symphony Fall 2011 n $6.25
The Magazine of
The League of American Orchestras
e h t at s s o r C
s d a ro The Economy: Is Your Orchestra Undercapitalized? Audience Demographics: The Changing Face of Pops Turnaround: Charting a New Course in Cleveland Artistic Vitality: New Contexts and Forums in San Francisco Technology: Proactive Strategies for Electronic Media Plus: Alec Baldwin on Why He Loves Classical Music
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f you’re wondering whether the cultural climate for orchestras is changing, consider this: you can now watch an orchestra concert—by some definitions the apogee of the live, grand, communal artistic experience—on your cell phone. Often for free. Every day, myriad apps are unleashed that put orchestras and classical music on your iPhone, Android, or other digital device. (Chatting with tech-obsessed friends about this magazine, their first question is always, can I read it on my iPad? Yes.) While all that’s great news for classical music being woven smoothly into the daily fabric of busy lives, it sometimes feels as if the non-virtual experience is turning into something quaintly called real life. But it’s the delivery method, not the core of the art, that’s shifting. The art of music-making remains difficult, disciplined, and deeply inspiring. This issue of Symphony looks at how orchestras are coping with today’s cultural and financial challenges. At the National Conference in June, League President and CEO Jesse Rosen delivered an address, “Orchestras at the Crossroads,” that tackled head-on the hard truths about audience demographics and the economy; we’ve got the entire speech starting on page 14. Following up on another Conference session, Rosen speaks with nonprofit finance expert Susan Nelson, who makes the surprising and counterintuitive case that arts organizations need to set aside money for artistic risk— even during a recession. Elsewhere, League electronic media consultants Joe Kluger and Michael Bronson argue that orchestras must devote the same attention to electronicmedia strategies that they do to financial and artistic imperatives. And we look at an unusual turnaround scheme, centennial plans that celebrate the community as much as the orchestra, and how the pops canon is being redefined.
The Magazine of The L e a g u e o f Am e r i c a n O r c h e s t r a s
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
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T he M aga z i n e of T he L eag u e of A me r ica n O r chest r as
2 Prelude by Robert Sandla
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6 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events 14 Orchestras at the Crossroads Orchestras must confront brutal truths regarding audience tastes and the economic climate. by Jesse Rosen 20 Critical Questions Susan Nelson and Jesse Rosen follow up their Red Alert! addresses from the League’s National Conference this June with a frank discussion of capitalization and financial planning.
20 Michael J. Lutch
26 Currents Why it is critically important for orchestras to have proactive electronic media strategies by Joe Kluger and Michael Bronson
The Changing Face of Pops Orchestras are building bridges to new audiences while redefining the pops canon. by Michael Stugrin
Eye on the Future As it turns 100, the San Francisco Symphony is going well beyond celebrating its accomplishments. by Steven Winn
Homes Away from Home Faced with changing demographics, the Cleveland Orchestra is transforming itself with a new business plan—and bringing its renowned sound to new cities. by Alicia Zuckerman
41 2011 Guide to Symphony Pops Advertisers
61 Advertiser Index
Art Streiber NBC
64 Coda Being the radio “voice” of a symphony orchestra is all in a day’s work for actor Alec Baldwin.
62 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund
about the cover
Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline at symphony.org.
During a period of prolonged economic and cultural upheaval, orchestras find themselves at a crossroads. Stories on pages 14, 20, 26, 32, 44, and 54 cover some of the ways orchestras are refocusing—in everything from pops programming and electronic media to community engagement and business planning. Cover photo by Andresr/Veer
SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry The
A New Attitude
League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen speaks to a packed audience at the Red Alert! session during the League’s National Conference in June.
The National Conference of the League of American Orchestras has long tackled the hot topics of the day, the front-of-mind concerns confronting orchestras. But this year’s Conference, which took place June 6-9 in Minneapolis, was characterized by new urgency and fresh candor. Central to the tone of the Conference, which attracted nearly 1,000 delegates, was League President and CEO Jesse Rosen’s keynote address, “Orchestras at the Crossroads,” a frank look at today’s tough issues. The speech generated media and blogger attention beyond the classical-music press for its confirmation of the challenges facing the orchestra field and for its suggestions of possible ways forward. In other sessions, finance authority Susan Nelson revealed provocative research about nonprofit capitalization; three orchestras explained how connecting with the under-40 generation is an essential priority; and experts reported that orchestras are under increasing pressure to make the case for their tax-exempt status—and showed what they can do about it. (The text of Rosen’s address is on page 14 of this issue of Symphony; a conversation between Rosen and Nelson appears on page 20.) Social-media guru Beth Kanter ventured beyond Facebook for her Networked Orchestra session, while the Churning Butter into Gold At the June 7 opening session built on the findings of the Audience Growth Initiative plenary session, (“Churn” study) to tackle the issue of sustainable support. The educator Katie Wyatt Conference opened with a prismatic look at innovation through challenged orchestras to better align artistic the eyes of three forward-thinking leaders: Larry Wendling of 3M mission with community spoke about that company’s quest for innovative products; Katie service. Wyatt, founder of KidZNotes, a music-education program in North Carolina based on El Sistema, spotlighted the impact orchestras can have on their communities for positive social change; and Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, challenged listeners to embrace innovation and risk-taking. Music, as always, was a centerpiece of the Conference, which was hosted by the Minnesota Orchestra and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Minnesota Orchestra in works of Kernis, Beethoven, and Sibelius on June 7, and Thomas Zehetmair led The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at a June 9
Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline at symphony.org.
concert of music by Schubert, Hartmann, and Haydn. Also featured were the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, performing together for the first time. In addition to the often provocative bigpicture sessions, the Conference offered a plethora of hands-on tools, resources, and approaches as well as chances to network. The main Conference was preceded by two days packed with Orchestra Leadership Academy Seminars, courses, meetings, and interactive learning. The Gold Baton, the League’s highest honor, was presented in memory of Fred Zenone, an iconic figure in the orchestra world who worked as an artist, activist, and advocate for musicians’ rights, and to American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio for their support of symphonic music. The award for Zenone, who passed away in October 2010, was accepted by his widow, Pat. The Helen M. Thompson Award, given in alternating years to early-career managers and music directors, went to Peter T. Kjome, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan. MetLife Governance Grants for Board Development were given to five orchestras; the Volunteer Council Gold Book Awards of Excellence recognized seven volunteer-led projects; and ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming were presented to 26 orchestras.
Conference Resources Toolkits, video, audio, and additional material from these and other Conference sessions are available free of charge at americanorchestras.org: Churning Butter Into Gold Creating a Passionate Environment for New Music Creativity in American Orchestras: Exploring the Outer Boundaries Public Value and Perception: Your Messaging Toolkit The Art & Science of Ticket Pricing Where Mission and Money Meet symphony
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The new orchestra rehearsal space at Curtis Institute of Music’s Lenfest Hall
Photos by © Tom Arban
The 2011-12 season has begun with the christening of major symphonic halls in Montreal and Kansas City and the opening of enhanced facilities in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
The new Maison symphonique de Montréal. Inset: MSO Music Director Kent Nagano and soloists on September 7
Maison symphonique de Montréal, Québec’s first dedicated orchestral venue and its first public-private cultural partnership, opened on September 7 with a Montreal Symphony Orchestra concert featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and works by Québeçois composers Claude Vivier, Gilles Tremblay, and Julien Bilodeau. Designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects with Aedificia Architects, the $259 million (Can.) 2,100seat facility features acoustics by Tateo Najima of Artec and an organ design by Casavant Frères and Jack Diamond. Also unveiled in September was the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., a $326 million facility for concerts, dance, theater, and opera designed by Moshe Safdie with sound design by Nagata Acoustics. Its 1,800-seat Muriel Kauffman Theatre opened September 16 with performances
by Plácido Domingo and Kauffman’s three resident companies: the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Inaugurated the following day, with a KCS concert featuring violinist Itzhak Perlman and jazz vocalist Diana Krall, was the center’s 1,600-seat orchestral venue, Helzberg Hall. The orchestra’s debut season in Helzberg opened September 23 with Respighi’s The Pines of Rome, pianist Emanuel Ax in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, and the world premiere of Chen Yi’s Fountains of Kansas City. Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre, managed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra through Music and Event Management Inc., reopened September 12 with an open house and a concert by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra under John Morris Russell. Improvements to the historic venue include larger seats, expanded restroom facilities, and eco-friendly air conditioning. The Taft will be home to the CSO during the 2013-14 season as Music Hall, its longtime regular venue, undergoes renovation. In its first major expansion in 20 years, Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music opened Lenfest Hall on September 6, doubling the size of its campus with a 105,000-square-foot building named in honor of Curtis Board Chairman H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. Amenities include a large orchestra rehearsal space, state-of-the-art recording and Internet2 capability, dining facilities, residences for more than 80 students, and 32 rooms for practice, teaching, and chamber-music rehearsal.
Now on SymphonyNOW
This past spring brought the launch of SymphonyNOW, a new online magazine dedicated to reporting on orchestras and classical music in a timely, topical fashion, not just with text and photos, but through video and audio as well. Subjects have ranged broadly, from Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival to Minnesota’s Mankato Symphony, from next-wave marketing tactics to Sting’s orchestral tour. Lively reader discussions about compelling topics like the role of music education in audience development and tweeting during concerts are featured regularly. Head on over to symphonynow.org to catch the latest scoop, and feel free to use the comment feature to add your voice to the discussion. americanorchestras.org
Musical Chairs The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has announced the election of JIM ABRAHAMSON as chairman. TALLY ADLER has been named executive director of the Idaho Falls Symphony Orchestra.
The Seattle Symphony has appointed EFE BALTACIGIL principal cello. LISA BRYINGTON BARR has been named executive director of Boston’s Longwood Symphony Orchestra.
At the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, NOAH BENDIX-BALGLEY has been appointed concertmaster, and LORNA McGHEE principal flute. has been named president and CEO of the Naples (Fla.) Philharmonic. ALAN HILFIKER has been elected chairman. KATHLEEN van BERGEN
The Tucson Symphony Orchestra has appointed ANDREW BIRGENSMITH executive director. BARBARA R. LEVY has been elected president of the board. JAY BLUMENTHAL has been named director of symphonic services and assistant treasurer of the American Federation of Musicians.
The Richmond (Va.) Symphony has announced the election of JOHN W. BRAYMER as chair.
Venues, New and Refurbished
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic has appointed JOSEP CABALLÉ-DOMENECH music director. Wisconsin’s Green Bay Symphony Orchestra has named donato cabrera music director.
has been promoted to music director at Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras.
The Richmond (Va.) Symphony has appointed concertmaster.
SUSAN COHEN and PETER PALANDJIAN have been elected co-chairmen of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Board of Overseers. BRUCE COPPOCK has been named managing director of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami Residency.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has appointed JONATHAN CROW concertmaster. EDWARD CUMMING has been named director of orchestral activities at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford.
The South Carolina Philharmonic has announced the election of WILLIAM O. DANIELSON as president. KENNETH W. DeFONTES JR. has been elected chair of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. BETH BUCK has been named vice president and chief financial officer, and CAROL BOGASH vice president of education and community engagement. Katharine Caldwell has been appointed director of philanthropic services. JOANN FALLETTA has been named principal conductor of Northern Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra.
Alabama’s Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra has named ADAM FLATT music director.
The Birmingham-Bloomfield (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed DANA GILL executive director.
has been named concertmaster of the Omaha Symphony. During the
SUSANNA PERRY GILMORE
Musical Chairs 2011-12 season she will hold that post concurrently with her concertmaster post at the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. At the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine, DEBORAH F. HAMMOND has been elected president. has stepped down as music director of the Elgin (Ill.) Symphony Orchestra after a 37-year tenure.
At the Seattle Symphony, JANE HARGRAFT has been named vice president for development, and TROY SKUBITZ promoted to director of Benaroya Hall. The Nashville Symphony has appointed JUN IWASAKI concertmaster. WILLIAM T. JOHNSON has been named executive director of the Greenville (S.C.) Symphony Association.
Marlboro at 60 The Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont celebrated 60 years in style this summer, with two photo exhibits in Vermont and a third at Lincoln Center in New York— plus seven new recordings and its first-ever reunion of 150 former participants, staff, and families. “Clemens Kalischer: Six Decades of Marlboro Music” at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (closing Oct. 23) comprises 49 images by photojournalist Clemens Kalischer, who has been covering Marlboro since 1956. “Six Decades of Marlboro Music” ran through August 14 at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont, just up the hill from the festival; “Marlboro
Music@60” at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center ran through August 20. Marlboro also marked 60 years with three new live recordings on the Marlboro Recording Society label (including the Beethoven Archduke Trio with alumni Mitsuko Uchida, Soovin Kim, and David Soyer) and four Sony CD releases, including Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica with alumni Peter Serkin and Richard Goode and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht with alumni Felix Galimir, Ernestine Briesmeister, Harry Zaratzian, Samuel Rhodes, Michael Grebanier, and Judith Rosen.
The Abilene (Tex.) Philharmonic has appointed HEIDI KELLEY executive director. has been named dean of Mannes College The New School for Music in New York City.
THEODORE KUCHAR , music
director and principal conductor of the Fresno Philharmonic, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, has been named to an additional post as artistic director and principal conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela. The Utah Symphony has appointed VLADIMIR assistant conductor.
has been named artistic director of the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra.
Francesco lecce-chong has been appointed assistant conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has appointed MARILYN LUCAS vice president for development. ARI SOLOTOFF has been promoted to executive vice president, and JANICE HAY to vice president for marketing. The LaGrange (Ga.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed DAVE MARLER executive director.
WARREN MARTIN has been elected chairman of Virginia’s Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.
The Seattle Symphony has appointed DEMARRE McGILL principal flute.
has been named vice president and general manager of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
California’s San Luis Obispo Symphony has announced the election of JUNE McIVOR as president.
has been appointed artistic director of the Young Musicians Foundation and YMF Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles.
The Westmoreland (Pa.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed DANIEL MEYER artistic director.
The San Francisco Symphony has named D. LANCE KING director of development.
Georgia’s Columbus Symphony Orchestra has appointed SARA KETCHAM executive director.
Above left: Softball game on the Marlboro campus, 1950s. Above right: Joshua Bell, Asako Urushihara, Richard Goode, Marlboro, 1989.
The Beat Goes On Do pops—like hope—spring eternal? That’s how it looks according to three new pops organizations. In Pasadena, California, conductor Rachael Worby has created a new pops ensemble with the name of Muse/ique. Worby concluded a decade as music director of the Pasadena Pops in 2010, and continues to guest conduct widely. Muse/ique debuted in July, with a concert at Caltech. Muse/ ique bills itself as “the orchestra for the iPod generation.” This spring, Matt Catingub was named artistic director and conductor of the Glendale Pops Orchestra, newly launched in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California. The group debuted with a May 13 concert in Glendale’s historic Alex Theatre. For its December holiday concert, the orchestra is seeking singers between the ages of ten and seventeen for the Glendale Pops Youth Chorus. And in July, Cirque Musica, a new pops production that incorporates original
Matt Catingub, artistic director and conductor of the new Glendale Pops Orchestra
compositions and works from classical and pops repertoire, made its debut with the San Diego Symphony. Cirque Musica’s creative team includes film and television composer Marcelo Zarvos; violinist and orchestral arranger Tracy Silverman; performer Bello Nock of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; and Stephen Cook, director of the Cooking Group and former chief marketing and entertainment officer at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. symphony
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The last issue of Symphony reported on reorganization efforts being undertaken by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra through Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and the dissolution of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and New Mexico Symphony JoAnn Falletta announcing formation of the Hawai’i Orchestra through Chapter 7 Symphony Orchestra, June 13 filings. Here’s an update. On September 7 the Philadelphia guidance from conductor JoAnn Falletta Orchestra Association and AFM Local and management assistance from 77 jointly filed a request for mediation Steven Monder, former president of the of their contract in U.S. Bankruptcy Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. At Court, having been unable to produce an press time no further details had been agreement through the Federal Mediation announced. and Conciliation Service. But the first of A renewal of symphonic activity this season’s free Neighborhood Concerts is underway in Syracuse, N.Y., and took place September 14, and at press Albuquerque, N.M., where the boards of time the orchestra’s October 13 Opening the Syracuse and New Mexico symphony Night Gala and Concert were scheduled orchestras individually voted last April to go on as planned, as were its Carnegie to liquidate their assets under Chapter Hall appearances in October, February, 7 bankruptcy filings. The Post-Standard April, and May. in Syracuse reported on August 7 that The Louisville Orchestra announced in Syracuse University was leading a “quiet mid-August that its reorganization plan effort” to re-establish a professional had been accepted by a U.S. Bankruptcy orchestra; no further details were Court judge, but subsequently cancelled available at press time. In Albuquerque, its October and November concerts due musicians and community members to continuing discord over renewal of its announced formation of the New Mexico collective bargaining agreement with the Philharmonic last May. Organizing musicians, which expired May 31. efforts are underway, with a website In Honolulu, a new organization promoting a Build the Future campaign known as the Hawai’i Symphony to “keep the Philharmonic riding the Orchestra has been formed with artistic wave into the future.”
