symphony SUMMER 2011 n $6.25
THE MAGAZINE OF
THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
Community Connections Sustainability
Public Perception Social Change
Nonprofit Financial Health Concerts
Healing through Music
Frameworks for the Future
Tradition Music Governance
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OPUS 3 ARTISTS PIanISTS Emanuel Ax Daniel Barenboim Inon Barnatan Elena Bashkirova Jonathan Biss Rafal Blechacz Yefim Bronfman *Bertrand Chamayou Hung-Kuan Chen Jeremy Denk Barry Douglas Christoph Eschenbach Peng Peng Gong Gary Graffman Andreas Haefliger Angela Hewitt Nicolas Hodges Joseph Kalichstein Zoltán Kocsis Kuok-Wai Lio Nikolai Lugansky Radu Lupu Anne-Marie McDermott Gabriela Montero Garrick Ohlsson Jon Kimura Parker Orli Shaham Yuja Wang Shai Wosner Joyce Yang Krystian Zimerman
VIOLISTS Yuri Bashmet *Julian Rachlin
CELLISTS Lynn Harrell Yo-Yo Ma Jean-Guihen Queyras Joshua Roman Alisa Weilerstein
FLUTISTS Emmanuel Pahud Eugenia Zukerman
baSS-barITOnES John Del Carlo Alan Held Keith Miller John Relyea Christian Van Horn
baSSES Jordan Bisch Morris Robinson Arthur Woodley
Roberto Abbado Teddy Abrams PErCUSSIOn Marin Alsop Colin Currie Matt Catingub GUITar James Conlon Sérgio & Odair Assad James DePreist Christoph Eschenbach TChaIkOVSky James Feddeck COmPETITIOn John Fiore *2011 Gold Medalists for piano, violin, cello & voice Asher Fisch Fabien Gabel SOPranOS Giancarlo Guerrero *Alyson Cambridge Mariss Jansons Andriana Chuchman *Richard Kaufman Alexandra Deshorties Leonidas Kavakos Christine Goerke Christian Knapp Wendy Bryn Harmer Courtney Lewis Patricia Racette Jahja Ling *Nadine Sierra Jesús López-Cobos mEzzO-SOPranOS Zdenek Macal Ingo Metzmacher Stephanie Blythe VIOLInISTS Alexander Mickelthwate Michelle DeYoung Adele Anthony David Alan Miller Katarina Karnéus Sarah Chang Ludovic Morlot * Jennifer Larmore Chee-Yun Tito Muñoz Kate Lindsey Kyung-Wha Chung Erik Nielsen Tamara Mumford James Ehnes Krzysztof Penderecki Anne Sofie von Otter *Vilde Frang Matthias Pintscher Pamela Frank COUnTErTEnOr Arild Remmereit Miriam Fried Anthony Roth Costanzo *Jérémie Rhorer Ryu Goto Helmuth Rilling TEnOrS *Caroline Goulding David Robertson * Colin Ainsworth Daniel Hope Corrado Rovaris Ian Bostridge Stefan Jackiw Donald Runnicles William Burden Leonidas Kavakos Christopher Seaman Jason Collins Jennifer Koh Jerzy Semkow Nicholas Phan Gidon Kremer Steven Sloane Matthew Plenk Cho-Liang Lin Robert Spano Frank Porretta Midori Ward Stare Tai Murray barITOnES Patrick Summers *Julian Rachlin Sir Thomas Allen Bramwell Tovey Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg Nathan Gunn Yaron Traub Gil Shaham Weston Hurt Victor Vanacore Arnaud Sussmann Edward Parks Joshua Weilerstein Kyoko Takezawa Michael Todd Simpson
SymPhOny POPS Jamie Bernstein The Chieftains Doc Severinsen & The San Miguel Five Forbidden Broadway *Hallelujah Broadway Eileen Ivers Live and Let Die A Tribute to Paul McCartney
Patti LuPone Mariachi Los Camperos Papa Doo Run Run A Symphonic Surfin’ Safari
PLAY! A Video Game Symphony Peter Schickele Suzanne Vega
OrChESTraL PrOGramS The Planets–An HD Odyssey Wynton Marsalis Swing Symphony Blues Symphony All Rise
*Too Hot to Handel The Gospel Messiah
narraTOrS Jamie Bernstein Claire Bloom John Lithgow Christopher Plummer Patrick Stewart Eugenia Zukerman
POPS COnDUCTOrS Matt Catingub *Richard Kaufman
Doc Severinsen Victor Vanacore
COmPOSErS Mason Bates Osvaldo Golijov Wynton Marsalis Krzysztof Penderecki Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) Gene Scheer *NEW TO THE ROSTER
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symphony SU M M E R 2 0 1 1
bout the cover. That’s the phrase magazines typically use when describing the photograph or artwork on their front page. Symphony covers often feature individual musicians, capturing some of the intensity and artistry that it takes to bring music alive in the here and now. Group shots of orchestras suggest the complex relationship within musical ensembles. A more abstract image can raise provocative questions or illuminate an aspect of where orchestras are now. For this issue, we went with words. There are so many conflicting ideas in circulation today, so many issues that orchestras are worried about, initiatives that orchestras are pleased with, achievements that orchestras are proud of, that one single image just won’t “say” it. So we’ve gone with some of the topics that have orchestra people buzzing—the terms that, as observers of the orchestra field, we hear time and again. ( Just don’t read too much into the relative positioning of some words; there’s such a thing as a design imperative and the cover has to look nice, after all.) What’s inside? In his “Critical Questions” column, League President and CEO Jesse Rosen provides a forum for contrasting views of the shifting cultural and financial landscape that orchestras confront today. Elsewhere, we visit four orchestras that are connecting with their communities in imaginative ways; each initiative is thoughtfully customized to local conditions. The ongoing economic crunch and a sea change in the perception of the role of nonprofits are prompting government leaders to trim or even eliminate the tax-free status of nonprofit arts organizations. What does this mean for orchestras, and how can they articulate their public value? Find out inside.
THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
symphony®, the award-winning, bimonthly magazine of the League of American Orchestras, discusses issues critical to the orchestra community and communicates to the American public the value and importance of orchestras and the music they perform. EDITOR IN CHIEF Robert Sandla
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stePhen lord José-luIs novo ransom WIlson
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PIANO DuO anderson & roe PIano duo tenGstrand-sun PIano duo VIOlIN vadIm Gluzman mayuko kamIo anI kavaFIan Ida kavaFIan catherIne manoukIan dan zhu VIOlA nokuthula nGWenyama CellO colIn carr Gary hoFFman Inbal seGev Flute ransom WIlson ClArINet alexander FItersteIn FreNCh hOrN davId Jolley GuItAr elIot FIsk
chamber musIc caleFax reed quIntet duo Jalal alexander FItersteIn’s zImro ProJect JasPer strInG quartet kavaFIan duo lark quarte+ neWstead trIo schumann trIo trIo cavatIna trIo valtorna
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sPecIal ProJects ”amerIcan celebratIon”, “bellIssImo broadWay” & “hearts aFIre” barbara shIrvIs/stePhen PoWell I musIcI dI roma ute lemPer/voGler quartet Berlin nights/Paris Days
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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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THE MAGAZINE OF THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
4 Prelude by Robert Sandla 13 The Score Orchestra news, moves, and events
34 Todd Rosenberg
24 Critical Questions Bruce Coppock and Robert Levine offer contrasting perspectives on whatâ€™s next for the orchestra field, at a time of tumultuous upheaval.
Bridging the Gap Orchestras in Chicago, Baltimore, Minnesota, and Miami Beach are demonstrating a positive impact beyond the concert hall. by Rebecca Winzenried
A Love Supreme? Collaborations between jazz and orchestra musicians can bring surprising rewards. by Ian VanderMeulen
Making the Case As nonprofits come under increased scrutiny, orchestras must confront tax challenges and demonstrate their public value. by Heidi Waleson
At Your Service Orchestras are cultivating closer relationships with patrons by adding concierge-style services. by Chester Lane
Harmonic Treatment Studies that link music and healing are leading orchestras to bring their art form to healthcare institutions. by Karen Campbell
Letter from Singapore Amid skyscrapers and luxury resorts, Singapore is home to a vibrant cultural scene, including ten full orchestras. by Robert Markow 85 Advertiser Index 88 Coda Violinist Philippe Quint talks about acting in the new feature film Downtown Express.
86 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund
about the cover
Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline at symphony.org.
Big issues such as accessibility, public value, and tax policy continue to dominate conversations about the orchestra field. See stories on pages 24, 34, and 50.
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SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE
MUSICAL CHAIRS The Des Moines (Iowa) Symphony & Academy has appointed SOPHIA AHMAD director of marketing and public relations. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director MARIN ALSOP has been named to an additional post as principal conductor of Brazil’s São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, effective with the 2012-13 season. The Rochester (Minn.) Symphony Orchestra & Chorale has named JEFFERY AMUNDSON executive director.
The Philadelphia Orchestra performs under Chief Conductor Charles Dutoit, September 2010.
The 2010-11 season has been financially challenging for the orchestra community, with bankruptcy filings by at least five U.S. orchestras and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra losing most of its season—it returned to the stage in mid-April—to a six-month strike over pay cuts and work-rule changes. On April 16, The Philadelphia Orchestra announced a decision by its board of directors to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows it to present concerts while restructuring finances. Philadelphia Orchestra Association Chairman Richard B. Worley called the chapter 11 filing “the best means to help reset our financial obligations.” Allison Vulgamore, president and CEO, stated that the orchestra was “committed to sustaining this world-class jewel and we have a strategic plan that will move the Orchestra forward with vision and purpose.” Also reorganizing while planning for next season is the Louisville Orchestra, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2010. The boards of three other orchestras, however, recently voted to completely dissolve their organizations through a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing: the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in New York, and the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. At press time there was no word about plans for successor organizations in Syracuse or Albuquerque. But in Honolulu, assets of the orchestra—instruments, a music library, and office equipment—were acquired at auction by a Symphony Exploratory Committee, which announced in April that a three-year agreement had been reached with musicians from the former Honolulu Symphony; the contract provides 64 musicians with a salary of $30,000 for 30 weeks in each of the next two seasons.
Throughout this issue, text marked like this indicates a link to websites and online resources that can be accessed by visiting SymphonyOnline at symphony.org.
has been named to a twoyear term as assistant conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., effective with the 2011-12 season.
ANKUSH KUMAR BAHL
Pete Checchia / Philadelphia Orchestra Association
California’s Ojai Festival has announced the appointment of pianist LEIF OVE ANDSNES as music director of the 2012 festival. Choreographer MARK MORRIS will serve as music director for the 2013 festival, and pianist JEREMY DENK for 2014.
Tallahassee (Fla.) Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor MIRIAM BURNS has announced her decision to step down from that post at the end of the 2011-12 season. The orchestra has initiated a search for her successor.
has been appointed artistic director and conductor of the newly established Glendale Pops Orchestra in California.
The Kansas City Symphony has named LLEWELLYN development director.
KAYOKO DAN has been appointed music director of Tennessee’s Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, effective June 1, 2011. She succeeds ROBERT BERNHARDT, who will continue with the orchestra as pops conductor and assume the title music director emeritus.
North Carolina’s Brevard Music Festival has announced the appointment of JOANN FALLETTA as principal guest conductor for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons.
The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic has appointed JAYNE FARBER executive director. BARRY GOLDBERG , executive
director of the New York Youth Symphony since 1983, has announced plans to retire August 31 at the close of the 2010-11 season. No successor had been announced at press time. California’s Santa Barbara Symphony has named executive director.
The Cleveland Orchestra has appointed GIANCARLO to the new post of principal guest conductor for the orchestra’s annual residency in Miami, effective next season. TON KOOPMAN has been named as the orchestra’s Malcolm E. Kenney Artist-in-Residence. GUERRERO
THOMAS HEUSER has been appointed music director of the Idaho Falls Symphony Orchestra.
Nebraska’s Omaha Symphony has announced the appointment of JAMES M. JOHNSON as president and CEO, effective June 1, 2011. KEN JOHNSON retired as executive director of the Greenville (S.C.) Johnson Symphony Orchestra at the conclusion of the orchestra’s 2010-11 season in May.
Steve J. Sherman
The Philadelphia Sinfonia Youth Orchestra has named JONATHAN HUMMEL to the newly created post of executive director.
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has promoted STILIAN KIROV from assistant conductor to associate conductor. Kirov will also serve as a conducting fellow at the Seattle Symphony for four weeks during the 2011-12 season. director of the Reno Chamber Orchestra, has been named to an additional post: artistic director of the Caracas-based Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela.
has stepped down as president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for health-related reasons. A search for his successor was underway at press time. BILL LIVELY
has been named assistant conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, effective with the 2011-12 season.
The Raleigh-based North Carolina Symphony has appointed SANDI MACDONALD president and CEO, effective in June 2011.
The San Francisco Symphony has announced the appointment of JOHN MANGUM as director of artistic planning, effective June 27, 2011.
has been appointed principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, effective September 2012. RICARDO MORALES
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Music Director PETER OUNDJIAN will take on an additional post as music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra starting with the 2012-13 season.
The Hilton Head (S.C.) Symphony Orchestra has named JOHN MORRIS RUSSELL principal guest conductor for 2011-12.
has been appointed music director of the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, which performs on Bainbridge Island in Washington State.
Aspen Music Festival and School has announced the appointment of ROBERT SPANO as music director, effective with the 2012 season. He assumed the title music director designate this spring.
California’s Santa Rosa Symphony has named BENJAMIN TAYLOR director of education. CHRISTOPHER WILKINS , music
director of the Orlando (Fla.) Philharmonic Orchestra and the Akron (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra, has been named to a third post as music director of Boston Landmarks Orchestra in Boston, Mass.
Every other summer since 1995, classically trained AfricanAmerican musicians have headed to the Gateways Music Festival at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Founded in 1993 by pianist Armenta Adams Hummings, the festival spotlights classical musicians of African descent, drawing student and young professional musicians as well as artists from the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, chamber ensembles, and more. Some 300 musicians have participated in the festival, and this year’s event, which runs August 10 to 14, features Michael Morgan as conductor and music director. After Hummings’s retirement last year, the festival is under the direction of a new Artistic Programs Committee headed by Lee Koonce, who is executive director of Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City. The festival’s 60 musicians perform not only at Eastman, but at churches, schools, and other local venues, and the price is right—all concerts are free.
Robert Murphy, Michelle Harris, and Opal Garrett at the Gateways Music Festival
Gateways Music Festival
The Seattle Symphony has announced that Concertmaster MARIA LARIONOFF will retire from that post at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.
David Burnette, Henry Muhammad, and David Yarborough at the Gateways Music Festival
Gateways Music Festival
Orchestra Nova in San Diego has appointed chief executive officer.
Gateways Music Festival
THEODORE KUCHAR , music
Percussionist Donna Thompson at the Gateways Music Festival
Arts Funding On the Chopping Block
Pictured at the Avery Fisher Career Grant ceremony on March 14 (from left): Nathan Leventhal, chairman of the Avery Fisher Artist Program; awardees Benjamin Hochman, Caroline Goulding, and Chu-Fang Huang; Nancy Fisher and Charles Avery Fisher, daughter and son of the late Avery Fisher, who created the award with a major gift to Lincoln Center in 1974
Career Grants to Three in NYC
The Avery Fisher Career Grant was presented this year to violinist Caroline Goulding, 18, a Michigan native now living in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and to two pianists currently residing in New York: Jerusalem-born Benjamin Hochman, 31; and Chu-Fang Huang, 28, a native of Liaoning, China. The award recognizes up to five instrumentalists or ensembles each year who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and includes a $25,000 stipend for professional assistance as well as unrestricted use of a DVD of the Career Grant ceremony performances on March 14.
Seats to Share
“The music instilled a powerful feeling inside of me, one I fall short of being able to describe.” —Eugene, client of Rosecrance substanceabuse treatment and rehabilitation facility, and a recent Rockford Symphony Share-A-Seat concertgoer americanorchestras.org
For more than a year, the Rockford Symphony in Illinois has been operating a Share-A-Seat program, through which concert tickets are distributed free to those receiving assistance from local service organizations. Tickets are available from a pool donated by the public; for $15, a company or individual can make a tax-deductible ticket donation. As of January 2011, 90 donors had donated more than 170 tickets, coordinated primarily through the Janet Wattles mental health organization; Rosecrance, a substanceabuse treatment and rehabilitation facility; and the Center for Sight and Hearing, which provides services to vision- and hearing-impaired people. Response has been positive, and the orchestra plans to expand the program to clients of other service organizations, as well as additional supporters to donate tickets.
Even as signs of turnaround begin to emerge in the wider economy, arts across the country have felt the squeeze from local, state, and federal governments. In March, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee submitted a budget proposal for fiscal 2012 that included a 6 percent sales tax on nonprofit arts events. Kansas arts advocates caught a break that same month when state senate leaders overturned Governor Sam Brownback’s proposal to abolish the Kansas Arts Commission, which funnels state and federal grants to local organizations, and replace it with a private, nonprofit organization. (The commission is still awaiting an appropriation.) Governor Chris Gregoire similarly proposed eliminating the Washington State Arts Commission, and Governor Rick Perry stated in a February speech that funding should be suspended for the Texas Commission on the Arts. At press time, the Rhode Island, Washington, and Texas proposals were still being debated by the respective states’ houses and senates. In April, federal arts funding narrowly escaped massive cuts. President Obama signed a FY11 spending bill passed by Congress that allocated $155 million to the National Endowment for the Arts, a $12.5 million reduction from FY10 but significantly more than the $124.4 million the House of Representatives approved in February. The House and Senate had both agreed in March to eliminate the $40 million Arts in Education program, but that was reinstated at $25.5 million in the final bill.
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, may not be marked on every Californian’s calendar, but Michael Morgan and the Oakland East Bay Symphony gave the holiday its due with a March program featuring Persian composers and performers. “We have a huge community of Iranians and Middle Easterners in the Bay Area,” Morgan explained to the Contra Costa Times. “We need to get to know something about their history and culture.” The program included Ahmad Pejman’s 1975 Symphonic Sketches; Behzad Ranjbaran’s new orchestral work Seemorgh (The Phoenix); and three movements of Omid Zoufonoun’s Manteq al-Tayr (Language of the Birds), with Amin Zoufonoun on the kamencheh, a Persian-style bowed lute also known as a spike fiddle. The night was rounded out by Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, featuring three Persian-born soloists: Tara Kamangar on piano, Cyrus Beroukhim on violin, and Arash Amini on cello.
“You are the funniest person I have ever seen.” —Kurt, age 10 “I want to come to another concert. This was fun.” —Eric, age 9 “We’ve never been to a better family performance.” —Buffalo Philharmonic patron
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Top: Soloists Tara Kamangar, piano; Cyrus Beroukhim, violin; Arash Amini, cello performed Beethoven's Triple Concerto with Music Director Michael Morgan and the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Above: Michael Morgan (center) with composer Omid Zoufonoun (right) and kamanche soloist Amin Zoufonoun (left) after the premiere of Omid Zoufonoun's Manteq al-Tayr (Language of the Birds).
Wheels of Fortune
See the Classical Clown at www.dankamin.com
Persian Sounds in the East Bay
Here’s a way to raise funds and awareness while getting plenty of exercise. On August 20, the Missoula Symphony in Montana will sponsor its second annual Cycle for the Symphony event, in which cyclists will bike for as many as 119 miles through the scenic countryside of Big Sky Country. Mechanics and motorcycle escorts will accompany the riders; there will be stops for breakfast and lunch, and a fabulous Finish Line BBQ is promised. Last year’s Riders and their bovine admirers at the Missoula inaugural event raised $32,500 for the Symphony’s 2010 Cycle for the Symphony orchestra. fundraiser symphony
Management Fellows Announced
David Filner and Ian Harwood are the first two orchestra executives in the League of American Orchestras’ redesigned Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, launched this spring. The twelve-month program commences with in-field training this summer at the Aspen Music Festival and School and culminates in activities at the 2012 League National Conference in Dallas. Filner, currently vice president and general manager of the San Antonio Symphony, and Harwood, founder and executive director of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, will also have residencies at the Chicago, San Francisco, Alabama, and Memphis symphony orchestras. The new objective of the OMFP, originally established in 1980, is to fast-track administrators who have direct managerial experience and a demonstrated potential to lead a professional orchestra within five to ten years. The OMFP is made possible by support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Argosy Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, alumni of the program, and host orchestras. For more on OMFP, visit the League website.
New Sound Ventures Major-label recording contracts and brick-and-mortar CD sales may have both gone the way of the typewriter, but orchestras continue to find innovative ways to preserve their sound—and bring new repertoire to the fore—through in-house labels and distribution deals. l
San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has launched Philharmonia Baroque Productions. The first of three live recordings for 2011—a Handel/Berlioz release featuring the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson—came out in March. The new label will be distributed by Harmonia Mundi USA and available through iTunes, Amazon, and other online outlets.
The North American release in January of American Portraits, a CD culled from live recordings, marked the debut of an inhouse label called Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Media. The CSO will partner with Naxos of America for distribution.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra launched ASO Media in February with a recording featuring works by “Atlanta School” composers Jennifer Higdon and Michael Gandolfi. A distribution deal similar to the CSO’s has been worked out with Naxos of America.
In January the National Symphony Orchestra made its first recording with Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, capturing a live performance—with narration by actor Richard Dreyfuss—of the late Peter Lieberson’s Remembering JFK (An American Elegy). The NSO’s first project for the Ondine label, it was released this spring on CD and via digital download.
