americanorchestras.org
service groups, that may offer more of that satisfaction? The supposed tension between support for culture and health or human-services is not new, but it is a concern about some younger donors. “Support for the arts is not mutually exclusive with support for education and health care,” says tech entrepreneur and philanthropist David Bohnett, who was the chairman of the
Recent studies bear out concerns that the 2017 tax reforms have decreased charitable giving. Los Angeles Philharmonic Association from 2008 to 2013, vice chairman of the LA Phil from 2013 to 2015, and is currently on the orchestra’s board of directors. Bohnett’s charitable activities include leadership roles at several nonprofits; his own foundation provides resources for organizations pursuing societal change and social justice. “As has been proven and what we know intuitively, music enhances the benefits of education, health care, and myriad other parts of our soul,” he says. “Symphony halls as well as school gymnasiums and band practice rooms have been integral parts of American life and experience since the early days of our republic. I follow and practice the philosophy espoused by Gustavo Dudamel, that ‘music is a fundamental human right.’ ” Taking Action
While national trends may not play out exactly according to the script in orchestras, experts agree that it makes sense to be prepared. Fundraising consultant
Sharpe describes orchestras as “age-onset charities,” meaning that you can predict their donors’ age at first donation (at the American Heart Organization, for example, the average is 76). Sharpe says that performing arts organizations, for the most part, start getting donations when the donor is about 55. Hargraft concurs, saying that most donors aren’t “philanthropically mature” until they hit their fifties. Development initiatives that cultivate younger people, she says, are “a long game”—having them associate the organization with a great social experience, so that later, when they are older, they will return as donors. Silow, Swaney, and Hargraft stress the importance of donor stewardship— thanking people for their gifts, not taking them for granted, giving them recognition, and keeping them close by giving them first-hand experiences of what their money is supporting. The “touch” possibilities of orchestras can appeal to more than just millennials who want to see impact. It takes work. Silow says, “There’s less and less ‘I love what you do, here’s a check.’ ” The Santa Rosa Symphony invites donors to sponsor artist appearances, a strategy that recognizes the contribution and appeals to the donor’s particular interests. The orchestra has a new program that personally links donors with the orchestra’s new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, and his commissioning program; there are lunches with the conductor and composers and ongoing video reports of their progress. Potential donors are also invited to attend rehearsals and to better understand the impact of instrumental instruction for children at the orchestra’s El Sistema
League Resources The League of American Orchestras is a leading partner with other national charitable organizations urging Congress to support giving incentives for all taxpayers. Find an overview of tax law changes, the latest news on policy developments, and information about how to weigh in with elected officials on the Advocacy portion of the League’s website, www.americanorchestras.org. Further information about how nonprofit tax policy connects to trends in giving is also available from the Charitable Giving Coalition, www.protectgiving.org.
Alan Silow, president and CEO of California’s Santa Rosa Symphony, speaks to the audience at one of the orchestra’s free community concerts.
project, at an elementary school with a student population that is 95 percent Hispanic. With an older donor population, savvy fundraisers also urge charities to focus on planned giving. Sharpe says that four out of five major bequests to nonprofits come as a surprise to the recipients. He suggests that nonprofits work with their donors to make sure that their wills are updated to include the charities they actually care about now, as opposed to the ones they chose fifteen years ago. With ongoing stewardship, orchestras can be well positioned to rise to the status of “family member” of childless baby boomers. Hargraft says that if millennials do, in fact, turn out to be less generous than previous generations, it would be wise for orchestras to have planned giving conversations with their current donors, who are the parents and grandparents of the millennials. “The wealth transfer is coming,” she points out, “so those bequests are going to be important for the sustaining of a lot of arts organizations.” New Tax Laws
While the total effects of the new tax law are not yet clear, some changes in giving habits are already being observed. At the Cleveland Orchestra, for example, some donors, particularly people at the $5,000-$10,000 level, “bunched” their donations: giving double in 2018 with the expectation that they would not itemize—and therefore not donate—in 2019. “We counted half the gift for this year and half for next year,” Hargraft says. There are other techniques that donors can discuss with their tax advisors as well. Sharpe suggests that charities urge their donors to consider gifts of appreciated stock, which don’t have impact on their tax liability, since the donor doesn’t have
to pay capital gains tax and the nonprofit is exempt. Much public attention has also been focused on the rise of donor-advised funds (a donor-advised fund is a giving vehicle administered by a public charity that permits donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction, and recommend grants from the fund over time). And a giving incentive that was made permanent in 2015 but is still generally less well-known among donors is the IRA charitable rollover, which allows donors aged 70½ and older to make up to $100,000 in tax-free distributions from individual retirement accounts to charities regardless of whether a donor is itemizing their tax returns. Many nonprofit advocacy groups, including the League of American
A persistent—and as yet unanswered—question concerns the giving propensities of millennials. Orchestras, are advocating for a universal charitable deduction, which would enable non-itemizers to benefit from giving to charity; two bills now in Congress include that provision. As League’s Vice President for Advocacy Heather Noonan puts it, “We know that the original impulse to give comes from the heart, but tax incentives do influence when and how much donors contribute. The charitable tax deduction essentially reduces the cost of giving, encouraging donors to give more to charities in support of community needs. The issue is tax fairness. Shouldn’t everyone have the opportunity to be incentivized to give more?” Orchestras, alongside their counterparts in the broader nonprofit sector, remain concerned about giving habits for nonitemizers now and in the future. Pat Richards says, “Small giving—anything under $2,500—is where we think there will be a decline, because it’s not tax-efficient. We could approach those people to increase their gifts.” She suggests that this might be the kind of work that a board could do: calling donors, expressing appreciation for their ticket-buying, and asking them
“If orchestras are their doing jobs well, they’ve aligned themselves with the goals and priorities of their particular city and community, and can add value to those goals,” says fundraising consultant Bob Swaney.
to consider increasing their gift. “It’s the future of the revenue stream,” she says, adding that these may also be the kind of people who give at a modest level for twenty years, and then leave the orchestra a large bequest. Regarding the new tax laws, Swaney says, “It’s too early to tell about the standard deduction, with the economy doing as well as it has. When the economy turns, that’s when we will know. When things are going well, people find ways to do what they want. When it changes, you have to make choices. In the meantime, we have to engage people at all levels—attracting, stewarding, building relationships.” Such relationships with an orchestra can be deep, and even essential in today’s society. Silow says, “We are not just selling great music. When people come to our concerts, they start to know other people—not only in the audience, but they get connected to Francesco, they know musicians in our orchestra. It becomes one of the few live experiences of a community, because more and more, we’re sequestered in our homes, streaming on a computer or TV. We’re becoming one of the last sources of what used to be called the town square, where people come together. When our concertmaster isn’t playing in a concert, I get emails saying, ‘What happened to Joe? Is he not well?’ Artistic excellence isn’t the only reason that people come to us.” HEIDI WALESON is the opera critic of the Wall Street Journal. Her book, Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America, was published in October 2018 and won the 2019 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the concert music field.
Congratulations! The League of American Orchestras is pleased to honor these member orchestras on the noteworthy anniversaries of their foundings: 100 years
Plainfield Symphony Orchestra (NJ) Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (NY)
Oak Ridge Civic Music Association (TN) Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra (PA) Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School (RI)
Ashland Symphony Orchestra (OH) Johnson City Symphony Orchestra (TN) Missouri Symphony Orchestra (MO) National Arts Centre Orchestra (OTTAWA, CAN) Orchestra Seattle & Seattle Chamber Singers (WA) St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra (MO)
Contemporary Youth Orchestra (OH) Lexington Symphony (MA)
Foothills Philharmonic (SC) IRIS Orchestra (TN)
Gateway Classical Music Society (CT) River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (TX)
Heartland Festival Orchestra (IL) South Bay Philharmonic (CA)
Hidden Voices For decades, black composers were conspicuously underrepresented at orchestras. But the past few seasons have seen an increase in orchestral performances of music by black composers such as Florence Price, whose music was neglected for years, as well as music by living composers of color. It’s all happening as orchestras seek to expand diversity and inclusion.
by Rosalyn Story
hen Czech composer Antonín Dvořák traveled to New York City in 1892 to head the National Conservatory of Music, he was charged with one task: to help American composers find an “authentic American voice.” Composers, Dvořák said, need look no further than the country’s original voices, the rich and deeply textured melodies and rhythms of African and Native American music. In decades to follow, while most white composers retreated from the challenge, black composers––among them Dvořák’s students Harry T. Burleigh, Will Marion Cook, and others––embraced it. By the time William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony and William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony were performed symphony
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Music Director Christopher Warren-Green congratulates composer Nkeiru Okoye at the 2018 world premiere of Okoye’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Michael Harding-Genesis Photography
played, buried under what historian Joseph Horowitz has called a “veil of obscurity.” What has become of Dvořák’s prescription for America’s authentic sound? American orchestras historically have rejected black composers’ music from the canon; the success of black composers of the past was marginal and fleeting. A century after Dvořák’s proclamation, black composers’ music is still a rarity in American symphonic programming, and equity in programming is still unrealized. But major musical events and discoveries, such as the recent unearthing of lost manuscripts of Florence B. Price, are providing a transfusion of new energy into this sphere. In the 1930s, along with Still and Dawson, Price filled out a triumvirate of leading lights. Born in 1887, she became the first black woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered her Symphony No. 1 in E minor—to stellar reviews. But Price, both black and
a woman, endured a two-pronged prejudice in a world overwhelmingly white and male. Black artists performed her music often, but by the time of her death in 1953, her music, while still in the consciousness of black classical musicians, languished in the larger world. When nearly 200 of Price’s unpublished manuscripts in some 30 forgotten boxes were found on a dilapidated property in Illinois in 2009, the event held all the fanfare of a major archaeological find. Publisher G. Schirmer, Inc. immediately acquired rights to the newly found material, and Price’s stock soared; orchestras lined up to perform the never-beforeheard music. The Fort Smith Symphony (which premiered her Symphony No. 4 in D minor), plus the Arkansas Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s, all put Price’s works on their season repertory lists within months. Other orchestras, including the Boston, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oakland, Omaha, Oregon, and Phoenix symphonies all planned future Price performances. And the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which gave Price’s First Symphony its world premiere in 1933, will perform that work for just the second time in 2020. “It’s incredible music,” says Michael
in the 1930s, it seemed clear that a new American sound, blending European form with the folk material of America’s homegrown music (the slave songs, jazz, ragtime, and blues), was taking shape. Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, performed by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Still’s AfroAmerican Symphony, performed by the Rochester Philharmonic, premiered to lavish critical praise. At its premiere Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony was called an “immediate success” and praised for its “enduring qualities.” Still’s Afro-American Symphony was described as a “wonderful development in American music” and was performed by several U.S. orchestras in the 1930s. Yet until very recently, two works that seemed destined for the canon of American classical music have been rarely americanorchestras.org
In November, Thomas Wilkins conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (below) in a program of all African American composers, including Adolphus Hailstork (An American Port of Call), James Lee III (Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula), Florence Price (Piano Concerto, with soloist Louis Schwizgebel), William Grant Still (Afro-American Symphony), and Duke Ellington (Harlem).
Below, just a small sampling of historical composers whose works have been neglected but are getting renewed attention by orchestras.
Composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799)
Composer Florence Price (1887-1953)
Carl Van Vechten
Composer William Grant Still (1895-1978)
Composer William Levi Dawson (1899-1990)
Composer Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
Carl Van Vechten
Composer Margaret Bonds (1913-1972)
D. W. Burckhardt
Composer George Walker (1922-2018)
Composer Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Composer Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949)
Morgan, music director of the Oakland Symphony in California. Morgan is also music director of the biennial Gateways Music Festival in Rochester, New York, which features classical musicians of African descent from throughout the U.S. performing for a week in August, presented in association with the Eastman School of Music. Morgan conducted Price’s Third Symphony in C minor at the 2019 Gateways Music Festival this summer, and also with the Pianist Michelle Cann and the North Carolina Symphony Oakland Symphony. Growing perform Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in November up, Morgan didn’t hear much 2018, led by Miguel Harth-Bedoya. about Price, but says, “as soon as I heard her music, it was just a matter of when I could do it.” Though lated initiatives in the classical music field, Morgan, who is black, often programs including one by violinist Rachel Bartonworks by black composers, he asked himPine, who has created a free online Black self, “Why haven’t we heard from this Composers database, and several by orgacomposer before?” nizations including the League of American Orchestras, which has put diversity Belated Recognition and inclusion center stage with programs It’s not just music by Price that has been designed to increase diversity at orchesoverlooked. There’s also neglected music tras, including the Catalyst Fund and the by marginalized groups including women, National Alliance for Audition Support Latinx composers, and other persons of (see sidebar). color. Women composers’ music is finally Things are getting incrementally betfinding space in orchestral programming, ter. One recent trend that is impossible with the success of such living composto ignore: a sharp increase in programs of ers as Jennifer Higdon and Gabriela Lena music by black composers at orchestras all Frank as well as Clara Schumann, Amy over the U.S. These include the ManhatBeach, and others from the past. Liketan-based American Composers Orcheswise, Latinx composers are gaining recognition and exposure. In the last twenty or so years, organizations such as the Gateways Music Festival, the Sphinx Organization, the Colour of Music Festival, and Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra have emerged, designed to bring together black musicians (as well as Latinx musicians, in the case of Sphinx) from around the world to perform music that often includes commissioned works by African Ameri- In October, the Minnesota Orchestra premiered Aaron Dworkin’s The American Rhapsody, with Music Director Osmo Vänskä can and Latinx composers. conducting. The work weaves together music by Samuel A new emphasis on diver- Coleridge-Taylor, speeches by George Washington, and sity is also reflected in re- Dworkin’s own text interludes. symphony
Will the trending interest in black composers continue? Will their scores find their way into the canon of American music? of William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 4 and Afro-American Symphony (Wilkins is also principal conductor of the LA Phil’s Hollywood Bowl Orchestra). Castle of Our Skins, a Boston-based concert series dedicated to black artistry in music, is featuring composers this season including Renée C. Baker, Samuel Beebe, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Julius Eastman, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and Trevor Weston. Charleston’s Colour of Music Festival, an annual gathering of musicians of African descent, has performed music by composers including Joseph Bologne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges), Florence Price, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra in September 2019 premiered Inner City Rhapsody, an ambitious new work by a young African American composer named Quinn Mason. The Dream Unfinished, clarinetist Eun Lee’s New York-based “activist orchestra,” while not exclusively devoted to music by black composers, got its start performing music by William Grant Still at its first event in 2015, a benefit concert in response to the deaths of Miamericanorchestras.org
chael Brown and Eric Garner. The Santa Monica-based Jacaranda Chamber Ensemble’s March 2019 program featured music by Florence Price, William Grant Still, and Duke Ellington. In Pennsylvania, one of the Johnstown Symphony’s 2019 programs included Joseph Bologne’s Symphony No. XI, plus music by William Grant Still, Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Rosephanye Powell, and Moses Hogan. William Grant Still was the focus of a Palm Beach Symphony program in January 2017. In October 2019, the Minnesota Orchestra premiered The American Rhapsody, a piece by Sphinx Organization founder Aaron Dworkin that weaves together music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, speeches by George Washington, and Dworkin’s own text interludes. Led by Michael Morgan, the Oakland Symphony devoted a January 2019 program to composers Florence Price, Joseph Bologne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges), Antonio Carlos Gomes, and Duke Ellington. The list goes on. Are today’s black composers able to manifest a dream of uniquely American music? Clearly the landscape is changing. There are encouraging signs at orchestras, which are recognizing that more diverse programming that reflects a changing America isn’t just good for attracting new audiences—it’s the right thing to do. Along with the discovery of Price’s lost manuscripts, programming history is about to be made with the Metropolitan Opera’s recent announcement that—for the first time in its 136-year-history—it will stage an opera by a black composer, Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which premiered at Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2019. Championing Florence Price
This season, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted the North Carolina Symphony in a performance of Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with pianist Michelle Cann. “It’s written in a very direct way, and the message is very clear, full of expression,” he says. The Peruvian conductor founded Caminos del Inka—an ensemble that performs rediscovered folk music of the Incas, marrying it with modern ideas and instruments—and finds a similarity
between black composers, like Price and Still, as they linked their cultural history with modern training and composition. Harth-Bedoya conducted William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony with the Fort Worth Symphony and again with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig, Germany. “I related to this personally from the sounds I hear in South America. Not literally, but the same concept. There are voices that try to recreate or create the ‘new’ with the ‘old’ in
Courtesy Dallas Symphony Orchestra
tra, which in November 2018 featured the world premiere of Valerie Coleman’s fivemovement Phenomenal Women, an homage to Olympic boxer Claressa Shields, athlete Serena Williams, former First Lady Michelle Obama, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, and immigrant mothers. In May 2019, singer/songwriter Rhiannon Giddens curated two Boston Pops programs, one of which featured symphonic music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, and Billy Strayhorn. Thomas Wilkins, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s family and youth concerts conductor, made his Boston Symphony Orchestra subscription debut in March 2019 with a program featuring Adolphus Hailstork’s An American Port of Call and music by Duke Ellington, Florence Price, and Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra. Wilkins also led the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s February 2019 program
Composer Quinn Mason (above right) with Dallas Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Katharina Wincor. Wincor conducted the DSO’s world premiere of Mason’s Inner City Rhapsody in September 2019.
it, the memory of the old with the living. There is a soul that comes through.” (Full disclosure: As a violinist, I perform often with the Fort Worth Symphony.) A nearly evangelical champion of Price and her legacy, Howard University professor and pianist Karen Walwyn tours the country, playing Price compositions in recital and with orchestras, including the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, with which she will perform the Piano Concerto in summer 2020. She created florenceprice.org, a website devoted to the composer, and is in the midst of producing a multi-CD set of Price’s piano works. “I had no idea when I started the website about two and half years ago that Price would become the newest and hottest composer that everyone was talking about,” says Walwyn. Jessie Montgomery, a violinist and composer in residence for Sphinx Virtuosi, a performing arm of the Sphinx Organization, recently discovered Price’s music at the Gateways Festival. While she didn’t grow up hearing Price, Montgomery’s string quartet, the Catalyst, will record
States, and premieres at the National Cathedral Choral Society and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will feature climate change activist Greta Thunburg’s United Nations’ speech, set to music. Climate change “is the most universal crisis we have ever faced––it is beyond political borders and affects every single one of us,” Montgomery says. “I think music can be a great vehicle to inspire change, or at least encourage awareness.”
Charleston’s Colour of Music Festival brings together black musicians from all over to perform each year; repertoire has included music by Joseph Bologne, Florence Price, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The festival recently expanded to cities including Nashville, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh.
all of Price’s string quartets in an album titled Uncovered, as well as works of black composers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004, named after Samuel Coleridge-Taylor). “Florence Price has become this amazing and inspiring figure,” says Montgomery. “The discovery of her manuscripts gives us insight into humanity and creativity.” While Montgomery says her exploration of Price’s music is “a journey that has only just begun,” her own journey toward becoming one of the most sought-after young American composers is well underway. Montgomery grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the daughter of creative and politically engaged parents (her father was a musician, her mother was in the theater arts). For her, artistic expression and activism are key. An early experience teaching and performing with Community MusicWorks, a music education and performance organization based in Providence, Rhode Island, proved fortuitous; her colleagues there encouraged her to write pieces for the students and the Providence String Quartet. “I felt like composing was expanding the way I thought about interpretation.” Montgomery’s compositions have been performed by, among others, the Dallas, Minnesota, and San Francisco symphonies as well as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Her activist upbringing shows
in her upcoming projects: she’s one of the composers creating new works for the New York Philharmonic’s Project 19, marking the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted voting rights to women in the United
For contemporary black American composers coming of age in recent decades, politics and world events, by choice or not, often show up in their music. Jonathan Bailey Holland, 2018-19 composer in residence at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, says his Dream Elegy was a personal response to the irony of “the Black Lives Matter Movement and Barack Obama happening around the same time.” When two young unarmed black men, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown, were killed by police, Holland believed the music “was something I needed to write for myself, a dirge, in a sense. It was not so
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the League As part of its longstanding commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the orchestra field, the League of American Orchestras recently launched two major initiatives to increase EDI: The Catalyst Fund and the National Alliance for Audition Support. The Catalyst Fund provides annual grants to help League-member orchestras increase their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion and to practice more effective EDI strategies. In May 2019, The Catalyst Fund awarded one-year grants, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each, to 23 U.S. orchestras; participating orchestras are required to use the funds to support the costs of retaining a skilled EDI practitioner to advance EDI learning objectives. The Catalyst Fund is supported by a three-year, $2.1 million grant to the League from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grantees will be linked to a community to share their learning, including an online forum as well as remote and in-person convenings, made possible by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation. The next round of Catalyst Fund grant recipients will be announced in late spring. To learn more, visit the League’s Catalyst Fund web page. In 2018, the League partnered with the Sphinx Organization and the New World Symphony to create the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), a fieldwide initiative with the long-term goal of increasing diversity in American orchestras. Supported by a four-year, $1.8 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, along with additional financial and programmatic contributions from America’s orchestras, the Alliance offers a customized array of support to Black and Latinx musicians to enhance their audition skills, increase their participation in auditions, and expand their representation in orchestras. Participating orchestras help provide funding for NAAS and also provide mentoring and guidance for musicians of color. To learn more, visit the League’s National Alliance for Audition Support web page.
“Orchestras are looking to diversity, not because of altruism, but because they have to,” says conductor Michael Morgan. “You have to work at it constantly. Your Martin Luther King concert does not solve the problem, nor does your Cinco de Mayo concert.” is attention Quinn Mason, a 23-year-old Dallas native beginning to make a name for himself. When his 20-minute work Inner City Rhapsody for orchestra was premiered by the Dallas Symphony in September 2019, The Dallas Morning News wrote, “Liquescent, even sensuous textures evoke Debussy and Ravel,” and praised his “impressive command of orchestral textures.” Raised by a single working mother, Mason began composing while still in elementary school, drawing notes on homemade staff paper. At a school career-day event he met oboist Rogene Russell, director of the Dallas-based Fine Arts Chamber Players. As she performed popular orchestral excerpts on the oboe, Mason shyly identified each tune. He was about americanorchestras.org
ten years old. Mason began piano. When he attended concerts, he sat with his head bowed over a miniature score. “It took me a while to realize that what he wanted was to be a composer,” says Russell. A diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome—which is on the autism spectrum—has limited his academic focus, and he has studied music exclusively, excelling under the private tutelage of Winston Stone, a professor of music at the University of Texas at Dallas. Often bullied in elementary school, Mason credits music with cultivating a confidence that bolstered his social skills, which can be difficult to master for people with Asperger’s Syndrome. “I compose to show people that even though you are struggling you can still overcome and be something,” Courtney Bryan, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and Jessie he says. After the premiere Montgomery (counterclockwise from top) are among today’s of Inner City Rhapsody, Ma- composers whose works have been premiered by U.S. orchestras in recent seasons. son said, “People came up to me and shared their stories of struggle. A light bulb went off. I thought, class discouraging. But meeting violinist ‘This is why I write music, to speak to peoand composer Noel DaCosta (co-founder ple like this.’ ” of the New York-based Society of Black Composers, established in 1968 and disSocial Change and Inspirations solved in 1975, which promoted the work In addition to works by Montgomery, of black modern and classical composHolland, Mason, and others, recent seaers), was a revelation. “He asked me if sons have seen a number of new orchesI’d ever heard of black composers. He tral premieres. Nkeiru Okoye’s Charlottepulled out all this music by Hale Smith, Mecklenburg premiered at the Charlotte Ulysses Kay, Margaret Bonds,” she says. Symphony in 2018; the work celebrates It was a turning point for Okoye, who the 250th anniversary of the city of Chardid her term paper on black women comlotte, North Carolina, and also includes posers. “It didn’t even matter what Flora reference to Keith Lamont Scott, who ence Price’s music sounded like. The first died after being shot by a police officer in African American female composer … it Charlotte in September 2016. Okoye has gave me so much hope. And part of me a Detroit Symphony Orchestra premiere was wondering, why people didn’t tell me coming up, a work called Black Bottom, about this earlier?” which will be featured on the orchestra’s Okoye’s compositions, from small enClassical Roots concert in March 2020. semble to full-scale opera, have reached “It’s a great sign that people are lookaudiences that many composers would ing to commission a wider array of muenvy. Her 2014 opera Harriet Tubman: sic,” says Okoye, a native of Long Island When I Crossed That Line to Freedom was who studied at Oberlin Conservatory of premiered by American Opera Projects Music. “It develops audiences and gives with a grant from the National Endowmore composers access.” Like Mason, ment for the Arts. One of her bestOkoye found her voice early: as a child known works is the 2002 Voices Shoutshe “composed” music to accompany her ing Out, commissioned by the Virginia reading of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit Symphony Orchestra for a black-history Tales. As a student at Oberlin, she found themed event. Such community-focused her position as the only female in her commissions can be a great way to reach Jiyang Chen
much a protest, but a way of reflecting and processing.” A native of Flint, Michigan, Holland grew up listening to his father’s eclectic record collection, with everything from Handel’s Fireworks to Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, and Bootsy Collins. He says his music, while informed by classic training, “has clear influences from pop and jazz and musical theater. I feel anybody who feels passionately nowadays puts [that passion] into their music, as a natural way of processing the world. The things that seem unimaginable or dissonant in how we perceive the world will come out in our art.” Clearly, American orchestras are increasingly aware of the talented pool of African American composers, as commissions from orchestras large and small continue. One of the youngest to gain recent
of the symphonic form,” his “theme and contrasting theme,” and his use of “blues as a key element.” Expanding Resources and Access
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, founder of Music by Black Composers, has compiled a database of more than 200 African-descended composers.