The Long Road from Iraq to Germany This fall, 45 members of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq traveled to perform for the first time outside their home country when they and their conductor, Paul MacAlindin, made their debut at Germany’s Beethovenfest Bonn. The NYOI musicians, aged 18 to 28, joined orchestras in the festival that included the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Concerto Köln—a far cry from their first rehearsal in the Kurdish capital of Erbil in 2009, when guards marched down the halls with AK47s. NYOI’s “Transcending americanorchestras.org
Borders” concert at the Beethovenhalle on October 1 featured Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with soloist Arabella Steinbacher, plus Invocation and Desert Camel, newly commissioned works by, respectively, Kurdish composer Ali Authman and Arab composer Mohammed Amin Ezzat. National Youth Orchestra of Iraq is the brainchild of Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan; NYOI’s annual two-week summer session in Iraq aims to improve the level of playing and teaching in Iraq, where music education dwindled in the wake of the 2003 war.
Musical Chairs has been named senior vice president for development at the Oregon Symphony, and JIM FULLAN vice president for communications, marketing, and sales. PAUL MOREDOCK
The Youth Symphony of Kansas City has appointed STEVEN C. MURRAY executive director. PETER T. WITTE has been elected board president. DORIS J. NIPPS has been elected president of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.
The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has named TAMARA NUZZACI PARK executive director. The Duluth Superior (Minn.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed REBECCA PETERSEN executive director. has been appointed executive director of the Racine (Wis.) Symphony Orchestra.
The New York Youth Symphony has named executive director.
LOIS ROBINSON has been appointed executive director of the Shreveport (La.) Symphony Orchestra.
The Union Symphony (Monroe, N.C.) has appointed RICHARD ROSENBERG artistic director.
Troubled Orchestras Regroup
has been elected president of the Mid-Texas Symphony.
ELLEN M. SALYERS
The New York Philharmonic has appointed CASE and JOSH WEILERSTEIN assistant conductors.
has been named executive director of the Paducah (Ky.) Symphony Orchestra.
At the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has been promoted from assistant principal cello to principal cello. DARIUSZ SKORACZEWSKI
ANTHONY SPAIN , music director of Seattle’s Northwest Symphony Orchestra, has been named to a second post as music director of the Oregon East Symphony in Pendleton, Oregon.
Southern California’s New West Symphony has appointed NATALIA STANEVA executive director. The Stockton (Cal.) Symphony has named director of marketing and communications. JAN STANLEY
has been named executive director of New York City’s InterSchool Orchestras of New York.
The Nashua (N.H.) Symphony Association has elected LISA TOURANGEAU president.
ROBERT TREVIÑO has been appointed associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and William C. White assistant conductor.
The Huntsville (Ala.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed GREGORY VAJDA music director.
KEN WESLER has been named executive director of the York (Pa.) Symphony Orchestra.
The Walla Walla (Wash.) Symphony has appointed LEAH WILSON-VELASCO chief executive officer.
has been named music director of the Norwalk (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra.
Composer Steve Reich with members of the Kronos Quartet and So Percussion during his 75th-birthday concert at Carnegie Hall, April 30, 2011. Inset: Philip Glass
Phil + Steve = 150 There’s nothing “minimalist” about turning 75 with a plethora of premieres and other performances, but that’s what’s happening to two of the movement’s (reluctant) founders, Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Reich, who reached the milestone on October 3, was honored by Carnegie Hall in April with a concert featuring the Bang On A Can All-Stars, eighth blackbird, Kronos Quartet, and So Percussion performing the New York premieres of three recent works—2 x 5, Mallet Quartet, and WTC 9/11, a Carnegie co-commission—and Double Sextet. Carnegie turns to Glass on January 31—his birthday—when the
American Composers Orchestra gives the U.S. premiere of Glass’s Symphony No. 9, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Bruckner Orchester Linz. The following month, the Park Avenue Armory honors Glass in its second Tune-In Festival, featuring the world premiere of a work by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell inspired by Glass muse Allen Ginsberg’s poem Kaddish, with artist Ralph Steadman providing visual designs. Also on the festival: longtime Glass collaborator Patti Smith; the Philip Glass Ensemble performing his Music in Twelve Parts; and the composer’s Another Look at Harmony.
Classical music is increasingly being used to promote healing, health, and wellness, and one orchestra that has been active in this area since 2005 is the Madison Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin, which operates HeartStrings, a music-therapy-based program for people in Dane County with developmental disabilities, long-term illnesses, and dementia. A string quartet of MSO musicians presents monthly interactive sessions for participants, caregivers, family members, and staff at partner locations, where they lead activities to improve motor skills and social interaction, as well as relaxation. In January 2012, the orchestra will release a HeartStrings toolkit at its website. The toolkit, developed with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Society for the Arts in Healthcare, is Madison Symphony Orchestra Co-Concertmaster Suzanne Beia, violinist Laura Burns, Principal Violist intended to assist orchestras and arts Chris Dozoryst, and Principal Cellist Karl Lavine work organizations with setting up similar at a retirement facility in Madison, Wisconsin, as part of the orchestra’s HeartStrings program. programs in their own communities.
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Sounds of Healing
Orchestras Remember 9/11 One of the ways communities came together following the September 11, 2001 attacks was through memorial concerts by orchestras. As millions of Americans marked the tenth anniversary of 9/11 this September, orchestras again paid tribute with richly diverse programs of new works and classics. There were familiar pieces like Barber’s Adagio for Strings, the Mozart Requiem, and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls—written in response to the attacks and premiered in 2002 by the New York Philharmonic—has itself become a classic and was performed from Illinois, Florida, and New York to Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Some orchestras marked the ten-year anniversary by commissioning new works, including Pierre Jalbert’s Shades of Memory by the Houston Symphony and John Corigliano’s One Sweet Morning by the New York Philharmonic (a co-commission with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra). Others were grand events, like “Massachusetts Remembers,” a two-hour concert and ceremony featuring the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble and Boston Children’s Chorus. On display at that event (pictured left) was a giant mural of the American flag created by Massachusetts schoolchildren shortly after September 11. In Europe, the Pittsburgh Symphony performed Mahler’s Fifth Symphony during its European tour, participating in Berlin’s commemorative ceremony. For a list of selected 9/11 orchestral performances from September through November, visit americanorchestras.org.
Barlines Behind Bars
The positive effect of El Sistema music training on youngsters in Venezuela’s slums has created quite a stir, but in the town of Coro, orchestral music has even made its way into a prison. Thanks in part to the efforts of Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra alumnus Lenin Mora, some 300 inmates at the Coro prison participate in daily music-making, whether learning to play an instrument or singing in choir. Mora initially met with resistance since officials feared instruments could be used as weapons, but, he told BBC News, “Inmates look after their instruments because they see it as their responsibility.” Inmate Elisaul Silas, 23, calls his role as concertmaster “a very big responsibility, and if they had the confidence in me to choose me for this role, it makes me want to keep moving forward.” Prison governor Abel Jimenez noted a huge improvement in the inmates. As of September, the program was operating in six additional prisons, and expected to expand to three more. Organizers hope it will eventually be part of life at all 33 of Venezuela’s prisons.
Fall typically means “new” things at orchestras—a new season, new personnel, and yes, often new works. To keep readers informed of imminent premieres, Symphony surveyed member orchestras of all shapes and sizes. In the face of a challenging economy, orchestras reported 210 world, 29 U.S., and 4 Canadian premieres this year, which speaks volumes about creative vitality across the continent. You’ll find the list of 2011-12 premieres—organized by orchestra and composer name—under the Symphony heading at americanorchestras.org, along with lists from the nine previous seasons. americanorchestras.org
25 X 125 in Seattle
The Northwest Symphony Orchestra, based in King County south of Seattle, marks a quarter century with a “25 X 125” season—25 years, 125 composers—that continues the orchestra’s longstanding commitment to music created in the Pacific Northwest. The number of Northwest composers performed by the NWS in its history actually hits 126 during the 2011-12 season, which gets underway October 28 with a Family Concert featuring Matthew James Briggs’s Halloween March, the first of seven world premieres to be presented by the orchestra in 2011-12. Under Music Director Anthony Spain, its founding conductor, the NWS has garnered seven awards for adventurous programming from ASCAP.
Music Director Anthony Spain leads the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.
Talk to Us If you have any questions about the League, here’s how to get in touch. Advocacy • 202-776-0214 Development • 646-822-4066 Executive Office • 646-822-4062 Learning and Leadership Development • 646-822-4091 Marketing and Membership Development • 646-822-4080 Public Relations • 646-822-4077 Research and Development • 646-822-4004 Symphony • 646-822-4041
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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:
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12:21 PM f a l l 2 0 9/4/05, 11
he League’s 66th National Conference in the Twin
consultant Susan Nelson of the nonprofit consulting and
Cities this June shone a light on both the tough chal-
research group TDC presented specific suggestions for
lenges orchestras are confronted with today and on ways
improving orchestra financial management, drawn from
they can innovate. Major presentations by Deborah Borda,
her analysis of the Philadelphia cultural community.
president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Larry
Because of the strong interest generated by these
Wendling, vice president for Corporate Research Lab at
two presentations, we are reprising them in this issue of
3M, and Katie Wyatt, founder of an El Sistema-inspired
Symphony. Below you will find Jesse Rosen’s remarks,
music education program in North Carolina, set a provoc-
Orchestras at the Crossroads, in their entirety. These are
ative and stimulating tone for the gathering.
followed on page 20 by an interview with Susan Nelson in
During the mid-week plenary session, League Presi-
which she summarizes the key points of her presentation.
dent and CEO Jesse Rosen gave an unusually candid as-
You can also watch videos of Jesse Rosen’s and Susan
sessment of the current state of the field. He proposed
Nelson’s Conference presentations at the League’s You-
some ways orchestras can remain vital and relevant in our
changing culture. Following Rosen’s address, financial
Orchestras at the Crossroads
American orchestras today must confront some brutal truths regarding audience tastes and the economic climate. But there is a wealth of opportunity for orchestra leaders who can put things in perspective and think creatively. by Jesse Rosen History was made this past March 20th in an event that signals profound change— positive change—for our industry and the entire music world. That is when the 101 musicians of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra representing 33 countries played to a combined global online audience of more than 33 million people, with nearly three million of them watching on their mobile phones. The concert shattered the previous record of 11 million set by … a U2 concert. Such an astonishing success clearly shows that when it comes to orchestras, the socalled digital divide can be bridged.
But as we all know, that great event alone is not sufficient to erase the sobering realities in our field today. We all love to celebrate our triumphs, but as we gather here in the Twin Cities, it is important that we also focus frankly on the state of music in America, on our industry, and on how it can not only succeed but also thrive. The well-publicized reality is that there are increases in deficits, bankruptcies, and closings. I do not relish repeating, but it is important that we all recognize the harsh facts that include:
League President and CEO Jesse Rosen addresses delegates at the League’s 2011 National Conference in Minneapolis. His speech is reproduced here.
The average orchestra deficit in 2005 was $193,000. Just four years later, in 2009, it had skyrocketed to $697,000.
In 2008, half of orchestras reported deficits. The very next year, 2009, that segment increased to more than two-thirds.
Yes, I am the first to acknowledge that this general downward spiral has been in the midst of the second-worst economic symphony
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collapse in modern world history. But many signs suggest that for orchestras, this crisis simply accelerated existing, long-term negative trends. Detroit, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Honolulu, New Mexico, and Louisville are all examples of organizations with a past history of fragility dating well before the Great Recession of 2008. Waiting in the wings are more potentially critical situations that have not yet erupted—but could at any time. The current problems are not cyclical problems. The recession has merely brought home and exacerbated the long-term structural problems that many orchestras have been facing for some time. The data clearly show that over the last 25 years, while orchestras were adding concerts and increasing costs, per-concert attendance and sales revenue were declining every year. While it is not comforting, orchestras are not alone in feeling the pain. We are a microcosm of what is happening all over the world. Tremendous global upheavals are leaving virtually every sector challenged to change, to adapt in order to keep up and stay ahead of the curve. And as with airlines, newspapers, and health care, moving forward for us does not include the option of going back. I also note that not all orchestras are hurting. Our smaller-budget orchestras tend to be more nimble; a few very large orchestras are weathering the near-term challenges; and our youth orchestras, though not immune, operate on an entirely different business model. But the rest—I am talking here about some in Group 1 extending well into Group 4—are in various stages of challenge and crisis, and on so many levels their situation affects all of us. It is clear to me—and I think to most of you—that our current situation calls for urgent action, for robust innovation and meaningful change. The first step on that path is to look candidly at our real circumstances, or as management guru Jim Collins would say, confront our brutal truths. We must start by confronting five key facts: americanorchestras.org
Fact One: Decreasing Income and Rising Costs Classical music participation has declined 29 percent over the past 20 years, and the arts’ share of all charitable giving has continued downward, now reaching its lowest level since 1998. Corporate donors in particular have been deserting the arts sector at a dramatic rate. During the same 20-year period, corporate philanthropy declined by 50 percent! Meanwhile, orchestra costs have continued to rise faster than revenue. Audiences are moving away from subscriptions,
The current problems are not cyclical problems. The recession has merely brought home and exacerbated the long-term structural problems that many orchestras have been facing for some time. While it is not comforting, orchestras are not alone in feeling the pain. We are a microcosm of what is happening all over the world. buying at the last minute, and making fewer purchases per household. Our various attempts at greater community engagement have thus far only increased our costs, not our earned revenues. Fact Two: Donor Fatigue National and local institutional funders and individual donors are telling us that they question continued investment in orchestras. Many foundations have stopped funding orchestras because they are not seeing a return on their philanthropic investment. They are expressing frustration and doubt that the institutions can be sustained without fundamental change. Fact Three: Our Commitment to Performance Excellence Is Not Enough Quality at the highest level still matters, but striving for, even achieving, a worldclass ranking is no guarantee of a vital and secure future. As the headlines have said
in recent weeks, none of our orchestras, theaters, or opera companies are too big or too important to fail. Fact Four: Stagnant Product Delivery The YouTube Symphony experience proves there is enormous appetite for our music. But musicians, managers, and conductors are not moving fast enough to meet the public’s demand for new forms of the orchestral experience. Meanwhile, most collective bargaining agreements reflect this failure. They should promote innovation rather than discourage it. Fact Five: Lack of Diversity and Broad-Based Support Orchestras, as large community-supported nonprofit institutions, continue to maintain workforces that are 98 percent white—and audiences that also generally lack diversity—despite orchestras’ efforts to broaden representation. Yet by 2020, the United States will be 55 percent non-white. Collectively, these are daunting concerns. My job—our job at the League—is to not only help orchestras face up to these challenges, but to find creative ways to effectively address these and other challenging realities so we can overcome the obstacles and focus on growth and development—to move from fragility to vitality and to understand that the status quo is far more scary than change. Andy Warhol put it well when he said, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” As I noted earlier, this counter-offensive begins with candor. Let me take us back to 2005, when I met with leaders of some large-budget orchestras to review an early draft of the League’s strategic plan. They were troubled that we referred to “declining audiences.” The objection wasn’t on factual grounds, but that we were preparing to announce it to the world, which is exactly what we did. And when credible new data documenting our audience challenges emerged in 2009, the League made sure that everyone in our field knew about it, understood it, and, most importantly,
was prepared to take action. Many of us began to address the findings, and two years later, nobody in orchestras is living in a state of denial regarding audience challenges. Accompanying this new recognition is not only an unprecedented amount of testing of new approaches to audience development,
but some successes. So, the lesson learned and practiced here is that acknowledging the problem is an essential precursor to innovation. Now, let me suggest three things that orchestra leadership teams—managers, boards, and musicians—must do to help crash-proof their orchestras:
Orchestra Management Fellowship Program The League’s premier leadership training program
Designed for experienced professionals who aspire to careers as executive directors of American orchestras. Includes a $40,000 stipend and residencies at the Aspen Music Festival and School and two American orchestras. For more information, visit americanorchestras.org
The Orchestra Management Fellowship Program is made possible by support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, alumni of the Fellowship Program, and by host orchestras.
