symphony SUMMER 2012 n $6.25
THE MAGAZINE OF
THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS
Cities of Music
How orchestras from Chicago to Seattle to Brooklyn to Stockton are forging stronger ties to their communities
Diversity in Action: Dallas and Pittsburgh • Detroit, One Year Later • Concerts at the Multiplex?
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ive orchestral concerts through an app on your phone. Random acts of music in city streets and suburban malls. High-def broadcasts of orchestra concerts at movie theaters. Virtuoso musicians performing classics in funky clubs. New orchestral scores with a conductor and a DJ. Orchestras are popping up in some unexpected places these days, connecting with current fans and future audiences online, onscreen, and—since music is more than mere digital content—in person. In our cover story, we look at the richly varied approaches that orchestras in a dozen cities are taking to bring the music to the people. Orchestra musicians are performing in the most unexpected places, too: in senior centers, schools, hospitals, and even behind the bars at correctional facilities. These are just some of the freshly rethought, recontextualized frameworks for things that orchestra musicians have been doing for decades—meeting young people, sharing the wonders of their instruments, speaking with audiences. Many orchestras are also working to connect with more diverse communities in their hometowns. In this issue, we explore customized programs at two very different orchestras, in very different cities: Dallas and Pittsburgh. Our coverage of all this activity is not meant to be prescriptive; it’s not meant to say that these are directions all orchestras must take. Rather, we’re reporting what orchestras are actually doing in multiple, locally appropriate ways to complement the often transcendent experience of the live concert. After all, is there anything more exciting than seeing a full orchestra of disciplined musicians poised to play in a concert hall, instruments at the ready, about to leap into a score?
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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 24 Critical Questions Why do orchestras need a League? by Jesse Rosen
28 At the League Behind the scenes with the League’s long-running Essentials of Orchestra Management training program. by Susan Elliott
Cities of Music New programs in New York, Chicago, and Seattle are bringing music to schools, prisons, hospitals, homeless shelters, and senior-care facilities.
Brooklyn Bridges The Brooklyn Philharmonic has re-emerged with a new mission to connect with its borough’s vibrant cultures. by Ian VanderMeulen
Detroit 2.0 With last season’s strike behind it, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is forging a new path. by Donald Rosenberg
Opening Doors The Pittsburgh and Dallas symphonies are helping musicians of color develop orchestral careers. by Andrew Druckenbrod
Popcorn and Prokofiev Are orchestra concerts at the movies here to stay? by Jennifer Melick
Harmonic Resolution The Stockton Symphony is delivering an inspiring message about resolving conflict through music. by Edward Ortiz
86 League of American Orchestras Annual Fund
88 Coda about the cover Pianist Christopher O’Riley talks about the talented teenage The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s free Concert for musicians he hosts on the radio show From the Top. Chicago, given at the September
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.
2010 launch of Riccardo Muti’s tenure as music director, represents one of the orchestra’s many Citizen Musician activities. Photographer: Todd Rosenberg
85 Advertiser Index
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SCORE News, moves, and events in the orchestra industry THE
MUSICAL CHAIRS The San Francisco Symphony has appointed KEN AULETTA director of human resources. has been named principal conductor of the Oakland Youth Orchestra, effective July 1, 2012. JOHN KENDALL BAILEY
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, N.Y.) has announced that MICHAEL BARRETT will step down as chief executive and general director at the close of Caramoor’s 2012 summer season. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has appointed trumpeter and composer TERENCE BLANCHARD to the Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Chair.
has been appointed conductor of the American Youth String Ensemble at Northern Virginia’s American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras. LAURA WOOLLEN CAHN
Arizona’s Tucson Symphony Orchestra has announced two promotions: REBECCA CAIN from orchestra personnel manager to director of artistic production and personnel; and SHAWN CAMPBELL from education and community engagement director to director of artistic engagement and education. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has appointed RAY CHEN associate principal viola, effective in September 2012. At the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, CONNER GRAY COVINGTON has been named assistant conductor for 201213. ANDRE DYACHENKO has succeeded the retiring JAMES GHOLSON as principal clarinet.
has been appointed chief advancement officer for the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Fla. MARY DEISSLER
The Seattle Symphony has named KELLY DYLLA vice president of education and community engagement.
has been appointed executive vice president for orchestra advancement, and MATTHEW LODEN executive vice president for institutional advancement, at the Philadelphia Orchestra. RYAN FLEUR
The Eugene (Ore.) Symphony has appointed SCOTT FRECK executive director. ZACK FRENCH
has been named
Heather C. Johnson
he Berkshire Hills will be alive with the sound of music this summer when Tanglewood turns 75 with a musical party featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, under conductors John Williams, Keith Lockhart, and Andris Nelsons. The July 14 concert at the BSO’s longtime summer home will also feature pianists Emanuel Ax and Peter Serkin, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and vocalist James Taylor, as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus conducted by John Oliver. For those unable to make it to western Massachusetts for the festivities, the concert will be broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances on August 10 (9 p.m. ET). Summer traditions like Tanglewood are an important part of what makes the BSO the BSO, but some things have certainly changed since the orchestra’s first live concert broadcast on January 23, 1926. As part of its efforts to bring music to the widest possible audience, the BSO rolled out its new free online concert streaming platform on April 24 with a program performed at Symphony Hall April 19-24, featuring Beethoven’s First Symphony and Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The BSO now regularly offers streamed concerts through its online Media Center on the Monday or Tuesday after the program’s premiere at Symphony Hall, with streams available for up to a year after the original performance. Concert streams are also being offered by the Boston Pops and Tanglewood, and can be accessed through bostonpops.org/mediacenter (Boston Pops) and tanglewood.org/mediacenter (Tanglewood).
Aspen Music Festival and School has named ALEX BROSE vice president of development.
Happy 75, Tanglewood!
The Juilliard School has announced four additions to its music studio and chamber music faculties, effective this fall: NATASHA BROFSKY and DAVID FINCKEL , cello; DENSON PAUL POLLARD, bass trombone; ERIK RALSKE , horn. Also joining the chamber music faculty will be violinist and violist IDA KAVAFIAN .
director of artistic planning, and ANDREW KOCH artistic coordinator, at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. American conductor JAMES GAFFIGAN has been appointed principal guest conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne, Germany. has been selected by Young Concert Artists as composer-in-residence for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. DAVID HERTZBERG
Amarillo (Tex.) Symphony Orchestra Music Director KIMBO ISHII-ETO stepped down from that post at the end of this season following a five-year tenure. Connecticut’s Waterbury Symphony Orchestra has named CALIDA JONES director of its El Sistemainspired education program Bravo Waterbury. has been appointed music director of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony (Portland, Ore.). ANDRES LOPERA
Connecticut’s Hartford Symphony Orchestra has named JEFFREY MARTIN director of community engagement and education. has been named principal oboe of Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra. NATHAN MILLS
Missouri’s Springfield Symphony Orchestra has appointed AMY MUCHNICK assistant conductor for 2012-13. The Lafayette (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra has promoted SARA MUMMEY to executive director.
The Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco (Guadalajara, Mexico) has appointed ALONDRA DE LA PARRA artistic director.
has stepped down as music director of the San Bernardino (Cal.) Symphony following an eleven-year tenure. CARLO PONTI JR.
Monadnock Music, a summer festival organization based in Peterborough, N.H., has appointed GIL ROSE artistic director. The Hilton Head (S.C.) Symphony Orchestra has named JOHN MORRIS RUSSELL music director.
New York City-based Jazz at Lincoln Center has appointed GREG SCHOLL executive director. ROBERT J. APPEL Russell succeeds LISA SCHIFF as chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors in June 2012. has announced his intention to step down as president of New York’s Manhattan School of Music this fall. ROBERT SIROTA
has been named music director of the Macon (Ga.) Symphony Orchestra. WARD STARE
Tennessee’s Knoxville Symphony Orchestra has appointed MELANIE STATEN communications director.
The Board of Trustees of Boston’s New England Conservatory has elected FRANK WISNESKI chairman. THOMAS NOVAK has been promoted to provost.
has announced his intention to step down as music director of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in 2015. PINCHAS ZUKERMAN
For the fourth year running, orchestras across the country made a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable by participating in the Orchestras Feeding America food drive. From the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra to Washington State’s Walla Walla Symphony, from the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra in Georgia to the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra in California, orchestras of all sizes did their part to help the one in six people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The Cleveland Pops Orchestra held its food drive this March, during a concert celebrating the music and 80th birthday of composer John Williams, and pitching in to help were some familiar characters from films that Williams scored (see photo). Overall, Orchestras Feeding America has collected nearly 400,000 pounds of food, all going directly back to the community each orchestra serves.
On March 15, the Sphinx Organization, which works to build diversity in classical music, honored three young musicians whose accomplishments distinguish them among musicians of color. Anthony McGill, principal clarinet at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and solo violinists Tai Murray and Elena Urioste received the inaugural Sphinx Medals of Excellence during a formal dinner at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Among the attendees were Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer, and Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And the League of American Orchestras was there, too, represented by League President and The League’s Jesse Rosen with CEO Jesse Rosen, Vice President for vice presidents Heather Noonan Learning and Leadership Development (left photo) and Polly Kahn at the Polly Kahn, and Vice President for Supreme Court for the Sphinx Advocacy Heather Noonan. Organization’s Medal of Excellence
The El Paso (Tex.) Symphony Orchestra has promoted ANDY MORAN to resident conductor.
Give Food You Must
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Every month, millions of Americans use online subscriptions for unlimited access to their entertainment choices— everything from cable TV and Netflix to Hulu Plus and The New York Times online. Minnesota’s Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has taken that model and created a new annual $5 membership that allows concertgoers to attend an unlimited number of concerts each season. Each membership is good for a single ticket to any season subscription concert; members can choose tickets normally priced between $10 and $25, which represent 80 percent of the SPCO’s available seating. Among other orchestras with recent ticketing news: the Hawai’i Symphony introduced $10 tickets for students; Chicago’s
© Todd Rosenberg
The Grand Tour
A standing ovation for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, April 2012
It’s been more than twenty years since the Chicago Symphony Orchestra visited Russia, but this April the orchestra made up for the gap with a tour that included not only the expected highprofile concerts, but chamber music, masterclasses, and some of the orchestra’s Citizen Musician activities. Those events included small-ensemble performances for rehabilitation patients, disabled students, and children in foster care. It was the second overseas tour for the CSO and Music Director Riccardo Muti since 2010. The orchestra performed in Moscow and St. Petersburg, then made a swing through Italy with performances in Rome, Naples, Brescia, and Ravenna—territory that Muti, born in Naples, knows well. The CSO’s Russia concerts were presented via the Obama-Medvedev Bilateral Presidential Commission, an arts festival of the U.S.
© Todd Rosenberg
Music of the Baroque now offers $20 tickets for seats in the Harris Theater upper balcony; the Wichita (Kansas) Symphony announced a new, lower-cost section of seats beginning next season; Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra in Nebraska lowered ticket prices to $10 and $25 this season after moving to its new home, the Lied Center for Performing Arts; and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is offering Detroit residents tickets for $15 via its new “Detroit Rush Initiative” made possible by a two-year grant from the Ford Foundation. The DSO also sells a $25 Soundcard that allows concertgoers to fill empty seats at any performance.
Department of State and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. There Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians (left to right) Albert Igolnikov, Hermine Gagné, Gary Stucka, Li-Kuo Chang, and John Yeh in recital at the Moscow Conservatory, April 2012.
must be something in the air in Moscow these days: the Houston Symphony, led by Music Director Hans Graf, performed there in June at the Festival of the World’s Symphony Orchestras.
Conducting an orchestra can seem like a mysterious art. Most everyone realizes there’s a lot more to it than arm waving, but what is it exactly? An April 6 video and text feature at The New York Times helped illuminate the craft with motion-capture graphics of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert (below) conducting Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale interspersed with comments from the conductor himself. The motion-capture imagery (above) at times showed “trails” made by Gilbert’s hand and finger motions—he was conducting without a baton—and at other times depicted spatial relationships of sounds coming from the different instruments in the ensemble. “There is no way to really put your finger on what makes conducting great, even what makes conducting work,” Gilbert says. “There is a connection between the gesture, the physical presence, the aura that a conductor can project, and what the musicians produce.”