new audiences, but Okoye warns that they carry the risk that organizations identify black composers as only black composers, “looking for black composers to celebrate historic moments of black life,” as she puts it. “Sometimes this limits the subject matter and also puts a lot of pressure on us.” For composer Courtney Bryan, a littleexplored moment in black history is providing inspiration for a composition that she is working on while living in Rome as the winner of the 2019-20 Rome Prize of the American Academy, which supports yearlong artist residencies in Rome for innovative and cross-disciplinary work. Bryan’s Caracalla: Inner Monologues of an Emperor will be a concert-length monodrama for male voice and string quartet, based on the life of Antoninus Caracalla, a black emperor of Rome (211-217 A.D.), and considered to be one of the most ruthless. Bryan, an assistant professor of music at Tulane University who has served as a resident composer at the Jacksonville Symphony, had a new piece, Rejoice, premiered in her hometown of New Orleans this season by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Music Director Carlos Miguel Prieto. As an undergraduate student at Oberlin Conservatory, Bryan, also a jazz pianist, learned about William Grant Still, Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, and others. “When I heard [Still’s] Afro-American Symphony, it really blew my mind,” she says. “I loved the music and how extensive his list of compositions is.” Still’s music was an inspiration, says Bryan, for his “use
Black composers’ music is getting easier to find, thanks to new resources that build on earlier work that can direct orchestras to this music. Even before the discovery of the Florence Price manuscripts, concert violinist Rachel Barton Pine, president and founder of Music by Black Composers, a project of her Rachel Barton Pine Foundation, was on a mission. A resident of Chicago, Pine (who is not black) was exposed to black composers’ music through the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College. Years ago, as a young touring soloist searching for new material to record, she began searching for violin compositions by overlooked black composers. The deeper Pine delved into the Center for Black Music Research’s repository, the more she realized the breadth and depth of neglected music. Pine decided to record an album of works by composers such as Joseph White (also known as José Silvestre White Lafitte) and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges—a revival of an idea that CBS Records had launched two decades earlier with its nine-disc Black Composer Series. The response? Pine says, “I started getting a barrage of mail and people coming to me in person, students, parents, teachers, saying, ‘Where can I get more of this?’ ” Since then, Pine’s organization has compiled a database of more than 200 African-descended composers––young, old, living, and not––from around the world. There’s also an educational component: the Pine Foundation has created instructional books, performance pieces of all levels, and coloring books with narrative essays on the lives of black composers. The discovery of the Price manuscripts raises many questions: Will the trending interest in Florence Price (and other black composers) continue? Will the music of Price, Still, and other neglected geniuses ever find their way into the canon of American music? The Fort Worth Symphony’s Harth-Bedoya fervently hopes so, saying Price’s music “absolutely deserves to be part of the canon.” As for the programming of black composers’ music more
broadly, Michael Morgan is optimistic, as change is reflected in our country’s shifting demographics. “Orchestras are looking to diversity, not because of altruism, but because they have to,” Morgan says. “You have to work at it constantly. Programming is part of survival. Your Martin Luther King concert does not solve the problem, nor does your Cinco de Mayo concert.” At some point in the future, black composers’ music may become more a part of the fabric of the American musical tapestry, changing the concertgoing experience for performers and audience alike. Conductor Thomas Wilkins tells a story about working with a young pianist of Chinese and Austrian descent on Florence Price’s Piano Concerto. “The slow movement is as introspective and deeply personal as anything,” Wilkins says. “I could tell there was a part of him that was trying to make it sound European. So I pulled out a picture of my grandmother and showed it to him.” He says for the young pianist, the picture “changed everything. I wanted him to learn that this was the woman he was playing for.” Wilkins says it was the “sense of dignity and humble bearing” that the photo communicated—the wisdom of elder black women regarded in the black community as signs of faith—of a woman whose Christian beliefs had gotten her through difficult times. “Dvořák and Smetana understood that their music would have larger appeal if it had the ‘face’ of the common person’s life,” Wilkins says. “We have to get to a point where we are comfortable in our own skin. We get so hung up on what we are able to put in [the music] that we miss out on the essence of what it is.” ROSALYN STORY is a Dallas-based writer and violinist who performs in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, and other ensembles. She is author of And So I Sing: African-American Divas of Opera and Concert (1990), about singers such as Sissieretta Joyner Jones, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, and Marie Selika Williams. Her 2010 novel Wading Home was adapted into an opera of the same title, composed by Mary Alice Rich, with Rich and Story as co-librettists, and performed in Dallas, New Orleans, and South Africa. Story’s articles have appeared in Stagebill, Essence, and Opera News. Her next novel, inspired by the life of Sissieretta Jones, is due out in 2020.
FLORENCE PRICE University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections
G. Schirmer continues to release new performance materials for solo, vocal, choral, and orchestral works, including her symphonies, tone poems, and concerti.
EDWARD K. (DUKE) ELLINGTON
WILLIAM GRANT STILL
Carl Van Vechten
The G. Schirmer orchestral catalog also includes selected titles by these distinguished composers:
As podcasts surge in quantity and popularity, orchestras, arts organizations, and musicians are experimenting with the format and reaching new audiences.
P by Hannah Edgar
odcasts: It seems like everyone has one. So goes the jibe about the medium—and with some 3,000 new podcasts created each month, that might not feel far off. But it’s just as fair to say that everyone is listening to podcasts, too. In April, Edison Research/Triton Digital reported that an estimated one in five Americans listen to podcasts weekly, a figure that has more than doubled in the last five years, and 41 percent of respondents reported listening to more podcasts than they had the year prior. Though listenership increased across demographics, notably, Americans ages 12 to 24 saw the greatest increase. The most
popular topic among those surveyed, besting even news and current affairs? Music. That enough makes podcasting ripe for exploration by symphony orchestras and performing arts organizations. As an aural storytelling format about an aural art form, radio and podcasts both access an emotional immediacy that program notes, press notices, and music writing simply can’t. But just as video streaming is starting to overtake traditional on-air television, podcasts’ on-demand nature is making them an increasingly dominant medium. Many radio shows now make their episodes deliverable on podcast streaming services after airing, netting audiences who aren’t symphony
In the studio recording a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra “Fanfare Cincinnati” podcast, left to right: Chris Pinelo, CSO Vice President of Communications; CSO Associate Principal Percussion Michael Culligan (behind microphones); and CSO Percussion Richard Jensen.
terrestrial radio listeners. Among those shows are “New Sounds,” the WNYC program hosted for decades by John Schaefer, which posts all its 4,000-plus program episodes online. (“New Sounds” and “Soundcheck,” a second Schaefer-hosted program, narrowly avoided an untimely demise in October, when New York Public Radio
it takes to cook a quick meal. For podcast producers, barriers to entry are negligible: All someone needs to create a podcast is a way to record their own voice, audio editing software, and access to the internet for uploading the finished product. Because most podcast streaming services are free, with some subscription-based ex-
Just as video streaming is starting to overtake traditional television, podcasts’ on-demand nature is making them an increasingly dominant medium. announced it was going to “sunset” both shows; after widespread listener outcry, the station reversed its decision, and the shows continued.) The move toward podcasting mirrors broad shifts in how we consume goods and entertainment and transact business. Orchestras that ignore these shifts could risk missing out on attracting a younger group of listeners and potential audience members. If you’re above a certain age, chances are you’re still watching cable TV; younger consumers were among the first to “cut the cord” and switch to streamed television. Driven by technology advances, people are increasingly using more flexible, convenient arrangements that allow us to stream a TV show or listen to a radio podcast on our phones or computers whenever we want. Additionally, unlike radio, podcasts aren’t beholden to a specific time frame, though the most successful tend to fall between 20 and 45 minutes long—the length of a commute, say, or the amount of time americanorchestras.org
ceptions, the average podcast’s potential for monetization is low. But podcasts allow their creators to track listening habits, and they can use that information to attract program sponsors. Profitable podcasts support themselves through sponsorships, donations, merchandise, or ticketed live recording events. And while there’s no tried-and-true formula for what concepts will take off, thanks to the rankings and algorithms driving major podcast streaming services, even the most niche podcasts can reach unexpected audiences. Violist Nadia Sirota learned this with her runaway hit “Meet the Composer,” the WQXR-produced podcast she hosted from 2015 until 2017. Her engaging interviews with living composers, interspersed with brief cuts of their music, attracted a listenership far beyond the new-music community. It ultimately garnered such a following that, in 2016, it became the second podcast ever to win a Peabody Award
“Classical Classroom” and “Decomposed”
Dacia Clay also found herself on the vanguard of the podcasting wave more or less by accident when she started “Classical Classroom.” The popular podcast is geared towards newcomers to the genre and distributed by Houston Public Media and Seattle’s KING-FM, where Clay is the station’s creative director. A self-proclaimed “classical music newbie,” Clay says that when she first pitched the concept to Houston Public Media in 2013, few people even knew what a podcast was. She recalls, “We were Houston Public Media’s first pure podcast”—that is, a podcast that did not begin as a terrestrial radio program first. “It was a great time to get into podcasting because nothing was systematized in the industry. We didn’t think about profits or stats, and there were no real precedents to follow—as radio nerds, we just had genuine fun making a thing. I think that came across to our listeners.”
Courtesy Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
for excellence in radio broadcasting. (Serial, the true-crime series credited with kicking off the podcast boom, was the first.) “We ended up being part of some kind of podcasting movement,” Sirota recalls. “I don’t think we were looking to a specific antecedent at that point.”
Dacia Clay, a selfdescribed classical-music newbie, hosts the podcast “Classical Classroom,” geared toward people just discovering the art form.
interview series “Trilloquy” discusses navigating the classical music industry as a musician of color; and “Aria Code,” produced in partnership with WNYC, WQXR, and the Metropolitan Opera, structures each episode around a single operatic aria. “Sticky Notes” and “Living Music with Nadia Sirota”
Of course, the podcast market has become much more saturated since “Classical Classroom” and “Meet the Composer,” classical music podcasts included. By the time pianist and arts lecturer Jade Simmons was approached by Minnesota Public Radio in 2018 to host its classical music podcast “Decomposed,” she accepted on two conditions: “We had to be doing something that hadn’t been done and was necessary,” Simmons says. Each episode of “Decomposed” delves into one crucial thread or moment in music history. Nor does the podcast shy away from discussing dark truths about beloved composers and works—Richard Strauss’s early affiliation with the Nazi Party, for example, or racist stereotypes in Porgy and Bess—or the difficult interplay of politics Pianist and public speaker Jade Simmons hosts the and music, for instance Dmitri “Decomposed” podcast. Shostakovich’s ongoing troubles while composing in the Soviet Union under Stalin’s rule. Simmons thinks they weren’t hearing the same tropes.” her candor and the production team’s fasSome of the most popular podcasts in tidiousness (each episode is thoroughly the past year have similarly set their confact-checked) ultimately cinched the succepts apart by focusing on a specific facet
Each episode of Jade Simmons’s “Decomposed” podcast delves into one crucial thread or moment in music history. of classical music. On WNYC’s “Open Ears” podcast, music lovers from all walks of life speak about the classical works that shaped them; American Public Media’s
cess of “Decomposed”: It appeared on Apple Podcasts’ listing of top music podcasts throughout its six-episode season, as well as Time’s 2019 list of “The Best New Podcasts of the Year So Far.” Simmons says, “We wanted something that would bring in new audiences, and even now we see [positive] reviews saying, ‘I don’t even like classical!’ And connoisseurs really appreciated that
In addition to his guest-conducting work and serving as music director of Switzerland’s Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Joshua Weilerstein hosts the repertoire-focused podcast “Sticky Notes.”
Many podcasts are partnered with or distributed by major radio stations or organizations. However, thanks to the medium’s negligible start-up costs and potential for audience growth, even podcasts lacking institutional support can reach a broad audience. The repertoire-focused “Sticky Notes” remains a one-man operation funded entirely by Patreon sponsors, with host Joshua Weilerstein juggling production alongside his globetrotting conducting career. (Case in point: When he and I spoke on the phone, Weilerstein was cutting an episode on the GarageBand app in a Brussels hotel room.) “My expectation when I started this was to do ten episodes, get a few hundred people to listen, and then be done,” Weilerstein says. “But without a lot of advertising and almost no presence beyond the Facebook page, it’s gotten almost 700,000 downloads. It’s a chance for me to step away from conducting and write, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Though the music Weilerstein conducts often informs the podcast’s programming, “Sticky Notes” is completely independent from the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Swiss ensemble Weilerstein leads as music director. But a number of orchestras and performing arts institutions have launched their own long-running and successful podcasts. Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra has produced “NACOcast” and “Explore the Symphony”—recorded in French as “L’univers symphonique”—since 2006 and 2007, respectively, and the Barbican Centre in London produced long-running podcasts about its contemporary and classical music series from 2010 to 2018. Likely the greatest perk enjoyed by symphony
(CAP) at UCLA, where Sirota serves as artist-in-residence; the podcast’s concert series will be held and recorded in CAP’s Nimoy Theater when the venue opens in 2020. Until the theater opens, Sirota is taping episodes via ticketed live recording events around the country. Unlike “Meet the Nadia Sirota in WQXR’s studio working on her “Meet the Composer” Composer,” Sirota will podcast, which she hosted from 2015 until 2017. Sirota’s new remain in full creative podcast, “Living Music With Nadia Sirota,” launches in 2020. control of the podcast and its programming. “We have the flexibility to do what we lighter, more passive kind of engagement, want. It’s more about this being a platform but for people who really want to know for people to experience new music,” she more, ‘Fanfare’ is a great platform for that.” says. “ ‘Meet the Composer’ was awesome; By design, “Fanfare” podcasts are pegged
Sean Rice, second clarinet of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, has hosted his orchestra’s “NACOcast” podcast since 2016. He interviews the people behind the music in a conversational, casual setting. “I love hearing guests’ stories,” Rice says. I’m so proud of it. I also did it in a context where I don’t own any of my intellectual property from that experience. That’s something I’m learning from, and moving forward, I really want to have the creative freedom and ownership of the projects I do.” “Fanfare Cincinnati” and “NACOcast”
Clarinetist Sean Rice (second from left, front row) with fellow musicians in Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. Rice hosts the orchestra’s “NACOcast” podcast.