First Priority: Understand and Take Responsibility for Your Orchestra’s True Financial Condition Working to balance the budget is simply not enough. Our boards and executive leaders must acknowledge that weak and fragile fiscal infrastructure is crippling orchestras’ ability to deliver on their missions. When all our energy is consumed by eliminating deficits and creating shortterm fixes, it can be daunting to innovate and change. Trustees must understand not just the operating budget but all the capitalization requirements, as we will hear from Susan Nelson. They must be transparent, and insure that all stakeholders understand the numbers and the implications. And the board must take responsibility for supporting management in making the oftenpainful decisions that lead to financial health on both the cost and revenue sides. Naturally, collective bargaining plays a big role here. While there has been a lot of blame directed at one side or another, let us remember that the goal of bargaining is to reach a durable agreement. It is the board’s responsibility to stop short of agreeing to terms it cannot afford. And while it is appropriate and expected that musicians seek to gain as much as they can, it is not reasonable to push boards to accept terms that the organization cannot support. Governance continuity is key because our boards need to be able to focus as much on the future as on the near-term financial position. So it is critical that board chairs stay in place for longer than the one- or two-year terms that are typical. I am taking on the term-limit debate because we have a shared and long-term responsibility to these orchestras we love that goes beyond the limits of our individual terms. Second Priority: Realign with Community Needs Many orchestras today are experiencing the tension between a long, successful tradition of excellence and quality, and an increasing need to serve a wider crosssection of their communities. And while symphony
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community work may not translate directly into higher earned income, sustaining and growing it has never been more important as funders and governments make tough choices about how to allocate scarce resources, and challenge the public value that orchestras create. As our colleague Bruce Coppock succinctly put it, “Telling the community how important and famous you are is very different than inspiring the community to support you because of how invaluable you are.” In the Summer 2011 issue of Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Principal Violist Robert Levine goes so far as to write, “Getting community engagement right will involve orchestras rethinking themselves from top to bottom as cultural
Many orchestras today are experiencing the tension between a long, successful tradition of excellence and quality, and an increasing need to serve a wider cross-section of their communities. service agencies rather than high-end entertainment companies.” That is indeed a big change, but again, it is already happening. The Bay-Atlantic Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Elgin Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Longwood Symphony, Madison Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and Utah Symphony all are partnering with healthcare organizations to offer programs and experiences that promote healing through music. Figuring out how to bridge excellence and community service is complicated and time-consuming work. And that is why I would not recommend starting the conversation at the bargaining table. Instead, start with understanding the unique assets of the musicians in your orchestra and the unique needs of your community. These will be different in every instance. Third Priority: Foster Creativity If we are to be a creative art form, not just a re-creative one, then we must work to americanorchestras.org
attract creative people, as well as nurture the gifts of those already in our orchestras. We need to be asking, “What kind of talent must we include to create the musical experiences that will usher in the next generation of people who passionately want us in their lives?” Young entrepreneurial musicians, some of them in our orchestras, are finding a following with audiences and funders by performing in small and often unlikely venues. They may cross genre boundaries, or simply rethink their approaches to traditional repertoire, but they thrive on intimacy and audience engagement. If we want this next generation of creative artists involved with our orchestras—and I think we do—then our current audition system needs to change to embrace a broader range of talents than just superb musicianship and technique. We can all take a page out of the collegiate performing arts playbook. At Stan-
ford, the University of North Carolina, and Dartmouth, to name a few, the concert series are woven tightly into contemporary campus-wide themes established in the humanities and sciences curricula. Tolerance, the class system in America, and capital punishment are among these themes. Surely our repertoire—current and still to be written—deserves a place at this exciting and emerging table. The good news is that here, too, change is afoot. Four orchestras—the Pacific Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, and Louisville Orchestra— have created a multi-year collaboration to integrate humanities themes with their performances. The project has just been awarded a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an encouraging reminder that money does follow vision. And what greater display of vision in our field than the recent Spring
January 4–13, 2012 New York City
It’s orchestra boot camp. Managing an orchestra today takes strength, dedication, perseverance and a passion for music. Essentials of Orchestra Management is a ten-day journey that will prepare you for the challenges orchestras are facing today and tomorrow. Arming yourself with the vital skills you need to be a great leader is the foundation for a great organization. While orchestra management will be the toughest job you’ll ever love, Essentials is what you need to excel. Only the truly passionate need apply by November 1, 2011. Visit americanorchestras.org for more details. Seminar Directors: Brent Assink, executive director, San Francisco Symphony; Deborah Rutter, president, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra Leadership Academy Seminars are made possible by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., and National Endowment for the Arts.
for Music festival at Carnegie Hall? Seven orchestras big and small, one after the other, offering original programs, every seat priced at $25. There was only one blockbuster, only one piece written before the twentieth century. And people came— lots of them.
• Strengthening Fiscal Planning and Infrastructure • Realigning with Community Needs • Fostering Creativity These are three big but necessary tasks. And they cannot be accomplished without everyone’s participation. In the Summer 2011 Symphony article mentioned above, Robert Levine also points out that “orchestras are not, and should not be, run primarily for the benefit of musicians. But musicians benefit the most from orches-
tras succeeding.” He says of the changing climate, “Musicians’ only chance to have that change not be to their detriment is to actively participate in designing the changes.” And he encourages them to not wait until the orchestra is already in trouble—because that is too late. During my visits with orchestras across the country, I have been privileged to see many instances where musicians and managers work together with mutual respect to solve tough problems. Rather than pointing fingers at one another, we owe it to our audiences and supporters to try to better understand each other’s positions and develop a path forward before reaching the bargaining table. Failure to do so only creates a lose-lose scenario that none of us can afford. This is not an easy time to be working in our field. I want to acknowledge that everyone in this room is on a journey that is demanding tremendous courage and
sacrifice. My comments today are not intended to single anyone out, but rather to remind us all that we are at a crossroads as a field, and we all have a critical choice to make. Will we seize this moment to creatively build a strong future? Or will we continue to cling to the status quo, envisioning the road ahead through a rear-view mirror? As we answer that question, we must be honest with ourselves and not let ourselves off the hook. Nothing less than the future of our field is at stake, and there is no time to waste. I hope you will agree that now is the time to embrace change and innovation, and create a vibrant future for orchestral music. The League is here to help. We are keeping these priorities at the forefront of all that we say and do. I pledge that we will work with you in every way we can to support your individual goals. And together we will achieve our shared vision for America’s orchestras.
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Capital Thinking As part of the Red Alert! plenary session at the League’s National Conference in June, Susan Nelson of TDC offered provocative new ideas about how orchestras might rethink their finances. Here, League President and CEO Jesse Rosen and Nelson further explore the latest thinking on capitalization, holistic financial planning, and why risk is essential for orchestras.
Jesse Rosen: Why has capitalization now come to the fore? We seem to have spent a long time living with an acceptance that performing arts organizations are undercapitalized and so be it—we’ll make the best of it. In the last few years, there’s been a lot of attention paid to capitalization, capital structure, and attempts to help arts organizations achieve better balance sheets and better capital structure. What has changed? What’s making all this happen now? Susan Nelson: I think that there are two reasons, and the first ties to the second. Over time, orchestras and other performing arts organizations have seen a diminution of their actual balance sheet— their net worth—because expenses have outstripped revenues. Over time, they’ve eroded their baseline financial support, which might not have been sufficient, but it was at least there over time. This leads to another, more critical issue of why people are caring about capitalization. And that is: audience behaviors are shifting, which has changed participation and people’s patterns of how they purchase and give. We went through this huge expansionary phase; we couldn’t quite keep up; we posted some losses; and we’ve had an audience change and in some cases a generational shift or just competition. Because we allowed our balance
sheets to erode over the last few years, we aren’t prepared to address those shifts. And because of that, we find ourselves really cash-strapped. So funders, stakeholders, and people who care about the arts are looking for innovation and change—yet none of the organizations are financially prepared to do that. When you dig under the hood, you really understand the capital structures aren’t there. So it’s this expense-versus-
“In Philadelphia, we looked at the financial structure of more than 150 organizations. We found in the top level that over 75 percent of the folks in our sample were dangerously undercapitalized.” revenue pattern that when you look underneath is really about audience change and acceptance of what they’ll pay for. Then you say, “Are we prepared to create new and interesting products that meet our audiences where we live?” And we say, “No, because our balance sheets aren’t ready.” Funders are interested in why people aren’t reaching their audiences. They are worried that we are in a time of major shift and want to see innovation and change—but they can’t figure out what’s happening.
Rosen: When you say erosion of the balance sheet, what does that mean? What are the indicators of an eroding balance sheet? Nelson: When you look at your unrestricted-fund balance and see that number getting smaller, that’s an indication that you probably have less and less cash. An eroding balance sheet really means that the amount of money that is yours over time to do with what you want—the unrestricted portions of which you can invest in yourself or you can pay payroll with or you can cover unexpected dips in the economy—that number’s getting smaller and smaller. That’s made even harder when balance sheets also show increasing debt, so when that unrestricted-fund balance number gets smaller and debt gets larger, organizations have less and less cash available for anything they might need to do that’s new or different, but more importantly, to cover any bumps in the road. And there have been quite a few bumps in the road recently that have exposed the need for cash. Rosen: And just to be clear, what is meant by capitalization? Nelson: Capitalization is the cash assets that you need to actually do your business, to deliver your mission. We’re talking about working capital, day-to-day cash to pay your bills, and operating reserves for the big, rainy day that a funder unexpectedly pulls out or something happens with your audience that you’re not expecting—how much money you have set away to cover big changes. For people who have buildings, you need capital reserves or building reserves for roof leaks or if the air conditioning goes down. For a symphony
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Susan Nelson, principal at TDC, discusses nonprofit capitalization at the June 8 Red Alert! plenary session of the League’s 2011 National Conference.
lot of institutions with an economic model that needs a long-term view, endowment is an important part of capitalization. Rosen: Can you share a few of the highlights of what you learned in your Getting Beyond Breakeven study of Philadelphia-area arts organizations about their capital needs? Nelson: Sure. In Philadelphia, we looked at the financial structure of more than 150 organizations that had been working with their funders probably for the better part of ten years. We found in the top level that over 75 percent of the folks in our sample were dangerously undercapitalized. They didn’t have even baseline operating reserves or working capital at sufficient levels—many people had less than two weeks of operating cash. There were, however, many people breaking even year-to-year—they just weren’t getting ahead. We asked why they weren’t better capitalized. One of the assumptions we had going in was that people didn’t know that they need capital and that they need to be well capitalized to move ahead. We learned that while people might not have had the technical explanations about capitalization, they were really clear that they needed more cash to do the things they needed to do, and that there were a lot of things standing in the way of their doing that, such as the incentives in the system, the ways they worked with their boards and their funders, and theories about whether or not it was good to have cash on the americanorchestras.org
balance sheet or not. People told us they needed risk capital, operating reserves, and building reserves, but described how hard it was to get it in this current environment and how there were not a lot of venues to talk about it. Rosen: Where would the opportunity be for them to get out of that stuck place, this treadmill of breaking even but not getting ahead? Nelson: The way out is planning for and creating surpluses in ways that are meaningful, and changing the way you think about planning that allows you to
“A lot of people in our sample were not planning correctly—they hadn’t done a lot of external looking at their environment or at what their audiences would want or what their marketplace would look like.” actually do that. A lot of people in our sample were not planning correctly—they had done a lot of planning, but on a very internal basis. They hadn’t done a lot of external looking at their environment or at what their audiences would want or what their marketplace would look like. One thing we thought about is how do you create a realistic plan, how could we give people the tools to go back to the people who really want to be their supporters and talk about this capital need in a realistic way?
Rosen: One observation you made is this notion of placing the capitalization conversation into a wider context that relates it to market and mission, with the understanding that being well-capitalized is what one does in order to have the capacity to deliver on mission. And that in order to understand how to make that work, there has to be planning that looks at the marketplace and the resource needs, as well as resource capacities. Could you talk about what you referred to as integrated, holistic planning? Nelson: When we think about planning—about how you look at your overall capitalization needs—we are talking about how you do strategic planning differently. We often see with marketplace analysis that people, instead of looking at their own market, benchmark attendance and donor behavior in other markets. We find that to be dangerous, because all markets are local, economic conditions vary from city to city, and competition—a huge part of the marketplace—varies from city to city. Other things you want to look at are what are your drivers: how flexible are you, how flexible are you in your ability to meet change, change your programming, meet your daily budget, your yearly budget, your daily cash needs? And with flexibility we look at what we call business drivers. One is your audience: what do you need to do in order to meet your audience’s needs? Second, what do you have to do if you have a facility that adds more cost and less flexibility? And third, what if you have high fixed cost? Those three core drivers really matter. If you have all three of those drivers, you’re much less flexible in your yearly budgeting. If you have only one of those drivers, like audience, you’re a lot more flexible. We also think about your long-term vision, your timeline. Are you more of a 20- to 30-year vision about being part of your community, or are you an artistic venture of one person’s vision? The longer you see your timeline, the less flexibility you have in the marketplace. Mission, marketplace, business drivers, your time horizon—those things really matter.
Resources The League of American Orchestras and other organizations offer resources for orchestra professionals wishing to become more knowledgeable about capitalization and integrated planning. The complete Getting Beyond Breakeven study, written by Susan Nelson about the capitalization needs and challenges of Philadelphia-area arts and culture nonprofits, is available in the Publications section of the TDC site, tdcorp.org. A live video of the June 8 Red Alert! plenary session at the League’s National Conference, featuring Jesse Rosen, Susan Nelson, and Steve A. Wolff, founding principal of AMS Planning and Research, may be viewed in the 2011 Conference section of the League’s website, americanorchestras. org, and on the League’s YouTube site. A PDF of Susan Nelson’s presentation at the 2011 Conference is available for download on the League’s website. Visit the Learning and Leadership Development section of the League website, americanorchestras.org, and click on Learning Online for Finance and Governance materials developed to help orchestras in these financially challenging times. These resources, including
We try to then create an integrated program plan, operational plan, and a capitalization structure. How much money and what kind of buckets do you need to make all that work? That’s what we mean when we talk about integrated planning. It’s a very external and internal look at where you stand in order to move it forward.
on-demand webinars, ebooks, audio interviews, and more, are available for low or no cost to League members. The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s free “Assessing Your Financial Health” selfassessment tool, available on the League website and at nonfprofitfinancefund.org, is a simple worksheet that addresses core areas of nonprofit finance and helps to identify strengths and weaknesses. The “Dealing with Changing Times” section of the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s website includes tips to help navigate the financial crisis. The Urban Institute has information about balance sheets and how to set up reserves for nonprofits. The National Center for Charitable Statistics’ website, nccs.urban.org, has an “Operating Reserve Policy Toolkit for Nonprofit Organizations” that makes a case for operating reserves and suggests policies, practices, and tools. The Kresge Foundation has a wealth of information about capitalization at its website, kresge.org.
buildings that they need to think about. Everybody, of course, has an audience.
Rosen: To what degree do you think the Philadelphia organizations you studied are a proxy for symphony orchestras?
Rosen: Our member orchestras range from those with budgets nearing $100 million down to volunteer operations. Do you think there is anything unique for smaller-budget orchestras—say, a million dollars and down—that should be highlighted with respect to the capital structure and the framework you work with?
Nelson: They’re very much a proxy for symphony orchestras. We look at organizations in multiple cities, and we keep coming up with the same kind of profile. A lot of orchestras have high fixed cost and need to think about their audiences differently. Some orchestras have
Nelson: No, I don’t think there is a lot of difference, except sometimes smallerbudget organizations have more flexibility about how they can change the budget— that depends on how high their fixed costs are. Larger organizations with much higher fixed costs, more buildings, and
more complicated business structures need a lot more in each of the buckets we’ve been talking about. But small organizations still need money in their buckets. It’s just a question of how much. Rosen: This concept of being well capitalized—which suggests creating surpluses, having multiple buckets of financial resource, not only for unexpected negative events but also for innovation and risk capital—all of this sounds like
“We’ve seen people, even in these stressful times, figure out how to start capitalizing their business, and the number-one thing I would say they do is focus on the core of what they need to do.” we need a lot more money. Here we are in this moment of tremendous stress on the resources that have traditionally been available, where there’s less money, so how do we square this? Nelson: We’ve seen people, even in these stressful times, figure out how to start capitalizing their business, and the number-one thing I would say they do is focus on the core of what they need to do. They make sure that there’s no extraneous work being done and they do that through planning, looking at their marketplace, and saying where is the best for them to be, thinking hard about focusing their budget, controlling their cost. To that end, you can find ways, believe it or not, to streamline your cost structure and streamline your organization, which helps with capitalization. The other piece is about having a different set of conversations with your funders about how you get dollars in your system around risk and change. One of the things I heard from funders across the country, and from individual supporters, is that people really want organizations to have impact with their audiences, and they really want change, and that requires some risk capital. That’s not a conversasymphony
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tion we’re having really well with funders. We have focused our businesses, we’ve made them as lean and mean as we possibly can, but we still need risk capital. There’s a way to have a different set of conversations with funders, and that’s one thing we can do to move forward in these times, because people still want impact and they want more people to love the performing arts—that’s why they give them money.
Defining capital: Susan Nelson outlines different resource areas in this slide from her Conference presentation, which drew on findings from her study Getting Beyond Breakeven.
Rosen: You mentioned having a different kind of conversation with funders— talking about risk capital. Where does general operating support fit in? This is what so many organizations wish they had more of. Nelson: I think that is a critical conversation. General operating support allows you to create surpluses, because you’re not pulled off mission to do projects that receive funding; instead, you’re really working your operations. Organizations need to talk to their funders and supporters about how to get more general operating support into our organizations. It does indeed help with creating strong capital structures.
Warning signs and greater institutional risks can be directly tied to various forms of poor capitalization, as illustrated by a chart from Susan Nelson’s Conference presentation.
Nelson shows how nonprofit financial planning must be holistic and consider resources as well as internal and external factors.
Rosen: You’ve paid some attention to the process of how an organization works toward greater clarity—around their planning and what their financial needs look like. Could you talk a little bit about that? Nelson: Sure. If you’re going to try to think about an integrated, holistic look at your organization that looks at all its programmatic, operational, and capitalization needs, everybody needs to be in the boat with you. This needs to involve staff and board and, to some extent, key funders. There will be some rough bumps, because you’re going to hear some things that you don’t want to hear. You have to have the whole organization involved so they understand the tradeoffs and why you’re doing the things you’re doing. Rosen: In the case of orchestras, I presume you would include musicians as
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one of the stakeholder groups in these conversations? Nelson: Absolutely. We would, indeed. Rosen: What other critical information should we be putting in front of our member orchestras?