Joanne Rile Artists
Soloists, ensembles available for symphony engagements SELECTED FROM THE FULL ROSTER SOLOISTS
Leon Bates, pianist J.Y. Song, pianist Tanja Becker-Bender, violinist† Sergiu Schwartz, violinist Monica Huggett, baroque violinist Claudio Jaffé, ’cellist Julianne Baird, soprano Louise Toppin, soprano ENSEMBLES
Ahn Trio, piano trio Georgia Guitar Quartet Klezmer and all that Jazz Prism Saxophone Quartet QSF Jazz and Tango (Quartet San Francisco) Storioni Piano Trio† Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play UltraMax, the classics in techno time UpBeat Brass CONDUCTORS
Stephen Alltop Duilio Dobrin Beverly Everett Paul Freeman Peter Jaffe Tania León Charles Prince Asher Raboy Milan Turkovic†
†North American representation
JOANNE RILE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT 215-885-6400 www.rilearts.com 93 Old York Road, Suite 222 Jenkintown, PA 19046
Senior TED Fellow
TED / James Duncan Davidson
Robert Gupta Cellist Joshua Roman and violinist Robert Gupta are among the performs in Long recently announced TED Fellows, named by the TED nonprofit Beach, California, organization devoted to bringing attention to young innovators February 2010. in fields ranging from computer science and architecture to dance and electrical engineering. Roman, one of sixteen other newly named Fellows, became principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony in 2006, at age 22, before going on to pursue a solo career. Among Roman’s recent endeavors are trips to Uganda, where he played chamber music with his violin-playing siblings in schools, HIV/AIDS centers, and displacement camps. Gupta, selected as a Senior TED Fellow, joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 at age 19. Gupta has been active in the field of mental health and served as violin teacher to Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless musician featured in the book and film The Soloist. TED Fellow Joshua Roman
S teven L ipSitt
orchestra opera oratorio ballet new music pops Recent Boston Lyric Opera debut:
“Lipsitt led a vital, perfectly paced reading”
“exalted and well-structured interpretations”
— N ew Y ork T imes
“an incisive performance”
“Lipsitt achieved a soaring conductor-debut”
— w all s TreeT J ourNal
“Lipsitt led an eloquent account” — B osToN G loBe
“a memorable production … Lipsitt brought it all to life” — B osToN P hoeNix
“Lipsitt conducted with intelligence and energy” — B osToN h erald
PHOTO: SUSAN WILSON
— l e m oNde
“Lipsitt’s rendering carried the pace and warmth of someone with an intimate knowledge of the score — from both a musical and dramatic standpoint” — B osToN m usical i NTelliGeNcer
“Lipsitt conducted as if the music were in his blood”
— m usik
T heaTer (Z urich )
“directness and deep musicality” — e lef TheroT YPia (a TheNs )
“intensely dramatic interpretation” — k aThimeriNi (a TheNs )
“[Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 was] completely persuasive. The music seemed to soar on its own wings” — B osToN G loBe
“Lipsitt took charge to lead a spine-tingling Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony, complete with carefully nuanced phrasing and tempos. His interpretation is dripping with intelligent musicianship” — T he (sc) s TaTe
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firstname.lastname@example.org | 26 Davis Ave., Brookline, MA 02445 USA | mobile: 617.899.4397 | www.BostonClassicalOrchestra.org
Freeman Passes Sinfonietta Baton Courtesy Houston Symphony
After 24 years at the helm of the orchestra he’d founded, Paul Freeman passed the Chicago Sinfonietta baton to Music Director Designate Mei-Ann Chen in two programs honoring women
Tilting at Windmills
in classical music on May 22 and 23. Freeman, who founded the Sinfonietta in 1987 with the mission of increasing
Back in August 2010, Houston
diversity in classical music, studied at the
Symphony Principal Cello Brinton
Eastman School of Music and served as
Averil Smith sent Artistic Assistant
music director of the Victoria Symphony
Rebecca Zabinski a link to the Cervantes
in Canada from 1979 to 1987. During
Collection at Texas A&M University
his tenure the Chicago Sinfonietta has
Libraries, which houses one of the world’s
premiered countless new works by black
largest collections of Don Quixote book
composers and featured many soloists
illustrations. One thing led to another,
of color, while playing for highly diverse
and the library ended up providing images
audiences. For more on Freeman, Chen,
of scenes from the book, which were
and the Chicago Sinfonietta, check out
projected over the stage for three concerts
the League’s new online publication
of Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote at Jones
Hall. Each illustration corresponded to a section of the music, with the cello (Smith) symbolizing Don Quixote and the viola (Principal Viola Wayne Brooks) representing Sancho Panza, Quixote’s trusty companion. The performances, led by Music Director Hans Graf, were part of the orchestra’s Sound Plus Vision concerts. Shown above: an 1874 version of The Adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha, published by Lee and Shepard, depicts the famous scene of Don Quixote “tilting at windmills,” which he has
mistaken for giants.
Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director-Designate Mei-Ann Chen hugs founder and longtime Music Director Paul Freeman as Executive Director Jim Hirsch looks on.
The producer of Performance Today was incorrectly identified on page 31 of the Spring 2011 issue. It is American Public Media.
The latest round of music-themed book releases brings two new volumes published in-house by orchestras on opposite coasts. Portrait of an Orchestra: The New Haven Symphony Orchestra features 101 pages of musician profiles with black-and-white photos by Cheever Tyler, while Renee Simon and Michael Stugrin’s 130-page Music Looks Forward—The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra: 1934-2009 documents the first 75 years of that orchestra’s existence, also punctuated by a wide array of black-and-white photos. Imagery was important to Wagner, who according to Nicholas Vazsonyi in Richard Wagner: SelfPromotion and the Making of a Brand (Cambridge University Press, 222 pages) used a variety of means to paint himself as the true successor to Beethoven. James M. Keller’s Chamber Music: A Listener’s Guide (Oxford University Press, 494 pages, $39.95) should prove indispensable to fans, academics, and chamber musicians alike, with essays on 192 works by 56 composers. For a focused perspective on one of the greatest, Roye E. Wates’s Mozart: An Introduction to the Music, the Man, and the Myths (Amadeus Press, 336 pages, $24.99) seeks to debunk the legends and reveal the truth about the man and his art. Delving into some lesser-known music, Walter Simmons’s Voices of Stone and Steel: The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mann (Rowman & Littlefield, 424 pages, $69.95, CD included) illuminates the expressiveness and individuality of three modern composers with close connections to The Juilliard School and Lincoln Center.
Margot Ingoldsby Schulman
National Symphony Orchestra violinist Glenn Donnellan and his wife, violinist Jan Chong, work with a young cellist and violinist.
Learning Curves Music education and accessibility are the focus of major new programs unveiled this spring. New York’s Carnegie Hall and Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music announced the new Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program, a national system offering a sequential course of study for music students in the U.S. from beginner through advanced levels, modeled on the RCM Examination program established by the Royal Conservatory in 1886. In Washington, D.C., the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, following a $10 million donation from Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. A major component of the program expands efforts to make the arts accessible to children, young adults, and people with limited ability to attend performing arts events. The Millennials Project will broaden programming and reformat concert presentations for audience members aged 18 to 30; the new MY-TIX initiative will provide access to performances to young people and members of the armed services, among other underserved groups; and new programs will be added for teachers and K-12 students that bring arts into classrooms.
Look for: SymphonyNOW Symphony has been reporting on orchestras practically since the League’s founding some 70 years ago, and the magazine has racked up a mantelful of awards for writing and design. But in an era when expectations for constant updates and new media for delivering them are changing, many fast-moving stories simply can’t be covered in a publication with a long lead time. This spring, we launch SymphonyNOW, a new, online-only publication. SymphonyNOW provides timely, topical reporting about orchestras; the articles are short, quick takes on events, personalities, and current developments rather than the bigger, survey-type stories or analysis in Symphony. Content is updated weekly. In addition to original reporting, look for videos, audio interviews, photos, social networking components, and other widgets. Advertising makes the products and services you need just a click away. And SymphonyNOW features an interactive section where you can have your say in lively discussions. In order to provide this new benefit, we will no longer offer the two online-only issues of Symphony. We will continue to publish the four printed and online issues of Symphony, which will come out in winter, spring, summer, and fall. Here’s how things will happen: The Hub’s Media View, Industry Buzz, Who’s In, and Help Yourself columns will continue to be updated daily; SymphonyNOW content will be refreshed weekly; and Symphony will be published quarterly. Check out SymphonyNOW. symphony
Talk to Us Symphony is the magazine of the League of American Orchestras, and the only publication that reports on the orchestra world regularly and in depth. Symphony goes to orchestras, organizations, and business members of the League. If you’re on the board of directors of an orchestra that is a League member, for example, you receive Symphony as a benefit of membership. It’s a great way to keep up with everything that’s happening in the orchestra field as well as with League programs and services. Visit americanorchestras. org for complete information about the League. If you have any questions, here’s how to get in touch. Advocacy • 202-776-0214 Development • 646-822-4066
New Composers at G. Schirmer/AMP Missy Mazzoli Terry Riley
The American Music Center and Meet The Composer, two national organizations that support new American music, have announced that they intend to merge into a single organization known as New Music USA. Based in New York City, New Music USA will focus on grantmaking and media, and will be headed by Ed Harsh, Meet The Composer’s current president. Joanne Hubbard Cossa, American Music Center’s president and CEO, had previously announced her intention to retire in December. The Minnesota-based American Composers Forum, headed by President and CEO John Neuchterlein, will take over AMC’s former membership services. AMC’s Counterstream Radio and online library will be folded into the NewMusicBox website, and New Music USA will continue to run all of AMC’s and MTC’s core programs.
download scores by these and other leading composers from digital.schirmer.com
Executive Office • 646-822-4062 Marketing & Membership Development • 646-822-4080 Learning and Leadership Development • 646-822-4091 Public Relations • 646-822-4077
Symphony Magazin 2011 June/July i G. Schirmer, Inc
Symphony • 646-822-4041 americanorchestras.org
In 1853, American composer William Henry Fry issued a bold call to his fellows and successors: “The American composer should not allow the name of Beethoven or Handel or Mozart to prove an eternal bugbear to him, nor should he pay them reverence; he should only reverence his Art, and strike out manfully and independently into untrodden realms.” Whether or not Fry’s target audience actually shunned the European masters, many American composers did strike out manfully into untrodden American musical realms. Luminaries like George Chadwick, Edward MacDowell, Arthur Farwell, Charles Ives, William Grant Still, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein incorporated elements of African American, Appalachian, and Native American music into their compositions in an attempt to develop a distinctly American strain of classical music. But the old European bugbear never stopped haunting the American scene. In 1941 – nearly 80 years after Fry’s death – Copland wrote, “Very often I get the impression that audiences seem to think that the endless repetition of a small body of entrenched masterworks is all that is required for a ripe musical culture. Needless to say, I have no quarrel with masterpieces. I think I revere and enjoy them as well as the next fellow. But when they are used, unwittingly perhaps, to stifle contemporary effort in our own country, then I am almost tempted to take the most extreme view and say that we should be better off without them!” Copland’s concern was with audiences, while Fry’s was with composers. But both men feared the same result: the stifling of contemporary efforts in American composition. I don’t need to recount the great works American composers have produced. I don’t need to describe the monumental impact they have had on classical, stage, and film music worldwide. But I do need to emphasize that American classical composers never found common cause, largely because too few of them were dedicated enough to harnessing the colors, textures, melodies, and rhythms of this country. A widespread affinity for musical structures and philosophies developed by Europeans, coupled with skepticism of the value of America’s own musical heritage, thwarted the establishment of an American classical idiom. ...The fiddle served as a gateway instrument between cultures. And so, fiddlers abounded in all geographic regions, on the plains, among the hills, on the streets, in saloons – and even in the chambers of the political elite. Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all fiddled, and a number of noteworthy politicians, recognizing the fiddle’s cultural appeal, won seats in government by campaigning with the instrument. As historian David Nicholls observes, “no other instrument [was] more important or more ubiquitous” in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American music than the fiddle. ...Some believed our music was highly qualified source material for a distinct school of American classical music. Jeannette Thurber, founder of New York’s National Conservatory, paid a Czech fellow named Antonín Dvořák $15,000 USD per year (at least $350,000 USD in 2010) to figure out how to “rescue American [classical] music from European parents.” Dvořák, who had employed the folk music of Moravia and Bohemia in his art music compositions, understood the gravity of his task. “The Americans expect great things of me,” he wrote to a Bohemian couple in 1892. “The main thing is, so they say, to show them to the promised land and kingdom of a new and independent art, in short, to create a national music.” Dvořák sojourned in America from 1892-1895, and during that time, he fell in love with our music. Particularly “Negro” and Native American songs. Songs that Dvořák categorized together because they sounded “practically identical” and shared underlying instrumentations. Songs that Dvořák deemed manifestations of a shared American musical experience. Among Dvořák’s favorites were the spirituals “Deep River,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “Goin’ Home,” whose peculiarly American melodies arched smoothly like the Appalachian foothills. These were songs that Americans, composing under the influence of German music, had largely overlooked. “I am now satisfied,” he told the New York Herald in 1893, “that the future music of this country must
be founded upon what are called the Negro melodies. This must be the real foundation of any serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States.” Subsequently, Dvořák composed one of the most monumental works in the history of Western music, Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.” Although structured like a traditional European symphony, “From the New World” nonetheless offered listeners a sonic glimpse into the undeveloped realm of American classical music. ...Another European giant, Maurice Ravel, concurred with Dvořák. For three months in 1928, Ravel toured North America, attending numerous performances of his own works by major orchestras and, in some cases, conducting them himself. He spent several days with George Gershwin in Harlem listening to jazz, which he had harnessed in his opera L’enfant et les sortileges (1920-25) and which he would thereafter employ in both of his piano concertos. In a highly publicized lecture at Rice University, he implored: “May this national American music of yours embody a great deal of the rich and diverting rhythm of your jazz, a great deal of the emotional expression in your blues, and a great deal of the sentiment and spirit characteristic of your popular melodies and songs, worthily deriving from, and in turn contributing to, a noble heritage in music.” Ravel was convinced that Americans would develop a school of American music as different from European music as Americans were themselves different from Europeans. Dvořák and Ravel thus offered American composers a “cure for the Teutonic virus.” ...I speculate that some composers eschewed jazz in part because so many modern European composers, like Béla Bartok, Darius Milhaud, Ravel, and Stravinsky, embraced it. Many other composers, notes Derek Bermel, “found the whole nature of jazz counterpoint, harmony, and technique to be intimidating.” Thus, Bermel explains, they “chose to forgo learning about it, closing the door to a rich world of possibilities.” Suffice it to say that these composers might not have forgone learning about jazz were it not for an unfortunate development in music pedagogy. Most nineteenth-century music professors were trained in Europe, and so they implemented a European curriculum that became the conservatory standard. After World War I, concertgoers in a democratizing public also chose Europe over America. Yet the European educative methods these academics imported were flawed. In attempting to churn out new Bachs, Mozarts, Beethovens, Brahmses, and Mendelssohns, they forgot an important fact: The European masters were not only brilliant composers – they were also adept performers. “Specialization” became the new paradigm in the classical music industry. Academics, record companies, arts management companies, and impresarios shoved a wedge in between composers and performers. For Europe, it did not matter too much. They already had centuries’ worth of masterworks to boast to the classical music world. We did not. Nevertheless, too many of our composers stopped learning how to perform. ...Who pushed the violin to new heights in expressivity and technique? Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Dvořák – all accomplished violinists/ violists – certainly did. Excerpts from the Mark O’Connor Manifesto. Read the entire document at www.markoconnor.com Author, composer and violinist Mark O’Connor premiered his first of a kind 9th concerto this year “The Improvised Violin Concerto.” His string symphony “Elevations” was premiered this year as well as a new orchestral overture “Olympic Reel.” His Americana Symphony was recorded by the Baltimore Symphony last year. To read about the ground breaking O’Connor String Method that both Strad Magazine and The New Yorker Magazine have described as an American “rival to Suzuki,” please visit www.markoconnor.com Mr. O’Connor is represented by Columbia Artists Management Inc. advertisement
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Brutal Truths Two orchestra veterans offer contrasting perspectives on how orchestras must confront the shifting cultural and economic landscape.
Few of us would contest that our field is facing unprecedented challenges that are generating an urgent need for change. Three years ago, when I was working with management guru Jim Collins on his presentation for the League’s National Conference in Denver, I asked him where innovation and change fit into his research and learning. He told me that the hardest thing about innovating was correctly diagnosing the problems. In a period like the current one, where everything seems to be up for grabs, he said that the important work is to identify the two or three changes that can really threaten your ability to carry out your mission. As I look at our field today, I see three critical “threats”: the sector-wide decline in attendance and change in consumers’ purchasing patterns; a diminishing share of philanthropy going to the performing arts; and new expectations from communities about the roles of their performing arts organizations. You may feel uncomfortable seeing these circumstances so plainly stated. But Collins also insists that we start with the “brutal truths.” Of course, you also are entitled and encouraged to disagree. We have devoted more than our usual feature space in this issue to the question of change. Two seasoned and thoughtful commentators—Bruce Coppock, a veteran orchestra manager, and Robert Levine, principal violist of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra—offer their views of what’s really changing around us and what must change inside our organizations. And they both eloquently stress the importance of getting the questions right, of engaging in civil dialogue, re-examining our roles in communities, and being clear about who is responsible for what. By running these articles in tandem, we hope to provide a forum for contrasting views that represent each writer’s distinct perspective. I invite you to share your reactions to these articles. Visit SymphonyOnline and click on the Discussions tab for this article to post your own opinions and ideas. —Jesse Rosen
Confronting a Changed World by Bruce Coppock
atching the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the big screen in a movie theater this March, I felt swept away by a literally largerthan-life experience. The programming was ingenious, camera shots innovative, sound sensational, the playing committed,
and Music Director Gustavo Dudamel’s generous presence utterly engaging. But in my view, the biggest triumph of the occasion was that the LA Phil and LA itself clearly celebrate each other. By reflecting its multi-cultural milieu on stage, and by programming in a way
by Jesse Rosen
Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras
that takes advantage of its indigenous surroundings, the LA Phil creatively expresses its identity. The LAPhil shines out as an inspiration in challenging times. But wait, I can already hear the “yes, buts…” That’s the refrain of our industry. Though retired from the orchestra field since 2008, I have not been a complete bystander; transparency demands stating my role as a program planning consultant to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s professional leadership before, during, and after their protracted strike. My speech at the DSO’s annual meeting last December generated vilification from some, was termed utopian nonsense by others, and considered praiseworthy in some quarters. No matter; I stand by the speech, which was my personal vision of a future DSO and emphatically not a “plan.” Several people, however, challenged me to take a more incisive look at the issues. Today’s world impels us to develop clear philosophical and conceptual frameworks for the future. Doing so requires lots of soul-searching, reading, and reflection, so I’ve reviewed the discourse on orchestras over 40 years: back issues of Senza Sordino, Harmony, and Symphony, voluminous League of American Orchestras and foundation reports, endless articles, speeches, and blogs. What is most striking is how little the discourse has symphony
changed. How boring. And suicidal. Who can afford not to change the conversation over time, let alone the approaches taken? Failure to do so in any endeavor merely reinforces Einstein’s fabled definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Here are some reflections. Philosophy versus Ideology Perhaps it would be useful to consider a key distinction. A philosophy demands that facts inform the outcome; an ideology demands that the facts be altered to guarantee a certain outcome. If you have a philosophy, it generally pushes you in a certain direction or another. But like all philosophers, you want to engage in discussion and argument. You are open to evidence, to new learning. And you are certainly open to debate the practical applications of your philosophy. The problem with ideology is if you got an ideology, you already got your mind made up, you know all the answers, and that makes evidence irrelevant and argument a waste of time, so you tend to govern by assertion and attack. The problem with that is that discourages thinking and gives you bad results. —Bill Clinton
Philosophy seems a surer path in the long run. Community Value The recent LA Phil experience reinforced the idea that successful cultural institutions and the cities that support them must be inextricably interwoven. Indeed, many communities find themselves questioning the relevance of the classic measures of success: tours, recordings, great downtown concert halls, 52-week seasons. Perhaps these are not measures, but rather outcomes emanating from the exchange of high-quality public value for robust community support. Isn’t an orchestra sustainable only if and because it has built deep community connections? If so, playing good concerts seems a necessary but insufficient prerequisite for thriving. Community value, hotly debated for at least 25 years, especially at the bargaining table, has come to the fore. Difficult economic times sharply etch the fault lines within orchestras as well as those Continued on page 26 americanorchestras.org
Change, Sustainability, and First Principles by Robert Levine “Det er svært at spå, især om fremtiden (Predictions are hard to make—especially about the future).” —Storm P. (pseudonym of Danish writer and humorist Robert Storm Petersen)
ruce Coppock’s article is a challenge to our field that demands both thought and response. There is much that he writes with which I agree wholeheartedly. In particular, I agree with his emphasis on process. Dealing with the problems we face in the orchestra world will require patience and humility, attitudes on which he places great value. Perhaps the most useful response I can make is to try to distill some first principles from his ideas and analyses while pointing out those assertions he makes with which I disagree. I was struck by a certain prophetic tone to his article; in particular, the fear that his warnings are too late. It’s a rational fear; unlike the Old Testament prophets, we live in an era that has proven time and again that change can come too fast for anyone to handle. So the first principle I take from Bruce is: The first step in dealing with change is accepting it’s going to happen. The second is figuring it what change is “cause” and what is “consequence.” Change, like icebergs, mostly happens where we’re not looking. His closing quote from Howell Raines is a perfect example. Raines was right that The New York Times was—and is—facing an existential crisis. But the threat to the “longterm viability” of the newspaper business was not because newspapers weren’t good enough journalistically. It was from the destruction of their financial model by the internet—something totally overlooked by newspaper managers while they were busy revamping their formats and buying TV stations and other newspapers. In retrospect, it seems obvious that, as soon as academics using the internet’s precursor, the ARPANET, began selling
things on Usenet groups, the major source of financial support for newspapers—advertising revenue—was doomed. But by the time newspapers stopped denying that the internet would be fast enough, or easy enough to use, or populated by enough entrepreneurial geeks, the economic foundations of a centuries-old industry had already been washed away. What’s the change that orchestras haven’t noticed that’s going to kill us if we don’t figure it out? The key one, in my view, is that we’ve gone from being institutions that need some contributed income to make up a small gap between ticket sales and expenses to being institutions that need some ticket income to pay those expenses that aren’t covered by fundraising. We have gone from plugging a revenue hole with the contributions of a few patrons who love orchestras and live orchestral music to needing broad-based tax-favored community support simply to keep our doors open. And we’ve done so largely without understanding that we now have a far wider range of people to convince that we deserve to exist. If anything, orchestras have done the opposite: we’ve focused on maximizing earned revenue to the exclusion of any concern about what a for-profit enterprise would call “market share” and what we should call “community value.” If there’s a “broken model” at the heart of our problems, it’s this—not that we play the music of the past, or that musicians in some orchestras can make a middle-class living from being orchestra musicians, or that we dress up like Victorian butlers and don’t have the stage presence of Lady Gaga. It’s that we’ve come to depend on a broad base of community support and goodwill to fund a very narrow mission. Which leads to the second principle that I take from Bruce: Orchestras exist to serve their communities. Giving great subscription concerts is part—but only part—of that. The difficulty with this principle—and Continued on page 27
between orchestras and their communities. A financial crisis raises fundamental questions about orchestras’ community role and tests the nature and importance of the public-value transaction between orchestra and community. Community engagement, which orchestras have addressed only minimally, now demands full attention in myriad ways. It is probably true that four or five big orchestras now functioning comparatively well in the traditional operating model can continue successfully, structured more or less as they are now, bolstered either by large endowments or highly successful commercial enterprises, or both. It may also be that their well-being derives primarily from the rich musical ecologies of their cities. Cities with multiple universities, conservatories, music schools, community orchestras, major medical, technology, and science centers, dense populations, and active urban cores are
breeding grounds for classical-music audiences. Perhaps an orchestra’s success lies more in its community’s key characteristics than in those of its season, pay scale, orchestra size, and number of tours and recordings. This idea was reinforced by a prominent foundation leader, who recently suggested that orchestras charting their futures might make better use of community benchmarks than comparative data from other orchestras. A provocative concept. Civil Discourse However much discussion and argument a philosophy may require to reach a new way of doing things, there is just no room for strident, venomous attacks on individuals or groups of people, all of whose participation is essential to a better future. Ending organizational dysfunction and mendacity is not work to be done around the edges; it is at the core of the
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Rehearsal (det) by Paul Arnold, Kendal resident and Oberlin College Professor Emeritus.
