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New Research: Are Audiences Abandoning Orchestras? Great Expectations for Emerging Artists In the Line of Fire New! More to Read, See, and Hear at SymphonyOnline
CONCERT MUSIC… AND THE CHANCE TO SEE A CHAPLIN CLASSIC Join the symphony orchestras worldwide who have already discovered the hilarious box office hit a Chaplin film plus a Chaplin score can be... ...if Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, St Louis, Moscow, London and Kyoto can do it, then so can you ! “ I tried to compose elegant and romantic music to frame my comedies in contrast to the tramp character ” Charles Chaplin “ Like his famous character, his scores employ a perfect balance of comedy, pathos and skill ” Timothy Brock
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amernet strIng quartet caleFax reed quIntet KavaFIan duo larK chamber artIsts neWstead trIo schumann trIo trIo solIstI
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sPecIal vocal Programs
SOPrANO heather bucK JennIFer casey cabot sarah coburn margaret cusacK Karen Foster sarI gruber amanda hall constance hauman sara JaKubIaK Kelly Kaduce audrey elIzabeth luna lInda mabbs Kate mangIamelI Kelley nassIeF marIe Plette emIly Pulley barbara shIrvIs KorlIss uecKer arIanna zuKerman
VIOlIN vadIm gluzman anI KavaFIan Ida KavaFIan catherIne manouKIan lara st. John dan zhu VIOlA noKuthula ngWenyama CellO colIn carr gary hoFFman Inbal segev Flute ransom WIlson FreNCh hOrN davId Jolley GuItAr elIot FIsK
choral seraPhIc FIre
”amerIcan celebratIon”, “bellIssImo broadWay” & “hearts aFIre” barbara shIrvIs/stePhen PoWell
Jazz & cabaret gerI allen Piano don braden saxoPhone tony desare Piano/Vocal ute lemPer Vocal marK raPP trumPet don braden and marK raPP: the strayhorn Project
bIlly taylor Piano
symPhony PoPs anderson & roe Piano Duo gerI allen Piano don braden saxoPhone tony desare Piano/Vocal mattheW dIbattIsta tenor sarI gruber soPrano ute lemPer Vocal marK raPP trumPet vale rIdeout tenor barbara shIrvIs soPrano stePhen PoWell baritone
mezzO-SOPrANO chrIstIne abraham elIzabeth bIshoP catherIne cooK sandra PIques eddy malIn FrItz JosePha gayer theodora hansloWe chrIstIn-marIe hIll abIgaIl nIms laura vlasaK nolen PhyllIs Pancella stacey rIshoI marIetta sImPson KrIsztIna szabó CONtrAltO JennIFer hInes
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teNOr John bellemer mattheW dIbattIsta mIchael-Paul KrubItzer scott ramsay vale rIdeout roy cornelIus smIth BArItONe eugene brancoveanu PhIlIP cutlIP lee gregory stePhen KechulIus ŽelJKo lučIć sherrIll mIlnes lee PoulIs stePhen PoWell WIllIam sharP alexander tall mattheW Worth BASS-BArItONe mattheW burns eduardo chama erIc doWns JaKe gardner damIen Pass andreW Wentzel stePhen West BASS gustav andreassen KevIn burdette andreW gangestad dong-JIan gong chrIstoPher temPorellI NArrAtOr sherrIll mIlnes StAGe DIreCtOr elIzabeth bachman sandra bernhard José marIa condemI
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symphony JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 0
THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
4 Prelude by Robert Sandla 7 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events
32 Gary Lambert
16 Board Room The economy is putting new stress on board members and executive directors. League Chairman Lowell Noteboom offers perspective. 21 At the League New research on audiences is serving as a wake-up call. by Judith Kurnick
Listen, Learn, and Lead What business leaders can learn from musicians. by Chester Lane
Extra Credit Today’s emerging artists do much more than perform. by Heidi Waleson
Guide to Emerging Artists
Online Opus Musician blogs give behind-the-scenes insights into the artist’s mind. by Ian VanderMeulen
The Price Is Right Reducing “churn” may be all in the numbers. by Rebecca Winzenried
True Grit When emergency strikes but the show must go on: firsthand accounts from six orchestras. Breaking the Sound Barrier Players of unsung instruments are creating their own opportunities. by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
73 Advertiser Index
74 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund
83 Stat of the Arts 84 Coda NFL placekicker Rob Bironas on music and education.
78 On the Road to El Sistema Kathryn Wyatt files her first behind-the-scenes report from New England Conservatory’s new Abreu Fellows program. about the cover
The Minnesota Orchestra’s Sarah Hicks and Sam Bergman are just two of the musicians who are blogging up a storm. Cover photo by Jake Armour
VO LU M E 6 1 , N U M B E R 1
symphony JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 0
ow everyone can read all about it: in recent years, only selected articles from each issue of Symphony were published online, but starting this month the complete contents of each new edition of Symphony will be posted at americanorchestras.org. SymphonyOnline is the free, openly accessible digital version of the magazine; it can be read by anyone, anywhere with a computer. Making Symphony freely available online means that everyone will have access to the news and issues critical to the orchestra field, so that we share our wonderful art form with as many people as possible while becoming part of the larger cultural mix. Reading SymphonyOnline is much like reading the print version: same compelling articles, same great design. There’s even a whoosh sound when you flip each page—but don’t worry, you can disable the audio feature if whoosh isn’t your thing. All the email addresses and Web links will be active, so that if you are reading, say, Judith Kurnick’s thoughtful article about orchestras’ shrinking audiences in this issue, you can directly link to resources including the NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts and the League of American Orchestras’ Audience Demographic Research Review. Another, perhaps more heartening example: this issue’s article about recent works for seldom-heard instruments includes sound clips of the music in question—a good fit for a magazine about orchestras. We’ll continue to publish six issues per year; four of them will be printed ( JanuaryFebruary, May-June, July-August, and November-December) and all six of them will be available online. As we move ahead, we will be refining and adapting SymphonyOnline, so—to use an “old media” catchphrase—stay tuned.
THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
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Black Hills Symphony Orchestra The Cleveland Womenâ€™s Orchestra Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra Idaho State Civic Symphony Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal Rockford Symphony Orchestra Sedalia Symphony Orchestra Society Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MO)
Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Magic Valley Symphony Orchestra McKeesport Symphony Orchestra Riverside County Philharmonic Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Young Artists Philharmonic
Acadiana Symphony Orchestra Conway Symphony Orchestra Lewisville Lake Symphony Redwood Symphony Salem Chamber Orchestra
The Alhambra Orchestra Atlantic Classical Orchestra Holland Symphony Orchestra La Grange Symphony Orchestra Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta The Miami Symphony Orchestra Riverside Symphonia Tallahassee Youth Orchestras The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra
Mill Valley Philharmonic Orchestra Kentucky of Bowling Green Rappahannock Pops Orchestra Riverton Metropolitan Orchestra
The League of American Orchestras is pleased to recognize the following orchestras on their noteworthy milestones:
SYMPHONIC VOYAGES Debut Sail ing
Immerse yourself in classical music aboard a luxury Caribbean cruise. January 3-15, 2011 Join a community of music lovers and world-class artists on a unique vacation experience. Attend daily performances by a full symphony orchestra, chamber music concerts, and solo recitals by the artists in residence. Enjoy opportunities to socialize with the professional musicians who will be your fellow passengers.
Featured Artists Cho-Liang Lin, violin • Susan Lorette Dunn, soprano • Larry Rachleff, conductor
Tropical Destinations Celebrity Cruises will host Symphonic Voyages aboard the luxurious Celebrity Mercury, sailing from Baltimore, Maryland to the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Kitts, Antigua, and St. Maarten.
Prices start at $1,800 Book your trip by March 1, 2010 and receive a $100 discount per berth. In addition, Symphonic Voyages will contribute $100 to the performing arts organization of your choice. Capacity is limited
©2010 Symphonic Voyages. All Rights Reserved
on this debut sailing, so reserve your space today.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS, CALL OR VISIT:
1-800-970-SAIL | www.SymphonIcvoyAgeS.com
SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry The
Musical Chairs Wisconsin’s Peninsula Music Festival has named LAURA ASHLEY assistant director. has been elected president of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra Association.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has announced the appointment of MASON BATES and ANNA CLYNE as CSO Mead Composers-in-Residence, effective September 2010. Composer and conductor GEORGE BENJAMIN has been named music director for the 2010 Ojai (Calif.) Music Festival. ANTHONY C. BOATMAN , executive director of the Boise Philharmonic, has announced his retirement from that post effective July 2010.
Will 2009-10 be remembered as the Season of the Big Screen? Maybe, judging from the number of ensembles offering free outdoor simulcasts of their opening nights. At Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic’s September 16 concert—Messiaen, Berlioz, and a Magnus Lindberg world premiere, led by new Music Director Alan Gilbert—was shown (top) on screens at Josie Robertson Plaza. The Metropolitan Opera had a similar setup on September 21—plus screens in Times Square (upper left)—for its opening-night Tosca performance. In Washington, D.C., 19,000 people showed up on September 12 at Nationals Park (lower left) to watch Washington National Opera’s simulcast of The Barber of Seville. The Nashville Symphony opened its season on September 11 with a large-screen simulcast outside Schermerhorn Symphony Center (upper right) of an all-Beethoven program. At the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Philharmonic welcomed Music Director Gustavo Dudamel with a four-hour free concert on October 3, complete with fireworks that spelled out “Bienvenido Gustavo.” Two nights later, Dudamel’s opening night at Disney Hall (Mahler 1, John Adams’s City Noir) was shown on outdoor screens at Music Center Plaza (lower right), with 3,000 free tickets distributed by lottery.
Brossé has announced his intention to retire as president and CEO of the Brevard (N.C.) Music Center; he will remain in the post pending the selection of his successor.
The Omaha Symphony has appointed ANGELA CASSETTE general manager. New York City’s Orchestra of St. Luke’s has announced the appointment of KATY CLARK as executive director; she succeeds MARIANNE LOCKWOOD, who has led the OSL since its inception in 1974. ZEV GREENFIELD Clark has been named vice president for finance and operations. Mathew Imaging
Tony Brown for Washington National Opera
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has appointed DIRK BROSSÉ music director effective with the 2010-11 season; he succeeds IGNAT SOLZHENITSYN , who will assume the title conductor laureate.
The Bismarck-Mandan (N.D.) Symphony Orchestra has appointed JEFFREY COLLIER executive director.
Music Academy of the West President NANCYBELL COE has announced her intention to step down from that post following the Academy’s 2010 summer festival.
has been named executive director of California’s Youth Orchestras of Fresno. R. EMETERIO CASTRO has been elected president. JULIA COPELAND
The Springfield (Mass.) Symphony Orchestra has announced the election of THOMAS CREED as president.
has been elected chairman of the Nashville Symphony.
JAMES C. GOOCH
The Board of Directors of Wisconsin’s Green Bay Symphony Orchestra has elected BILL GUC president.
At the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, HILLARY has been named administrative director for OrchKids, the BSO’s after-school program for underserved students.
Musical Chairs has been named principal conductor of pops and presentations at the Minnesota Orchestra. EarShot, a new-music partnership among the American Composers Orchestra and several service organizations, including the League of American Orchestras, has named CINDI HUBBARD manager.
Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival has appointed ELIZABETH HURLEY executive director.
Exactly one year after Barack Obama was elected president, strains of Bach, Paganini, and Saint-Saëns rang throughout the White House’s East Wing when First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a program celebrating classical music. The November 4 event, the fourth in a series that had already celebrated country, jazz, and Latin music, featured afternoon workshops for 120 middle- and highschool students from the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute at Wayne State University First Lady Michelle Obama at a November 4 concert celebrating in Detroit, working with Sphinx Competition alumni classical music in the East Room of the White House. and Sphinx Performance Above: President Barack Obama Academy students. The greets musicians Sujari Britt, 8, evening concert spotlighted and Jason Yoder, 16. violinist Joshua Bell, guitarist Sharon Isbin, pianist Awadagin Pratt, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who also performed duets with cellist Sujari Britt, 8, and marimba player Jason Yoder, 16. The event was streamed live on whitehouse.gov.
has been named executive director of Virginia’s Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra. JANET B. KALTENBACH
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has announced that RICHARD KAUFMAN will conclude his tenure as principal pops conductor on May 29, 2010. YOSUKE KAWASAKI , concertmaster
of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra since June 2007, has been awarded tenure in that position.
Arts Consulting Group Inc. has named REBEKAH and ERIC M. NELSON senior consultants in its Portland (Ore.) and New York City offices, respectively.
BARBARA LOHMAN has been named executive director of California’s Riverside County Philharmonic.
TRG Arts, based in Colorado Springs, has appointed PHILLIP MATTHEWS senior consultant.
MOLLY McARDLE has been named director of development at Aspen Music Festival and School.
The Seattle Symphony has announced the appointment of EMMA McGRATH as associate concertmaster.
GERALD MORRIS has been named communications officer at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra; he McGrath succeeds JANE MORRIS (no relation), who has retired after 32 years with the center.
At the Boston Symphony Orchestra, SUZANNE PAGE has been promoted to associate director for board relations.
The Charleston (S.C.) Symphony Orchestra has announced that DAVID STAHL , music director since 1984, will “transition out of the day-to-day artistic management of the Symphony over the course of the next three seasons.” He will then assume the title laureate conductor. has been named chief development officer at The Cleveland Orchestra.
Violinist and conductor THOMAS has been named artistic partner at The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, effective with the 2010-11 season.
EUGENIA ZUKERMAN will step down Zehetmair as artistic director of Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival at the end of the 2010 season.
The Lexington (Ky.) Philharmonic has appointed general manager.
The Juilliard Manuscript Collection just got a boost with the addition of two significant original manuscripts: the only surviving complete manuscript of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata for Violin and Piano, and the engraved proof copy of the vocal score for Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Both scores feature annotations and corrections by the composers, and were chosen for the collection for what they reveal about the composer’s process. The new items were donated to Juilliard by board chairman Bruce Kovner, whose donation of manuscripts in 2006 created the school’s collection. High-resolution images of much of the 140-piece collection have been posted at juilliardmanuscriptcollection.org.
2010 Ardon Bar Hama
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director will conclude his tenure in that post at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Three League projects for the field are leaving their drawing boards and ready for roll-out to orchestras nationwide. • The League’s new book, Fearless Journeys: Innovation in American Orchestras, will be published in print and digital formats in February 2010. Made possible by generous funding from MetLife Foundation, the book documents the ingenuity and creativity of today’s orchestras, focusing on the Atlanta, Memphis, and Pacific symphonies, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. • March sees the launch of the League’s newest membership category, created especially for orchestra board members. It brings together the many offerings the League currently provides for board members plus some exciting new features, including generous financial incentives that benefit the orchestras of participating board members.
Orchestras Feeding America
has been named executive director of the Rockford (Ill.) Symphony Orchestra.
• The highly successful Orchestras Feeding America national food drive will be repeated during the whole of March. Last year, 250 orchestras in all 50 states collected over 200,000 pounds of food. The aim this year is to double the number of orchestras taking part and the amount of food collected for this critically important cause. In-depth information on these and other League projects can be found at americanorchestras.org.
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When the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Paavo Järvi toured Japan this fall, not only were the members of the orchestra busy performing Copland, Bernstein, and Dvorák, but staff and musicians were busy blogging about everything from jet lag to masterclasses and rides on Japan’s famous bullet trains. Among the bloggers—who for ten days wrote text and shared photos and videos—were President Trey Devey, Principal Oboe Dwight Parry, Principal Clarinet Richie Hawley, and Senior Director of Communications Chris Pinelo. Operations Manager Heather Stengle snapped this shot (above) of CSO Stage Managers Joe Hopper and Ralph LaRocco loading instruments onto trucks after receiving them at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
Something to Celebrate When Senior Editor Chester Lane began working at Symphony, Jimmy Carter was president, the Bee Gees and Donna Summer were leading the pop charts, and a top ticket to the New York Philharmonic cost $15. One of only four current employees who were on board when the League of American Orchestras—then the American Symphony Orchestra League—was based in Washington, D.C., Symphony’s purveyor of puns and authority on all things symphonic (above) celebrates his 30th anniversary with the organization this month. During Chester’s three decades at Symphony, the magazine has won ten ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards, including one for his article “Music Close to Home: The Vital Role of Community Orchestras in America” in 2001. The League and Symphony thank and congratulate Chester for his 30 years of dedicated service. americanorchestras.org
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman with the cast of Rent, after the Eastlight Theatre’s November 6 performance in Peoria. Kathy Chitwood, executive director of Eastlight Theatre, is standing next to Landesman.
From Peoria with Love
Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is midway through his six-month “Art Works” U.S. tour, talking about his vision of a more visible, pro-active NEA. He kicked off the tour in Brooklyn on October 21 with an impassioned speech about the importance of the arts, followed by a November 6 visit to Peoria, Illinois, the first stop on the tour. Later stops include Missouri, Tennessee, California, Idaho, Kentucky, and Washington State. The NEA has been hosting a blog at arts. gov where Americans can post stories of how art works in their own communities, and Landesman is regularly posting updates on his tour. (The text of his speech can be viewed at nea.gov.)
Terje Mikkelsen Conducts
Presented under the auspices of ...
I.M. Skaugen SE IMS - Innovative Maritime
conducts Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in June 2008, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles Contact me to add a Program by Norwegian Composers to an upcoming season or request a copy of the Alnaes Symphony #1 and #2 performed by the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra with Mr. Mikkelsen. Terje Mikkelsen
Steve Dyer (614) 309-1379 firstname.lastname@example.org 9
Have Blog, Will Travel
Every Breath He Takes
This January, singer-composer Sting (below) will perform with a new backup band: The Philadelphia Orchestra. The occasion is a benefit concert for the orchestra and for restoration of the Academy of Music, a National Historic Landmark that was the orchestra’s home from 1900 until 2001. The orchestra will perform in songs by The Police and from Sting’s solo career, led by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos; tenor Juan Diego Florez will also perform on the program, which includes several classical works. Look in the March-April issue of Symphony for an exclusive first-person view from Sting about classical music.
In a new twist on the artist-in-residence idea, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has created a three-year partnership with an ensemble rather than a single artist. The exuberant string trio Time for Three—one of whose musicians, Zach De Pue, is already known in the community as co-concertmaster of the ISO—will bring music to new audiences and venues throughout Indiana, build relationships with selected schools, and develop a leadership role in the orchestra’s Stella Artois Happy Hour at the Symphony series. Residency activities by the Nick Kendall, Zach De trio began in November with a Pue, and Ranaan Meyer of Time for Three, now free event at Indianapolis ensemble-in-residence Hebrew Congregation, at the Indianapolis and included three Symphony Orchestra performances with the ISO in Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3.
This Time, It’s Three
Susanna Perry Gilmore is no stranger to the footlights—she’s concertmaster of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra—but the role of violin-playing love interest in a foreign film wasn’t part of her game plan. That was before casting agents for Narcissus, an independent Lithuanian picture, trolled the internet in search of someone who looked the part of Lea—“a viola/violin player, a foreigner, an ephemeral and inspiring woman,” as the character was described in an unsolicited letter she received in May 2008. It seems that Googling “female violinist” had led them to Gilmore’s picture and information about her musical credentials. Invited to try out based on a CD of her playing and a videotaped script reading, she traveled to Vilnius last summer and aced the screen test. The rest is, well, cinematic history. Gilmore is pictured at left during the film shoot with her costar, Greek cellist Amvrosios Vlachopoulos. Narcissus is scheduled for release in Lithuania this spring.
Wanted: Talented Blonde
Violinist Glenn Donnellan performing his “electric slugger” at a Washington Nationals baseball game on August 8, 2009
Going to Bat
In search of a fun instrument for youth concerts, National Symphony Orchestra violinist Glenn Donnellan built a fully functional electric violin out of a baseball bat, and used it to perform the National Anthem for a fitting event: a Washington Nationals Baseball game. Pending permission from baseball equipment manufacturer Louisville Slugger, Donnellan plans to name his creation the “electric slugger.” In an ESPN interview in October Donnellan demonstrated the prototype, explained its design, and expressed his ambition to perform the anthem in all major baseball stadiums. symphony
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New Jersey Taps Lacombe
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has named Jacques Lacombe as its thirteenth music director, with an initial contract scheduled to take effect September 1, 2010. Installed as music director designate on October 20, 2009, Lacombe (below) succeeds Neeme Järvi, who led the orchestra from 2004 through the end of last season. Currently artistic director and principal conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières in his native Quebec, Lacombe served as principal guest conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 2002 to 2006, and has led major opera companies in the U.K, Germany, and Monte Carlo. Lacombe received his musical training at the Texas and New York both just got a little bigger. On October 12, the new AT&T Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and Performing Arts Center opened to significantly expand Dallas’s Arts District, and the at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center (formerly the State Theater) reopened on November 5 after a yearlong renovation. Resident companies of the AT&T complex are the Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Texas Ballet Theater, and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. The outdoor Annette Strauss Artist Square will open in The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, new home for several 2010, and City Performance Hall, for smaller arts groups, is Dallas organizations, at the new AT&T Performing Arts Center Brain research on music continues to be set to open in 2011. The Dallas a popular topic for scientific study, with Symphony Orchestra will continue to perform at the Meyerson Symphony Center, recently published books by Oliver Sacks across the street from the complex. In New York, renovation of the David H. Koch and Daniel Levitin. In line with that Theater, home of New York City Ballet and New York City Opera, includes new aisles trend, the Library of Congress is in its in the orchestra seating area; an expanded, flexible orchestra pit; removable acoustic second season of “Music and the Brain,” a panels (allowing the sound-enhancement system to be disabled during operas); and a free lecture series. Among the speakers is media room. Dr. Petr Janata, from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of CaliforniaDavis, who gives a January 21 lecture on “Music, Memories, and the Brain.” With this issue, the entire contents of Symphony are available at a computer near On April 9, Norman Middleton, from you. Want to catch up with the latest marketing tactics? Interested in the big-picture the Library’s Music Division, will give thinking that helps orchestras cope with the economy? Want to meet the musicians a lecture on stage fright and the brain, who make the art come alive? All the award-winning articles and eye-catching design and the series also includes classical and of Symphony are now just a click away at americanorchestras.org. We’ll continue to jazz performances of music by Uri Caine, publish six issues per year; four of them will be printed (January-February, May-June, Caleb Burhans, and Dafnis Prieto. The July-August, and November-December), and all six will be available online. Online-only Library’s video webcasts from last year’s “Music and the Brain” series are available enhancements include live Web links, multimedia, interactive features, and additional at loc.gov and at the Library’s YouTube content. Best of all, SymphonyOnline is free to anyone, anywhere with an internet channel. connection.
Inside the Musical Brain
Two Giant Steps
The renovated David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center
Symphony Goes Digital
Riccardo Muti, music director designate of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has been named Musician of the Year by Musical America. He was honored at MA’s annual awards ceremony, held December 14 at Lincoln Center. Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, current holder of the Composer Chair at Carnegie Hall, garnered the Composer of the Year Award. Violinist Joshua Bell and mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca were named Instrumentalist of the Year and Vocalist of the Year, respectively. And a first-ever Collaborative Pianist Musician of the Year Riccardo Muti, pictured with the Chicago Symphony of the Year award went to Warren Jones, whose Orchestra in 2007 work has supported the artistry of such vocalists as Marilyn Horne, Kathleen Battle, Samuel Ramey, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Stephanie Blythe.
Musical America honors Five
Double-reed players…what will they think of next? Doug Quint, a conservatory-trained bassoonist and New York City resident, has added several extra-musical activities to his schedule. When Quint and Bryan Petroff entered the street-food craze this summer with their Big Gay Ice Cream Truck—aka BGICT—they attracted lines down the block. They were named “best street food” by The Village Voice, and Quint won upwards of 4,000 Twitter followers as a result. With winter on the way, Quint came up with a new idea: a free-ticketgiveaway program for classical concerts. At press time ten music organizations had pledged tickets: American Modern Bassoonist Doug Quint—seen at Ensemble, American Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Chameleon left and selling ice cream in New York City, above—has hatched a Arts Ensemble, New York Gilbert and classical ticket-giveaway scheme. Sullivan Players, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra (Boston), and San Diego Symphony. New Yorkers with ice cream cravings, fear not: the truck expects to be back with warmer weather.