Family Reunions “I would recommend any of Dan’s pieces for children’s concerts. They are entertaining, high quality, and easy to produce, with a potpourri of interesting repertoire.” — Boston Symphony “The stage action made the music come to life, and the orchestra responded to your creativity with splendid performances.” — Philadelphia Orchestra
“The Lost Elephant was a hit that brought out the child in everyone.” — Butler Eagle
“You made me laugh so hard that I got a head ache. Nobody’s ever done that — Kenneth, age 11 before.”
Six family and pops shows to choose from. See clips and repertoire at
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Anyone with a job that involves traveling knows it can be tough to squeeze in family time. But on separate programs this spring, musicians from three families managed to reunite on stages in Connecticut, California, and Michigan. On April 12-15, Gerard Schwarz—the Seattle Symphony’s conductor laureate—led the Hartford Cellist/son Julian Schwarz and conductor/father Gerard Schwarz Symphony Orchestra in a program including Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, with Julian Schwarz, his 20-year-old son, as soloist. The following weekend, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performed the West Coast premiere of Gabriel Kahane’s Brooklyn Bridge-themed work Crane Palimpsest, featuring the composer on piano, guitars, and vocals, with Jeffrey Kahane, Gabriel’s father and LACO’s music director, on the podium. And for its May 3-6 concerts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performed Korngold’s Cello Concerto, with Frederick Zlotkin—brother of DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin—as soloist. As far as we know, there were no arm-wrestling contests or time-outs during the Composer/son Gabriel Kahane and conductor/father concerts. Jeffrey Kahane
Courtesy The New York Times
Kid Friendly… Conducting Deconstructed
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The arts may just overshadow the Olympics in London this summer when the massive twelve-week London 2012 Festival gets underway with more than 25,000 artists from 204 competing Olympic nations bringing music, theater, dance, comedy, and art to London. The festival—from June 21 through September 9—includes one-off events such as One Extraordinary Day: Streb Action (above), in which American choreographer Elizabeth Streb and her Extreme Action Company will conduct a “surprise” event throughout London; and Connecting Light, an art installation spanning the 73 miles of Hadrian’s Wall by the artists’ collective YesYesNo. Martin Creed’s sound work All the bells in a country rung as quickly and loudly as possible for three minutes will take place across the U.K. on July 27 to mark the opening day of the Olympic Games. Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will perform a complete Beethoven symphony cycle and works by Boulez; also represented are the Juilliard Orchestra; the BBC Symphony Orchestra; the London Symphony Orchestra; the São Paulo Symphony; and the St. Louis Symphony.
Soloists available for symphonies
Leon Bates, piano Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play Claudio Jaffé, cello Georgia Guitar Quartet Gershwin on Broadway Julianne Baird, soprano Klezmer and All that Jazz Louise Toppin, soprano
Want to know more about governance of orchestras? The League of American Orchestras offers a vast array of resources—seminars, distance learning, peer-topeer discussions, books, and more—for board members. The League’s Governance Center, made possible by MetLife Foundation, spotlights the best and most up-todate information about governance to help board members tackle the issues they are facing now—and to take steps toward a stronger, brighter future. Among the resources at The Governance Center are a board self-assessment tool that identifies areas of strength and opportunities for growth; a tool that helps orchestras examine their role in their communities; a toolkit to help orchestras evaluate, improve, and communicate their public value; and audio and video interviews in which board members from a range of orchestras share their successful strategies and tactics. In addition, The Governance Center connects board members with leading governance experts through conference calls, mentoring circles, and discussion groups. The Governance Center also features vlogs, among them League Chairman Lowell Noteboom’s two-part “Avoiding the Governance Deficit.” Find out more about The Governance Center at americanorchestras.org.
The Ahn Trio Monica Huggett, baroque violin Prism Saxophone Quartet Quartet San Francisco Sergiu Schwartz, violin Storioni Piano Trio UpBeat Brass
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Each summer, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival continues to tweak the boundaries of what constitutes a “classical” festival, with this year’s offerings to include a multigenre exploration of birds and birdsong; the conducting debut of choreographer Mark Morris; a twelve-part Schubert survey of symphonic and chamber music; and a soundart installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, The Murder of Crows, at the Park Avenue Armory. The birdsong theme will also encompass Audubon bird walks in Central Park and performances of works by Messiaen, Kaija Saariaho, and John Cage; a screening of the film Winged Migration; and the world premieres of bird-themed works of Suzanne Farrin and Marcos Balter by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. Mark Morris will conduct the Trinity Choir and the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble in Morris’s ballet Dido and Aeneas, based on the Purcell opera, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The and featuring mezzo-soprano Stephanie Murder of Crows sound-art installation, part Blythe as Dido and the Sorceress. of Mostly Mozart 2012
Notes and Neurons in Santa Fe
Scientific research about music and the brain continues to gain momentum, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival will track some of the latest discoveries during a three-day symposium, “Music, the Brain, Medicine and Wellness: A Scientific Dialogue,” from August 3 to 6. Co-presented by SFCMF and the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, the symposium opens with “When Music Sings, the Brain Listens and the Heart Modulates,” presented by neurologist Kamal R. Chémali and pianist Prisca Benoit. Other topics include how harmony, melody, rhythm, and tempo impact brain function, memory and emotion; and the intersection of music and science in neurologic disorders and strokes. Researchers at the symposium represent Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, McGill Symphony Magazine University, and Ohio State University, and 2012 conference issue symposium panels will feature festival musicians and SFCMF Artistic Director G. Schirmer, Inc. Marc Neikrug, as well as New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, this year’s festival artist in residence.
The Mark Morris Dance Group performs Dido and Aeneas this summer, with Morris at the podium.
Roman März photo, courtesy the artists, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Luhring Augustine, New York
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Mostly Mozart Takes Flight
Management Fellows Announced
The League of American Orchestras has selected Eska Laskus and Agnieszka Rakhmatullaev for the 201213 class of its long-running Orchestra Management Fellowship Program. Laskus, who moved to the U.S. from Poland with her family in 1992, earned a master’s degree in violin performance from Arizona State University, and has held administrative posts at such organizations as the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the University of Oregon Eska Laskus School of Music and Dance. Rakhmatullaev, also a native of Poland, emigrated to the U.S. in 2002. She holds master’s Agnieszka Rakhmatullaev degrees in both violin performance and orchestral studies, has performed and taught music in numerous countries, and held posts at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Houston’s Moores Opera House, among other organizations. They will begin their training in June at Aspen Music Festival and School. Laskus will complete her Fellowship year with the Chicago and Pacific symphonies, Rakhmatullaev with the San Francisco and North Carolina symphonies. The Fellowship Program is made possible by support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, alumni of the program, and host orchestras. americanorchestras.org
ME2/orchestra Music Director Ronald Braunstein and musicians during rehearsal
Stages of Recovery One of the newest U.S. orchestras to enter the scene has a highly specialized mission: to encourage dialogue about mental health and to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Conductor Ronald Braunstein, first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1985, launched Vermont’s ME2/ orchestra in September 2011; its 30 all-volunteer members suffer from illnesses including bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction. The Burlington-based group rehearses weekly and so far has given two free concerts; ME2’s work with local and national mental health agencies was profiled in Advocate, the magazine of the National Alliance on Mental Health in January. In August ME2 will bring chamber music to Vermont prison inmates suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues. Under Music Director Braunstein and Executive Director Caroline Whiddon, ME2/orchestra plans to expand this fall to include ME2 Strings, a professional ensemble.
Musicians rehearse in the newly formed ME2/orchestra, November 2011
Untitled (Cliburn Competition) by Ed Ruscha, 2011.
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Louis Langrée leading the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at a special concert, August 2011
Cincinnati Taps Langrée
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has announced the appointment of French conductor Louis Langrée as its thirteenth music director, effective with the 2013-14 season. He will succeed Paavo Järvi, whose decade-long tenure concluded in May 2011. Currently residing in Paris, Langrée is entering his tenth season as music director of New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival. He is also chief conductor of Austria’s Camerata Salzburg. Langrée has guest conducted orchestras in the U.S. and Europe and has worked extensively in opera, holding music directorships at the Opéra National de Lyon in France and the U.K.’s Glyndebourne Touring Opera Company. His Cincinnati Symphony debut in March 2011, during the early stages of the CSO’s music director search process, won critical praise and plaudits from the musicians. CSO President Trey Devey called Langrée a “thoughtful and passionate musical leader” who could “take this already amazing orchestra to new heights.”
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Percussion may not be the most typical choice for a solo concerto instrument, least of all a drum native to the Middle East. But in March, Rony Barrack premiered not his first but his second concerto for orchestra and Lebanese tabla or “darbouka,” with the Boulder Philharmonic led by Music Director Michael Butterman. The first of the darbouka concertos, Beirut Sensations, was premiered by the Philharmonic in 2009. Barrack (right), who has been coming to Boulder for ten years to participate in the annual Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado, says the new piece, Boulder Sensations, was inspired in part by Colorado’s mountain scenery but draws on Lebanese idioms as well. Adding to the Boulder Philharmonic program’s exploration of unusual percussion was Deadlock by composer Ruby Fulton, featuring beatbox artist Shodekeh, who has also performed with the Baltimore and Hartford symphonies.
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It’s that time of year again! By now, League member orchestras should have received an email with a link to an online survey for submitting information about premieres during the upcoming 2012-13 season. All world, U.S., and Canadian premieres happening between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013 are welcomed. We’ll highlight premieres in the fall issue of Symphony, post the full list on our website, and share the list and highlights with national press. The full list of premieres is searchable by composer and orchestra, and remains on americanorchestras.org during the current season and five seasons thereafter. If you have not received the survey, or would rather fill out a form on paper, please contact Symphony Assistant Editor Ian VanderMeulen at email@example.com.
Sounds of a Stradivarius
In January, the Stradivarius cello played by the late Bernard Greenhouse sold for more than $6 million, but the worth of instruments produced in Italy centuries ago has become part of a new public debate. In a recently published double-blind study by Paris researcher Claudia Fritz, only eight of twentyone professional violinists preferred the “old masters”—a Guarnerius and two Stradivariuses— while the rest picked modern instruments. The study, conducted at the Eighth International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 2010, has its critics, including cellist Steven Isserlis, who wrote in the Guardian that it takes time for a violinist to know whether an instrument is a good fit. Meanwhile, technology marches on: the Germanbased EOS company has manufactured a prototype violin by printing component parts on a 3D printer and having them assembled by a professional violinmaker. The EOS violins are made of an industrial polymer, and YouTube clips give an idea what EOS’s new-age “Stradivarius” sounds like. americanorchestras.org
Fantasia is back—this time with live orchestra. In March, Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Symphony Orchestra gave the U.S. premiere of a new Fantasia at the American Music Theatre under the baton of Music Director Stephen Gunzenhauser. The program, presented for the first time with live orchestra, comprised works from the original 1940 version and the Music Director later Fantasia 2000— Stephen including Stravinsky’s Gunzenhauser Firebird Suite, leads the Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Lancaster Symphony in the Suite, Beethoven’s latest version of Sixth Symphony, and Fantasia. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue—plus neverbefore-seen animation for Debussy’s Claire de Lune, which was originally created for, but not released on, the 1940 version. Lancaster artist Michael Abel created the official poster for the new Fantasia, which will be screened at orchestra presentations around the country. Lori Stahl Photography/Disney Music Publishing
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Setting Priorities at the League As orchestras come together for the 67th National Conference, it seems like a good time to respond to questions that come up from time to time about the League and its work. These comments are adapted from remarks I made at the American Orchestras Summit at the University of Michigan in March. Klaus Lucka
by Jesse Rosen
Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras
Why do orchestras need a League? For the same reasons that they did 70 years ago. We started in 1942 during the Second World War as a group of small orchestras in the Midwest, mostly volunteer-led. An excise tax had been imposed during the war on all forms of entertainment, including concert tickets. The leaders of the top orchestras in the United States at the time—from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago—went down to Washington and said, “We think we should be exempt from this. We’re nonprofit, and we think this is unfair.” What they heard back from Congress was, “Maybe your point’s valid, maybe it’s not. But you’re from five cities, and if we’re going to pay attention to this, we need to hear from a national constituency.” So those large orchestras sought out the then-American Symphony Orchestra League (the world’s most unfortunate acronym) and joined up with them. The League that formed out of this union of large orchestras and small orchestras became a much more potent force for advocacy. Subsequently, there were other visits to Washington, and the excise tax was repealed. So, the modern League really has its origin in federal-level advocacy, which continues to be one of the core areas of the League’s activity.