work. More time spent examining what management expert Jim Collins calls the “brutal truths,” and less in the energy-sink of ideological acrimony, would truly help. I wish to emphasize that this is not merely addressed to orchestra musicians: vitriolic and confrontational tactics from anyone contribute to toxic cultures. As much as artistic excellence, civil discourse is an essential building block for the future. “The wound caused by a sword can eventually be healed; the hurt resulted from vicious remarks can never be undone.” —Chinese (and about 37 other cultures’) proverb Look Forward, Not Backward Orchestras need to embrace the future, not the past. There’s a dynamic world of classical music out there, and it’s happening all around. Orchestras should consider what non-orchestral organizations are doing, for there is much to learn from such wide-ranging groups as eighth blackbird, A Far Cry, Bang on a Can, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Knights, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Tafelmusik, and oodles of others. They’ve captured people’s imaginations on the Web, in clubs and small venues, as well as in major concert halls. The early adopters are getting the proverbial worms as many American orchestras argue about nonexistent media revenue and outmoded, non-fundamental constructs. Orchestras change glacially. Transformational change, if not intervention, beckons. Seek Authenticity It’s baffling that America’s richly diverse cities produce orchestral institutions that look and feel so similar to each other. Cities vary greatly in the balance and density of their makeup. If you want a graphic demonstration of just how different our cities are, spend an hour wandering around this census-based website at The New York Times: http://projects.nytimes. com/census/2010/explorer. It might inform the vision for your orchestra. Continued on page 28
it’s a huge difficulty at this point—is that we have absolutely no shared understanding of what “serving the community” could mean, aside from what we already do. Many orchestras have small programs that could be considered baby steps toward a community-service mission—generally in the education area—but, as an industry, we have brought very little money, time, or thought to what “serving the community” would look like in practice instead of simply words in a mission statement. I disagree with Bruce, however, when he writes that community engagement has been “hotly debated for at least 25 years, especially at the bargaining table.” In most orchestras, it’s barely been discussed. The very assumption he makes that community engagement is something that orchestras don’t already have the “flexibility” to do is, at best, untested. A few years ago my orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, was on tour in northern Wisconsin shortly after six teenagers were murdered in a mass shooting in the small town of Crandon. We were 50 miles away and we had a night off. Why didn’t it occur to anyone—staff, board, or musicians—that we could have done something remarkable by going to Crandon and playing a memorial concert? But no one thought of it. I doubt that more than a handful of American orchestras, or managers, or board members, or musicians, would have thought of it. What does that say about the depth of our belief in community engagement? What I see instead is that things that look like the beginnings of community engagement are the first that get cut from our budgets when times are tough. And they get cut by boards and managements, not musicians. Last season we did a holiday concert for families with children with autism and Down’s syndrome as part of what we called our “Hometown Holiday Tour.” Kids with major developmental disabilities were literally dancing in the aisles. Some of their parents were in tears to see their kids moved by live performance. This season, that week got cut because of lack of funding and a looming deficit, even though the americanorchestras.org
major expense—musicians’ salaries—was paid as required by the collective bargaining agreement. Most people running American orchestras would have made the same call: why absorb the marginal costs of putting on those concerts with no offsetting revenue when money was tight simply on the basis that they were “community engagement”? Entertainment companies don’t act that way—but community service agencies do it every day. Getting community engagement right will involve orchestras rethinking themselves top-to-bottom as cultural service agencies rather than high-end entertainment companies. I see no constituency in our business that has truly wrestled with how that will change orchestras. Instead, we load up the concept of community engagement either with our fears (in the case of musicians) or with our agendas (in the case of boards and staffs). Neither is a substitute for thought, analysis, honesty,
and a proper humility in the face of a very complex world. “Beseech you—in the bowels of Christ— think it possible you may be mistaken.” —Oliver Cromwell Which leads to the third principle I take from Bruce: We don’t have the answers. We often don’t even know the right questions. What we have are agendas, which are a truly lousy substitute for both. Bruce writes at length about the success of musicians in bargaining economic improvements over the years. I think he overstates the disparity between musicians’ ability to negotiate collectively and that of managers and staffs (a disparity that most musicians believe overwhelmingly favors management, by the way). He is, however absolutely right that musicians have focused tightly on traditional labor issues. But the reason that musicians Continued on page 29
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Jointly Owned and Selflessly Led Be Of and About Your Community Our current structures leave our organiBe responsive and responsible to your zations ownerless. Board chairmen and community. Understand your community members serving short terms are inherrole and be the guarantee of a musical ently more motivated not to confront ecology. If your community is not an audiEmbrace the Hazards of Innovation metaphorical rotting foundations than ence-development petri dish, rebalance Thriving organizations—and people— they are to jack up the whole house to your portfolio. If rehearsals and concerts embrace innovation, are grounded fix it. It takes guts for volunteers to lay were equities, and education and comenough to know what is important to their community standing on the line, munity engagement activities bonds, most preserve, and intrepid enough to risk especially when they can already see the orchestras are at 95 percent or higher failure. They learn from new informanext board chair waiting for the handoff. equities. A balance of 60-40 sounds a lot tion and insights—inspiration for still It’s more comfortable just to walk away. better to me. As an example, why were other questions and the springboard for Boards decide what’s important and need two-thirds of the tickets for the Toledo ideas. If more energy were spent thinkto exert far greater ownership by making Symphony Orchestra’s Spring for Music ing creatively about really challenging longer and deeper commitments. So, too, appearance this May at Carnegie Hall questions, rather than denouncing and managers, who sometimes choose to avoid bought by people from Toledo? Perhaps impugning those who ask them, perthe extreme personal and professional disit’s that of 438 musical events the TSO haps a few orchestras in trouble today comforts institutional leadership demand. produced last year, only 18 were classical might be better off. Celebrating the Together, they are the homeowners who subscription concerts in “the hall.” And its innovators, fresh thinkers, and those must decide either to fix the foundation or musicians are deeply embedded throughwho challenge us makes it possible to not, thereby choosing whether to leave the out the organization. Now there is a proturn away from cynicism. Why not house exposed to destruction. found connection between an orchestra replace toxicity with greater curiosity JCARTER SYMPHONY 3 ARTSISTS 4/14/11 1:03 PM Page 1 I am a strong believer in the necesand its community. and generosity of spirit?MAG -word layout_DOWNBEAT “You have to be unique, and diffrent [sic], and shine in your own way.” —Lady Gaga
Continued on page 30
were successful in pushing an economic agenda for so many years is mostly because improving the lot of musicians became widely viewed by boards and staffs as part of the answer to a critical question: how orchestras could sound better. We’ve succeeded so well in answering that question that we’ve forgotten that we ever had to ask it, as a quick listen to any orchestra recording from the first half of the 20th century will show. Whether or not that has also, as Bruce puts it, “eroded authenticity, musical engagement, and community connectedness,” is, at the end of the day, in the eye of the beholder. Musicians’ agendas and interests are not hidden. But every constituency in every orchestra has agendas and interests. Those of conductors are more obvious than those of boards. Those of a good board are different from those of a weak board. Staffs have different agendas from all of the above. And donors have agendas that are all over the map. The problem is not the existence of agendas per se; the problem is that, just as proposals in traditional bargaining can prevent the parties’ real interests from being discussed, agendas can crowd out real questions leading, with all due humility, to real attempts at answers. Agendas are based on certainty. Answers that might succeed at addressing real problems always start with mutually acknowledged uncertainty. Obviously, agendas can be advanced in honest attempts to arrive at answers. But it’s critical that the distinction be made, and that agendas are neither dismissed as counterproductive by those holding different agendas nor dressed up as disinterested solutions. Should “authenticity, musical engagement, and community connectedness” have been a concern of musicians? It’s tempting to think so. But the structure of American orchestras, and American labor law, is such that musicians likely would not have had much success advancing those concepts. The responsibility for doing so lies with those who really do run orchestras, and that’s not the musicians. Which leads to the fourth, and most important, principle that can be gleaned
from Bruce’s article: Governance matters more than anything else. There has been much emphasis on governance issues in the past decade, most of which, in my view, has been both misguided and unhelpful. In a laudable effort to bring musicians’ voices into the discussion of critical issues for individual orchestras, a great deal of money and time has been spent discussing the formal role of musicians in governance. But none of that has changed, can change, or will change the basic structure of American orchestras, which is that they are nonprofit entities governed by volunteer community trustees. The orchestras that embrace that reality, and design their decisions and internal work around that as a first principle, can succeed. “Sustainability” and “an effective board” are functionally equivalent terms. So are “failure” and “a weak board.” Of course, one hallmark of a good orchestra board is the understanding that artistic concerns—which are similar to but not synonymous with the concerns of the artists employed by the orchestra—are at the heart of an orchestra’s business. But it’s not the only hallmark. Being on the board of the League of American Orchestras for the past three years has taught me a great deal, most of all that I still don’t understand much of what goes into making a board work well. I suspect my ignorance is shared by a fair number of orchestra trustees throughout our business; it’s certainly shared by most musicians. This should be no surprise; until recently, nonprofit governance was treated as more art than science, and suffered greatly from any systemization of good practice. The understanding and dissemination of good governance practice is improving rapidly, thanks in part to the League’s work in this area. Most orchestra boards are not improving their understanding of their jobs as quickly. While some orchestras have far more effective boards than they had ten or twenty years ago, most orchestras that had good boards back then have them now— and most that didn’t still don’t. The final point I take from Bruce’s Continued on page 31
sity for unions. But I believe we are soon reaching a flexion point between national rhetoric and local imperatives, similar to those that led to musicians bargaining for themselves and the creation of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) 50 years ago. The divergence between national rhetoric and local imperatives is so stark that perhaps musicians might more effectively serve their own collective interests by assuming direct ownership and control over their futures. I have nothing but admiration for the skill and tenacity with which ICSOM has so effectively helped musicians (and sometimes their managers) out-negotiate boards for the past 50 years, but is it proving to be a pyrrhic set of victories? Perhaps the force of the bargaining has eroded authenticity, musical engagement, and community connectedness. Musicians’ superior negotiation and communication skills, in comparison with their local orchestra managements and boards, have surely increased pay and benefits, but has contributed mightily to yawning gaps between fixed costs and annual revenues. It has diverted energy and spirit away from the core purpose of serving communities with music. Three Ownership Issues First, individuals throughout the field— the union leaders, ICSOM chairmen, orchestra musicians, conductors, managers, and board leaders I have talked to—readily admit the cost structures of professional orchestras are unsustainable. This begs the question of why musicians shouldn’t assert greater ownership of their long-term interests by discouraging boards and managements from signing on for unaffordable propositions. No constituency has a greater vested interest in the long-term financial health of their orchestra. Here I must express my unrelenting admiration, inflammatory rhetoric notwithstanding, for the energy, imagination, commitment, and resourcefulness of the Detroit Symphony musicians during their strike. They demonstrated true creativity and flexibility under exceedingly difficult circumstances, and are a beautiful example of ownership
in action. Imagine what could happen if all of that good energy could be brought into the workplace. Second, as understandable as it is for musicians to ask for as much as they dare, it’s irresponsible for those with fiduciary responsibility for the organization to say yes to unaffordable propositions. Third, music directors, executive directors, and senior staff have a special ownership responsibility. This means having only their own orchestra’s best interests at heart, not worrying if you are the nice doctor, and demonstrating more ambition for their organizations than for themselves. Only those who have no intention of being there when the roof caves in don’t do what it takes to fix structural problems in their houses. Patient, Responsive, and Disciplined We live in a culture of instant gratification. That’s not the way long-term relationships develop. Unless an orchestra can organize itself around longer pipelines of engagement, it will be stuck. This applies as powerfully to internal relationships as it does to artistic growth, audience development, philanthropy, and community partnerships. It requires empathy, patience, and discipline. And it requires honest conversations on all fronts. Orchestras tend to be highly reactive places, constantly challenged to distinguish between brushfires that will die out naturally and forest fires that will consume them. Intense demands in the here and now—a conductor or guest artist demanding something extraneous, a petty grievance, a board member obsessed with minutiae—consume valuable energy that should be focused on better concerts, stronger community connections, and building patron relationships. Orchestras need to do a better job distinguishing between what is urgent and what is important, and focusing on what’s important. Artistically Vibrant Great art happens because artists do what they demand of themselves and what great art demands of them. Great artists drive themselves toward excellence, never
assuming they have reached it. Great art doesn’t happen because the rules and conventions of the time permit it; it doesn’t happen because there’s a lot of money. Rather, it’s the other way around. Great art happens because truly great artists are humble before the task, and strive and agonize until it’s right. They are fiercely disciplined and endlessly curious. Everyone in orchestral organizations must aspire to be great artists. Artistic fires must burn in the collective belly. I have to wonder what orchestras would be like if this paragraph described them accurately. Closing Thought I’d like to share this from Howell Raines, former executive editor of The New York Times, who in 2003 paid with his head because he had the audacity to suggest that the Times’s future was far from certain. It’s a powerful cautionary tale, and I recommend reading it, replacing the words “New York Times” with the name of your orchestra. Let’s not forget that if you can be induced to read a newspaper—whatever its medium—it still has to be a compelling read. And yet a harsh reality of our era is that if the Times ever ceased to exist, it would not be reinvented by any media company now in operation, in this country or in the world. A harsher reality is that its ability to prosper in the modern media marketplace is not at all assured. We believed that the paper’s long-term viability required significant improvements in the quality of its journalism … A quiet but intense factional war was going on within the Times, between the senior editors who endorsed these improvements and traditionalists on the newsroom floor and among mid-level managers. The latter group wanted the paper to stay the way it was and took as an insult the animating idea behind our strategy: the idea that ‘the world’s greatest newspaper’ is not nearly as good as it could be and ought to be.
BRUCE COPPOCK was president and managing director of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 1999 until his retirement in 2008. Prior to that he served as director of the League’s Orchestra Leadership Academy, as deputy director at Carnegie Hall, and as executive director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. For twenty years prior to 1990 he was a professional cellist.
writing is one that I must address primarily to my musician colleagues. Orchestras are not, and should not be, run primarily for the benefit of musicians. But musicians benefit the most from orchestras succeeding. The economic improvements and job security that musicians have won at the bargaining table over the years only materialized because orchestras were generally successful at doing what they needed to do economically. It is understandable that musicians are skeptical of the need for “change.” We are intimately connected with a long and continuous tradition of greatness. My first teacher studied with the violinist for whom Tchaikovsky wrote his concerto. I have a friend who was mentored by someone who played chamber music for Brahms. Multiply these connections by several thousand times and you begin to understand why musicians aren’t anxious to jump on the next train bound for New Modelopolis.
But musicians will hold on to the economic achievements of the past four decades only if orchestras continue to be successful economically. This indisputable truth mandates that musicians get out of the defensive crouch that sometimes ill-informed talk by boards and managements of “new models” and “community engagement” has created. There is going to be dramatic change in our field in this century, likely as dramatic as over the past 100 years. Musicians’ only chance to have that change not be to their detriment is to actively participate in designing how orchestras change. And they won’t be active participants if they only react to management and board proposals; such proposals are most likely to come when an orchestra is already in trouble, which is far too late. Trying to influence how an orchestra will adapt at that point is like trying to board an airplane that’s already halfway down the runway: it’s a
rieko aizawa piano
misha dichter Contact Marianne Sciolino 212-721-9975 www.samnyc.us email@example.com SAM works closely with presenters, orchestras, and festivals to deliver excellent musicianship that meets their programming and budgetary needs.
elena urioste violin
juan miguel hernandez viola
great way to get run over. It would be a tragedy for the art form we love if my generation was the last that could make a decent living as orchestral musicians. The loss would be the greatest for those in orchestras who still have most of their career ahead of them. Musicians don’t run American orchestras. But the collective bargaining process does give us real power to affect how orchestras will adapt to change. It’s our choice whether or not to use that power to make change work for us or simply to be speed bumps for those whose first concern is not the welfare of musicians. ROBERT LEVINE is principal violist of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, chairman emeritus of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, president of Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and a board member of the League of American Orchestras.
misha & cipa dichter piano duo
duo prism – jesse mills & rieko aizawa violin-piano duo
elena urioste & juan miguel hernandez violin-viola duo
harlem quartet string quartet
carter brey with harlem quartet string quintet
misha dichter with harlem quartet piano quintet
Music Director & Conductor, Delaware Symphony Orchestra
piotr gajewski Music Director & Conductor, National Philharmonic
The Campaign for a New Direction is the League of American Orchestras’ $25 million, five-year, comprehensive campaign to fund critical programs and services identified in the League’s Strategic Plan. Since its inception, the Campaign has raised $24 million—over 96% of the Campaign goal.
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Help us complete the Campaign! Add your name to this list of supporters by contacting Robin J. Roy, vice president for development, at 646 822 4009 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All of us at the League of American Orchestras are deeply grateful to the following visionaries for their generous Campaign support: Christopher Seton Abele, on behalf of the Argosy Foundation Douglas W. Adams W. Randolph Adams Nancy & Ellsworth Alvord, Jr., M.D. Alberta Arthurs Brent & Jan Assink Audrey G. Baird Karen Baker Elena Bales & Steven Bronfenbrenner Allison Ball Jennifer B. Barlament Lisa & Miles Barr Cecilia Benner Marie-Hélène Bernard Andrew Berryhill & Melinda Appold William P. Blair III Nancy Blaugrund Richard J. Bogomolny David Bohnett Fred & Liz Bronstein Steven R. Brosvik Dr. & Mrs. Malcolm Brown Mr. & Mrs. Thomas M. Brown Wayne S. Brown & Brenda E. Kee Trish Bryan Michelle Miller Burns & Gary W. Burns Frank Byrne Catherine M. Cahill Andrew K. Cahoon & Erin R. Freeman John & Janet Canning Katherine Carleton Nicky B. Carpenter Judy Christl Richard & Kay Fredericks Cisek Katy Clark Melanie Clarke Bruce & Martha Clinton, on behalf of The Clinton Family Fund Robert Conrad Bruce Coppock Marion Couch Julie F. & Peter D. Cummings Gloria dePasquale Amy & Trey Devey Mr. & Mrs. Richard M. DeVos, on behalf of The Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation Lisa Dixon Samuel C. Dixon James R. Dodd Bret Dorhout Heidi Droegemueller Darlene A. Dreyer Emma E. Dunch & Elizabeth W. Scott Patricia C. Dunn Lois Robinson Duplantier D.M. Edwards Jack W. Eugster
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As part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Citizen Musician Initiative, the Chicago Children’s Choir performed at the city’s Millennium Station in January 2011.