Edible and Audible Offers
Comecdeyrtos Con 412-563-0468
Good news for classical mandolin players: now there’s more to life than Vivaldi! The Colorado Symphony Orchestra featured an instrument not often seen on orchestra stages when it premiered Chris Thile’s Mandolin Concerto “Ad astra per alas porci” on September 17 with the composer as soloist. The premiere, led by Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, was followed by performances at the Oregon Symphony with Carlos Kalmar (September 26) and Alabama Symphony with Justin Brown (October 29). The work will get four more performances in 2010 at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Winston-Salem Symphony, Delaware Symphony, and Portland (Maine) Symphony.
Arik Sokol/Opus Media Productions
Chris Thile (right) performed his Mandolin Concerto with Justin Brown (left) and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra on October 29.
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View from the Top The Santa Rosa Symphony’s October benefit concert was up high—but down at the ranch. For the event, the California orchestra invited guests to Steve Oliver’s Sonoma Valley home to hear the Kronos Quartet perform Rayahu Supanggah’s Purnati, a work Oliver had commissioned. The musicians’ performance space was an 80-foot, Ann Hamilton-designed tower, whose twin staircases were rigged with wires, music stands, and percussion instruments; the composer, playing his gamelan, was also on hand. Members of the audience sat on steps and ledges. The event was the result of SRS’s longtime association with the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, and raised $15,000 for the orchestra.
For fans of turn-of-the-century Russians, two books may be worth checking out. Simon Morrison expands his Prokofiev oeuvre with The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years (Oxford University Press, 491 pages, $29.95), drawing on previously sealed files in the Russian State Archives to uncover a story of the composer’s struggle against censorship by the Stalin regime. The 1913 premiere of Rite of Spring is a pivotal moment in Chris Greenhalgh’s seductive new novel Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (Riverhead Books, 326 pages, $15), essentially the book version of the recent major motion picture of the same name, also written by Greenhalgh. A chapter on Stravinsky’s Hollywood years closes Dorothy Lamb Crawford’s A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler’s Émigrés and Exiles in Southern California (Yale University Press, 336 pages, $35), a book that touches on the musical lives of such luminaries as Otto Klemperer and Arnold Schoenberg during the same period. Those looking to expand their classical record collections may want to browse through Penguin’s Guide to Recorded Classical Music (Penguin, 1,313 pages, $40), edited by Ivan March, Edward Greenfield, Robert Layton, and Paul Czajkowski and featuring brief reviews of more than 9,000 recordings. Want deeper insight into those new recordings? Hearing & Knowing Music (Princeton University Press, 240 pages, $27.95) includes unpublished essays by Princeton and Yale University professor emeritus Edward T. Cone, edited by Robert P. Morgan. And those looking for a pictorial focus will want to grab Music in Art ( J. Paul Getty Museum, 384 pages, $24.95), edited by Alberto Ausoni and featuring 400 color prints of striking depictions of music and musicians by such artists as Manet and Matisse, among others. americanorchestras.org
Courtesy Santa Rosa Symphony
The Kronos Quartet performed the world premiere of Rayahu Supanggah’s Purnati in a tower at the Oliver Ranch as a benefit for the Santa Rosa Symphony.
This year’s Conference will continue what we started
last year: frank, open discussions about the state of the economy, the importance of our communities, and most notably, envisioning the future of the field. No, these aren’t easy conversations, but they are necessary—and the League Conference is where they are taking place. Come to Atlanta for Conference 2010 and be a part of the conversation.
65th National Conference June 15 â€“ 19, 2010
For more details, please visit americanorchestras.org Hosted by
Stress Factors What new challenges and opportunities is the economy presenting to orchestras?
eople are stressed out due to the economy, and no wonder. Rising unemployment rates, falling real estate values, and dizzying climbs and plunges on Wall Street all take their toll. The arts haven’t been exempt. But orchestras of every size and description are adapting with painstaking adjustments, strategic cutbacks, and carefully considered renegotiations. The effort is tough on everyone—musicians, boards members, administrators, volunteers, pretty much anyone who cares about classical music. Against this backdrop, board leaders and orchestra executives are having to work at avoiding frayed edges in their relationships as orchestras re-think budgets and programming. How to ensure that executive directors and board leaders stay in tune with the times? Lowell Noteboom has a number of ideas. The chairman of the League of American Orchestras’ Board of Directors, Noteboom has written and lectured extensively on the subject of nonprofit governance and strategic planning. Though he’s an accomplished lawyer, his communitybased activities have focused in the areas of music education and orchestras: he’s immediate past chairman of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, a member of the Board of Overseers at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, and serves on a variety of other nonprofit boards. At the League’s 2009 National Conference in June, Noteboom and League President and CEO Jesse Rosen discussed the current challenges in the board-execu-
In a conversation with Robert Sandla, League Chairman Lowell Noteboom offers his perspective. tive dynamic during a constituency session for trustees. Here, Noteboom offers his latest thoughts on maintaining strong partnerships in tough times. ROBERT SANDLA: There appears to be an evolving tension between boards of directors or board chairs and executive directors in this tight economic situation. LOWELL NOTEBOOM: A number of executive directors have raised questions that seem to have two themes. One is that, as their board members and board leaders are understandably preoccupied with the financial challenges in their own business and personal lives, executive directors are finding it more of a challenge to get the requisite time, attention, investment, and energy that they need from their boards and board leaders. The other dimension is that executive directors are looking for ways to be more effective in supporting their board leaders and making more efficient use of their time in addressing today’s challenges. SANDLA: In what you’re hearing, how is the economy affecting those relationships, and what, in turn, would you offer as ways for people to focus things more clearly on both sides? NOTEBOOM: Let’s start with what we all know and recognize, which is that the downturn in the economy has had a major impact on our member orchestras, their finances, and the steps they need to take to sustain themselves in this new environment. The traditional business model is strained, revenue is down, expenses must be reduced, hard choices need to be made. In the best environments,
League Chairman Lowell Noteboom at the 2009 National Conference
board and staff work closely together as a team, making sure they understand the full nature and extent of the challenges, identifying and making choices together, in a collaborative way. Where orchestras have started early enough, and have been collaborative in the work, the process has been healthy and constructive. Where staff have been left to do it on their own (or have gotten too far ahead of the board in crafting solutions), it’s been more difficult. The converse is equally problematic—that is, board members getting ahead of the staff and trying to impose their own management priorities. SANDLA: Does collaboration become more important at times like these? People need to trust each other in order to collaborate, and you can’t suddenly turn on a “trust switch.” NOTEBOOM: You can’t. Trust is always important, but even more so when painful choices are being made. And if the trust isn’t already there, you can’t simply flip a switch and create it. But as I frequently say, the ingredients for collaboration are pretty basic. First, you must have shared goals. That means there has to be a shared understanding between board and staff about the outcome you’re trying to accomplish. Second, you must have the same information. Everybody has to have the essential facts to inform the decisions and the choices. Third, there must be regular communication, interaction, and connectivity—you simply need symphony
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to spend time together, dealing with the challenges and the information. If you’ve agreed on your goals, are working from the same data, have established a pattern of regular interaction, treat each other with respect, and do it all in a spirit of honesty and candor, you significantly increase the likelihood of a collaborative outcome—something that everybody understands, that everybody can own and support. It typically produces an outcome that is different from what any one of the constituents would have developed alone, but it is usually also a better decision and certainly one that will have broader support in the organizations. Importantly, if a choice proves to be a mistake, there is no
If the board and staff are focused on the things that really matter and will matter for the next year, then they can work on those priorities together— and the old notion of board setting policy and leaving the heavy lifting to the staff gives way to a much more collaborative working relationship. need to play a blame game, since everyone supported the idea initially. Collaborative decisions based on mutual trust won’t always be the perfect decisions, but they can more easily be corrected. I think of it as sharing the risk, daring to be wrong because you know you will also be able to work together to fix it if necessary. SANDLA: Yet personalities are different, locations are different, circumstances in each orchestra are different. NOTEBOOM: That’s true. One size does not fit all. But what’s the same everywhere is that boards and board leaders need to focus their time, attention, and energy on what really matters for their orchestra. And what really matters at any point in time will vary, depending on the americanorchestras.org
circumstances. Some of what matters will be driven by a long-term set of priorities encompassed in a strategic plan, but there will also be important priorities served up by new circumstances, particularly changes in the external environment like this economic downturn we are in. If the board and staff (and, hopefully, the music director and musicians) are focused on the three, four, maybe five things that really matter and will matter for the next year, then they can work on those priorities together—and the old notion of board setting policy and leaving the heavy lifting to the staff gives way to a much more collaborative working relationship, with board and staff together figuring out what matters and together making plans and developing strategies. Then boards and staff work together on the implementation. SANDLA: And this kind of thinking is not only for emergencies. NOTEBOOM: That’s right. What I consider to be best practices in good times may be even more important in difficult times, but only because the circumstances are more demanding and more immediate. SANDLA: Is there any sort of silver lining to the economic downturn in the sense that decisions are being made that may have been necessary all along? NOTEBOOM: There is very real potential for identifying creative opportunities in the midst of tough choices. The extreme nature of this downturn should help orchestras figure out what matters most in terms of how they do their business all of the time. The tough economy can be a catalyst for us to fundamentally re-think everything we do. The orchestra “industry” has a rich tradition, but strongly held traditions can also limit creativity and be a barrier to needed change. So that’s a way of saying yes, there could be a silver lining here. The question is whether or not we have the courage and the capacity to make fundamental change in a time of elevated challenge or even in a crisis setting. I believe that some of our most challenged orchestras in some of our most challenged cities have the opportunity to completely re-invent themselves and emerge stronger than they ever were before.
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SANDLA: In the current milieu, orchestras and other not-for-profits are competing with each other in ways that they normally don’t. The classic example is a city being asked to decide between supporting an orchestra and supporting a hospital. Is there a lesson here for how orchestras need to put forward their case? NOTEBOOM: Sure. When we developed the League’s strategic plan several years ago we concluded there are three dynamics in orchestras that fundamentally matter most. The first is “civic engagement”—our label for an orchestra’s relationship to its community. The second is “new models,” the label for the need to reinvent how we do business and how we do the artistic side of our work—in other words, the notion that there needs to be more innovation and less rigidity based on how we’ve always done it before. And the third dynamic was “common cause,” which refers to the internal relationships between and among constituent groups in orchestras. So, we had the community piece, which was external; we had the business and artistic models where more innovation was going to be needed; we had the internal culture in terms of how boards, staffs, musicians, etc., relate to each other and do business together. Now I’ll come back to your question— which is, what’s the lesson when we compete in our communities for support? The answer lies with the orchestra’s “civic engagement”—in other words, how well orchestras and their communities understand that they are vital to each other. The better that is understood on both sides— the better the orchestra understands that the community is vital to the orchestra and the community understands that the orchestra is vital to the community— the better we will compete for limited resources, both money and people. If we are simply perceived as an entertainment option, or even worse, an elitist frill rather than an integral part of the community fabric, we will not fare well in that competition. SANDLA: Board members have many attributes, but one of them is that they’re often community leaders—they symphony
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Amit Peled, cellist
Jersey, in an effort to bring new life to a troubled city. The Louisiana Philharmonic really worked to be a part of the recovery of New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is engaging communities by performing in multiple settings. They all do this because of what they view to be their essential relationship with their home towns. They are examples of an orchestra board understanding that the orchestra and the community are vital to each other—and acting in a bold way to make a real difference in the city’s larger priorities. SANDLA: We’ve been talking about the big picture so far. On a personal level, are you able to go to a concert and just put all of these concerns aside? NOTEBOOM: Absolutely. Unquestionably. And those are the moments— both while you’re in the concert hall and while you’re savoring it on the way home—that remind you of why this all matters. SANDLA: So board members should have the capacity to get really excited about the music. NOTEBOOM: Right. At the end of the day, the very best board members for an orchestra are the ones who have real passion for the music and the organization. They are the people whose spirit will be renewed at a concert. The reason is because they love it so much. They’re the ones who cheer you on in good times but also have a level of commitment and dedication that will keep them with you in the tough times. ROBERT SANDLA is Symphony’s editor in chief.
Want to know more about the board-executive director relationship? Check out “Critical Partners: The executive Director/Board Chair Relationship,” an orchestra Leadership Academy seminar to be held in association with the League’s National Conference in Atlanta, June 15–16, 2010. William P. Ryan will teach the session, which is specifically targeted for board leaders and orchestra executive directors. Ryan is the co-author, with Richard P. Chait and Barbara e. Taylor, of Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonproﬁt Boards. Details about this and other oLA seminars (including several of particular interest to board members) will be posted on the Conference section of americanorchestras.org. americanorchestras.org
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are people who are connected in many different directions. Are there actions that board members can take along the public-perception line, or should they be behind-the-scenes personalities, moving things along on that front? NOTEBOOM: For governance to be effective, there must be a broad understanding across the organization about how the orchestra can and should understand its community’s needs and preferences. Essentially, the old model was that we put on wonderful concerts, on prescribed nights of the week, in prescribed weeks of the year, and our interaction with the community was that they should come and listen and appreciate and pay for the tickets and provide enough contributed income to cover the shortfall in the operating budget. It was like, we’ll build it and you’ll come. That is a very incomplete view of how orchestras must think and act today. In the current dynamic, when all communities have multiple priorities, and some large urban areas have vexing challenges, the question is, how can orchestras help to creatively address some of the community’s larger needs and challenges that go beyond just putting on a wonderful concert on Friday night? We need to be part of the larger urban partnerships. My understanding is that when downtown renewal in Detroit was key, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra concluded they needed a new performance hall—which meant they could move to the ’burbs where more of the well-to-do audience members lived, or they could stay downtown and be part of urban renewal. They chose the latter. Symphony in C moved from a wealthy suburb to downtown Camden, New
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Climate Change New research findings are shaking up our thinking about orchestra audiences. by Judith Kurnick
udiences and their behavior have been a source of vigorous debate among orchestra leaders for decades. Who are they? How have they been changing? Are they older than they used to be? What age groups are most receptive to attending our concerts? The search for answers to these questions has become increasingly critical for orchestras facing ever tougher competition for consumers’ attention and resources. In recent years, the challenge has been compounded by dramatic cultural shifts that are affecting audience participation. Yet we have not had research to help us understand how these trends have been changing the landscape for orchestras. Now, new national research findings put at least two age-old questions to rest, while also shaking up some of orchestras’ core beliefs about their audiences. The findings, reflected in the National Endowment for the Arts’ latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts and further detailed in a new Audience Demographic Research Review from the League of American Orchestras, confirm the empirical view of many in our field that that the orchestra audience is both aging and shrinking as a percentage of our population. The data also shows that people no longer are gravitating toward orchestras as they age. In fact, the long-term declines, which sharpened between 2002 and 2008, seem to indicate that these patterns will persist even when the economy improves, despite all the good work that orchestras and their supporters have been doing, americanorchestras.org
both artistically and to bring in audiences. Perhaps even more significant, the research quantifies the sea change that the internet has wrought in the listening habits of American music lovers. Even as live concert attendance seems to be declining, classical music performances are drawing among the highest percentages of online listeners. What should orchestras do with this new information? Our field seems to have been handed both a challenge and opportunity: How can we move beyond debating the tough truths confirmed by the data toward charting an innovative course—individually and collectively— that will enable orchestras and audiences to flourish in a vastly different society than the one in which they developed? The first step is to understand the research. In June 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts issued highlights from its Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) detailing changes since its last survey, done in 2002. (The complete SPPA report was issued in December 2009.) The fifth such survey since 1982, this study, done in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, also reviewed trends across the 26-year period from 1982 to 2008. Several months earlier the League of American Orchestras, through its Research Advisory Council, had identified a need to collect existing demographic audience participation data and trends. Atul Kanagat, until recently the League’s vice president for research and development, asked the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company to conduct a demographic research review.
The credibility of this research is particularly strong because the information was derived not from a single survey, but rather through a rigorous analysis of multiple data sources. With a sample size of 18,000 and an 80% to 90% response rate, the NEA’s SPPA offered a strong starting point for the research analysis. Another major data source was the annual Experian Simmons National Consumer Survey for the period 2003 to 2007. This widely used nationwide survey also has a very large sample size (25,000) and, like the SPPA, tracks a category called “classical music participation,” which includes orchestras along with choral and chamber music. (Since the best available data suggests that orchestras represent 50% to 70% of all classical attendance, directional results for orchestras would be consistent with the trends for all classical music.) The review team then incorporated historical data from the League’s Orchestra Statistical Reports (OSR). The data in all these sources was gathered before the precipitous financial market drop in the fall of 2008. The League’s Audience Demographic Research Review (ADRR), made possible in part by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, describes audience participation trends, segmented by generation, over more than 25 years, and compares the trends to the demographic changes in the U.S. population during the same period. The ADRR also extrapolates how a continuation of these trends could play out in the future. Some sobering highlights: • Between 1982 and 2008, the percentage of the U.S. population that attends classical music events declined by 29%. Between 2002 and 2008 alone the rate declined 20%. • Through 2002, the decline in percentage of population attending was masked by growth in key segments of the population, so unique audience was increasing even as
participation rates declined. Since 2002, however, population growth is no longer fast enough to counter declining participation rates. Between 2002 and 2008, unique audience for live classical music declined from 24.6 million to 21.3 million, a drop of 13%, or 3.3 million people. Paid attendance at concerts also declined by 8% during this period. • If these demographic trends continue, by 2018 the audience for live classical music could decline by an additional 2.7 million people, or 14%. • Classical musical audiences are graying, faster than the general public. The median age for classical music attendance has steadily risen, from 40 in 1982 to 49 in 2008, while the median age for the U.S. adult population rose from 39 to 45 during the same period. • College-educated adults (including those with advanced degrees) have curbed their attendance at events in nearly all art forms. Attendance at classical music events among college-educated adults dropped by 39% between 2002 and 2008, the largest decline among performing arts and museums.
The ADRR also points out promising opportunities that merit further exploration. • Americans are turning to performances online in record numbers. Forty million Americans, or nearly 18%, listened to classical music broadcasts or recordings (including online), more adult listeners than either jazz, opera, musicals, or Latin music. • The percentage of adults performing classical music has risen modestly from 1.8 to 3 percent over the past six years, reversing a general decline since 1992. • Participation rates among Hispanic Americans increased slightly from 2003 to 2007. This group is projected to account for 42% of generational population increases over the next decade. If these trends continue, Hispanics are forecasted to represent about 20% of the total classical music audience by 2018, a marked increase from the 12% today. Since local race/ethnicity projections vary across the country, orchestras will need to explore the projections for their own regions.
It is important to note that orchestras are not alone in experiencing audience declines; all performing arts have seen similar trends both over the past 25 years and, more dramatically, over the past five years. So have live sports events, outdoor activities, even attendance at movies (see Participation in Leisure Activities chart on p. 23), as both traditional and home entertainment choices have burgeoned. We also must remind ourselves that this research presents a national overview to which there will be exceptions; not every orchestra is experiencing these same trends. In fact, the NEA’s SPPA report notes strong regional differences in the participation rates for classical music. Still, the consistent, long-term nature of the declines, corroborated by all of the data sources, makes a convincing case that these changes reflect what many, including League of American Orchestras Chairman Lowell Noteboom, term “climate, not weather.” There is further evidence that these shifts are fundamental: participation rates have generally declined between generations since 1982. (See Generational Cohorts and Participation Rates by Generation charts on p. 24.) In other words, at any given age, participation rates have been lower for each subsequent generation. For example, Gen Yers in their twenties are participating less
Glossary of Audience Demographic Research Terms Participation rate: the percentage of a particular audience (e.g., overall adult population, 29-33 age segment) attending live classical concerts at least once in the past twelve months. Participation rate is measured by NEA and Simmons by dividing the number of people who responded that they attended a live classical music concert by the total number of respondents. Unique audience: the number of different individuals who attended a live classical music concert in the past twelve months, regardless of frequency. Unique audience is determined by
multiplying participation rates as measured by the NEA and Simmons surveys by population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Classical music concerts: the NEA and Simmons surveys include orchestral, chamber music, and choral concerts in this category. Paid and total attendance: OSR measures total and paid orchestra attendance. Attendance refers to total people attending concerts, irrespective of unique visits (e.g., a person who attends twice counts as two attendees).
Paid attendance includes all concerts for which concert revenue was collected from paying attendees. This includes regular season, pops season, summer season, tour, community engagement, educational, residency, chamber, ensemble, family, festival, and relevant choral/ballet/opera concerts (e.g., contracted concerts). Total attendance includes paid attendance as well as concerts for which concert revenue was not collected (e.g., free concerts, complimentary tickets, ensembles playing in local schools on a pro-bono basis).
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Participation in Leisure Activities, 1982-2008 Percent of Adults Participating
TYPE OF ACTIVITY Classical music
Rate of change 2002-2008
Rate of change 1982-2008
Source: National Endowment for the Arts
(7%) than Boomers when they were the same age (12% -14%). At the same time, participation rates have been declining within each generation as they age. So Early Boomers in their fifties are participating less (11%-12%) than when they were in their twenties (14%). Orchestras may be taken aback to see that, between 2002 and 2008, 45- to 54-year-olds showed the steepest declines in attendance rates. After all, we only need to look around at concerts to observe that this group is one of the largest components of our audiences. Some marketers have seen the percentage grow since the Boomer generation began swelling its ranks a decade ago. Many orchestras also logged ticket sales increases during that same period, until the economic crisis. How can these observations be reconciled with this demographic data? To understand the answer, we first must consider that the metrics used to calculate participation rates are not the same as those orchestras use to track attendance. The national surveys measure “unique audience,” or the number of individuals reporting that they attended concerts (both paid and unpaid), regardless of frequency. Orchestras, (and therefore the League’s Orchestra Statistical Reports) measure attendance by the number of tickets sold and/or distributed, not by the number of unique individuals. So if 3 people each attended two times, they would be counted as six in the OSR, but as only three americanorchestras.org
individuals for purposes of the NEA and Simmons surveys. The McKinsey team determined that the OSR data, which shows a paid attendance decrease of 8% but only a small total attendance decline over the same period, actually reconciles with the national survey results when factoring in a slight increase in attendance frequency; that is, some of the same people attending slightly more often. It is also likely that a significant portion of this group have been Boomers. It appears that orchestras have been very effective in marketing to their core audiences, but less so in adding to them over the long term. Implications for Orchestras
One interesting finding could offer intriguing opportunities for orchestras. Participation among Hispanic Americans rose slightly between 2003 and 2007. The McKinsey analysis showed that if these trends continue, Hispanics will increase their share of the total live classical audience from about 12% to 20% by 2018. However, since race/ethnicity projections vary dramatically across the country, orchestras will need to explore the projections for their own regions. What does all of this mean for orchestras? First, we should recognize what this research does not tell us, as League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen points out: “This research is descriptive, not diagnostic. It does not attempt to explain why audiences are be-
having differently.” Most other significant orchestra audience research, such as the Knight Foundation’s Classical Music Consumer Segmentation study and the League’s Audience Motivation Study, while offering valuable motivational insights, focused primarily on those who attended concerts. Orchestras need to know more about why people are not attending, and what they are doing instead. Nor does this data support any conclusions about the health of orchestral music. “These declines refer to attendance at live concert performances,” Rosen observes. “They do not reflect on consumers’ musical taste or preferences. And the slight rise of 1.2% in adult classical performance participation has occurred despite the big drop-offs in both in-school music education and electronic media exposure to orchestral music.” In fact, the vigorous online consumption of classical music and of arts performances in general—nearly 30% of the public who are online views, listens to, or downloads arts performances at least once a week, a finding the NEA calls “captivating”—seems to indicate a genuine thirst for the arts and some areas of significant opportunity for orchestras. Add the encouraging growth in youth orchestra participation (according to League data, the average number of students playing in conducted ensembles increased by 40% between the 1989-1990 and the 2006-2007 seasons) and the continuing high application rates to conservatories and schools of music, and you can see that classical music continues to appeal across generations. However, Rosen adds, “The data is clearly telling us that we need to think more deeply about what the online migration means for orchestras.” League board member Mark Jung, an internet entrepreneur and former COO of Fox Interactive Media, agrees. “If you overlay the digital trends from the last few years onto this data,” Jung says, “the results are even more dramatic. People of all ages are spending more time online than we imagined.” Of course, many orchestras are expanding their online presence in marketing and promotion, education, and community engage-
Redefining the Live Experience
Source: League Review using data from National Endowment for the Arts, US Census Bureau, McKinsey analysis
ment. But what will it take to enable young people to stumble across music made by American orchestras on the internet as easily as they encounter other genres, and as they once did on the radio? Orchestras are jumping on the social network bandwagon, some with impressive sophistication and promising results. Yet as a field, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding how the online culture is transforming relationships between traditional institutions and the public.
from the Obama political campaign, which mobilized a virtual army of volunteer/advocates who changed the course of American politics; to the romance novel publisher Harlequin, whose website challenges readers to generate 100,000 book reviews; to professional sports teams, which use broadcasts and product giveaways to stimulate loyalty, increased attendance, and even sales of premium products. These activities are not designed for short-term goals like generating ticket sales
Source: League Review using data from National Endowment for the Arts, McKinsey analysis
Doug McLennan, an arts journalist who is the founder and editor of ArtsJournal. com, thinks arts organizations can harness these cultural shifts. “People who are interested in orchestras are also interested in each other,” he observes. “It’s about creating a community around the shared aesthetic of music, with your orchestra at the center.” He points to examples ranging
or contributions; rather, they are building active, passionate communities who see themselves as “owners and investors,” not simply as clients. The participants’ shared interests motivate them to create and share content. The institutions that are successful are those that are willing to take the risk of ceding some control to embrace new roles as facilitators and catalysts.