How does the League advocate for orchestras today? One of my important roles is advocating in the press. In the past year I’ve been quoted more than 100 times in outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle,
Nashville Symphony President and CEO Alan Valentine will tell anyone who wants to listen that he got $22 million from FEMA—half of what it cost to renew and restore his damaged concert hall—as a consequence of the advocacy work of the League and our national performing arts partners. WQXR, BBC Music, and several foreign publications. I have had op-eds published in the newspapers of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Honolulu. We have only one interest at the League, and that’s the health of symphony orchestras. We are actively engaged not only in celebrating good news and communicating it and getting it into the media, but in providing context for
understanding tough situations. We also try to share and amplify the learning that takes place from orchestra to orchestra. So when the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra settled its contract six months early, I called the executive director and said, “Tell me how negotiations went.” He said, “They went really, really well,” and he told me why. Then I asked, “What would the head of the Orchestra Committee say?” He said, “Call him up and ask him.” So I did. The head of the Orchestra Committee and the CEO both told exactly the same story, about how they were able to reach a difficult, concessionary agreement six months ahead of schedule. They talked about starting out from the beginning with three shared core principles: maintain the quality of the orchestra, continue service to community, and ensure a healthy, sustainable financial model. That was good and important news. So, I wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A couple of weeks later, the Cincinnati Symphony called to share positive developments with their contract. I said, “Well, I need to talk to your Orchestra Committee chair if you want us to consider writing about it.” I called the head of their committee and heard basically the same story. I often tell reporters that most orchestras successfully negotiate their contracts; it’s only the symphony
exceptional situation that ends up with a disruption of services. I do this work to convey the positive messages that we believe the public needs to hear. And for the last four years, the League has been involved in trying to understand and develop the points that are most important and effective. One of the outcomes is a messaging framework that outlines four key areas of argument for the public value of orchestras. This framework was developed from research with influentials—policy-makers, civic leaders, foundation heads, and so on. One of the things we learned was that the area where orchestras were perceived to be lacking with respect to their importance and their value was their connection to their community, and their service to a wide cross-section of their public. This message is of the utmost importance right now. There is a very active policy debate and discussion going on in Washington about the future of the nonprofit sector, which includes orchestras. The public forgoes taxes from us because we render a public benefit, a civic value. But to the extent that policy-makers are not clear as to what that civic value is, and we can’t demonstrate it and talk about it persuasively, then we are at risk. The Obama Administration’s tax reform plan includes a proposal that would limit the deductibility of charitable contributions. Other scenarios, which have been mentioned by both policymakers and nonprofit stakeholders, would divide up the sector so that some parts are “more deductible” than others. You can imagine how orchestras and opera companies would be perceived in comparison to soup kitchens and shelters. Here’s another kind of League advocacy. In 2010, when the Nashville Symphony had the flood after their new hall opened, the expense for fixing it was about $44 million. Alan Valentine, their executive director, called me to ask if there was any way we could help. I called our vice president for advocacy, Heather Noonan, who is based in Washington, D.C., to ask what might be available at the federal level. She said, “Well, guess what? In 2007, americanorchestras.org
we were successful in getting performing arts venues written into the FEMA regulations, which had previously excluded them.” Heather told Alan who to call and what to do concerning support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Alan will tell anyone who wants to listen that he got $22 million from FEMA, half of what it cost to renew and restore his concert hall, as a consequence of the advo-
When it comes to federal advocacy, the League and the American Federation of Musicians operate in close alignment, sharing resources to advance shared policy goals that improve the environment for orchestral activity. cacy work of the League and our national performing arts partners. Almost all our federal advocacy is done in partnership with our performing arts and non-profit partners. And, when it comes to federal advocacy, the League and the American Federation of Musicians operate in close alignment, sharing resources to effectively advance shared policy goals that improve the environment for orchestral activity. The League leads a performing arts coalition on visa reform, and the AFM government affairs staff have been essential partners working beside us. We are also honored to partner closely with the AFM as they lead the efforts to improve FAA policies regarding musical instruments carried on planes. The League is deeply devoted to advocacy and is a recognized national leader in the efforts to improve in-school arts education policy and to protect incentives for charitable giving—two additional policy areas that are vital to the future of orchestras and are also supported by the AFM policy platform. We have an online record of our statements and our comments before Congress, the White House, and federal agencies. We routinely engage the press and proactively enlist the full array of orchestra stakeholders in advocating to policy leaders.
What does the League do with challenging news about the field? It is important to distinguish between negative rhetoric and acknowledging reality. We consider it a form of advocacy to take the lead in communicating to our membership what we understand to be the real challenges that face the industry. When the National Endowment for the Arts’ Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) report first revealed dramatic downturns in arts participation a few years ago, we were, as far as I know, the only ones who challenged that data. We went to our partners at the NEA and asked if they had any other data to compare it with. They told us that they had looked at movies, sports, and other leisure activity, and found that almost everything was down. People aren’t going out as much as they used to, so this was not an orchestra-specific or classical music-specific phenomenon. But we still weren’t satisfied. We asked McKinsey and Company to see what kind of correlation there was between the NEA data and our own data from orchestras. The McKinsey result confirmed that the trend lines indicated in the SPPA report were also supported by the League’s own data. We concluded that our members needed to know about this, not because we wanted to cause alarm, or join the long list of those forecasting the end of orchestras, but because you need to know what’s going on in order to figure out what to do and how to deal with the forces that you’re encountering. Our message was not, “Oh, my God, look how bad it is.” It was, “Look at what we now know. Now, what are we going to do about it?” Shortly after introducing this information, we followed it with the dissemination of three major pieces of new research and understanding in audience development and fundraising. There has been a lot of experimentation and learning about orchestra audiences over the last several years, beginning with pricing coming out of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Patron Model. There has also been deep analysis of the “churn factor” in audiences,
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it by saying, “Okay, we’ve got a problem. Here’s what we’re doing about it.” This has always been the way the League has approached information about the biggest challenges in our field, and how we can use it to move forward.
The League has four big priorities for orchestras: artistic vibrancy, fiscal stability, deep engagement with the community, and excellence in leadership at the governance, management, and musician levels.
What role does the League’s board of directors play in the field? The League board is composed of lots of different people, with many different views. They often don’t agree on things. We have as many musicians as managers, other music professionals, board members of member orchestras, foundation leaders, etc. As with any board, our members fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities and partner with the senior staff in setting policy and strategy for the League, not for the field. Our board members are not deployed to go out to their orchestras and tell them what to do, or to deliver the “League line,” or the “League message” about how to run their orchestras. When they are with their own orchestras, they act as free agents, not as representatives of the League.
light on what it takes to convert ticket buyers into donors. Our role was to actively disseminate these findings and new practices and make sure that the full field grasped them and put them to use. We are now seeing an unprecedented amount of experimentation and important successes in all three of these areas. All of this activity, incidentally, is directed at improving income generation, both earned and contributed. I disagree with the idea that we might be creating negative public perception by speaking candidly about our challenges as a field. We live in a world where you can’t hide anything. Everybody knows you can’t hide empty seats in a concert hall, and you can’t hide what’s on your balance sheet. Funders and donors look at your balance sheets. They look at deficits and surpluses, and they want to see healthy organizations. And when they don’t, they know it and they say it. When Peter Gelb, arguably among the most PR-savvy arts leaders, took over the Metropolitan Opera, the first thing he said in the press was how weak their attendance was, that it had to change, and he had some ideas about how to change it. To the extent that you pretend that our revenue issues and our attendance issues aren’t there, key stakeholders don’t take you seriously, whether they are media, philanthropists, or government representatives. You have to own up to 9/4/05, 12:21 PM
Who gets the League’s data and how reliable is it? Several years ago the League made a very substantial policy change in order to make its annual financial and operating data, which previously only went to managers, available to musicians’ Orchestra Committee chairs. Complete sets of the annual data are also shared with the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, the Regional Orchestra Players Association, and the AFM. Bona fide social scientists also may apply to the League for use of our data and must agree to confidentiality and other terms. Subsequently we formed a task force, including managers and elected musician leadership, to update the League’s Orchestra Statistical Report. The survey form was very old, and the task force was convened in order to make it relevant to the circumstances and the needs of orchestras today. We have rolled out the new version this year. The data itself has been regarded as symphony
among the most comprehensive and the most thorough of any data set in the performing arts. According to Tom Pollak, program director of the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute, which houses the largest data set in the nonprofit arts in America, the OSR “is among the best data sets of its kind in the performing arts.” What are the League’s current priorities? We have four key priorities for orchestras: Artistic vibrancy. Excellence is important, and it’s a given that we aspire to give the greatest performances that we can. But if we’re going to sustain our place in the cultural mix of our country, we also have to be able to capture the energy and the enthusiasm of the communities that we serve. There are huge issues burning through our society and our culture today. Artistic vibrancy
helps people who are thinking, who are concerned about these things, consciously feel a connection with what we do. Fiscal stability. There may have been a time when deficits were okay, and everyone thought, “Well, that goes with the territory of nonprofit.” Those times are over. Funders don’t tolerate it anymore. There’s a very big drive in the funding community to see bettercapitalized organizations that are not only prepared to balance their budget, but that have some cash reserves and resources available for experimentation. Deep engagement with the community. There has been a very positive shift in the value proposition of orchestras. The old framework was, “Come to us. You’re going to have a great time. Support us, buy tickets, be here.” We’re moving now to another way of framing what we’re about
that says, “We are an asset of this community and we want to, can, and will play a role in helping address the agenda for the community.” This is an essential shift, and I don’t think it is at all antithetical to the idea of maintaining artistic standards, our curatorial roles, and everything that goes with the professionalism that symphony orchestras stand for. Excellence in leadership is needed at the governance, management, and musician levels. Governance is a critical place where we need better leadership and improvement. At the staff level we continue to need to grow the pool of talented people who are capable of leading these very complex institutions, and equally so with musician and volunteer leadership. Those organizations that do well have strong leaders. And we need to be continually doing everything we can to insure that great leadership comes into our field.
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Registration Deadline: September 7, 2012 carnegiehall.org/nyousa firstname.lastname@example.org | 212-424-2024 Important funding for the launch of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America has been provided by Joan and Sanford I. Weill and The Weill Family Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, and Ann Ziff.
Bringing out the best in US
It’s Essential Essentials of Orchestra Management, the League’s longrunning course on what it takes to lead an orchestra behind the scenes, is adapting to the needs of a changing industry. by Susan Elliott
Faculty, staff, and participants in the League of American Orchestras’ Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar, January 2012
hat is the key personality trait for managing an orchestra? Passion? Humor? Confidence? Intellect? “Humility,” said Deborah Rutter one morning last January, “is the key to good management.” Rutter is president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is also the co-leader, with San Francisco Symphony Executive Director Brent Assink, of the League of American Orchestras’ annual Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar. “Orchestra management is a collaboration,” added Assink. “It is fun, exciting, confusing, and inspiring. And you have to be courageous.” As the leaders of two of America’s healthiest symphony orchestras, Rutter and Assink know of what they speak. And this year from January 4 to 13 the pair generously shared their collective wisdom with some 30 would-be managers (and one fly-on-the-wall journalist) in the conference room of the League’s New York headquarters. Launched in 2000 by Peter Pastreich, who had recently concluded his tenure as executive director of the San Francisco Symphony, the exhaustive (and exhausting) Essentials course is designed for early-career individuals with less than three years of experience in the orchestra field, or those from other professions thinking seriously about switching careers.