Bridging the by Rebecca Winzenried
More and more, the work of American orchestras extends beyond the concert hall and into the community, where partnerships are formed and lasting relationships forged. Like good neighbors anywhere, orchestras can motivate others to action, nurture a sense of shared experience, effect change, and spur discussion. Four examples from Chicago, Baltimore, Minnesota, and Miami Beach demonstrate how creative thinking about the music—and more—can open doors. Sometimes it starts with a single, provocative thought. 34
What exactly is a citizen musician? The answer is at once simple and complex. And the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has opened a portal into exploration of the possibilities, via its new Citizen Musician Initiative. Launched in January, the initiative is not so much a program or system as a concept—a way to spread the idea that everyone is a potential citizen of music who can be involved in some way, big or small. Chicago native Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and a participant in the Citizen Musician Initiative, offers a familiar example. “So many people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I used to play the clarinet.’ Well if you used to, that means you’re a musician, pretty much. It’s bridging that gap, making that connection with one another,” he says, regardless of the category of music any one individual enjoys. McGill took part in a series of events across Chicago for the Citizen Musician Initiative kickoff on January 29, including a rehearsal of the public schools’ All-City Ensemble, where he joined in a “Thriller”
jam. The day’s most visible events involved Yo-Yo Ma, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Judson and Joyce Creative Consultant and all-around musical pied piper. The cellist turned up at a downtown commuter rail station for a flash-mob performance with the Chicago Children’s Choir, after starting the day with a visit to Children’s Memorial Hospital, chatting with patients who called in to a broadcast on the hospital’s closedcircuit Skylight TV network. Skylight producer Rene Roy got a taste of spontaneous musical energy when he told Ma and singers Elizabeth Gray and Sarah Ponder that the network’s most-requested song was Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. “They actually jammed in the green room to see what it would sound like. I had to interrupt them to say, ‘Guys, we have a show to do, let’s go,’ ” Roy says. “It was just infectious. It’s ironic, but it’s the best kind of infection you could ever hope for.” The experience brought home to Roy that classical music isn’t just about a bunch of accomplished musicians onstage and the people who buy a ticket to come listen. “This is
about the human experience, and that’s what Yo-Yo Ma and friends did in their hospital visit,” he says. Roy made sure to pass the broadcast video along to an intensive-care physician who plays French horn and prefers to talk music, not shop, when he’s on duty. Roy also began a series of conversations with CSO Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu about regular chamber ensemble visits, as possible continuing events under the Citizen Musician Initiative. That CSO members might pay a visit to sick children, or to the doctors and nurses who cared for Music Director Riccardo Muti during his recent hospitalization, doesn’t come as news to musicians who find it natural to pay respects or acknowledge a kindness with a performance. “We all kind of know what it is,” McGill says of the citizen musician idea, “but for the first time it was something that could be an ongoing initiative.” He’s become more aware of dedicating time for the kind of pay-it-forward moments that gave him a boost as a budding musician. “I was embraced as a citizen of this community before I knew what a
Two members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids music program rehearse for a March 29, 2011 performance with the BSO.
Chicago Music Initiative
Children’s Memorial Hospital
pinpoints where participants are located. A couple of months into the initiative, most were still grouped around Chicago, but it’s easy to visualize how the tentacles could spread outward. It has to grow organically, says McGill. “Oftentimes people try to force things to happen.” For true impact on the citizen level, he says, there has to be a sea change in thinking about music participation. “Thoughts create action and creative ideas and teamwork with all the different organizations out there.” The Citizen Musician Initiative is unusual in that it originates with the CSO, building on Muti’s vision to further deepen the orchestra’s connecYo-Yo Ma performs for a young patient at tions to the city and comChildren’s Memorial Hospital as part of the munity partners, yet is not Citizen Musicians Initiative in Chicago. a program of the orchestra. The website is distinct from the orchestra’s, although it is accescitizen musician was, and I was a kid from sible through the main CSO site; content the South Side, not necessarily thought of is generated by users, much like any other as a part of the music community in certain social network. The CSO anticipates that it circles,” McGill recalls. “But this is the comwill facilitate Citizen Musician activities and munity that accepted me and pushed me that its musicians will initiate some, but it forward.” does not plan to present them as orchestra Still, a concept can be difficult to pin events per se. “It’s easy to say we do educadown; random acts of kindness or culture tion and community programs. People uncan be hard to capture. The Citizen Muderstand that,” says Rutter. “But what we’re sician Initiative’s most visible commodity trying to say is, let’s honor and celebrate may be a website set up to act something what musicians, individually and collectively, like a social network, inviting participants give back to our community. It’s a different to post information about themselves, discussion around the same value.” their connections to music, and stories of Indeed, the Citizen Musician Initiative citizen musician encounters. “Tell us the is a very different idea for orchestras—an story, because there are so many wonderopen-ended concept that is inherently limful stories,” says CSO President Deborah itless, and potentially global in nature. And Rutter. Some, like events involving Yoit’s a very different approach for any orgaYo-Ma, attract media attention. But many nization that is used to setting goals and small and equally affecting daily moments markers for success. “We’ve all seen so many never do, like one CSO staffer’s on-theprograms, I call them the measurable: Here spot decision to pull an orchestra CD out are their test scores, they’ve done this or of her car player and give it to a neighbor achieved that,” says Yo-Yo Ma. “The basic who happened to remark on how beautiful point of music is that it addresses our inner the music sounded. lives. We can’t measure our inner lives.” That, A map on the Citizen Musician website
he says, is where passion, commitment, and caring lie, and where we find meaning in our pursuits. Ma adds that the Citizen Musician Initiative is not a single idea that can be applied across the board, but that it should take shape with the needs and interests of specific communities. And activities don’t have to be large-scale. What if I stop to pick up a piece of garbage on the street? Ma wonders. What might that one gesture start? OrchKids
The bell rings at 3:30 p.m., signaling the end of another school day at Lockerman Bundy Elementary, a public school in West Baltimore. But instead of bursting out the front door, a swarm of about 120 students descends on the cafeteria. There, a nutritious meal fuels them for the next phase of their afternoon: music study, homework assistance, and mentoring under the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program. OrchKids has been operating in this corner of Baltimore for three years, expanding recently to a second location at the New Song Academy, a charter school. The school buildings themselves are bright patches in an area of overwhelming blight: the rare well-kept facilities on blocks lined with boarded-up homes and abandoned community centers, broken sidewalks, and crumbling businesses. To walk down the sparsely populated streets is to get a vivid sense of how unsafe it can be for kids to hang out after school with no real place to go. So when OrchKids staffers noticed a young boy walking past Lockerman Bundy, carrying his trumpet, they invited him in. He wasn’t a student at the school, but they introduced him to the OrchKids program and invited him to join. Two days later, he was one of the kids in the cafeteria, trumpet case in hand. Participation in OrchKids is free, and around 220 students from kindergarten up can now spend sixteen hours a week learning the fundamentals of music, singing in chorus, and taking part in group and ensemble lessons. The youngest play in the Bucket Band, which uses buckets—the kind that come from a hardware store—to learn about drumming, and have the opportunity to explore various instruments before choosing one of their own when they reach second grade. Instruments are donated. While based on principles of El Sistema, symphony
the Venezuelan national program that is revolutionizing approaches to music education, OrchKids takes a more holistic approach. Music is at the core of OrchKids, says Director of Artistic Program Development Dan Trahey. But the program aims to help students realize their full potential as healthy, well-educated, well-rounded citizens and community members, in a neighborhood where unemployment and poverty are rampant. Hence the emphasis on routines such as providing substantial meals—like a brown bag of tuna salad on pita, carrot sticks, and fruit—for every kid every day. Music during the three-hour daily after-school program is interspersed with homework sessions supervised by volunteer tutors. Small lessons in personal responsibility and confidence-building are ongoing; students introduce themselves to a visitor with a handshake and a look in the eye, offering a tidbit about the instrument they play. Older OrchKids students take charge of ushering their younger counterparts and helping them with music practice; younger OrchKids look up to the skills older kids have acquired, and strive to be like them. It’s the kind of mentoring that used to happen naturally in communities, and is part of a long-term, self-sustaining program goal. “I won’t be here in fifteen years,” says Trahey, who has been with OrchKids from the beginning. “But hopefully some of these kids will have come back to keep this going.”
OrchKids participants are also taken on trips around Baltimore, from museums to sporting events, and have a chance to work with musicians from the BSO and partner organizations like the Lyric Opera House. The activities are meant to help widen their point of view, enabling them to see the possibilities in their lives and their role in the larger community. That’s exactly what BSO Music Director Marin Alsop had in mind when she provided $100,000 in seed money from her 2005 MacArthur Foundation grant to get OrchKids off the ground, as a four-to-one matching challenge. Subsequent funding, including $1 million from Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, has helped build the program. Alsop remains closely involved with program details and mentoring, watching students attain a level of poise as they reach toward new goals. She recalls an OrchKids rehearsal when one girl lingered near the podium. Alsop welcomed her up and showed her how to handle the baton. “She was so capable, right away. . . ‘Ok, now I have this, and now I want more.’ I love that,” Alsop says. “You see the natural leadership in some kids brought to the fore. You see all these personalities kind of settling in and challenging themselves. It’s really fantastic to watch.” OrchKids performed with the BSO under Alsop’s baton on March 31, in a concert
Led by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop, the OrchKids Bucket Band rehearses OrchKids Nation for a Pied Piper Concert on March 29, 2011.
that included the world premiere of a special commission: OrchKids Nation by David Rimelis. OrchKids flute and drum players were also incorporated into John Corigliano’s Pied Piper Fantasy. The evening was a triumph for OrchKids, but also for their parents, who could see the progress that had brought their children to the stage of Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Concerts normally take place in the neighborhood where OrchKids has taken root. Trahey says it’s a deliberate step to build trust with parents and neighborhood adults who are often skeptical of programmatic solutions for social change; they have seen so many fail. Report cards are distributed at concerts, increasing the odds that parents show up to sign for them as required, while giving educators and OrchKids staff a chance to connect with them. OrchKids has also In a community worked on improvwhere ing the environment unemployment of Lockerman Bundy, partnering with RAP and poverty (Rebuilding thru Art are rampant, Project) to fill the the Baltimore corridors with bright, Symphony’s music-themed murals. OrchKids “Music isn’t supposed to happen here,” says program Trahey. “We’re teachaims to help ing people to fight for students their community.” realize their Real results are full potential. emerging. OrchKids participants attend school an average of ten days a year more than their classmates. The New Song Academy’s pre-K program allows OrchKids to include children as young as three, and some families have multiple children in the program at Lockerman Bundy. OrchKids participants have an improved opinion of their own prospects. At the start of OrchKids’ first year, a mere 15 percent said they expected to complete elementary school; in a neighborhood like this, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to skip school altogether. By the end of the second year, 55 percent said they expected to go to college. Some are thinking even bigger. Young violinist Ashanti, when asked by Trahey what she wanted to do when she grew up, said, “I want to be in OrchKids.” Reminded that the program was only for students, she replied, “I know. I want to be doing what you’re doing.”
Dakota Music Tour
The city of Mankato, Minnesota lies about 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis. It is a river town, situated on a bend of the Minnesota River, a location that fueled its early history as a transportation hub. It’s also known for a darker episode of the past. Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirtyeight Native Americans were hung there in a single, public staging, condemned for their actions in the Dakota-American Conflict of 1862. In August of that year, angered by the federal government and nonpayment of funds owed under land treaties, Dakota warriors attacked settlements across the region. Some 800 settlers were estimated to have been killed, and clashes with the military ensued. A total of 303 Dakota men were convicted on charges of murder and rape in military tribunals lasting over a few weeks. The summary judgments, with no witnesses or counsel provided, were widely questioned, and President Abraham Lincoln pardoned 285 of the defendants after reviewing their cases. Lincoln’s intervention was controversial, and didn’t bring an end to conflicts between settlers and the Dakota, who were expelled from Minnesota in 1863. Today the episode is largely forgotten outside of the region. But Mankato remembers. When the Mankato Symphony Orchestra announced plans for a Dakota Music Tour this spring as “a musical response to the events of 1862,” that description didn’t need much explanation locally. “We aren’t proud of it. But by the same token we say, all right, it’s part of our history,” says Sonya Jacobsen, a board member who worked with Music Director Kenneth Freed and Native American composer Brent Michael Davids on tour plans. “It is something that no one else can do, because it is unique to us.” Opinions on historical events run the gamut, says Davids, a member of the Mohican nation whose work was featured on the tour. Some would like to forget it; others are involved in yearly vigils to keep memories of the episode alive. “To even define it is really not the purview of what we’re doing, which is simply putting Dakota people and nonDakota people together on stage, so maybe we can launch some thought-provoking musical event,” he says. Music itself is a dialogue, Davids points out. “You have to listen to everyone else around you as far as tuning is involved, and
the rhythm, and constantly monitoring what you’re doing as an individual compared to the group.” He cites an example from the tour program: Black Hills Olowan, a work for drum group and orchestra. The Maza Kute Singers, a well-known Santee Dakota group, were incorporated as a section of the orchestra. “It’s composed, to be cued in and out with a conductor, so it’s like following the written music but without the written music,” says Davids. The Maza Kute, who are used to drumming and singing along a different kind of musical arc, learned it by ear. The Dakota Tour began May 22 in Mankato and included stops at the Lower Sioux Reservation in Morton and the Prairie Edge Casino in Granite Falls, which is owned and operated by the Upper Sioux Community. The schedule ended with a concert on June 4 in Winona, Minn., timed to the 8th annual Great Dakota Gathering and Homecoming, an event that attracts Dakota people from across North America. Funding came from Arts Tour Minnesota with a grant that allowed the orchestra to go out further in the region and that fit with the Mankato Symphony’s efforts to move beyond its typical confines—to ask, as Freed puts it, “What can we do for the community, instead of what can the community do for us?” For the past couple of years, the orchestra has been offering a greater variety of concerts in different venues, such as a chamber series at the chapel of a convent and a family series at the local YMCA. Given the area’s history, a tour that could connect Dakota and non-Dakota audiences seemed a natural extension. Conversations beThe Mankato gan well before the Symphony tour’s start. Freed Orchestra is and Davids traveled moving beyond to the Dakota communities to meet its typical with tribal elders, confines— describe what they asking, as had in mind, and Music Director discuss any areas of Kenneth Freed interest or concern. For Freed, a selfputs it, “What described Jewish can we do for boy from New York, the community, the meetings deminstead of onstrated the many what can the lenses through which community do history is viewed, even 150 years down for us?”
the road. In the end, connections were made on more personal notes, as talk turned to the orchestra’s work in music education. (Freed co-founded the nonprofit Learning Through Music Consulting Group in Minneapolis, where he has a day job as a violist with the Minnesota Orchestra.) “Each person is a parent, not just a tribal elder or a local leader,” he says, meaning that they were able to connect on both a personal level and with the political issues of Native Americans and history. “This is not going to be worked out in a historical panel, but with people who talk to each other.” New World Symphony
It’s a Saturday evening in Miami Beach, and nearly 2,000 people have gathered at the new SoundScape park. Mingled in the crowd are families with children; couples with their dogs; restaurant- and club-goers from the nearby Lincoln Road pedestrian mall. Some have been here for hours, settling down on blankets with picnic fare. Others have wandered into the scene as part of a night out. All are here to witness a Wallcast of the New World Symphony: a concert projected in high-definition onto the 7,000-square-foot exterior wall of the orchestra’s new campus home. The performance takes place in real time inside the building, and everyone wants to see what the buzz is all about. There’s been plenty of buzz since the New World Center and adjacent SoundScape Park debuted in January of this year. Suddenly, New World Symphony is visible in a way that it’s never been in 23 years of existence. Credit a design by architect Frank Gehry, working from a vision of longtime friend Michael Tilson Thomas, NWS founder and artistic director, that takes organizational transparency to an entirely new level. The glass-curtain wall of New World Center’s lobby reveals a jumble of white cubes that house rehearsal spaces and a pavilion for public events. The cubes are lit from within at night, and LED screens in the atrium provide ongoing information for visitors inside and out. The center is at once energizing and a little unsettling for New World Fellows. The postgraduate musicians now find themselves coming into contact with the public during nearly every hour of their daily routine. Percussionist Sergio Carreno practices in one of symphony
For its Dakota Music Tour, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra performs with the Maza Kute Singers, a well-known Santee Dakota vocal and percussion group; also in photo, composer Brent Michael Davids (in hat) and Mankato Symphony Music Director Kenneth Freed.
the windowed, ground-level rehearsal spaces and can routinely glance up from his work to see people with their noses pressed to the glass. “I’m very aware that I’m always on. I’m always performing,” he says. And he doesn’t mean only the added pressure of being seen on a multi-story HD screen outside. (Attention must be paid to hair.) The design of the center’s 767-seat hall includes steeply raked sections surrounding the orchestra platform, pulling everyone in close. Once-anonymous percussionists now have a whole new fan base
of people who’ve started seeking out seats behind their section. “They like being able to see what we’re doing. It’s very close, very intimate. I can literally reach behind me and grab an audience member’s foot. That’s how close we are,” says Carreno. Conducting Fellow Teddy Abrams says musicians who previously played in the lackluster acoustical environs of Lincoln Theatre, a former movie palace, are reinvigorated, and audiences are feeding off the newfound energy. “I’ve never experienced this. I get the sense that the public really does feel like they
belong to this space. They don’t feel uninvited,” he says. “They’re taking ownership. You can feel it. It’s a scene.” Abrams has conducted some of NWS’s new series, such as half-hour Mini Concerts for $2.50 (two a night on Saturday evenings) and late-night Pulse concerts, where the orchestra platforms are arranged so that audience members can walk around and between them, becoming literally immersed in the music. It’s a format that breaks all the traditional rules of concert etiquette, and that takes some getting used to. Fellows assist by mingling in the audience during segments when a DJ is spinning, to talk with guests about the music, encourage them to move around and hear it from different perspectives, or comment on the video projected on the soaring, sloping, sail-like walls above the stage. It’s all about building relationships, to the community and with the music, says Abrams. The future will depend on what the Fellows and NWS organization do with it going forward to best utilize the built-in technology and to engage new audiences. He and Carreno wandered into the park
P r e s e n T s
Tony DeSare ERICH KUNZEL
Conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
J A C K E V E R LY
“With his dark hair, bright brown eyes and toothpaste smile Principal Pops Conductor for that rarely fades,” raved The New York Times, “DeSare is one • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra of the most promising young male performers. He isOrchestra a Sinatra • Baltimore Symphony • National Arts Centre Orchestra acolyte in his early 30s who sings Prince as well as Johnny Mercer.” According to USA S T EToday, V E N R“DeSare E I N E K E belongs to Conductor for a group of neo-traditional Principal upstartsPops stretching from • Modesto Symphony Orchestra Harry Connick Jr, to Michael•Bublé and Symphony Jamie Cullum. Long Beach Orchestra Associate Conductor, DeSare covers old and newer pop and jazz standards without Cincinnati Pops Orchestra smothering or over-thinking the material.” www.PeterThrom.com
Peter Throm, President 2011/2012 symphonic appearances include: 734.222.8030 (office) • 734.277.1008 (mobile) • 734.222.8031 (fax) Atlanta symphony Orchestra 2040 Tibbitts Court • AnnModesto Arbor, symphony MI 48105Orchestra Baltimore symphony Orchestra Oklahoma City Philharmonic
Long Beach symphony Orchestra
Peter Throm, President americanorchestras.org
Vancouver symphony Orchestra
734.222.8030 (office) | 734.277.1008 (mobile) 2040 Tibbitts Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
one evening to get a sense of the vibe outside. They came across a twentysomething listener who remarked that it was great that the concert was starting early (8 p.m.), so he could come hear some Bartók before he headed off to the clubs. The park, owned by the city but developed by NWS, was conceived as an integral part of the campus design; it includes an advanced sound system in keeping with the Wallcast technology. Standing ovations from overflow crowds in the relatively compact 2.5acre space are not uncommon. Carreno, a Miami native, isn’t sure how so many people have already heard about New World Center and SoundScape events, but he won’t argue with the results. “To have 2,000 people listening to Bartók on a Saturday night is a beautiful thing.” The real impact, he says, will be felt as NWS Fellows, who spend up to three years in Miami Beach developing their professional skills, move on to other positions. Carreno is eager to carry ideas about program formats, technology, and audience interactions that have been sparked by the New World Center to wherever his career might take him. “That’s the exciting part for me. I’ll be taking with me the things I’ve lived. It’s a game changer.”
Benjamin Shwartz leads members of the New World Symphony in one of the orchestra’s late-night Pulse concerts, at which musicians can mingle with audience members.
JOHN SUCH ARTISTS’ MANAGEMENT, LTD
REBECCA WINZENRIED, a New York Citybased writer and editor, is former editor in chief of Symphony. More of her work on arts, culture, and new-media issues is available at www. rwinzenried.com.
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Highway Rider : Joining The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in November 2010 at Carnegie Hallâ€™s Zankel Hall in New York City were (left to right) percussionists Matt Chamberlain and Jeff Ballard, composer and pianist Brad Mehldau, and saxophonist Joshua Redman.
A Love Supreme? by Ian VanderMeulen
Jazz performed with a symphony orchestra is no new phenomenon, but many orchestras are finding
interaction with jazz to
be a fruitful way of expanding their repertoire— and their audience.
ianist Brad Mehldau had been riffing verbally, giving the audience an almost stream-of-consciousness meditation on the inspiration and compositional process behind his new work Highway Rider during a break between movements. Suddenly he stopped, self-conscious of his “babbling.” He motioned to the orchestra musicians on his left. “For those of you who were here for the Shostakovich, they need no further introduction,” he told the sold-out Zankel Hall crowd, referring to a conductorless performance of the Chamber Symphony in F Major earlier that evening. “This is a badass band behind us— ladies and gentleman, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra!” “Badass” may not be the first word that comes to mind when considering the SPCO. Indeed, Mehldau’s compliment is indicative of the often uncertain relationship between jazz and symphonic music. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was an instant hit, but critics calling other orchestral works of the time “jazzy” certainly did not have flattery in mind. And for every natural synthesizer like Gunther Schuller—who played French horn in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and on Miles Davis’s legendary Birth of the Cool sessions
before launching an illustrious career as a composer, conductor, and educator—there is someone like André Previn, a composer, jazz pianist, and former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic who, despite his eclecticism, maintains that jazz and classical music are each just fine existing in their own spheres. “Certain jazz idioms translate well into the so-called ‘classical’ collection of instruments, and certain jazz idioms don’t,” says Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra founder Scott Yoo, who conducted the November 5 live premiere of Highway Rider at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis as well as the Zankel performance. “That being said, I think it’s a fertile middle ground to be explored, because the language of jazz is, I would say, much closer to Debussy than Debussy is to Bach.” Many orchestras appear to agree, engaging with jazz—the music and its adherents—in a variety of ways, and finding the dialogue fruitful. Some combine members of the orchestra with a smaller ensemble of jazz musicians to create a kind of supergroup. Others have sought ways to support jazz composers looking to express themselves in a purely symphonic context. In a few cases, institutions have even appointed jazz artists to ongoing posts in an attempt to ensure that dialogue continues longterm. Such is the case at the Minnesota Orchestra, where trumpeter Irvin Mayfield was named artistic director of jazz in 2008. Mehldau’s Zankel performance of Highway Rider was part of his appointment as artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic has had a position similar to Mayfield’s for several years, filled currently by piano icon Herbie Hancock. Lost in Translation?