Can American orchestras move beyond the transactional mindset that focuses on selling our performances toward a more “holistic” concept of nurturing communities—people motivated not only to buy tickets and download music, but also to contribute reactions and ideas, pass on news, promote, advocate for, and financially support our work? Are we ready to create digital space for people to talk about the musical experience—including what they don’t like? Our future prospects for audience development are inextricably linked to our ability to work through these issues and embrace new practices that reflect emerging cross-generational expectations. Doug McLennan, Mark Jung, and others also point out that it is time to refresh our concept of the very nature of the live musical experience. For example, ten or fifteen years ago, the idea that an orchestra concert might include spoken introductions, video, or other activity external to the performance raised concerns about disturbing listeners’ concentration. Yet today’s young adults, who grew up with unprecedented multi-sensory stimulation and have been multitasking for most of their lives, expect active participation and interaction in all they do. How do these values line up against traditional classical concert presentation, which places a greater premium on “what the performance is about” than on “whom it is for?” The data shows that less than 7% of “Generation Y” (aka Millennials, born between 1982 and 2000) attends classical music performances. How can orchestras capture more of this group, particularly now that the evidence contradicts previous assumptions that they will begin attending when they are older? Discussions, blogs, and “talk-backs” with musicians before and after performances may or may not be a start. But how about an invitation to Twitter between performances? Write online reviews? Create open-source program notes? What can we learn from their other pursuits that can help us spark more interactive relationships? Many are coming to believe that demosymphony
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graphic and economic challenges address only pieces of the audience development puzzle for orchestras. League Research Advisory Council Chair Marian Godfrey, whose “day job” is senior director for culture initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts, urges orchestras to sit up and take notice of a bigger challenge. “We should not treat this as a marketing problem,” she says. “It’s bigger than that—it’s about who really is your constituency and how you’re serving them. It’s about mission.” In other words, do the families whose children benefit from our community and education work; residents who attend our free events; business, civic, education, and non-profit leaders; and fellow members of our arts community have as much at stake in our orchestra as our regular concertgoers? Do we need to include them in a new, interactive concept of our core orchestra community? As recipients of public tax dollars with an implicit responsibility to serve a broad cross section of the community, do orchestras need to redefine audience engagement in ways that deepen their connections with a wider public? Orchestras around the country who are beginning to embrace this approach are finding that it generates new opportunities not only for support, but also for creative programming and yes, audience development. This subject alone furnishes rich fodder for discussion. If knowledge is power, then orchestras now have some powerful building blocks for thinking creatively about the very nature of audience development. But as they experiment with new approaches, access to the experiences of others will be invaluable. “The League will continue to introduce innovative thinking from both inside and outside the field, and we are exploring potential new channels,” notes Rosen. “We are making it a priority to develop our own online capacity to facilitate idea exchange.” Such an exchange might include sharing local research on why people are not coming to concerts, and the preferences of different age cohorts; discussing successful migration strategies from other industries between online and live activity; exchanging “best failures,” or learning from unsucamericanorchestras.org
cessful attempts to attract Millennials; sharing the impact of pricing experiments and of efforts to retain new attendees based on the “churn” research (see related article on page 50); and, of course, hearing from those who are succeeding in bucking some of these trends. Can orchestras make the leap forward to reinvent more fully engaged relationships with our publics across generations?
Rosen points to the field’s strong track record: “Orchestras have been finding new ways to communicate for more than a hundred years,” he says. “Our music has passionate followers and supporters everywhere. We must figure out how to capitalize on this opportunity.” JUDITH KURNICK is the League’s vice president for strategic communications.
Key Findings from Audience Demographic Research Review 1. The percentage of the U.S. population that attends classical music events has been declining over 25 years, with the steepest drop occurring between 2002 and 2008.
6. Increases reported in the League’s OSR also can be explained by frequency.
2. All performing arts have seen similar declines over the past 25 years and the past five years. So have sports events, movie theaters, and outdoor activities.
8. College-educated adults (including those with advanced degrees) have curbed their attendance at events in nearly all art forms.
3. Through 2002, declining participation rates were masked by growth in key segments of the population; so while unique audience (the number of people who reported attending at least once a year) was increasing, the percent of the total population was declining. Since 2002, the unique audience for live classical music has declined by 13%, because population growth is no longer enough to counter declining participation rates.
9. Participation rates among Hispanic Americans increased slightly from 2003 to 2007. If these trends continue, Hispanics are forecasted to represent about 20% of the total classical music audience by 2018, up from 12% today. Since local race/ethnicity projections vary across the country, orchestras will need to explore the projections for their own regions.
4. Since 1982, participation rates have generally declined both between and within generations. So we cannot assume that people will attend more as they enter the 45+ age group. 5. Boomers probably are attending more frequently. That is why we seem to see more of them, even though their participation rate is down.
7. Classical musical audiences are graying, faster than the general public.
10. More Americans listen to classical music broadcasts or recordings (including online) than attend them live. Classical music attracts the greatest number of adult listeners compared with jazz, opera, musicals, or Latin music. 11. Americans are turning to performances online in record numbers.
To read the League’s Audience Demographic Research Review, made possible in part by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, go to americanorchestras.org and look for Audience Demographic Research Review. To read highlights from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, visit arts.gov/research/NEA-SPPA-brochure.pdf.
Learn, and Lead © Christian Steiner
by Chester Lane
Creator of an innovative program called the Music Paradigm, conductor Roger Nierenberg believes passionately in the connection between corporate success and appreciation of live orchestral music. In a new book called Maestro, he aims to stimulate both.
Roger Nierenberg is a man with a mission. He has served with distinction as music director of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida and the Stamford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut, and has guest conducted many prominent orchestras and opera companies in the U.S. and abroad. But over the past fifteen years he’s dedicated himself to something more unusual: using an orchestra to present an experiential, interactive event for business leaders called the Music Paradigm. His goal is to help these executives discover basic truths about the functioning of an organization— concepts of leadership, teamwork, and personal empowerment—while simultaneously inspiring them with the music. Nierenberg has presented Music Paradigm sessions to managers from major corporations, industry groups, financial institutions, and consulting firms in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America. And he has done this with more than 80 professional orchestras, many of them assembled as needed in the cities where the event takes place, but also including such standing ensembles as the Atlanta, Cincinnati,
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At a 2006 Music Paradigm session in Chicago presented by Roger Nierenberg for McGraw-Hill Company, an executive seated among the orchestra with his colleagues speaks up.
Houston, Indianapolis, National, Phoenix, Saint Louis, Seattle and Toronto symphonies, as well as the London Philharmonic and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Nierenberg describes the Music Paradigm as “a series of role-playing exercises, in which the musicians take on various behaviors and demonstrate what effect those behaviors have on the performance. They do this through their playing, but sometimes I will also ask them what they’re experiencing. I model various conducting behaviors—some of them deliberately annoying—and ask musicians to comment on what it was like to work with that kind of conductor.” Executives are not only invited to comment on the process, but are sometimes brought to the podium to try their hand at conducting. As the maestro, Nierenberg is then in a position to elucidate whatever dysfunction may have occurred. Learning takes place on many levels in these sessions, says Nierenberg, “but for me this has always been about expanding the audience for music. The Music Paraamericanorchestras.org
digm provides an extremely valuable business service, but it’s the musical experience that has proven over and over again to be irresistible. For people who love music and are invested in it, concerts are a fantastic experience. But for those who haven’t yet gotten inside the art of great music, that experience can pass them by. With the Music Paradigm, I’ve found that the same audience—in my case, 100 business executives—who very likely would be distracted, bored, unfulfilled during a concert are sitting on the edge of their chairs like children listening to the music. “I’m really interested in the emotional connection,” he continues, “in which the music opens up for the listener a new world that he hadn’t known before. And I think that can be done without changing the venue or the music or the way it’s marketed, without changing the way the orchestra dresses—all these things that orchestras do to try to reach a different audience. I don’t believe that is the best route for the music professional to expand our audience. I think our goal is to find a way
to give a larger number of people the kind of ecstatic, elated experience that we know but that somehow they haven’t been lucky enough to experience. That’s what I know I provide.” Groups attending Music Paradigm sessions range in size from about 25 to 2,000, with participants sitting among the orchestra or surrounding it, often in such places as hotel ballrooms rather than concert halls. “It’s generally done with one hour of rehearsal,” says Nierenberg. “I show up, meet the orchestra, we rehearse, the doors open, and people come in. It’s produced very quickly and efficiently. For an orchestra, it’s one service.” He acknowledges that his overarching motive as a conductor and an evangelist for live music is quite different from that of the business organizations that pay him to present a Music Paradigm session. “They do it because they want to compete in a very challenging business environment. A business organization would never pay to present this as a cultural event for its employees—they couldn’t afford the time to do that, and it’s not critical to their
“For me, the Music Paradigm has always been about expanding the audience,” says Roger Nierenberg. “While it provides an extremely valuable business service, it’s the musical experience that has proven over and over again to be irresistible.” agenda. But the fact that it’s not about music creates a space in which they can hear the music better. The whole thing for me is to create an environment where nothing gets between them and the music.” Nierenberg’s experience with the Music Paradigm led him to write Maestro: A Surprising Story about Leading by Listening, published last fall by Portfolio/Penguin. Corporate executives attend Music Paradigm sessions as a group, with the goal of improving their effectiveness as managers and leaders. But Nierenberg says that making a single fictional individual the protagonist in a parable about learning leadership through listening struck him as “the best way of giving the reader a chance to experience what participants in the Music Paradigm experience.” The central character in Maestro identifies himself as a veteran corporate manager, and the challenges he’s facing are set forth in the early pages of the book: I was already in my second month as the head of this troubled division but I didn’t seem to be making any progress with my team. When the CEO recruited me, I was charged with reversing our downward slide, and helping to return the company to profitability. Initially I was excited about the seasoned high-level executives who would form my leadership team. Large or small, every group I’d led during my twenty-five-year career had outperformed its expectations. Now this was my chance to bring that kind of success to a team of leaders who were the cream of the crop. I felt confident that my group had the talent to bounce back; it was simply suffering from a lack of strong leadership. And I was eager to prove that my vision could guide the company to its former heights. (Reprinted from Maestro by Roger Nierenberg by arrangement with Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright © Roger Nierenberg, 2009.)
In an effort to become more effective in his corporate role, this executive observes a conducting lesson, describing his reactions to it in the chapter entitled “Lead, Don’t Cheerlead.” The executive is beginning to grasp what he calls “the implausible act of existing in several time zones simultaneously,” in the manner of a conductor who listens intently to the orchestra, remembers what he’s heard, and is “committing to what will happen next.” Elsewhere in the book, the “maestro” character explains that his job is both to allow the musicians some creative freedom and pull them together as a unit. “By knowing the score,” says Nierenberg, “and knowing the interrelationships within that score, he’s able to guide their listening and have them solve the problem rather than simply following his instructions.” One of the major themes of Maestro is the need to give orchestral musicians a sense of individual empowerment—an analogy that carries over into the world of corporate management. “The goal,” Nierenberg explains, “is for every musician in the orchestra to be awed by the beauty of the music. That’s much easier when they feel that it’s in their hands too. Orchestras don’t want conductors to just let them do whatever they want; they want to have a beautiful interpretation to play into. But they want to feel like they’re
contributing to it, that they are not a sort of replaceable part where it wouldn’t matter if it was somebody else who was playing. That what they have to offer matters. A conductor wants the musicians to get interested in the music—the details of the music and the potential of what the music could sound like. He wants them to get absorbed in it. Once that happens, they do pretty much everything.” In the chapter where he describes an orchestra rehearsal, Nierenberg uses a familiar work—Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony—as the primary example of how a conductor helps shape a piece of music from the podium. The “maestro” character explains what he knows about the “Scottish” Symphony from reading Mendelssohn’s own account, and uses what he understands emotionally about the piece to inspire the musicians. Nierenberg says that memories of rehearsing that work with the City of London Sinfonia were fresh in his mind at the time he conceived the rehearsal scenario for Maestro, and he hopes the book will convey that enthusiasm to his readers. “My dream is that three years hence, whenever an orchestra programs the ‘Scottish’ Symphony, they’ll see a spike in their ticket sales.” Who does he see as the audience for his book? “Maestro is not just making an analogy between an orchestra and a company—the conductor is the CEO, that kind of thing. That kind of simplistic categorization will miss it completely. Executives will find value in the book, but I think anyone who loves music will have a much deeper insight into what goes on inside an orchestra. It’s not only music that’s my mission. It’s live music. What the protagonist of the book falls in love with are things that you can’t get off recordings. I think that it will provoke interest in music—that more people will want to hear it and see it, to be there.” CHESTER LANE is senior editor of Symphony.
To read the chapter “Lead, Don’t Cheerlead” from Roger Nierenberg’s book Maestro, visit the Outposts section of americanorchestras.org or turn to page 29. symphony
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A chapter from Maestro: A Surprising Story about Leading by Listening by Roger Nierenberg
Lead, Don’t Cheerlead The orchestra tuned up once again, and the final student stepped up to the podium. He was a good-looking young man who presented a friendly demeanor. And like the first conductor, he was very graceful and well coordinated. His gestures were elegant, energetic, and pleasing to watch. I believed that he was listening, because he certainly did react to what happened in the orchestra. He impressed me. However, compared to the energy I had felt during previous rehearsals, the orchestra seemed limp and bored, but I attributed that to the inexperience of the conservatory orchestra. Finally the music came to an end, and the student’s eyes turned toward the maestro, who had stepped forward. “Very gifted artist,” he said warmly. “You have studied the music well and offered very good attention to the players. All of this is very good.” He paused, and a sudden stillness filled the room. “And yet,” he continued, gently shaking his head in puzzlement, “the orchestra does not play for you. Your polished con ducting does not engage the orchestra at all, and we must figure out why this is so.” He could see that the student was bewildered, trying to make sense of this critique. “Let me show you,” he said as he approached the podium, reaching out his hand. “Just lend me your baton for a moment, and allow me on the podium.” Then, turning to the orchestra, “Let’s begin again.” The baton swept into motion, and the sound that came out of the orchestra had vibrancy and spirit unlike anything americanorchestras.org
the student had achieved. The maestro stopped after only about thirty seconds and the players shuffled their feet. The student conductor seemed amazed. “Now let’s consider,” the maestro said, returning the student’s baton, “what just happened. Do you think they played that way because I have gray hair, or because they think I have some kind of authority over them?” The answer was plain from
Maestro, says Nierenberg, “is not just making an analogy between an orchestra and a company. That kind of simplistic categorization will miss it completely. I think the book will provoke interest in music—that more people will want to hear it and see it, to be there.” the shaking heads in the orchestra. “There is really only one fundamental difference between what you did and what I did. Your conducting happens in parallel with the orchestra, whereas I commit to what they haven’t yet played. “A leader must commit to that which has not yet happened. Otherwise you are not really leading; in fact, you are actually following. It feels very comfortable and right to do all those beautiful gestures at the same time as the music is happening, but it has no effect whatsoever on the playing. To affect the orchestra’s playing, you must prehear the music that they are about
to play. That’s what I did, and that was the only reason you heard such a different sound. So now, you try,” he concluded, and he backed off the podium. The student raised his baton and began. No more than fifteen seconds went by before the maestro interrupted. “No,” he said. “It’s the same as before. Live the music they are about to play. Use your baton to show what is coming next.” He began again, and this time everyone felt the difference. It was remarkable to me that such a fundamental change could be affected by a matter of such subtle timing. The student seemed to be more shocked than anyone else. “That’s such a strange feeling!” he exclaimed. “Yes, it is,” agreed the maestro. “It’s almost counterintuitive. What feels right is to be with the orchestra, but that is not leading. What feels uncomfortable is to lead, which actually means that the baton is not in the same time zone as the orchestra’s playing.” The student was nodding agreement with this new idea. “And furthermore,” the maestro said, “how do you decide what gestures to make with the baton? It is the conductor’s aural image, prehearing how the orchestra might sound, that dictates how the arm should move. So the conductor’s imagination is in one time zone, the baton in the next, and the orchestra’s sound in the third. And the conductor must coordinate it all!” “He must be in three time zones, simultaneously?” “Right.” “But how is that possible?” asked the student in disbelief.
Roger Nierenberg leads a 2004 Music Paradigm session in Colorado Springs for the Center for Creative Leadership.
“Have you ever watched a broadcast from the United Nations? Think of the job that the simultaneous translators are doing. While following the speaker’s thoughts in one language they are speaking the same thoughts a moment later in another language. Yet while spinning out the idea in the second language they are still listening
to what the speaker has gone on to say. It’s quite a feat. “Now, in the case of the translators, their thoughts are lagging behind the action of the speaker. In the case of a conductor, his thoughts are anticipating the playing of the orchestra. It is only in anticipating, and committing to what will happen next,
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that any leadership can take place.” “What happens if the conductor isn’t anticipating or committing to what will happen next?” “Then his baton will have no effect whatsoever on the orchestra, and they will start to ignore him.” “Is that what happened with me?” “Think about it,” he said, inviting the student to step down, indicating that his lesson was over. “If the conducting is merely affirming what the players are already doing, it amounts to little more than cheerleading. With so much that you have to offer, you owe the professionals whom you lead more than that.” “Thank you, Maestro.” By now I had a pit in my stomach. How could I have missed the boat so completely? I had focused this morning’s meeting primarily on fixing past mistakes. I hadn’t even considered that my imagination could live in the future—a future that could be shaped by my capacity to conceive it in vivid detail. The act of envisioning our company—not as it is today, but as it needs to be to meet the challenges of the future—could have a profound impact on what we can actually achieve. Here I was, impatiently waiting for my team to engage with this new future reality when I wasn’t willing to do so myself. I had no idea that withholding my own commitment to the vision was preventing my people from taking the kind of bold, confident action we desperately needed. It was all very well that I was encouraging them to work together more efficiently, but how far could that take us if there was still doubt about what, exactly, they were working toward. My despondency about my own failings suddenly gave way to a buoyant optimism. Maybe a business leader like me is capable of a sort of sorcery, just like a conductor. The secret lies in the implausible act of existing in several time zones simultaneously, some of them concretely real and others as amorphous and weightless as a mere possibility. What energizes people is the leader’s act of committing to what is possible. Reprinted from Maestro by Roger Nierenberg, by arrangement with Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright © Roger Nierenberg, 2009
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Violinist Rachel Barton Pine
Violinist Lindsay Deutsch
Violinist Stefan Jackiw
Pianist Inon Barnatan
Naoko Takada demonstrates the marimba for schoolchildren while at Iowa State University in Ames.
Pianist Chu-Fang Huang
Marco Borggreve Myra Klarman
Violinist Benjamin Beilman
Pianist Jade Simmons
Credit by Heidi Waleson
When today’s emerging artists appear with orchestras, they do more than perform at concerts. They teach, interact with audiences, and personalize the music—and they are increasingly vital to the presentation of classical music.
When violinist Lindsay Deutsch, 24, played with the Newport Symphony Orchestra in Oregon in November, her concerto performance on Saturday was the tip of the iceberg. Deutsch arrived in town five days beforehand so that she and Adam Flatt, the orchestra’s music director, could visit three schools a day for the week, doing classroom presentations, mini-concerts, and games of “name that tune.” Deutsch is no stranger to working with young audiences. She has a kids’ page on her website, and in 2007 she started an audience-building organization, Classics Alive, with her sister, Lauren, who is also a violinist. Deutsch got the bug several years ago, after doing a kids’ program with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. “The kids went nuts, they told their parents, and the parents went to the regular concert,” she says. “I had a blast doing it, and I thought, why not do it everywhere?” Orchestras are starting to discover what recital presenters have known for years: a visiting artist can be a powerful tool for
community engagement. Emerging artists, who have the time and the energy— and whose youth makes them an attractive proposition for work with students—are prime candidates for this sort of activity. Indeed, artists are agreeing to participate in a wide variety of ancillary activities in connection with orchestral engagements. In addition to education and community work, such as school visits and masterclasses, they are also meeting with donors, doing preand post-concert events like question-andanswer sessions, and even performing special concerts, all of which give the orchestra considerable added value for the fee it pays. “The days when an artist just flew in and out of town for the concert are gone,” says Patricia Winter, senior vice president of Opus 3 Artists. Diane Saldick, who has her own artist management firm, concurs, stating, “There are no more ivory towers in our business. When I sign an artist, I let them know that it is expected. A young artist who is interested only in their artis-
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine
tic craft, and not in offering more, may not be the artist for me to represent.” Steven Shaiman, senior vice president of Concert Artists Guild, which represents performers at early stages of their careers, notes that for his artists, extra-concert expectations are part of the package: “Regardless of the type of engagement, when we offer an artist, one educational activity is part of the deal, offered up front. For recitals, the offer is taken up about 80 percent of time; for orchestras, about 50 percent of the time.” Changing times have accelerated this trend. “Orchestras want to show that they are part of the community,” says Monica Felkel, director of artist management at Young Concert Artists. “The orchestra may be the only game in town for classical music, and they are spreading the wealth, including the guest artists.” Shaiman points out that the artists, too, are more willing and able to do programs other than pure concerts than they may have been in the past. “They are good at it,” he says. “They are used to doing a variety of these programs, and in addition to playing, these activities allow them to use verbal communication.” Usually, it is the smaller orchestras that enlist guest artists in their extra-concert
activities, which may include masterclasses, visits to schools, small recitals for donors, and other events. Some appearances are ad hoc, created to fit the particular guest artist; others are part of regularly scheduled series. The Eugene Symphony in Oregon, for example, has the Lora Avery Visiting Masters Program, partly underwritten by an endowment grant, and requires almost all of its soloists to participate in some sort of additional activity. “The minimum is that each one is asked to conduct a masterclass with high school students or more advanced performers,” says Paul Winberg, executive director of the orchestra. The masterclass audience, which averages about 100 people but can reach 500 when a big star like James Galway is doing the teaching, tends to be made up of people who are already symphony subscribers. The Eugene Symphony masterclasses are part of a bigger strategy. “It’s part of our mission to be an educator in the community,” Winberg says. “Beyond that, it’s such a wonderful opportunity to have these world-class soloists connect on a personal, one-on-one level with the musicians in the classes, and give the audience a chance to get to know the soloist they will see later in
the week. They build connections, which is valuable to the industry as a whole.” Sometimes, the activities turn into a real residency. At the Stockton Symphony in California, for example, Executive Director Jane Kenworthy cooked up a “miniBeethoven” festival with guest pianist Alon Goldstein, who spent nearly a week with the orchestra, playing a chamber music concert with the orchestra’s principal cello and concertmaster, as well as a private fundraising concert and a master class on top of his concerto dates, for “very little additional fee.” Goldstein also met with students from the local conservatory and attended postconcert receptions. “It was all his suggestion, and he was unbelievable,” Kenworthy says. “By the end of the week, there was so much buzz that the town really felt they had gotten to know him. The whole was really greater than the sum of its parts.” When violinist Rachel Barton Pine—who has determinedly eclectic tastes—came to Stockton, she played Bach and heavy metal at the local conservatory and visited a local high school, where she joined in with a mariachi band, attracting press attention and a big influx of ticket buyers for her concert with the orchestra. Later this season, Kenworthy plans to ask cellist David Requiro to engage with the local Filipino community. High Class
Masterclasses, which are familiar ground for most soloists, can accomplish a number of goals. The orchestra shares the artist with the larger community in an educational setting and gives young musicians direct access to high-level professionals whom they might not otherwise encounter. The Milwaukee Symphony’s partnership with the independent Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra is a case in point. Carter Simmons, MYSO’s director of artistic education and resident conductor, says, “We’re always looking for ways to enrich the experience for our students. We have Milwaukee Symphony players doing master classes on rehearsal evenings, and parents are invited. It’s become a big thing. When a soloist comes in, it’s even better, because there’s an aura with it. It gives our kids an idea of what they’ll need if they want to go into music. Also, there’s a different set of skills that kids have to learn. If a student wants to go to a conservatory or a significant music school, he or she will have to be symphony
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perspective about post-high school options. Indeed, young orchestra soloists often view the encounters they have with audiences and students as a two-way street. For their generation, social networking is a given; Facebook and Twitter help them build and maintain a fan base. “I’m Facebook friends with most of the kids I’ve met,” Jackiw says. One of the Milwaukee students got in touch with him a year later, via Facebook, to pick his brain about where she should go to college. In the short term, the students also show up at the orchestra concert, feeling connected to the soloist. For Lindsay Deutsch, the energy of young fans at her concerts is an enormous plus. “More and more, when I play as a soloist, it’s a disappointing crowd,” she says. “Half the seats are full, and there’s not that much excitement. Maybe it’s a bit selfish, but I want to feel like a rock star. I want excitement, people clapping between movements. When I play for kids, I get that, and there’s nothing in the world like it.” Baritone Jonathan Beyer, 26, and violinist Benjamin Beilman, 20, do community engagement work through Astral Artists in Philadelphia, and both feel the benefits of the reactions they get in those settings. Beyer says, “Being an opera singer is so cutthroat and competitive that to get to go to a
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Pianist Inon Barnatan
comfortable playing in front of many different people, receiving criticism, and feeling like For today’s they have to produce on the spot.” emerging Last season, violinartists, social ist Stefan Jackiw, who networking is was playing the Stravinsky concerto with the a given. “I’m MSO, worked with the Facebook concertmasters of the friends with MYSO orchestras in his masterclass. “The most of the kids really bonded with kids I’ve met,” him—he’s young, enersays violinist getic, and charismatic,” Stefan Jackiw. Simmons says. Jackiw, 24, routinely asks for additional opportunities that go beyond his concerto performances; he does masterclasses, school visits, and informal concerts. “When I’m talking to high school kids who are serious about music, I find I can really relate to them,” he says. “I graduated from high school in 2003—not that long ago—and these kids are juggling academic requirements and practicing just as I did.” Jackiw, who went to Harvard while continuing his music studies at New England Conservatory, can also offer fresh
David Duvall’s PoPs Packages Tributes to popular music’s finest singers and songwriters
simpler place, where the appreciation is so honest and sincere, reminds you why you do it. It puts you back in touch with the effect that music has outside of a grander arena, like an opera house.” Beilman, now in his third year at the Curtis Institute, says that at a conservatory, “You are a performer, you have to hone in on art, and you lose the idea that music is a lot more universal than a concert stage. Going to a classroom, you remember why you went into music, to share that with others.” A commitment to engagement can also help build an emerging artist’s career in practical terms. Lindsay Deutsch’s appearance with the Newport Symphony is one example. “I have a ‘Meet the Maestro’ feature on my kids’ website, and a few years ago I asked Adam Flatt if he’d be on it,” she recalls. “We had never met, but he agreed, and he got a great response from the kids. All these years later, my name came up when they were looking for soloists, as someone who does lots of outreach. It’s cool to reconnect now, when my career has taken off.” The managers agree. “The lesser known an artist, the more eager they are to meet as many people as possible during an engagement,” says Diane Saldick, who manages Deutsch. “I can look at a map, see how many presenters I know within 50 miles of where she’ll be, round them up, and get them to see her playing the concerto, or at work in the school system.”