This year’s crop hailed from orchestras small and large, volunteer and paid (or a mix thereof ), with a staff of one to a staff of 75. Carrie Newman, newly named executive director of the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra in Fort Collins, Colorado, had no previous experience in the field but plenty as a manager of nonprofits. Her orchestra, with 60 core professionals who live within a 100-mile radius, performs about 50 services a year in a variety of venues and cities, some requiring over two hours of travel time. Newman jokes that she is a staff of one and a half: “The development department is open when the file folder is open. HR is out right now.” Newman was among the twelve executive directors attending the most recent
Essentials course. (Most of the others were from similarly small operations.) “The fact that more than a third of them are executive directors indicates to us that Essentials has become the place for new orchestra leaders to come,” says the League’s Polly Kahn, vice president for Learning and Leadership Development, the department under whose aegis Essentials falls. Indeed, of the 329 individuals who have attended Essentials over the last thirteen years, 224 are now active in the field and 59 are executive directors. Among those who took the course and, as a result, changed professions are Cleveland Orchestra General Manager Gary Ginstling, who arrived in January of 2003 from Sun Microsystems, where he was senior marketing manager, and Peter symphony
At the Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar in January 2012: Daniel Beckley (center), executive director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, with, from left: John Roloff, operations manager, Des Moines Symphony and Academy; Sara Buechmann, executive director, Mankato Symphony Orchestra; Adam Arango, director of education, program ad sales, and telemarketing manager, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra; Fabienne Morris, marketing coordinator, London Symphony Orchestra; Christine Kastner, president and CEO, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra
Kjome, class of 2007, who was a businessdevelopment manager for the 3M Company. Today, Kjome is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Both had been musicians before moving into their business careers in the for-profit world. Essentials has long drawn participants into making orchestra management a career. The League gave its first course in August 1952, led by the League’s thenExecutive Secretary Helen M. Thompson as well as conductors and seasoned orchestra executives. In 1960, Peter Pastreich took the seminar; at the time he was a first-year medical student and part-time manager of the Village Civic Symphony, a community orchestra. As he once recalled, he was “making it up as I went along. I didn’t know that there were standard ways to raise money or sell tickets.” He realized that “it wasn’t necessary to just invent the whole thing. I learned that there was a general outline of how orchestras were managed, what the techniques were. I also found out there were many good people in the field.” Beyond the basics, Pastreich was so fired up by the course that he made management a career, and went on to occupy top posts at orchestras nationwide. And he was determined to continue to help train managers at the League. The course—continually updated—has remained one of the League’s core proamericanorchestras.org
grams, acting as a sort of pipeline of talent for orchestra managers. The Essentials curriculum is as rigorous as it is all-encompassing, a crash course in the hard-core realities of running a fiscally and artistically sound orchestra in the 21st century, all dispensed with candor (and often humor), from some of the smartest people in the biz. Supplementing the Assink-Rutter axis in January 2012 was a range of managers, musicians, marketers, conductors, and an archivist. There was even a star mezzo-soprano, who shared some juicy morsels about backstage life at the opera house. Run more like a graduate seminar than a lecture series, with plenty of true-tolife role-playing along the way (including a highly intense labor negotiation),
a cover-all-the-bases plan designed, says Kahn, to reinforce “the real-life opportunities and challenges that orchestras face today” and to showcase “what leaders need in terms of the intellectual, adaptive, and community-oriented skills to help move our orchestras forward.” Indeed, “moving forward” was a strong thread throughout. From Day 1 it was clear that perhaps the most essential essentials for orchestras today, aside from humility, are flexibility and a willingness to get “entangled” with the local community. Assink explained the curriculum as divided into four “critical content” areas: artistic vitality; business and operational models; community engagement (“playing concerts is no longer enough,” he said); and leadership—finding a definition and identifying different styles. He set the mood for the ten-day ride by encouraging feedback from everyone in the room. “Lectures don’t work,” he said. He and Rutter made it clear that they wanted to be treated by the group as colleagues and, along with the rest of the staff and visiting
The Essentials course helps orchestra executives understand “the real-life opportunities and challenges that orchestras face today,” says Polly Kahn, the League’s vice president for Learning and Leadership Development. the ten-day program has been led since 2010 by Assink and Rutter, along with Kahn, who has been involved from the beginning, and other League principals, including President and CEO Jesse Rosen. Together they have come up with
faculty, went out of their way to make themselves accessible and available for questions and advice. But they also made it clear that running an orchestra in 2012 is no picnic. Within the first hour of the first day, par-
Magna Cum Laude The League’s Essentials of Orchestra Management program enlists a who’s who of the orchestra world to lead its classes. Here are the speakers and presenters from the January 2012 Essentials course, with their affiliations. Marin Alsop, music director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Brent Assink, executive director, San Francisco Symphony; Jay Blumenthal, director, Symphonic Services Division, American Federation of Musicians; Deborah Borda, president & CEO, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Wayne S. Brown, director of music and opera, National Endowment for the Arts; Ben Cameron, program director for the arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Aimee Chow, artist manager, IMG Artists; Richard Dare, CEO & managing director, Brooklyn Philharmonic; Scott Faulkner, executive director, Reno Chamber Orchestra; David Filner, Orchestra Management Fellow, 2011-12; Vince Ford, director of digital media, New York Philharmonic; Gino Francesconi, archivist and museum director, Rose Museum and Archives, Carnegie Hall; Alan Gilbert, music director, New York Philharmonic; Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director, Carnegie Hall; Martha Gilmer, vice president for artistic planning and audience development, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Naomi Grabel, director of marketing and creative services, Carnegie Hall; Judd Greenstein, composer; Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean, The Juilliard School; Kelly HallTompkins, violinist; Charles Hamlen, chairman, IMG Artists; Marilyn Horne, singer/guest artist; Eric Jacobsen, conductor and co-artistic director, The Knights; Sarah Johnson, director, Weill Music Institute, Carnegie Hall; John Kieser, general manager, San Francisco Symphony; Peter Kjome, president & CEO, Grand Rapids Symphony; Jon Limbacher, vice president and chief operating officer, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Michael Lisicky, oboist and chairperson of BSO Players’ Committee, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Elizabeth Mahler, managing director, The Knights; Zarin Mehta, president and executive director, New York Philharmonic; Heather Noonan, vice president for advocacy, League of American Orchestras; Alan Pierson, artistic director, Brooklyn Philharmonic; Bruce Ridge, double bass, North Carolina Symphony and chairman, International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians; Mi Ryung Roman, director of development, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Jesse Rosen, president & CEO, League of American Orchestras; Deborah Rutter, president, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Edward Sermier, director, national customized services, Nonprofit Finance Fund; Fiona Simon, violinist, New York Philharmonic; David Snead, vice president of marketing, New York Philharmonic; John Sparrow, vice president of orchestra initiatives and general manager, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Colin Williams, principal trombone, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
ticipants were shown the video of Rosen’s “Orchestras at the Crossroads” speech from the League’s 2011 conference last June in Minneapolis. The seminar’s title for it: “Red Alert: Some Critical Issues Today.” It was the Essentials leaders’ way of saying to their new charges: “Listen up: You’ve got some tough issues ahead of you.” A few of the comments in Rosen’s speech: “The average orchestra deficit in 2005 was $193,000. Four years later, in 2009, it had skyrocketed to $697,000.” And: “In 2008, half of the orchestras
reported deficits; the very next year, 2009, that segment increased to more than two-thirds.” He went on to say that many of today’s orchestras are in trouble not so much because of the 2008 recession, although that didn’t help matters, but because of evolving trends that were now coming to a head. “Over the years, as orchestras were adding concerts, audiences were dwindling,” said Rosen. He cited the facts of decreasing income and rising costs, donor fatigue, lack of diversity and broad-based
support, and basically told his audience to “crash-proof your orchestras.” “It’s a Darwinian time,” said Assink in the discussion following the video. “Those who adapt are the ones who survive.” Defining Artistic Vitality
Having alerted their subjects to the rough road ahead, Assink, Rutter, and Rosen jumped in. “What is artistic vitality?” Rosen asked the group. Answers from the room were all over the lot: “excellence,” “risk-taking,” “passion,” “community relevance,” “flexibility.” “Who has responsibility for maintaining it?” continued Rosen. “One of the biggest challenges for an executive director,” Assink interjected, “is identifying when artistic vitality might be missing and figuring out how to fix it.” As it turns out, we learn, the responsibility for artistic vitality lies with everyone in the organization, from the newest marketing intern all the way up to the music director. When Riccardo Muti first arrived as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director, said Rutter, the whole organization met to determine “what we stand for. We created an artistic philosophy” that everyone could collectively espouse. Among the most interesting discussions under the artistic vitality banner was “Managing for Artistic Quality,” an interview conducted by Rosen via Skype with John Sparrow and Colin Williams, respectively vice president/ general manager and principal trombone of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. “My job is to keep as many fantastic players as happy as I can,” said Sparrow in response to Rosen’s request for a job description. “I seek them out in conversations. I think of them as colleagues and peers—not just folks to manage. Make sure they don’t see you in a two-dimensional way, and don’t look at them that way, either.” Sparrow further emphasized the importance of communication and feedback—from the players, the librarians, the personnel manager, whomever. “I bounce ideas off people a lot,” he said. Having a symphony
good relationship with the players also helps the quality of the orchestra; they are often the best source of recommendations to fill vacancies. Later in the week Rutter would add, “A happy orchestra makes good music.” There were further discussions about the dos and don’ts of auditions; the perils of playing in an acoustically dead environment, where the musicians have to play out to hear each other (“keep an eye out for wear and tear,” offered Williams); which players to use in community engagement; what to do in a small orchestra when the music director wants to be the sole auditioner and the players want to be involved. Sparrow singled out the importance of having a good personnel manager by posing a theoretical: if the music director wants the players close together on the stage, and they want to be far apart, it’s the personnel manager’s job to settle the issue happily for all concerned. During the “Artist Managers & Agents” session, a seminar participant asked who should draw up the contract for visiting artists—the orchestra or the artist manager. “The manager,” responded visiting speakers Charles Hamlen and Aimee Chow, chairman and artist manager at IMG Artists, among the largest management firms in the world. There was a slight pause. “Well, not necessarily,” interjected Assink. “It may be better if the orchestra draws up the contract and then sends it to the manager.” “Either way is fine,” laughed Chow. More questions from the floor: “If the conductor has a personal relationship with the soloist, is it okay for the executive director to approach the artist directly?” “No,” said Hamlen, “That’s a slippery slope. Artists really don’t like talking about fees.” He added that artist fees don’t change depending on orchestra size. The very expensive artists will sometimes attract a donor sponsor, who may want to have a meeting or dinner arranged in return. Another possibility is to add a local incentive: one artist in particular will sometimes take a smaller fee if there is a golf course nearby. americanorchestras.org
“Always roll out the red carpet,” said Assink. (In a later session, that star mezzosoprano, Marilyn Horne, was asked what made a good administrator in her experience as a visiting artist: “Keeping the nonsense out of the way,” she laughed.
“Stay on top of the details. Be a little clairvoyant.”) Chow reported that she is both a “booker” and a manager, and there followed discussions of who gets paid, manager or artist (either), and why an artist has to hire his or her own accountant.