through ticket sales. Additionally, “Living Music” has made a five-year commitment to a “creative development partnership” with the Center for Artistic Performance americanorchestras.org
Besides potential legal cover, institutionally affiliated podcasts also benefit from a ready-made local audience base. When Chris Pinelo, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s vice president of communications, started “Fanfare Cincinnati” in 2018, he already knew from conversations with patrons that the behind-the-scenes podcast would appeal to those curious about “how the sausage is made.” Says Pinelo, “Any time you’re engaging with an organization, there’s going to be different ways to engage. Sometimes you’re looking for a
to the orchestra’s activities—from more general topics like the audition process to organization-specific initiatives, like the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music Diversity Fellowship—but Pinelo views its aims as less promotional than narrative. For example, a “Fanfare” episode last August about the CSO’s world premiere recording of the new critical edition of An American in Paris included an interview with Mark Clague, the University of Michigan-based musicologist who revised the work, and discussed the ensemble’s own history with the piece. “A lot of times when you’re dealing with a billboard, a social media post, or even an ad, your message has to be really pithy, really precise. There was a desire for a platform that could take a deeper dive,” Pinelo explains. “This is a way to tell that story in a compelling way, and it gives you enough space and time to not just pay lip service but get into the substance.” Sean Rice, second clarinet of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), takes a similar approach to his orchestra’s
podcasts made in-house by or in partnership with performing arts institutions is their level of legal protection, should they choose to excerpt that institution’s commercial recordings. The fair-use doctrine broadly allows limited reproduction of copyrighted materials for educational or critical commentary, although copyright owners can dispute fair-use interpretations. Because podcast episodes can be downloaded like any other audio file—unlike live radio, which is understood to be more ephemeral—using excerpts from a commercial recording, regardless of length, is a potential liability if podcasters don’t obtain the rights to the recording. When cutting music drops for her former podcast, “Meet the Composer,” Sirota and her producer, Alex Overington, constantly had to navigate copyright law, given their focus on new compositions not in the public domain. “You can’t, for example, put a track from a commercially available album on a podcast, because then you’re giving that out for free,” Sirota explains. Her new podcast, “Living Music with Nadia Sirota,” eliminates this risk by sourcing audio from live events that combine concert performances with commentary from individuals across “the entire contemporary music ecosystem”—handily creating a revenue stream for the podcast
Courtesy Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
the reserve, is Rice says. “The episode basically covers in line with the what we did as musicians to collaborate greater Canadian with artists out there. Those are the kinds reconciliation of things that we look forward to talking movement adabout in the podcast.” dressing the govThat’s one thing classical music podcast ernment’s legacy hosts interviewed for this article agreed Chris Pinelo, the Cincinnati of human-rights upon across the board: the importance of Symphony Orchestra’s vice abuses against folding the distance between audiences president of communications, First Nations and the concert stage. Audiences may see started the CSO’s “Fanfare peoples, including soloists or orchestral musicians perform all Cincinnati” podcast in 2018, forcibly separatthe time, or hear a composer’s works on a designed to give a behind-thescenes view of the orchestra. ing thousands of program, but listening to musicians’ narIndigenous chilratives in their own voice can deepen the dren from their concertgoing experience and help break families. Through down perceptions of the genre as highfainterviews, audio lutin or inaccessible. “We have this really “NACOcast” podcast, which he has hosted recordings, and performance excerpts, interesting liturgy of performance in clasafter taking over the podcast from former Rice hopes the “NACOcast” episodes ofsical music [that] can also kind of dehuprincipal tuba Nick Atkinson in 2016. On fer a way to take listeners deeper into that manize it—like ‘Oh, there’s an orchestra “NACOcast,” Rice interviews the people By design, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Fanfare behind the music in a conversational, casual setting. “We look at the upcoming guest Cincinnati” podcasts are pegged to the orchestra’s activities— conductors and soloists, or see if there’s infrom more general topics like the audition process to teresting programs that we want to put on organization-specific initiatives, like the Cincinnati Symphony the radar of our listening audience. But I think my main inspiration is, I love hearOrchestra/Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music Diversity ing guests’ stories,” Rice says. Fellowship. Last spring, Rice recorded his first indepth podcast installments, which go experience, creating a lasting document onstage,’ and they might as well be robots,” behind the scenes of an ongoing NAC that can circulate far beyond the project’s Sirota says. “It’s more impressive to me initiative in Eskasoni, a Mi’kmaw reserve original audience. “I was one of the people that people get on stage and play somein Nova Scotia. The NAC’s project, which who got to go out there and work with thing together, and you realize that those includes coachings with student musistudents at one of the high schools, [leadare actual human people.” cians and collaborative performances on ing] clarinet and saxophone coachings,” Pinelo couldn’t agree more. He says the local success of “Fanfare Cincinnati” taught him how that concept can be scaled locally, strengthening relationships with longtime patrons and offering a window into the orchestral world for the uninitiated but curious. “Sometimes artistic leadership and musicians are put up on a pedestal, but [then] you realize that they go to the same grocery store, or their kids go to the same school,” Pinelo says. “If we can build a sense of connectedness with the community, people would be more apt to get engaged with the orchestra. I think this is something other orchestras should think about—ways to engage audience members and demystify what we do.”
Among current and former music podcasts are John Schaefer’s “New Sounds,” about contemporary music; “Trilloquy,” about navigating the classical-music field as a musician of color; “Aria Code,” which explores a single opera aria in each episode; WQXR’s “Meet the Composer” and “Open Ears Project” podcasts; and Steinway & Sons’ “Sound Board,” hosted by Ben Finane.
HANNAH EDGAR is a freelance culture writer and Chicago magazine’s assistant digital editor. Her writing has been published in The Classical Review, New Sounds, WFMT.com, the Miami Herald, and New York Philharmonic programs.
THE FORD MUSICIAN AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE A Program of the League of American Orchestras is made possible by
Now in their fifth year, the Ford Musician Awards have recognized the commitment and extraordinary impact twenty orchestral musicians have made in service to their communities.
Applications now being accepted.
For more information, visit www.americanorchestras.org/ford
Above: Ronald Braunstein conducts a September 2019 rehearsal in Boston of the Me2/Orchestra, which is specifically for musicians diagnosed with mental illness. Braunstein, who has bipolar disorder, is co-founder of the orchestra.
by Michele C. Hollow
Orchestras and musicians are helping to destigmatize mental illness. And increasingly, their efforts are being backed up by scientific research.
patient placed a blanket over his head to keep everyone away. He rocked in his seat while a string quartet from the Lima Symphony Orchestra set up in a room at Mercy Health–Saint Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio. As the musicians played, the man listened intently, removed the blanket, and began to let go of his fears and panic. The quartet is part of the orchestra’s Healing Through Music program, designed for people struggling with mental illnesses and opioid addiction. It’s one of an increasing number of programs run by
orchestras in the United States that bring music to people with mental illnesses. Many of these programs educate the public about mental health issues—and they also can help some musicians destigmatize their own mental health diagnoses. “Orchestras are more than just about performing in concert halls,” says Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, executive director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra. “In addition to performing at Mercy Health, we perform at a mental health clinic, a drop-in center for at-risk youth, and a low-income housing complex. In the near future, we hope to symphony
For children ages 13 to 18, the percentage who will go on to have a severe mental disorder at some point during their life is also one in five. Despite the number of Americans affected by mental illness, the topic was ta-
boo in many communities not long ago. But today, in tandem with gradually more open public conversations about mental illness, orchestras are stepping in by creating programs for people experiencing mental illness. And a host of scientific studies support NAMI’s findings that music can positively impact people with mental illness. The National Institutes of Health and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts are studying music’s effect on brain circuitry, and ways that music can be used to improve health and well-being, through a program called Sound Health: Music and the Mind. Ohio’s Toledo Symphony Orchestra is working with local university researchers to learn how classical music can help people with post-traumatic stress disorder. In Colorado, the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra’s B Sharp program with Colorado State University, underway for five years now, has studied people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. B Sharp participants were
In addition to performing in mental-health centers and clinics, musicians from the Lima Symphony Orchestra perform at drop-in centers for at-risk youth, low-income housing complexes, and facilities including the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institute (in photo). americanorchestras.org
invited to live performances and post-concert receptions; the study’s initial findings showed a reversal of cognitive decline from listening to classical music. In the U.K., a neuropsychology researcher at University College London has formed a choir for
“Orchestras are more than just about performing in concert halls,” says Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, executive director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, which performs at a medical center, mental health clinic, drop-in center for at-risk youth, and lowincome housing complex.
bring our music to prisons. We’re offering our music to our community and presenting music in a way that affirms others.” Ohio has one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the country. Brown-Ellis credits the concerts with getting people to talk about their mental health. “These conversations will hopefully benefit people on their journey to building a healthier life, away from their illness and addiction,” Brown-Ellis says. The two violinists, violist, and cellist that make up the Lima Symphony Orchestra’s quartet find the small rooms they perform in far more intimate than a concert stage. It’s not just the intimate space: “After the concerts,” Brown-Ellis said, “the audiences and performers talk about music, mental health, and other topics. It’s a safe space. They audience trusts us.” Teri Brister, a professional counselor who serves as director of information and support for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), sees a need for such programs. “Research shows that listening to, performing, or creating music can improve mental health and well-being,” Brister says. “Music can also act as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief. Specifically, music provides benefits for various mental health conditions by creating an opportunity for expression. There is also joy and comfort in playing music, and listening to music can create a healing environment.” According to NAMI, approximately one in five adults in the U.S. (that’s 46.6 million Americans) experiences mental illness in a given year.
people with dementia as a way to study the effectiveness of music in reducing symptoms such as depression and agitation. Among orchestras with ongoing programs or individual initiatives aimed at people with mental illness are the WilTeri Brister, a professional counselor who serves as director of information and support for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says, “Research shows that listening to, performing, or creating music can improve mental health and well-being.”
liamsburg Symphony Orchestra in Virginia, which recently reached out to Liz Popovich—an 82-year-old violinist with Alzheimer’s who was experiencing confusion, agitation, and disorientation—and invited her to attend rehearsals, which improved her ability to hold conversations and talk about music. Musicians from Ohio’s Akron Symphony Orchestra have performed at inpatient behavioral health settings at Summa Health, an Akron-based hospital system, as part of the orchestra’s Music and Mental Health initiative. In 2011, former Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Vijay Gupta cofounded Street Symphony, a nonprofit that presents live music in prisons and with the city’s homeless community, many of whom have mental illness. In Virginia, the Winston-Salem Symphony’s principal percussionist, John Beck, uses drum circles to help behavioral health and cancer patients. (Beck won a 2018 Ford Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service from the League of American Orchestras for this work. The Ford Musician
One high-profile initiative is an orchestra created by Vermont-based conductor Ronald Braunstein, who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In 2011, he founded Me2/Orchestra specifically for musicians with mental illness. It got its name because “Whenever we told people we have a mental illness, they responded by saying, ‘me too,’ ” Braunstein says. Me2/Orchestra has expanded beyond its original Burlington, Vermont location to Boston
Musicians Making a Difference The League of American Orchestras’ Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service honor professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary and meaningful service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement. WinstonSalem Symphony Principal Percussion John Beck, a 2018 Ford Musician Award recipient, profiled in this article, uses drumming to help patients with behavioral-health and other medical conditions. Other Ford Musician Award recipients have been recognized for their work in hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, museums, and more. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 grant, with an additional $2,500 grant going to the musician’s home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for musicians. The Ford Musician Awards, now in their fifth year, are made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund. Learn more at americanorchestras.org/conductingartistic-programs/the-ford-musicianawards.html.
Safe Spaces for Musicians
and elsewhere in the U.S. The Me2/Orchestra predates the #MeToo movement founded to help survivors of sexual assault and is not related to it. Being part of the Me2/ Orchestra in Boston allows Nancy-Lee Mauger, a French horn player, to take risks. “I know I won’t be judged,” she explains. “Even the sign on the rehearsal door reads, ‘This is a stigma-free zone;’ it puts French hornist Nancy-Lee Mauger (center in photo) says being everyone at ease.” Mauger, part of the Me2/Orchestra in Boston allows her to take risks. “I know I won’t be judged,” she says. who was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depresMe2/Manchester (New Hampshire) folsion, says, “There’s always someone to lean lowed, then affiliate groups in Atlanta on here. I’m looking forward to sharing and Portland, Oregon; there are plans my story at one of our upcoming concerts to expand to 20 more groups throughbecause the more we talk, the less we are out the U.S. Whiddon serves as Me2’s stigmatized.” At each performance, two executive director, and Braunstein and or three musicians briefly talk about their Whiddon are married. The musicians in mental illness and take questions from the each of the orchestras range in age from audience. “Instead of thinking people with 13 to more than 80. Some have a mentalmental illnesses are lazy or dangerous, they health diagnosis and others have family see what we’re capable of,” says Braunstein. and friends who do. Me/2’s Boston af“It has a positive effect on all of us.” filiate recently launched a percussion enBraunstein, an accomplished conductor, semble; a documentary about Braunstein won the Karajan International Conducting and the Me2/Orchestra called OrchesCompetition in Berlin decades ago after trating Change opened in select theaters graduating from Juilliard. He was 23 years in October 2019. old. Following his win, his career took off. He worked with orchestras in Europe, IsDrumming Out Depression rael, Australia, and Tokyo. At the time, he A 2016 study by the Royal College of didn’t have a diagnosis. “My bipolar disorMusic in London found that drumming der was just under the line of being under reduces depression by as much as 38 percontrol,” he says. “It wasn’t easily detected. Most people thought I was weird.” As his career progressed, things started to unravel. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 35. When Braunstein told his manager, he was dropped as a client. Then he was fired from a conducting job in Vermont. It was there that he met Caroline Whiddon, a French horn player, who had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder. Together, John R. Beck, principal percussion with the Winston-Salem Symphony, works with behavioral health and cancer patients they formed the Me2/ and has been active in Comfort Sound Drumming, a research Orchestra in Burlington, study developed by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Vermont. Me2/Boston and Center. In photo, Beck with a Parkinson’s patient. Courtesy John Beck
Awards for Excellence in Community Service, given annually by the League of American Orchestras and supported by Ford Motor Company Fund, honor those in the orchestra field using music to benefit the greater community. See sidebar.) Below is a look at some of the orchestras that are addressing mental health issues through music.