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For the most part, payment for the ancillary activity is built into the fee negotiated with the manager. Diane Saldick says that an emerging artist can get an extra $250 to
Pianist Jade Simmons
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$500 for a masterclass. If the activity requires the artist to arrive in town early, the orchestra will For violinist cover the extra hotel costs. But the money is Lindsay not the point; the musiDeutsch, the cians seem only too hapenergy of py to help the orchestra get more bang for their young fans is buck. Jane Kenworthy an enormous comments, “Some will plus: “I want to say, I know the orchestra feel like a rock is in trouble; let me do a fund-raising concert for star. I want you.” excitement, Indeed, soloists often feel that engaging audipeople ences in different ways clapping is part of their job. Piabetween nist Inon Barnatan, 30, says he is “a big believer” movements. in such work. “It’s a little When I play strange for a performer for kids, I get to say, ‘It’s important to get people to come to that.” concerts, but leave that work to someone else.’ I feel indebted to the people who buy tickets and give money to make concerts happen.” At the Eugene Symphony in October, Barnatan did an intimate recital for donors, a masterclass, and a talk with Music Director Danail Rachev for an audience of 100—in addition to performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Having the soloist go into a school can bring extra publicity for the orchestra. When Christina Littlejohn, now executive director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, was at the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, she did a lot of community engagement. Marimba soloist Naoko Takada went into a high school with a strong band program, for example. “Naoko did an ‘informance’—she played, talked, and answered questions,” Littlejohn says. “She looks like a high school student herself, and the kids really enjoyed it. The kids were invited to come to her dress rehearsal with the orchestra, and quite a few did. The other benefit was that we got some TV coverage. They wanted to show some good news, and here were kids with a professional artist. They interviewed the children about why they played in the band, and what it was like to meet Naoko. That always helps with building ticket sales!” americanorchestras.org
Some orchestras have also found ways to integrate their soloists into their ongoing in-school education programs. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s two-year-old OrchKids program, an intensive afterschool initiative based on the Venezuelan El Sistema model, has introduced a number of BSO soloists—including Stefan Jackiw, violinist Hilary Hahn, cellist Daniel MuellerSchott, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and the ensembles So Percussion and Time For Three—to its elementary school students from Baltimore. “The program is intense, and I want them to be around as many musicians as possible,” says Dan Trahey, program manager of OrchKids. “When they hear artists at that level, it has an effect.” That audience can be challenging for a musician, however. “Six-year-olds don’t fake interest when they are bored, so you have to think quickly, and somehow transform what you’re doing to keep it interesting for them,” Jackiw says. “I played some solo Bach for them, and I talked about the dance aspect of it, and when I played the minuet from the E-major kid got upAd:Layout and started6 09270 Partita, Astral aSymphony dancing! And they were holding their in-
struments while I was talking. You could see that they were just itching to play.” Musical Messengers
Today’s emerging artists have also benefitted from the fact that extra-musical training has become more established in conservatories. Pianist Chu-Fang Huang, 27, who regularly does masterclasses and likes to incorporate talking into her recital programs, took the “Foundations of Engagement” class when she was at the Curtis Institute; Ben Beilman has taken it as well. “We learned how to create a lesson plan, engage kids, help them stay focused, and have a result, so that they can go home and say ‘I learned x, y, and z,’ ” Beilman says. Some soloists have taken their teaching artist commitment even further: violinist Jennifer Koh offers her own program, Musical Messenger, that can be customized for any grade level and for schools with or without music programs. Perhaps the most visible proponent of engagement on multiple fronts is Midori, whose projects include her Orchestra Residencies program music 10/2/09 12:21and PM her Page 1 education organization, Midori and Friends.
(L–R) Korbinian Altenberger, violin; Susan Babini, cello; Benjamin Beilman, violin; Jonathan Beyer, baritone; Biava Quartet
(L–R) Jasmine Choi, flute; Jennifer Curtis, violin; Harrison Hollingsworth, bassoon; Lidia Kaminska, accordion; Dísella Làrusdóttir, soprano
(L–R) Saeka Matsuyama, violin; Angela Meade, soprano; Michael Mizrahi, piano; Alexandre Moutouzkine, piano; Spencer Myer, piano
(L–R) Doug O’Connor, saxophone; Ilya Poletaev, piano; Yulia Van Doren, soprano; Di Wu, piano
230 S. Broad Street, Suite 300 Philadelphia, PA 19102 215-735-6999
SAM works closely with presenters, orchestras, and festivals to deliver excellent musicianship that meets their programming and budgetary needs. Soloists rieko aizawa
Duos misha & cipa dichter
Chamber Ensembles antares
duo prism jesse mills & rieko aizawa
harlem quartet, a sphinx ensemble
carter brey & christopher o’riley*
carter brey with harlem quartet
misha dichter piano
efe baltacigil cello
carter brey cello
eileen strempel soprano
Chamber Orchestras & Conductors piotr gajewski
misha dichter with harlem quartet piano quintet
sphinx chamber orchestra 2010 tour
Contact Marianne Sciolino
212-721-9975 www.samnyc.us firstname.lastname@example.org *By arrangement with California Artists Management
Jenny Lynn Stewart Heart-Stirring Songstress
“ This glorious lyric soprano ...
is bound to attract attention.” — John Hoglund, Backstage
When pianist Jade Simmons played with the University of Chicago Orchestra in December, she spent several days in schools offering a variety of programs that she has devised and fine-tuned in the last several years. Her interest in connecting with audiences started when she was an undergraduate at Northwestern University and was first runner-up for Miss America, giving speeches about youth-suicide prevention. “I wanted to make this not about death, but a passion for life,” she says. Her own passion was music, and that experience segued naturally into her post-pageant career. “When I talked to high school and middle school students, I found that using the concept of emotion kept their attention, whether the subject was mental health or music,” she says. “I created a program called ‘Emotional Roller Coaster,’ where they give me an emotion and I have to come up with a piece of music that reflects that emotion. It works really well— and they are in control of the concert.” Simmons thinks that it is critical for emerging performers to take the time to develop such programs and skills if they want to have careers. “When a presenter books the ‘emerging artist’ slot, I have an edge, because I come with other components,” she says. She finds it particularly gratifying to be able to reach minority children. “I’m in a program sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation where I play in schools with black and Hispanic kids. I come in with two other people, both of them white, and until I sit down at the piano, they don’t realize that the black girl is the pianist. Just doing that dispels a lot of stereotypes about who plays classical music and whom it is for.” Developing engagement skills will also help emerging artists because they often want to do more. Pat Winter says, “Young artists feel strongly about relaying their passion for this music to their generation and the generation below them. I haven’t had any of the young ones who aren’t willing.” Diane Saldick agrees: “My artists are in the trenches, and proud of it. The emerging artists who participate in activities beyond the concert hall will cultivate and sustain a higher level of regional orchestra health in the coming years. That’s important for both the orchestras and the artists: they keep each other in health.”
Patricia Alberti Performing Artists Management
928-468-6963 • palbertiarts @msn.com 38
HEIDI WALESON writes about the performing arts and is opera critic for The Wall Street Journal.
ja n ua ry- f e b r ua ry 2 0 1 0
Our annual listing of emerging soloists and conductors is inspired by the breadth and sheer volume of young classical talent. The following list of emerging talent (provided by League business partners) is intended as a reference point for orchestra professionals who book classical series and does not imply endorsement by Symphony or the League of American Orchestras.
Conductors Francesco Angelico
+49 511 36607 77
Thirty-one-year-old conductor Francesco Angelico has won the second prize of the 2009 Malko Competition. After having studied cello, Angelico went on to study conducting in Lugano and Hannover.
David Belenzon Management Inc.
618 287 0330
Gerard Salonga is one of the Philippinesâ€™ most accomplished musical directors, conductors, and arrangers. He has been guest conductor for the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Bangkok Symphony. He has released three critically acclaimed recordings with the FILharmoniKA orchestra. Maxim Eshkenazy Thea Dispeker Inc. dispeker.com
Robert Franz Diane Saldick, LLC robertfranz.com
Ward Stare Opus 3 Artists opus3artists.com/artists/ward-stare
James Feddeck Opus 3 Artists opus3artists.com/artists/james feddeck
Evan Rogister IMG Artists imgartists.com
Mikhail Tatarnikov Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Andrew Sewell Diane Saldick, LLC dianesaldick.com
Ensembles Performing with an Orchestra CLASSICAL GUITAR DUO
VIOLIN AND PIANO DUO
Duo Melis Chicago Concert Artists chicagoconcertartists.com
Biava Quartet Astral Artists astralartists.org
Duo Prism Sciolino Artist Management duoprism.com
Harlem Quartet Sciolino Artist Management harlemquartet.org
Brasil Guitar Duo Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org americanorchestras.org
Instrumentalists Peter Kolkay – bassoon
Concert Artists Guild
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Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient called “stunningly virtuosic” (New York Times). Featured engagements: South Carolina Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Westchester Philharmonic, Green Bay Symphony, and Chamber Orchestra Kremlin. Soo Bae – cello
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
MusicalAmerica.com’s “New Artist of the Month” (March 2009). Featured engagements: National Arts Kiwan Yi
Centre Orchestra and Orchestra London of Canada, Tacoma Symphony, Christchurch Symphony (NZ), Asian Youth Orchestra (2007 tour). Jesús Morales – cello
Lois Scott Management Inc.
201 768 6970
Principal cello of The Philadelphia Virtuosi, cellist of The Dali String Quartet, and cello professor of the Elite Lois Scott
Strings Program; previously served as principal cello of the Orquesta Sinfonica of Puerto Rico.
Amit Peled – cello
Judith Davidson Artists
410 688 9565
Debuts with the Baltimore and Columbus symphonies in 2009-10; American Record Guide noted his “flair Henry Fair
of the young Rostropovich”; Maestro Günther Herbig says, “Peled’s Elgar concerto is in the highest ranks of performances.” Claire Chase – flute
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
“…the variety of ever-shifting colors from flutist Claire Chase…sparkled like a kaleidoscope.” (Chicago Sun-Times). Featured engagements: San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de
Mineria (Mexico City), and Beijing International Chamber Orchestra. Bridget Kibbey – harp
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient plays with “blazing power and finesse” (The New York Times). Featured concerto engagements: Tallahassee Symphony, Princeton Symphony, Symphony in C, Israel Youth Philharmonic, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra.
JA N UA RY– F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 0
Lisa-Marie Mazzucco Stephen Eastwood/Lynx Lisa-Marie Mazzucco Christian Steiner
Alessio Bax – piano
Barrett Vantage Artists
646 781 3428
Recipient of 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and First Prize Winner of the Leeds and Hamamatsu International piano competitions, Bax has established himself as an accomplished and popular performer throughout the world. Evgeni Bozhanov – piano
Van Cliburn Foundation
817 738 6536
Bulgarian; Finalist, Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Winner, Steven DeGroote Memorial Award – Best Chamber Music Performance; Highlights: Ravinia Rising Stars; Repertoire: Chopin No. 1, Grieg, Rachmaninoff No. 2, Tchaikovsky No. 1. Ran Jia – piano
212 994 3502
At twenty, pianist Ran Jia is already regarded as a striking musician with exceptional abilities. Tan Dun hailed her as a “piano poet with dramatic skill in music making.”
Daria Rabotkina – piano
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
“…A pianist full of fire and warmth” (The Plain-Dealer ). Featured concerto engagements: San Francisco and New World symphonies, Kirov Orchestra, and the Harrisburg, Jacksonville, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Moscow State symphonies. Jade Simmons – piano
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
“A clear, powerful pianist with a magnetic personality…worth seeing any time.” (The Washington Post). Featured engagements: Dallas Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, and University of Chicago Symphony. Yeol Eum Son – piano
Van Cliburn Foundation
817 738 6536
South Korean; Silver Medalist, Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Winner, Steven DeGroote Memorial Award – Best Chamber Music Performance; Highlights: Columbus, Greenville, Utah Symphonies; Repertoire: Chopin No. 2, Prokofiev No. 2. Nobuyuki Tsujii – piano
Van Cliburn Foundation
817 738 6536
Japanese; Gold Medalist, Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Beverly Taylor Smith Award – Best New Work Performance; Highlights: Aspen Music Festival, Japan Philharmonic, Santa Fe S p e c i a lRepertoire: A d v e r t iChopin s i n g SNo. e c1, t i Rachmaninoff on Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra; No. 2.
Instrumentalists (continued) Mariangela Vacatello – piano
Van Cliburn Foundation
817 738 6536
Italian; Finalist, Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Winner, Top of the World Competition (Norway); Highlights: Santa Maria Philharmonic, Odessa Philharmonic (Ukraine); Repertoire: Beethoven No. 4, Liszt No. 1, Prokofiev No. 3 Gilles Vonsattel – piano
Barrett Vantage Artists
646 781 3428
Awarded a 2008 Avery Fisher Career Grant and First Prize at the 2002 Naumberg Competition, this Swissborn American pianist has uncommon breadth, musical curiosity and sense of adventure, gaining him many
admirers. Di Wu – piano
Van Cliburn Foundation
817 738 6536
Chinese; Finalist, Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Vendome Prize, Featured New Artist of the Month on MusicalAmerica.com; Highlights: Philadelphia Orchestra, Mid-Texas Symphony;
Repertoire: Beethoven No. 4, Rachmaninoff No. 3, Saint-Saens No. 2. Haochen Zhang – piano
Van Cliburn Foundation
817 738 6536
Chinese; Gold Medalist, Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Highlights: Aspen and Beijing Music Festivals, San Francisco Symphony, Hartford Symphony; Repertoire: Beethoven No. 4, Chopin No. 1, Prokofiev No. 2, Rachmaninoff No. 2, Tchaikovsky No. 1. Chad Hoopes – violin
212 994 3519
Winner of the Young Artists Division of the Menuhin Competition, 15-year-old Chad Hoopes possesses the kind of technical mastery, ease of expression, and joyful talent that come along only once in a generation.
Kirill Troussov – violin
+44 20 7395 0910
Violinist Kirill Troussov plays the “Brodsky” Stradivarius on which Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto received its FBroede
world premiere in 1879. Troussov recently made his Paris debut with the Orchestre National de France and Daniele Gatti.
JA N UA RY– F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 0
Michi Wiancko – violin
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
An “alluring soloist [with] heightened expressive and violinistic gifts”(Gramophone). Featured concerto engagements: New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, CityMusic Cleveland, and the Grand Rapids, Bakersfield, and South Carolina symphonies. Dan Zhu – violin
Barrett Vantage Artists
646 781 3428
Named “one of the emerging Chinese international artists today” by Gramophone magazine, Zhu is rapidly K.K. Fong
gaining stature around the world with orchestral and recital performances in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Lidia Kaminska Astral Artists astralartists.org
Jasmine Choi Astral Artists astralartists.org
Maxim Anikushin Beverly Wright & Associates beverlywright.com
Harrison Hollingsworth Astral Artists astralartists.org
Robert Belinic Young Concert Artists yca.org/belinic
Tanya Bannister Diane Saldick, LLC tanyabannister.com
Ana Vidovic Diane Saldick, LLC anavidovic.com
Ran Dank Young Concert Artists yca.org/dank
Ching-Yun Hu Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org
Sebastian Bäverstam Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org
Emmanuel Ceysson Young Concert Artists yca.org/ceysson
Chu-Fang Huang Young Concert Artists yca.org/huang
Andreas Brantelid Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Susan Babini Astral Artists astralartists.org
Narek Hakhnazaryan Young Concert Artists yca.org/hakhnazaryan CLARINET Jose Franch-Ballester Young Concert Artists yca.org/franch-ballester DOUBLE BASS DaXun Zhang Young Concert Artists yca.org/zhang
Pius Cheung Young Concert Artists yca.org/cheung Naoko Takada Young Concert Artists yca.org/takada MARIMBA/PERCUSSION Svet Stoyanov Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org PERCUSSION Lisa Pegher CHL Artists, Inc. chlartists.com
Gleb Ivanov Young Concert Artists yca.org/ivanov Sunwook Kim Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk Michael Mizrahi Astral Artists astralartists.org Benjamin Moser Young Concert Artists yca.org/moser Alexandre Moutouzkine Astral Artists astralartists.org (continued)
Hahn-Bin Young Concert Artists yca.org/hahn-bin
Spencer Myer Astral Artists parkerartists.com
Phyllis Chen Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org
Jean-Frédéric Neuberger Young Concert Artists yca.org/neuberger
Bella Hristova Young Concert Artists yca.org/hristova
Juan-Miguel Hernandez Sciolino Artist Management samnyc.us
Noé Inui Young Concert Artists yca.org/inui
Jennifer Stumm Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org
Artur Kaganovskiy Beverly Wright & Associates beverlywright.com
Eszter Szilveszter Beverly Wright & Associates beverlywright.com
Hye-Jin Kim Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org
Jessica Lee Concert Artists Guild concertartists.org
Juho Pohjonen Kirshbaum Demler and Associates kirshdem.com Ilya Poletaev Astral Artists astralartists.org Ron Reger Chicago Concert Artists chicagoconcertartists.com Louis Schwizgebel-Wang Young Concert Artists yca.org/schwizgebel-wang
Korbinian Altenberger Astral Artists astralartists.org
Wonny Song Young Concert Artists yca.org/song
Benjamin Beilman Astral Artists astralartists.org
Bryan Wallick Diane Saldick, LLC bryanwallick.com
Ray Chen Young Concert Artists yca.org/chen
Jennifer Curtis Astral Artists astralartists.org
Doug O’Connor Astral Artists astralartists.org
Vilde Frang Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Saeka Matsuyama Astral Artists astralartists.org Alexander Sitkovetsky Diane Saldick, LLC dianesaldick.com Arnaud Sussman Opus 3 Artists opus3artists.com/artists/arnaudsussman Elena Urioste Sciolino Artist Management samnyc.us
Courtesy Dean Artists Management
Courtesy Dean Artists Management
Vocalists Alexander Hajek – Baritone
Dean Artists Management
416 969 7300
Grand Prize Winner, New York Oratorio Society Competition; Christina and Louis Quilico Award; Master’s Degree, Juilliard; Schaunard (La Bohème), Opera Hamilton; Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Canadian Opera Company Ensemble. David Trudgen – Countertenor
Dean Artists Management
416 969 7300
Winner, Michigan Met district auditions; Medoro (Orlando), Chicago Opera Theater; Teavee (The Golden Ticket), Wexford Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Israel in Egypt, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Carmina Burana, Victoria Symphony, B.C.
Courtesy Dean Artists Management
Wallis Giunta – Mezzo-Soprano
Dean Artists Management
416 969 7300
Finalist, Neue Stimmen Competition; Canadian Opera Company (Ensemble); Aspen Festival 2009; Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) Opera Atelier; world premiere of The Children’s Crusade for Toronto’s Luminato Festival 2009. Jami Tyzik – Mezzo-Soprano
717 227 0060
Jami Tyzik captivates audiences with exciting repertoire from the Baroque to Broadway. Her "Femmes Devon Cass
Fatales" program (violin, piano, vocals) explores the classical interpretation of the gypsy figure in vocal and instrumental music. Sarah Wolfson – Soprano
Concert Artists Guild
212 333 5200 x16
Lyric soprano praised for “working magic in sustained tones and tapered phrases” (Washington Post). Featured orchestral engagements: American Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, International Sejong Soloists, and Bowdoin Festival Orchestra.
BARITONE Jonathan Beyer Astral Artists cami.com
Douglas Williams Schwalbe and Partners schwalbeandpartners.com
Angela Meade Astral Artists imgartists.com
Ailyn Perez Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Audun Iversen Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Jay Carter Schwalbe and Partners jaycartersings.com
Ryan de Ryke Chicago Concert Artists chicagoconcertartists.com
Yuri Minenko Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
David Soar Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Sasha Cooke IMG Artists sashacooke.com
Bryan Hymel Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Adam Plachetka Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Jeanine De Bique Young Concert Artists yca.org/de_bique
Ji-Min Park Askonas Holt Ltd. askonasholt.co.uk
Shenyang IMG Artists imgartists.com
Disella Làrusdóttir Astral Artists astralartists.org
Carolina Ullrich Young Concert Artists yca.org/ullrich Yulia Van Doren Astral Artists astralartists.org TENOR
Conductor Sarah Hicks and violist Sam Bergman, co-hosts of the Minnesota Orchestra’s “Inside the Classics” series, also contribute to a blog of the same name on the orchestra’s website.
Stephen Hough performs with the Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of Osmo Vänskä.