“Taxes from one country to another are a nightmare,” said Chow. As Essentials attendees were learning the facts of orchestra life, they were also participating in exercises that called upon them to work together as teams in a fictional labor negotiation. There were orchestras that needed their advice (“the Salmon Symphony” and “the Essentials Philharmonic,”) and one, the “Major Philharmonic Orchestra” that needed a labor issue resolved through negotiations. Among the agenda items for a meeting of the Essentials Philharmonic Operating Committee Meeting: a music director search, a financial crisis, a fundraising conflict between the chorus and the development director, an unauthorized use of a concert video that had been posted on YouTube, personnel issues in the orchestra, a call for Web redesign, etc. Participants were given roles to play—artistic administrator, public relations direc-
Chicago Symphony Orchestra President Deborah Rutter co-leads the League’s Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar, a rigorous course in running a fiscally and artistically sound orchestra in the 21st century. tor, human resources director, orchestra personnel manager, executive director, etc. —and reasons to argue their points of view for their respective departments. The Major Philharmonic’s issue concerned whether musicians should be allowed to bring their children along on a tour—not something that had not been spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement, the boilerplate of which was devised long before orchestras had so many women in them. The Essentials class was split into two groups, each with its own management and musician negotiating committee. Assink and New York Philharmonic violinist Fiona Simon oversaw one, and Rutter and International
Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians Chairman Bruce Ridge the other. “They have to work in teams, do research to develop presentations, come up with strategies, make decisions, and present them to the rest of us,” says Kahn. “It’s all very detailed and it takes on a life of its own—people meeting over spreadsheets at dinner, analyzing budgets, navigating PR challenges, and so on.” The value of Essentials lies not only in its curriculum and its all-star faculty, but also in the participants’ opportunities to develop relationships with each other, and in some cases with faculty. “They’re mostly from very small-budget orchestras, so they come in without the benefit of
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peers,” says Kahn. If Day 1 was a flurry of introductions and getting-to-know-yous, Day 10 was a feverish exchange of business cards and promises to be in touch. Nuts and Bolts
While the curriculum focused mostly on artistic vitality—addressed in various sessions by Juilliard Dean and Provost Ara Guzelimian, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop, and others of equal stature—the “core issue” of Business and Operations Models was hardly neglected. Among the sessions in that area: four on finance fundamentals, one on managing small-budget orchestras, and a case study on the demise of the Oakland Symphony in the mid-1980s. The subject of operations was addressed by San Francisco Symphony General Manager John Kieser, who distributed a typical eight-week SFS schedule, inclusive of everything from concerts to CD signings to chamber rehearsals to chorus warm-ups to an organ rehearsal, a staff meeting, and a Halloween party. So complex is the exercise of creating the master schedule, advised Kieser, that it is best to have just one person overseeing it, hair-raising as that task may be. Carnegie Hall Director of Marketing and Creative Services Naomi Grabel took Essentials participants through Marketing 101, with recommended blog reading (Chad Beauman’s arts marketing blog); books (Danny Newman’s famous Subscribe Now!); strategies (“social media is important; direct mail is back in”); and advice (“discounting is dangerous because you can’t undo it”). Amazing factoid: Carnegie Hall has 43 different subscription packages. New York Philharmonic Vice President of Marketing David Snead demonstrated how collecting data on current and potential patrons can lead to more effective marketing. He recalled a successThe next Essentials of Orchestra Management course takes place February 4 – 13, 2012. Watch americanorchestras.org for the latest updates and announcements. symphony
“Orchestra management is a collaboration,” says San Francisco Symphony Executive Director Brent Assink, who co-leads Essentials of Orchestra Management at the League. “It is fun, exciting, confusing, and inspiring. And you have to be courageous.” ful “money-back guarantee” campaign in which prospects were offered a refund if they weren’t satisfied with a concert. The exercise enabled the orchestra to collect “data” on participants, and nobody asked for their money back. Voilà! An inexpensive way to acquire data. Brooklyn Philharmonic Artistic Director Alan Pierson and CEO/Managing Director Richard Dare revealed the secrets of their recent sell-out successes via programs and promotions specific to the Brooklyn neighborhoods in which they perform—e.g., Russian repertoire and Russian-language ads in Brighton Beach, where there is a large Russian population. Chicago Symphony Orchestra Vice President for Artistic Planning and Audience Development Martha Gilmer explained
the importance of partnering with local groups, such as the CSO’s collaborations with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Community engagement, development, and musicians’ evolving roles were addressed in a number of sessions, as was brand development, using a Harley-Davidson posse ride as a case study in how to build brand loyalty. “We want our patrons to behave like HOGs,” quipped Rutter, referencing the Harley Owners Group’s brand loyalty. Supplemental materials for Essentials involved reams upon reams (or computer
screens upon screens) of articles, case studies, charts, graphs, and organizational charts; a primer on collective bargaining; a sample music director contract; and a Harvard Business Review paper entitled “Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis.” With the depth of knowledge these orchestra managers have gained, chances are good that they—along with the 329 Essentials graduates now roaming the globe—are prepped and primed to take on the challenges of running an orchestra in the 21st century. SUSAN ELLIOTT writes frequently on the arts and is the editor of MusicalAmerica.com. Recent articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and BBC Music.
Essentials of Orchestra Management is made possible by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., and National Endowment for the Arts, and is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
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A member of the Toomai String Quartet with a young patient at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York City, during one of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute’s Musical Connections programs, October 2009.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti (center) leads a free open rehearsal of the Festival Orchestra, comprising members of Mexico’s Carlos Chávez Youth Orchestra and young musicians from the Chicago area, as part of the Second Biennial Chicago Youth in Music Festival, May 2011.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn welcomes Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony to City Hall for a free Community Concert on January 25, 2011. The Seattle Symphony performed additional free concerts in January at the Highline Performing Arts Center and Roosevelt High School.
by Joseph Carman
Songs of Healing Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program is bringing music into the lives of New Yorkers in hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, and seniorcare facilities.
his is a scary song,” announces Billy, a plucky fifteen-year-old participating along with seven other HIV-infected youths in a songwriting workshop at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx section of New York City. With composer Thomas Cabaniss punctuating his efforts in B-flat minor at the keyboard, Billy sing-speaks, “If you jump, you know you’re scared/Monsters underneath the bed!” In another part of the medical center’s auditorium, Ashley (names have been changed to protect participants’ identities), a statuesque sixteen-year-old with stylish blue bracelets and a mouthful of braces, works with bass guitarist Matt Aronoff in revising the lyrics for her contemplative song “I Remember.” The thirteen-week workshop that is bringing out Billy’s and Ashley’s songwriting talents was inaugurated in 2011; along with several other musical projects taking place at Jacobi Medical Center, it is part of Musical Connections, a two-year-old program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute that brings live musical experiences to people in need throughout New York City. Through concerts within Jacobi Medical Center—in the Rotunda, the infusion room of the oncology department, or through workshops for pregnant teens to create lullabies for their unborn babies—Musical Connections has evolved from a community-engagement
program into a tool for healing through music. “We’re exploring the synergy between music and medicine,” says Barbara DeIorio, Jacobi’s public relations director. “Where do these seemingly disparate entities meet? How do they support one another? We’re sort of learning what it’s all about as we go along. It’s a lot more powerful than any of us could have imagined.” During the 2011-12 season, Musical Connections presented 182 concerts in 34 locations, conducted 11 music workshops, and reached more than 8,000 people in healthcare and other facilities. The organization serves incarceration centers such as Sing Sing Correctional Facility and Crossroads Juvenile Justice Facility; homeless shelters; and senior-service organizations. Out of its $70 million annual budget, Carnegie Hall spends around $10 million each year on education and community activities. Musical Connections is one of a number of educational and service programs funded by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI), which was endowed in 2003. Be-
Bridget Kibbey performs at Sea View Rehab and Hospital in Staten Island, New York City, during one of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute’s Musical Connections events, March 2011.
Freedom of Expression
hen I first met Rob, I was scared. He’s a man about my age, with well-kept dreads held neatly back in a rubber band, honest eyes, a genuine smile, and a firm but warm handshake. He wears a lot of green. Rob is an inmate at Sing Sing. Rob plays the guitar, and he’s been practicing a lot lately. He plays pretty well, but he’s a bit self-conscious—he hasn’t had much in the way of music lessons. But through Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, Rob has written a string quintet in three different clefs, for five instruments that he had never heard play together. Daniel Levy, a teaching artist and composer working in the Musical Connections program, has gone to Sing Sing every few weeks since October 2010, leading a guitar workshop for nine inmates, most of whom have taught themselves to play since coming to the facility. Levy says he thought he would just teach beginning guitar lessons to the men, but they quickly surpassed his expectations. During the sessions, inmates worked on improvisation and note-reading, playing everything from Stand by Me to Pachelbel’s Canon. The men heard that a professional string quintet was
coming to Sing Sing in January and asked how to write string quintets. Short for time, Levy could only provide a “one-sheet” of how to arrange music for strings. Two weeks later, they came to him with completed pieces—“real scores,” Levy says. He helped them edit their work; he coached and inspired them; he helped boost confidence— but mostly he taught them to work on their own. The quintets by Rob and several other inmates were performed one Friday in January 2011, before 76 other inmates and about ten Sing Sing staff. At the first and only rehearsal for the concert, with the Toomai String Quintet, the first piece up was by Tim, an older inmate. The first violin part was plaintive and yearning, beginning as a caressing, modest phrase and blossoming into rich, heartfelt desire, with inner voices filling out the sound. When I looked over at Tim, he was slowly shaking his head with incredulity. “Holy shit,” he said, wiping his eyes. “I had no idea it sounded like that. Well,” he stammered, “it’s a love song.” The rehearsal continued, the air thick with feeling. Manuel Bagorro, my colleague at Carnegie and project manager of the Musical Connections program, whispered, “If we ever doubt what we do, or why we
fore then, the organization had concentrated its engagement activities on comprehensive school-based programs. With the endowment, WMI strategically planned its growth to include a variety of constituents. “Serving those in acute need in nontraditional community settings was a priority that we hadn’t tackled yet,” says WMI Director Sarah Johnson. “Through Musical Connections we provide high-quality musical experiences for those people, ranging from individual interactive performances to
do it, let’s remind each other of this moment.” Next was Rob’s piece. The violin part was exquisite, the accompaniment varied, interesting, engaging—an aggressive motif, punctuated by short bursts of sixteenth-note scales, plus a fanciful theme, a melody that is simple but not uncomplicated. It’s an amazing piece. “I knew these guys were special, how hard they work,” said Olga Marchese, head of school programming at Sing Sing. “I knew what they could do.” Three other inmates—Denis, Isaias, and Mo—wrote a piece called Rise of the Turtles. I asked about the title. “Well,” said Mo, “Turtles are green. They live in shells. And sometimes they come out of those shells. And sometimes, they win the race.” He paused. “Sometimes they can win the race. The concert that night was over two hours long. The concentration in the room was unlike any that I’ve experienced. The inmates leaned toward the musicians, jumped to their feet in gratitude and joy at the end of each set. Their faces shone. When asked to clap the clavé rhythm, they all joined in, imitating the rhythm precisely. When taught a Spanish coro to sing, they filled the chapel with
multi-week and multi-month workshops.” At Jacobi, she says, the staff started to propose larger ideas, like what it would mean to have a “musical hospital.” Cabaniss says that the songwriting workshop for HIV-infected adolescents, which he developed in collaboration with the Jacobi staff, starts as “a blank slate. Some of the kids come in with journals. But it takes a few weeks for them to feel enough trust to tell you what they’ve been writing. We play games, do exercises, fill in the blanks,
LEAH HOLLINGSWORTH, associate of community programs at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, reports on a visit to Sing Sing Correctional Facility, where music is changing lives.
Musical Connections at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute: An inmate (in green) from Sing Sing Correctional Facility performs with Chris Washburne and the S.Y.O.T.O.S. Band at Sing Sing, February 2010.
enthusiasm and spirit. Heads bobbed and feet tapped. Some men closed their eyes. These men are starved, their imaginations parched. They exist on a meager diet of opportunities, with scarce chances to create anything of their own. And they are starving for freedom, for the freedom to make their own choices, to explore their own voices. We’ve all heard that overused truism about music setting people free. At Sing Sing, it does. Music is a key to freedom for these green-clad prisoners, these men who are starving for a way to create, to express, to escape their circumstances. And this program—and that Fridaynight concert—can feed the hunger of these men who are so talented and so motivated, so diligent and also so desperate. Music can be their voice; opportunities like this, their food.
and engage in imaginative writing work to get that pump primed.” When the skeletal frame of the lyrics emerges, Cabaniss— who worked as education director for the New York Philharmonic before becoming a teaching artist for Musical Connections—and his staff help the participants flesh out rhythms, melodies, and harmonies for the song. The workshop culminates in a public performance at Jacobi, where the young songwriters hear their compositions sung and played by the professional fusion symphony
ensemble Nos Novo, which blends Celtic and Brazilian sounds with jazz and features vibraphonist/percussionist James Shipp and singer Jo Lawry, who also plays melodica and fiddle. Last year there were about 250 in the audience. The workshop’s participants, who come to Jacobi for healthcare and social-work services, have benefited from their creative exploration. Dr. Kendra Haluska, a staff psychologist at the center, says she has noticed dramatic changes in their expressiveness and willingness to open up. “I’ve seen their confidence levels spike,” she says. “We’re also seeing some of the teenagers taking their medications more readily, and they’re coming more regularly to the hospital to see their Musical doctors. Just keeping Connections in contact with us has evolved helps their care.” from a Ashley came to communitythe songwriting engagement workshop on the advice of her social program into a worker. She had at- tool for healing tended poetry slams through music. before, but this was different. “I knew I could write a poem, but I never knew I could transform it into a song,” she says. Soft-spoken Sidney, 21, wrote a song called “Dance and Sing” about standing up for himself. “The workshop is very intimate,” he says. “Being here is very therapeutic. I don’t have to feel any pressure. I think it made me more confident in myself, my voice and my writing.” Cabaniss was struck by the level of creativity of the participants, who have never known a life without HIV. “I’ve certainly been surprised by the depth and the honesty and the unvarnished quality of some of the lyrics,” he says. The results also made him rethink the creative process: “As trained musicians, we see all the time that it’s a very specialized art form. It takes chops. But it’s easy to get divorced from the creative capacities of those who don’t travel in those circles. This project brings you back into contact with real life.” Jacobi, whose “musical hospital” model DeIorio describes as singular in the U.S., has started some of its own research on the effects of music to mitigate pain and anxiety, using Carnegie Hall musicians and Jacobi clinicians. Musical Connections has also forged stronger relationships between
Claire Bryant performs with a participant in a concert at the AHRC social-services organization during one of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute’s Musical Connections programs, February 2011.