When Alan Gilbert took over the New York Philharmonic in 2009, there was an expectation that he could bring new direction to an organization that had taken critical heat for its conservative programming. So it was fitting that he began his second season as music director in September 2010 with Swing Symphony, a commission from jazz trumpeter and impresario Wynton Marsalis, with the Philharmonic musicians joined by those of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, where Marsalis serves as artistic director. Marsalis, who as
a performer has won Grammy Awards in both the classical and jazz categories, had recently had his Blues Symphony premiered by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The excitement at the New York premiere was palpable. Yet responses to the program highlighted some of the difficulties of such collaborations. “During long stretches the music, as orchestrated here, hovered uneasily in some middle ground, sounding at times like a jazz ensemble beefed up with an orchestra and at other times like an orchestra jolted by jazz,” wrote Anthony Tommasini in his September 24 review in The New York Times. Tommasini’s assessment underlines a tension in how we expect jazz and orchestral music each to be presented. Whenever the Highway Rider score spotlighted Mehldau’s quintet, I too was struck by the desire to be listening to them—sans orchestra—in some small underground club, awash in the humid breath coming from saxophonist Joshua Redman’s horn, able to observe the subtle cues between Mehldau and his rhythm section of bassist Larry Grenadier and percussionists Jeff Ballard and Matt Chamberlain. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Straussian, orchestra-dominated sections might have had a grander sound next door in the larger Stern Auditorium. Jazz, of course, has its own concert-hall tradition, and the Minnesota Orchestra has taken the extra step of ensuring that jazz continues to be an important part of programming at Orchestra Hall. In July 2008 the organization appointed New Orleans-based trumpeter Irvin Mayfield as its first Artistic Director of Jazz. Since the appointment, the venue has presented a wide range of artists, from vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater to Mayfield’s own New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, an internationally touring big band. In the summer of 2009 Mayfield presented a musical hybrid of his own, performing his orchestral work The Art of Passion with the Minnesota Orchestra and members of his quintet under the direction of Andrew Litton. “I think a lot of magic happens in intimate spaces no matter what the art form is,” Mayfield says. “Symphony orchestras were created to be iconic, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, whereas a jazz club is meant to be a more social atmosphere.” But far from viewing this as a deterrent to
Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s artistic director, and New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert in Avery Fisher Hall following the Philharmonic’s performance of Marsalis’s Swing Symphony, September 2010
offering jazz in an orchestra hall, Mayfield simply sees this as something to keep in mind when programming. “What I would put in a jazz club that’s going to be a great jazz club show is different from what is going to make Orchestra Hall feel warm.” “Jazz musicians these days have quite a lot of experience playing in halls that weren’t necessarily designed for jazz music,” Redman notes. “Once you have that experience playing enough of those venues, they feel natural, and you can play to their strengths.” Nonetheless, stylistic differences remain. Yoo says he frequently asked the Saint Paul musicians to “play like a pipe organ, not much decay at the end of the note” during Highway Rider rehearsals. And how can one consider the jazz tradition without thinking about improvisation—something still foreign to many classical musicians? “If you ask someone to improvise who’s never improvised before,” says Derek Bermel, a composer and improviser on the clarinet, “you might be
introducing them to a new experience, but more likely you’re just going to be traumatizing them, because you’re asking them to do something they weren’t trained to do.” In fact, the more skilled a classical musician is at certain elements of performance, the more uncomfortable he or she might be with the daunting prospect of making it up on the spot, not to mention incorporating jazz idioms. “When you grow up learning to play jazz,” Bermel notes, “you start with Louis Armstrong, move to Duke, then Charlie Parker and Monk, and you learn these tropes and you learn ways of interpreting chord changes.” For a jazz musician, improvisation can provide a golden opportunity for engaging with the classical language. Mehldau, who with his spindly legs, easy virtuosity, and incessant scowl at the keyboard cuts a somewhat Lisztian image onstage, spends his practice time almost exclusively working on the classical repertoire, “first and foremost for the enjoyment, with the awareness that there is a collateral benefit symphony
Any discussion of jazz would be incomplete without considering New Orleans, arguably the genre’s birthplace. In February, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra gave the world premiere of jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s fully notated, threemovement Concerto for Roger Dickerson. Blanchard and the LPO had previously given the 2007 local premiere of A Tale of God’s Will, a suite for jazz combo and or-
chestra culled from Blanchard’s score for Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary film about Hurricane Katrina When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. But the Concerto commission, funded by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation, offered the composer more freedom. “This piece takes me into new territory as a composer,” Blanchard, a New Orleans native, told the city’s Times-Picayune. “I’ve written music for close to 50 films, but this will be the first score that isn’t part of the collaborative process of movie-making. It’s all about my ideas, without having to conform to somebody else’s vision.” The title is a nod to Blanchard’s former piano teacher, who also drilled him in the rules of counterpoint and serial composition. Few jazz artists may have had the benefits of such training, or the opportunity to cut one’s teeth orchestrating film scores, as Blanchard has. With that in mind, the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute—a collaboration between New York’s American Composers Orchestra and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University— gathered 30 composers in July 2010 to discuss some of the issues of composing for orchestra with CJS Director George Lewis and mentor composers Derek Bermel, Fabien Levy, Anthony Davis, Tania León,
Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield performed his orchestral work The Art of Passion with members of his quintet and the Minnesota Orchestra, where he is artistic director of Jazz at Orchestra Hall, in July 2009.
of edification,” he says via email. “One of my talents, I think, is that I have the ability to translate what I gather from the written scores and fold it into my improvisational vocabulary. There is no rupture between the two disciplines for me, but there’s a two-part process: on the one hand studying something in a deliberate way; on the other hand letting something intuitive happen from what I have gathered.” In some cases that process can seem almost instantaneous. Yoo, a childhood friend of Mehldau, recalls listening to the pianist working on a solo piece by the French composer Gabriel Fauré before a Highway Rider performance in Vienna. Later that night, Yoo says, when they reached a piano cadenza section in the score “I just started giggling because he sounded exactly like Fauré!”
Jane Ira Bloom, and Alvin Singleton. Some of the participants—who ranged in age from 16 to 66—will have their works read June 5 and 6 at Columbia’s Miller Theatre by the American Composers Orchestra and the Wet Ink Ensemble under the direction of Gil Rose. Despite its name, the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute had a certain element of genre transcendence. “People who came to this workshop weren’t interested in writing jazz for symphony orchestra,” observes Lewis, a skilled improviser on the trombone who is also well-versed in the modernist classical and electronic music traditions. “They were just interested in expressing themselves and in making use of the very diverse contemporary musical landscape in order to create new music. The question of how much of it was jazz—that sort of policing question—I think they were happy to leave to others.” In that sense, a jazz artist who wants to write for orchestra must answer the same questions as any other composer. “There are some ideas that are not orchestral ideas, whether or not those ideas involve jazz,” notes Bermel, a frequent mentor at the ACO’s other composer-training programs. “Not everything wants a large mass of string players sawing away. Once you decide that you do want a large section of string players, the question is, why? And what is their role here?” If that’s the case, however, why form an orchestral jazz institute at all—why not simply invite jazz artists to participate in the wide range of composer-training initiatives already offered by the American Composers Orchestra? “We’re likely to create a program wherever we see a set of challenges that seem unique to a particular population,” explains ACO Executive Director Michael Geller, who had the initial idea for the institute and got the ball rolling by calling Lewis. For jazz artists, Geller points to things like training and background, access to opportunities with orchestras, and incorporating improvisation into the orchestra, but also to cultural differences. “Just for jazz composers to understand how an orchestra rehearsal runs,” Geller says, “particularly a professional orchestra where you’re dealing with strict timekeeping—start time, stop time, break time—all the things that our colleagues in the professional orchestra world under-
stand intimately but which are fairly alien to the way jazz is generally put together.” Bermel and Geller both see the JCOI as only a beginning. “Whenever you try to do something that’s a bit more flexible,” Geller says, “you need to allow time for the experiment to flourish. And those things do sometimes take a little bit more time.” Minnesota’s Mayfield agrees, recalling his experience writing and performing The Art of Passion, which, though not his first piece for orchestra, he characterizes as “my first written piece based upon trying to bring the two worlds together. Was I successful? I don’t know. But that’s why this appointment is so important—you have to have a lot of opportunities to do this.” Staying in the Groove
With so much talk about creating hybrid works, it’s easy to forget that some of the greatest jazz soloists have already used orchestras to create lush backdrops for their improvisatory excursions. This is something that Hartford Symphony Orchestra timpanist and jazz drummer Gene Bozzi recognized in creating HSO Jazz With Strings. Bozzi began organizing concerts in March 2009 that presented music from classic jazz albums such as Charlie Parker With Strings and saxophonist Stan Getz’s Focus, first with a jazz quartet and string quartet in combination, but eventually increasing the ensemble size. The model for a March 2011 tribute to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman—the duo’s self-titled LP from 1963—didn’t involve strings, so Bozzi’s friend Walter
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Wordiach, who arranged string parts for some of the previous Jazz With Strings programs, created a score from what he heard on the album. “One of the tunes on there is going to start with a string intro, which was actually a piano on the record,” Bozzi points out. “And because we know the string players like to be challenged, we’re doing ‘Giant Steps,’ and Walter is transcribing Coltrane’s solo, at least two choruses of it, for the strings. Of course, the tempo is about 225!” he says, laughing at a blazing clip that would be hard enough to count, let alone play. Bozzi believes the HSO’s Jazz With Strings program serves an important dual purpose of exposing core audiences to new music and bringing a more jazz-inclined crowd into contact with the Hartford Symphony. “I really try to go out at intermission and talk to the people, some of them strict symphony subscribers,” he says. “There were jazz players and jazz fans who came up to me after a gig we did in americanorchestras.org
Bushnell Park in Hartford who said, ‘Man, this is what the Symphony is like? Maybe I’ll come hear a Symphony concert.’ ” Michael Henson, president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra, says it’s too early to see if Irvin Mayfield’s appointment will result in that kind of audience crossover at Orchestra Hall. But jazz programming is nonetheless an integral part of what goes on there. “The growing subscriber base,” he says, “is that subscriber who wants to dip into classical, dip into pops and presentations, into jazz. We’re finding people are willing to have variety on their subscriptions. So by having jazz it means we offer that variety, along with our pops and presentations series and classical series.” Henson notes that, like any initiative that seeks to expand an orchestra’s offerings beyond symphonic programming, jazz-related projects need to make sense in the organization’s immediate community. The Louisiana Philharmonic’s location in the birthplace of jazz has made col-
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laboration with jazz musicians a natural fit. “New Orleans is a place that honors many different music traditions, and we don’t see them as being mutually exclusive,” says LPO Executive Director Babs Mollere. Part of the grant for the Roger Dickerson commission, she notes, “was to send ensembles from the LPO into schools side-by-side with ensembles from the local Thelonious Monk Institute, and show what we do and what they do, and at the end, what we can do together.” Bozzi points out that HSO With Strings has benefited from the many talented saxophonists associated with the Hartfordbased Jackie McLean Institute, founded by the storied alto sax player who released more than 20 recordings as a bandleader on the Prestige and Blue Note labels before joining the faculty at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music in 1968. Could composer training programs like the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute prove fruitful at other institutions as well? “I think that for the orchestra field it could have particular resonance in terms of broadening the idea base, and also redefin-
ing the notion of the emerging composer,” says the JCOI’s George Lewis. Last summer, he notes, “We constantly had to remind ourselves that some of these ‘emerging composers’ were in their fifties and sixties. They weren’t young composers. But they were emerging in the orchestra field, and some of them had never had an opportunity to try some of these ideas before. It was like a rebirth for many of them.” Where collaboration between jazz and classical musicians is appropriate, artists on both sides agree that much can be learned from each other. “In the classical world there’s a certain focus on the craft that jazz musicians find interesting and fascinating,” says conductor Scott Yoo. “You’ll see a violinist in an orchestra practice the first-violin part to Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, which they’ve played a million times, and they’re one of eighteen violinists and they’re still practicing. That blows a jazz musician’s mind. From the classical side looking at jazz musicians, how important it is for the feeling to be right, how important the sense of continuity—what we call ‘line.’ We sometimes forget the
bigger picture—what is the character of the music and how does it feel?” And for those artists from one camp who seek to integrate aspects of the other genre into their own work, the process can be liberating. “Recognizing that there are aspects of jazz that are always going to be fixed, and aspects of classical music that are always going to be improvisatory,” Bermel says, “you get closer to imagining the hybridity because the worlds seem less far away from each other.” Or, as Yoo puts it, “We’re all climbing different sides of the same mountain.” IAN VANDERMEULEN is assistant editor of Symphony.
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Orchestras prepare to confront tax challenges and support programs that demonstrate their public value.
Making the by Heidi Waleson
n the spring of 2010, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and its executive director, Alan Jordan, found themselves in the middle of an unexpected battle with the Vermont state government. The legislature had passed a bill that would require nonprofits to collect tax on ticket sales. “For the legislators, it was a question of equity and fairness: if people pay sales tax when they go bowling or see movies, then people who see Yo-Yo Ma with the Vermont Symphony should also pay,” Jordan says. “My quick response to the equity and fairness argument is that you can’t
really compare us with bowling alleys until the bowling alleys start doing education programs in the schools.” The orchestra joined with several other large Vermont nonprofits to strategize about how to counteract the legislation, which was scheduled to go into effect in April 2011, and found some legislators willing to put in a bill for its repeal. Working against that effort was the state’s projected budget shortfall of $150 million, which legislators are eager to close any way they can, and a general perception, demonstrated in the local media coverage, that this debate was a class issue.
“There’s a presumption that people who go to orchestra concerts or the ballet are well off,” Jordan says. “The view is, this is a consumer tax, and other than the small amount of paperwork, it doesn’t have an impact on the organization.” In fact, Jordan points out, the tax very likely would have an effect on contributions to the orchestra, particularly for less-well-to-do subscribers and donors. Collecting information and processing paperwork would add another administrative cost to the orchestra’s operations. The case in Vermont is an example of two national and intersecting trends. As governsymphony
Case ments—federal, state, and local—continue to feel the squeeze of the 2008 economic meltdown, they look for new ways to generate revenue. At the same time, nonprofits are increasingly coming under scrutiny from legislators and others who are pushing them to define and defend the “public value” that earns them their tax-exempt status, the deductibility of donations to them, and the outright government support that they receive. With its overarching perspective, the League of American Orchestras has been tracking and evaluating these developments for several years, and has concluded that this sea change in the perception and treatment americanorchestras.org
of nonprofits is very relevant to orchestras. Heather Noonan, the League’s vice president for advocacy, has seen an increase in the number of challenges to nonprofit status at all government levels. “There’s a new political reality,” she says. “These tax issues are bipartisan, coming from both the right and left. It’s more challenging now, because it has more to do with economics than with politics.” Judith Kurnick, the League’s vice president for strategic communications, notes that in such difficult economic times, the perception of orchestras and other arts groups as culture palaces, purviews of the wealthy with their tuxedos and limousines, makes them especially vulnerable. As long
Vermont Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra Youth and Family Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins interacts with the audience at a BSO Family Concert on March 6, 2010.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Rusty Musicians program welcomes local, adult amateur musicians to perform with the orchestra. At the inaugural Rusty Musicians event at The Music Center at Strathmore in 2010, more than 400 amateur musicians worked with musicians from the BSO, led by Music Director Marin Alsop.
Led by Music Director Jaime Laredo, members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra perform in the legislative chamber of the Vermont State House at the 2011 Farmers’ Night. The free public concert has been presented annually for more than 40 years as a thank-you to the legislators and people of Vermont for their support.
San Diego Youth Symphony students bring music to listeners at a community-engagement event at the San Diego New Children’s Museum.
Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair teaches children to conduct during Target Symphony in the Cities, the Symphony’s free outdoor summer concerts series.
as orchestras try to communicate their value only in the ways that they have historically done—in terms of the music they play and the concept of artistic excellence—the less likely they are to persuade the people who are making tax policy decisions about them. “We are learning that the message of the transformative experience, and what happens to a person who is listening to music, does not do the trick,” Kurnick says. “Orchestral music is perceived as an individual entertainment choice, not something that is relevant to the community as a whole. At the same time, the work that orchestras are doing to become more of a resource for the community is not getting communicated. If people don’t know about it, is half the impact lost?” Noonan and Kurnick, aided by a task force, are working on a toolkit that will help orchestras calculate and communicate their public value. (For more information about the toolkit, launched at the League’s 2011 National Conference in June, see sidebar.) And Noonan, from the League’s Washington, D.C. office, is deeply involved in nonprofit sector-wide advocacy to Congress as policymakers consider tax-reform proposals that could impact charitable-giving incentives and question the public value provided by organizations that earn tax-exempt status. As the two see it, orchestras must make the case for public value both through authentic
community engagement and through effective communication. “It is mission expansion,” Kurnick says. “The orchestra must be a true part of the community, not just a place where some people go for concerts. We have to remind people about how arts groups add to a community—the vitalization that comes from having artists in your midst, the creativity, the innovation. People also care about education, both youth and lifelong learning. This is not typical of what arts organizations and orchestras talk about when they describe how they matter, but it can make a difference in the community with people who may never come to a concert but are asked to support the orchestra with tax dollars.” Crunching the Numbers
The scrutiny of nonprofits starts at the top. A 2009 Congressional Research Service report (Sherlock and Gravelle) estimated the annual revenues that state and local governments forgo as a result of tax exemptions for nonprofits. This included property tax revenues of $17-32 billion, plus an additional $15.9 billion from nonprofits’ exemption on investment income; from the income tax deduction that donors receive for charitable contributions; and from the nonprofits’ sales-tax exemption. With numbers like that, the temptation to target nonprofits is great.
Revenue-seeking initiatives may be at the municipal level, such as the voluntary payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOTs, that the City of Boston has collected for many years from its property-owning hospitals, universities, cultural organizations, and other nonprofits. The Boston Symphony Orchestra began paying PILOTs in 1997; its 2010 payment was $82,628. The city initiated the program to help offset the loss in property-tax revenue that results from Boston’s unusually high concentration of nonprofits. A recent report by the Cambridge, Mass.-based think tank Lincoln Institute of Land Policy calculated that over the last decade, PILOTs were used in at least 18 states and at least 117 municipalities, including such large cities as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, as well as Boston. In FY 2009, Boston obtained $15.7 million in PILOTs, with most of the funds coming from universities and hospitals. That sum represented .66 percent of the city’s budget, not an enormous percentage but, the report’s authors pointed out, an amount equal to half the budget for the library system, or the cost of snow removal for a year. Boston’s payments are individually negotiated and variable: Boston University, for example, pays 8.35 percent of what its property tax would be if calculated at the commercial rate; Northeastern University pays .08 percent. A mayoral task force recently presented a proposal that would standardize the way PILOTs are calculated, with eligible nonprofits paying 25 percent of what their tax would be if the property were taxable. On the federal level, debate over tax reform has put everything on the table. In his 2011 budget proposal, President Obama suggested that the charitable deduction be capped at 28 percent, down from the current 35 percent, for taxpayers in the highest income bracket ($200,000 and above, or $250,000 for families), thus conceivably diminishing the incentive to give and opening the potential for the 28 percent rate to be lowered over time as the government seeks further revenue sources. Late last year, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a federal-level policy group created by President Obama, proposed converting the charitable deduction into a credit, and limiting eligibility to taxpayers who make charitable contributions greater than 2 percent of their adjusted gross income. A bipartisan team of senators symphony
is currently drafting legislation based on the commission’s proposals. And Congress has begun the process of making its first major reform of the U.S. tax code since 1986. Geoffrey Plague, director of government relations at Independent Sector, a national leadership forum for charities and philanthropy, says, “House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp signaled how important this process will be for the nonprofit community when he said Congress should examine all tax expenditures, including the charitable deduction, regardless of their ‘individual merit,’ as the reform debate unfolds.” Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform and an expert in government nonprofit policy, suggests that cultural institutions may well be particularly vulnerable. “With the economic downturn resulting in huge demands for human services that can’t be met by the federal government, the government is looking for creative ways to meet unmet needs. It is looking to your donors to redirect their contributions to human services, through changes to the charitable deduction, or by requiring organizations to meet a charity standard for deductibility.” The suggestion of a tiered system for the charitable deduction is in the air: the League’s Heather Noonan attended an Independent Sector conference session on the tax deduction, in which representatives from a variety of nonprofits had a heated discussion over the question of whether the charitable deduction should be relative by social value. “There was a 50-50 split about whether there should be some kind of greater tax incentive for giving to groups addressing what are commonly considered more basic human needs,” she says. And House Ways and Means Committee Member Xavier Becerra, a Democrat representing a district just outside of Los Angeles, has asked, “What are we getting for some $32 billion in lost revenues, lost to the federal treasury in paid taxes? Is it serving a good public purpose? Statistics I’ve seen suggest that only 1 in every 10 dollars are serving poor people or disadvantaged people. “ Given such perceptions, cultural institutions, including orchestras, are now particularly pressed to demonstrate their public value to people who continue to perceive them as meaningful only to an elite. As Jonathan Katz, chief executive officer of the National americanorchestras.org
Assembly of State Arts Agencies, puts it, formational experience” message had little “When something is perceived as a public traction in the “Ripple Effect” study, mesgood, it is non-divisible, which means that sages that did resonate involved viewing the everyone benefits from it—things like clean arts as an important component of a vibrant, air, or national defense. If only ticket buyers thriving economy, or as creating a more conbenefit, it is a special interest.” nected population. Such messages go beIn 2009, the League of American Oryond basic measures of the economic value chestras did inproduced by cultural institutions to enNonprofits are depth research compass broader messages about educaincreasingly coming into the public tion, arts integration, placemaking, and a under scrutiny perception of more connected community. For orchesfrom legislators orchestras. The tras, this signals a need for some radical and others who are results, presented rethinking of what they do and a process pushing them to at the League to come up with a more holistic view of define and defend Conference in what their community is and their role in the “public value” 2009, revealed that earns them their it. Kurnick says, “The League’s research that most of the concluded that, to demonstrate public tax-exempt status. influential navalue, orchestras need to undertake both tional policy- and opinion-makers surveyed authentic action and communication of that believed that orchestras need to be perceived action.” as serving more of their community in order to be worthy of their tax-exempt status. Authentic Action What is more, Kurnick says, “It was clear John Forsyte, president of the Pacific Symthat orchestras’ efforts to expand their enphony in California’s Orange County, has gagement were not reaching or convincing been grappling with the authentic action these influential individuals.” A 2010 study, issue for some time. “We have to regularly “The Arts Ripple Effect” in Cincinnati, ask ourselves, how does our artistic misundertook similar research, and found that sion serve a broader community than the 2 people not involved in the arts viewed them percent that is involved in our concert life? as niche entertainment, and a matter of perAre we an open institution?” he says. The sonal taste rather than public responsibility. Pacific Symphony has embarked on a numThe cherished, “high culture” idea of the arts ber of initiatives that experiment with nonas a “transformational experience” to which traditional orchestra activities. This year, it everyone should aspire did not resonate at launched a participation project, beginning all. with “OC Can You Play?” in which the orSo what does “public value” mean for orchestra positioned 20 painted pianos around chestras, whose core activity is playing conOrange County; the pianos were available certs for ticket-buying customers? How do for anyone to play. “It had a staggering imthey make the case for it? While the “transpact,” Forsyte says. “There were contests,
The Tools You Need
uilding Public Support: A Public Value Toolkit is an online resource created by the League for member orchestras seeking effective ways of demonstrating and communicating their reach, relevance, and impact in the public arena. The Toolkit contains video links and documents to help orchestras better understand the challenge and assess how they provide public value. It provides examples of orchestras that are successfully conveying their impact. At its center is a framework of messages that speak to the values that the League’s research has shown public-sector leaders want from orchestras. There are also examples of effective ways to communicate orchestras’ reach and relevance. The League encourages orchestras to use the Toolkit to inform and train boards, staff, musicians, and other advocates. Adopting and using the Toolkit is a step toward correcting misperceptions and improving our ability to connect with our communities. To access the Toolkit, League members should log in to League360.org and look for Public Value Toolkit in the Resources area.