“It’s a little bit of a master class in some ways, it’s a little bit like an autobiography,” pianist Stephen Hough says about his blog, which first appeared on the website of London’s Telegraph newspaper in December 2008. “It’s the memoir that I’d never have the time to write.” Hough’s blog topics veer from selecting the best edition of a score to insightful musicological explorations to finding a decent meal in a new town. The blog’s tagline runs: “Stephen Hough is a concert pianist by night, but his daytime interests include theology, art, hats, puddings…and writing about them.” The blog gives readers a way of experiencing Hough’s life beyond the concert stage, in an engaging mix of personality and artistry.
line Opus by Ian VanderMeulen
Blogging offers audiences a whole new way to connect with classical musicians, and artists an alternative mode of expression. americanorchestras.org
Hough’s blog is just one of several— among them those of fellow pianist Jeremy Denk, composer Nico Muhly, and eighth blackbird flutist Tim Munro—that offer privileged looks into the minds of musical artists. Content and tone range widely. Conductor Sarah Hicks and violist Sam Bergman, who co-host the Inside the Classics blog on the Minnesota Orchestra website, note the dual viewpoints their blog offers: Hicks’s podium perspective and Bergman’s within-the-orchestra slant. Polyphonic.org, the well-known online forum for orchestra musicians, recently ran a series of blog posts by Karen Schnackenberg, head librarian at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, in which she detailed the joys and challenges of her work. Leonard Slatkin, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, posts blog entries on his website that discuss baseball, musicmaking with the DSO, and the peripatetic life of an in-demand conductor. Whether these artists choose to discuss the music they’re performing, an amusing occurrence on the way to a concert, or a video they just found on YouTube, each blog offers a snapshot of an artist’s life, and what the artist is thinking about on a day-to-day basis. It’s a means to hear directly from musicians, generally without the mediation of handlers and representatives. Classical music blogs are in sharp contrast to blogs by pop, rock, and rap stars, which are usually crafted by ghost writers and promoted by marketing departments. Classical musicians’ blogs offer much more immediacy and interactivity than a print column or memoir ever could. First of all, the blogs give audiences access to discussion forums that include not only communities of fans, but often the blogging musicians themselves. Muhly notes, “If I ask a question about a sacred-harp tune or whatever, or lyrics to an old song, you get these really interesting back-andforths and all of a sudden, like, people from Ireland are up in there.” Which brings up a second advantage to blogs: the international reach of the internet. The internet’s structure of links and keyword searches, combined with the extra-musical topics in musician blogs, means that comments can come from readers who had not been particularly interested in the musicians but found themselves drawn in all the same. Many artists, particularly Muhly, also
Life on the Blogosphere
For those wishing to get inside the brain of a 39-year-old pianist, it would be hard to find a more revealing blog than Jeremy Denk’s appropriately titled Think Denk. His posts brim with literary references, turn food into musical metaphors, and take the reader on train-of-thought musings. Denk recalls that the blog was initiated after a conversation with Anya Grundmann, an NPR producer, who knew Denk to be an avid reader and purveyor of unusual anecdotes. “We had done some small pieces when I was performer in residence at NPR,” Denk says, “little diaries from the road that I’d written down, and then we’d done a couple of little radio pieces on them—one of them about a kind of insane man who came up to me while I was practicing in El Paso. So Anya had an idea of what Think Denk might be like.”
From those humble beginnings in March 2005, Think Denk has grown into one of the more visible musician blogs on the Web, earning the attention of musicians and critics alike. New Yorker critic Alex Ross called Denk the “leading humorist-intellectual of the classical-music blogosphere.” The blog’s popularity may be due in part to an imagined interview with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin around the time of the 2008 election, in which Denk and Palin discuss Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata. The idea came from what Denk calls a “weird confluence of Sarah appearing on the scene and me playing this really thorny piece—the most intellectually demanding, you might say, of Beethoven’s piano works.” Palin-isms
Tim Munro speaks with musician/blogger Sidney Chin (left) and Los Angeles Philharmonic Artistic Administrator Helane Anderson at the 2009 Ojai Music Festival.
David LaBelle/Ojai Music Festival
see their blogs as an alternate means of expression. But there is a growing sense that blogging is an important part of communicating with an audience—on par with performing. “As a conductor and musician, part of my mission is the outreach, the engagement,” says Hicks, who in October was appointed principal conductor of pops and presentations at the Minnesota Orchestra. “The blog is a powerful way to do it that reaches a lot of people, often at two o’clock in the morning. It’s a new way that people are consuming each other’s ideas.”
“Musicians are incredible foodies,” says pianist Jeremy Denk, who frequently mentions edibles on his blog Think Denk.
like “you betcha” abound, but the former Alaska governor also manages to lead the pianist to a surprising epiphany through her insights about the “Hammerklavier” Sonata. “It’s not that hard, actually,” Denk says about finding inspiration for blog posts. “The life of a touring musician is pretty weird in many ways, and there’s a lot of fertile material in the juxtaposition of what you have to do and think about—the collision of the everyday and the supposedly super-profound.” Tim Munro, flutist of the contemporary chamber group eighth blackbird, had a much more defined purpose for his blogging mission. The 31-year-old Aussie recalls that the idea came to him during a particularly eventful week auditioning to join the ensemble: “I thought, ‘If I get this job, I’m going to have to try to put these things together as a record of how this amazing organism developed.’ ” A fan of Ross’s blog The Rest is Noise, Munro felt at the time that few blogs dealt with what it was like to be a part of a touring, performing ensemble. Some of Munro’s first posts were about the group’s inner workings. “I wrote a couple of entries about visual cues that we give each other during performances,” he says. “This is an incredibly important part of how eighth blackbird functions. It’s unique and different from any other group—the intricacy of the cues and how subtly they’re done.” Munro notes that he quickly exhausted this topic and moved on to blogging about eighth blackbird’s larger projects. A collaboration with Steve Reich and Bang on
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Cadenza by Stephen Hough blogs.telegraph. co.uk/culture/author/ stephenhough
a Can called “The Only Moving Thing” was documented by posts rich with photos and videos. One of Munro’s summer posts from the Ojai Music Festival in Ojai, California—where eighth blackbird collectively served as “music director”—is almost entirely a collection of photos with captions, capturing the visual aspect of the group’s work there. Maintaining a regular blogging schedule when performer-bloggers are busiest is a challenge. “It’s hard to come home from a long day on the road and post,” Munro says. “Especially when I’ve set up this tone of voice of being quite cheery, it’s hard to have that voice when I might be a little more intense.” Conductor Sarah Hicks has contributed to the Inside the Classics blog on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website since October 2007. The blog takes its name from a concert series that Hicks co-hosts with orchestra violist Sam Bergman, who also contributes to the blog. The two alternate posts, sometimes commenting on what the other has written. Hicks stresses the importance of keeping a readership engaged through frequent posts. “It’s a short-attention-span culture we have,” she says, “and we try to play into that a little bit.” But as musicians who are constantly trying—through their “Inside the Classics” concert series—to engage an orchestral audience that may be less than die-hard, Hicks and blogging partner Bergman agree that the blog is a natural outgrowth of their primary professions. “These are really the same kinds of discussions that musicians—and anybody associated with orchestras—have all the time,” Bergman says of the blog, “so it feels very much a part of my job now.”
Inside the Classics by Sarah Hicks and Sam Bergman minnesotaorchestra.org/ insidetheclassics/blog Nico Muhly nicomuhly.com
Think Denk by Jeremy Denk jeremydenk.net/blog
Thirteen Ways by Tim Munro eighthblackbird.com/blog
Blogging: A Brief History
Blogging started pretty soon after the rise of the public internet in the mid-1990s. The term “blog” is a shortening of Jorn Barger’s “WebLog,” used to describe his string of links on his early blog Robot Wisdom. The launch of such software as Blogger in 1999, followed by MovableType and WordPress, made it easy for even an internet novice to take up the pastime. With the dwindling of print journalism’s arts coverage, blogging has become an increasingly popular forum for writing about classical music from the critic’s perspective. The Los Angeamericanorchestras.org
les Times blog Culture Monster has become an important outlet for discussions about arts on the West Coast. Washington Post critic Anne Midgette, Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith, and Orange County Register’s Tim Mangan all have blogs on their respective publications’ sites that allow them to report over-and-above what would appear in physical print. ArtsJournal.com, which links to dozens of arts-related news articles every day, also includes a healthy roster of blogs,
including those by Greg Sandow, Terry Teachout, and, up until November, former League of American Orchestras President and CEO Henry Fogel. But blogging also allows musicians to reach out to fans and admirers in a very personal way. Violinist and music educator Midori noticed that potential early on, posting short email-like updates on her website starting in January 2003. Her style is much like a letter: Midori opens each
On his blog, composer Nico Muhly discusses such diverse topics as the music of Benjamin Britten and the fine art of grilling a whale melt.
post with the date and the greeting “Dear Friends,” and often ends with an inspirational line. The initial purpose of composer Nico Muhly’s blog, which appears on his website’s homepage, was similar, even if the format and tone were quite different. He recalls starting in October 2006 with short updates on what he was up to. But as a former Columbia University English major, Muhly says he missed having the outlet of serious writing, and the blog turned into slightly more of a literary exercise. Muhly’s posts straddle the line between Midori’s friendly, colloquial style and Denk’s literary musings. Muhly might begin one post about the
“The fun thing about the internet is that information can move laterally and not just vertically,” says composer Nico Muhly, “Online, you might enter a food wormhole and exit a political wormhole.” use of language with a food metaphor, and a week later post a video of Michael Jackson dancing to R. Kelly. He’ll often turn phrases he wants to emphasize into proper
nouns by using initial capitals (Things in the Universe, Such a Great Thing), and may break sentences with “like.” Occasional substitutions of “ie” for “y” give buoyancy to
Young American Composer-in-Residence Barry Jekowsky, Founder and Music Director
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his deep reflections on what people might expect from a composer’s blog. Nonetheless, Muhly says he isn’t out to prove anything: “The blog is just the same stuff I would talk about if you called me up and said, ‘Hey, did you see this thing on the news’ or whatever. It’s all kind of random. Every time I look back I’m surprised. Two weeks ago I’m talking about Benjamin Britten and performance practice of dotted rhythms.” For Muhly, focusing on the music of composers he admires is much preferred to writing about his own music. He notes that, particularly in music blogging, “the topic is music but the subject is not”— in other words, the focus is more on the blogger than on the music. “So in writing about Britten and other people’s music,” Muhly says, “I can take the focus off my own process and turn it back around into what people came there for, which was the music. I’m not that interested in unpacking the creative process. But writing about other people’s music is really fun. And it does help me think about my own work.” Flutist Tim Munro also believes that his blog is a way for him to better understand the music. Performing with such a forward-thinking ensemble as eighth blackbird means he comes in contact with a lot of new music, some of it not to his personal liking. He doesn’t want to lie and say he loves certain works, but for obvious political reasons, he can’t trash them either. “To be able to think about a piece I don’t like,” he says, “and try to confront it on its own terms and merits, really makes me think about it again. And usually that symphony
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makes me like the piece more, or at least able to find a way in.” Hough doesn’t feel that his blog has quite the same impact on his own musicmaking, but he notes that the most musically technical posts get the most comments, in the range of 30 to 50. So while Hough writes about a broad range of topics, he says that “once in a while a comment about whether you’d use the third finger or the fourth finger on this C-sharp, or something like that, is actually quite valuable.” Hicks mentions that one of the liveliest discussions she had on the Inside the Classics blog occurred when she posted about the downbeat the conductor gives an orchestra and the delay between that downbeat and the ensuing sounds. One responder, she says, took the delay to be a “bad habit” that she couldn’t imagine an ensemble at the Minnesota Orchestra’s level having. The two had a long online discussion in which Hicks assured her, as she recalls, that, “No, they’re not bad habits, they’re just habits and they’re different in every orchestra.” Bergman admits that presenting musical ideas to a non-expert audience without coming across as condescending is a challenge, and one that he and Hicks address with the “Inside the Classics” concert series. “We settled into a pattern where we assume a baseline level of musical knowledge,” he says. “We assume that people know what a C-major scale is, we assume that if people are bothering to read our blog or come to our concerts in the first place they might have held an instrument at some point in their lives, maybe sang in a choir. If we showed them notes on a staff they would know basically how to interpret that.” Says Hicks, “I don’t feel like I have to withhold a very technical discussion. I’ve had several posts about how I score-study and have included pictures of a markedup score. That might be very interesting to an amateur musician or someone who’s very engaged in the concertgoing process already, and kind of peripherally interesting to someone who knows nothing about classical music.” But sometimes it’s the non-musical things in musician blogs that endear them to fans the most. One of the favorite nonmusical subjects for musicians, it appears, americanorchestras.org
is food. Hough occasionally profiles restaurants he visits while on tour. Muhly’s posts include instructions on cooking whale—of all things. “Musicians are incredible foodies,” Denk says, noting how comforting a good meal can be to a touring musician. Muhly mentions the time a woman looking for a recipe for gingered syrup found one on his blog—a discovery that led to an email exchange in which the woman professed to having downloaded all of Muhly’s albums and watched The Reader, a film for which Muhly composed the score. “That’s a great roundabout way,” Muhly says. “That’s sort of how I roll, too. That’s the fun thing about the internet— information can move laterally and not just vertically. It’s like, online you might enter a food wormhole and exit a political wormhole.” So does all this amount to an opportunity for orchestras to develop a new following through blogging? Maybe. A number of orchestras’ websites feature blogs by musicians or, sometimes, administrators. And orchestras and musicians are increasingly embracing other social media as well—it’s a given that tech-friendly ensembles are on Facebook and MySpace, and that they dispatch updates via Twitter and iPhone apps. But social networking is a fast-changing field, and today’s hot new site is tomorrow’s dinosaur. And while musicians’ blogs are very much first-person, orchestras’ blogs are, by their nature, more formal. “A lot of American orchestras announce blogs with great fanfare,” Bergman notes, “and then they just put up little updates saying, ‘We have a concert tonight’—which we know, because they have a website—or they’ll recruit a few musicians to write little two- or three-line entries. “If it is going to become a wider thing,” Bergman continues, “it will need to happen organically. It can’t happen because a marketing department says, ‘We need a blog,’ unless you have a good writer specifically in mind. And it’s also a function of how many orchestras have public relations departments who can’t imagine anyone other than them putting out any information about the orchestra. We’ve been lucky here.” IAN VANDERMEULEN is assistant editor of Symphony.
The Price Is
by Rebecca Winzenried
Orchestras O rchestras have done a great job of attracting new audiences. Now they are keeping the newcomers by cutting down on audience “churn” with fresh ideas, tactics, and approaches that turn first-timers into subscribers and supporters. Heading into the new 2009-10 season, a few orchestras across the country got some eye-opening results from their subscription- and single-ticket sales reports. In a year shaped largely by economic concerns for patrons and performers alike, orchestras in such unexpected places as Colorado Springs and Orlando were charting double-digit increases. They can chalk it up to churn, or rather a lack thereof. Buzz about audience churn— the fact that many single-ticket holders do not return for additional programs over the course of a season, or from one year to the next—has been ricocheting around the orchestra world ever since results of the Audience Growth Initiative were unveiled at the 2008 League of American Orchestras National Conference. Orchestras had long had some inkling of audience turnover problems, but that pro-bono initiative, undertaken by the international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman in conjunction with nine of the largest-budget orchestras across the country, revealed that an astonishing 90 percent of first-time ticketbuyers churned in comparison to regular concertgoers; and more than half did not return from one season to the next. The study pinpointed specific reasons for churn—from box-office snafus to a general sense of disappointment with the concert experience—and offered some concrete so-
lutions. (Visit americanorchestras.org/conference_2009/churn.html for Churn presentations.) A key finding of the Churn Report was the need to better nurture first-timers, helping them bond with the orchestra through comfortable and welcoming concert experiences, enticing “killer” discount offers for return visits, and a gentler push along the path to becoming subscribers. Results of early trials and tests by the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and other participating orchestras were encouraging. But as is often the case with such big-picture research projects, a lot of small- to mid-size orchestras were left thinking, “Wow, there’s some amazing information here, but it’s New York and Philadelphia and Boston. What does it really mean for us?” Crystal Lohman, director of patron services and marketing for Florida’s Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, didn’t wait to find out, because she knew her orchestra really couldn’t wait. Delays in renovations to the
orchestra’s home venue, the historic Saenger Theatre, had kept the orchestra on a traveling schedule of performances at churches around the city for two seasons—and just as feared, the audience was not following. It had lost 100 subscribers in a year, from a base of around 700 total. The Churn Report proved particularly revelatory for Lohman, who often saw single-ticket buyers while handling frontof-house duties. She recalls thinking, “I really don’t pay attention to them. We’ve got all these people coming into our hall and I don’t know their names, or what they want out of a concert.” Lohman, the staff, music director, and board dove into the task of examining how operations could change to better address interests and concerns of new patrons. Single-ticket buyers began receiving emails thanking them for their purchase, providing information about the program via a series of newly incorporated notes written by Music Director Peter Rubardt, plus some tips on parking and restaurants and a buy-one, get-one-free drink offer—“just whatever I could do to make them as comfortable and informed before they came into the concert hall as possible,” says Lohman. Things starting clicking, according to Lohman. “I’d have people pull me aside at symphony
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Churn Revisited concerts and say, ‘Thank you so much for emailing us before the concert,’ ” she recalls, noting that such information really did put ticket buyers at ease about what to expect. Pensacola Symphony concerts were oversold for the 2008-09 season and the orchestra ended the year with 1,000 total subscribers, plus the bonus of returning to its home. The orchestra settled into a new acoustical shell in the freshly buffed Saenger Theatre for the last concert of the season. But the emphasis on providing patrons with the most seamless, comfortable experience possible, from the time they bought a ticket to the time they left the performance—a main takeaway from the Churn Report—had started to rebuild the audience even earlier. “Now there is a buzz in town about us,” says Lohman. “People know they have to get their tickets early or else they are not going to get in.” Another Churn Report finding—that first-timers respond highly to deep-discount “killer offers” (50 percent off having the biggest impact)—undoubtedly helped boost sales. Lohman tailored one $10 ticket offer to personnel stationed at the nearby Air Force and Navy bases, and aimed others at bringing visitors and families back in the recessionary climate. “We’ve had a lot of comments about how going to a concert
was something that they really wanted to do, and the buy-one, get-one-free offer allowed them to,” she says. The trickle-down effects became evident by mid-2009: the orchestra had added 200 more subscribers for 2009-10, including 12.8 percent of those who had attended three or more concerts the previous season, and nearly 9 percent of those who had attended two concerts. The number of new subscribers had grown to nearly 300 by late August 2009. The orchestra also met its annual fund goal for 2008-09 and among the contributors, 10.2 percent had attended two or more concerts—demonstrating that the more frequently people attend, the more invested they become in the orchestra, one of the findings of the Churn study. Stay in Touch
For all the nurturing of newcomers, the subscriber relationship was also re-examined. The orchestra began sending regular correspondence during the year, “not asking for money, not asking them for anything, just informational letters to let them know what we’re doing,” says Lohman. A summertime message conveyed what the staff does over the season break, let subscribers know when their tickets would be in the mail, and ended with “We’re so happy to have you back.”
As a flow chart featuring the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra’s interactions with ticket buyers reveals, “killer offer” subscription packages are key in retaining concertgoers.
Just a year ago, Symphony reported on the first phase of the Audience Growth Initiative, an innovative study that focused on the barriers that keep first-time classical-music ticket buyers from becoming concert regulars—a phenomenon known as audience “churn.” The study, led by the international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman in association with nine major orchestras, identified ways in which orchestras could retain newcomers. Read the Symphony article and churn presentations at americanorchestras. org/knowledge_research_and_ innovation/churn_presentation.html.
An increased sense of ownership shows in the feedback received through followup surveys. “Peter’s conducting is amazing to watch—and the fact that we can call him ‘Peter’ and all know who that is!” was one comment. Lohman has maximized the use of such quotes and materials by including them in everything from the 2009-10 season brochure to grant proposals. Pensacola’s results demonstrate that the Churn Report’s findings are indeed relevant to orchestras of all sizes. “That’s the advantage of a smaller orchestra,” says Jane Kenworthy, executive director of California’s Stockton Symphony. “You can have an idea, turn your chair around, and implement it.” Kenworthy should know. She arrived in this Central Valley city in the spring of 2008 and recognized the potential that the Churn Report findings held for her orchestra, particularly with regard to pricing. If ever there was a place where potential audience members could be scared off by the price of orchestra tickets, it’s Stockton. The city, an inland port, has been hit hard by the economic downturn, with the evaporation of jobs in the shipping and farming industries that have been a staple of the area. (“We’re surrounded by walnuts and cherries,” says Kenworthy.) With the highest foreclosure rate in the nation in late 2007, Stockton’s once-booming housing developments became ghost towns; unemployment stood at 17.7 percent by July 2009. To add insult to injury, Stockton placed high on the Forbes magazine list of “America’s Most
Miserable Cities” in early 2009 (second only to Detroit). The economic situation is compounded by the city’s demographics: the median age is 30; median income is below $40,000; and more than 50 percent of high-school students do not graduate. “If you say age, income, and education levels are all factors in whether someone becomes an orchestra patron, we have three strikes against us,” says Kenworthy. Still, Kenworthy had a feeling that there was untapped potential in the largely bluecollar town, which is more than a third Hispanic and has a large and diverse Asian population that includes sizable Filipino and Hmong communities. “It was clear to me there was a market that wasn’t being reached,” she says. “Previously, it had been that, well, the orchestra belongs to a certain group of people in town, and it’s not the blue-collar population.” Along with efforts to conThe Churn nect with more diverse auReport diences, funded through a James Irvine Foundation quantified grant, the audience capacity-building Kenworthy also tailored the turnover “killer offer” concept of the Churn Report to what she problem felt was the right price-point. in such A special six-day, Pick Two dramatic campaign at the beginning of the 2008-09 season offered fashion the best available seats for that it gave $19. The deal was promoted orchestras in the local newspaper, with an imperative ad space donated by the publisher (an orchestra supportto act. er), and 1,200 tickets were sold to kickstart the season. “It gave us a real boost at a time when Stockton was really hurting,” says Kenworthy. Such efforts helped the orchestra sell 4,000 more single tickets in 2008-09 than the previous season, and by the end of September it had added 300 new subscribers for 2009-10. New subscribers received a 50 percent discount, and “freshmen” (those who have subscribed for one year) were offered a 30 percent discount for 2009-10, which the orchestra is calling, “A Season to Lift Your Spirit.” Reducing ticket prices has also been successful for the San Antonio Symphony. First-time subscribers there were offered a 50 percent discount for the 2009-10 sea-
to five years, that would generate more revenue and more subscribers and more donors than all these big, splashy ‘We’re Getting Young People to Come to the Symphony!’ ad campaigns. And it’s measurable, it’s trackable.” Results became evident rather quickly after the orchestra instituted its first Crystal Lohman, director of patron services and marketing at the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, discusses the results of her discounts for single-ticket orchestra’s implementation of the Audience Growth Initiative. At buyers last January: sales right is “Churn Revisited” panelist Kevin Giglinto, vice president for for its Classics series were marketing and sales at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. up 27 percent for the second half of 2008-09. By August, subscription sales for 2009-10 had son, and a Pick-Three-for-$19 campaign a already matched 2008-09 year-end totals. week before the season opener brought in The San Antonio Symphony does have $125,000 in revenue, more than double the more sophisticated long-range plans. It will anticipated amount. Single-ticket buyers be moving to a new performing arts center received email thanks, with the incentive of in 2013 that will also be home to the San an additional gift if they filled out an online Antonio Opera and other presenters. They survey. “And of course, a significant number will share a unified box-office computer of them go to the survey, click on it, and system, “so the era of Paul typing away on whether they actually do the survey or not, spreadsheets for hours will go away.” Inthey get a followup email that says, ‘Thank formation gleaned from customer surveys you for helping us and would you be interis also being utilized in discussions about ested in a buy-one, get-one-free offer for amenities at the new hall—an important the next concert?’ ” says Jack Fishman, the point, since the Churn Report found that orchestra’s president and CEO. The orchessuch seemingly peripheral issues as parking tra tries to make the offer as relevant to the problems or long lines at the bar during inbuyers’ experience as possible, linking them termission can have such a negative impact to concerts with similar types of programon first-time attendees that they might not ming or artists. want to go through the experience again. Fishman admits that one of the biggest Fishman points out that the Churn findchallenges for San Antonio, and a probable ings have focused SAS staff on such patron majority of orchestras across the country, is issues, and provided ammunition to back simply getting the work done with limited up marketing and sales strategies for board staff and resources. “If you have an automeetings. “That alone has been one of the mated system it’s relatively easy,” he says, most valuable parts of the Churn research, “but in San Antonio, we are doing it with because it has allowed us to very quickly get one person who still has all his other duthe institution to turn and engage in new ties.” That person is Paul Salazar, director behaviors that I think will be helpful, but of patron services, who has been identifying are controversial,” he says. “A lot of board single-ticket buyers manually, printing out members see the discounts and get scared spreadsheets, and comparing them nameto death.” for-name to see which buyers are new to the That’s significant in San Antonio, given system. (It helps that Salazar is the orchesthe lingering memories of a 2003 bankrupttra’s longest-tenured employee and has a cy. The orchestra emerged from Chapter 11, feel for patron names, almost at a glance.) and Fishman says operations have been in “That’s a big burden on him, on us, but the black for four years. But people from the it’s been such a valuable tool,” says Fishcommunity still stop him to ask if the orman. “It’s going to be hard work, it’s going chestra is back from bankruptcy. “The San to transform his job, but if we do it conAntonio Symphony clearly has two brands sistently year after year and change the 90 in the community: we have a solid brand of percent dropout rate to 60 percent in three symphony
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artistic excellence; and we have a solid brand of financial crisis.” In applying special offers and discounts in line with churn-reduction principles, he says, “We have to be careful that a) we don’t destroy the first brand, and b) it doesn’t look like a fire sale.” The Churn Report, he says, quantified the audience turnover problem in such dramatic fashion that it gave orchestras an imperative to act. It’s not another study to put on the shelf and “when the New York Philharmonic figures it out, we’ll maybe implement one percent of it,” he says. “There is no waiting. Because every time we wait, it’s another single-ticket buyer that we’ve lost forever.” Customer Service
Colorado Springs Philharmonic President and CEO Nathan Newbrough agrees that time is of the essence. “That’s where we have to take some responsibility for doing it on our own,” he says. “Everything is scalable.” Because the Churn findings continue to be a work in progress, as original participants accumulate data for analysis and additional orchestras weigh in with
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their own results (for more details, read the “Churn Revisited” presentation from the 2009 League Conference at american orchestras.org), Newbrough has been encouraged to jump in, try some things, and tweak others. Newbrough readily admits that some efforts from last season didn’t work as well as hoped. He points to a Pick Three series offered to single-ticket holders, commenting, “We didn’t price it right and we asked for three when we should have been asking for two.” A Pick Two for this season was scaled back from $29 to $19 and more than $29,000 in tickets were sold. “It really doesn’t cost anything to do that,” says Newbrough. “It costs a little bit of time to get the data together and send out an email to all these people, but I think it is time well spent.” Colorado Springs did have rather spectacular success with a 50 percent discount for new 2009-10 subscribers. By the time of the orchestra’s late-September opener, subscription sales for 2009-10 had more than doubled over the previous season. Results may be attributed in part to various initiatives and programming changes over the
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past year, such as the reconfiguration of an underperforming series into the fast-selling new Vanguard Performances, which blended classics with more contemporary pieces, but more than 1,000 new subscribers selected the mainstay Masterworks series. Equally stunning results have been recorded at the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, which has also offered a steep 50 percent discount for newbies. Subscriptions are up 50 percent from 2008-09, which in turn was up 30 percent from 2007-08; an analysis done early in the sales campaign found that 22.6 percent of those who had attended two or more concerts last season subscribed for 2009-10. Such increases are even more striking given that Orlando’s travel- and tourism-driven economy has suffered in the recession. The orchestra has seen a trend toward subscribers, many of whom are connected to the hospitality industry, choosing less-expensive packages or smaller series. Advertised discounts have been extended to freshmen and longer-term subscribers, and behind the scenes the orchestra has worked out payment plans with some patrons, to keep them on board.