the medical center and other entities within the community, such as senior centers and developmental agencies. Some of the Jacobi concerts draw 300 listeners, including patients, staff, and members of the local community. Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director since 2005, believes that bringing great music to the largest possible audience is a core value of his organization. But how does Musical Connections relate to the musical standards of Carnegie Hall, a regular presenter of the Berlin Philharmonic and other titans? “Often arts education work can begin to feel like it’s watering
down the art form,” says Cabaniss. “What’s interesting is we are able to get to things that are very direct, real, and meaningful, and have serious content without sacrificing the artistic standards that Carnegie Hall represents. In the end I want a concert that sounds really good. I also think it’s equally important that we honor and acknowledge the experience of others and find a way to express it that is honest. I think that’s what all great art strives to do.” JOSEPH CARMAN is a senior advising editor for Dance magazine and writes about the performing arts.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians perform in the public space of downtown Chicago’s Thompson Center at a March 19 event spotlighting the importance of arts education.
by Nancy Malitz
Building a Musical City With some major star power, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and partner organizations are making the arts part of the lifeblood of their city.
ad it been announced ahead of time that cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Renée Fleming were going to perform together for the first time in their careers, there would have been box-office flurry. But there was no StubHub action for March 19 of this year, when Ma and Fleming snagged a flash mob for Rachmaninoff ’s “Vocalise” and performed with a hundred high-school singers in the sixteen-story atrium of a busy Chicago government building, halting foot traffic as curiosity-seekers hung at the rails from levels above.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was in on the event. So were the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and three city high schools that have managed, despite limited financial resources, to keep music in their school day. It was a high-profile opportunity to highlight Chicago’s value as a cultural destination and to call upon musicians and music-lovers to spread the word about the arts’ transformative power. The concert was the second stop in a full day that began with a visit to Lake View High School, home to one of the choirs, where Ma and Fleming joined ballet superstar Damian Woetzel to take the students by surprise. The school’s poetry-slam club had been working on an entry for the city’s upcoming “Louder Than a Bomb” festival, and at their teacher Cate Mascari’s suggestion they had experimented with inserting music from Bach’s First Cello Suite midway through the performance. What Mascari hadn’t mentioned was that it would be Ma himself in the solo role at the student assembly, and that Ma, Woetzel, and Fleming would visit with arts students and perform with the school choir in what amounted to masterclass exchanges before they all piled into buses for the lunchtime event downtown. “Never in my life did I expect that I would even see these people, let alone be in the front row onstage with them,” says Connor Cooney, eighteen, who is captain of the varsity football team and a member of Lake View’s advanced choir, which Mascari directs. “Lake View’s not a private or magnet school,” Cooney adds. “It’s just a regular school. It’s amazing that these three people took the time for us. It will stick with me the rest of my life.” Coverage of the day was widespread on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, local TV newscasts, NPR, and newspapers throughout the U.S. from The Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times. The attention could not have come at a better time for the CSO and the Lyric—or for their respective creative consultants, Ma and Fleming—because a lot is suddenly at stake for Illinois arts organizations. Chicago’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has announced his ambitions to increase cultural tourism to 50 million annual visitors by 2020, to extend the length of the public school day by 90 minutes, and to rewrite the city’s Cultural Plan for the City of Chicago for the first time symphony
Indeed, on their March 19 visit, Ma and Fleming joined Lyric Opera General Director Anthony Freud, Rutter, and Sznewajs in a wide-ranging discussion with leaders of the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Board of Education. Says Sznewajs, “It was a tremendous boost to have these extraordinary people involved.” Ma’s ambassadorial role was an outgrowth of his appointment as the CSO’s first Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, created as a cornerstone of Music Director Riccardo Muti’s desire to deepen community engagement. Ma says the idea of Citizen Musician dovetailed with concepts he kicked around with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Emanuel Ax at a concert honoring Mendelssohn. In a video on the CSO’s website, Ma muses that Mendelssohn was “someone who lived just into his thirties. But he accomplished so much. He founded schools and orchestras. He was incredibly kind to his colleagues, a human being who went above and beyond what a musician might have done. To apply that to our present era, what would that mean?” It was Ma and Fleming who realized their mid-March schedules would overlap and sought to fuse their star power in support of a single cause. “Both YoYo and Renée are very effective magnets capable of achieving wide media attention and enthusiasm among the general populace to help deliver a message,” says Lyric’s Freud. “It’s important to celebrate those things that we are able to achieve as partners that are greater than the sum of our parts.” NANCY MALITZ is the founding music critic at USA Today and a pioneer in journalism on the internet. She has written about the arts and technology for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, and other publications, and has appeared as a cultural commentator on NPR, the CBC, and Detroit’s WQRS.
since 1986. The CSO and other each other for more than 30 years The Citizen arts groups see tremendous opand what I’ve learned about him Musician portunity in the shaping of these is that he is an anthropologist Initiative, ambitions. And they can’t afford first—and that’s what makes him launched by to be left out of the conversation. a great musician. He is interested the CSO and Meanwhile, Governor Pat in why the world is the way it is, Ma in January Quinn—while publicly supportand how we connect, and he has a 2011, is an ing the value of arts for their own burning desire to communicate.” outright call sake and for the jobs that the The CSO and the Lyric are to action arts create and the districts they among 200 Chicago cultural inaimed at all revivify—has made it clear that stitutions that provide arts supmusicians and port of varying kinds to Chicago he needs all arts groups to cut through the competitive clutter music-lovers to public schools and their 400,000 and achieve broader popular ap- inspire others, students. Understandably, there proval for their shared missions. bridge cultural have been some one-off efforts, At the same time he is dealing coordination problems, schools differences, with the need for draconian bud- and strengthen that ended up underserved. The get cuts and appeals for governorganizations realized several communities. ment aid from all sides. “The arts years ago they had no easy way to community cannot be there hopcoordinate their activities, much ing for the best. They have got to organize,” less measure the results. If they had any hope Quinn says. of moving arts education back from the peToward that end, the Renée Fleming riphery of the school day to the curriculum Initiative was announced by the Lyric in core, they needed a blueprint for action. December 2010 to champion Chicago as In 2011, after eighteen months of consena cultural center and to increase awareness sus building, Ingenuity Incorporated, a nonof opera through focused educational and profit agency headed by Paul S znewajs, was marketing efforts. “For me,” says Fleming formed. It has mapped the schools’ arts offerin an email, “success would be seeing that ings and their specific needs and honed the the arts are central to our shared experience, advocacy effort. “If you don’t have the right from the daily lives of children in our public plan and strategy in place, you won’t have schools to events of world importance.” impact,” says CSO’s Rutter. “We all want to The Citizen Musician Initiative, launched inspire schools to have a more robust arts edby the CSO and Ma in January 2011, is an ucation program, but it is hard for arts orgaoutright call to action aimed at all musicians nizations to know exactly how to help in that and music-lovers to inspire others, bridge effort. Paul provides that focal point, cultural differences, and strengthen comand we are fortumunities. CSO President Deborah Rutter nate to be able to says citizen musicianship is “in Yolaunch the star Yo’s DNA. He and I have known power of Yo-Yo and Renée in support.”
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, and soprano Renée Fleming, Creative Consultant for Lyric Opera of Chicago, at the March 19 event
by Tom Keogh
Empty Seats, Full of Opportunity The Seattle Symphony believes everyone has the right to experience live symphonic sound—and it’s backing that up with new ticket programs for underserved communities.
ou know that unoccupied seat in the audience during a performance by a symphony orchestra? A shame, right? Well, yes. But there are a couple of different ways to look at that empty space. One is that, sure, it’s lost revenue. But the more interesting perception is that an unused seat represents a wasted chance for someone, from somewhere, to experience symphonic music. “If you look at that seat as a missed opportunity,” says Seattle Symphony Executive Director Simon Woods, “then you begin to ask, how can we make the most use of that in the future?”
Music Director Ludovic Morlot in downtown Seattle with Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, in background
At the heart of that question are challenges all symphony orchestras face: expanding today’s audience, for instance, while building tomorrow’s. Diversifying program offerings that appeal to different groups in a community. Holding on to a core group of veteran subscribers and donors while finding new ways to be accessible to the young, the curious, the uncertain. Programming is part of the answer, of course. But the other opportunity presented by empty seats is finding innovative ways to fill them through community engagement. On the creative side, the Seattle Symphony’s music director, Ludovic Morlot, presented “Sonic Evolution” at Benaroya Hall last October, near the start of his first season leading the orchestra. A tribute to hometown music legends Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain, the show offered new, commissioned works by young composers including Moscow’s Vladimir Nikolaev and Seattle’s Cuong Vu. In February, the orchestra produced the fourth annual “Celebrate Asia,” featuring Korean-American violinist Hahn-Bin and Chinese pipa player Jie Ma with the orchestra. Both of those unique programs drew many patrons who don’t attend concerts of core classical repertoire. Other successful concerts, involving wine-tasting, videogame composers, shorter programs, and popular films with live orchestral accompaniment, have helped the Seattle Symphony administration fulfill Morlot’s maxim that music is music and absolutely everyone has “a right to experience live symphonic sound.” The Seattle Symphony further supports that right with extensive programs for preschool children and students at every level; through free performances in everyday, public spaces; and as part of such no-cost celebrations as the season-opening “Day of Music,” in which Morlot and the full orchestra shared a roster with hip-hop and Celtic folk artists, as well as the “house band” of teens from the School of Rock music institute. But Woods and his Seattle Symphony colleagues are determined to take things further. “Large performing arts organizations have been guilty of repeatedly telling the community what it should do for us,” says Woods. “Increase your donation. Buy symphony
dren—that we know is a tough group to attract.” Certainly many families are encouraged by the promotion, which brings together different generations of school-age newcomers and experienced patrons at Benaroya for memorable concerts. Family Connections also provides a bridge for kids who have outgrown the orchestra’s earlyeducation programs and are ready for the Masterworks big league. “We loved it,” says photographer Stephen Rosen, who, along with his wife, Nancy, took their twelve-year-old granddaughter Annika, a cello student, to hear virtuoso Jennifer Koh perform Brahms’s Violin Concerto last March. “We want to share an appreciation of classical music with her, something that we enjoy. This goes back to my childhood, when my grandparents took me to concerts at Carnegie Hall. It’s a family tradition, a wonderful thing.” TOM KEOGH is an arts reporter and critic for the Seattle Times. He provides regular previews of the city’s classical music scene and other cultural events, and reviews film and theater.
The Seattle Symphony’s Sonic Evolution concerts last fall drew a younger crowd to Benaroya Hall.
our tickets. Join us on Facebook. But we immigration advocacy group OneAmerifulfill our mission much better if we reca, says the opportunity to bring her stuverse that and begin to think about what dents to a concert is a perfect fit with their the community needs from us, responding language acquisition. “The curriculum to those questions through engagement supports individuals in advocating and and having a much healthier speaking for themselves,” she relationship with our environpoints out. “Underlying that is “Large ment.” performing arts self-expression. Music is a form That belief in listening ac- organizations of self-expression. Students retively to a community, rather searched Mozart and did prehave been than building programs on as- guilty of telling sentations in English, then went sumptions about what’s good to the symphony. One, a big fan the community for people (while seeking their of Beethoven, got teary-eyed, what it should support), was dramatically exbecause he used to go to the do for us,” emplified during the 2010-11 symphony all the time in his says Seattle season when the Seattle nonhome country of Colombia.” Symphony profit Post-Prison Education The Seattle-based Senior Executive Program, which provides access Housing Assistance Group is a to learning opportunities to for- Director Simon Community Connections partmer inmates, reached out to the ner that dispenses free tickets Woods. “But Seattle Symphony. A woman to clients who live on fixed inwe fulfill our completing a thirteen-year sen- mission much comes and are often prone to tence at a correctional center isolation. SHAG’s Cynthia Grabetter if we told the PPEP how much she ham says a recent client survey reverse that would like to attend a symphony of residents found many seniors and think performance. requesting Seattle Symphony about what “She made that known,” says tickets. She estimates that GosPPEP President Ari Kohn, “and the community en has provided 100 tickets to needs from the next thing we knew, Nancy date, some well in advance of a us.” Gosen [the orchestra’s director performance and others closer of family, school, and commuto a concert date when it apnity programs] was in our office. She let us pears a show will not sell out. pick whatever programs we wanted to atThe Seattle Symphony’s other major tend for the whole season. We had no idea engagement program is Family Connechow much our students would be interesttions, a win-win both for the orchestra ed, but we ended up with nineteen people and for the kids and grownups who benefit going to Benaroya Hall the first time, and from it. Children and teens eight to eighmany more after that.” teen are admitted free to shows in any of The Seattle Symphony’s post-prison the 53 Wyckoff Masterworks Season proprogram comes under the heading of grams (including recent guest appearances Community Connections, one broad catby violinist Leila Josefowicz and pianist egory of the orchestra’s regional engageSimon Trpceski) when accompanied by a ment that also includes free-ticketing paying adult. partnerships with immigrants, seniors, Two minors get passes with every ticket and military personnel and their families order. The Seattle Symphony sets aside a from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south total of 60 free Family Connections passes of Tacoma. “I don’t subscribe to the view for each Masterworks performance— that a targeted social-ticketing program a total of 3,180 per season. Inspired by undermines regular sales, because the Morlot’s commitment to providing music whole point of it is to reach people who education and experiences for youth, Famotherwise cannot afford to attend,” he ily Connections also makes good use of says. Woods says costs involved in Compotentially unused seats. “There’s a minimunity Connections are covered by the marketing program embedded in the conBank of America Charitable Foundation cept,” says Woods. “While mission-rich and The Janet W. Ketcham Foundation. in bringing young people into the hall, Arianne Garden Vázquez, who directs it’s actually a very targeted promotion to the English Innovations program for the a demographic—families with young chil-
After a two-season break from the concert stage, the 155-year-old Brooklyn Philharmonic has returned with a new mission to build artistic connections within its home borough.
