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Partners in

Practice by Mark Clague and Michael Mauskapf

Participants at University of Michigan’s American Orchestras Summit in January.

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ith more than 150 people listening, Michael Jensen recently wondered aloud if orchestras in America are living an impossible dream: “You have world-class, national, local orchestras, all operating with similar cost structures, and then amateur-level groups. In the future, world-class and amateur orchestras may remain, but all others, I’m afraid, may disappear.” Jensen, a Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business who studies audience behavior, heard a collective gasp. He then continued to express concern

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With orchestras re-examining their relevance and value in today’s culture, how can they work together more effectively with other organizations? The American Orchestras Summit, held in January at the University of Michigan, offers some answers.

about the way orchestras have positioned themselves in the musical marketplace. Using examples from film (Avatar), opera (The Met: Live in HD), and the orchestra world (Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Music Hall), Jensen suggested that orchestras can thrive only if they find ways to embrace technology to engage their communities in new and lasting ways. Jensen’s challenge—for orchestras to clearly articulate their relevance and value (and make no mistake, there is real value)—struck a chord with participants of the American Orchestras Summit, held symphony

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Symphonyonline may jun 2010