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The standing-room-only crowd at the “Churn Revisited” presentation engages panelists in a question-and-answer session.
“Some of this has nothing to do with churn, but what we learned from the study has reinforced in our minds how important customer service is—that personal relationship,” says Colorado Springs’ Newbrough. He recalls contacting a regular subscriber who had not renewed for this season. The patron, a state representative, said that he’d tried to, but his check “What we had been returned by the box office because learned from he’d neglected to include the Churn study the $3 handling fee. has reinforced “Fortunately, we’ve been able to fix that,” says how important Newbrough, “but here’s customer service somebody who was willis—that personal ing and able to be a patron. We almost lost him relationship,” and we didn’t even know says Colorado that it happened.” The Springs orchestra does not manage box-office operations Philharmonic at Pikes Peak Center, President and where it performs. CEO Nathan The orchestra subsequently worked with the Newbrough. box office to eliminate handling fees and to make its own staffers the point of contact for customers. “It meant taking on some new work that our staff was not accustomed to,” says Newbrough, “but
it meant that every person knew they were dealing with a member of our staff and not someone who had no end responsibility for their happiness.” The box office is also now collecting email addresses on single-ticket purchases, making followup contact a bit easier. For its part, the orchestra enlists college students to work the box-office queue on busy concert days, handing the people waiting in line a contact form and a pencil to fill it out with. “Some solutions are almost stupidly simple,” says Newbrough. The customer service emphasis also helps inform the orchestra’s development department. “We understand we have all these new subscribers in our database now, but we are intentionally not soliciting them yet,” says Newbrough. The Churn Report was explicit about waiting to contact singleticket buyers until they had returned for additional concerts, starting a relationship with the orchestra at their own pace. As the report put it, “Don’t ask me to marry you on the first date.” Some questions still hang in the balance: At what point, exactly, should an orchestra put the moves on new patrons? At what point does a casual acquaintance with the symphony become a more serious commitment, and when does that relationship deepen into love? And how much pressure can an orchestra exert at those points to in-
sure a Happily Ever After? As in any blossoming relationship, answers are elusive and likely to remain so until various churn-reduction initiatives have played out over two or three years. Orchestras are fine-tuning their approaches, but efforts are becoming a little more systemized, with some templates for how to proceed and a growing store of statistical and anecdotal information at hand. Jack McAuliffe, president of Engaged Audiences LLC and former chief operating officer of the League, who helped facilitate the Oliver Wyman Initiative, coached these small- and moderate-budget orchestras in applying the churn findings and is now working with the New England Orchestra Consortium—a regional association of small to mid-sized orchestras—to help its members implement a systemized Audience Growth Initiative. “It feels like we are on the right path,” says Pensacola’s Crystal Lohman. After deciding that she’d try, if just for a year, to reverse the usual thinking about all those anonymous people coming to the box office, perhaps never to return, she says, “Now I know my single-ticket buyers just as well as I know my subscribers.” REBECCA WINZENRIED, a New York-based writer and editor, is the former editor in chief of Symphony.
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Thousands of firefighters were brought in to battle a fire in Santa Barbara in May 2009. The Santa Barbara Symphony performs at the Granada Theatre, below.
When you work for an orchestra, rising to challenges comes with the job description. And sometimes, the challenges can be extreme.
What do you do when you wake up to discover that your orchestra’s offices are under eight feet of water, a storm has shut down power to your city for a week, or a fire with 100-foot flames is raging uncontrollably nearby? You go into overdrive and come up with solutions—fast. These are just a few of the scenarios faced by orchestras around the country recently, but they are far from the only events that can threaten a concert, or even a whole concert season. There are transportation woes, tour instruments that go MIA, guest-artist cancellations, and illness, which may be less dramatic but require the same kind of quick readjustment and resourcefulness on the part of orchestra staff. Not long ago, presidents, executive directors, and artistic administrators at several orchestras shared their war stories with Symphony. From occurrences like guest-artist cancellations, which can happen with some regularity, to once-in-a-lifetime natural disasters, what is remarkably consistent is the way orchestra boards, staff, and musicians come together to find ways to make the show go on if humanly possible, as well as ensure the orchestra’s long-term health. Orchestras often help each other out when disaster strikes; the Louisiana Philharmonic, whose survival after Hurricane Katrina was the cover story of the September-October issue of Symphony, helped raise funds for the flooded Orchestra Iowa when it became temporarily homeless. And sometimes, an emergency forces an orchestra to examine itself closely and make long-anticipated strategic changes more quickly. —Jennifer Melick
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The Jesusita Fire of Santa Barbara, May 2009 John Robinson, executive director, Santa Barbara Symphony Fires have plagued Santa Barbara over the past year. In early May 2009, the Jesusita Fire—so named because it originated in the area of the scenic Jesusita hiking trail—broke out and quickly grew out of control. Tuesday, May 5. I received a call from my board president, Gillian Launie, letting me know that she might not be able to make that day’s meeting since a fire had broken out in the hills above her Mission Canyon home. Sure enough, I looked out my window, and a large column of smoke was billowing skyward. Some flames were visible. By the time I left for the budget meeting downtown at the orchestra’s offices, the smoke was pretty intense, with thick plumes covering the sun and spreading across the sky. Because of the smoke, the meeting was moved to a local café. It was a surreal meeting as the sunlight that lit the Paseo was filtered through the ever-thickening clouds from the blaze. Wednesday, May 6. By afternoon, the situation was quickly worsening. Our electricity had been cutting in and out all afternoon when staff gathered to consider our emergency preparedness. Like many organizations in town, we realized that we had not done much concrete thinking about how to handle a disaster. We hurriedly unplugged our server and loaded it into the car trunk of Stephanie Kao, our subscriber services manager, who lives in Goleta. Soon after, our building was placed under mandatory evacuation. We had an orchestral rehearsal at the Music Academy of the West that evening, just outside downtown Santa Barbara. While the musicians rehearsed Brahms under the baton of Maestro Nir Kabaretti, the winds cranked up to 70 mph and the fire grew wildly out of control. No one slept well that evening. Throughout the night, the firefighters knocked themselves out to control the fire, and all local radio and TV stations were covering the fire 24/7. americanorchestras.org
Thursday, May 7. At 6 a.m., I texted the orchestra staff, calling for a 10 a.m. emergency meeting. High winds were expected, with a forecast in the mid-90s. For our benefit concert that night, inconveniently named “Sizzlin’ Fiddlin,” we had sold over $18,000 worth of tickets, lined up “hot” auction items, and arranged for a fancy post-concert reception for our best donors. We were projecting net income from the event of about $20,000 to help bring this challenging year in on budget. Some of us were sure that cancellation was the correct call, but others thought that the show must go on. We called the mayor’s office to get the city’s official position. Basing their decision on two factors—keeping all unnecessary vehicles off the roads, and keeping people indoors so as not to inhale the ashinfused air—they told us to “stand down.” We realized quickly that “standing down” meant to cancel the concert. So we did. Unfortunately, the catering for the fundraiser had already been irrevocably ordered, and the three musicians were ready to perform. We decided to produce the concert at the Red Cross evacuation center at Dos Pueblos High School, where almost 200 temporarily or newly homeless people were sleeping on impromptu cots in the gym. We also asked the caterer to bring the food to the shelter for the benefit of the evacuees and firefighters. When I arrived at the Red Cross shelter, the catered buffet had been arranged on eight-foot tables—replete with prosciutto, melon wedges, brie, baguette slices, brioche pizza, and more. The evacuees seemed thrilled: “Wow! The Red Cross is really taking things to a new level.” After dinner, the music began. The or-
chestra’s current concertmaster, Caroline Campbell, joined the orchestra’s former concertmaster, Gilles Apap, with our director of operations, Miwa Gofuku, on the electronic piano. Although no one wanted to think about anything sizzlin’, the music was beautiful and exciting, with selections by Handel, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich. Toward the end, one of the audience members told the performers, “This is the most incredible evening of my life.” Friday, May 8. We called for another emergency staff meeting at 10 a.m. to consider the fate of the weekend’s concerts at the Granada Theatre. Everyone agreed there was no way to go ahead with the concerts. Even though the Granada was no longer in the immediate evacuation zone, the fire still threatened downtown and more fierce winds were predicted for later on. Sadly, there was no way to produce the concerts under the circumstances, so we made the painful decision to cancel due to force majeure. Our younger staff members posted the news on our website and sent out cancellation emails, tweets, and Facebook messages. One important decision needed to be made regarding musician compensation. The force majeure clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement allowed us not to pay for any of the cancelled services, but Nir and the other staff members agreed that we should pay our musicians for one extra rehearsal, recognizing that they were losing a full weekend’s worth of expected work and income. We determined to pay our perservice librarian, personnel manager, and pre-concert talk host at 80 percent of their normal fee, based on the number of hours they had to invest prior to the cancellation. We paid our music director his full amount to help cover the airfare from Italy and his housing and car rental. He turned around and donated $2,000 back to the orchestra. Several of the musicians also donated their paychecks back to the orchestra. By Sunday, the fire was mostly contained—during the course of the fire, more than 2,500 firefighters and first responders had been called into Santa Barbara—and the forecast promised favorable weather conditions. For the staff, it was an unexpectedly quiet and contemplative weekend. We would be back in the office on Monday to pick up the pieces. Our season ended not with a grand finale, but in a fadeout.
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Cedar River Flooding, June 2008 Robert Massey, executive director, Orchestra Iowa
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In 2008 the Midwest had a lot of snow, it all seemed to melt at the same time, and there was just a lot of rain. I was in my second week on the job—I had just moved here from Washington, D.C. The symphony office is in downtown Cedar Rapids, literally a block from the Cedar River—and we started getting emails from the Chamber of Commerce and the city government, saying the Cedar River was rising. Every business downtown was encouraged to move things off the floor—if you’re on the ground floor, to put them on the desk. So we put all our computers on desks and put the trash cans up. Our office is next door to the Paramount Theatre, our performance home. Most of our musicians keep their instruments with them, but all our percussion gear is there, so we went over and moved as much of that as we could—harps, tympani, the chimes, and gong—and had a piano mover take the Paramount’s recital grand piano off-premises. They were saying that the river would breach its banks on Wednesday morning. We spent all day Wednesday moving things. We sandbagged the front and back of the building with about three feet of sandbagging wall. We made the decision to close our second-floor school—the Cedar Rapids Symphony School—for Thursday and Friday. We told the staff to stay home, because the city had told all nonessential people to stay away from downtown. Then came the mandatory evacuation of all of downtown. We were watching on TV as the waters just continued to rise and rise and rise and rise; they didn’t crest until Friday, the 13th. At that time the downtown area, where our symphony center and the theater are, was under eight feet of water. So somehow it went from, “You may get about four inches of water in your building,” to eight feet, which astonished us. I mean, how can you not see eight feet of water coming? If we had been told, “Hey, you’re going to see a few feet of water,” we would have moved things completely off the floor. So we lost our servers, our ticket server, employment files, vendor files, all of our patron records—we had subscription orders sitting in the box office, yet to be processed, with checks attached to them. I had just come to town. In the stack of
papers that I moved to town with, I had an email with every board member’s email address on it. And I remember at one point sitting in a coffee shop with my iPhone, typing in 75 addresses with my finger. Once I got them in, I started sending board members updates, basically via text messaging, saying we’re okay, the staff just met today, we’re here. We started looking for a temporary office location, and a very generous member of the community had a facility that wasn’t being used very much— in fact, it was an old historic home that had been converted into a mortuary. The downtown school reopened Monday—it was only closed for two days. On Monday we knew we needed to create a plan. We communicated mostly by talking to each other—I would talk to senior staff, they would talk to their departments, we would text message. Right now we’re more clued in to communicating via Twitter and Facebook, but at the time of the flood, we weren’t using those. I spent hours sending daily updates from my phone to the board and the orchestra: “We got into the building today, this is what we found.” “Okay, we’re all moving over to the funeral home, symphony
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The Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids, the main performance venue for Orchestra Iowa (formerly Cedar Rapids Symphony), as it looked in June 2008. The Paramount is expected to re-open in 2012.
that’s where we’ll be.” If people don’t know anything, they fear the worst. That weekend, while the water was still up, the music director and I got together and started driving to the areas we could get to, and thinking, where can we play? Our next concert was going to be in September. Iowa City’s Hancher Auditorium, the largest concert hall in the area, was underwater. The second largest, our Paramount Theatre, was underwater. Sinclair Auditorium, which is part of Coe College, wasn’t underwater, but the college’s electricity, utilities, and electronics were all down. On Saturday morning, I got a call from a vice president at Coe College, who said that they didn’t have power or anything at the moment, but they wanted us to know that Sinclair Auditorium was ours if we needed it. We wanted very much to present our season and not cancel a concert. It would have been easy with no place to play to just take off the entire season. But we knew we had Coe College; we knew we had the musicians together. My communications director lost her entire media list, and she had no way to contact anybody. The League of American Orchestras did an incredible job getting our story out. I was in the grocery store trying to buy bottled water when League President and CEO Jesse Rosen called me, asking what do you need, what’s going on. We talked for about two hours. americanorchestras.org
The next day I got a call from Babs Mollere, managing director of the Louisiana Philharmonic, who said, we’re here for you—we have a very generous industry, we were taken care of, and I expect that you’re going to be taken care of, too. The LPO did a benefit concert for us, with proceeds “benefiting our sister orchestra.” That was incredible. We got Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium to host our main 2008-09 classical concerts. The Paramount can hold 1,900 and we typically sat an audience of 1,350 or 1,400 there. Coe seats 1,050. We realized we actually didn’t have enough seats to meet our inventory—we needed to do a second performance. Coe wasn’t available for both a Saturday evening and a Sunday matinee. So now we had to find a second venue. About 30 miles south of us is Iowa City. And considering that we’d been trying to break into that market for a long time, a light bulb went on. We found an Iowa City high school with an incredible auditorium that was willing to open its doors to us. We were set for every classical concert—a Saturday night concert in Cedar Rapids, a Sunday matinee in Iowa City—except the first performance of Beethoven 9 with orchestra, chorus, four soloists. None of the venues could fit that onstage. We opened our season in September with Beethoven 9 outdoors at the Bruce more estate—a National Trust Historic Site with a gorgeous historic mansion that
sits atop a hill, on about 20 acres. We had 2,400 people there. We did the last concert of the year outside, at the local baseball stadium, and we got an audience of 2,460. We opened and closed the season that almost wasn’t, outdoors. We performed to 97 percent capacity in Cedar Rapids, and our audience in Iowa City grew by about 20 percent every concert, to the point where now one out of every four tickets sold is being sold in Iowa City. Even before the flood, our strategic plan talked about extending the orchestra’s reach, with mention of a name change. That originally was going to be a four- or five-year process. Today, about 15 to 20 percent of our board lives in Iowa City. We have a volunteer guild based in Iowa City. This was a community that was not being engaged by an orchestra. And we were the obvious choice to do it. With the flood, suddenly we had to perform in Iowa City, and we had to sell 400 tickets a performance there. What were we going to do? And so the board voted in September 2008 to change the name from Cedar Rapids Symphony to Orchestra Iowa. It was a bold move. But I think it really identifies who we are. Before the flood, we did 70 performances, reaching about 22,000 people a year. Last year, we did 122 performances for 31,000 people.
In June 2008, eight feet of water from the Cedar River flooded Orchestra Iowa’s offices in downtown Cedar Rapids, rendering the orchestra temporarily homeless.
Hurricanes Rita (2005), Umberto (2007), Gustav (2008), Ike (2008) Craig Escamilla, executive director, Symphony of Southeast Texas, Beaumont The biggest challenge for our orchestra was Hurricane Rita in 2005, before I became executive director. The orchestra had to reschedule all performances through the spring part of the season and move them to different locations. The theme for that season was “world tour,” focusing on different locales around the world. Each performance was in a different location—there’s something ironic about that. It worked out well. As far back as 1993 the orchestra’s name had changed from Beaumont Symphony Orchestra to Symphony of Southeast Texas. Performing in so many places in 2005 allowed us to really be the Symphony of Southeast Texas. Our main performance hall, the Julie
Rogers Theater, received a good bit of damage to the roof, and there was interior damage. We had been planning to remodel anyway, so the theater was shut for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. 2005-06 was the “world-tour” season. Then in 2006-07 we
then Hurricane Umberto. We were beginning a music director search, and the first candidate was in town. We cut rehearsals short, and had to send all the musicians home, many to Houston. The hurricane hit on September 13, and our performance was September 15. The musicians all got home safely, and we had time after the storm to recover and go on with the concert as planned. This past season, 2008-09, there were two problems. First there was Gustav, a hurricane near New Orleans. An evacuation was called for this area. It didn’t affect any concerts, but it shut down our offices for a few days over Labor Day weekend last year. A few weeks later, we had Hurricane Ike—a direct hit on the area. Most of Beaumont was shut down for a little more than a week; power was out; water was not potable; there was a significant storm surge. A lot of coastal communities had seventeen inches of water, and the beach was unrecognizable—it’s just getting back to normal now. This was September 13-15, 2008. Fortu-
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The home of Jamie Strawther, personnel manager of Symphony of Southeast Texas, after Hurricane Ike, 2008. Executive Director Craig Escamilla calls him the orchestra’s “unsung hero.”
were in the Jefferson Theater in Beaumont, an old movie theater that required some adjustments for acoustic reasons and because it is smaller than the Julie Rogers Theater. A lot of season ticketholders commented on how nice it was to have that more intimate feel. But there were headaches having to redesign the seating chart. In 2006 there were no major storms, thank goodness. In September 2007, while preparing for my first concert as executive director, a hurricane formed in one afternoon. It started as a small area of thunderstorms in the Gulf of Mexico, then became a tropical storm, and
nately, we still had a month before our season began. We were still continuing our music director search, and we had to arrange with the first candidate of that season—make sure she knew she needed to be there, to confirm that the hall was not damaged. We got those logistical things out of the way. We hadn’t mailed our season tickets yet, so we stuck a letter in, saying everything would go on as planned. The next concert was abbreviated. After that first concert, everything went back to normal from the point of view of performances. A number of musicians had damage to symphony
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their homes. Jamie Strawther, our personnel manager, had significant damage to his own house; in fact he’s just now about to move back in. Jamie called the musicians and handled all the logistical problems, getting music distributed, working on all our concerts while dealing with turmoil in his personal life, dealing with insurance claims and so forth. He is an unsung hero of our orchestra. And that first concert turned out to be fantastic. We felt like if we had postponed or cancelled it, a lot of people would have asked, why did they cancel? The concert generated good publicity for the symphony, because a lot of other organizations did cancel. We were one of the only things still going on. It was an especially stressful period: one week of no power, nothing that could be done that week, and after that, no cable/internet for another week. We had nothing at our office, we could only do work by phone. It’s difficult to work without email! One lesson we learned was to purchase laptops, which we did with a grant for of-
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Among those working behind the scenes at Symphony of Southeast Texas after Hurricane Ike were (left to right) Personnel Manager Jamie Strawther, Administrative Assistant Laura Lightfoot, and Executive Director Craig Escamilla.
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Death of a music director Betsy Herrick, president, Riverside (Calif.) Philharmonic Dan McGee, executive director, Saginaw Bay (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra When conductor Patrick Flynn (below) died unexpectedly in September 2008 of a heart attack, two orchestras simultaneously had to go through the grieving process and scramble to put together a season with substitute conductors. The heads of both orchestras discuss how they went forward after Flynn’s death. Betsy Herrick: When Patrick died, about a year ago, I was president-elect, and Jim Henderson was the board president. Our executive director at the time, Wayne Hinton, heard the news from Patrick’s former wife early in the morning. Wayne in turn contacted me and a couple of other board members. He tried to reach Jim Henderson, who was in the Netherlands. So one of our past presidents, Virginia Blumenthal, and I talked and coordinated with Wayne to contact all our major donors and board members as soon as we could. It was probably mid-morning. The three of us started making calls to our 25 board members and to contact members of our foundation, which has about 60 members. We called the mayor, our city councilmen, and so forth—that was the first step. Wayne mentioned that the soloist for our first concert on September 27, harmonica artist Corky Siegel, had a rather unique piece that he was going to be playing. We contacted Corky to ask for suggestions for a conductor. Corky recommended Stephen Gunzenhauser, who was able to come and conduct that concert.