Nelson: People should know that the way we get risk capital in this system is flawed. We do it through foundation support and it comes too late in the day. That’s why we really need risk capital. Rosen: Given that risk capital is so hard just to get—just to break even, just to
have a cash reserve, just to keep your endowment at the level it needs to be—how does an organization get to a point where it can have significant risk capital? Nelson: That’s one of the things you need to talk to your funders and stakeholders and donors about: creating risk capital on your balance sheet. Right now, the system really only has one true vehicle for risk capital, and that is the grant cycle.
“Most grants come with the idea that you will succeed. But risk and making changes in how you provide your product means you need to fail, and you need to learn from those failures and move forward.”
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By the time you push through an innovation idea to the time you get a grant, it could be over a year, a year and a half, and the chance to do it might have passed. Most grants come with the idea that you will succeed, and you want to keep that relationship with that funder, so you want to talk about success. But risk and making changes in how you provide your product means you need to fail, and you need to learn from those failures and move forward. So right now we have a system of risk-capital dollars that actually doesn’t help you take risks. Rosen: So foundations are not going to be your best friend in many cases of acquiring risk capital. You’re suggesting that sources will be more effective if they come from individual donors that don’t have the cyclical issues, lag times, proposals, reviews, and all of that. Is that accurate? Nelson: Right. What you’re going to foundations for are more mature ideas that you know will probably work or that you’ve already tested or thought about. But for ideas that you can test in real time, individual donors, board members, quick supporters, money that you’ve built up— that is the money you need to do those things. symphony
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Orchestras are only as strong as their boards.
oks & webinars o b e e c n a rn e v o New G lkit Public Value Too
nce experts a rn e v o g h it w s Vlog serie s Mentoring Circle Seminars
Podcasts is Tool Financial Analys
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The Governance Center If orchestras are only as strong as their boards, what are you doing to make a difference? Designed specifically for orchestra board members, The Governance Center brings you the best in governance learning. With a combination of distance learning, seminars, and Q&A time with governance experts, board members can take their governance skills to the next level. Please visit americanorchestras.org regularly for detailed information. The Governance Center is made possible by a generous grant from MetLife Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
It’s Time for a (Digital) Revolution! As technology continues to evolve with dizzying speed, it is critically important for orchestras to have proactive electronic media strategies. by Joe Kluger and Michael Bronson
he concept that technology is changing our personal and professional lives more rapidly than ever is no longer new. There are daily reports of new apps for new gadgets, with viral appeal, that are transforming how we all work, play, and communicate. The internet is also having a disruptive economic impact on many traditional businesses that distribute content, as anyone who still works for a newspaper, book publisher, record company, or movie rental store will attest. For symphony orchestras, facing an inexorable decline in concert attendance, as reported in a 2008 NEA study as well as a 2009 League of American Orchestras report, you would think this confluence of changing circumstances would represent a “lemonade-making” opportunity to use digital technology to bring their music to more people, as well as more people to their music. Yet few orchestras seem to be making electronic media activities a strategic priority as a potential way to expand their audiences, promote their institutions, and possibly generate incremental income. Granted, there are many orchestras that broadcast their concerts on local radio stations, as was demonstrated by a 2007 electronic media survey by the League of American Orchestras. These broadcasts are now routinely streamed on orchestras’
websites, and more than 70 U.S. and Canadian orchestras offer downloads via iTunes and other retail sites. In many cases, however, these seem like isolated efforts by symphony managers to match the positive PR generated by their peers from digital initiatives, rather than a result of a carefully crafted electronic media strategy. Although there are some promotional benefits to orchestras that announce the
The use of technology to distribute music must be planned and implemented with the same principles and standards that are used for the presentation of live performances. availability of their content on iTunes, the positive perception does not automatically translate into the realization of measurable objectives. To benefit an orchestra after the glowing newspaper review has become “fish-wrap,” the use of technology to distribute music must be planned and implemented with the same principles and standards that are used for the presentation of live performances. Unfortunately, the technology goals and objectives, and the strategies to achieve them, are rarely defined by orchestras before embarking on digital deal-making. (For examples of
orchestras that are using electronic media in thoughtful ways to help achieve their respective institutional missions, see the box on p. 27.) Perhaps the underlying cause of haphazard planning and inconsistent results is the absence of electronic media from the mission statements of most symphony orchestras, which usually call for presenting music at the highest quality level to the widest audiences, but assume this occurs only in concert halls or other venues in which the audience is physically present. Is this language based on the belief that the institutional mission can be achieved only at a live performance, in which the performers and audiences make a connection in the same room, or is it from mission inertia, tied to organizational history? Even if an orchestra decides that its primary mission is presenting performances in person, it ought to have a clear view on whether technology should play a secondary role, as a means of expanding the audience beyond those who can be physically present to experience the excitement of the live event. The geographical dispersion of the target audiences in the mission statement also varies by orchestra, sometimes with a reference to regional, national, or international audiences. How many symphony
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orchestras use touring, however, as the primary means of achieving the mission beyond their local area, rather than using technology to reach more people, more economically? Orchestras whose missions are currently limited to local or regional audiences should consider whether technology can help them broaden their geographical mission or at least become more effective within their local markets, through such efforts as podcasts, educational activities, and social media strategies that can increase the orchestra’s relevance to its community and connections to its audiences. Some symphony stakeholders may question, however, whether technology should play any central role in their mission, based on the electronic-media challenges that have been experienced by many others. The cost of making an orchestral studio recording can exceed $200,000, requiring sales of 75,000 units—five times the level of a classical “hit” today—to break even. The cost of
producing a two-hour telecast can exceed $500,000, yet even when offered free to PBS, there is no guarantee of national broadcast coverage on locally controlled stations, many of which state that their
Even if an orchestra decides that its primary mission is presenting performances in person, it ought to have a clear view on whether technology can play a secondary role, as a means of expanding the audience. audiences prefer “Doo-Wop” reunion reruns to broadcasts of symphony concerts. The benefits of electronic media activity to orchestras have been limited until now, because the high cost of recording, digitization, and distribution has limited the amount of music content that can be exploited. In addition, commercial recording companies and non-commercial broad-
casting entities, which have controlled traditional distribution systems, have historically taken the initiative to generate most of the arts technology activity, by assuming most of the financial risk and retaining most of the economic value. In the last 20 years, the use of technology as a distribution vehicle for the arts has been further inhibited by a decline in corporate sponsorship of the arts, particularly on radio and TV, and pressure from commercial recording and broadcasting entities to find mass-market (“crossover”) content. Finding Opportunities
The current environment presents unique opportunities for orchestras, however, as a result of the rapidly declining costs of digitizing audio content and recent technological changes that are disruptive to traditional business systems. The up-front cost of making a high-quality audio recording can be reduced at least 50 percent by recording performances live instead of in the studio, and by having perform-
Three Case Studies
Orchestras should have individualized electronic media goals and objectives tailored to their specific situations. The accompanying chart highlights three orchestras that have made electronic media an institutional priority, with relatively modest impact on their respective operating budgets. They each have developed electronic media strategies and annual activities that support their clearly defined goals and objectives. —J.K., M.B. Goals and Objectives*
New York Philharmonic
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
Build/engage concert audiences
Bring music to more people
Enchance image; promote institution
Generate direct revenue for artists
Generate direct revenue for institution
Key Strategies and Annual Activity
New York Philharmonic
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
● 13 national radio broadcasts
● 52 local/national/int'l radio broadcasts
● 36 regional radio broadcasts (MPR)
● 39 on-demand streaming programs
● 2 national radio broadcasts (APM)
● Regular radio segment features (APM)
● 16 int'l radio broadcasts (EBU)
● Concert download library
● 20 concert downloads
● Free audio streaming concert library
Audio recordings: Audio-visual programs:
(3 - 5 added per year)
● 35 on-demand Podcasts ● 2 national/int'l TV broadcasts
(147 recordings from 40 concerts)
● 1 DVD
● 100 YouTube promotional videos
● 10 YouTube promotional videos
● Redesign website
*Some goals not applicable to all strategies
When the potential television audience for a single local broadcast can exceed the total number of people reached by an orchestra’s live performances in an entire year, why do orchestra stakeholders think twice about putting at least one broadcast in the budget? will increase, even if increases in ticket revenue match increases in expenses. But an orchestra can cover more of its fixed costs by using the internet to bring the performances to people beyond the concert hall, generating direct revenues from downloads (e.g., iTunes, InstantEncore, etc.) and “cloud” subscription services (e.g., Spotify, Rhapsody, etc.) or indirect advertising and sponsorship revenues from streaming services (e.g., YouTube, public broadcasting stations, etc.) Although the digital market for the arts may be small as a percentage of each local region, it can be large in absolute terms, especially for orchestras that can find a way to reach people in remote places, who may have
Per Product Units Sold
less access to live performances. Even when there is no revenue potential, an orchestra can demonstrate value to its
their recording strategies on maximizing the aggregate quantity of units sold, rather than the number of per product units.
The Long Tail Mass Markets
120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 1
7 8 9 10 11 Products Produced
The Long Tail Niche Markets
100,000 80,000 Aggregate Units Sold
ers’ compensation tied to the revenue generated. Although subsidy may still be required for an orchestral recording that sells fewer than 25,000 units, the resulting institutional prestige and audience exposure may justify the up-front investment. Orchestra boards and managers don’t think twice about allocating $40,000 or more of contributed income to subsidize an education concert for 2,000 children. Why should they hesitate to allocate the same amount for a recording that sells 5,000 CDs and downloads? For orchestras plagued with a chronic gap between earned income and expense, as articulated in William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen’s seminal 1966 book Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma, distributing music via the internet may be one of the only ways to increase productivity and generate net incremental earned revenue. When there is a deficit even on a sold-out performance, over time the gap
60,000 40,000 20,000 0 1
7 8 9 10 11 Products Produced
community by providing music on its own website or offering it to schools, nursing homes, and other community centers. The internet also enables disintermediation—cutting out the middleman—allowing orchestras to exploit their music without commercial producers as gatekeepers to the distribution systems. Digitization reduces the warehouse costs of physical product, creating what writer Chris Anderson calls “long tail” economic value in the sale of small numbers of many different products with limited mass-market appeal. Anderson contends that individual products in niche markets—such as classical and jazz recordings—that have low sales volume can collectively generate market share that rivals the relatively few current bestsellers, if the distribution channel is large, the cost of reaching the niche market is efficient, and a majority of the economic value is retained by the content producers, not the distributors. The hypothetical charts below, based on the concepts in Anderson’s influential 2006 book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, show the potential benefits to orchestras that focus
For orchestras looking to create audiovisual content, the miniaturization of digital cameras means cameras can be permanently installed in the concert hall, with a capital investment roughly equal to the cost of renting traditional TV production equipment a handful of times. With multiple robotic cameras operated by a few people, production personnel costs can also be reduced substantially. And, with the advent of digital broadcasting, which enables public television stations to deliver several channels of programming via local cable systems in the bandwidth currently occupied by their individual analog signals, there is no excuse for them not providing orchestras with access to their niche audiences. There is still substantial investment and subsidy required to deliver audio-visual content electronically, and a challenge for orchestras to make the program visually interesting. Some of these costs can be shared with local broadcasters, community service cable channels, and/or local universities with film and television programs. In any case, when the potential television audience for a single local broadcast can exceed symphony
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the total number of people reached by an orchestra’s live performances in an entire year, why do orchestra stakeholders think twice about putting at least one broadcast in the budget? For orchestras to take advantage of the unique changes taking place today, they must • recognize the institutional benefits of using technology to exploit content; • make doing so a core part of their institutional mission; and • take the initiative to make it happen, rather than reacting to the initiatives of others They must also do it the right way, taking as much care in the use of technology to exploit content as they do in the presentation of their concerts. Key steps include: 1. Setting clear institutional objectives: being clear whether the goal
is to sell more tickets, reach a larger audience, promote the institution, generate earned income, and/or stimulate contributions; 2. Determining which strategies and activities will accomplish those objectives: If the goal is selling more tickets in the local concert hall, then distributing content internationally is of limited direct benefit, while if the goal is to generate income, then offering free podcasting of saleable content is unwise; 3. Making a commitment to incorporate key activities into the operating budget as core priorities, even if subsidy is required: Why do some orchestra stakeholders, who do not think twice about the wisdom of subsidizing educational activities, commit to electronic media activities only when all the costs are covered? 4. Implementing each priority activity
to maximize the institutional objectives: There is usually a correlation between the economic return to the institution and the amount of financial responsibility it assumes in making the activity happen, especially in the complex areas of distribution. Orchestras should maximize the number of retail outlets from which consumers can obtain their content, but minimize the number of “middlemen” needed to distribute the content to the retailers. An institution must decide which responsibilities to assume on its own and which to outsource, with outsourcing the best option for those functions that are of less strategic or economic value, or not an institutional core competency (e.g., encoding the master recording, applying metadata, negotiating distribution deals with retail sites).
The League has retained Joseph H. Kluger and Michael Bronson to assist member orchestras in developing innovative uses of technology to reach audiences beyond the concert hall. More information on the League’s Electronic Media Services is available on the League’s website. Visit americanorchestras.org and look for Electronic Media Services.
It is unlikely that the net income from distributing music content digitally will ever exceed that from live performances. And, while fundraising will likely always be necessary, the net financial benefits from digital products could reduce pressure to raise ticket prices, increase contributions, and reduce expenses. The indirect branding and marketing benefits of the strategic use of technology—even when it generates no revenue—can also be significant in a world
that increasingly defines fame and success in terms of media presence. Most important, technology may now represent an efficient mechanism for bringing the performing arts to busy “cocooning” audiences, who are opting for cheaper, recorded options in the comfort of their own home, rather than venturing out for a live performance after a long day of work, as well as to people who want access to recorded music on all of their technological devices, whenever they want and wherever they are. Orchestras that are finding it more difficult to prove to consumers that it is worth planning ahead to see something at a particular place and time, when they can listen to music on an iPod or turn on a high-definition TV at their leisure, may fulfill their missions more effectively by including the technological version as a complementary option to the live performance. To make this a reality, however, requires a revolution—not in our
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JOE KLUGER is a principal of WolfBrown, with over 30 years of experience as a nonprofit executive and consultant in strategic planning, mergers and alliances, facilities development, governance, leadership development, and innovative problem solving for museums, theaters, performing arts centers, opera companies, symphony orchestras, and educational institutions. MICHAEL BRONSON has over 40 years of experience as an arts administrator, producer of television and radio programs, and arts management consultant to opera companies and symphony orchestras in labor relations and electronic media projects. Bronson and Kluger are also recognized experts in the use of technology to accomplish strategic objectives in the arts and are consultants in this area to the League of American Orchestras, OPERA America, and their members.
technological capabilities but in our thinking about how to use them proactively and strategically.
➘ Check out our new Media Kit at Symphony.org or contact Steve Alter at email@example.com
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Michael J. Lutch
L.A.-based band Ozomatli joined Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, May 7, 2010.
by Michael Stugrin
The Changing Face of
he good old days when the legendary Boston Pops could announce a concert led by Arthur Fiedler, not list the program, and get a sold-out house are past. The same is true of the celebrated Cincinnati Pops and other orchestras with storied pops traditions. Management teams behind today’s pops concerts are recognizing that success has to be earned in new and decisive ways as current pops audiences—who can tap into myriad entertainment options without even leaving the house—require laser-like attention and expect to be entertained with novel, often custom-tailored shows. Meanwhile, orchestras’ efforts to target more ethnically diverse audiences have exponentially expanded the range of today’s pops programs. As the nation’s demographics and subscriber buying-patterns change, orchestras are responding with carefully
How orchestras are building bridges to new
calibrated programming that broadens the definition of traditional pops. Of course, the pops programming palette has always evolved. Fiedler and Erich Kunzel shifted their genteel celebrations of beloved classics, big-band swing, and Broadway highlights to draw more broadly from the Great American Songbook. In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, beloved crooners (Burl Ives, Perry Como, Sarah Vaughan) and tribute artists were prominent on the pops concert circuit. The tribute approach, in particular, still works: Audiences happily turn out for celebrations of greatest hits of Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Motown, and the Beatles, though orchestras have learned this formula can backfire if the tribute tunes stray too far from mainstream tastes. But hipster darlings like Ben Folds, My Morning Jacket, and Pink Martini have brought more adventurous crowds to orchestra halls around the country.
Buying patterns are changing, too. “With pops, we definitely see that people look more closely at individual concerts and make their entertainment plans more selectively,” says Eileen Jeanette, vice president of artistic and orchestra operations at California’s Pacific Symphony. “Revenue growth on the pops side today is from single-ticket sales, not subscriptions. Orchestras still tend to perceive their classics audiences as more trusting and feel they have a deeper relationship with them than with their pops audiences.” Lilly Schwartz, the Minnesota Orchestra’s director of pops and special events, observes, “While there are still many loyal pops subscribers, even more people today will buy tickets to individual pops concerts that interest them. On a given weekend, they typically have a lot of musical entertainment options from which to choose. Our challenge is to make pops concerts interesting.” symphony
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Margot Ingoldsby Schulman
RIGHT: The Pacific Symphony’s “GottaDance” pops program at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, led by Richard Kaufman, featured music from movies like Singin’ in the Rain. TOP FAR RIGHT: Christoph Eschenbach and the NSO performed the world premiere of a commissioned work by tabla player Zakir Hussain (seated), with vocalists Shankar Mahadevan (standing), Kelley O’Connor, and Hariharan, March 2011. BELOW FAR RIGHT: R&B vocalist John Legend will perform in the National Symphony Orchestra’s pops program Affirmations: A Musical Journey of Hope and Aspiration, led by Thomas Wilkins, April 2012.