person in the drum circle,” Beck says. “This isn’t about getting them to talk and share their feelings. It’s about having fun, letting one’s guard down.” He starts with a traditional song from Guinea, West Africa. “We drum and call out our names,” he says. “It’s a way to make eye contact, for them to tell Vijay Gupta (center in photo), co-founder of Street Symphony, me their names, and to speaks at the organization’s 2018 Messiah Project, a singalong of get a smile.” He doesn’t Handel’s Messiah at the Midnight Mission, a twelve-step recovery shelter at Skid Row in Los Angeles. know anyone’s diagnosis. Instead, the doctors and nurses tell him on his return visits how Offering Hope much more open the patients were with Violinist and social-justice advocate Vijay sharing their feelings. “Drumming isn’t a Gupta is co-founder of the nonprofit Street cure-all,” Beck says. “It can certainly help Symphony, where he spends much of his counteract depression by offering some day among the people on Skid Row in Los relief from negative thoughts. It’s a lot of Angeles County. Gupta attended Juilliard fun. I can see it from the smiles on the facand Yale and was hired in 2007 as one of es of those in the drumming circles.” the youngest members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he gave up in Below, results of a study Winston-Salem Symphony Principal Percussion John R. Beck conducted 2018 to focus on Street Symphony. “Street with scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, tracking the positive effects drumming has Symphony was organized for the presence on the participants in his drum circles. of those that are often ignored,” Gupta says. “Here in L.A., we’re home to the largest homeless community living on the street in the U.S. We also have the largest incarcerated population of anywhere in the country. Our jails are effectively the nation’s largest psychiatric institutions. That’s why we have to take our role as artists seriously. That role is to heal, inspire, and to disrupt and provoke. I ask, why should great art only happen on a concert stage?” At the end of the first Street Symphony concert in 2011, a young man in the audience got up and told the musicians he could feel their hearts, Gupta says. The man later told them his mother used to beat him. He was homeless and suffered from mental illness; the people in the crowd got up to hug him. “When we play, the audience hangs on every single note,” Gupta says. “There’s no us and them. We’re all broken in different ways. That’s how we understand who we are.” This past summer, Street Symphony held a block party on Skid Row. They worked with the Midnight Mission, a human services organization in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row, to feed more than 2,000 people. People came for the americanorchestras.org
cent and anxiety by 20 percent. John R. Beck—principal percussion with the Winston-Salem Symphony and professor of percussion at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Wake Forest University—has seen the positive effects drumming has on the participants in his drum circles. Beck works with behavioral health and cancer patients and has been active in a program called Comfort Sound Drumming, a research study developed by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. At the Center, stem cell transplant recipients participate in small drum circles led by Beck. Initial data from the study showed that more than 80 percent of patients reacted positively to the drumming and showed improvement in energy, mood, and relaxation and decreases in distress and anxiety, with over 60 percent reporting decreased anxiety and distress, and a majority with less pain. Results will be published in Percussive Arts Society journal in 2020. “I like making connections with each
Soprano Renée Fleming, artistic advisor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., drums with others during the Kennedy Center’s Sound Health weekend in September 2018. Sound Health is a Kennedy Center/National Institutes of Health initiative studying music and neuroscience. Two goals of the Kennedy Center/NIH Sound Health initiative, Fleming says, are to “move music therapy forward as a discipline and educate the public and enlighten people about the power of music to heal.”
food and for the music, which included the West African drumming circle Ashe Drummers from the Heart, the all-female Mariachi band Las Colibri, Street Symphony’s jazz ensemble, and DJ Sir Oliver with a string ensemble. Since its inception, Street Symphony has presented nearly 300 free performances for communities affected by homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles County. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (branch of the U.S. De-
partment of Health and Human Services), between 20 and 25 percent of the homeless population in America suffer from some form of severe mental illness. “We need to be human beings of the highest quality,” Gupta says. “Performing amongst the people allows us to do that. We can reclaim our mental health when we claim our wholeness as people.” (Gupta gave an address about his work with Street Symphony at the opening plenary session of
“We’re bringing neuroscientists together with musicians to speak each other’s language,” says National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, at right.
the League of American Orchestras’ 2018 National Conference in Chicago. Visit the League website to hear the speech.) Musicians from the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and researchers from the University of Toledo’s Department of Psychology will examine ways that classical music can help those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) better manage and direct their emotions, leading to improvements in mood, functioning, and quality of life. Merwin Siu, principal second violinist and artistic administrator of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, said the twoyear study will have two parts: the first centers on recorded excerpts and the second will incorporate live performances from symphony musicians. (The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is one of nineteen U.S. orchestras to receive a 2019 grant from the League of American Orchestras to support innovation and organizational learning. The two-year American Orchestras’ Futures Fund grants, in the amount of $80,000–$150,000 each, are made possible by the generous support of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.)
“PTSD is a serious mental health disorder,” says Matthew Tull, professor of psychology at the University of Toledo. “Although there are a number of effective psychological treatments available for PTSD, some clients may find it difficult to connect with and process their emotions during these treatments. This collaborative project between the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Department of Psychology at the University of Toledo is exciting in that it may identify a novel way to facilitate and improve PTSD treatment.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has teamed up with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to explore how listening to, performing, and creating music involves brain circuitry that can be harnessed to improve health and well-being. The initiative, Sound Health: Music and the Mind, grew out
What About Autism and Alzheimer’s? You might think autism and Alzheimer’s are mental-health issues, but they’re not. Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental condition that affects communication and behavior, while Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is one of the most common forms of dementia. Music improves the lives of people with these conditions as well. A study at the University of Delaware shows how music helps children with autism understand emotions, which is quite significant since many on the spectrum have difficulty with social cues. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s who listen to music they are familiar with have somewhat improved communication skills. For people with autism and other sensory disorders, there has been a blossoming of sensory-friendly, “relaxed” performances offered by orchestras. These events are designed to make the concert experience less stressful by adjusting lighting, sound levels, seating, and other factors. In many cases, those events mark the first time it was possible for a person with autism to attend a live orchestra concert. symphony
give cancer patients relief from chronic pain. The goal is to improve mental health. “We know music shares brain areas with movement, memory, motivation, and reward,” Collins says. Research from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York found people with mental illness seem to have an increased risk of stroke. Music has played a significant role in helping stroke survivors speak. As Collins says, “These things are hugely
important to mental health, and researchers are trying to use this same concept of an alternate pathway to address new categories of mental disorders.” MICHELE HOLLOW writes about autism, Alzheimer’s, mental health, and animals. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Parents, and other online and print publications. She’s the author of a biography for kids on the Grateful Dead.
Real change means getting at what’s below the surface. Liz Popovich, a violinist with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, attended rehearsals of Virginia’s Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra two years ago. Her daughter, Marcia Munn, reported that the rehearsals improved her ability to hold conversations and talk about music. Popovich died in May 2018.
of a 2013 year-round community engagement initiative by the National Symphony Orchestra. The program sends musicians into local hospitals, pediatric units, and military health centers in the Washington D.C. area to bring music and personal interaction to patients, their families, and medical providers. “We’re bringing neuroscientists together with musicians to speak each other’s language,” Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and NIH Director, says. “Mental health conditions are among those areas we’d like to see studied. We’ve seen when you sing or play an instrument, it doesn’t just activate one part of your brain. A whole constellation of brain areas becomes active. Our response to music is separate from other interventions such as asking people to recall memories or listen to another language.” Soprano Renée Fleming, who is an artistic advisor at the Kennedy Center, is working with Collins on SoundHealth. “The first goal is to move music therapy forward as a discipline,” she says. “The second is to educate the public and enlighten people about the power of music to heal.” The NIH/Kennedy Center initiative is new. So far, scientists are investigating how music could help patients with Parkinson’s disease walk with a steady gait, help stroke survivors regain the ability to speak, and americanorchestras.org
“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
Young at Heart Children’s concerts, family concerts, kinderkonzerts—no matter what you call them, orchestras are making music an essential part of the lives of the next generations. Tips and updates from folks on the front lines.
Roger Mastroianni / Cleveland Orchestra
by Keith Powers
Michael Miller, a member of the Cleveland Orchestra’s trumpet section, is an active presenter of kids concerts. Above, Miller with students at Wilbur Wright Elementary School in 2017.
Breaking news: kids are people. Stating the obvious has limited use, but when big people try to talk to little people, returning to basics seems necessary. Especially if big people in orchestras are trying to coax little people in audiences into becoming the audience of the future. There are some guidelines for concerts for young people.
Keep it short. Keep it great. Focus on the music. No talking—for the adults. (The kids can talk a bit.) Young people’s concerts have grown in popularity over the years, and while motivations vary, one goal is straightforward: get them hooked early, and they’ll symphony
school artist visits, pop-up concerts, engagement programs— and she thinks that’s a common reaction. “I remember all the kids being mellow,” she says of most presentations. Those memories mix in with the recall of certain instruments, a vague recollection of “a string quartet,” not many details about the repertory, and lots of fun listening. Kids do everything Rebecca Young, the New York Philharmonic’s associate principal viola, has been hosting the orchestra’s Very Young People’s Concerts with intensity. In bursts. for audiences age three through six for more than a decade. In So if kids bring the photo, Young demonstrates “loud” and “soft” in music. same excitement to an expensive visit to a classical concert as they do to, say, randomly Symphony in California. Those orchestras spotting a pigeon on a sidewalk, one chalhave extensive programs for young people, lenge lies in staking out what makes a conand Lecce-Chong’s personal enthusiasm cert special. Where should the focus be? has enhanced those presentations. “When The music. I talk, I want to make them feel comfort“There’s nothing I can to do explain it, able,” Lecce-Chong says. “I don’t necesto make them enjoy it, other than to let sarily want to teach them about the music. them hear the music,” says Francesco LecGive them a taste of a real concert. Don’t ce-Chong, music director at the Eugene tailor to them.” Symphony in Oregon and the Santa Rosa “If the music is great, that’s the most
Michael DiV ito
be hooked for life. But just like the Young People’s Concerts that Leonard Bernstein used to influence a generation of young Americans via television (hand raised here), the challenges of striking the right balance are still the same. Adults love music for its complexity and emotional variety. Kids live in the moment. Their perceptions of the music are vastly different. How different? Eleanor Powers Jones is a ten-year old flutist from Rockport, Mass. (Full disclosure: Eleanor is my granddaughter.) She has already had multiple concert experiences, thanks to a betterthan-usual music program in her school, and the presence of an education-minded presenter, Rockport Music, right in her own town. Her memories of a visit with grandparents to Boston’s Symphony Hall seem to epitomize young people’s reactions: “You got a fancy grilled-cheese sandwich made with waffles,” she recalls. She’s had only positive experiences—in-
Amanda L. Smith
A 2019 Eugene Symphony Beethoven-themed family concert included a Musical Time Machine devised by the South Eugene Robotics Team, a program for high school students.
Amanda L. Smith
Eugene Symphony Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong interacts with a young audience member at a recent family concert.
Music Director Jaap Van Zweden conducted the New York Philharmonic’s December 2019 Young People’s Concert at Geffen Hall.
important part,” says José-Luis Novo, music director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in Maryland. “If you talk, concentrate on a few aspects of the music. They’ll figure out everything else. Do short
nesota Orchestra, assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has conducted concerts for young people during multi-
“I have to remind myself what type of music inspired me, and the players in the orchestra,” says conductor Roderick Cox, who will lead a New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert in March. “Young people’s concerts with the some of the ‘Ride of the Valkyrie’ or Firebird—that’s riveting music, exciting to latch on to.” pieces, explain it to them briefly, and children will react.” Conductor Roderick Cox agrees. “Young people are attracted to excellent music, just like adults,” he says. Cox, an American who guest-conducts extensively from his base in Berlin, was previously associate conductor of the Min-
ple seasons in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, and leads a New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert this March. “Students gravitate toward storytelling,” he says. “At one concert for young people in Seattle, we played The Firebird. They loved it. They could hear the story present in the music.”
There are almost as many approaches to presenting music to young people as there are orchestras. The New York Philharmonic made a big splash with its televised Young People’s Concerts led by the charismatic Leonard Bernstein in the 1960s, but the orchestra started offering children’s concerts back in 1924. The fact that Music Director Jaap van Zweden and an impressive roster of guest conductors continue to lead the YPCs demonstrates staunch commitment. The North Carolina Symphony—with state funding that fuels a broad education mission—piles all its musicians into buses 40 times a year to crisscross North Carolina. “We think it’s the most extensive outreach of any orchestra,” says Jason Spencer, director of education, referring not only to the road trips, but dozens of mainstage performances in Raleigh’s Meymandi Hall plus online resources, residencies, and teacher workshops. The Cleveland Orchestra’s expansive list of educational activities makes one wonder how the orchestra has time for regular subscribers: high-profile concerts at Severance symphony
o’clock in the afternoon. We use licensed day-care workers for the kids and a really fine music teacher. Our musicians use the childcare, too. We can fit up to 45 kids.” The little ones in the ROCORooters programs get their own repertory lesson, a brief trip to the adult concert, and then pizza. Parents and kids, grandparents and caregivers—everyone gets welcomed. Children benefit, and so do parents: “We save marriages, one concert at a time,” Lawyer says. Jumping Right In
Instrument petting zoos are a frequent component of orchestras’ young people’s concerts. Above and right, musicians from the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra introduce youngsters to the double-bass, oboe, and trumpet at a recent education concert.
Hall are complemented by hundreds of inschool programs and vast online resources. The Eugene Symphony gets inventive with its family concerts: last year an afternoon of Beethoven included a Musical Time Machine devised by a local robotics crew. Actor Bill Hulings portrayed the legendary composer, who was brought to the present day by the time machine, which was designed and programmed by members of the South Eugene Robotics Team, a program for high school students interested in building big bots. The interactive program showcased Beethoven’s
life story and music while teaching children about the orchestra and instruments on stage. Houston’s ROCO ensemble creates a particularly family-and-parent-friendly vibe. Founded by Artistic Director Alecia Lawyer in 2005, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra has offered childcare during select concerts since its inception. “When my church was renovating, I wanted to form an orchestra,” Lawyer says of ROCO’s beginnings. “I thought, ‘The church has a kids night out. Why not have a concert for adults too?’ We do the concerts at five
North Carolina Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn and concert host Andy Pidcock at the orchestra’s first sensory-friendly concert at Meymandi Concert Hall in September 2019.
Children love all kinds of music—for awhile. A two-hour concert is just too long for growing bodies that need to wiggle, squirm, and poke somebody. But giving them the flavor of the concert experience— a bit of the energy that adults experience—that’s the trick. “Get them involved immediately,” Lecce-Chong suggests. “I made them sing the ‘Ode to Joy’ till they got it right, before we played Beethoven. Get them invested right off the bat.” “I do a thing that’s partly education, but mostly to deal with distractions,” says Michael Miller, who plays trumpet at the Cleveland Orchestra and is an active presenter of kids concerts. To get kids involved and show how some wind instruments work, Miller brings out a hose, “six or eight feet long, with a funnel to blow in. The kids hold it along the length, to feel the vibrations. I’ll always pick the kids who are creating distractions, and all of a sudden they start paying attention.” Sticking to consistent repertory remains important. “I’m turned off by music that is pieced together,” Lecce-Chong says, “just to make a show. I love jazz, I love non-classical genres. We do that, but I want them to be quality works on their own. Play great music, in short excerpts, but try to include as many full pieces as possible.” “We use the simplest concepts,” says Rebecca Young, associate principal viola at the New York Philharmonic. Young began hosting the NY Phil’s Very Young People’s Concerts—intimate chamber-music events for audiences age three through six—more than a decade ago. “We explain dualities, like adagio/allegro. We focus on
Ray Kuglar / Blueprint Film Co.