One difficult thing was that there were so many people on the board who wanted to help or make recommendations or take charge. The challenge was to try to make sure we had meetings right away with the full board and discussed the plan of action, taking care about what we said and how we portrayed things to our subscribers, because there were a number of people who were asking if the season was going to be cancelled. We were just in the process of completing our season program. So there was a discussion: do we put Patrick on that program, or do we just use the original program cover we’d talked about? There was a lot of emotion, because a number of us were very close to Patrick.
In retrospect, I am so glad that a few board members stepped up and said, we need to be careful because this is entertainment and we can’t make this too maudlin. For that first concert, Wayne worked with our musician committee and Geoff Osika, our personnel manager, and they came up with a plan, with the board, to drape the podium in black. The orchestra played Bach’s Air in G without a conductor, and we had a slide show with pictures of Patrick and our musicians. I came out onstage and gave a brief tribute. The remainder of the concert went on as planned. We immediately had lots of people expressing interest in guest-conducting and being considered for the music director position, and we realized very quickly that it could become overwhelming. It was unbelievable. Everyone from local guys who conducted at a church to people nationally and internationally. We quickly put in place a process for the search, and chose Edwin Outwater, Lawrence Leighton Smith, and Ransom Wilson to conduct our November, March, and May programs. Our July concert of patriotic music is a runout, and we have only one rehearsal for it. Our tympanist/librarian, Kris Mettala, also conducts a small orchestra, and he stepped in and did that concert for us. He also came in and did our children’s daytime concerts. Our musicians were loyal to Patrick, and they really stepped in. I am so thankful for that. I couldn’t have gotten through this without several members of our orchestra—Geoff Osika, Kris Mettala, Mei Chang. Our upcoming season, our fiftieth anniversary, is something that was put together by Patrick. What Patrick wanted to do was bring back artists and perform pieces that our audience had particularly liked in the past. So that’s what we’re doing. It’s a tribute to him, without being—as I mentioned before—maudlin. Dan McGee: After we heard that Patrick had passed, I knew very quickly that we had better scramble and get some things organized and carry on. We had less than 30 days to make it happen. I basically picked up the ball and started running with it in consultation with our board president, to let her know what was going on and keep her and the board in the loop about what we were going to do to muddle through and make the best of it.
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Cancellations, transportation woes Chad Smith, vice president for artistic planning, Los Angeles Philharmonic athew Imaging
We decided to do a memorial, and my staff took care of doing most of that—my office manager and my production manager. And they worked in conjunction with the board president. We were very fortunate that Patrick had left us with the season already organized, the pieces planned, and we had music ordered. It was just a matter of finding someone who could do justice to his plan for the season. The first concert was an opera. We have a couple of folks who have worked with us in the past; I called Suzanne Mallare Acton, who was down at the Michigan Opera Theatre, told her what happened, and asked her about her schedule later the next month. She was able to clear her schedule and conduct that concert. The folks at the Michigan Opera Theatre jumped through hoops to find a replacement for Suzanne, and Suzanne was very familiar with the pieces we were playing, so it was just a matter of getting all the music to her and contacting our soloists to let them know what had happened. It all turned out very well. For our remaining three classics concerts that season, I started doing some research and consulting with our guest artists. Our February concert was The Red Violin with Elizabeth Pitcairn. So I called Elizabeth and asked who she had worked with in the past, and if she had anyone that we might contact. André Raphel Smith agreed to come to Saginaw for that concert. We had an outpouring of emails and phone calls from folks who knew Patrick and called to give us condolences and offer any services that we might require, including filling in in a guest capacity. So we had a list of folks. Another Michigan orchestra, the Midland Symphony, had just gone through a music director search, and I’d seen a couple of their guest conductors. And one of their guest conductors stuck in my mind as being very good. So I contacted him and he was amenable to conducting one concert in Saginaw. Patrick was at the Riverside orchestra for nineteen years, but he was only with us for four. We are conducting our search for a permanent music director during the 2009-10 season, and a lot of the same search committee members from when we chose Patrick as music director volunteered to step back in. The previous time the initial narrowingdown process took more than a year; this time we were able to take care of it in about six or seven months.
Cancellations are the things that artistic administrators deal with on a regular basis. It just comes with the job. And that’s always a bit of a scramble for us—we basically just have to drop everything else that we’re doing. In 2005, we had about eleven cancellations in ten weeks. But that is highly unusual. Obviously it’s a great disappointment when an artist cancels, because we want those artists to be here, and we’ve spent time and energy promoting their visit with us. For a replacement, sometimes we bring in an up-andcoming soloist who’s generating a certain amount of buzz; other times, a great artist is willing to step in at the last minute. It’s hit or miss. Our colleagues on the artist management side are really great managers, they are very helpful in this. They will send up flares occasionally and say, hey, this artist is perhaps not feeling so well. He or she isn’t cancelling yet, but you should just start thinking about it. I always appreciate that. As an artistic administrator, what I find more interesting than cancellations are the things that you just can’t expect. The things that just happen where you go, “Wow.” A couple of years ago we were presenting the Sibelius Academy in a festival of youth orchestras. Esa-Pekka Salonen, our music director, was conducting them, and the Finnish Consulate was throwing a party for them up in the Hollywood Hills. We had arranged to get the orchestra there, and the roads are kind of winding, so you need to have smaller vehicles. After the concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, we discovered the bus company had sent enormous buses, truly enormous buses. And they couldn’t go up the roads. So you have the Finnish cultural attaché and Esa-Pekka waiting at this party to honor the orchestra. And the orchestra can’t get there because they’re stuck at the bottom of hills. And it’s at those moments when you’re lucky to have a very strong staff. Two junior members of our staff— Meghan Martineau and Summer Bjork,
Los Angeles Philharmonic staffers Meghan Martineau (left) and Summer Bjork, seen here in a more relaxed moment, came to the rescue after one transportation snafu left musicians with no way to get to a post-concert reception.
both in their early twenties—just started making decisions. It was great. They saw this happening, and started calling car services, calling our drivers, and getting people into cars and shuttling them. The trickiest cancellation I have ever had to deal with was in 2006, when Tom Adès was here to conduct the orchestra. We were doing scenes from The Tempest. This was his second opera; it had been performed, I think, a total of three times at that point. One of the singers got sick four days before she was to be at our first rehearsal. This was a new major work that we had commissioned, and difficult. There were exactly three people on the planet who had sung this role, and all three of them were unavailable. We couldn’t cancel the piece, because we had the other three soloists coming for this piece. So we just had to find someone to do it. We were really lucky. Santa Fe Opera was doing The Tempest six months later, so I spoke with my colleagues there, found out who was singing it, and she had just started working on it. And I said to her, you are our last great hope here. Amazingly, she came in, and she nailed it. It was a great performance. But I was sweating bullets on that one.
Yuri Bashmet has signiďŹ cantly expanded the viola repertoire, with more than 50 viola concertos commissioned by or dedicated to him.
Breaking the by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
Champions of long-unsung instruments are carving a niche for themselves by commissioning new works from emerging and seasoned composers alike.
Composer Avner Dorman
Timpanist Jonathan Haas with some of the tools of his trade
Adi Morag (in ďŹ‚ight) and Tomer Yariv (at left) of the percussion duo PercaDu have commissioned several works from composer Avner Dorman (at bottom).
Verbier Festival; Photo: Mark Shapiro
Sound Barrier T
here wasn’t much of a repertoire for his instrument in the 1960s when Yuri Bashmet started to play the viola, and that was just fine by him. In fact, it was the lack of great virtuosic pieces that inspired his switch from violin to viola. “I was one of the best violinists in the school,” he recalls, evidently relishing the tale, “but it was time to learn Paganini and that would have required a lot of practice.” Practice and time, he explains, that he preferred to spend playing rock guitar with his friends. “For my papa and mama it was most important that I not quit music school—it didn’t matter which instrument I played,” he says. “So a friend proposed the viola.” Today, Bashmet is the unchallenged rock star of the viola scene—a scene that he helped change almost beyond recognition, transforming the viola from the perennial butt of musicians’ jokes into a respectable solo instrument. He massively expanded the instrument’s repertoire, adding more than 50 viola concertos that were either commissioned by or dedicated to him. Some, such americanorchestras.org
as the somber 1984 viola concerto by Alfred Schnittke, have become cornerstones of the repertoire for any aspiring concert violist— though they may require some practice. Throughout music history, performers have helped shape repertoires, inspiring composers to write solo works for them, and, by their technical prowess, expanding the musical language of their instruments. It would be difficult, for example, to think of the evolution of the violin repertoire without the figure of Joseph Joachim, who inspired some of the best-loved nineteenthcentury concertos, including those by Bruch and Brahms. As the professions of composer and performer grew increasingly distant in the 20th century, and with the breakdown of traditional forms of musical patronage, performers took an active role in building and expanding the repertoires for their instruments—a task particularly pressing in the case of instruments that were traditionally relegated to orchestral roles and offered few opportunities for solo careers. And “exotic”
instruments have recently come to the fore; as exploration of other cultures has expanded, it’s not unusual to hear newly commissioned concertos with orchestras for such traditional Chinese instruments as the erhu and pipa. By inspiring, commissioning, cajoling, and sometimes just plain pestering composers to write solo works for them, artists today are working to bring instruments such as the marimba, saxophone, timpani, or mandolin both to the front of the orchestra and to concert halls around the country. When Jonathan Haas graduated from Juilliard in 1979 with a degree in percussion and a dream of pursuing a solo career, he knew he was facing an uphill battle. A grant application to the Rockefeller Foundation to finance his debut recital at Carnegie Hall was turned down with the polite reminder that the foundation only gave out such grants to players of musical instruments. Haas managed to persuade the foundation that the noise he generated on his instruments was, in fact, music, and eventu-
Philip Glass has written a number of concertos that put the musical spotlight on instruments that are seldom featured.
ally won the grant. Yet while artists such as Evelyn Glennie and Colin Currie were transforming the percussion repertoire and building solid solo careers, Haas’s particular passion—he would say obsession—was the timpani. He simply had to have a timpani concerto by a major composer. Philip Glass would do nicely, he thought. A first attempt to commission such a concerto through Meet The Composer didn’t work out. “I spent $3,000 in cold calls to orchestras from Alaska to the East Coast,” Haas recalls. “They didn’t know who I was. Still, I got commitments from five orchestras, and on the day that the application was due, the lady at Meet The Composer said
to me, ‘Have you looked at the front page of The New York Times today? I think you’d better look at it.’ And there was a story about how Philip Glass had just received the most extensive opera commission ever by the Metropolitan Opera, for The Voyage.” Glass would be unavailable. The timpani concerto would have to wait. Seeing Glass
For the next ten years, Haas kept dreaming of a Glass concerto. “One day I woke up and said, ‘I’m going to commission the concerto no matter what, even if I have to mortgage my house,’ ” Haas recounts. “That day I had a performance at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. I said to one of my colleagues, ‘This time I’m going to commission the piece for real.’ He said, ‘That’s funny, because Philip Glass is in the audience.’ So during the intermission I found Philip Glass on the street outside. I was like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, pulling on the tuxedo of Mr. Stokowski, and said, ‘I am the timpanist who wants to commission that piece.’ And he said, ‘I remember you, you’re that crazy timpanist.’ ”
This time Haas sought professional help to raise the money. Catherine Cahill, then general manager of the New York Philharmonic, gave Haas a piece of advice that would turn out to be invaluable: commission the concerto for two timpanists, thereby allowing the principal timpanist of a given orchestra “One day I to perform the piece with woke up and Haas. said, ‘I’m going “There are so many great players who never to commission get a chance to shine be- the concerto cause there isn’t a concer- no matter what, to written for them,” says Cahill, who is now presi- even if I have dent and CEO of Phila- to mortgage delphia’s Mann Center my house,’ ” for the Performing Arts. “There was nothing for timpanist timpani. I said, ‘Jona- Jonathan Haas than, if you make it a recalls. double concerto you have a chance to get it funded by having other orchestras get excited about it. It wasn’t just about showcasing the home-band timpanist but also for the piece to have a longer life. “
Justin Brown, Conductor
StrauSS for the New Year
friday, January 8, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Augustin Hadelich, Violin Justin Brown, Conductor J. StrauSS, Jr. Gypsy Baron Overture BartÓk Violin Concerto No. 2 DvoŘák Symphony No. 8
Augustin Hadelich, Violin
PictureS at aN exhibitioN
Sponsored by ASO Education Partners
friday, april 16, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, april 17, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Justin Brown, Conductor hayDn Symphony No. 22 (“The Philosopher”) Bruckner Symphony No. 5 Sponsored by University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and Doctors for the ASO
beethoveN’S “emPeror” coNcerto
friday, february 26, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, february 27, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Steven Osborne, Piano Justin Brown, Conductor BerLioz Love Scene from Romeo and Juliet Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 Schumann Symphony No. 3 (“Rhenish”)
friday, may 21, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, may 22, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Yefim Bronfman, Piano Justin Brown, Conductor Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) LanSky Imaginary Islands (ASO commission and World Premiere) r. StrauSS Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
Sponsored by EBSCO Industries, Inc.
Sponsored by Jean and Jim Thompson and Family
Alys Stephens Center, Jemison Concert Hall 68
Yefim Bronfman, Piano
friday, march 12, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, march 13, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Jennifer Koh, Violin Thomas Wilkins, Conductor raveL Le Tombeau de Couperin BarBer Violin Concerto muSSorgSky/raveL Pictures at an Exhibition
Sponsored by the Gloria Narramore Moody Foundation
friday, february 5, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, february 6, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Kelly O’Connor, Mezzo-soprano Justin Brown, Conductor LanSky Arches P. LieBerSon Neruda Songs tchaikovSky Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”)
Kelley O’Connor, Mezzo-soprano
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DAVID KIRKLAND GARNER
TED HEARNE LEO HURLEY
YEEREN I. LOW
2009 2007 ASCAP Foundation/Morton Gould Young Composer Awards MISSY MAZZOLI
ELIZABETH A. KELLY
© ASCAP 2009
GITY H. RAZAZ
To date, Haas has performed Glass’s energetic Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists some 54 times, with orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and Phoenix Symphony. As Glass puts it: “Who knew what a popular piece a timpani concerto can become? For years he pursued me and I didn’t want to do it. But the minute I started writing, I started enjoying it.” Glass had a similar experience with his hypnotic, fluid concerto for saxophone quartet, written for the Rascher Quartet. Its founder, Sigurd Rascher (1907-2001), had inspired the bulk of the classical saxophone repertoire, generating more than 200 works including concertos by Glazunov, Hindemith, and Ibert. Yet as the quartet’s tenor saxophonist, The intensity Bruce Weinberger, rewith which calls, “When we started performers in 1969 there was next to nothing of interest of solo for saxophone quartet. instruments Since then, we have had have 350 pieces written for us by composers including championed Berio, Gubaidulina, and new works Xenakis.” Over the years has done more the ensemble has built up a repertoire for saxothan expand phone quartet, including the repertoire; more than 35 concertos these artists for quartet and orchestra. The connection consistently to Glass came about promote through a mutual friend, contemporary conductor Dennis Russell Davies. “Dennis inclassical music. troduced me and said, ‘Bruce is a member of the finest saxophone quartet there is and I’d like you to write a piece for them.’ ” When Glass asked what kind of a piece Weinberger had in mind, he asked for a work that could be played either with a Beethoven-sized orchestra or without accompaniment. By Weinberger’s estimate, the quartet has now played the concerto version 147 times, making it one of Glass’s most often performed pieces. Weinberger points out that the Rascher Quartet has never paid for any commission. In the case of the Glass concerto, the cost was underwritten by the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, the Dortmund Opera Orchestra, the Flemish string orchestra I Fiamminghi, and the
Kim Kashkashian, at right, has collaborated with composer Tigran Mansurian to expand the viola repertoire.
Liverpool Philharmonic. When discussing a new piece, Weinberger says, “I get a ballpark figure of what it will cost and then I figure out if I need three or four orchestras or festivals to jointly commission the piece. We have a huge network of people who know us, so when we call they don’t say, ‘Who the hell are you?’ Though sometimes it’s necessary to explain who the composer is.” Other performers spend their own money on commissions. Kim Kashkashian’s latest CD, Neharot, includes hauntingly beautiful viola works by Tigran Mansurian that Kashkashian funded in tandem with the ECM record label. Another work on the album, written by Betty Olivero for Kashkashian, came out of a commission from the 92nd Street Y in New York City. “Sometimes you are the beneficiary of a commissioning grant,” says Kashkashian. “Other times you hear a young composer where you say, ‘I am established enough to support them.’ You put money in the pot because it’s something you believe you should be doing. Probably more of us do that than you hear about.” Then there are commissions that involve no money at all. Many musicians’ relationships with composers begin in college, with composition students writing works for particular instrumentalists who in turn might be looking for a contemporary piece to include in their diploma recital. The first composer to write a piece for Bashmet was Valery Kalistratov, a fellow student at the Moscow Conservatory. “Back then, all of us did it with no money. They composed for no money, I played for no money,” recalls Bashmet. Big Bang Theories
Composer Avner Dorman met Adi Morag and Tomer Yariv, the two halves of the per-
cussion duo PercaDu, when they were students at the Tel Aviv Academy of Music. The composition studio, crammed full of computers and keyboards, was across the hallway from the percussion room with its jumble of exotic instruments. The musicians would visit each other, curious to see what everyone was working on. Seeking music for double marimba to perform at their final recital, Yariv and Morag approached Dorman. The result was Udacrep Akubrad (the words PercaDu and “darbuka,” a MiddleEastern drum, in reverse), which has since become the duo’s signature piece. In time it became the musical nucleus for Dorman’s Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!, a concerto for two percussionists and orchestra that PercaDu has performed more than a dozen times with orchestras including the Israel Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Philharmonic—the last to an audience of 10,000 at the Hollywood Bowl. The piece, which blends Middle Eastern musical styles with elements of Western popular music, has now been picked up by other percussionists and will be presented this season to audiences as far afield as Munich and Anchorage, Alaska. Dorman, Morag, and Yariv attribute much of the success of the piece to their close collaboration. From the point of view of PercaDu, who have commissioned about To hear sound clips of Jonathan Haas and Evelyn Glenn performing Philip Glass’s Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists, and from Kim Kashkashian’s CD Neharot, go to the SymphonyOnline section of americanorchestras.org and click on Outposts.
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Yuri Bashmet: violist as rock star.
Kasskara – DG
a dozen works for their ensemble, the more closely a composer works with them the greater the likelihood that the resulting piece will become a fixture in their repertoire. “Some composers say, ‘Oh, I wrote a lot for percussion before,’ and only give you the final draft of their piece,” Yariv says. “Then you’re stuck with it and the life span of this piece is very short. But if a composer is willing to collaborate it’s a win-win situation, because we get a good piece and they know it’s going to be played a lot around the world. They give us a few drafts, then come to our studio, and we show them different ways of playing a theme and decide what we like. This is the most exciting procedure from my point of view, because you are really building the repertoire for the next generation.” Dorman, half of whose pieces came out of commissions, says such a tailor-made approach is vital to music. “You have to capture the aura of the soloist for whom you are writing. You see it in Mozart, the way he would edit an aria for a particular singer. It takes on the character of that person.” When writing Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!,
he remembered watching Morag and Yariv practice in the hallway of the academy. “They would play rapid sixteenth notes with one playing one note, the other the other. When I wrote the piece I thought I’d split it between them so neither of them ever plays the entire melody. It’s bouncing between them on stage, which gives it an added spatial element. They have a unique way of doing it.”
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The influence of a given soloist over the composition process can manifest itself in different ways. Giya Kancheli, who has written works for both Bashmet and Kashkashian, says that “the concept of a strong individuality is more influential on the composition process than the expressive possibilities of a given instrument.” Just as often, performers will work with a composer to demonstrate what is possible on their given instrument, or to help make final decisions on bowing and phrasing. Bashmet recalls how Schnittke approached him in the final stages of writing his viola concerto. “Alfred came to me, very energetic and young, with fire in his eyes, and asked me, ‘Please tell me, how loudly can you play this episode?’ I said, ‘It would be louder with chords,’ and he said, ‘Oh, good.’ In other passages I suggested a glissando, for better effect. So we had some conversations, but the music was already done.” Kashkashian, by contrast, says “it’s better if you have an influence early on. If you talk about the aesthetic and the emotional thrust of the piece, then you get something where people travel in the same sort of river. Bowing and phrasing, that stuff opens up later. These things are very personal and the end results should and could be different for every performer.” The more unusual the instrument, however, the greater the learning curve for a composer. Haas worked closely with Glass on writing the timpani parts for his concerto. And when Dorman received a commission to write a mandolin concerto for Avi Avital, the two spent many hours communicating via Skype about technical questions, with Avital demonstrating passages in front of his computer’s camera. But composers are not the only ones learning from the process. Avital, who studied mandolin with violin teachers at the Jerusalem Conservatory because there was no mandolin department, says each piece he commissions reveals new aspects of his instrument. “It really made me discover the mandolin, because every composer has a different vision of the instrument. For some Israeli composers it reminds them of the kibbutz, for others it is very Italian, for some bluegrass, for others Baroque—so it is fascinating to see how everyone reacts to the challenge. And it happened more than once that I got a score and thought, ‘You can’t play this on a mandolin.’ But then after symphony
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ADVERTISER working through it slowly, I discovered entirely new colors and nuances to my instrument. So I keep learning.” The intensity with which performers of these “new” solo instruments have sought out, commissioned, shaped, and championed new works has done more than expand the repertoire. As their careers develop, these artists continue to promote contemporary
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Jonathan Haas performs Philip Glass’s Timpani Concerto with the Pasadena Symphony conducted by Jorge Mester, 2007.