National Symphony Orchestra
audiences while redefining the pops canon.
“We realize we have to make sure our orchestra connects with popular culture and In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Orchestra audiences beyond our core classics audihas been enjoying consecutive seasons of ence,” Schwartz says. “More and more, consolid audience growth under its dynamic certs need to be ‘events’ that provide fun for music director, Osmo Vänskä, and its charisthe audience. This is an obvious lesson from matic young principal pops conductor, Sarah the never-ending appeal of rock concerts.” Hicks. “The orchestra realizes that we need Recent and upcoming pops programs feato be community-relevant and culturally relture singer-songwriters (Sting, Elvis Costelevant,” says Schwartz. She was saying this lo, Ben Folds, Josh Ritter, Pink Martini), two days before a sold-out performance in movie classics with orchestra performances downtown Minneapolis at Orchestra Hall of the original soundtracks (Psycho, Bride of of “The Gershwins: Here to Stay,” a celebraFrankenstein), headliner soloists (Chris Bottion of the Gershwin brothers by pianistti, Rosanne Cash), and tribute shows (“Yessinger and Gershwin specialist Kevin Cole. terday Once More: A Tribute to the Music Is Gershwin more relevant to Minneapoof the Carpenters”). Even Osmo Vänskä has lis than to other cities with major orchestras? recently conducted pops concerts featuring Not at all, but Schwartz suggests that the Abba and the popular Finnish a cappella concert was designed with high-tech, mulgroup Rajaton. timedia features in order to appeal to mulSchwartz says that she and Hicks are partiple generations of music lovers. Promotion ticularly interested in self-producing pops of this concert emphasized both the beloved concerts in order to enlist the creativity of Gershwin canon as well as eye-catching local talent and the orchestra itself. A soldstate-of-the-art, big-screen multimedia feaout, profitable concert called “80s Rewind! turing photos and film of George Gershwin Totally Awesome Hits of the Decade with conducting his work. the Minnesota Orchestra” featured a script Schwartz says that while both pops subby Hicks, in-house costuming and staging, scription renewals and single-ticket sales and local backup singers. have been healthy recently, “Growth is more As to the programming of ethnically dia result of a shift in programming mix— verse music, Schwartz points out that Minbringing new and different concerts to the neapolis is not nearly as ethnically diverse as stage. Our pops sales have fluctuated over Detroit or Dallas. “Personally, I love Latin the years based on programming. We hapmusic,” she says, “but here it is difficult to pen to be riding a bit of a wave right now.” sell.” On the other hand, Schwartz applauds The orchestra looks for opportunities to Minneapolis as “relatively sophisticated relate to its communities. Pops conductor musically” and receptive to many genres of Hicks presides over up to seventeen pops world music, such as the Japanese drumconcerts annually as well as 20 to 40 addiming group Kodo and Ladysmith Black tional performances throughout the Twin Cities area. The orchestra also “We realize we have Mambazo. For Schwartz, the most important key to builddoes week-long residencies to make sure our that include performances, orchestra connects ing new audiences is showing school visits, and even or- with popular culture people that orchestras are not “scary and buttoned up, but chestra members competing and audiences are approachable and fun.” in marathons. Though not beyond our core focused on pops, Hicks and classics audience,” Minnesota Orchestra violist says Lilly Schwartz, Pacific Symphony: Sam Bergman lead the popu- director of pops Staking a Claim lar “Inside the Classics” series and special events The Pacific Symphony perthat features a lively, largely at the Minnesota forms at the Renée and Henry unscripted “deconstruction” of Orchestra. Segerstrom Concert Hall well-known classical masterin Costa Mesa, California, pieces—e.g., how do Tchaia 50-minute drive from the kovsky and the Rolling Stones Hollywood Bowl and Disney treat a similar theme or comHall, the chief venues of the positional issue?—followed Los Angeles Philharmonic by a performance of the entire and within easy driving diswork. tance from at least a dozen Greg Helgeson
Pops On a Roll in Minneapolis
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other regional and community orchestras. Eileen Jeanette is keenly aware of the risks presented by the area’s competitive music scene as well as the demographics of its audience base. Jeanette recalls the first visit by Pink Martini in 2007 as “an electrifying experience.” The exuberant thirteen-member “little orchestra” founded in 1994 and based in Portland, Oregon, tours extensively, primarily performing original compositions inspired by classical, jazz, and contemporary pop. It sells out houses in Turkey, Italy—and at American orchestras. Still, Jeanette says, “Our older patrons had no idea of who they were. Many older patrons are subscribers who attend our pops concerts on faith. On the other hand, single-ticket sales for Pink Martini sold like wildfire and a huge young crowd of excited fans showed up. As the concert proceeded, the entire audience galvanized around these superstars of world music.” At the same time, Jeanette admits that the Pacific Symphony has to be careful of pops programming that strays too far. “We have learned that contemporary artists and music that appeal to several generations will be well received, but if the appeal is more limited, a program can have a polarizing effect. For a while, we veered too far on the rock side. Pops audiences are more fickle than classics audiences. This means that our pops programming has to be done with great care so that we get it right.” Jeanette says that the Pacific Symphony has staked a claim in terms of its pops programming strategy and emphasis on headliner artists. Three of its seven 2011-12 pops concerts feature headliner artists—Chris Botti, Peter Cetera, and Roberta Flack. The season is rounded out by a concert tribute to Paul McCartney, a holiday pops celebration, Cirque de la Symphonie, and a screening of the film Casablanca featuring the orchestra’s performance of the Max Steiner soundtrack. Apart from its classics or pops programming, the Pacific Symphony’s forays into commissioned international music have won fans among its core audience and attracted new attendees. In its 2007 festival “Los Sonidos de México,” the orchestra featured some two dozen compositions over the course of six concerts and included a commissioned new work by Daniel Catán, one of three participating Mexican composers (the others were Ana Lara and Enrique Diemecke). In spring 2012, the orchestra americanorchestras.org
will host “Nowruz—Celebrating Spring,” a program of Persian music, along with a performance of composer Richard Danielpour’s Peace Oratorio, commissioned by the Pacific Symphony as part of its annual American Composers Festival. “We know anecdotally,” says Jeanette, “that our audiences for these events comprise people from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and they appreciate these forays into how different cultures contribute to contemporary music.”
A New Era in Cincinnati
Taking over the baton of the late Erich Kunzel, the legendary “Prince of Pops,” could be daunting. However, John Morris Russell sounded downright giddy with enthusiasm and optimism as he was unpacking and painting his new home in Cincinnati in July. Despite the challenges for pops in today’s economy, Russell is optimistic about both his new position as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops and about the pops business in general.
Offerings Guest Artist
Bostom Pops Christmas 2009, Summer 2011 Vienna Philharmonic — Zubin Mehta “The Swingle Singers pitched those mysteriously lovely chords with laser-like precision...on a purely musical level this performance was a triumph.”— Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph “The magnificent eight voices of the Swingle Singers stood out, perfectly in tune, rhythmically flawless...”— Berio’s Sinfonia, II Giornale, Italy
Composers and conductors speak of Sonos Handbell Ensemble’s virtuosity, energy and ability to connect with the audiences. Orchestral programs include works by Scott Joplin, Bach, and Ludtke’s Christmas suite. Touring the US and Asia for 20 years, these masterful musicans are pioneers on the leading edge of handbell artistry. “Sonos has transformed the world of handbells and ringers everywhere. Rejoice!”—Grammy Award winning Composer Libby Larsen
Craicmore interlaces Celtic roots music, a perennial Pops audience favorite, with classical idioms in a fresh and exciting way. Orchestrator Luke Hannington, mentored by Dick Grove, Henry Mancini, and David Raksin, has composed lean, muscular arrangements for haunting and memorable tunes that have been handed down for centuries. “Celtic music that touches the heart, mind and soul.”—Flagstaff LIVE
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“Pops is a uniquely American art form that celebrates America’s complete musical heritage— from bluegrass to rock and roll, from jazz to country and western, from Broadway to the classical repertoire,” says John Morris Russell, conductor of the Cincinnati Pops.
“We must remember that pops is a uniquely American art form that celebrates America’s complete musical heritage—from bluegrass to rock and roll, from jazz to country and western, from Broadway to our country’s long tradition of performing the classical repertoire.” Russell argues that when fine orchestras like his perform everything from Brahms to boogie-woogie, audiences experience a “unique musical mosaic” that enhances everything that music is about and that audiences have always revered. Even though the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s pops attendance for the 2010-11 season was up more than 15 percent over the previous season, Russell admits that orchestras are facing economic and cultural challenges. Orchestras need more than ever to “reach out to young audiences—both school age and people in their 20s and 30s—to make certain they have musical experiences that they cannot get on YouTube or from their iPod,” he says. “Pops provides a unique opportunity to bring people together physically. The pops experience includes, but goes beyond, music—it is all about hope, energy, coming together as a community.” For the 2011-12 season, the Cincinnati Pops is offering fairly conventional fare, perhaps in deference to the uncertain economy. There’s an inaugural concert featuring Russell and the orchestra along with vocalists Brian Stokes Mitchell and Katharine McPhee; elsewhere the season features Wynonna Judd, Bernadette Peters, and Chris Botti. An appearance by the Miamibased Cuban salsa band Tiempo Libre adds heat and international flavor. Russell emphasizes that his programming is often heavily influenced by the talent he has close at hand: “My secret weapon for keeping and expanding our audience is the musicians of the Cincinnati Pops. They are extraordinary musicians who not only play incredible orchestral music together, but also play bluegrass, jazz, indie rock, and other great music.” Russell also plans to spotlight
the cultural diversity throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky by bringing, “incredible music, dance, and poetry that celebrate the best of what the city and region are all about. “The pops platform provides extraordinary flexibility that allows our orchestra to reach new audiences,” Russell believes. “In the same tradition that includes Mozart and Wagner, pops can freely draw on virtually everything that is musical and theatrical to engage and entertain audiences.”
National Symphony Orchestra: Road to Diversity
“The lines are blurring, and we think that is because people are becoming more openminded about their music.” That is how Rita Shapiro, the National Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, explains why the growing category of “classically aware non-attendee” is particularly important to symphony orchestras today. “Orchestras are trying to continue providing the traditional classi-
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cal music experience,” she says, “but also to push the envelope to reach new audiences. We need to build bridges among cultures and peoples, particularly reaching audiences who are not familiar with symphonic music or who have negative impressions of what symphony orchestras are about.” Shapiro points out that because of the National Symphony Orchestra’s visibility as part of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the nation’s capital—and because of the city’s and region’s broad diversity—the orchestra has a long-established reputation for “portfolio diversity.” This is reflected not just in the organization’s pops programming, but also through Music Director Christoph Eschenbach’s commitment to the NSO’s tradition of adventurous world-music programming. In fact, Shapiro says that one NSO strategic goal is to build itself into a “supersized world-music orchestra.” Last year the NSO played a key role in “maximum INDIA,” the Kennedy Center’s three-week festival of Indian music, dance, and culture which featured contemporary Indian music, including a major commissioned work for orchestra and tabla by Zakir
Hussain, and Western classical works with Indian themes (e.g., Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony). Shapiro says the festival drew large sellout crowds from the D.C. area’s extensive multicultural population, especially local Indian residents and visitors. That penchant for ethnic diversity carries over into the orchestra’s pops programming, often propelled by commissions. Pops offerings on the NSO’s 2011-12 season will feature the female a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock and the orchestra, with guest conductor Thomas Wilkins, performing Affirmations: A Musical Journey of Hope and Aspiration, by African-American composer William Banfield. It will also host John Legend and the Roots in a performance celebrating the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s seminal R&B album What’s Going On. Shapiro says that this concert will remind a new generation of listeners of all races about the impact of Gaye’s work. In describing the National Symphony Orchestra’s approach to pops programming, Shapiro emphasizes that its decisions reflect its commitment to “building new bridges to a community that is constantly changing.
Gr ea t Mo vies , Gr a nd P ia no
”dazzling showman” “masterfully musical” “wickedly funny” “amazingly versatile”
w w w. R i c h R i d e n o u r. c o m 38
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For the National Symphony Orchestra and for all orchestras, this is a time of trial and error—hopefully with not too many errors. We will always have a core audience that will come to our concerts. The challenge is to entice lovers of different music. I don’t know how many of the people who attended our three sold-out Ben Folds concerts last season will ever come to a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, but we hope we have opened a path for them to do so.” Shapiro adds that the NSO has seen an infusion of board members and donors in their forties who like classical and pops concerts equally. “They grew up being exposed to some of both. They think that a concert by our orchestra is a place to go for a really good time. Imagine that!” Part of the NSO’s strategic commitment to pops is the recent arrival of Steven Reineke as its new principal pops conductor. Reineke started his pops career as an arranger and assistant conductor for Erich Kunzel at the Cincinnati Pops. He is principal pops conductor with the Long Beach and Modesto symphony orchestras in California and music director of the New York
Pops. Reineke brings with him an approachable style and a wealth of connections that, Shapiro believes, will provide great opportunities for innovative pops programming and new guest artists. Balancing older musical traditions and contemporary styles strikes Shapiro as the best strategy for the current industry environment. She believes that people continue to enjoy traditional pops fare, but also want to be surprised with different, fresh pops programs and experiences. “We cannot depend on subscriptions for survival,” she says. “This is an era of niche purchases in which people look at each concert and respond to what they know and what catches their interest.” Shapiro says that one of the NSO’s most effective marketing campaigns involved inexpensive ads in local magazines and newspapers that are handed out free to Metro riders. “On their way to or from work, people see our ads and make decisions about their upcoming entertainment purchases.” Searching for the “Sweet Spot”
As orchestras scramble to find new and innovative pops programs without alienating
their traditional audiences—including those who faithfully turn out for evenings of pops, no matter who’s on the bill—they are confronting tough new economic realities and changing audience tastes. The mantra for orchestras with some of the most robust pops programs today seems to be “building bridges” to new audiences with diverse offerings and more accessible concert experiences, in some cases led by a new generation of hip “pops maestros”—perhaps the new breed of Fiedlers and Kunzels. In any case, orchestra managers agree that while pops programming needs to keep changing—revering but going beyond the American Songbook—no single stroke of programming will bring in a flood of new subscribers. “The challenge is to win over new audiences generally, as well as specific segments of our local multicultural demographic, with new, stand-out concert experiences,” Shapiro says. Michael Stugrin, Ph.D., is an arts and business writer. He is the co-author of Music Looks Forward: The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra—1934 –2009.
P r e S e N T S
ERICH KUNZEL Conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Principal Pops Conductor,
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
The New York Pops
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra National Arts Centre Orchestra Naples Philharmonic Orchestra Symphonic Pops Consortium
Music Director, National Memorial Day Concert & A Capitol Fourth on PBS
Principal Pops Conductor, National Symphony Orchestra Modesto Symphony Orchestra Long Beach Symphony Orchestra
J A C K E V E R LY
Principal Pops Conductor for Principal Pops Conductor, singer/pianist • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Atlanta Symphony Orchestra • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Symphony • Houston National Arts Centre Orchestra Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
STEVEN REINEKE Principal Pops Conductor for • Modesto Symphony Orchestra • Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Associate Conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
www.PeterThrom.com www.PeterThrom.com | 734.222.8030 (office) | 734.277.1008 (mobile) Peter Throm, President firstname.lastname@example.org | 2040 Tibbitts Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Peter Throm, President 734.222.8030 (office) • 734.277.1008 (mobile) • 734.222.8031 (fax) 2040 Tibbitts Court • Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Guide to Symphony’s Pops Advertisers The following pops attractions and conductors are advertisers in this issue of Symphony. Advertisers have provided Symphony with contact information on all pops attractions that appear within their advertisements. What follows does not imply endorsement by the League of American Orchestras or Symphony. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive, but to be a reference point for orchestra professionals charged with pops programming. Please also see our Ad Index on page 61 for a full listing of advertisers in this issue.
Dukes of Dixieland email@example.com dukesofdixieland.com Grammy-nominated Dukes of Dixieland have been active on the New Orleans scene and internationally since 1974, when they performed their first pops concert in Chicago with the Grant
Broadway Behind the Mask (Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Schwartz and more) Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Donn Jones, Nashville
Bohème to Broadway Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com
Park Symphony. They performed most recently with the Boston Pops, with many performances in between.
Geoffrey Gallante, trumpet soloist firstname.lastname@example.org “Geoffrey Gallante” on YouTube Sonos Handbell Ensemble Knudsen Productions email@example.com knudsenproductions.com
Big Band/Swing Dukes of Dixieland firstname.lastname@example.org dukesofdixieland.com Geoffrey Gallante, trumpet soloist email@example.com “Geoffrey Gallante” on YouTube
The Rat Pack! (Symphonic and Big Band) Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Tony DeSare, singer/pianist Peter Throm Management, LLC email@example.com peterthrom.com Tony’s take on the American Songbook goes from Berlin to Prince, and all very convincingly. Not only does Tony have the voice, looks, and chops for this material, he also writes originals that blend seamlessly among these stalwarts.