In Houston, Texas, music educator Keisha Twitchell gets children dancing during a recent River Oaks Chamber Orchestra ROCOrooters event. ROCOrooters combines childcare and music education, and is held in the same building where adults attend a full ROCO concert.
tion and community engagement. Now in its fourth year, the awards program is made possible through the generosity of Ford Motor Company Fund. Young describes a linear approach for the littlest concertgoers: keep distractions down, keep the story moving with a tight focus. “We have the kids come in through different stations in the lobby, playing games with dance and music,” she says. “We warm them up, get them ready to
“If you talk, concentrate on a few aspects of the music,” says Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Music Director José-Luis Novo. “They’ll figure out everything else. Do short pieces, explain it to them briefly, and children will react.” Young received a Ford Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service from the League of American Orchestras for her work on the Philharmonic’s YPCs. The Ford Musician Awards celebrate professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary service in their communities and make a significant impact through educa-
hear certain words. I feel like I have them along with me, as long as it’s focused.” Young noticed that video accompaniment—which might seem like a no-brain winner for young audiences—actually distracts attention from the music. José-Luis Novo experienced the same thing when using video at the Annapolis Symphony
Orchestra: “We are taking the power and importance of the music away.” Start and Don’t Stop
an instrument family. My overarching goal is to make the kids have fun. So much fun they want to come back.” Talk about full circle: Young was introduced to music at the age of two when her parents took her to New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts led by Leonard Bernstein. Now, as host, Young not only talks about the music, she has tap-danced, played drums, ridden a scooter around the stage, and sung Gilbert & Sullivan. In 2019,
Breaking-news update: Musicians used to be kids. Getting little ones in the door (when they generally have no choice) is easy. Getting them to embrace music on their own—and maybe even to start playing instrument, and stick with it—is something else altogether. “Positive performance experiences are a must,” Cox says. “Any instrument studies have to be complemented with positive performance experiences, where you can imagine yourself onstage.” “I want to let them know that playing an instrument is something they can do,” says Miller. “If I can do that, they can do that. I learned because my grandfather had a trumpet he let me monkey around with. So maybe I could do for them what that trumpet did for me. The notion is that you can gain some skill and express yourself, that you can feel good with something that’s not electric, and not exorbitantly expensive. If I can plant that feeling just once…” Conductors from an earlier era would rarely address young audiences. No longer: Spreading enthusiasm about music starts symphony
Meymandi Concert Hall was packed for the North Carolina Symphony’s September 2019 sensoryfriendly concert, designed for children and adults with autism and sensory sensitivities
on the podium with the current generation. “I have to remind myself what type of music inspired me, and the players in the orchestra,” Cox says. “When I dumb down the presentation, it doesn’t have much musical appeal. Young people’s concerts with some of the ‘Ride of the Valkyrie’ or
Firebird—that’s riveting music, exciting to latch on to.” Novo grew up in Spain, “listening to concerts on the TV, with my father singing ahead of the music. I thought that was amazing. That high level of passion, like my father had, that was enough to impress me.”
Performing for young audiences isn’t always easy, given that most of the performers have a day job already. “It is a lot of work, a lot of pressure,” Young says. “But the minute I’m out there I feel like I’m home. For me, this makes a great balance with performing. I’m using a different part of my brain. I feel like a big clown; I’m expected to do something.” Gratitude for having things that others don’t also plays a big part, especially for the Cleveland Orchestra’s Miller. “Who knows what path I would have gone down,” he says. “I grew up in Cleveland Heights, and maybe I feel more gratitude to the city.” Here’s why Miller is dedicated to doing young people’s concerts: “When I go into neighborhoods where the kids have nothing, where there’s lead paint everywhere—well, I remember that I’m here partly to help those neighborhoods.” KEITH POWERS covers music in greater Boston for GateHouse newspapers and WBUR’s ARTery.
“Sleepover at the Museum is charming, and the music accessible and imaginative. LeFrak’s composition retained a sense of purity and simplicity with clever instrumentation and musical motives.” — South Florida Classical Review
A new multimedia orchestral work by composer and author KAREN LEFRAK based on her acclaimed children’s book
To be featured by The New York Philharmonic in 2020, NOW AVAILABLE for family orchestral programming worldwide Imagine spending your birthday at the natural history museum! That’s exactly what Mason had planned, and now orchestras can take their young audiences with him and his friends on an adventure. Follow them on a musical and scientiﬁc expedition through the many wondrous exhibits. Whether on your own or partnering with your local museum, it’s perfect for museum lovers and adventure-seekers alike!
Composer Katherine Balch
Pathfinders What’s ahead for the classical music field? How do today’s emerging artists plan to make their marks? Do today’s upcoming musicians expect to be artists as well as entrepreneurs? Six musicians currently forging career paths share their visions for the classical music world.
Alex D. Rogers
by Vivien Schweitzer
Violist Jordan Bak
symphony Kate Lemon
Concert Artists Guild
Harpist Angelica Hairston
Conductor Conductor Lidiya Lidiya Yankovskaya Yankovskaya
concert of the future, how to attract more diverse audiences, and how to keep all listeners engaged. When possible, classical music should be used to advocate for social change, they say. They’re largely optimistic about the future of the genre, yet acutely conscious of the competition from myriad other forms of entertainment, a lack of public education about classical music, and dwindling attention spans. These young artists believe that elements of the concert experience need tweaking to create concerts that offer a welcoming and communal experience relevant to modern audiences. Above all, they are certain that it’s essential to champion the music of our time. As violist Jordan Bak says, “I think the future for classical music is bright, but we need to keep adjusting.” JORDAN BAK
Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak, 25, a winner of the 2019 Concert Artists Guild Competition, seeks to break barriers. “Diversity needs a huge push,” says Bak, an alumnus and laureate of the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based nonprofit that works to increase black and Latinx representation in classical music. When children never see people like Flutist Beomjae Kim themselves on stage, adds Bak, they drop out due to lack of role models—a problem he hopes to help address. Bak, who is currently enrolled in the Artist Diploma program at the Juilliard School, envisions the classical music concert of the future as less formal. He mentions Groupmuse, a series that brings small ensembles of musicians to perform in people’s homes, as a great example of an informal but high-quality experience. “There’s no performance-audience barrier without a stage,” he explains. Given the diminishing attention span of modern audiences, he says concerts could be shorter and feature individual movements of Arthur Moeller
Violinist Stella Chen
he current generation of young classical musicians must navigate many of the same hurdles as their predecessors, while facing fewer traditional performance opportunities—but at the same time they can take advantage of 21stcentury ways to innovate and experiment. Today’s emerging artists must train to be superb technicians—that’s a given—while also learning how to be activists and entrepreneurs able to forge their own career paths. The passionate and forwardthinking young artists profiled here have distinctive ideas about the ideal classical americanorchestras.org
symphonies and a mix of styles and time periods that would “give a diverse overview and complete concert experience.” Bak, who has performed as a recitalist and chamber musician at (among others) Alice Tully Hall, the Verbier Festival, and the Helsinki Musiikkitalo, will premiere James
“I think the future for classical music is bright, but we need to keep adjusting,” says violist Jordan Bak. “Diversity needs a huge push.” Ra’s Concerto for Three Solo Violas on April 3, 2020 with the New York Classical Players. Bak says it’s important to perform new music, and additional highlights of his 2019-20 season include a Young Artist Residency with Minnesota Public Radio’s Performance Today program, recitals in New York and Tel Aviv, and performances with two venturesome ensembles that tackle wide-ranging repertory: the conductorless ensemble A Far Cry, based in Boston, and The Knights, the Brooklynbased chamber orchestra. Linking a concert with a cause can resonate with audiences, Bak says, citing violist Kim Kashkashian’s Music for Food Initiative (which addresses hunger in local communities) as an inspiring example. In addition, Bak states, audience awareness of what goes on beyond the stage, facilitated by artists sharing personal posts on social media, is a positive development. But when it comes to cellphones in the concert space, this millennial believes that while there’s nothing wrong with taking a photo before or after the concert, “to really appreciate the art the musicians are sharing, you should live in the moment and appreciate it instead of capturing every single second.” KATHERINE BALCH
Katherine Balch always knew she wanted to be both a composer and a teacher, which she attributes in part to her extroverted personality. “I learn from my students, from bouncing ideas off them and seeing what sparks their interests. I feel energized from teaching,” says Balch, 28, currently on faculty at the Mannes School of Music and a former faculty member of Bard College
es. Some orchestras, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic is an obvious model for this, are assuming that their listeners are intelligent, curious people who want to hear new music alongside the masters.”
The Juilliard School
Jordan Bak performs Jacob Druckman’s Viola Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra and conductor Gerard Schwarz at Alice Tully Hall in 2017.
As one might expect from a composer, Katherine Balch is confident that audiences crave new music. Columbia University (where her mentors include George Lewis, Georg Haas, Fred Lerdahl, and Marcos Balter). She is composer in residence at the California Symphony, a three-year position that began in 2017 and wraps up in 2020. This March, Music Director Donato Cabrera will lead the world premiere of Illuminations, a song cycle for three voices and orchestra featuring a libretto inspired by the female characters of Rimbaud’s poems and Balch’s favorite women poets. In January, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra premieres Balch’s Impromptu, which it commissioned for a program featuring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Balch’s music has also been
performed by the Minnesota, Oregon, and Tokyo symphony orchestras, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the American Composers Orchestra. Her advice to young composers building their careers is to engage with their community. Perhaps surprisingly for someone of her generation, she believes that social media marketing and personal branding won’t pay off unless aspiring composers go to concerts, hear other musicians play, and make vital connections in person. As one might expect from a composer, Balch is confident that audiences crave new music. She cites a recent exchange in the New York Times between chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini and a listener regarding a concert of repertory staples performed by the New York Philharmonic. Tommasini criticized the programming as unadventurous, while the reader pleaded for more repertory staples. “Most listeners are not like that listener,” says Balch. “Most Katherine Balch, composer in residence at the California Symphony, are open minded and with the orchestra and Music Director Donato Cabrera at a rehearsal open to new experienc- for the May 2019 world premiere of her Artifacts violin concerto. California Symphony
Conservatory Prep and the Walden School. Balch, who completed her Bachelor of Arts in history and political science and Bachelor of Music in the Tufts University/New England Conservatory joint-degree program, has sought out teaching artists in her own career and tried to learn from composers across the aesthetic spectrum. Balch, who also has a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music, is on the roster of Young Concert Artists and a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at
Violinist Stella Chen, 27, a graduate of the Harvard/New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program, received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Harvard and a Master of Music from New England Conservatory. She is one of the recipients of the 2020 Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists and won the 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition. While on the one hand she believes that competitions are indeed for racehorses, she says they are also a great way to get exposure. “The only way to do competitions is to do it for yourself and present who you are,” she adds. “I played repertory that is very much me and not typical competition pieces.” Chen, who is completing her Doctor of Musical Arts at Juilliard, also believes musicians should speak about the music they are performing during concerts. It shouldn’t be a lecture, she explains, but should offer “some sort of hook or story so that the audience can come along with you.” When a performer suggests passages for listeners to listen for, she adds, the audience often listens more attentively.
Queen Elisabeth Competition
Violinist Stella Chen won the 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition in Brussels. In photo, Chen performs the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège led by Pablo González at the Centre for Fine Arts–Brussels.
Programming creatively is key to engaging audiences, she says: “I think it’s important to play music of contemporary composers and my peers. Otherwise I don’t know how much people will listen to the same stuff and grow.” Chen, who has performed with ensembles including
kids who have an iPad at age five will be able to sit and listen to a whole symphony when they’re adults. ANGELICA HAIRSTON
Atlanta-based harpist Angelica Hairston, 27, was studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto when Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin were killed by police. Sitting in her practice room, she felt helpless. “I could talk
the Belgian National Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Orquestra Filarmónica de Medellín, London Chamber Orchestra, and Welsh National Symphony Orchestra, will perform the U.S. premiere of Jörg Widmann’s Violin Concerto No. 2 on March 27 with the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, with the composer conducting. If she could commission a piece, Chen says Caroline Shaw, Joan Tower, and Shulamit Ran would be among her top choices, as she wants to support female composers. Chen says she’s optimistic about the future of classical music, in part because “I’m right in the middle of it. I am in love with the music.” The trouble may lie with the next generations, she says, musing whether americanorchestras.org
Violinist Stella Chen says she’s optimistic about the future of classical music: “I’m right in the middle of it. I am in love with the music.”
about a Baroque trill all day,” she says, “but I didn’t know how to have a conversation about what was happening in my own country.” The conservatories of the future, she hopes, will “find ways to not only train students to be incredible technicians, but to find the ways our music creates impact.” In 2016 Hairston, who has performed concertos with the Atlanta and Nashville symphony orchestras, founded Challenge the Stats, a concert series primarily in Atlanta that features conservatory-trained Black and Latinx musicians and attracts a diverse audience. Hairston holds a Master of Music Industry Leadership from Northeastern University, where as a recipient of the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellowship she researched nonprofits serving communities of color and began brainstorming for Challenge the Stats. In addition to its concert series, Challenge the Stats offers workshops in schools and aims to enable musicians of color to use music as a tool for social change. “We look at the landscape of Atlanta and look at the issues facing communities of color and speak into those spaces,” says Hairston, a former member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program, which trains young Black and Latinx musicians. She also serves as artistic director of the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, where she provides free harp
Harpist Angelica Hairston founded Challenge the Stats, a concert series featuring Black and Latinx artists. At the inaugural Challenge the Stats concert, in Boston in 2016, Hairston performs with dancer Michael Morris.