mobs of people around the pianos. One man went to all the pianos and put together a video of himself playing a Chopin etude on all of them. People were reengaging with the love of music, making the point that music matters.” The “OC Can You…?” project continued with an American Idol-type vocal competition, with the winners invited to perform on a pops concert, and, for amateur instrumentalists, an opportunity to play in a side-by-side concert with the orchestra and its music director, Carl St.Clair. While the press coverage—and the logo placement on the pianos—had the happy effect of giving the Pacific Symphony an enormous amount of visibility, Forsyte sees this sort of project as an important component of how his orchestra can be a more meaningful player in its community. For one thing, it certainly filled the “creating a more connected community” ideal posited in the “Arts Ripple Effect” study. Another Pacific Symphony endeavor in that realm is the “Heartstrings” program, in which the orchestra invites social-service agencies to present their case as part of a Pacific Symphony concert. In 2009, for example, the orchestra created a breast-cancer awareness “Concert for the Cure” in partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, with speakers and music, drawing 8,000 people. The orchestra is now embarking on an in-depth, expanded relationship with the Orange County Rescue Mission, which focuses on helping homeless people towards self-sufficiency. The orchestra has also created artistic partnerships with several of the ethnic groups that make up Orange County. As a result, Forsyte says, “We have a lot more friends in the community. What does it mean to be indispensable, so that we don’t disappear, like Opera Pacific did, without a whimper from the community? There was a lot of sadness from its patron base, but how widely understood was it? Now we have partners, and they listen carefully when we talk about the challenges we have. It takes time and selflessness to build that trust.” The orchestra is careful about trust. “We’ve said to our Heartstrings partners that if they ever feel that we are cannibalizing their support, they should let us know. And no one has been suspicious of our motives. One agency leader said, ‘How can we help the Pacific Symphony?’ It has created a wonderful dynamic.” Dalouge Smith, president and CEO of
the San Diego Youth Symphony, says that it wonderful that you have this exposure?” his orchestra “has tackled the public value Instead, the Memphis Symphony meets its dilemma in an aggressive way. Nonprofit prospective partners halfway. “We learned tax status is a policy decision that recognizes how to listen as an organization,” Fleur adds. the value of a nonprofit to a community. For “If we can capture what your values are, we orchestras, that value has historically been can propose ways we can work together. accepted as the presentation of concerts, but With the charter school, it was important to that is no longer sufficient,” he says. “We did us to take on activities that are meaningful an analysis and realized that over 50 perartistically and meet a definable community cent of our students were coming from the need. For the school, it was to get every child wealthiest population; in fact, 80 percent of in that school to graduate and go to college.” our enrollment was above median income. We were serving Communication a very narrow, af- Getting the publicGetting the public-value message across fluent band of the value message to those who need to hear it requires population. We across to those both deeds and words. Several years were not providing who need to hear it ago, the Baltimore Symphony Orchesfull value. Then we requires both deeds tra embarked on an institutional makelooked at the flip and words. over designed to change public percepside—who was not tion after years of bad financial news represented? As a result, we have initiated and the short-lived controversy surrounding a ten-year vision to make music education the handling of the appointment of Marin accessible and affordable for all kids in San Alsop as music director. “The view was that Diego County.” the audience was white and elite, the tickThe SDYS is positioning itself as a comets were expensive, and we were not keeping munity convener, bringing together comour financial house in order,” says Paul Meemunity partners, building awareness of the cham, who arrived as president and CEO in value of music education, and leading advo2006. He and Alsop worked on how to recacy efforts to get music back into the public position the orchestra’s accessibility through schools. It has also launched an El Sistemarelevance, inclusion, and affordability. style after-school program in two elementaAffordability was first, and it was dramatry schools. “Our work is now as much about ic. All seats for Alsop’s opening season were taking our expertise into the community, priced at $25, thanks to corporate underand using it as a way to galvanize people and writing, and on the first day that tickets went draw the community together,” Smith says. on sale, there was a line around the block, “It’s early days yet, but I think it will start resulting in a lot of news coverage and cryschanging the relationship that individuals tallizing for the orchestra “how we wanted and communities have with music-making.” to articulate what was different,” Meecham The idea of an orchestra acting in partsays. Next, the BSO tackled relevance, and nership with other institutions—and not the crime and poverty of Baltimore, with just cultural groups—helps to reinforce its OrchKids, its in-school music-education position as a community resource. Even the program. Launched with seed money from language has changed, with “outreach” givAlsop’s MacArthur grant funds, and the oring way to the more multifaceted “engagechestra’s first involvement in a poor neighment.” A case in point is the Memphis borhood, OrchKids is now in two schools, Symphony Orchestra, which rethought its serving 250 children. Like its El Sistema mission as “community citizen” in order to model, OrchKids is viewed by the BSO as survive, and has dramatically reshaped its a vehicle for social change, and is messaged activities to include a mentoring program accordingly. The program includes partnerat a local charter school and a leadership ships with city agencies and universities training program developed with FedEx. tackling public health issues, such as obesity. “We stopped using the word ‘outreach,’ ” “Our mission has broadened, and that says Ryan Fleur, the orchestra’s president has strengthened our relationship with the and CEO. “It had this one-directional, pacity,” Meecham says. “What the city needs tronizing implication, as though you were desperately is support and initiatives to help reaching out your hand, patting someone on a failing system. The school system and the the head, and saying this is what we do, isn’t mayor are all looking for partners, like the symphony
universities, and organizations like ourselves. We are part of a bigger ecosystem than we ever thought of before.” Such programs have prompted friendly press from non-music media outlets (OrchKids landed on 60 Minutes), interest in the symphony from people who are not concertgoers, and a 20 percent jump in the number of donors. “The orchestra is talked about at the top tables,” Meecham says. “The mayor and the legislators call us.” The orchestra makes sure that the message stays clear. “We are very focused on the language that we use to reinforce our accessibility, our partnerships in the community, our inclusionary work,” Meecham adds. “It comes naturally now.” And in these times, the orchestra needs its friends. The City of Baltimore, cutting costs, halved the orchestra’s most recent appropriation to $240,000 (the mayor did find $75,000 in another area of the budget specifically for OrchKids). What is more, the city has adopted a new Outcome Budgeting Process that aligns resources with results, so all elements in city grant applications this
year were required to relate to such mayoral goals as “growing the economy.” “We had to position what we are doing in those terms, and it was clear that the more direct financial correlation there was to the city’s investment, the stronger the case you could make,” Meecham says. To do so, the BSO monetized all its areas of economic benefit—including such elements as hotel and restaurant taxes generated by symphony-goers, income taxes from city-based employees, state sales taxes generated by city businesses, fees and licenses—and came up with $1.26 million. But there are still other challenges: Baltimore has started doing a citizens’ survey to help determine what the mayoral goals should be; the first results came out last fall. “The arts sector as a whole was seen to be under-performing in two areas: serving 18to 32-year-olds, and serving a broad enough number of our diverse community,” Meecham says. “This will take multiple years to address, but if the surveys show no progress on these fronts, the mayor probably will be unhappy.”
Quantifying Community Assets
Other nonprofit institutions around the country have found themselves obliged to monetize their civic contribution in detailed ways. Not-for-profit hospitals, for example, are required to file a schedule on their 990 tax forms that details the value of the community benefit they provide (such as free care) in return for their tax exemptions. The YMCA, whose local chapters are often targeted to prove why they deserve an exemption for property or sales taxes when the for-profit gym down the street does not, created a detailed toolkit to help members itemize and tally the monetary value of their community services. The national Y also embarked on a rebranding effort that positioned the institution as a community resource with the tagline “The Y: We’re for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.” Some nonprofits make municipal payments in the interest of good citizenship. When Lawrence Tamburri arrived as president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2004, the city had been desig-
What do New York City and Bogota have in common? New York City: “...the sound [of the DiMenna Center] had an uncanny combination of overall warmth and clarity of detail. It will change the lives of an enormous number of musicians.” —James Oestreich, The New York Times
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launched in 2010 with the goal of expandnated by the state as “financially troubled.” ing music education in the city’s schools; “There were lots of negotiations with nonits Tanglewood Days in the Arts program profits about what they could do to allevibrings 400 middle-school students from ate the pressure,” Tamburri says. “The orall over Massachusetts—twenty legislative ganizations that owned real estate—the big districts—for a five-day arts immersion curhospitals, universities, legacy organizations riculum. In the Berkshires, Tanglewood and like the Carnegie museums, and the groups the other cultural institutions effectively in the cultural district, like us—met and dedrive the economy, contributing to the exiscided that we would make a voluntary paytence of 19,000 second homes in Berkshire ment to the city.” These annual payments County. The BSO’s sense of civic responsicontinue; in 2007, according to the Lincoln bility also extends to giving other nonprofInstitute study, the Pittsburgh Public Service its use of its Tanglewood facilities at cost Fund contributed $4.4 million to the city when they are not in use. “We do every high budget. school graduation in the Berkshires,” Volpe The orchestra is also making an effort to says. “We are integral to the economic and promote economic development in Pittseducational existence of the state.” burgh. Beginning in 2006, representatives The BSO makes sure that legislators get of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, an ecothis information clearly. Volpe and Pops nomic development organization that works Conductor Keith Lockhart are invited in partnership with to speak formally in the state legislathe Allegheny Con- Changes to the tax tive chamber, and the BSO regularly ference, a leader- code for nonprofits ship organization are likely to remain in invites its legislators to events like the July 4 Pops concert, which attracts of CEOs of the re- play with legislators 600,000 people, and family weekends gion, have traveled for several years to at Tanglewood. Still, despite the BSO’s on international come. prominence, Volpe looks at how ecotours with the Pittsnomic challenges are playing out on every burgh Symphony. Companies that are prosgovernment level and recognizes that no pects for locating in Pittsburgh are invited to institution that relies to any degree on pubthe concerts and receptions, and Pittsburgh lic money can be complacent. The PittsSymphony staffers participate in the cultiburgh Symphony’s Tamburri recently gave vation efforts. These efforts have started to his board a list of eighteen public policies pay off: at least one business has moved its and taxes that could affect the PSO, rangNorth American operation to the city. ing from a possible local amusement tax to Certainly the Boston Symphony Orchesnational healthcare regulations. “I wanted tra is one of the most visible symbols of its the board to be aware of the fact that this city, and a community asset when it comes is a growing issue,” says Tamburri, “and that to economic development. “The Boston the amount of regulations for nonprofits is Pops and Tanglewood are national brands,” going up—things that cost us money, staff says BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. time, or both, at the same time that govern“Internationally, the best brands are Harment funding is going down.” vard and the universities, the medical estabWith nonprofits now being potentially lishments, and the BSO.” However, Volpe targeted for increased revenue, getting the recognizes that the BSO has to keep tellpublic-value message across is increasingly ing that story in as many ways as possible. urgent. The League’s new public-value tool“We inventory very carefully our educational initiatives in Boston and in the Berkshires,” kit, designed as an online resource that ofVolpe says. “We had a professional come in fers templates, strategies, and messages that and quantify our economic impact.” As part orchestras can access, is intended to help of the PILOT process, the BSO submits a orchestras evaluate what they have, and sugreport to the city showing its communitygests how best to make their case, now and service activities and their dollar value, with in the future. Changes to the tax code are a total in the low seven figures; the orchestra likely to remain in play with legislators for receives a 25 percent credit on its PILOT several years to come. Geoffrey Plague of bill of $110,000 for these activities. Independent Sector points out, “If members The BSO’s education work includes of Congress and decision makers in the adthe new BSO Academy School Initiative, ministration are going to care about the imsymphony
pact a policy decision will have on the nonprofit and philanthropic community, they must first understand how important a vital nonprofit sector is to our communities and to society. Nonprofit organizations should be reaching out to their elected officials and educating them about the positive impact on individuals, families, and communities that result from the services they provide. It is also important for members of Congress to understand that the nonprofit sector is an important part of the economy and a major employer, both nationally and in many communities across the country.” However, communicating the public value of cultural institutions in general and orchestras in particular requires new language and new alliances. “The arts as a sector has to develop that strength,” says Leni Boorstin, director of community affairs for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “We need to band together. We can’t do it in isolation. The story has to be bigger, and we have to learn a language that conveys our value to those outside our sector.” She points out that Venezuela’s El Sistema was actually funded out of that nation’s health budget, rather than its arts or education budget. “It was seen as a good solution for generating community health,” she says, a public-value message that is easy even for those outside the arts sector to understand. Building alliances outside of the cultural sector—as the Pacific Symphony has done with social-service organizations, for example—can bring added power when an orchestra makes the case to government for its public value. But whether the value being communicated is economic, educational, community-building, or something different about the ability of art to transform lives, it must be rooted in reality, which is a far larger, and longer-term, endeavor. HEIDI WALESON writes about the performing arts and is the opera critic for the Wall Street Journal.
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Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Music Director Manfred Honeck at a donor/subscriber reception in Heinz Hall, February 2011
Several U.S. orchestras have developed conciergestyle services as a way to cultivate closer relationships with patrons, turning one-time concertgoers into subscribers—and subscribers into investors. 58
At Your I
f you were to visit the home of a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra subscriber, there’s a chance that you would see displayed on the refrigerator, along with a shopping list and snapshots of family members and an assortment of colorful souvenir magnets, the friendly face of a Pittsburgh Symphony staff member. The photo on the fridge would match up with the telephone voice of a personal contact, someone in the orchestra’s Patron Services Department who is in touch with the household in all matters regarding subscriptions, single-ticket requests, seat upgrades or ticket exchanges, questions about parking or special needs or restaurants in the vicinity of Heinz Hall, and donations to the annual fund. This person would be the provider of what PSO President and CEO Lawrence Tamburri calls a “personal concierge service” for the household, and for a specific set of other households that had purchased subscriptions to the orchestra’s BNY Mellon Grand Classics Series. symphony
Pittsburgh Symphony patrons view a “Beethoven in Visual Culture” display board in the Heinz Hall lobby during a concert, January 2010.
Right: Jennifer McDonough, staffing an information table along with fellow patron services representative Cody Sweet, talks to the leader of a Heinz Hall tour, one of the amenities available to Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra patrons.
Above: “Concierge” treatment of Nashville Symphony donors includes invitations to receptions on concert nights in Founders Hall at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Donor Pat Ward is pictured here at a January 2010 event with pianist Barry Douglas, the evening’s soloist.
by Chester Lane
The basis for this strategy is a “patron progression model” that treats subscribers as investors in the long-term health of the organization—as dedicated ticket buyers who can be encouraged to further explore the music, deepen their involvement with the orchestra, and increase their commitment through progressively more generous donations and, eventually, planned giving. The PSO’s Patron Services Department, established in the fall of 2009 through a americanorchestras.org
realignment of existing staff resources, is an outgrowth of a strategic planning process that had begun several years earlier. Inspiration for the initiative had come primarily from two other orchestras: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which has sought to broaden its subscriber/donor base through an expansion of its neighborhood concerts program, a lowering of ticket prices, and online access to its ever-expanding archive of concert broadcasts; and the Nashville
Symphony, whose president and CEO, Alan Valentine, had instituted a system for rewarding major donors to its concert hall building campaign—the Schermerhorn Symphony Center founders—and then discovered the value of extending “concierge” treatment to the orchestra’s larger community of dedicated ticket buyers and patrons. Orchestras today are being called upon as never before to demonstrate their public value as cultural institutions, not simply as
concert presenters catering to a classically inclined audience of ticket buyers. Yet support for their core mission—performance of orchestral repertoire at the highest possible stanNashville dard—must still come from the Symphony concert audience, both in the President & form of ticket revenue and in contributions. Cultivating ticket CEO Alan buyers and donors together—as Valentine complementary and overlapping says that his groups who are indispensable charge to to the orchestra’s mission—is the patron“clearly an idea whose time has services come,” says Russell Jones, vice president for marketing and specialists membership development at was, “Your the League of American Orjob is not to chestras. “We see experiments hard-sell, across the country building your job is on what was learned from the high-touch Audience Growth Initiative undertaken by the consulting customer firm Oliver Wyman in 2008. service.” Many orchestras are now looking at their audience as greater than the sum of two parts: subscribers and donors. The inappropriate divide between these groups serves no one, least of all our customers. Orchestras that truly engage on a more personal and one-to-one level with their audiences sell more tickets and receive more gifts. This is not necessarily news, but the metrics that are now being captured help make the case and secure resources in both time and personnel.”
“One amazing thing about this orchestra,” Tamburri continues, “is its legacy of high quality. Pittsburgh was once the world’s leading steel producer, but has since become depopulated.” (The city’s population peaked at around 676,000 in 1960, and now stands at 305,700.) “So we have this great arts organization with a much smaller population. We felt that to maintain the orchestra, we needed to be extremely efficient. Our idea of ‘annuity’ is to develop deep relationships with subscriber households.” A hypothetical family—call it the Joneses—might be “giving us $2,000 a year through their subscription and their contributions. When the Joneses become empty-nesters and might have a little more money, we go to them and say, ‘would you consider making an endow-
ment gift to the symphony of $40,000?’ At 5 percent interest we would then have $2,000 every year. That would be taking the Jones family through the patron progression model. Then we go through and look at the statistics. What does it take to move somebody through that model? If 36 percent of households were donating and were subscribers, at what point can we increase that to 45 percent? What impact does that have over time? How do we make this patron progression model even more efficient?” Tamburri credits The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra with inspiring his own orchestra to think in terms of such a model. In devising strategies for efficient return on investment and long-term patron relationships, both organizations had been
Nashville Symphony organizational charts show the overall structure of the orchestra, and the place that Patron Services occupies within the External Affairs Department.