Broadway by Request Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Harold Lloyd Harold Lloyd Entertainment email@example.com haroldlloyd.com
Broadway Dreams, An Evening with Kurt Weill Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Price Rubin & Partners email@example.com pricerubin.com
Geoffrey Gallante, trumpet soloist firstname.lastname@example.org “Geoffrey Gallante” on YouTube
Peter Throm Management, LLC email@example.com peterthrom.com
Greatest Hits of Broadway Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Berlin on Broadway Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com
Today’s Broadway Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Broadway Salutes Bernstein and Sondheim Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com
Continued from page 41
Chris Brubeck Brubeck Music, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org chrisbrubeck.com
Charlie Chaplin Films with Orchestra Roy Export S.A.S email@example.com charliechaplin.com Coming to America Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com Lyn Dillies Magic at the Symphony email@example.com magicatthesymphony.org Fascinating Gershwin Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com Geoffrey Gallante, trumpet soloist email@example.com “Geoffrey Gallante” on YouTube Dan Kamin’s Comedy Concertos firstname.lastname@example.org dankamin.com Kern Tribute featuring Show Boat in Concert Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com Lerner and Loewes Greatest Hits Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com Really Inventive Stuff email@example.com reallyinventivestuff.com Rodgers and Hammerstein Celebration Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Holiday Pops Geoffrey Gallante, trumpet soloist email@example.com “Geoffrey Gallante” on YouTube Swingin’ Holiday Celebration Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Dukes of Dixieland email@example.com dukesofdixieland.com Ronnie Kole Morrow Management, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org ronniekole.com Kole’s theme shows— ”Around the World on 88 Keys,” “The Music of WEP (Webber, Ellington and Porter),” and “New Orleans and All the Jazz”—are very eclectic. It is not far-out jazz but melodic and very entertaining, and the charts are excellent.
I Heart the ’80s Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com Ronnie Kole Morrow Management, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org ronniekole.com Kole’s theme shows— ”Around the World on 88 Keys,” “The Music of WEP (Webber, Ellington and Porter),” and “New Orleans and All the Jazz”—are very eclectic. It is not far-out jazz but melodic and very entertaining, and the charts are excellent.
Swingle Singers Knudsen Productions email@example.com knudsenproductions.com
Mancini and Moonlight Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Oh What A Night! Billboard Hits of the 1960s Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com
Concert for Titanic Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com Film Score in Reverse – Symphony Programs Video Ideas Productions, Inc. email@example.com videoideas.com Geoffrey Gallante, trumpet soloist firstname.lastname@example.org “Geoffrey Gallante” on YouTube Lights, Camera…the Oscars! Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com The Merry Widow in Concert Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
Nostalgia The Great American Songbook Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com
I Hear A Symphony, Motown’s Greatest Hits! Broadway Pops International firstname.lastname@example.org broadwaypops.com
The Rat Pack! (Symphonic and Big Band) Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com Rich Ridenour firstname.lastname@example.org richridenour.com Rock On! Broadway Broadway Pops International email@example.com broadwaypops.com
World Music Craicmore Knudsen Productions firstname.lastname@example.org knudsenproductions.com Sciolino Artist Management email@example.com samnyc.us
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Left: San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas with an icon of the city. Below: At Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Symphony celebrates its first 100 years.
Eye on the
t first it seemed like a particularly ill-timed stroke of bad luck. On the day the San Francisco Symphony assembled press and donors to announce the major elements of its 2011-12 centennial season last December, Michael Tilson Thomas, the orchestra’s famously eloquent music director, had lost his voice. MTT, as he’s affectionately branded, did manage to croak out some details and express his enthusiasm about the organization’s big round-number birthday from the
Future by Steven Winn
San Francisco Symphony
To mark its centennial, the San Francisco Symphony could have opted simply to celebrate its accomplishments. Instead, it has planned a season of musical invention, community engagement, and collegiality with other American orchestras.
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stage of Davies Symphony Hall. Executive Director Brent Assink pitched in to play a larger speaking role than he’d planned at the press conference. In retrospect, Tilson Thomas’s bout of laryngitis might not have been so unfortunate after all. Instead of muting the message, it served to underscore the point that the Symphony’s 100th anniversary programming speaks in a distinctive and emphatic voice for itself. In its range and ambition, its melding of past and present, traditional and unorthodox, the expansive and the intimate, the reassuringly expected
and the downright startling, the new season lays out an agenda that is both sweeping and specifically attuned to this city’s singular character. Discussing the ideological “pillars” of the centennial, Assink comments, “We wanted to reflect back first and foremost on the community, as opposed to seeing this as an occasion to be self-aggrandizing and tell the city how lucky they were to have us. The classical music world never passes up an opportunity to celebrate some anniversary or other. We wanted to make sure this told more of a story about San Francisco than
about the San Francisco Symphony.” Speaking at full strength on the day he ended the 99th season by conducting Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Tilson Thomas looked ahead to the big 100th with excitement. “Thinking differently is part of what the nature of San Francisco is, and part of what we try to do with the orchestra,” he says. “It’s been my mission, in the past and going forward, to broaden the scope and range of the repertoire and find a public that wants to come along on that journey. I’ve been excited about the way our audiences have responded to a variety of composers
San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco Symphony
and music that may have been new to them. And I look forward to that continuing to happen.” Programming for the coming season balances classic big-ticket items—the In a control room at Verdi Requiem, Beethoven’s Ninth SymKQED, Music Director phony, Mahler’s Third—with worldMichael Tilson Thomas premiere commissions by the strikingly works on an episode distinct composers John Adams, Mason of Keeping Score, the Bates, Meredith Monk, and Morton Suborchestra’s acclaimed multimedia education otnick. Bates, known for his sensual fusion series. of electronic and orchestral timbres, scores his new Mass Transmission for chorus and from San Francisco’s theatrically formative electronica. Monk, the hypnotically rivetera of the mid-19th century through about ing vocalist, composer, director, choreogra1911, the year the orchestra was founded. pher, and filmmaker, will do double duty (The orchestra’s history and its role in its by premiering her own new work and perhometown, from its formative years followforming, along with Jessye Norman and ing the 1906 earthquake to today, are chronJoan La Barbara, songs by John Cage. The icled in detail in Music for a City, Music for orchestra will also offer the local premiere the World, a new book by Larry Rothe, the of a piece by Sofia Gubaidulina, whose symphony’s publications editor. Chronicle rigorously taut compositions shimmer Books; 272 pages.) with achingly beautiful folk tunes and revThe orchestra will reinvigorate its Amerierent spirituality. The Russian master is a can Mavericks Festival devoted to modern San Francisco Symphony favorite who will American composers, an enterprise Tilson be marking her 80th birthday; the piece is Thomas introduced in 2000. Launched with a co-commission among the San Francisan audacious ten-concert festival of what he co Symphony, the Sydney Symphony, and called “direct, challenging, and revolutionthe Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. ary” American music, Mavericks was a game Boundary-stretching endeavors include changer five years into his San Francisco the West Coast premiere of Thomas Adès’s Symphony tenure. Ranging and Tal Rosner’s Polaris: “What’s so special from Reich to Copland, Ives Voyage for Orchestra and the to John Adams, and Duke rarely performed complete here is the great Ellington to an audienceversion of Debussy’s Le freedom of musicparticipation performance martyre de Saint Sébastien, making—the of Terry Riley’s In C, the both enhanced with video projections. Adès’s score for freedom of individual two-and-a-half-week festival received a ringing affirPolaris uses a twelve-tone playing and taking mation from packed houses. brass canon, while Rosner’s risks that pays off Many listeners were drawn imagery of two women to Davies Hall for the first adrift invokes the naviga- by adding a sense time. tional powers of the Pole of momentum,” Then as now, a decade Star. Usually excerpted as an says Concertmaster later, Mavericks features orchestral suite, Debussy’s bold programming. But it’s 1911 music for a Saint Se- Alexander anything but novelty for bastian mystery play gets its Barantschik. novelty’s sake. In historiown centennial makeover cally informed concerts that with 21st-century visuals seek to deepen listeners’ and Frederica von Stade as appreciation for American narrator. The orchestra will innovation, such seminal pay tribute to the colorful iconoclasts as Ives and Cage past of its hometown with will be heard alongside Barbary Coast and Beyond: the somewhat overlooked Music from the Gold Rush to Henry Cowell and Edgard the Pan-Pacific Exposition, a Varèse, the seraphic West semi-staged concert drawn
Coast visionary Lou Harrison, and the meditative Morton Feldman. Four world premieres—by Adams, Bates, Monk, and Subotnick—carry the conversation into the present. The Mavericks Festival affirms the region’s broader legacy of exploration and discovery, from the Gold Rush to the Summer of Love to Silicon Valley’s quickening pulsebeat. As such it invites listeners to examine their collective cultural past and ponder how it informs and shapes the future. Assink points out, “The music that Michael defines as maverick is indeed maverick, but the time frame in which much of it was composed is receding. It’s become less and less a part of the American musical vernacular. It’s time to reflect on what American music, particularly from this era, has contributed to music in general. That spirit of optimism and big thinking, a willingness to grapple with big issues, seems to be a little lost on us today. We hope to recapture and recreate it.” Significantly, San Francisco won’t just be listening to itself: the orchestra is taking its Mavericks programs on the road with a three-city slate of music that is anything but standard touring fare. Supplemented by chamber concerts, classes, and other events coordinated with local universities, the Mavericks Festival will travel to New York, Chicago, and Ann Arbor. “This is not generally what symphony orchestras do in their centenary seasons,” says Tilson Thomas. Orchestras Coast to Coast
Also far from customary practice during a major anniversary celebration is the American Orchestra Series, two-concert residencies by major American orchestras invited to appear in San Francisco. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharsymphony
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San Francisco Symphony
“Concerts bring people together in a society that’s increasingly fragmented by electronic and social media,” says Executive Director Brent Assink. “The way we engage our audiences can open new paths to the way we live with and connect to each other in the wider world.”
San Francisco Symphony
monic, and Philadelphia Orchestra will all visit Davies Hall. Each orchestra has agreed to perform a work it originally commissioned and premiered. Behzad Ranjbaran’s Saratoga was a Philadelphia Orchestra commission in 2005. The Boston Symphony is bringing Elliott Carter’s 2008 Flute Concerto. The LA Phil will test-run Enrico Chapela’s brand-new MAGNETAR, Concerto for Electric Cello in October 2011 at its own Walt Disney Concert Hall just before the San Francisco performances. With the exception of the Bostonians, currently in transition after James Levine stepped down, and the Philadelphians, who will be led by Chief Conductor Charles Dutoit, each of the ensembles will perform with its music director. The series represents a substantial investment in time and resources to present other artists. It’s safe to say that few other orchestras would make that kind of commitment, especially in a centennial year that has everyone’s attention fixed on the home team. The San Francisco Symphony management likes to talk about the visiting orchestras as honored guests who have graciously agreed to come to San Francisco for a 100th birthday party. “I know the other orchestras and music directors are thrilled to come here and perform,” says MTT. “They’ve all told me that.” But this isn’t just about a snazzy guest list. By sharing the spotlight with these elite American orchestras in its centennial year, the San Francisco Symphony
is implicitly making the self-confident points that it fully belongs in their company and that Davies Hall, across the continent from the storied concert halls of the East Coast, is a major musical place to be in 201112 and beyond. Assink hopes for deeper and more lasting dividends. “We absolutely didn’t want this to feel like the orchestras coming in and playing a couple of concerts without leaving a bigger imprint,” he said. “That’s why we asked them to come with their own music directors, a commissioned work, and programs that show us who they really are.” The hope is that audiences will be stimulated to hear how major orchestras differ from each other, “in the flexibility of their music-making and how certain colors are communicated to the audience. What I believe will hap-
pen is that people will reflect on the sound of the San Francisco Symphony, not out of a sense of competition or local boosterism, but to hear that we have a different way of playing that’s all our own.” Symposia, free and open to the public at Davies Hall, will explore a wide-ranging slate of themes and topics. Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel will headline an October session on assimilation, education, and community engagement. MTT and others will address creativity and innovation in March, during the Mavericks Festival. The New York Philharmonic’s residency in May will examine the future of live performance and diversified audiences. Closer to home, an already ambitious education program that serves every child in the city’s public (and many private) elementary schools will be enhanced with a major new initiative aimed at adults. Community of Music Makers, a series of free workshops for amateur choral singers and instrumental players, offers a voice- or hands-on experience of making music at Davies Hall. Some 375 singers turned up for a pilot Community of Music Makers event in June. After a warm-up, the participants broke into sections for rehearsals, then reconvened onstage (continued on page 50)
Young dancers perform a traditional dance at the San Francisco Symphony’s annual concert and celebration in honor of Chinese New Year.
The Campaign for a New Direction is the League of American Orchestras’ $25 million, five-year, comprehensive campaign to fund critical programs and services identified in the League’s Strategic Plan. Since its inception, the Campaign has raised $24.1 million—over 96% of the Campaign goal.
Inspiration Advocacy Leadership Vitality
Help us complete the Campaign! Add your name to this list of supporters by contacting Jay Golan, Interim Director of Development, at 646 822 4009 or email@example.com. All of us at the League of American Orchestras are deeply grateful to the following visionaries for their generous Campaign support: Christopher Seton Abele, on behalf of the Argosy Foundation Douglas W. Adams W. Randolph Adams Nancy & Ellsworth Alvord, Jr., M.D. Alberta Arthurs Brent & Jan Assink Audrey G. Baird Karen Baker Elena Bales & Steven Bronfenbrenner Allison Ball Jennifer B. Barlament Lisa & Miles Barr Cecilia Benner Marie-Hélène Bernard Andrew Berryhill & Melinda Appold William P. Blair III Nancy Blaugrund Richard J. Bogomolny David Bohnett Fred & Liz Bronstein Steven R. Brosvik Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown Mr. & Mrs. Thomas M. Brown Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee Trish Bryan Michelle Miller Burns & Gary W. Burns Frank Byrne Catherine M. Cahill Andrew K. Cahoon & Erin R. Freeman John & Janet Canning Katherine Carleton Nicky B. Carpenter Judy Christl Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek Katy Clark Melanie Clarke Bruce & Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund Robert Conrad Bruce Coppock Marion Couch Julie F. & Peter D. Cummings Gloria dePasquale Amy & Trey Devey Mr. & Mrs. Richard M. DeVos, on behalf of The Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation Lisa Dixon Samuel C. Dixon James R. Dodd Bret Dorhout Heidi Droegemueller Darlene A. Dreyer Emma E. Dunch & Elizabeth W. Scott Patricia C. Dunn Lois Robinson Duplantier D.M. Edwards Jack W. Eugster
Scott Faulkner & Andrea Lenz Aaron Flagg & Cristina Stanescu Flagg Ryan Fleur & Laura Banchero Henry & Frances Fogel Rachel & Terry Ford Michele & John Forsyte Mr. & Mrs. F. Tom Foster, Jr. James M. Franklin Catherine French Susan & Bill Friedlander Karen Gahl-Mills & Laurence Mills-Gahl Mr. Kareem A. George Douglas Gerhart John Gidwitz L. Timothy Giglio Ellen & Paul Gignilliat Edward B. Gill Clive Gillinson Alfred R. Glancy III Joseph B. Glossberg & Madeleine Condit Glossberg Marian A. Godfrey Luella G. Goldberg John & Marcia Goldman Foundation Kathie & Ken Goode Paul D. Grangaard The CHG Charitable Trust as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno Erica F. Hansen Gary Hanson & Barbara Klante Mark & Christina Hanson Daniel & Barbara Hart Jeffrey P. Haydon Shirley Bush Helzberg Michael Henson Jeanne & Gary Herberger Cristina & Carlos Herrera Jennifer Higdon & Cheryl Lawson Marilyn P. and Joseph W. Hirschhorn Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation Lauri & Paul Hogle James C. Hormel Mr. & Mrs. Michael J. Horvitz Holly H. Hudak A. J. Huss, Jr. Mrs. Martha R. Ingram Kendra Whitlock Ingram James D. Ireland III James M. Johnson Russell Jones Paul R. Judy Loretta Julian Mark A. Jung Art & Martha Kaemmer Fund of HRK Foundation Polly Kahn Atul R. Kanagat The Joseph P. & Nancy F. Keithley Foundation
Erwin Kelen Gloria S. Kim Joseph H. Kluger Catherine & John Koten Judith Kurnick Anna Kuwabara & Craig S. Edwards Camille & Dennis LaBarre Michael Lawrence & Rachael Unite David Lebenbom Robert L. Lee & Mary Schaffner The Lerner Foundation Fred Levin & Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation Robert & Emily Levine Jan & Daniel R. Lewis Peter B. Lewis Dr. Virginia M. Lindseth Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Lyons Jim & Kay Mabie Alex Machaskee Annie & William Madonia Eleanor H. Marine Lee R. Marks & Lisl Zach The Steve Mason Family Shirley D. McCrary Judy & Scott McCue Ashleigh Milner McGovern Robert McGrath Paul Meecham Zarin Mehta LaDonna Meinders Stephen Millen Linda Miller Phyllis J. Mills Beth E. Mooney Michael Morgan Thomas Morris Diane & Robert Moss Catherine & Peter Moye Emma Murley J.L. Nave III & Paul Cook James B. & Ann V. Nicholson Brenda Nienhouse Carolyn Nishon Heather Noonan Lowell & Sonja Noteboom Stephanie Oberhausen Rebecca Odland Charles & Barbara Olton Cathy & Bill Osborn James W. Palermo John & Farah Palmer Anne H. Parsons Peter Pastreich Teri E. Popp Luther K. Ranheim Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin Mr. & Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Jr. The Albert B. & Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation Vicky & Rick Reynolds Patricia A. Richards Melody Sawyer Richardson
Peggy & Al Richardson Glenn Roberts Bernard Robertson Barbara S. Robinson Mi Ryung Roman Vanessa Rose-Pridemore Jesse Rosen Barbara & Robert Rosoff Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Rossmeisl Don Roth Deborah F. Rutter Sage Foundation Jo Ellen Saylor Ann H. Santen Cynthia M. Sargent Fred & Gloria Sewell Louis Scaglione Drs. John & Helen Schaefer Paul Schwendener Martin L. Sher George & Charlotte Shultz Marcie Solomon & Nathan Goldblatt Ari Solotoff Barbara J. Soroca Joan H. Squires Connie Steensma & Rick Prins Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Stegman M.S. Stude Rae Wade Trimmier Jeff & Melissa Tsai James Undercofler Lora Unger Alan D. & Connie Linsler Valentine Jamie Broumas van der Vink Dr. Jane Van Dyk Penelope Van Horn Matthew VanBesien & Rosie Jowitt Mr. Brandon VanWaeyenberghe Allison Vulgamore Robert J. Wagner Christina Walker Edward Walker Tina Ward Clark & Doris Warden Ms. Ginger B. Warner Dr. Charles H. Webb Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster Sandra Weingarten Franz Welser-Möst Melody Welsh-Buchholz Stacey Weston Adair & Dick White Jan Wilson Richard B. Worley Rebecca & David Worters Kathryn Wyatt The Simon Yates & Kevin Roon Foundation Edward Yim Anonymous (5) —Campaign support as of August 9, 2011
American Orchestra Forum
San Francisco, October 2011– May 2012 During its centennial season, the San Francisco Symphony will present concerts by orchestras from Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, offering a unique opportunity to focus on the issues affecting orchestras today. The San Francisco Symphony’s American Orchestra Forum will explore the questions and issues that American orchestras face through public discussion on the topics of community, creativity, and audiences. The League of American Orchestras is a project partner, promoting a national dialogue around topics addressed in the Forum. There will be roundtable discussions, collaborations with academic and other organizations, Webbased interviews and exchanges, and podcasts. Additionally, the League will present an American Orchestra Forum session at its National Conference in Dallas in June, 2012. Programming at press time includes: Talking About Community October 23, 2011 (timed with Los Angeles Philharmonic residency) How are orchestras adapting to our country’s changing demographics? How has the role of the orchestra as educational partner in the civic realm expanded? What is an orchestra’s duty to its home city and its citizens? Participants include Gustavo Dudamel, music director, Los Angeles Philharmonic and alumnus, El Sistema, Venezuela; Deborah Borda, executive director, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras; a representative of the Sphinx Organization, Detroit; Amos Yang, assistant principal cellist, San Francisco Symphony, and alumnus, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra; Mark Clague, professor of music, University of Michigan; Neil Harris, professor of history and art history, University of Chicago; Steven Winn, journalist. Talking about Creativity March 17, 2012 (timed with the SFS American Mavericks Festival) How do orchestras balance tradition and innovation? How do classically trained musicians and composers straddle genres? Have technological advancements shaped how we experience music? Participants include Michael Tilson Thomas, music director, San Francisco Symphony; Brent Assink, executive director, San Francisco Symphony; Mason Bates, composer; John Adams, composer; John Rockwell, arts journalist and artistic planner; Margo Drakos, cellist and chief operating officer, InstantEncore; Mark Clague; Steven Winn. Talking About Audiences May 13, 2012 (timed with the New York Philharmonic residency) Can the live, onstage concert remain the core orchestral presentation for the next 100 years? How can the art form evolve without changing its essence? What’s the role of the audience in shaping the orchestra’s future? Participants include Alan Gilbert, music director, New York Philharmonic; Sunil Iyengar, director of research and analysis, National Endowment for the Arts; Elizabeth Scott, vice president, Major League Baseball Productions, and conductor; Chris DiCesare, director of creative programming, Google/YouTube; Jonathan Berger, composer and professor of music, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University; Mark Clague; Steven Winn.