“There is such a broad swath of what classical music can look like,” says harpist Angelica Hairston. “Seeing people of color performing together is very powerful.”
instruction to more than 80 students in Atlanta. Hairston is eager to dispel stereotypes about the instrument and its performers both on stage and in her studio, where 90 percent of her students are young men and women of color. When planning concerts, she says, it’s important to actually ask audiences what
Flutist Beomjae Kim backstage at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at the 2017 Astral National Auditions Winners Concert. Kim played Paul Taffanel’s Fantaisie sur Jean de Nivelle at the concert.
language, it has proved a particularly difficult challenge. On his blog, Kim candidly shares other hurdles he’s faced during his career, such as the removal of all of his wisdom teeth in July 2018—a particularly difficult roadblock for a flute player. After the surgery Kim suffered pain when he played the flute, writing: “I am practicing everything slowly from the beginning in order to retrieve where I left off. So in a way I am relearning everything in both physically and emotionally painful ways.” His ultimate goal as a musician, he says, “is to tell a story and not just play an instrument.” LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA
they want. “People have an expectation that classical music equals Bach,” she points out. “Yet there is such a broad swath of what classical music can look like and be presented as. Seeing people of color performing together is very powerful. Families will say ‘I’ve never seen a black harpist on stage.’ ” Hairston was inspired by her mentor Ann Hobson Pilot, an African American harpist and former principal harp of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. As for the concert of the future? Perhaps concerts won’t be so long, she muses, or there might be better food than now. Most important, Hairston believes that it’s essential to “break down the idea of the stage and audience” and emphasize “that we’re all in this together. It’s a human and communal experience.” BEOMJAE KIM
For flutist Beomjae Kim, who recently performed music by Gabriela Lena Frank, Viet Cuong, Robert Sirota, and Andrew Norman at a Music from Copland House concert in upstate New York, the greatest advantage of playing works by living composers is that he can ask them questions. “When I feel like I’m hitting a wall, I can email them or call to ask what they envisioned when they wrote the piece,” he explains. Kim, also a visual artist whose photography, painting, and installations are influenced by the Fluxus and Minimalism movements, holds Master’s and Artist Diploma degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He is a former member of Ensemble Connect, a two-year New
York City-based fellowship that combines performance opportunities, community engagement, entrepreneurship, and professional development. He describes the fellowship (a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, and Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education) as an invaluable experience, because, while his conservatory training helped make him the musician he is, Kim recalls that he “never
Flutist Beomjae Kim’s ultimate goal as a musician, he says, “is to tell a story and not just play an instrument.” learned how to be a musician who can communicate with other people or express myself outside of music.” The Seoul-born Kim, who moved to the U.S. in 2008 to study with Michel Debost at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, says that one of the most important things he learned at Ensemble Connect, in addition to benefiting from professional development and marketing sessions, was “how to develop entrepreneurial skills as a 21stcentury musician.” Part of being a modern musician, he adds, is developing good public speaking skills, which he learned through Ensemble Connect and his management, Astral Artists. Kim says he loves sharing his personal experiences about a piece and helping the listener understand the context, which he believes is especially important when performing contemporary music. But since English is his second
“People want to see and hear artistic work that reflects them and their lives and the things around them,” says conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, 33, music director of Chicago Opera Theater and a champion of operatic rarities, contemporary works, and Russian masterpieces. “Audiences are looking for new experiences. Going to a concert or opera is not just about hearing the music. It’s a communal experience that somehow ties into your own world view and life and makes you think about new things in a new way.” Yankovskaya’s 2019-20 season includes conducting works by Dan Shore, Joby Talbot, and David T. Little at Chicago Opera Theater and Ricky Ian Gordon’s Ellen West at the Prototype Festival in New York. She conducts Stravinsky’s Firebird at the Illinois Philharmonic, Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony at the Chicago Philharmonic, and will make her Glimmerglass Festival debut leading Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Yankovskaya took part in the League of American Orchestras’ 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, a two-day showcase for conductors on the rise. Over the next ten years, Yankovskaya believes that new work will take precedence over the warhorses. It’s not about rejecting the standard repertory, she explains, but about embracing the new. She also believes that the classical world will eventually figure out how to best manage mobile devices and other distractions in the concert space. “The attitude now tends to be extreme,” she says. “On one end, it’s ‘please clap and live tweet and film evsymphony
about making recordings will evolve. After all, she points out, it’s important for institutions to create shareable content, but orchestras can’t easily make a 30-second clip for social media. Right now, she says, “Opera companies are better than orchestras at finding ways to create content that audience members want to share.” Yankovskaya, who Lidiya Yankovskaya leads the Refugee Orchestra, which she founded was born in St. Petersin 2016. The ensemble consists of instrumentalists and singers who burg, Russia, and came are themselves refugees or whose family and friends came to the to America as a refugee, U.S. as refugees. founded the Refugee Orchestra Project in 2016 to highlight erything.’ On the other end, the conducthe contributions of this country’s immitor will stop the performance if anyone grants and to advocate for tolerance. The coughs. I think there’s a happy medium.” ensemble, which consists of instrumentalYankovskaya, an alumna of the Dallas ists and singers who are themselves refuOpera’s Hart Institute for Women Congees or whose family and friends came to ductors and Marin Alsop’s Taki Concorthe U.S. as refugees, has performed at the dia Fellowship, hopes that regulations
“People want to see and hear artistic work that reflects them and their lives and the things around them,” says conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya. United Nations headquarters in New York City, at the Barbican in London, England, and in various venues in New York, Chicago, Boston, and the Washington, D.C. area. “Artists interact with so many different people and cultures,” says Yankovskaya. “I work in major cities and places I might otherwise never have visited. That places artists in an unusual position and it’s our responsibility to share that perspective.” VIVIEN SCHWEITZER is a music journalist and pianist. She is the author of A Mad Love: An Introduction to Opera, which was published in September 2018 and named one of the Ten Best Books of September by the Christian Science Monitor. She was a music critic at the New York Times from 2006 to 2016 and now freelances for publications including The Economist.
BE THE FIRST TO BOOK THE BEST “These are the stars of the next generation.” – THE WASHINGTON POST
YCOUNG ONCERT ARTISTS
Daniel Kellogg , President Monica J. Felkel , Director of Artist Management Vicki Margulies , Artist Manager yca.org/roster (212) 307-6657 firstname.lastname@example.org Randall Goosby Photo: Kaupo Kikkas
*Winner of the 2019 Young Concert Artists International Auditions
* Martin James Bartlett * Albert Cano Smit Do-Hyun Kim Maxim Lando Nathan Lee Aristo Sham VIOLIN
Benjamin Baker Randall Goosby Risa Hokamura SooBeen Lee
CE L LO
DOUBLE BAS S
Xavier Foley FLUT E
Anthony Trionfo OBOE
Olivier Stankiewicz S AXOP H ONE
* Steven Banks
ACCORD I ON
Omer Quartet * Quartet Amabile COMP OS E R
Katherine Balch Saad Haddad David Hertzberg Tonia Ko Chris Rogerson
Our annual listing of emerging composers, conductors, ensembles, and soloists is inspired by the breadth and sheer volume of young classical talent. The following list of emerging talent is provided by League of American Orchestras business partners and is intended as a reference point for orchestra professionals who book classical series. It does not imply endorsement by Symphony or the League.
Composers Katherine Balch Young Concert Artists
katherinebalch.com 212 307 6657
“Vividly imagined music” (San Francisco Chronicle). Recent commissions by the Oregon Symphony, Albany Symphony Orchestra, and wildUp/Los Angeles Philharmonic. Currently Young American Composer-in-Residence for the California Symphony. Photo by KatieL Photography
Saad Haddad Young Concert Artists
saadnhaddad.com 212 307 6657
Recently commissioned to write a clarinet concerto for Kinan Azmeh. Orchestral works performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and symphonies of Albany, Columbus, Milwaukee, and Sioux City. Photo by Dennis Christians
David Hertzberg Young Concert Artists
davidhertzbergmusic.com 212 307 6657
Co-commission by the New York Philharmonic and Mahler Foundation to premiere at the Philharmonic’s Mahler Grooves concert and 2020 Mahler Festival at the Royal Concertgebouw, under Jaap van Zweden.
Photo by Adam Moskowitz
Tonia Ko Young Concert Artists
toniako.com 212 307 6657
2018 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, praised by The New York Times for “vivid orchestral palette.” American Composers Orchestra commission. Works written for Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, So Percussion, Tanglewood. Photo by Matt Dine
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Chris Rogerson Young Concert Artists
chrisrogerson.com 212 307 6657
Commissioned for the Rogue Valley Symphony this season, continues as Amarillo Symphony artistic advisor. Works performed by San Francisco, Atlanta, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Houston symphonies, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Photo by Matt Dine
Derek Weagle Risanare Music
derekjweagle.com 508 736 8814
Derek’s artistic practice as a composer-conductor examines the human condition, telling stories through the unity of seemingly disparate styles and rituals to create a unique experience for many types of listeners. Photo by Tory Germann-Wesnofske
Conductors Daniel Cohen Opus 3 Artists danielcohenconductor.com 212 584 7500
Stephen Mulligan Opus 3 Artists stephenmulligan.com 212 584 7500
Jirí Rožen HarrisonParrott harrisonparrott.com 44 (0) 20 7229 9166
Tianyi Lu KDSCHMID tianyi-lu.com 44 20 7395 0910
Taavi Oramo HarrisonParrott harrisonparrott.com 44 (0) 20 7229 9166
Nil Venditti HarrisonParrott harrisonparrott.com 44 (0) 20 7220 9166
Ensembles Performing with Orchestra Merz Trio, Piano Trio Concert Artists Guild
merztrio.com 212 333 5200
Lee Dionne, piano; Brigid Coleridge, violin; Julia Yang, cello – Merz Trio is committed to passionate, original playing and thoughtfully curated programming. The Trio presents repertoire in both traditional recitals and multidisciplinary shows that present music alongside art from other disciplines.
Instrumentalists Hanzhi Wang, Accordion Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
“Dazzled all with her skills and musicianship” (Communities Digital News, Washington). Creston Accordion Concerto with the Palm Beach Symphony, also offering Piazzolla, J.S. Bach, Handel, Hovhaness, Gubaidulina, and Mozart concertos. Photo by Matt Dine
Jamal Aliyev, Cello Concert Artists Guild
jamalaliyev.com 212 333 5200
A globally recognized cellist, Jamal made his debut with BBC Proms in 2017. Highlight performances include appearances with the Royal Philharmonic at venues such as Wigmore Hall and Saffron Hall.
Instrumentalists (continued) Alexander Hersh, Cello Astral
astralartists.org 215 735 6999
Winner: Astral Auditions, New York International Artists Association, Ima Hogg, Schadt, Luminarts, Hellam Young Artist, Society of American Musicians, and Fischoff competitions. Soloist: Houston Symphony and the Boston Pops.
Jonathan Swensen, Cello Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Debuts this season with the Copenhagen Philharmonic, Phiharmonia Orchestra at Windsor Castle, and Sun Symphony Orchestra in Vietnam, and performs a reengagement with Denmark’s Aarhus Symphony Orchestra Photo by Matt Dine
Yoonah Kim, Clarinet Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
Hailed by The New York Times for her “inexhaustible virtuosity,” clarinetist Yoonah Kim is rapidly earning global recognition as a young artist of uncommon musical depth and versatility.
Ekaterina Skliar, Domra & Mandolin Astral
astralartists.org 215 735 6999
Winner: Astral Auditions, Kaleidoscope Instrumental Competition, “The Hope” International Music Competition. Soloist: Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Trans-Siberian Art Festival. Silver Medal Global Music Award for solo domra recording.
Xavier Foley, Double Bass Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Composed and performed in a double concerto, “For Justice and Peace,” co-commissioned and premiered by Carnegie Hall, the Sphinx Organization, and New World Symphony.
Photo by Vanessa Briceño
Anthony Trionfo, Flute Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Featured in dynamic educational residencies throughout the season, performs with the Salisbury Orchestra, and solos with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Alice Tully Hall and Edmonton and Stockton symphonies. Photo by Matt Dine
JIJI, Guitarist Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
Applauded by the Calgary Herald as “talented, sensitive…brilliant,” JIJI is an adventurous artist on both acoustic and electric guitar, playing traditional and contemporary classical music as well as free improvisation.
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Rachel Lee Hall, Harp Astral
astralartists.org 215 735 6999
Winner: Astral Auditions, Ima Hogg Competition. Soloist: Houston Symphony. Orchestral: Cleveland, Akron, Firelands, and Roanoke symphony orchestras.
Olivier Stankiewicz, Oboe Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Principal oboe and featured soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, performing and recording the Mozart Oboe Concerto with them for LSO Live. Performances with the Tokyo Sinfonietta and Monte-Carlo Philharmonic. Photo by Kaupo Kikkas
Mitya Nilov, Percussion Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
A passionate advocate for new music and one of the most dynamic percussionists of his generation, Mitya Nilov displays the depth, sincerity, and sensitivity of his distinctive musical voice.
Martin James Bartlett, Piano Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Winner of 2014 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. Performances with the Royal Philharmonic and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and also under conductors Sir Bernard Haitink and Kirill Karabits.
Photo by Kaupo Kikkas
Dominic Cheli, Piano Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
In reference to his rapidly advancing career, Dominic Cheli’s playing has been described as “spontaneous yet perfect, the best of how a young person can play.” –André-Michel Schub
Sean Chen, Piano Jonathan Wentworth Associates, Ltd
seanchenpiano.com 301 227 8205
American Pianists Award Winner, Cliburn Crystal Medalist, Annenberg Fellowship, from SubCulture to Concertgebouw, with symphonies from Phoenix to Philadelphia. A “million-volt smile” and a “formidable set of fingers” (Dallas Morning News).
Natalia Kazaryan, Piano Astral
astralartists.org 215 735 6999
Winner: Astral Auditions, Concours FLAME, Eastman Young Artists International Piano, Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin, and Second New York Piano competitions. Soloist: National, Harrisburg, and Ann Arbor symphony orchestras.