Cultivating the Future
As the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Tamburri sees it, the orchestra’s commitment to cultivating classical-series subscribers and individual donors through a patron progression model is rooted in the principle of efficient return on investment. “Single tickets are generally expensive to sell,” he says, “and single-ticket buyers also tend not to contribute as often. Corporate funding can be extremely good in terms of return on investment—you can make one call and walk away with $50,000—but how do you make funding sustainable over time? Subscriptions are extremely efficient, because the cost basis after someone renews is very low, and because subscriber households contribute at a much higher rate than single-ticket buyers.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Music Director Manfred Honeck leads the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh at Heinz Hall in Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, June 2009.
influenced by the ideas of Paul Boulian, a partner in the Connecticut-based organizational consulting firm LodeStar Associates Inc. At the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference in 2007, Boulian, Tamburri, and the SPCO’s then-President and Managing Director Bruce Coppock expounded on these ideas in a session titled “A Radical New Revenue Model for Orchestras.” Coppock subsequently laid out the foundation for that business model in his article “Radical Revenue,” which appeared in the January-February 2008 issue of this magazine. Jon Limbacher, the SPCO’s vice president and chief operating officer, notes that his orchestra does not have a patron services department per se, but it does have “an internal patron development group that meets on a weekly basis. It’s a combination of marketing and development folks—full-time regular staff members who steer our business model, particularly as it relates to tactics and strategy.” Donors of $150 or more are eligible for a “green room” program that allows them to attend such events as open rehearsals or composer chats. “If you’re giving $300 or more to the orchestra—it doesn’t americanorchestras.org
matter what kind of series you buy, or even if you are a current subscriber—you’re part of our liaison program, and are assigned to a personal staff representative who can help you buy tickets, make exchanges, get you into highly sold concerts, invite you to open rehearsals or other special events.” Although donor-based, the SPCO’s liaison program “revolves around the ticket relationship,” Limbacher says, “because that’s where there’s an organic need for a relationship.” And those who buy tickets through subscription “have already crossed the line from being consumers of what we do to being investors. These are the folks who are consuming and investing—people we think have great potential to invest more, and in some cases to become owners. The point of the liaison program is to keep these [donors] connected to the organization. And our patron liaisons often put these individuals forward for consideration for our Governing Members Program. That has about 130 individuals. There’s a minimum expected gift of $2,500, and they have their own leadership and committee structure and events. It’s an advisory board that helps us as we’re thinking about
issues and challenges and opportunities.” Even as it cultivates people of means who can support the orchestra’s mission with their donations, the SPCO has made a commitment to broadening access to its artistic product. “The heart of our business model,” says Limbacher, “is really around what we’ve done to make the orchestra more affordable.” It has done this by lowering prices “Corporate for its neighborhood concerts— funding can which now take place in seven Twin Cities venues, most of be good in them churches—and then low- terms of ering them at St. Paul’s Ordway return on Center for the Performing Arts investment,” and the Ted Mann Concert Hall says in Minneapolis. (SPCO Director Pittsburgh of Marketing and Communications Jessica Etten outlined the Symphony SPCO’s pricing strategy for the President League of American Orchestras Lawrence in a paper called “At the Inter- Tamburri. section of Mission and Busi- “But how do ness Model.”) SPCO concerts, you make recorded by its media partner Minnesota Public Radio, are also funding streamed via the orchestra’s web- sustainable site and available for free; at this over time?”
writing more than 100 works are on the site, and the archive continues to grow. Concierge Care
Beginning with the 2006-07 season the Pittsburgh Symphony simplified its subscription offerings, narrowing the selection to packages of seven, fourteen, and 21 concerts. For many subscribers, says Tamburri, the effect of that was to “give
people more concerts for the same amount of money. They came to the concerts more often, they were happy with the concerts, they re-subscribed, and they contributed.” Suzanne Perrino, whose job as senior vice president of education and strategic implementation includes coordinating efforts among several departments at the PSO, including Patron Services and Donor Relations, says that the idea of a dedi-
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cated staff of patron services representatives came from the Nashville Symphony. “We went down there to look at their model, then came back and adapted it to ours.” “As a matter of fact, they came to Nashville and stole the idea,” says Nashville’s Alan Valentine proudly. But Nashville’s systematic cultivation of subscriber/ donors had come about in a very different way. As Valentine explains, “when we did our Time for Greatness campaign to build [Schermerhorn Symphony Center] and create an endowment, we obviously had several significant major gifts. We decided to allow the million dollar-plus donors to be recognized by having their name on a box. They would have the right of first refusal in buying tickets to those box seats for their lifetime plus ten years, meaning that their heirs could re-up that and make whatever contribution we decided was necessary to raise additional capital in the future, to fix the roof or whatever. There were 35 gifts in excess of a million dollars, and the architect’s design for the hall included 28 boxes. So we took what was to be the loge section of the main floor and converted those areas into additional boxes.” As the orchestra was preparing to open its new hall in the fall of 2006, says Valentine, a discussion developed about whose responsibility it would be to ensure that all of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center founders “were offered the opportunity to buy tickets for those boxes, that there was some deadline by which they needed to respond, that we had heard from them all and didn’t make them mad by enforcing the deadline too rigidly. If you were going to re-sell the boxes you had to manage it well. The question was, who’s got anybody in their department who has the time to do that? People in the marketing and development departments came to me with this problem, and I said, ‘Here’s what we’re doing to do: hire somebody whose full-time job it is to be the founders’ concierge. If they want to trade their tickets, if they’re bringing their elderly grandmother and need a wheelchair, if they need restaurant reservations or help with parking—whatever it is, this person will take care of these founders and, among other things, manage this relationship about the tickets.’ ” The result was the hiring of Kristen Oliver as director of patron services. symphony
“Kristen was wildly successful,” says Valentine. “All of the million-dollar donors were saying ‘this is incredible—I can call her and she’ll take care of anything I need.’ But Susan Plageman, who was then our vice president for external affairs, came to me and said ‘we have a telemarketing group, a telefunding group, a box-office sales staff for inbound calls, a physical box office staff, and we have Kristen. I want to change the whole model. I want to take this thing that Kristen has done for the million-dollar donors and do it for the whole audience.’ So Susan and I went into the phone room one day, got all of those groups together and said, ‘We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that you’re all fired. The good news is that we have a whole new set of jobs for you. You’re going to be retrained.’ ” Thus it was that the Nashville Symphony’s Patron Services Department came into being, with Oliver overseeing six fulltime patron services specialists and a fleet of part-time marketing associates reporting to their own manager (see chart, page 60). The marketing associates, paid on commission, would look for new subscribers and, once a sale had been made, surrender those customers to the patron services specialists. Valentine says his charge to the specialists was, “You are going to be salaried, and we’ll pay you a living wage. You won’t be motivated by commission. Your job is not to hard-sell, your job is high-touch customer service. We’ll divide up the entire subscriber base plus the donors of $250 and above— these will be your folks. Come renewal time you’ll get on the phone and say, ‘Hi, this is Bob, your patron services representative at the Symphony. I’m calling to make sure you got your renewal packet. I can help you with tickets, help you with donations, help if you have special needs at a concert. Anything you need going forward, just call me. If I’m not here, somebody will help you, but I’m your guy.’ ” Establishment of a Patron Services Department wasn’t the only change precipitated by the Nashville Symphony’s move to Schermerhorn Symphony Center. As owner of the new hall, the orchestra was now operating its own box office, and it needed a sophisticated system for managing that. “Tessitura software gives us the capability of doing something we had dreamed of for years,” says Valentine. “We can keep all of the accounting for a patron’s relationships americanorchestras.org
with us, from contributions to ticket sales, Meet the PSRs in one place. This was an opportunity to Each of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s five merge marketing and development, move patron services representatives (PSRs) towards the notion of ‘one patron, multiple has a client list of subscribers to its main relationships,’ sort of like Saint Paul. We classical series. “We took all of our BNY would still have a marketing director and a Mellon Grand Classics subscribers and development director, but we said, ‘You guys put them through this ranking process are really working for the same set of goals. so we could give each PSR a diverse and The important thing is the total value of a equal portfolio,” says Aleta King, senior patron’s relationship with us over time.’ ” director of patron FSA 1101 Symphony Ad 3 4/14/11 9:51 AM Page 1 services. “The decision
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to focus specifically on those subscribers was made about six months before we implemented the program. We were thinking about including pops subscribers as well, but realized that we needed to pilot this program before expanding it.” (Tamburri notes that pops subscribers generally have a lower level of commitment to the organization, and “tend to not contribute nearly at the same household rate, either in amount or frequency, as classical subscribers.”) As Perrino puts it, the goal was to give all of the PSRs “an equal footing. We obviously have a much lower renewal rate with first-year subscribers; if a PSR ended up with firstyear subscribers only, it would be really frustrating for them to be only renewing at 50 percent.” King says that when the PSR program was implemented, in September 2009, “we gave the PSRs essentially two and a half to three months of training. We let them in very slowly, because we said, ‘these subscribers are our core asset, we really need to treat them well, to keep them and grow them.’ I think our idea at first was pretty much to stay where 9/4/05, 12:21 PM we were or not do any harm, but it went really well. The goals were 80 percent renewal from 2009-10 to 2010-11 for the annual fund and subscriptions, and we actually hit 82 percent in both areas. We’re looking at 2010-11 as our first full year, and we’ll use it as a base year, because we have more control over what’s coming in and going out.” In addition to cultivating current subscribers and encouraging them to renew, Pittsburgh’s PSRs handle gifts of $1,500 or less. Larger donations are handled by the Donor Relations Department, but Perrino notes that there are some “blurred lines” in the orchestra’s treatment of the two groups. “We’ve had a ton of positive feedback about the PSRs, and some of the [higher-giving] donors really like having one.” The link between subscription renewal and annual-fund contribution, always a part of the PSRs’ interface with patrons, became more explicit with the 2010-11 renewal form, which for the first time included a donation ask. Perrino says the result was dramatic: an 84 percent increase over the previous season in donation-with-renewal. “We want the PSRs to build relation-
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visit americanorchestras.org 64
ships with their patrons,” says King. “They make phone contact, and from there we set out to educate the patrons that they have a specific representative—they have that person’s name, their photo, their contact information. And of course education about the orchestra continues.” King notes that since the PSRs are not only on a firstname basis with the subscribing household but have sent out their photos, “they lose their anonymity. They are seen at events and recognized.” It’s a personal relationship that also applies to the work of the Nashville Symphony’s patron services specialists. “They don’t just work in the phone room,” says Valentine. “They also work in the Founders Room at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and as concert greeters. They’re wearing nametags, and they meet their actual customers.” The “concierge” treatment that Nashville invented for its major hall donors and has now extended to ordinary subscribers is reaping rich rewards. Valentine relates an imaginary conversation involving a patron services specialist and a loyal subscriber (let’s call them Diane and Charlie): “ ‘Charlie, this is Diane over at the Symphony. You know, we have a box that’s just become available. Isn’t your wife’s birthday this weekend? Are you guys coming to the concert? If you’d like to do this, we’d be happy to upgrade you on a complimentary basis with this box. We’ll roll out the red carpet, you can show your wife a good time, we’ll give you a temporary pass to the Founders Room. All you need to do is give us your other seats, and we’ll re-sell those. You’ve been subscribers for ten years, and we just want to do something nice for you.’ “We do that kind of thing periodically,” says Valentine. “And I can tell you, we had a guy who’d been a $50 annual-fund donor for twenty years. He walked in on Monday morning after that experience and wrote out a $5,000 check to the annual fund.”
Got an opinion? Join the discussion! How important is the link between subscription and donation at your orchestra? Does your orchestra provide any special services to subscribers?
Click on the Discussions tab at SymphonyOnline to comment. symphony
Knoxville Symphony Orchestra violinist Sean Claire performs for a very young patient at the University of Tennessee Medical Center as part of the KSOâ€™s Music and Wellness initiative.
Right: Hopkins University neurologist Charles Limb took MRI scans of musicians improvising in jazz (JazzImprov) and using quarter notes only, selected from a one-octave C major scale (ScaleImprov). Colored areas indicate significant levels of brain activity during music-making.
Harmonic by Karen Campbell
Elgin Symphony violist Loretta Gillespie performs at Indianaâ€™s Sherman Hospital.
Listening to live music can have a neurological impact with a physical response, as it does for Eplett, or offer a way for the visually impaired or those with Alzheimer’s to better connect with the world around them. Yet there is still a lot to learn about how such mechanisms work, and many orchestras are addressing that issue in a big way, supporting brain research and organizing symposia that bring together experts from the musical and medical communities to explore connections and share knowledge.
As scientists learn more about the healing power of music, orchestras are offering those who suffer from medical ailments the best cure they know.
hen longtime Fort Wayne Philharmonic fan Russ Eplett takes his seat at Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre for live concerts, tremors rattle his right hand. “It’s not just shaking, it’s flapping,” says the 66-year-old, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago. “I couldn’t hold a program book and a drink would be a disaster.” But as soon as the music starts, Eplett’s tremors inexplicably cease. The shaking resumes during intermission, after which the music of the concert’s second half again works its soothing magic. When Eplett shared this remarkable story with Philharmonic President and CEO J.L. Nave III, it inspired the Philharmonic’s Innovation Task Force to create a formal pilot study in collaboration with Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne to examine the impact of live music on Parkin-
Courtesy Charles Limb
New Frontiers or Frontal Lobes
son’s disease. If analysis reveals that Eplett’s experiences are shared by other sufferers of the neurological disease, the study could be used to develop new treatments for Parkinson’s and other diseases. “It goes beyond relief,” Eplett says. “Part of the symptoms of Parkinson’s is depression. I haven’t had clinical depression, but I’m unhappy when I’m shaking, and that goes away too. There’s a feeling of relaxation and calm and the ability to enjoy the music.” While Eplett’s experience may not amount to literally shrinking a tumor or mending a broken bone, it is a powerful testament to the role music can play in healing. For some orchestras, healing with their art means bringing the music directly into hospitals and other healthcare institutions, where it provides a sense of calm to patients, or to visitors struggling emotionally with the deteriorating health of a loved one. In other cases, the impact is more overtly observable.
Though the study of music and its effects on neurobiology is a relatively new field, clinical data and anecdotal evidence are emerging that illustrate a variety of persuasive arguments for music’s multi-faceted healing potential, and recent neurological studies are showing ever more sophisticated connections between music and healing. Improvements in functional imaging point toward new ways of mapping sounds to actions. Neurologically, music triggers so many areas of the brain’s geography that it can provide alternate pathways to the motor system, making it especially helpful for those with partial brain damage. Musical elements can, in effect, help retrain the brain to compensate for deficiencies. Through biofeedback, patients can use music to manage pain, and just listening to music sparks neurons in the brain that improve memory and mental function. Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, director of the Music and Neuroimaging Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, explains, “Music-making is a unique modality and serves as a vehicle that makes rehabilitation not only more enjoyable, but also can provide an alternative entry point into ‘broken’ brain systems. It can remediate impaired neural processes or neural connections by engaging and linking brain centers that might otherwise not be linked together.” This seems to be the case for Eplett. He claims that recorded music does not calm his tremors in the same way as live music, which shifts attention away from the hand and toward the music itself and the performers who make it. “I can get a similar effect with other things that require intense focus, but it’s not easy,” he says. “With music, it happens almost automatically.” For its study, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic scheduled three free public concerts
Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, director of the Music and Neuroimaging Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.
this season by members of the orchestra, inviting roughly 35 Parkinson’s patients, who were asked to assess their symptoms before, during, and after the performance. According to Nancy A. Jackson, director of the music therapy program at Indiana UniversityPurdue University Fort Wayne, preliminary findings show statistically significant results at each concert, with participants citing improvements in a range of symptoms, including tremors, energy level, and the ability to write. Jackson is quick to note that the data needs further analysis across all three concerts to factor in such variables as gender, medications, length of diagnosis, and, of course, chance. “But there’s more than enough evidence to say that this works for a lot of people, and it might be a doorway to improving quality of life,” she maintains. Jackson believes the study supports the idea that orchestras can and should have a vital, wide-ranging role to play in their communities, which in turn could result in more community support for orchestras. “If we have positive results for more cost-effective, non-invasive ways for patients to get more out of their daily lives, it’s a win/win for everyone,” she asserts. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic is not the only orchestra that has focused its healing efforts on a specific ailment. New Jersey’s Bay-Atlantic Symphony has taken a special interest in improving the lives of the visually impaired through a partnership with the Helen Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children in Avalon. During an eight-week
summer program, musicians from the orchestra work with groups of 20 to 25 visually impaired children on a variety of music projects, including hand-crafting instruments representing the four sections of the orchestra (strings, winds, brass, and percussion) out of recycled materials. Additional efforts by the orchestra included a recent program at the John D. Young Memorial Lions Blind Center in nearby Absecon. Jed Gaylin, the orchestra’s music director, is quick to downplay the organization’s initiatives for the blind as “healing” per se, instead emphasizing the power music has to “make whole,”
not just for the disabled but for everyone. “Orchestras need to find special populations for whom art—and specifically music—can be a positive force in their lives,” he says. “People keep saying, ‘What a visual age we’re living in.’ Well, it’s not a visual age if you’re blind. Music speaks directly to a faculty that is not compromised for most blind people, so it’s a natural fit.” The Bay-Atlantic Symphony has also bused in patients from the Lions Center to hear subscription concerts, and Gaylin recalls getting comments from many about how meaningful the experience was for them. He notes that, in contrast to film, a live symphony concert is an active experience for the audience. “So in that sense, a visually impaired person is bound up in the performance—they’re part of the creative process,” he says. “So often I think things are done to facilitate them negotiating the world. But how often are they going to actually be a part of the shaping process? In a performance they are, even as an audience member.” The Utah Symphony | Utah Opera has also offered programs for the visually impaired, as well as for patients with autism, but seems to have found its true medical calling with its Alzheimer’s initiative. Last May, and again this year, the organization collaborated with the Utah chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for an initiative called “Making Sense of Alzheimer’s Month,” an innovative program offering Reno Chamber Orchestra players perform at Renown Health as part of the Healing Arts program.
discounted concert tickets, tours of Abrasee. Music really opens the soul up. It brings vanel Hall, and special events for those with joy. I hope other orchestras will start to reach the disease and their caregivers. Throughout out to the Alzheimer’s communities.” the month of May, singers and instrumentalists visit seven assisted-living facilities to Partners In Health perform solo and in small groups. Many orchestras are starting to forge partNeurologists have long held that despite nerships with hospitals and other local orthe dramatic decline of short-term memory ganizations, holding benefit performances in Alzheimer’s patients, the other senses reto raise funds for targeted needs or bringing main intact, including the kind of long-term the music into those facilities. Programs in memory often triggered by a melody or song hospitals, nursing homes, special schools, from childhood. Dr. Norman Foster, profesand rehabilitation centers feature music as sor of neurology, director of the Center for both comfort and stimulation, helping to Alzheimer’s Care, and senior investigator keep the senses sharp. The Reno Chamber at The Brain Institute at the University of Orchestra has an ongoing partnership with Utah, believes that caregivers too often foRenown Health, an integrated health netcus on what patients can’t do instead of what work in Nevada. Since the 1990s, the netthey can, not taking into account that many work’s donor-funded Healing Arts program cognitive and emotional abilities remain unhas used musical performances and original damaged and are able to be stimulated by works by artists in residence, from poets to such experiences as concerts and tours. For painters, to humanize the hospital environexample, last year’s “Making Sense” opened ment and promote healing, incorporating with a tour of the Utah Opera Production art as “a source of inspiration, comfort, and Studios, where patients could see, touch, and strength,” according to the program’s websmell an array of elaborate costumes. site. Colin Ross, a multi-instrumentalist Nick Zullo, program director for the Utah who is paid a stipend from Healing Arts’ chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, grant money, organizes regular bedside peradds, “Memory loss is just the beginning formances by local musicians; once a month, of the process of fading. Music is its own members of the orchestra perform chamber therapy, but we return to it as a mechanism music in Renown Health’s main facility. for making connections. It is different for “There’s a big piece of a patient’s recovery people when on a daily basis they are losing that’s based on how they feel about themwhat they have known, are in the process of selves and what kind of control they have,” losing themselves—who are you, who am I? says Jan Johnson, chairwoman of the comThe last thing that we see munity council for Renown’s disappear is this ability to re- “There’s a big Healing Arts Program. member music, the sense of piece of a patient’s “Medicine is wonderful but what music feels like. There recovery that’s it doesn’t fix everything.” She are people who haven’t spo- based on how says the Reno Chamber Orken for months or even a they feel about chestra’s chamber music conyear, and of all the arts, mu- themselves,” says certs have had an especially sic is the easiest and most Renown Health’s Jan positive impact on the hospiaccessible. It brings back a Johnson. “Medicine tal staff, who aren’t able to sit recollection, and they are is wonderful but for the bedside performances able to speak.” but may be able to stop for it doesn’t fix Sylvia Brunisholz, the everything.” five minutes to listen in the Utah Alzheimer Associalobby. “It affects staff, physition’s family support counselor, recalls accians, patients’ families—who are so big in companying one of the trips to Abravanel this equation of healing—and patients who Hall during which two non-speaking paare able to come and hear the music.” tients in wheelchairs suddenly became alert, “I’m always struck by the people who and began talking about when they were don’t expect to hear great music in a hosseason ticket-holders years before. “Sudpital,” says Scott Faulkner, Reno Chamber denly their affect changed and they became Orchestra’s executive director, in a recent enlivened,” she says. “The tour and the muemail. “The music is performed in the lobby, sic brought back memories from another life and it seems that at every performance three and a feeling of personhood. It was fun to things happen: One, a person in a hospital americanorchestras.org
Bay-Atlantic Symphony concertmaster Ruotao Mao works with patient Stacey Revis at the Lion’s Blind Center in Absecon, New Jersey.