classical music with consistency and matterof-factness—and this to regional audiences as well as those of top-tier concert halls. Bashmet is now in a position where the roles have been reversed. Whereas 25 years ago the great viola concertos written for him by Schnittke, Gubaidulina, and Kancheli helped build his solo career, he now says the unsolicited works dedicated to him pile up faster than he can play them, with young composers hoping to gain the spotlight through association with him. Not every piece is a masterwork. And asked whether he has a wish list of composers from whom he would like to have a viola concerto, he answers without thinking: “Of course—Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninov….” More seriously, he adds: “When I get these new pieces written for me, I think it’s like the greatest present. Rostropovich once said, ‘If you receive ten new pieces, play them all, because two might be very good and one might be genius. But you have to play all ten to pay your taxes.’ ” CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM is an arts journalist living in New York City. Her articles on music have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Sun, and The Jerusalem Post. americanorchestras.org
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Marie-Hélène Bernard, Boston, MA °§ Mr. Robert A. Birman, San Francisco, CA Nancy Blaugrund, Albuquerque, NM § John Burrows & Melinda Whiting Burrows, Philadelphia, PA Mr. Frank Byrne, Kansas City, MO § Mr. Chuck Cagle, Franklin, TN Katherine Carleton, Toronto, ON, CANADA § Ms. Katy Clark, New York, NY °§ George J. D’Angelo, M.D., Erie, PA Amy & Trey Devey °§ Susan Feder & Todd Gordon, New York, NY Robert Fitzpatrick, Philadelphia, PA Ryan Fleur & Laura Banchero, Memphis, TN †°§ Karen Gahl-Mills & Laurence Mills-Gahl, Syracuse, NY § The GE Foundation, Fairfield, CT Michael Gehret, Lawrenceville, NJ Mr. Kareem A. George, Detroit, MI °§ Maryellen Gleason & Kim Ohlemeyer, Phoenix, AZ Kathie & Ken Goode, Cincinnati, OH § Richard Gray, Chicago, IL Mr. André Gremillet, Newark, NJ Howard Herring, Miami Beach, FL Mr. Robert E. Hoelscher, Cedar City, UT Lauri & Paul Hogle, Atlanta, GA § Holly H. Hudak, Chicago, IL § Mrs. Laura Hyde, Tyler, TX Kendra Whitlock Ingram, Baltimore, MD § Ms. Doris Irmiter, Kent, OH Ms. Helena Jackson, Duluth, MN James M. Johnson, New York, NY § Wendy Kelman Beverly Hills, CA Peter Kjome, Grand Rapids, MI JoAnne & Don Krause, Brookfield, WI Andrea Laguni & Dan Read, Los Angeles, CA David Loebel, Memphis, TN Hampton Mallory, Glenshaw, PA † Ms. Nancy March, Tucson, AZ Fred & Lois Margolin, Des Moines, IA † Virginia Cretella Mars, McLean, VA † Terri McDowell, Lookout Mountain, TN Ms. Mary Ellen Miller, Pittsburgh, PA Steven Monder, Cincinnati, OH † Heather Moore, Dallas, TX J.L. Nave, III & Paul Cook, Fort Wayne, IN °§ Brenda Nienhouse, Spokane, WA °§ Northern Trust, Chicago, IL Mary Ann Okner, Sunfish Lake, MN Brian A. Ritter, Rockford, IL William A. Ryberg, Zionsville, IN Roger Saydack & Elaine Bernat, Eugene, OR † Jo Ellen Saylor, Edina, MN Mr. Louis Scaglione, Philadelphia, PA § Grace & Jim Seitz, Naples, FL + Ms. Rita Shapiro, Washington, D.C. R. L. Sias, Oklahoma City, OK † Mr. Ari Solotoff, Portland, ME °§ Barbara J. Soroca, Stamford, CT § Ms. Nancy Stevens, Estes Park, CO Mrs. Melia P. Tourangeau, Grand Rapids, MI Jeff & Melissa Tsai, Pittsburgh, PA °§ Dr. Jane Van Dyk, Billings, MT § Robert J. Wagner, Maplewood, NJ § Ms. Christina Walker, Cleveland, OH § Edward Walker, Oklahoma City, OK § Pamela J. Weaver, Greer, SC Gary & Diane West, Cincinnati, OH Paul R. Winberg, Eugene, OR Karen E. Wix, York, PA Carol Sue Wooten, Fort Smith, AR † Rebecca & David Worters, Raleigh, NC § Edward C. Yim, New York, NY °§ Anonymous (1) * Charter Member † Directors Council (former League Board) ° Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni • Donald Thulean Fund for Artistic Excellence + Includes Corporate Matching Gift ‡ In-Kind Donation § Includes Campaign Gift
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 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)
national council Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm McDougal Brown, co-chair, Winston-Salem, NC Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek, co-chair, North Oaks, MN W. Randolph Adams, Saint Louis, MO Nancy & Ellsworth Alvord, Jr., M.D., Seattle, WA Mr. David Bohnett, Beverly Hills, CA Mr. & Mrs. William G. Brown, Lake Forest, IL Trish Bryan, Cincinnati, OH John & Janet Canning, Westport, CT Nicky B. Carpenter, Wayzata, MN Melanie Clarke, Princeton, NJ Melissa Sage Fadim, Flossmoor, IL Henry & Frances Fogel, Chicago, IL James M. Franklin, Inverness, IL John Gidwitz, New York, NY Ellen & Paul Gignilliat, Chicago, IL The Phoebe W. Haas Charitable Trust A as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno, Philadelphia, PA Mrs. Joan W. Harris, Chicago, IL Mr. Cannon Y. Harvey, Denver, CO Mrs. Barnett C. Helzberg, Jr., Shawnee Mission, KS Atul R. Kanagat, Summit, NJ Catherine & John Koten, Barrington Hills, IL Lee Lamont, Longmont, CO The Lerner Foundation, Highland Heights, OH Peter B. Lewis, Coconut Grove, FL W. Curtis Livingston, Nantucket, MA Jim & Kay Mabie, Northfield, IL Lee R. Marks & Lisl Zach, Philadelphia, PA Shirley D. McCrary, Mooresville, AL Catherine & Peter Moye, Spokane, WA James B & Ann V Nicholson, Detroit, MI Lowell & Sonja Noteboom, Minnetonka, MN Charles & Barbara Olton, New York, NY Cathy & Bill Osborn, Chicago, IL Peter Pastreich, San Francisco, CA The Albert B. & Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation, Lyndhurst, OH Patricia A. Richards, Salt Lake City, UT Mr. David Rockefeller, New York, NY Drs. John & Helen Schaefer, Tucson, AZ Connie Steensma & Rick Prins, New York, NY Mr. Mike S. Stude, Houston, TX Ms. Ginger B. Warner, Cincinnati, OH Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster, New York, NY Adair & Dick White, Atlanta, GA Mr. Simon Yates, New York, NY
Campaign For A New Direction The Campaign for a New Direction is the League of American Orchestras’ $25 million, five-year, comprehensive campaign, which is funding the new and ongoing programs and services set forth in its visionary Strategic Plan. Now in its fourth year, the Campaign has received over $21.8 million – 87% of the Campaign goal. All of us at the League of American Orchestras are extremely grateful to the following individuals 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 Elena Bales & Steven Bronfenbrenner Jennifer B. Barlament Lisa & Miles Barr Cecilia Benner Marie-Hélène Bernard Andrew Berryhill & Melinda Appold William P. Blair III Nancy Blaugrund Richard J. Bogomolny Fred & Liz Bronstein Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee Trish Bryan Michelle Miller Burns & Gary W. Burns Frank Byrne Catherine M. Cahill 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 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 Bret Dorhout Darlene A. Dreyer Emma E. Dunch & Elizabeth W. Scott Lois Robinson Duplantier
D.M. Edwards Scott Faulkner & Andrea Lenz Aaron Flagg & Cristina Stanescu Flagg Ryan Fleur & Laura Banchero Henry & Frances Fogel Rachel & Terry Ford Michele & John Forsyte Judith & David Foster Mr. & Mrs. F. Tom Foster, Jr. James M. Franklin Catherine French Karen Gahl-Mills & Laurence Mills-Gahl Mr. Kareem A. George Douglas Gerhart John Gidwitz Ellen & Paul Gignilliat Edward B. Gill Clive Gillinson Joseph B. Glossberg & Madeleine Condit Glossberg Marian A. Godfrey John & Marcia Goldman Foundation Kathie & Ken Goode The Phoebe W. Haas Charitable Trust A as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno Erica F. Hansen Gary Hanson & Barbara Klante Mark & Christina Hanson Daniel & Barbara Hart Jeffrey P. Haydon Mrs. Barnett C. Helzberg, Jr. Jeanne & Gary Herberger Cristina & Carlos Herrera Jennifer Higdon & Cheryl Lawson Lauri & Paul Hogle Mr. & Mrs. Michael J. Horvitz Holly H. Hudak Mrs. Martha R. Ingram Kendra Whitlock Ingram James D. Ireland III James M. Johnson Russell Jones Loretta Julian Polly Kahn Atul R. Kanagat The Joseph P. & Nancy F. Keithley Foundation
Gloria S. Kim Joseph H. Kluger Catherine & John Koten Judith Kurnick Dennis W. LaBarre Michael Lawrence & Rachael Unite David Lebenbom The Lerner Foundation Robert & Emily Levine Jan & Daniel R. Lewis Peter B. Lewis Dr. Virginia M. Lindseth Jim & Kay Mabie Alex Machaskee Annie & William Madonia 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 Michael Morgan Thomas Morris 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 Charles & Barbara Olton Cathy & Bill Osborn James W. Palermo Anne H. Parsons Peter Pastreich Luther K. Ranheim Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin Mr. & Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Jr. The Albert B. & Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation Patricia A. Richards Peggy & Al Richardson Glenn Roberts Bernard Robertson
Barbara S. Robinson Vanessa Rose-Pridemore Jesse Rosen Barbara & Robert Rosoff Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Rossmeisl Don Roth Deborah F. Rutter Sage Foundation Cynthia M. Sargent Louis Scaglione Drs. John & Helen Schaefer Paul Schwendener Ari Solotoff Mi Ryung Song Barbara J. Soroca Joan H. Squires Connie Steensma & Rick Prins Stephanie Trautwein Rae Wade Trimmier Jeff & Melissa Tsai James Undercofler Lora Unger Alan D. & Connie Linsler Valentine 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 Ms. Ginger B. Warner Dr. Charles H. Webb Mr. & Mrs. Albert K. Webster Sandra Weingarten Franz Welser-Möst Stacey Weston Adair & Dick White Rebecca & David Worters Kathryn Wyatt The Simon Yates & Kevin Roon Foundation Edward Yim – Campaign support as of Oct. 29, 2009
Help ensure the future of orchestras by taking action now! Please join us in the Campaign for a New Direction by contacting Stacey Weston, Vice President for Development, at 646 822 4009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s time for a different community story. Every orchestra has a community story – but not every orchestra knows just how important community is to their future. Your Orchestra, Your Community: Roadmap to Success is designed by orchestras for orchestras eager to reach out and make a difference to their community’s future as well as their own. Whether you are already engaged on several fronts or preparing to take your first steps, Your Orchestra, Your Community: Roadmap to Success will help guide the conversation and ensure that your organization is thinking about the contributions it can make to the community in which it exists.
Click on the image below to hear Anne Parsons, President and CEO, Detroit Symphony Orchestra talk about civic engagement
Your Orchestra, Your Community: Roadmap to Success is free to member orchestras, and the League offers free one-on-one support, podcasts, and video clips of civic engagement projects to help guide you along the way. The future of your orchestra lies within your community – please visit americanorchestras.org to begin your new story.
Your Orchestra, Your Community: Roadmap to Success is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, MetLife Foundation, and Target. Funding is also provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Argosy Foundation, and The Hearst Foundation, Inc.
On the Road to
El Sistema Behind the scenes of New England Conservatory’s new Abreu Fellows program. by Kathryn Wyatt
Last May, New England Conservatory in Boston announced the launch of its Abreu Fellows Program, the first initiative of El Sistema USA. The one-year, tuition-free postgraduate certificate program is being offered for young musicians interested in becoming ambassadors of El Sistema, the Venezuelan music-education program founded in 1976 by José Antonio Abreu. An initial $100,000 grant in 2009 from TEDPrize, which gives recipients funds to support their “One Wish to Change the World,” allowed Abreu to start the program. Musicians in the program, whose first Fellows began their course of study this fall, are housed at New England Conservatory and spend a year studying in Boston and Caracas; in their second semester they will receive guided internships with public programs that serve youth at risk, followed by a required subsequent year working to advance or found an El Sistema program outside Venezuela. Among the first ten Abreu Fellows is Kathryn Wyatt, who with her colleagues reports from the trenches of El Sistema in the U.S. in her first installment for Symphony. —Jennifer Melick 78
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• El Sistema curriculum: exactly what
makes a program “El Sistema”? • The “movement” of El Sistema: how El Sistema ideals and models are being adopted in the U.S., and how this phenomenon is spreading here—this is my own area of focus • Engagement: what real social change has resulted from El Sistema, and how do we track it? The Abreu Fellows in front of the Beethoven statue in New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, fall 2009
or this group of ten musicians, it’s not enough to just play music. It is my pleasure to introduce the Abreu Fellows. Ensconced since the fall in the great halls of New England Conservatory in Boston, I have joined nine colleagues— all of us classically trained musicians—in the field of music education and orchestras to discover, challenge, analyze, and champion the birth and growth of El Sistema in the United States. The original El Sistema is the Venezuelan musical movement in social change that is sweeping Latin and South America, and has the music world on the edge of its seat trying to keep up! For a brief rundown, 60 Minutes did an excellent segment on the program and its superstar champion, Gustavo Dudamel, an El Sistema alum and newly appointed music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. If that doesn’t get you hooked, check out this “youth” (I would use “heroes”) orchestra at the BBC Proms in 2007. The Abreu Fellowship is named for the father of El Sistema, José Antonio Abreu. Maestro Abreu has received many honors for the mission and success of El Sistema, including the TED Prize, which in 2009 granted his wish to create a fellowship program for young musicians outside Venezuela to study El Sistema and bring the ideals back to their home cities. So here we are, and loving every minute of it. We are being steeped in passion, activism, social justice, kids, and music, music, music. The ten of us range in age from Stanford Thompson, age 23, to Lorrie Heagy and David Malek, whom we fondly have dubbed the mama and papa bear of our clan, in their early for-
ties. I am mourning my thirtieth birthday this year, trying to believe my friends and family, who say that your thirties are the best… The fellowship is creating fast friends and bringing together a network of people. We are fortunate to spend our weeks with the best minds in the field, who share our enthusiasm for the potential of El Sistema and social change through music. A typical day is Spanish class at 8:15 at the Conservatory, and then a seminar from a guest expert leading a discussion on pedagogy, curriculum models, board structure and governance, strategic planning, poverty, social activism, learning capabilities, and of course music. We’ll have an hour break for lunch, where we run across the street to either the sushi place or the coffee shop and continue the debate that inevitably started that morning. At 1 o’clock we’ll call a truce, and jump into a crash course on various instruments—the ones we don’t already play—learning just the basic wind, brass, and string techniques in order to make informed decisions about purchasing instruments, maintenance, and rudimentary skills. Until we’ve raised enough money in our núcleos—music centers—to hire staff, at least we can change strings when they break. Starting at 2 p.m. we will either continue the conversation from the morning session or jump into a practicum of our “champion” topics. As a group of ten minds, we have parsed the study of El Sistema into topics that we are individually passionate about and will “champion” as we complete the year. We will compile a collection of writings on these topics, which include:
Ending our coursework at 5 p.m. every day, we will often then spend the evening over dinner or drinks with our guest presenter, sopping up every bit of news and information about El Sistema in their lives and in their work. As a result, we go home with big questions. A recent highlight was a visit by Yo-Yo Ma. A Boston resident, Yo-Yo dropped by to share with the group his thoughts on learning and the strength of possibility for El Sistema núcleos in this country. You can see from the white-sheet in the photo below his explanation of learning models—the down arrow is much of what we’ve been experiencing these last few Yo-Yo Ma talks to Abreu Fellows about learning models, fall 2009
weeks—that lots and lots of information is being poured into us! The up arrow is the learning I expect we will revel in next week, figuring things out for ourselves as we build our experiences from the ground up. The circle represents the connection between the two (learning by taking information in, and by figuring things out on your own), in constant motion. The
El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu spoke in NEC’s Williams Hall during the public symposium on the “Venezuelan Music Education Miracle,” November 2007.
Christine wrote in her blog:
Eric Booth, senior advisor to the Abreu Fellows Program (left), and Abreu Fellow Dan Berkowitz
forward shooting arrow is of course the trajectory of our goals, both for this year and for life. (I really like the idea of soaring through life as a shooting arrow!) The spiral surrounding the arrow is the perfect circle of learning, in constant rotation as we achieve our goals. Abreu Fellow and French horn player Christine Witkowski was also inspired by Yo-Yo Ma’s statement that “There is nothing more important than meaning. It is not just about delivering a performance, but delivering yourself. That is being an artist.”
The first week of November I had the privilege of hearing from Community MusicWorks, a Providence, Rhode Island string quartet project that began as a “store-front” residency in the middle of downtown Providence, and a description of the Silk Road Project by Yo-Yo Ma. The experiences made me realize we are at the start of a cultural shift in the classical music world; the role of the artist is changing. The traditional role of the artist is to perform the highest quality music possible for the community—symphony orchestras, opera companies, professional chamber music groups, etc. This role is incredibly valuable and the main function of many celebrated cultural institutions. However, when I asked myself the question, ‘How can I best serve my community as an artist?’ I found the answer in equal parts high-level performance and public service/education. Where, then, do musicians who wish to have their careers in performance and public service fit? How do we as musicians both work in our communities through education and outreach and yet also feel artistically challenged and fed? And, how do we dispel the mindset that a ‘serious artist’ does not teach or perform outreach? Community MusicWorks and the work of Yo-Yo Ma are examples of the new type of artists bridging this gap.
Abreu Fellow and clarinetist David
Malek sent around an evocative email on curriculum and musical literacy, after a week of being sick in bed: What is musical literacy and why is there such a disconnect in our current music curricula in public school and universities and the outcomes?… Is it the curriculum or the implementation? Each state curriculum and even the national standards seem more than adequate in setting benchmarks, yet we fail to produce the outcomes…This [inquiry] is all stemming from the realization of my own functional illiteracy as a classically trained musician and has nothing to do exclusively with style (classical vs. jazz…see Rob Kapilow and Robert Levin). Why is it that we as musicians are coming out of twelve years of primary and secondary schooling with another four years of undergraduate work and possibly another four years of masters and doctoral studies, but are failing to achieve true musical literacy on a level that is beyond question and debate? After all of that education, shouldn’t we be able to sit down with a symphonic or chamber music score and make sense of it, to be able to sit in and have musical conversations with our friends or compose a cohesive musical offering to be shared with others? Is this not what is expected in our native language?
Abreu Fellow Lorrie Heagy, in her blog, sees another theme running through our discussions: symphony
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Simon Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela members and NEC students and staff mingled at a post-concert party marking the conclusion of the SBYOV’s 2007 residency at NEC.
How does one synthesize a week filled with such diverse topics as leadership, community partnerships, and the inner workings of a successful El Sistema initiative in Baltimore? Two Words: Core Values…As I looked over the key elements of the El Sistema program and reflected on the values of my own community of Juneau, I began developing a list of core values or Key of C’s:
• Child First, Music Second: every child is an asset and deserves access to the lifelong social, emotional, and academic benefits that
music provides, regardless of their financial means. • Community Building through ensemble, peer mentoring, and community partnerships to help students reach their potential and become contributing members of society. • Consistency of Program: start early and every day so that students have a daily haven of safety, joy, and sense of value. • Challenge: through discipline and teamwork, students strive together to master difficult works. • Classical and Culturally Relevant Repertoire is emphasized to respect the contributions of a richly diverse community. • Child-Centered: instruction engages the whole child through movement and joyful music-making.
In addition, we explored implications of the Orff, Kodály, Suzuki, and Dalcroze methods in El Sistema. In her blog, Abreu Fellow Rebecca Levi shared her thoughts on Suzuki and El Sistema:
Conductor Ben Zander, a professor at New England Conservatory and director of NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, delivered a surprise serenade to Abreu Fellow David Malek on his birthday. americanorchestras.org
Delving deeper into the world of Suzuki, I saw its emphasis on parent participation as problematic. What about the children who come from violent home environments? What about parents whose substance abuse precludes them taking an active role in their child’s musical learning? We posited: The núcleo becomes the family. After all, our Venezuelan friends have been describ-
Abreu Fellow Lorrie Heagy with children from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program
ing their fellow El Sistema grads as brothers and sisters.
In a session with Venezuelan student graduates of El Sistema now at Boston Conservatory and NEC, we discovered that the real secret to the familial connection of El Sistema musicians is ROAD TRIPS. After many, many questions from the Abreu Fellows to the panel of young “El Sistema” Venezuelans about “what really makes El Sistema so special, and how were your lives changed as child-
and video footage underscored by music from Rocky’s “Eye of the Tiger”—can be viewed here. Abreu Fellow Jonathan Govias’s video of the incredible Samba production the OrchKids put on had more than 300 hits in its online debut. The Abreu Fellows have a diverse mix of experience, talent, background, and cultures, but El Sistema has united us. We are reinvigorated in our passion for how music has changed our lives, and our conviction that music can have that same power through social change. We are eager to start a conversation in the field about the potential for El Sistema models in this country, and how we can support current work in music education and our colleagues’ aspirations for the future. Abreu Fellow and flutist Rebecca Levi (left) learning Suzuki violin with Fellow Kathryn Wyatt, a violist, during an instrument-instruction crash course at New England Conservatory
musicians in Venezuela,” we discovered that the feeling of community, family, and loyalty to “the system” is tightly integrated in the núcleos. Four times a year, núcleos in two or more cities will combine for seminarios, and the students will combine into the mega-ensembles El Sistema is famous for. The students said that when you are surrounded by hundreds of your friends, who are all as passionate
about music as you are, what could possibly be more fun? In November, we took our own road trip to Baltimore to visit OrchKids, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s ambitious, homegrown version of El Sistema. Abreu Fellow Stanford Thompson has been fired up about El Sistema since Day One; his video—a mix of footage of children participating in the BSO’s OrchKids program
Watch the March-April issue of Symphony for the next installment from Abreu Fellow Kathryn Wyatt.
You can read the Abreu Fellows’ individual blogs here: Daniel Berkowitz: abreudb.wordpress.com Jonathan Andrew Govias: abreufellow.wordpress.com Lorrie Heagy: juneaumusicmatters.blogspot.com Rebecca Levi: rebeccalevi.blogspot.com Dantes Rameau: dantesrameau.blogspot.com Alvaro Rodas: alvarofrodas.blogspot.com Stanford Thompson: firedupwithmusic.blogspot.com Christine Witkowski: cwabreufellows.wordpress.com Kathryn Wyatt: elsistemadurham.wordpress.com
Abreu Fellows with children from Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program
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Stat of the Arts Number of results from a Google search for classical music
First American orchestra with a Twitter account First tweet: “Preparing for our All-American Celebration concert on July 4th at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre,” July 2, 2008
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Number of followers of the League of American Orchestras on Twitter (Follow us on Twitter.)
Number of Facebook fans of the League of American Orchestras (Increase this number by becoming a fan here.)
Number of Facebook fans of Billy Joel
Number of Facebook fans of Ludwig van Beethoven
Number of Facebook fans of Lady Gaga
Number of countries represented by visitors to the League of American Orchestras website (americanorchestas.org) in October 2009
Number of visitors to the League site from the U.S. in October 2009
Number of visitors to the League from Luxembourg in October 2009
Number of visitors to the League site from Malaysia in October 2009
Cost to purchase 30 seconds of a live orchestral concert (League of American Orchestras’ reported average ticket price for Group 1 orchestras, divided by a 120-minute concert)
Cost to purchase a 30-second ad during the 2009 Super Bowl
(Statistics as of December 8, 2009)
That’s what friends are for…
Tennessee Titans placekicker Rob Bironas is best known for holding the National Football League record for field goals in a game. Off the field, he was recently selected to serve on the Nashville Symphony’s Board of Directors. Here, he explains why he believes in music education.
Rob Bironas kicked a 60-yard game-winning field goal for the Tennessee Titans on December 3, 2006 against the Indianapolis Colts.
s a kid, I always knew that I wanted to be a professional athlete. Soccer, tee ball, basketball, football—you name the sport, I played it. I loved music, too. And what kid never dreamed of being a rock star? At different points, I tried learning piano, guitar, and drums, but I never stuck with any of them. I became a serious soccer player and my weekends were spent traveling around to games. I never had the chance to focus on music. Instead, I stayed tied up in athletics, and I’m glad I did. It taught me a lot, and it got me where I am today, although I never imagined that I would wind up becoming an NFL player! I love my job. There’s nothing I’d rather do than get up in the morning, work out, play football with my friends, and be outside every day. I really had to persevere to get here, and I’m proud to have earned a place as one of the leading kickers in professional football. I’ve never stopped loving music, though. My eyes were opened to the music industry when I moved to Nashville a few years ago. Living in a place where so many people make music for a living gave me a whole new understanding of the music business. As I made friends with musicians in my adopted hometown, I realized that what they’d
gone through to succeed—the hard work, the determination, the discipline—was completely parallel to my own experience in the athletic world. At the same time, I totally envied their abilities and talents, because they were things I didn’t possess. My singing could clear a room! Moving to Nashville helped me realize something else: now that I’d entered the big leagues as a member of the Tennessee Titans, I wanted to be able to share the benefits of my success with the community, and I wanted to create positive opportunities for young people. When I learned that it was getting harder and harder for public schools to provide music instruction for children, I had my vision for the Rob Bironas Fund. Of all the places in the country, Nashville— Music City U.S.A.—should be leading the way in music education. Here was my chance to help by connecting children with music and creating learning possibilities in their own lives. Teaming up with the Nashville Symphony in this endeavor made perfect sense to me. People may think of our city as the home of the Grand Ole Opry, but we also have a remarkable orchestra and one of the country’s best concert halls. Just as important, the Nashville Symphony has already demonstrated its deep commitment to providing music instruction for children in our community.
My organization and the orchestra are also working in partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame, which gives us a great opportunity to show that all kinds of music have a place in Nashville, from Tchaikovsky to Taylor Swift. Of all the important things that a life in sports has taught me over the years, I can narrow it down to five basic skills: discipline, focus, preparation, overcoming adversity, and recovering from mistakes. Music teaches the very same things, and it’s a part of everyone’s lives. Just think about how many people listen to the radio in their cars, or wake up to music in the morning. Through the Rob Bironas Fund, I want children to realize that music can be an active part of their lives. Not everyone is interested in playing sports, and music gives them another avenue for learning those critical life skills. I recently started taking guitar lessons again, and I know it’s going to be a long process. Right now, I’m just trying to get my fingers strong enough and callused enough to hit all the strings. There are times when it’s frustrating, and it makes me wish I had stuck with an instrument when I was younger, but it also reminds me why we’re partnering with the Nashville Symphony: to show young people that with enough hard work and determination, anything is possible. symphony
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