Instrumentalists (continued) Do-Hyun Kim, Piano Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
This season, Tchaikovsky Competition Winners’ Concert at the invitation of Valery Gergiev, Beethoven Concerto and Fantasia for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra with the Albany Symphony, Tchaikovsky with the Greenville Symphony. Photo by Matt Dine
Maxim Lando, Piano Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Performs the Beethoven Triple Concerto with violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Lynn Harrell, and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra this season. Past appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh and Vancouver symphonies. Photo by Matt Dine
Nathan Lee, Piano Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Mozart Concerto No. 12 with the Savannah Philharmonic this season. Previous performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Buffalo Philharmonic.
Photo by Matt Dine
Aristo Sham, Piano Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Performs Rachmaninov with the London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle, and with the Utah, Knoxville, and Eugene symphonies this season. Appearances with the English Chamber Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic/Edo de Waart. Photo by Matt Dine
Albert Cano Smit, Piano Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
First Prize at the 2017 Walter W. Naumburg Piano Competition, leading to a recital at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Concertos with the San Diego Symphony and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
Photo by Kaupo Kikkas
Yi-Nuo Wang, Piano Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
An active performer as a soloist in China, Europe and the United States, Yi-Nuo Wang has been featured as a soloist with many of the top orchestras around the world.
Tabea Debus, Recorder Concert Artists Guild
tabeadebus.com 212 333 5200
Tabea explores and expands the horizons of music for recorder and performs globally. Her current program is inspired by sight, hearing, and the passage of time, from Baroque to contemporary.
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Steven Banks, Saxophone Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Offers dynamic solo performances, and advocates for diversity and inclusion in music education through writing and lectures, including a TED Talk. Performances with the Durham and North Carolina symphonies. Photo by YCA
Brittany Lasch, Trombone Astral
astralartists.org 215 735 6999
Winner: Astral Auditions, S&R Washington Foundation Award. Second Prize: The American Prize. Soloist: Bucks County Symphony Society, U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Bowling Green State University Philharmonia. Principal: Michigan Opera Theatre. Photo by Ryan Brandenburg
Brandon Ridenour, Trumpet Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
Trumpet soloist, collaborator, composer, and arranger Brandon Ridenour combines his wide-ranging activities as a performer with his passion for composing and arranging, resulting in his distinctive artistic voice and vision. Photo by Jiyang Chen
Jordan Bak, Viola Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
Establishing a career as an artist of passion, energy, and authenticity, Jordan is a proud advocate of 20th and 21st century new music, frequently giving world premieres of viola works.
Benjamin Baker, Violin Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Strauss Concerto in a reengagement with the English Chamber Orchestra, performances with the English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia, and Long Bay Symphony.
Photo by Matt Dine
Randall Goosby, Violin Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Performances this season include the Bach Double Concerto with Itzhak Perlman and the Grand Rapids Symphony and appearances with the Hartford, Virginia, and Toledo symphonies.
Photo by Kaupo_Kikkas
Risa Hokamura, Violin Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Silver Medal, 2018 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, included Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Indianapolis Symphony/Leonard Slatkin. Recent “Violin Virtuosos” gala concert with the Greensboro Symphony, and Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra appearance. Photo by Matt Dine
Instrumentalists (continued) Luke Hsu, Violin lukehsuviolin.com International Violin Competition of Indianapolis 317 637 4574 10th Quadrennial Indianapolis Competition Bronze Medalist has performed with the Salzburg Soloists, Houston, Dallas, and Odense symphony orchestras. Upcoming performances include Silesian Radio, Wrocław, and Stavanger orchestras.
YooJin Jang, Violin Concert Artists Guild
concertartists.org 212 333 5200
Applauded by The Strad for her “fiery virtuosity” and “consummate performances,” versatile violinist YooJin is quickly becoming a household name as a soloist and chamber musician on multiple continents.
Photo by Marcella Prieto
Eunice Kim, Violin Jonathan Wentworth Associates, Ltd
eunicekimviolin.com 301 227 8205
Astral Artists Award, Milka Violin Artist Prize, appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Seongnam Philharmonic, and a recording with the Albany Symphony. Hailed as “just superb” (New York Times).
SooBeen Lee, Violin Young Concert Artists
yca.org 212 307 6657
Debuted with the Detroit Symphony this season, performs the Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Sibelius concertos throughout the country, recently appeared with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Alice Tully Hall.
Photo by Matt Dine
Richard Lin, Violin richardlinviolin.com International Violin Competition of Indianapolis 317 637 4574 10th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Gold Medalist. Season highlights include Indianapolis Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, National Symphony (Taiwan), and debut recital at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium.
Hannah Tarley, Violin Astral
astralartists.org 215 735 6999
Winner: Astral Auditions, New York Concerti Sinfonietta’s Shining Stars Competition. Third Prize: Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition. Soloist: San Francisco, Detroit, and Knoxville symphonies, Symphony Parnassus, Kiev Soloists.
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Drew Peterson Opus 3 Artists drewpetersonpiano.com 212 584 7500
Ronaldo Rolim Astral astralartists.org 215 735 6999
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Yekwon Sunwoo The Cliburn yekwonsunwoo.com 817 738 6536 Tony Sigi Yun Opus 3 Artists opus3artists.com 212 584 7500 SAXOPHONE Jess Gillam HarrisonParrott harrisonparrott.com 44 (0) 20 7229 9166 VIOLIN Francisco Fullana Sciolino Artist Management, LLC samnyc.us 212 721 9975 Katie Hyun Astral astralartists.org 215 735 6999 Tessa Lark Sciolino Artist Management, LLC samnyc.us 212 721 9975 Blake Pouliot Opus 3 Artists blakepouliot.com 212 584 7500 Danbi Um Astral astralartists.org 215 735 6999 Melissa White Sciolino Artist Management, LLC samnyc.us 212 721 9975 Noa Wildschut Harrison Parrott harrisonparrott.com 49 (0) 89 6797 1040
Vocalists Samuel Chan, Baritone Dean Artists
deanartists.com/samuel-chan 416 969 7300
“As Marcello, [Chan] offered a naturally produced, warm baritone and vivid acting” (La bohème, Canadian Opera Company). Bachelor of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory; Pacific Opera Victoria; Grand Philharmonic Choir; Saskatoon Opera.
Vartan Gabrielian, Bass-Baritone Dean Artists
deanartists.com/vartan-gabrielian 416 969 7300
Curtis Institute of Music; Canadian Opera Company Ensemble – Huntsman/Rusalka, Ramfis/Aida; Toronto Symphony; Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program; Opéra de Montréal, Sparafucile/Rigoletto; MetOpera Regional Finalist; Inaugural 2019 Gerda Lissner IVC Award.
Rebecca Cuddy, Mezzo-Soprano Dean Artists
deanartists.com/rebecca-cuddy 416 969 7300
“A heartfelt, beautifully sung and compellingly acted performance by Rebecca Cuddy” (Opera Ramblings). Royal Academy of Music, London; Regina Symphony; Tapestry Opera; Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Soundstreams; Vancouver Opera; Winnipeg Symphony.
Meghan Lindsay, Soprano Dean Artists
deanartists.com/meghan-lindsay 416 969 7300
“Shines with greater vocal strength and control…dazzles with her coloratura” (Opera News). Opera Studio Nederland; Glimmerglass; Houston Early Music; Odyssey Opera; Opera Atelier; Carnegie Hall; Royal Opera Versailles; Opera Columbus.
Christian Pursell Opus 3 Artists christianpursell.com 212 584 7500
Victoria J. Fox Cadenza Artists victoriajfox.com 310 896 8527
Alexandra Nowakowski Astral astralartists.org 215 735 6999
BARITONE David Castillo Cadenza Artists davidthesinger.com 310 896 8527
Chrystal E. Williams Astral astralartists.org 215 735 6999
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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 December 12, 2019. 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, 520 8th Avenue, Suite 2005, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10018. $150,000 and above
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The Amphion Foundation Alberta Arthurs Jennifer Barlament & Kenneth Potsic • Richard J. Bogomolny & Patricia M. Kozerefski Ann & Stan Borowiec Barbara Bozzuto NancyBell Coe, in honor of Jesse Rosen Martha and Herman Copen Fund of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Norman Eaker Daniel & David Els-Piercey Catherine French ✧ John & Paula Gambs Gary Ginstling & Marta Lederer Dietrich M. Gross Mark & Christina Hanson • Robert Kohl & Clark Pellett John A. and Catherine M. Koten Foundation † Mr. & Mrs. Dennis W. LaBarre † William M. Lyons David Alan Miller Anne Parsons & Donald Dietz †• The Alfred and Jane Ross Foundation Deborah F. Rutter † Michael J. Schmitz Laura Street
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. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown ✧ John & Janet Canning † Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek ✧ Melanie Clarke Bruce & Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund ✧ Gloria dePasquale Phillip Wm. Fisher Fund Marian A. Godfrey Marcia & John Goldman Margot & Paul Grangaard, in honor of Lowell & Sonja Noteboom Douglas & 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 & John Van Horn Tina Ward • † The Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation Anonymous (1)
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Jeff & Keiko Alexander Tiffany & Jim Ammerman † Gene & Mary Arner Dawn M. Bennett Beracha Family Charitable Gift Fund
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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 & Brenda E. Kee † John & Janet Canning † Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek ✧ Martha and Herman Copen Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Myra Janco Daniels Samuel C. Dixon • Henry & Frances Fogel ✧ Susan Harris, Ph.D. Louise W. Kahn Endowment Fund of The Dallas Foundation The Curtis and Pamela Livingston 2000 Charitable Remainder Unitrust Steve & Lou Mason † Lowell & Sonja Noteboom Charles & Barbara Olton † Peter Pastreich † Walter P. Pettipas Revocable Trust Rodger E. Pitcairn Patricia A. Richards & William K. Nichols Robert & Barbara Rosoff ✧ Robert J. Wagner Tina Ward • † Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster ✧ Robert Wood Revocable Trust Anonymous (1)
Benjamin Hoyer H.T. and Laura Hyde Charitable Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation † Sally & William Johnson Russell Jones & Aaron Gillies Emma Murley Kail • Sarah E. Kelly Anna Kuwabara & Craig Edwards • Jennifer Mondie Mr. Donald F. Roth † Dr. Lee Shackelford Joan Squires • Genevieve Twomey • † Directors Council (former League Board) ✧ Emeritus Board • Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni + Includes Corporate Matching Gift * Deceased
First Person Every issue of Symphony delivers the news about more than a hundred orchestras, musicians, administrators, board members, volunteers. The Coda page presents the perspectives of individuals from inside—or outside—the orchestra field. As we head into 2020, here’s a sample of what some of them had to say over the past few years.
f you are an arts organization, you are expected to be a leader in the culture. And that requires a big-picture kind of creativity beyond simply executing art. —Teddy Abrams, conductor
These days, so many people say that orchestras sound the same everywhere. It’s not true. —Leif Ove Andsnes, pianist Some of the skills you learn studying music and playing football are the same. In football, the players make it look easy. It’s the same with music. Great musicians make it look effortless. Once you start playing, or you’re on the field and moving, you realize that it isn’t easy. But as long as you keep practicing, you can get there. —Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants linebacker I am often asked if it’s hard to go from early training as a classical musician to play jazz, to go from something that is often quite codified to making music where it’s in the moment. Classical musicians have their rules, and we have our rules. We play the same instruments. I’d like to see more back and forth. —Ron Carter, jazz bassist The canon of American roots music and the body of classical music speak to our souls. With them, something resonates in your heart, in your soul, that never becomes irrelevant. If world peace ever happens, it will be because people played
their music to each other. It’s not going to be politicians. It will be artists. —Rosanne Cash, singer-songwriter The symphony orchestra is a major column at the core of our civilization, not a luxury or a special-interest art form. What could be more inspiring than 80-some dedicated musicians, focusing their lives of discipline generously and passionately to create something beautiful? —Ben Folds, singer-songwriter Film music is seeing a huge upswing in popularity right now, and that makes sense: for a majority of our audiences, movie scores are their first (and often only!) exposure to symphonic music. I’ve done a slew of films with live orchestra, and it’s great to see halls filled with film buffs enjoying symphonic music. —Sarah Hicks, conductor I generally use a computer when I compose. When I’m away from the computer, I write ideas down on the back of an envelope to help me remember. If I’m on my bicycle, I’ll stop my bike and just quietly sing something into my phone. —Gabriel Prokofiev, composer We created Chiragh–the South Asian Symphony Orchestra because we believe music speaks the language of peace. There is magic to music. It rises above the strife between nations. The right to music is a basic human right. —Nirupama Rao, diplomat
We can warm up classical music simply by taking it temporarily off the pedestal of our concert hall and relaxing with it. Doesn’t everyone deserve such beauty and pleasure? —Rick Robinson, bassist When I look at the tradition of classical music, I see a tradition of innovation. Music has constantly been evolving. I see a lot of effort to create new outreach, and one of the questions on so many people’s lips goes something like this: “How can we bring more people into the concert hall?” Perhaps we could start with a bigger question: “Where can we find more opportunities to share the music we love?” —Joshua Roman, cellist Public support for the arts does not come without serious relationship-building, case-making, and advocacy efforts. The arts have a way of transcending barriers and moving people in the most fundamental ways—and it’s through the support of our communities that we are able to succeed. —Melia Tourangeau, orchestra CEO The concert experience as we know it has flourished for a mere few hundred years, and for it to continue to thrive will require us to be creatively adaptive in transformational ways. But let’s remember that “tradition” and “traitor” have the same Latin root. Therein lays a warning: while undergoing necessary transformation, let us not betray the essence of our tradition. —Robert Spano, conductor To me, the arts are something in which one learns a lot about how to experience life more beautifully, more completely; how to understand more profoundly the experiences of other people. I’ve thought a lot about how to open up our world to people who haven’t spent their lives inside music. It seems to me that the new ways that television is interfacing with the Internet can be a part of the process. —Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor symphony
SAVE THE DATES! 2020 National Conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul Wednesday through Friday, June 10-12, 2020
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