Joshua Simpson/Brooklyn Philharmonic
The Brooklyn Philharmonic’s multimedia “Brooklyn Village” program at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn in March encompassed everything from Walt Whitman poetry to shape-note singing.
“Sometimes, when your back is up against a wall, it brings out the best.” If anyone should be able to speak those words with complete conviction, it’s Jack Rainey, current board chair at the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In early 2009, effects of the recession and longer-term structural issues forced the orchestra to suspend its self-produced concert schedule— while continuing to maintain a vital education component— and reassess the state of the organization. symphony
Joshua Simpson/Brooklyn Philharmonic
Alan Pierson leads Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), with red microphone, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic at the World Financial Center in Manhattan.
Now the orchestra has re-emerged—indeed, exploded—back onto the New York classical music scene with new leadership and a new mission. Alan Pierson, a primary force behind local new-music mainstays Alarm Will Sound and Bang on a Can, was named artistic director in January 2011; business-world veteran and entrepreneur Richard Dare arrived as CEO and managing director soon after. By late July, the organization had announced a “reboot” season of multidisciplinary programs custom-built for three distinct Brooklyn neighborhoods—Brighton Beach, Downtown, and Bedford-Stuyvesant—with the input of local stakeholders and community leaders. The mission: make the revitalized organization truly “Brooklyn’s Orchestra.” The blogosphere was set abuzz. Greg Sandow was “delighted—amazed, thrilled,
just over the moon” in an ArtsJournal blog post. New Yorker critic Alex Ross called the new programming “remarkably innovative, perhaps even revolutionary” on his blog The Rest Is Noise. Even before the season announcement, Pierson took part in a WQXR panel discussion titled “American Orchestras: Endangered Species?” with other luminaries in the field and, moderated by WQXR Vice President Graham Parker. “I was really blown away by how many people were excited about the Brooklyn Philharmonic before we’d even played a note,” Pierson says. The excitement has carried over through the first season. In October, Brooklynites and other New Yorkers packed Restoration Plaza on Fulton Street in BedfordStuyvesant to hear a short “preview” set by the Philharmonic and Yasiin Bey,
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Joshua Simpson/Brooklyn Philharmonic
The Brooklyn Philharmonic opened its 2011-12 season in November with a program of Russian cartoon music at the Millennium Theater in Brighton Beach.
the actor and hip-hop legend formerly known as Mos Def. Despite a slow start due to technical difficulties, the performers commanded the audience’s rapt attention during Frederic Rzewski’s hypnotic Coming Together for orchestra and spoken word. A month later in Brighton Beach, the orchestra offered up a night of Russian cartoon music—with the accompanying video projections—to a packed crowd at the Millennium Theater, with many from the Russian-majority audience singing along. Reviewing the orchestra’s lateMarch “Brooklyn Village” program for The New York Times, Steve Smith wrote that “every detail of the production conveyed rich nuances of Brooklyn’s history,” and “was irresistible, suffused with conviction and ennobling warmth.” But there is also a sense that things are just getting started. At press time, the orchestra was still gearing up for its marquee event of the season, a return to Restoration Plaza in June for a full-blown collaboration with Bey, featuring tunes from the Mos Def catalog arranged for orchestra and a “remixed” fourth movement from Beethoven’s Third Symphony. And some of Dare’s more novel funding ideas—what he characterizes as entering the “real economy” as opposed to the “shadow economy”—will take time to bear fruit. “We’re not what I would call financially sustainable,” Rainey says. “But we’re on the right path.”
The Brooklyn Philharmonic’s decision in early 2009 to suspend its main-stage classical programming may have seemed like a direct response to the recession of 2008, but the organization’s financial difficulties were more deeply rooted. Likewise, the orchestra’s come-out-of-nowhere revival was in fact the result of months and months of careful planning. “The trajectory over my seventeen years with the orchestra was declining audiences and stagnant financial strength,” says board member Tim Gilles, “to the point where almost every year there was some sort of cutback in frequency of performances, size of the orchestra, or ambition of individual concert events.” The dawning reality of that trend, along with turnover in some key leadership positions, spurred the board to ponder one basic question, says Rainey: “What kind of orchestra are we?” Although Brooklyn could be considered a city in its own right—at 2.6 million, it would be the fourth-largest in the U.S.—the New York Philharmonic has always loomed large, just across the river. Many Brooklyn oldtimers consider the Lukas Foss era of 1971-90 to be the orchestra’s glory days. Subsequent attempts to model the group as New York’s “new-music orchestra” or “the New York Philharmonic across the bridge” had failed to keep the organization solvent. What now? Barclay Collins, who was preparing to step down as chair-
Michael Rubenstein/Redux Pictures
Joshua Simpson/Brooklyn Philharmonic
Brooklyn Philharmonic Music Director Alan Pierson at a shape-note singing workshop prior to the orchestra’s “Brooklyn Village” program downtown.
man of the Brooklyn Philharmonic board, made two key decisions to spark that process. One was to shrink the board, letting go any members who were not living up to their commitment, financial or otherwise. With finances already spread thin, the move at first seemed counterintuitive, says Gilles. “But it sent this incredible signal to those of us who remained of how valued our contribution was and how critical we were to the organization’s survival.” Following that rallying cry, Collins appointed Gilles to head up a strategic-planning task force, which met weekly with a consultant for the next eighteen months to plot the organization’s future. Throughout this whole period, the orchestra’s education programs have continued to offer a foundation, serving more than 6,000 students in grades K through 12 with residencies and coaching in 23 schools during the 2010-11 school year. “It was the existence of that program, and the fact that it was funded, that enabled us to keep the organization in existence while we regrouped on the self-produced concert side,” says Gilles. Soon Rainey was elected chairman of the Philharmonic board, and the organization set about building support from city leaders, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and NYC Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Kate Levin. The task force “The ‘host had decided that in or- committees’ der to survive, the or- throw out ganization had to make fantastic ideas itself vital to Brooklyn and artists I’ve by truly integrating it- never heard of, self into the borough. so I’m learning But who might have the a lot from vision and chops to help that,” says Alan build the artistic side of Pierson. “That goes back to that mission? The board sought how big Brooklyn outside guidance and is, not just in quickly settled on a geographic Alan Pierson. “With sense but big Alan came an incred- conceptually, big ible amount of energy,” in its diversity.” symphony
Rainey says. “Some of the things he was articulating kind of fed the board and staff with more energy. We were really starting to see, through an artist’s eyes, what the exploration of the community might look like.” Pierson, whose easy amiability belies his new-music bad-boy reputation, in turn credits the board for its openness to change. He claims that in early meetings with the Brooklyn Philharmonic board, even before he was offered the post, he proposed a lot of intentionally provocative programming ideas, “just pushing to see where the walls were,” he says. “I was surprised no one came out and said, ‘Actually, that’s a little too out there.’ They’ve been really game.” Richard Dare arrived soon after, bringing extensive business experience as head of Pacific Rim Partners (an investment firm that helps build brands in Asia) and a startling message: the “traditional” orchestra business model is no longer viable. A blunt speaker, Dare contends that by programming in a vacuum and limiting themselves to “begging,” orchestras are relegating themselves to the “shadow economy.” “If you go to a business and say, ‘I want you to sponsor my series,’ and the most in-depth discussion you have with them is about the placement of their logo on your brochure or website, you’re not actually in the real business world,” he explains. It was a message that resonated with the board and Pierson. Dare clearly thinks big-picture, peppering his vision with anecdotes, examples, and seeming tangents that always come back to certain broad themes. In a typical nonprofit, he says, “You have three big levers to pull”—i.e., three ways to raise revenue to meet costs. The first two, raising prices and increasing efficiency, are no longer viable for an arts organization in such a tough economy and with certain fixed costs. “I can’t say to Alan, ‘Please conduct Beethoven’s Third Symphony faster, we’re on hourly [rates] and I don’t want to run into overtime,’ ” he says. The third option? “Get super creative!” For Dare this means listening to what the community needs and creating something of real value that local businesses and individuals want to get involved in, that they believe can bring a certain return for their investment. The deals Dare is working on in this regard are still embryonic, too much in the americanorchestras.org
realm of private, backroom conversations to be discussed in detail, but there is no doubt as to his conviction about the new direction. The new vision and leadership have galvanized the front office— and musicians. Concertmaster Deborah Buck notes the strong positive rapport shared by the orchestra’s musicians. “I think one of the most heartbreaking things [during the period of suspended concerts] was just that we didn’t get to see each other anymore. It’s so nice to reconnect and make music together again, especially with Alan, because he’s one of the most positive, inspiring, hopeful people—he’s got great energy.” The orchestra The Brooklyn Philharmonic promoted its November program of maintains a roster of 64 Russian cartoon music in the predominantly Russian neighborhood musicians—the same as of Brighton Beach with Russian-language ads in local newspapers. before the suspension of main-stage concerts—and are using 40 or Dare, and the other members of the team more at eight events this season. Smaller identify leaders who can lend a voice to groups are engaged for a dozen or so other that community’s needs. According to concerts, such as the Restoration Plaza Dare, a group of 30 to 35 from the Philharpreview. Buck admits that the amount of monic staff, board, and “host community” work is “not 100 percent back” to where it meet once a month to brainstorm ideas for was before the shut-down, but the sense of collaborative projects. “In the beginning partnership is growing between musicians they were somewhat suspicious,” Dare says, and the rest of the organization. “It has to “ ‘Why are you doing this? What are you do with building trust,” Buck says. “Alan trying to sell us?’ And we made every faux and Richard are extremely sincere people, pas you can think of.” But, says Pierson, you can just feel they’re doing their very “They throw out fantastic ideas and artbest by us. We’re seeing the orchestra get ists I’ve never heard of, so I’m learning a lot great press, we’re seeing that these are two from that. There are other meetings that I very intelligent visionaries, and the musicome out of sometimes where people have cians are buying into it. It’s a leap of faith thrown out ideas that I just don’t know for some more than others. But it’s develhow to take in. The question we always oping as we speak.” ask when we go into a new community is, ‘What can an orchestra bring to you here, Remixes and Venn Diagrams what can we bring from our tradition that The key to the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s would be useful and meaningful and resoquest for greater community integration nant and exciting here?’ ” is what the organization calls “host comRainey recalls some of the early meetmittees.” Once the Philharmonic decides ings. “One of the things we heard was, ‘We to pursue a connection with a particular don’t want you to just come here and play neighborhood or community, Pierson, our music, we haven’t had enough access to
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classical music.’ We also heard things about mentoring young talent.” The orchestra answered that call this season by inviting top up-and-coming Brooklyn DJs to remix a portion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, a piece the orchestra has included in some shape or form on every program this season as a throwback to its debut concert in 1857. Sound samples were posted on the Brooklyn Philharmonic website, fans were invited to choose their favorite, and in April the Philharmonic announced that the winner, Eddie Marz, would have his remix arranged for orchestra by composer Andrew Norman and played during the ensemble’s season-culminating performance at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza. That project grew in large part out of the orchestra’s relationship with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, whose field of vision includes everything from workforce development to income support for families to arts and culture. For Executive Director Colvin Grannum, the residency fits right in with his organization’s own mission. “We’re always interested in ways to attract people to BedfordStuyvesant so they become acquainted and hopefully patronize some of our businesses and cultural organizations,” he says. “We want the orchestra to be integrated into the life of central Brooklyn and generally improve the quality of life, and we’re also looking to raise our external profile as a result of working with the orchestra.” That type of community value is exactly what Dare believes will help take the Brooklyn Philharmonic out of the “shadow economy” and into the “real economy,” where local businesses or individuals might invest money in the organization with the expectation of tangible return. The extra effort in forging such connections results in a longer decision-making process: when we spoke in February, Pierson noted programming for the following season had still not been completed. “More seats at the table makes everything go more slowly,” he says, comparing the process to his new-music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, where programming is similarly based on a form of consensus. “Before I got the Brooklyn job, I felt that there were wildly divergent members in Alarm Will Sound, and to a certain extent, some of us feel that composer X is really great while to others composer X is overrated. But
basically we all come from the same backgrounds and have the same perspective of what we want to be doing, and programming that is pretty easy. This is a much more challenging project programmingwise because you’re dealing with not just different perspectives but entirely different backgrounds and views of the world. Communication is much more challenging. And that goes back to how big Brooklyn is, not just in a geographic sense but big conceptually, big in its diversity.” Pierson and Dare both compare the process to a Venn diagram, with the Philharmonic and local communities finding artistic avenues where they overlap and then trying to stretch and expand that space. “We’re not doing this as an orchestra for hire,” Pierson says. “We’re not going in and saying, ‘Hey, anything you guys want, we’ll play it.’ ” Instead, the end goal is something totally authentic. “The media will sometimes say, ‘The Brooklyn Philharmonic is really breaking boundaries,’ or ‘They’re really doing crossover,’ ” says Dare. “I always cringe a little, because that’s not what we’re trying to do at all. There shouldn’t be anything to cross over to—there’s just art, and different people have different ways of ex- “The media will sometimes say, pressing themselves.” The Brooklyn Phil- ‘The Brooklyn harmonic’s November Philharmonic is 2011 program at the really breaking Millennium Theater in boundaries,’ or the predominantly Rus- ‘They’re really sian neighborhood of doing crossover,’” Brighton Beach was a says Richard case in point. Pierson Dare. “I always and the band put to- cringe a little, gether music for Rus- because that’s sian cartoons both new not what we’re and old, and performed trying to do at all. them while projecting There shouldn’t the cartoons on a screen be anything to behind the musicians. cross over to— The program had been there’s just art, promoted with Russian- and different language ads in neigh- people have borhood newspapers, different ways and Pierson’s remarks of expressing from stage were trans- themselves.” symphony
lated into Russian. A few of the best-loved cartoons drew rapturous singalongs from the crowd. The entire audience was treated to free blintzes in the lobby during intermission. “One thing that’s come more into focus for me this season is the whole experience of a concert,” says Pierson. “That’s something Richard and I talk about a lot. It’s not just about the music we play and how we play it, but from the time the audience member walks in the hall to the time they leave, really filling that whole experience.” The orchestra’s March 24 “Brooklyn Village” program at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn featured the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and a tapestry of projected images, poetry of Brooklyn resident Walt Whitman, and music that ranged from doo-wop and Broadway to shape-note singing, all presented “in a near-seamless flow,” according to New York Times reviewer Steve Smith.