(continued from page 47) to sing Bach, Mendelssohn, and Handel, with family and friends as the audience. Director of Public Relations Oliver Theil estimates that 40 percent of the San Francisco Symphony audiences played a musical instrument when they were younger. “This is another way for them to reconnect to music,” he says. Both choral and orchestral Community of Music Makers workshops will be offered in the centennial year. Plans for expanding the program are in the works.
Musicians on Risk-Taking
MTT is a big-picture thinker, whether he’s mapping out Mahler’s creative processes in the latest of his PBS Keeping Score broadcasts or exploring the complex relationship of music and visual imagery. Tilson Thomas also has an immediate, viscerally grounded connection to the San Francisco Symphony musicians. Noting that many of them are runners, hikers, and bikers—“I think more than there are in most symphony orchestras”—he isn’t just making a Califor-
nia lifestyle observation. He is invoking an aerated, adventuresome spirit that’s integral to the music-making itself. The centennial season is a kind of consolidation of the three-way connections he’s forged among himself, his players, and the public. “I’m feeling very celebratory about being here,” says the 66-year-old music director, “about my relationship to the audience and about music-making in general.” As MTT sees it, both the Symphony’s own 100th-anniversary programming and the unusual step of inviting six other top-flight orchestras to share the hall is “all about the celebration and enrichment of audiences here in San Francisco.” The feeling of anticipation is shared by the musicians. “It’s going to be a great season for the Symphony and the city,” says Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik, who will mark his tenth year with the ensemble. “What’s so special here” is the great freedom of music-making—the freedom of individual playing and taking risks that pays off by adding a sense of momentum. That’s what I really love about working with Michael. He encourages and trusts individual players to be very expressive.” Principal Oboist William Bennett, who joined the orchestra in 1979 when it still shared personnel and a performance space with the San Francisco Opera, has participated in enormous growth and change. “We’ve become an ensemble that can play with many kinds of individual characteristics at once,” he says. “The Mahler cycle with Michael has been the ultimate test of that.” The orchestra has answered what Bennett calls the composer’s summons to fuse “bel canto subtlety and folk elements” with “the high-cholesterol moments of a giant orchestra and an intimate window within that. We’re reaching 100 when we’re hitting the crest of a wave that is recognized nationally and internationally.” Bennett once felt that San Francisco’s geographical distance from the musical capitals of the East Coast and Europe was an obstacle to overcome with audiences and critics. “Now I think there’s something about being somewhat isolated out here that makes us try a little harder,” he says. “I know my psyche was formed in that crucible of trying to get the attention we get now. I’ve come to accept that as a healthy part of being an artist.” French horn player Jessica Valeri, whose symphony
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French horn player
San Francisco Symphony
career began in Chicago Jessica Valeri recalls ingly fragmented by elecSeiji Ozawa, San Francisco Symphony mutronic and social media,” he and St. Louis, joined the sic director from 1970 to 1977, will be unSan Francisco Symphony her first week on the says. “That’s a huge issue. able to conduct due to health reasons.) The way we engage our auin 2008. She laughs as she job. “I was dressed “The Community of Music Makers is diences can open new paths recalls her first week on the up, and everyone huge for us,” says Assink about the new to the way we live with and job. “I was all dressed up, program that invites adults to participate. connect to each other in the and everyone else showed else showed up for “The feedback to our first choral workwider world.” up for rehearsals in flip- rehearsals in flipshop was extraordinary. It reminded us Another pillar of the cenflops and Hawaiian shirts. flops and Hawaiian that making music is a joyful experience, tennial season is innovation: It meant that you don’t have which is, frankly, something that occasionthe commissions, the Mavto posture and that your fel- shirts. It meant ally gets lost for professional musicians, ericks Festival, the semilow musicians trust you will that you don’t have who do it every day. We don’t always know staged and video-enhanced deliver. There’s something to posture and why people come to our concerts; for evevenings, and a host of supincredibly freeing about that. ery 50 people there may be 50 different porting activities. The cenEveryone’s very positive and that your fellow reasons. What we’re really talking about tennial has become an ensupportive here.” here is another way in which the Symmusicians trust you ergizing force in everything Valeri finds a similar will deliver.” phony can touch people’s lives and provide from the American Orchesopenness from audiences. a meaningful experience.” In addition to tra Series and accompanyAn early concert in her the choral and instrumental workshops at ing symposia to a revitalized tenure paired Beethoven’s Davies Hall, the Symphony will also serve education website and a plan Ninth Symphony with Olias a kind of online musical dating service to dress up Davies Hall with ver Knussen’s Third Symto match amateurs who want to get toassertive signage. The Barphony. “There was one gether to play chamber music, says Assink: bary Coast concert and the concert where we weren’t “There’s something about San Francisco, return of past music directors going to do the Knussen,” and I think this is related to all the outinvoke the city’s rich musical she says, “and there were all door activities people pursue here, that is heritage. (Assink regrets that these reader comments on very active and participatory. Music isn’t a a review that warned people about that. In other cities they might be warning each other away from the new piece. It made a strong impression on me.” Valeri expresses excitement and pride (BUT OUR SHOWS ARE TECHNICOLOR!) about the centennial. She sees works like Bates’s Mass Transmission, which is scored for electronica and chorus with the comPlayfully presented poser performing live on laptop, as important thresholds. “Delving into the electronic vaudeville-inspired era is very interesting,” she says. “It brings in performances! people who normally might not come.”
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One goal of the centennial season, Assink says, is to show “how the city has emerged as a cultural powerhouse, both in the performing arts and the visual arts, and how we can help make that more visible.” Inviting the other orchestras to perform draws a kind of cultural map over the season, with the implicit message that San Francisco participates centrally in the ongoing conversation about “what place the American orchestra has in the larger American landscape.” Both the challenging economy and an entertainment culture with more and more choices, Assink believes, have provoked some deep thinking on that subject. “Concerts bring people together in a society that’s increas-
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passive experience. It’s something people actually need.” The orchestra’s youth education program is built on that principle. The elementarylevel Adventures in Music (AIM) reaches some 24,000 students with a blend of live concerts at Davies Hall and in-classroom instruction coordinated to the school curriculum. From the sixth grade on, the orchestra offers elective instrumental-music classes in the public schools. The organization also provides and repairs school instruments and other musical supplies. It’s all free of charge to the schools. SFS Kids (sfskids.org), the orchestra’s pioneering ten-year-old website for children, is getting a major makeover. “The program is large and costly,” says SFS Director of Education Ron Gallman, whose budget will grow to $3.2 million this year. “But sustaining and expanding our service to the community remains a commitment and a very important aspect of the centennial.” Susan Stauter, artistic director of the San Francisco Unified School District, gives the program high marks. “I travel around a lot,” she says. “This is the finest model of its kind, because it’s not just superimposed
as a mustard plaster. It’s all very thoughtfully aligned to the teaching objectives.” Stauter describes one classroom session that was keyed to Goethe’s notion of architecture as frozen music. “It was all about pattern, repetition, and structure,” says Stauter, “in a way that clearly connected the dots between the academic, the musical, and the real world.” Those same students were encouraged to rhythmically clap and conduct along, responding in a full-body way at the concert they attended at Davies Hall. While those sorts of audible and athletic displays might not necessarily be seen when the orchestra opens the season September 7 with its Fanfare for a New Century Gala on September 7, that actively engaged spirit is very much in keeping with the centennial mood. The following day, the orchestra will play a free outdoor concert at noon in Civic Center Plaza. Asked where planning the centennial had led him, MTT is soon talking about the orchestra’s second century. “I’m very much looking forward to the years beyond the centenary,” he says, “because there will be more space to embark on still more delightful new
projects.” He discusses his deep interest in the visual arts and goes on to envision a new generation of musicians who “realize that the visual can be a primary extension of their core understanding of music. I’m really just beginning my own explorations.” With “my friends at Google and YouTube,” he says, he’s been in lively discussions about the differences between improvised music and the “encoded” language of classical music that’s written down. One hundred years may sound like a big achievement, a gratifying mark of endurance and longevity. And so it is. But with Tilson Thomas leading an orchestra that’s imbued with his own restlessly adventuresome nature, no one’s spending much time in retrospective self-congratulation. The centenary has everyone at the San Francisco Symphony looking in one direction—into the future. San Francisco arts journalist Steven Winn writes frequently on music for the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Classical Voice (sfcv. org). He is the author of a memoir, Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog, which has been translated into nine languages.
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hat do you do if you’re one of the most revered symphony orchestras in the world, and your home base is a significantly shrinking city? Apparently, you take your talents to South Beach. Well, not South Beach exactly—LeBron James was off by a few miles in his famous statement about his new basketball team (the Miami Heat play over on the mainland, not Miami Beach). But the Cleveland Orchestra was considerably ahead of the game in 2007 when it launched a tenyear residency in Miami. The orchestra has put down roots in other places, too—Lucerne, Vienna, Indiana—and this summer it began a threeseason, every-other-year engagement at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York, to much acclaim. Like other significant American orchestras, Cleveland has an annual engagement at Carnegie Hall. It
Homes Away from Home by Alicia Zuckerman
spends one week every other year in Lucerne and Vienna, mostly playing traditional concerts, with an occasional opera performance, at multiple venues. The orchestra already had a long history of playing at the Lucerne Festival. But Franz Welser-Möst, who took the helm as music director in 2002 and lives in Vienna when he’s not in Cleveland, seems to have fostered a greater demand for the orchestra’s regular presence in Europe. In February of 2011, Cleveland’s Rotary Club saluted Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra Media Relations
Left: The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst take a bow at Vienna’s Musikverein. Right: Welser-Möst leads the Cleveland Orchestra in performance at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
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Faced with changing demographics, the Cleveland Orchestra is transforming itself with a business plan that tackles issues at home while bringing its renowned sound to places as far-flung as Miami and Switzerland.
as the region’s “best international ambassador.” This has been one of the boons of Welser-Möst’s leadership. Audiences love him on the podium, and his popularity has been parlayed into increased revenue and a higher profile overseas, during a time when the orchestra needed that. In addition, this past season, an annual half-week residency focusing on education began at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington. The agenda was brief but ambitious: there were 30 events over the course of three days, including master classes, meetings between orchestra and student musicians, and a re-
part,” says Sandi Macdonald, managing director of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami residency from 2007 until this past June. (Bruce Coppock, former president and managing director of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, has since taken over the job.) These residencies are important developments in the history of the Cleveland Orchestra—when first announced, news that the Cleveland Orchestra was heading to Miami for a winter residency made for some great headlines—but they are part of a larger turnaround plan that aims to transform the orchestra by addressing is-
Cleveland Orchestra musicians—from left, Chul-In Park, Eliesha Nelson, and Sae Shiragami—perform at a donor appreciation event in Miami, where the orchestra has an annual three-week residency and a local board.
hearsal led by Welser-Möst. (The Indiana University residency was supposed to have started a year earlier, but was cancelled due to a brief work stoppage following a labor dispute between musicians and management.) Lucerne, Vienna, New York, and Bloomington are significant, but not as significant as Miami, where the orchestra has been spending three weeks every year since 2007, performing about six eveninglength programs, as well as shorter concerts, earlier concerts, and family-friendly presentations, as part of a decade-long contract with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. “This is the one that represents the biggest, most innovative work on our
in Cleveland.” They were talking about the possibility of Cleveland, Ohio with no Cleveland Orchestra—and soon, no less. A year earlier, a committee had been put together to find solutions. It came up with two options. One would involve reducing the size of the orchestra and its activities, resulting in fewer concerts, fewer educational efforts, etc. The other involved embarking on a business model the orchestra called “Leveraging Excellence,” capitalizing on the orchestra’s artistic quality and reputation—essentially maximizing its brand and with it, its value, especially outside Ohio. The plan would also entail changing operations and musical offerings at home, with an eye to attracting a coveted younger audience. The board approved the latter option. A year later, the orchestra secured $17 million in donations and grant funding, which would keep it stable through 2010 while it continued to work toward long-term survival. A major component of the Cleveland Orchestra’s survival strategy was the Miami residency. What was the rationale behind the choice of Miami? “There’s a single key measure, in my view, of institutional potential in a community,” says Gary Hanson, the Cleveland Orchestra’s executive director. “Population growth. If you don’t have population growth, then you have to grow in new ways.” In terms of pure population numbers, Miami and Cleveland are remarkably similar. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, they rank 44 and 45, respectively, of the country’s 50 most populous cities. The city of Mi-
The orchestra embarked on a business model it called “Leveraging Excellence,” capitalizing on the orchestra’s artistic quality and reputation—essentially, maximizing its brand and its value, especially outside Ohio. The plan also entailed changing operations and musical offerings at home. sues both at home and outside Cleveland. In 2004, the board recognized in its annual report that increasing deficits due to “expense growth that exceeded inflation” were catching up with the orchestra and threatening its future. The 2004-05 report noted that “without fundamental changes in the orchestra’s business model, our growing annual losses, together with a mounting accumulated deficit and substantial unfunded pension liability, would soon make our institution unsustainable
ami is home to just under 400,000 residents. Meanwhile, the city of Cleveland is home to just under 397,000. But in terms of growth, it’s another story. Over the last decade, Cleveland has lost 17 percent of its population, while Miami’s population has increased by more than 10 percent. During the same period, South Florida experienced the ninth-largest population increase in the country. Still, the board recognized that making all these big changes could be risky. That symphony
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annual report included a caveat: the plan’s success was not assured. But Hanson says he and the board had seen enough to deem it a risk worth taking. As they were looking at how to develop and implement the “Leveraging Excellence” business model, he remembers that one of the things that emerged was that “the only activity outside Cleveland where the orchestra earned a positive margin was a one-week tour in Florida. Other than that, every time we left town, the revenue was lower than the incremental cost of going on the road. “It’s difficult to understand everything about a symphony orchestra artistically in
the money needed to keep it afloat. “We reasoned that a brand-new concert hall in Miami could benefit from one of the world’s great symphony orchestras,” says Hanson, “and that a symphony orchestra whose home city was not growing could benefit from a regular relationship with a city that was growing.” The city of Miami was not then without a professional orchestra, nor is it today: the Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO), founded in 1989, was in fact one of the groups that helped inaugurate Miami’s Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in October 2006. Today the $1.2 mil-
of the most respected dance troupes in the country. He doesn’t blame the orchestra but rather the community that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, keep the Florida Philharmonic alive. And Villella sees that as a cautionary tale about his own institution. “We are constantly fighting budget battles. Budget battles are the bane of our existence. We try to convince people who do not necessarily take a proprietary interest, and that’s what we really need. We need people to have that sense that it’s theirs.” To give local residents that proprietary interest, the Cleveland Orchestra established a board in Florida—the Musical
The Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami residency includes intimate chamber programs, among them this “Beethoven with a Twist” concert. From left: William Preucil, Carolyn Gadiel Warner, and Alexandra Preucil Dolan (Martha Baldwin turned pages at the piano).