gown, tethered to an oxygen tube or I.V., will come to the balcony above the performers, and listen for a while. Two, a friend or family member who looks exhausted will find a chair and enjoy an hour not thinking about the serious situation their loved one is in. Three, people who just happen to be walking through the building will do a double- or triple-take. Many of them have probably never been this close to this kind of live music, and to encounter it in this setting seems to strike them as totally unexpected.” Faulkner says the orchestra is looking into video recording the performances to be broadcast directly into the rooms of patients unable to attend the lobby concerts. One of the most ambitious therapeuticoutreach initiatives is the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s new Musicians Care program, created in collaboration with Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois. The initiative was launched in November with a 45-minute chamber-music concert around the hospital’s iconic Tree of Life stairwell, after which individual musicians split off to perform in the common areas of other units. Other area
nis says. During his cancer treatments Lonis promised to pursue bringing live musicians into hospital settings. “I knew from my years of experience as a conductor that as great as recordings are, they do not have the visceral effect that live music can create,” he says. The Elgin Symphony has established a Musicians Care Hospice program, which sends musicians into the Pepper Hospice Center Elgin Symphony flutist Scott Metlicka at Sherman in Barrington and Northeast Hospital in Indiana Regional Hospice Centers the most important thing with my music throughout Illinois. Musicians perform as that I had ever done.’ ” a family arrives to visit a dying loved one. Lonis says he and the orchestra are Lonis remembers a conversation with one “moved and humbled” by such experiences. of the players after her first session in the “We are collecting anecdotal evidence literprogram. When the musician arrived, one of ally on a weekly basis on how much these the patients had already died, and the famprograms are affecting our community,” Loily was still there grieving. nis adds. “Not only are people She offered to excuse herself, “Orchestras need beginning to give financial thinking the family wouldn’t to find special support to ensure the future want to be bothered by the populations for of the program, but they music. Instead, they told whom art—and come to our performances her the deceased had loved specifically music— at our home venue. They music and asked her to play can be a positive share their own stories about something for them in her force in their lives,” having attended one of our memory. The musician went says Bay-Atlantic Musicians Care services and on to play three more servic- Symphony Music wanting to come and hear the es at the facility that evening. Director Jed Gaylin. musicians sitting inside the After that, Lonis recalls, orchestra. They want to find “She just sat in her car for a few moments them and talk to them after the performancand wept. My immediate reaction was to tell es to tell them what their playing has meant her how sorry I was for getting her into this, to them and their families.” but she responded with force, saying, ‘No, no, you don’t understand. I was not weepContinuing the Conversation ing because I was sad, but rather because it While music can clearly be a powerful healoccurred to me that I had just done perhaps ing force, there is still much to be learned about the process. With that in mind, a number of orchestras have organized symposia and panel discussions that explore some of the more intriguing questions regarding the neurological study of music. During its 2008 residency at Austria’s Salzburg Festival, The Cleveland Orchestra partnered with the Cleveland Clinic for a “Music and the Brain” symposium. Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, who comes from a family of doctors and has read extensively on the topic, helped organize the event with Dr. Ali Rezai, director of the Cleveland Clinic for Neurological Restoration. Rezai, known symphony
healthcare facilities have expressed interest in bringing in the program as well. Musicians Care was the brainchild of Elgin Symphony Orchestra Chief Executive Officer Dale J. Lonis, who had pioneered a similar program while at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Canada. “As a cancer survivor, I’ve seen firsthand the powerful role music can play in healing,” Lonis says. He recalls that in his own moments of deep despair, he most often turned to music to take his mind off the pain and fear. “I would soon find myself no longer afraid and even more determined to fight. I cannot articulate why it worked that way, but I would either finally drift away to some much-needed sleep while listening, or I would transition from obsessing about my current state, and the fear that accompanied it, to being able to once again believe there was a future to consider.” Lonis says music also helped his daughter Paige, who was away at college during his illness, but made CDs for her father to listen to. “She has told me more than once how music helped her with her own fears and worries through those difficult times,” Lo-
for implanting “pacemakers” in the brain to stimulate parts of the organ “blocked” by injury or diseases like Parkinson’s, plays music for his fully conscious patients to see what kind of effect it may have. “I listen to the music of the brain,” he told writer and cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht in August 2008. “There’s a steady buzz when it’s functioning normally; an angry, chaotic sound when there is damage. Therapeutically, we are skimming the surface in how music can promote recovery. There is a connection between music and the mood centers of the brain. It needs to be researched aggressively.” Boston’s Longwood Symphony Orchestra has been at the forefront of this movement as well. The entire ensemble is made up of healthcare professionals. Every concert is a collaboration with a health-oriented nonprofit, which uses the concert as a unique fundraising event. Since the inception of its Healing Art of Music program in 1991, the orchestra has helped raise awareness and more than $700,000 for 26 medical organizations. In addition, some of the organizations have used their events to galvanize their boards, launch initiatives, recognize prominent people in their field, or provide concert experiences for their own patient/ client populations. LSO on Call takes chamber music directly to healthcare facilities, performing for the benefit of both patients and staff. LSO Community Conversations is a series of lectures and symposia on the dialogue between the arts and sciences. Two recent symposia brought together musicians, doctors, researchers, and educators to share some of the most promising discoveries on the connections between neuroscience, healing, and the arts, such as how the arts develop keen assessment skills both visual and tactile. During “Crossing the Corpus Callosum” in January 2009, LSO oboist Dr. Tom Sheldon, Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Concord Hospital, spoke about how years of depressing oboe keys and making reeds further sensitized his fingers to detect hidden tumors. Neuroscientist and violinist Psyche Loui shared a process she discovered to help stroke patients recover communication skills by singing: musical passages are used to recruit neurons from the functioning right side of the brain to improve speech, a function of the language center of the left side brain. “Crossing the Corpus Callosum II,” held
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this past January, featured Harvard’s Dr. Gottfried Schlaug as the keynote speaker. The renowned neuroscientist addressed the effect of music on brain development and rehabilitation. As a multi-sensory and motor experience, music has the potential to change the function of networks and structure in the brains of those who play instruments and sing, and is a particularly rich stimulus for a host of healing possibilities in those who listen to music. He cited rhythmic auditory stimulation as a way to help the gait of Parkinson’s patients and intonationbased (pitch) speech therapy to help stutterers and recovering stroke patients. Nadine Gaab, Ph.D, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Boston and Harvard Medical School, spoke about the influences of musical training on language processing and executive brain function, or a person’s mental ability to control other abilities and behavior. Arthur Bloom, founder of Renovation in Music Education (RIME), shared details of his program using music as a rehabilitative tool for veterans suffering from traumatic injuries, and a panel discussion examined the application of music for treating autism, using musical activities to stimulate areas of the dysfunctional brain. Dr. Lisa Wong, a violinist and president of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, believes it is vital for the arts and sciences to keep the conversation moving forward, and she would like to see the exploration of the connections between healing and music continue to spread. “We recognize that the arts and sciences have somehow become disconnected in society,” she maintains. “Just as the brain recruits healthy neurons to restore speech through song, so we in the arts and sciences must recruit each other to heal this rift. The endpoint of both is to touch the human soul, to heal, to communicate.” KAREN CAMPBELL is a cultural correspondent for the Boston Globe and freelance writer specializing in the arts, health, and education.
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Aerial view of Singaporeâ€™s Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, where the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and many local and visiting orchestras perform
Against a backdrop of newly constructed skyscrapers and luxury resorts, Singapore is also home to a vibrant cultural scene, including ten full orchestras. Whatâ€™s behind the boom?
Courtesy Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music
Orchestra of the Music Makers performs at Singapore’s Esplanade Concert Hall
Mori Hidetaka Courtesy of The Esplanade Co Ltd
Singapore P americanorchestras.org
by Robert Markow
erched at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, just two degrees above the equator and sweltering year-round with temperatures of 85 to 90 degrees, Singapore has grown in its mere 45 years as a sovereign nation into an Asian tiger of formidable economic power and cultural stature. No fewer than ten full orchestras flourish here: two orchestras performing traditional Chinese music and an orchestra performing traditional Indian music; two amateur adult orchestras (the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra and The Philharmonic Orchestra); the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Music Makers, and an excellent conservatory orchestra; and a festival orchestra in residence at the annual Singapore Arts Festival. Then there’s the world-class Singapore Symphony OrAs of late 2010, Singapore had chestra (SSO), which in its 31-year history stands poised to the fastest-growing economy become possibly the finest in all of Asia. “The growth of the in the world. The number of SSO over the past decade has been phenomenal,” says Ameriarts organizations in Singapore can percussionist Jonathan Fox, who joined the SSO in 2000. more than doubled between “People in this ensemble bring energy to each and every re2003 and 2009, from 302 to 672. hearsal and concert. It’s really such a vibrant place to work.” Too Liang Chang, longtime music critic of Singapore’s Straits Times, says that the government regards the SSO as a “prize possession,” symbolizing the country’s arrival as a modern city-state. >>
This island nation of five million exudes surging energy and eye-popping brilliance. It features a striking skyline of slick skyscrapers, a high standard of living, and a well-deserved reputation for cleanliness, order, and efficiency. Fun-seeking locals and visitors (12 million are expected in 2011) descend nightly on more than 1,200 entertainment establishments (jazz bars, art bars, pubs, discos, and the like). The city boasts the world’s tallest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, which takes riders to the dizzying height of over 500 feet. Last year, the world’s most expensive stand-alone “integrated resort property” (read: casino), the $6 billion Marina Bay Sands, opened amid much fanfare and publicity. Its infinity swimming pool (three times the length of an Olympic pool) is set atop the world’s largest public cantilevered platform, 57 stories up. From a distance it looks like a set for a Star Wars film. As of late 2010, the country had the fastest-growing economy in the world, with GDP growth of 17.9 percent charted for the first half of the year and the Min-
istry of Trade and Industry forecasting 13 to 15 percent for the full year. Pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, construction (especially of casinos), a surge in tourism, and various government schemes to support businesses and employees during the recession all contributed to Singapore’s recent recovery in a world otherwise largely still stuck in the economic doldrums. Amidst this building frenzy and economic expansion, Singapore is moving rapidly toward making itself the cultural hub of Southeast Asia. The number of arts organizations in Singapore more than doubled between 2003 and 2009, from 302 to 672. Among the leading institutions with strong music and arts components in their curricula are the Nanying Academy of Fine Arts, the Raffles Institution, the Hwa Chong Institution, the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Methodist Girls’ School and, the latest to open (2007), the School for the Arts. Music and arts education have enjoyed substantial government backing. A whopping 20 percent of the country’s annual budget goes to the Ministry of Education;
only the Ministry of Defense gets more. At the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, part of the National University of Singapore, students receive full scholarships and, for those who come from abroad, housing and a stipend as well. Yong Siew Toh was founded in 2001 through an agreement between the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and the National University of Singapore; founding director Steven Baxter ushered in a high-powered faculty and a steady stream of visiting soloists like Leon Fleisher, Heinz Holliger, Emanuel Ax, and Barry Tuckwell. Yong Siew Toh Conservatory already has students winning awards in the international arena and positions in major orchestras. To date the conservatory has been funded with two private $25 million gifts and a matching $25 million grant in 2008 from Singapore’s Ministry of Education. The city hosts an annual international piano festival, a biennial local piano and violin competition, and the annual, month-long Singapore Arts Festival, which offers an eclectic international ar-
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ray of dance, theater, art, film, and music. The festival has played host to several of Singapore’s own orchestras, including its resident festival orchestra, as well as such Western ensembles as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields. These and other touring orchestras not part of the festival (the New York and Berlin Philharmonics were two recent visitors) perform at the gleaming, bug-eyed iconic arts complex called Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay, which opened in 2002 with four performance spaces, twenty eateries, and of course lots of shops. (This is Singapore, after all.) Singapore also has a local dance company, a small opera company, several theater companies operating in the country’s four official languages (English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil), an arts radio station, and an HMV record outlet. Who attends all this cultural activity in Singapore? The country’s National Arts Council reports that Singapore audiences are mostly between ages 15 and 40, with sharp dropoff at either end of the scale.
As to the broader question of why Too Liang Chang, the Straits Times music Western classical music enjoys popular critic, notes that classical concerts are “still and government support in Singapore, very much an elitist thing in Singapore,” Tze Law Chan, associate director of the with most audience members well eduYong Siew Toh Conservatory, says, “My cated and in the middle to upper classes, suspicion is that this is an Asia-wide phea large proportion of them students, and nomenon, possibly brought about by the also “very Chinese, which is 75 percent two wealthiest cities of the population.” embracing broadcastBut Singapore Sym- “The love of Western classical ing during the birth phony Orchestra music has grown over the of the recording inGeneral Manager years, and this has paralleled dustry in the twentiKai Jin Chng notes the economic growth and that “for the SSO, education level of the country,” eth century, namely Shanghai and Tokyo. the spectrum of au- says Singapore Symphony This became the most dience spreads over Orchestra General Manager portable form of all age groups, from Kai Jin Chng. Western art, and via below 15 to over 70,” broadcasting became reflecting different the most accessible. It then became fashconcerts catering to different niche groups. ionable to appreciate high art from an“The love of Western classical music has other culture. Perhaps, at that time, it was grown over the years, and this has paralseen quite possibly as a superior or alterleled the economic growth and education native culture.” In the view of the Straits level of the country. There is a greater apTimes’s Chang, “To appreciate Western preciation of other cultures, in particular classical music is to be equated with beWestern culture, not just pop culture but ing classy, well-groomed, and successful in also more serious culture of music and othlife.… The whole idea of SSO came from er performing arts,” says Chng.
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Singapore’s then-minister of defense, Dr. Goh Keng Swee, who felt in the 1970s that it was a scandal that a modern citystate like Singapore had no orchestra of its own. So the formation of the SSO was a symbol that Singapore was arriving— but not arrived yet!—a vanity project that has finally borne fruit.” Orchestras Everywhere
The newest orchestra here, the Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM), formed in 2008, is a natural outgrowth of the country’s approach to education. This 90-piece orchestra consists almost entirely of young musicians who are pursuing careers in other fields but who, upon leaving their secondary schools with strong music programs, want to continue playing in an orchestra. Their average age is twenty. The OMM is not to be confused with the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO), whose origins go back to the 1960s and whose average age is about sixteen. Many members of the world-class Singapore Symphony once played in the
SNYO. The president, prime minister, and members of parliament regularly turn up as guests of honor at concerts by Singapore’s orchestras. The Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO) is another of Singapore’s amateur orchestras operating on a near-professional level. Formed in 1998 by Lim Yau, who also serves as resident conductor of the fully professional Singapore Symphony, TPO regularly presents programs of unusual interest. These have included the first Beethoven symphony cycle given in the Esplanade concert hall (using Jonathan Del Mar’s edition); the first Schumann and Sibelius symphony cycles given in Singapore; and the Singaporean premiere of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. TPO also serves as the pit orchestra for Singapore Lyric Opera, for major dance presentations, and in theatrical and cinematic collaborations. The National Arts Council has engaged the orchestra on several occasions to accompany soloists in the National Music Competition. The flagship orchestra and the country’s
leading cultural ambassador is the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. The SSO gave its first performance in 1979, so it is still a youngster by the standards of most American and European orchestras. Yet it has already been abroad nineteen times, visiting more than two dozen countries on four continents. In addition to many of the expected venues—New York, Paris, Berlin, London, and Hong Kong—it has played in Athens, Istanbul, Cairo, Bangkok, and at the famed temples of Angkor in Cambodia, where it gave a benefit concert with José Carreras for land-mine victims in 2002. It has released more than 30 recordings, including nineteen on the BIS label alone. Its budget is between $15 and $20 million, and it receives $5 million a year from the government, with lesser amounts from corporations; levels of individual donations are low in comparison with U.S. orchestras. The SSO has 95 members, of whom about two-thirds are either Singaporean by birth or acquired citizenship. The others, including five Americans, come from
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all over the planet. They enjoy a 52-week contract with six weeks of paid vacation. Pre- and post-concert talks are offered at selected events. As with many orchestras in America, they present children’s concerts and community-engagement programs, many of them free, given at the botanic gardens, the zoo, the thoroughbred racecourse, and in schools and universities. One particularly successful recent project was a production of Debussy’s La Mer accompanied by projections of superb underwater photography by one of the orchestra’s own violinists. The lineup of guest conductors includes names like Gunther Herbig, Kent Nagano, and Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and soloists such as Gil Shaham, Lang Lang, and Yo-Yo-Ma. Reaching the Next Stage
In the past decade or so, the SSO has grown into a world-class ensemble. On a six-city tour to England and Germany last October, the orchestra brimmed with pride and confidence, its sound warm, full, and well-blended. Compared with performances I had heard the previous
member to have played in the orchestra summer in Singapore, there was more texcontinuously since its first concert back tural clarity, refinement, and sensitivity to in 1979. Trained in Germany, Seah could colors and dynamics. Entrances were imeasily have left Singapore to join another maculate. The final chord of the Overture orchestra, one far better than the SSO in to Candide, the SSO’s encore in Europe, its early years. What kept her? “I wanted was so precise it sounded like a rifle shot. to keep the national La Mer sparkled and flag flying,” she anglistened, surged and “In the swered, “and I wanted roared, while the big Singapore my children to grow climaxes in RachSymphony up in Singapore. As maninoff ’s darkly Orchestra’s the years went by, I brooding tone poem early days, never really thought Isle of the Dead all our sound of moving.” Since the but overwhelmed was much arrival of Music Dithrough the orches- thinner, it wasn’t well blended rector Lan Shui—a tra’s galvanic weight and there was no body to it,” of sound. The string says Associate Concertmaster native of China who studied at Shanghai section is particu- Lynnette Seah. “We now have Conservatory, Cenlarly impressive—in a distinctive sound and a my view, one of the vibrancy seldom found even in tral Conservatory in Beijing, and Boston best in the world at older orchestras.” University—thirteen the moment—with years ago, Seah says the SSO has seen rea powerful, energetic quality reflecting markable growth. “Many key players have the dynamism that infuses Singapore as a been here ten or fifteen years now, espewhole. cially in the woodwinds and brass,” Seah Associate Concertmaster Lynnette says. “In the orchestra’s early days, our Seah, a Singapore native, is the sole SSO
chestra demonstrated its ability to portray a world of classical elegance in transparent scoring. One leaves an SSO concert with a heightened sensitivity to the expressive capacity of music, much in the same way one feels after a performance by one of the world-class orchestras thousands of miles away in Vienna, London, or New York. ROBERT MARKOW is a freelance music critic based in Montreal.
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
“Seascapes” (Debussy, Glazunov, Frank Bridge, Zhou Long), and, most recently, a DVD of the Mahler Tenth Symphony in the Clinton Carpenter version. For their most recent visit to Europe, Lan Shui eschewed many orchestras’ favorite tour pieces in favor of works like Zhou Long’s visceral Rhyme of Taigu (it elicited cheers and whistles at every stop), Rachmaninoff ’s Isle of the Dead, and Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, where the or-
Singapore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Lan Shui
sound was much thinner, it wasn’t well blended, and there was no body to it. We had half the number of string players we have today. The entire woodwind and brass sections came from Eastern Europe. But we matured very quickly. We now have a distinctive sound and a vibrancy seldom found even in older orchestras.” Programming is of central importance to Shui. “I like a creative approach,” he says, a claim borne out both on the BIS recordings he has made with the orchestra and in live concerts. One program a few years ago saw movements from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons interspersed with movements of Ives’s Holidays Symphony. Contemporary music remains a high priority. (Zhou Long and Christopher Rouse are among his favorite living composers.) Recordings include the symphonies and piano concertos of Alexander Tcherepnin, an all-Zhou Long CD, an all-Steven Stucky CD, a program called
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Jaap van Zweden and Marvin Hamlisch invite you to the friendly city of Dallas, the acclaimed Meyerson Symphony Center, and the largest urban arts district in the country! June 5-8, 2012 | Dallas, Texas
2012 National Conference
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra staff, musicians and Maestros
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What happens when a classical musician leaps from the concert hall to the silver screen? Violinist Philippe Quint talks about his acting debut in Downtown Express, a new independent feature film.
few years ago I got a call from David Grubin, versatile director of such awardwinning documentaries as The Buddha, RFK, and Marie Antoinette. David was developing a feature-film script about the Russian music community in New York City and was keen on meeting and talking to Russian musicians. He was curious to know about the struggles and challenges new immigrants face upon arrival and how that affected my first steps in this country.
Philippe Quint performs with singer-songwriter Nellie McKay in Downtown Express.
Several times I hinted to David that I would be interested in auditioning for the role of a young Russian violinist. David said, “Let’s see. First we’ll develop the script, and then we’ll call you.” Six months later, David asked me to stop by his office for a casting. After several screen tests, David and producer Michael Hausman offered the part of Sasha to me. While the part certainly did
not require a major transformation (after all, I am a Russian-born violinist!), it was challenging for me to strip off all the “Americanisms” I had gained over time. I needed to throw myself back ten or fifteen years to remember the excitement and initial shock of the sudden change I had experienced when I first arrived in New York. The new endeavor prompted me to build my knowledge of acting, so I started taking classes with legendary acting instructor Sondra Lee. I came to find similarities between my musical training at Juilliard and the craft of theater. Actors and musicians must both stay in the moment. To be a conscious musician you must listen to your partners, whether you are playing with a symphony orchestra or chamber music ensemble. Similarly, any acting teacher will tell you that acting is not about acting, it’s about reacting. Sondra and I worked on monologues and scenes from great plays by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, and Sam Shepard. Interpretive exercises made me constantly rethink my approach toward a particular play or work. They also brought memories of my lesson with the late Isaac Stern, who advised me that it was important to realize that there is meaning behind every note—in this case, behind every word. Last June, Downtown Express was shot on location in New York City. I was fortunate to have such a wonderful cast and crew who made me feel very comfortable. Looking at myself on screen was as painful as listening to my own violin recordings. After the first few days
Downtown Scenes Philippe Quint (right) with director David Grubin on the set of Downtown Express.
of the shoot I decided not to look at the dailies (footage shot each day), because I would get paranoid about the way I walk, talk, and look. I noticed that other actors also avoided looking at scenes we’d just finished. I was always happy to help the team with details about the Russian community, and for a short time even became a Russian underground hip hop artist so that we could produce the necessary song for one of the scenes, contributing my own lyrics and vocals. What attracted me most to Downtown Express was the way the characters spoke through music. One could even say that music is actually the lead character in this film. My character, Sasha, is naïve but determined and excited to explore his newfound freedom in his adopted country, and he is fascinated by the multi-hybrid sounds he finds in New York City. He is attracted to Ramona (played by singer-songwriter Nellie McKay), and he brings his classical music training into the strange world of her New York underground band. Can Sasha integrate his Juilliard training and passion for Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky into the new musical world he has found, while facing a conflict with his conservative, overbearing father? A two-time Grammy Award nominee, PHILIPPE QUINT has performed with major orchestras including the Berlin Komische Oper Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Leipzig Radio Symphony at the Gewandhaus, Detroit Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. Downtown Express premieres June 7 in New York at Symphony Space.
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