one concert program,” says Hanson. It’s also not the way to raise money. So part of the idea was that if audiences could understand a symphony orchestra beyond a single concert program—if they could relate to it on a larger scale, within the framework of their own community—they would be willing to pay for it. And that’s what happened in Miami. Symbiosis
In 2004, Miami-Dade County was a few years away from opening a Cesar Pellidesigned performing arts center with a 2,200-seat concert hall originally intended as a home for the Florida Philharmonic and other arts groups. But that orchestra had folded a year earlier, unable to raise americanorchestras.org
lion Miami Symphony performs four of its nineteen concerts in that venue, now known as the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. But some members of Miami’s arts community have suggested that the Cleveland Orchestra, with its powerful fundraising capabilities, has ended any hopes of resurrecting a professional resident orchestra on the scale of the Florida Philharmonic (which was larger than MISO). “The community allowed its orchestra to go away, and the next thing they do is they get a relationship with the Cleveland Orchestra,” says Edward Villella, artistic director and CEO of the Miami City Ballet, the company he built into a world-class ensemble over the last 25 years and one
Arts Association of Miami—separate from its board in Cleveland. It files separate tax returns and employs a full-time, year-round staff of three in Miami. So far, they’ve raised approximately $11 million total for its three weeks a year in Miami. According to orchestra management, in 2010 almost half of Miami concert subscribers made additional contributions supporting the residency. In addition to three weekends of concerts, the residency also includes regular public-school presentations and education activities (a chamber concert and “petting zoo” of instruments at a community center, for example), and master classes with students at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, as well as with Fellows at the New World Symphony, the profes-
time: “Donors are, by and large, very rigorous about what they’ll support and what they expect in returned value to the community as a result of their support.” He says the bottom line is the quality of the orchestra, which he believes surpasses just about anything else on stage in Miami. “The audience knows the difference,” he says, with total conviction. That’s why the orchestra’s survival strategy is called “Leveraging Excellence.” Hanson also says Miami has been an ideal place to expand the orchestra’s identity because there’s an “ambition about culture” there. Miami is in the process of expanding its own cultural identity, beyond beaches and nightlife. Hanson says that was evident in the building of the performing arts center itself, as well as Art Basel Miami Beach, which launched in 2002 and is now one of the preeminent art fairs in the U.S., coinciding with more than a dozen satellite fairs throughout Miami Beach and Miami. The annual art fair is an offshoot
“Donors are, by and large, very rigorous about what they’ll support and what they expect in returned value to the community as a result of their support,” says Cleveland Orchestra Executive Director Gary Hanson.
sional training orchestra across the causeway in Miami Beach. Meanwhile, the orchestra performed with Miami City Ballet during a benefit in January 2009 and has discussed future collaborations. Hanson pulls no punches in explaining why he thinks the orchestra has been so good at raising money in Miami, where other arts organizations have had a harder
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of Art Basel in Switzerland, but quickly developed its own reputation as an international destination for artists and bigticket collectors. Construction began last fall on a new building for the Miami Art Museum designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron. Another recent example of the city’s cultural ambitions opened in January 2011: the New World Center, the New World Symphony’s Frank Gehry-designed building in Miami Beach, with an adjacent park where concerts are digitally projected in real time onto the building’s 7,000-square-foot outside wall. Everyone is invited to watch the projected live concerts. Part of why Cleveland works in Miami, says Hanson, is because so many people who live in Miami are from someplace else, so “they have an easier time being supportive of cultural activities from elsewhere.” Supporting the residencies in Lucerne and Vienna has been more challenging, he says. Europe doesn’t have the same culture of philanthropy as the U.S. because there’s so much more government support for the
Helen M. Thompson (1908 –1974), a passionate advocate for symphonic music and American orchestras, was the League’s first executive director.
To learn more, call 646 822 4066 or visit americanorchestras.org.
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t h E f i r s t tO b O O k t h E b E s t !
arts. The Cleveland Orchestra has established a small European advisory board in German-speaking central Europe, made up of Swiss, Austrian, German, and U.S. ex-pat members. And as in Miami, they are responsible for raising money for the central Europe engagements. Back when the Miami residency was first taking shape, Sandi Macdonald was talking with Gary Hanson on a flight back to Cleveland from Miami. “And we said, you know, if we were a for-profit organization, we would have someone come down here and really build some culture,” recalls Macdonald. That’s how the Miami residency office came into being. Macdonald stresses the importance of understanding the culture of Miami in order to integrate the Cleveland Orchestra into Miami’s cultural identity: “There’s a rhythm to this city that I think you’ve got to be open to and appreciate to be part of. We needed eyes on the ground.” Principal Flutist Joshua Smith, a member of the orchestra for 21 years, says a lot of people in Miami have developed a sense of ownership of the orchestra—a familiarity, even if they haven’t actually been to a concert. Whenever he tells people what he does and why he’s there, he says, “The response is always like, ‘Oh my God, yeah, I’m so excited that you’re here.’ Really without fail, everyone from taxicab drivers to restaurant owners to shopkeepers knows what’s happening.” He says that doesn’t happen in other cities where the orchestra plays, except in Cleveland itself. “We’re sort of seen as rock stars.” Last spring, the orchestra appoint-
ed Giancarlo Guerrero principal guest conductor of the Miami residency. The 42-year-old Nicaraguan’s regular gig is music director of the Nashville Symphony, and so far, his Cleveland post means that he will conduct one of the three weekends of concerts as well as educational efforts each year, through the 2013-14 season. In March 2012, he’ll oversee a bilingual, family-friendly collaboration between the orchestra and Tiempo Libre, Miami’s Grammy-nominated Latin jazz band. Guerrero has appeared with the orchestra in Miami twice already, and he seems to be an extremely good fit for Miami audiences, which include a large contingent of affluent Hispanics. Guerrero is gregarious, buoyant, and joyous. He smiles frequently, onstage and off. He also has a penchant for contemporary music, which could curry favor with some South Florida critics who have accused the orchestra of performing too many “greatest hits” and not challenging audiences enough. This is a tough one. A few years ago when the orchestra played Thomas Adès’s Violin Concerto, the audience was clearly underwhelmed. Beethoven’s Ninth and Ravel’s Bolero get a standing ovation every time.
Cleveland Orchestra clarinetist Robert Woolfrey engages young music lovers at one of the orchestra’s “Musical Rainbow” events in Coconut Grove, Florida.
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The Cleveland Orchestra spends a lot more time on the road than it did a decade ago, although according to Gary Hanson it’s still less than it was 40 years ago in the days of George Szell: Hanson cites an eleven-week European tour in 1965. But by modern standards, and in contrast to other top orchestras, the orchestra cer-
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tainly travels more than it used to. Flutist Joshua Smith says there are some real benefits of being on the road more often. “I find it a complete luxury in the sense that when I’m away from home, I’m only doing exactly what I want to be doing. I’m not faced with taking care of a house, the dogs, and making sure I get back to people. There’s something kind of great about focusing, honing in on the craft and the art only.” Smith acknowledges that it’s a lot
easier for him than for musicians who have families, especially with young children. When asked if he felt anxious about the Cleveland Orchestra’s future before the turnaround plan, residencies, and longterm engagements came along, Smith answers without any hesitation. “Yeah, surely. We’re a lot more like Detroit than we are like New York, in terms of what we’re able to support and what our size is,” he says. “When you see this crisis happening in
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classical music culture in Detroit, yeah, of course it’s scary. At least we’re trying to do something. I hope it’s working.” A few years into the “Leveraging Excellence” plan, the 2008-09 letter that accompanied the annual report outlined some challenges facing the orchestra field: an aging demographic, suburban sprawl, and rising white-collar unemployment. The letter stated that the Cleveland Orchestra would “not be daunted by the uphill climb. We’re focused on changing.” It cited changes at home (e.g., staged opera and ballet, shorter cabaret-style concerts, and a Sunday afternoon multimedia series aimed at giving existing and new audiences deeper insight into the music). That letter also touted the establishment and success of the regular out-of-town residencies. But money continued to be a problem (a stillgrowing deficit; endowment investments at low levels due to the stock market; and concerns about the pension plan). The letter stated that the financial situation was “serious but not desperate.” With major changes to the artistic and financial models, the orchestra now says it is looking toward an institutional transformation by the time it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2018. Among its goals: to have the youngest audience of any orchestra in the country. To that end, the Center for Future Audiences, launched last fall, aims at eliminating major barriers to accessing the orchestra’s live concerts and developing new kinds of programming; the center is funded with a $60 million endowment and will be in full swing by 2018. Current initiatives, like the Fridays@7 concerts, the Celebrity Series, and work with local public high schools are connecting with fresh audiences and generating enthusiasm at home. Ultimately, no matter how successful these activities, Cleveland is still at the heart of the orchestra’s most important asset: its sound. “There’s a limit to how much time the Cleveland Orchestra can spend outside Cleveland,” says Hanson. “The sound is formed in Severance Hall. And the act of regularly rehearsing and performing there hones that sound into something very refined.” Severance Hall has been the orchestra’s home since 1931, and it still plays an average of 113 concerts there every year. As Hanson puts it, “The hall is part of the instrument, so in order to be the Cleveland Orchestra, we have to symphony
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continue to play the majority of our time in Cleveland, or a big part of what we do goes away.” And Severance Hall is where Cleveland Orchestra board member Daniel Lewis, a prime mover behind the Miami residency, first took potential Miami board members when he and Gary Hanson were initially developing the idea for the residency. Insurance industry executive Hector Fortun was among them, hearing the orchestra for the first time. “It’s just very inspiring, very moving,” Fortun says. “I said, ‘Boy, this would be phenomenal for Miami.’ So I was sold. Didn’t have to do much more after that.” Fortun is now on the orchestra’s board in Florida, the Musical Arts Association of Miami. Fortun calls Hanson and Welser-Möst visionaries. “I think as a business model, it’s the way to the future,” he says. “I don’t think it’s financially sustainable to have an orchestra of this nature in one city. We have to do what works, and what works is the Cleveland Orchestra. We have it here, we should cherish it, we should enjoy it.” The Cleveland Orchestra has worked at cultivating its own identity in Miami—to be part of the community and landscape of the region. Fortun says that over time, the board would like to increase the number of weeks in Miami from three to “four, five, or six” a year. “You know, five years is a testament to the success of the Miami residency,” he continues. “It’s been a profitable venture, it’s grown, it’s been sold out, it’s been well-received by the community. But the reality of it is that we’re just beginning. It’s just a baby. In another five years, in another twenty years, this is going to be a huge, huge institution for Miami.” ALICIA ZUCKERMAN is a public radio producer and writer in Miami, Florida. She is the co-creator and co-host of the radio series Under the Sun on WLRN (wlrnunderthesun.org). Before moving to Miami, she wrote about classical music and dance for New York magazine.
Got an opinion? Join the discussion! If you were looking to reimagine or turn around your orchestra, what unique assets would you focus on? Would venturing from home help or hinder that work for your orchestra?
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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. W. Curtis Livingston, co-chair, Nantucket, MA Nina C. Masek, co-chair, Sonoita, AZ Janet F. & Dr. Richard E. Barb Family Foundation, Indianapolis, IN Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee, Washington, DC John & Janet Canning, Westport, CT Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek, North Oaks, MN Martha and Herman Copen Fund, Mt. Carmel, CT Myra Janco Daniels, Naples, FL Samuel C. Dixon, Morrow, GA Henry & Frances Fogel, Chicago, IL Susan Harris, Ph.D., Ann Arbor, MI Steve & Lou Mason, Dayton, OH Shirley D. McCrary, Mooresville, AL Lowell & Sonja Noteboom, Minnetonka, MN Charles & Barbara Olton, New York, NY Peter Pastreich, San Francisco, CA Rodger E. Pitcairn, Rockville, MD Robert & Barbara Rosoff, Glens Falls, NY Robert J. Wagner, Maplewood, NJ Tina Ward, Saint Louis, MO Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster, New York, NY Anonymous (1) David Snead, New York, NY Mr. Ari Solotoff, Portland, ME · Barbara J. Soroca, Stamford, CT Mr. Gideon Toeplitz, Richmond, MA Melia & Michael Tourangeau, Salt Lake City, UT Jeff & Melissa Tsai, Pittsburgh, PA · Dr. Jane Van Dyk, Billings, MT Gus Vratsinas, Little Rock, AR Robert J. Wagner, Maplewood, NJ Edward Walker, Oklahoma City, OK Sandra Weingarten, Brownsville, OR Linda Weisbruch, Charlotte, NC Gary & Diane West, West Chester, OH Melinda Whiting & John Burrows, Riverton, NJ Paul Winberg & Bruce Czuchna, Eugene, OR Lisa M. Wong, M.D., Newton, MA Rebecca & David Worters, Fort Worth, TX Edward C. Yim, New York, NY · Paul Jan Zdunek, Pasadena, CA * Charter Member † Directors Council (former League Board) · Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni + Includes Corporate Matching Gift ‡ In-Kind Donation
with people like Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Neeme Järvi, Emanuel Ax, and Marin Alsop, to name but a few, there is the Radio Room. In fairness, the studio where all of the New York Phil broadcasts are recorded, the Radio Room at Avery Fisher Hall, has
Alec Baldwin interviews Lang Lang after the pianist’s performance with the New York Philharmonic on a Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of the Philharmonic’s 2010 New Year’s Eve program.
Art Streiber NBC
n the fall of 2009, I was attending a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Christoph Eschenbach was the conductor. I had been invited by Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, to sit in his box as part of a cultivation event for Carnegie patrons. I had attended events of every stripe there before, but never in the company of, as it turned out, some of the most significant management figures and benefactors in contemporary symphonic music. Seated in the adjoining box were Matias Tarnopolsky, the New York Philharmonic’s vice president of artistic planning, and Zarin Mehta, the president and executive director of the Phil. At the interval, a conversation ensued, and at the end of the concert I was asked to call Matias and Zarin about their idea that I step in to replace Kerry Frumkin, who was soon to be stepping down as the radio announcer for the New York Philharmonic. Backstage, we met the imperious Eschenbach, who had no idea who I was. (I was liking this world already.) Eventually, after meeting with Zarin and Matias at Lincoln Center to discuss the parameters of the job, I agreed to become the announcer on classical radio station WQXR. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Besides attending innumerable events at Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall, and other such venues, besides entering a world teeming with an abundance of true creative genius and incomparable artistic dedication, besides getting acquainted
He’s starred in a ton of important films. He’s hosted the Oscars and Saturday Night Live. He’s the star of a hit television comedy. So what’s Alec Baldwin’s favorite new project? Being the radio “voice” of an orchestra.
recently undergone a complete renovation. However, prior to that, it resembled a set from a Woody Allen movie that takes place in the 1940s. Or a Hecht and MacArthur play. All that was missing was a roll-top desk and Hildy Johnson barking into a phone. But it is there that my producers, Larry Rock and Mark Travis, make yours truly sound, sort of, like an authority on classical music. Make no mistake, I take the job quite seriously. It has been nothing less than an honor to read the “wrap arounds” for each concert. I try hard to make sure that our
language and my reading fit the tone of the piece. I try to enunciate, even overly so, to allow even first-time listeners to understand what they are hearing and by what composer, with which conductors and soloists. I am loving every minute of it. Three hours of me stumbling over certain pronunciations and a take-out Chinese lunch later, Larry, Mark, and I have a couple of shows in the can. I love working with both of them. Two real gentlemen who never make me feel like I will never know half of what they know. Perhaps most important is the amount of music I have been introduced to that I might have otherwise overlooked. Music of every style in the classical repertoire, and one of my favorite elements is the musicological history to which I have been exposed. And the names!! Some of them I will actually use to stay in hotels under. My favorite? British Mozart authority Cuthbert Girdlestone. I have no musical training. However, as I have said on numerous occasions, I am having the time of my life serving as the bat boy for the New York Phil. symphony
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