The Shepherd School of Music is pleased to announce the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Ninth Symphony: A Short Symphony in One Movement by The Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra October 11 and 12, 2012 Commissioned by Rice University in honor of its Centennial Year
William Bolcom, composer “William Bolcom’s impeccable professional credentials and his 35 years at the University of Michigan make him an ideal candidate for crafting a work for its intended recipient: the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra” -Robert Yekovich, Dean, The Shepherd School of Music
Work In Progress
“If the 'Ninth [Symphony]' has a subject (if music indeed ever really has one), it would be this: Ours is both a dark and a hopeful time. Today our greatest enemy is our inability to listen to each other, which seems to worsen with time. All we hear now is shouting, and nobody is listening because the din is so great. Yet there is a 'still, small voice' that refuses to disappear, though often drowned out, that requires us to listen for it. I pin my hope on that voice. I search for it daily in life and in music -- and possibly the 'Ninth Symphony' is a search for that soft sound.” –William Bolcom, Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, and National Medal of Arts Winner
The Shepherd School of Music Rice University, Houston, TX music.rice.edu
Kelly Hall-Tompkins “Beyond technique…expressively wrought... rich tone colors...intense flowing finale… searing intensity… In brief, she compels you to listen.” —American Record Guide
photo© Jan Roehrmann
The Brooklyn Philharmonic’s new approach is not without its challenges, of course. Pierson acknowledges that traveling from Bed-Stuy to Brighton Beach to downtown Brooklyn—a combined distance of nineteen miles—is a strain on everyone. The orchestra must adjust to new halls for each concert series—Pierson describes the Millennium Theater as “incredibly dry.” But with proper preparation, Pierson and the musicians are more than making do. “So far everything I’ve done with Alan and the Brooklyn Philharmonic has been on such a high level of music-making because he’s planned so carefully,” says Deborah Buck, who began subbing with the orchestra in 1999 and became a permanent member in 2004. “So it’s shown the musicians in the best light.” Among Pierson, Dare, and board members, there seems to be a sense that their Brooklyn experiment could have lasting implications for other orchestras and organizations around the country. Dare characterizes New York City, and Brooklyn in particular, as a place where trends begin before catching on in other parts of the country, even the world. Says Pierson, “If there’s one thing that we’ve done so far that might be applicable in other places, it would be the questions we’ve been asking, both artistically and organizationally. I don’t know yet how well our answers are
West Indian/Caribbean and Middle Eastern communities as potential future partners—such educational offerings will likely grow and evolve. One looming artistic challenge that stands out for Pierson is what he refers to as “scale.” The 2011-12 season, he notes, included three full-blown orchestra programs, with ten to twelve events in total. The 2012-13 season promises a couple of additions. “Eventually we want to be playing all the time, doing 20 performances a year,” he says. “Can we keep up this level of originality and creativity with 20 performances? Right now, I’m deeply involved with all the programs—I don’t know if I can be with 20. So at a certain point I become more of the executive and other people I’m working with will be doing more of the program details. Things will have to change. I think we can do it.” Such confidence is palpable at every level of the new Brooklyn Philharmonic. “We have great artistic leadership, great staff leadership, and great board leadership,” Gilles says. “We have never in my seven-
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misha & cipa dichter
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teen years had all three at the same time. We’ve had one, we’ve had two. So I just feel really exhilarated about where the organization is at the moment and what the opportunity is.”
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Brooklyn Philharmonic Music Director Alan Pierson backstage at the Restoration Rocks Music Festival in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where the orchestra performed a short set with Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def).
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going to play out, but maybe the questions themselves can inspire people to find their own answers. Even here in Brooklyn, from Bed-Stuy to Brighton Beach, the same questions lead to different answers.” Fuller integration of the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s education programs into the “host committees” model may be in the offing as well. During the suspension of mainstage concerts, orchestra musicians continued to be present in schools throughout the borough. But now, Pierson notes, “The performance program has a new identity, one that’s so much about the community that it’s natural it would connect with the education program. We have to ask those same questions—what should change about each so that they really present a unified vision.” All three programs on the 2011-12 season included Family Workshops, where music lovers of all ages could learn cartooning techniques (Brighton Beach), participate in a shape-note singalong (Downtown), or explore the power of poetry (Bed-Stuy). As the orchestra expands its connection to other Brooklyn communities—Dare names
carter brey cello
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Music Director & Conductor, Delaware Symphony Orchestra
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Music Director & Conductor, National Philharmonic
Detroit by Donald Rosenberg
2.0 Victor Mangona
With last season’s strike behind it, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is forging a new path—all while working to reduce its debt and bolster the endowment.
a mild Friday evening in February 2012, and Orchestra Hall is hopping, even though the program is all about death. A near-capacity audience listens raptly to Music Director Leonard Slatkin conduct the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and guests in affecting performances of John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls and Brahms’s A German Requiem. The moment the final F-major chord in the Brahms floats away, a gentleman in the third row of the balcony who’d quietly “conducted” the entire Requiem emits a sonorous bravo that inspires the rest of the house to join in the jubilation. Detroiters clearly love their orchestra. They should—it’s long been a superb ensemble—and need to, more than ever. A year before this concert, the Detroit Symphony experienced a brush with mortality that seized the attention not only of the Motor City, but also the music world in general. An agonizing six-month strike ended in April 2011 with the musicians agreeing to severe concessions and the institution embarking on a slow healing process, significant changes in mission, and a promising, if uncertain, journey to the future. 52
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Leonard Slatkin at Orchestra Hall on opening night of the 2011-12 season
Above: The evolving situation at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra captured national attention, as reflected in newspaper headlines tracing the trajectory of the strike. Below: DSO violinist Marguerite Deslippe and bassist Stephen Edwards perform at the Detroit Childrenâ€™s Hospital as part of the DSOâ€™s expanded efforts in communities throughout the Detroit metro area.
the musicians, management, and board to discard old models and devise new ones, a path fraught with peril but viewed by many as essential for survival and eventual stability. High on the list of new activities for the orchestra are free educational programs such as the new Avanti Summer MusicFest, a six-day camp for metro Detroit teenagers. Orchestra musicians are helping to organize the camp, along with management and the Save Our Symphony community group, which supported the musicians during the brutal strike. Other initiatives include neighborhood subscrip-
The voyage of renewal has prompted
Into the Maelstrom
The Detroit Symphony, one of the country’s oldest orchestras, was swept into the vortex of anxiety and bitterness by a dizzying array of factors, including a calamitous economy—the worst since the Great Depression—that hit this city before others. “When America catches a cold, Detroit catches pneumonia,” a local saying goes. With the recession zapping the region and Detroit’s big auto companies (Chrysler, Ford, GM) filing for bankruptcy, the orchestra saw corporate and individual support plunge. Adding to the stress was a debt of $54 million on its Max M. Fisher Music Center—the 1919 Orchestra Hall plus a spacious addition opened in 2003 with public lobbies, rehearsal spaces, and the Jacob Bernard Pincus Music Education Center. The real-estate deal looked great in the early 21st century, but the recession changed everything. Even before the recession, a labor negotiation in 2007 between musicians and administration was contentious. When effects of the recession placed intense pressure on the bottom line, management tried to re-
open the union contract in spring 2010. Orchestra members were aghast. “Beyond deep salary reductions, management sought drastic changes in work rules, such as requiring orchestra members to teach, perform in small groups, and even carry out non-musical duties for base salary, removing the two librarians from the bargaining unit, sharply curtailing medical and pension benefits, eliminating tenure, and paying a sharply lower wage to new hires,” the musicians say in a statement sent to this writer. Management subsequently dropped a number of the demands. Anne Parsons, the orchestra’s president and CEO, says revenue streams were in decline even before the recession, setting the scene for a sweeping overhaul. “These kinds of changes were not going to be easy to make,” she says. “We could make changes at the staff level that we couldn’t make with bargaining units. We made changes decisively. We let go people who had been working here 25 years [in administration]. It was a 30 percent reduction. That was huge—very sad and very hard.” The strike drew the attention of some of Michigan’s most notable business and political figures, including U.S. Senator Carl Levin; Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Detroit-based Quicken Loans and owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers; and Matthew Cullen, president and CEO of Rock Ventures, another Detroit-based
tion concerts and free community programs throughout southeastern Michigan, as well as digital ventures aimed at making the Detroit Symphony “the most accessible orchestra on the planet,” according to a goal in its strategic scorecard.
Music Director Leonard Slatkin says his goal over the next few years is to have an orchestra of more than 90 full-time players. “The strike worried us about attracting talent. But that doesn’t seem to be happening,” Slatkin says.
DSO horn player Corbin Wagner works with student musicians from the DSO’s Civic Orchestra.
company, which provides online mortgage services and operates casinos. Cullen, who was the key player in the “shuttle diplomacy” between management and the musicians’ union that ended the strike, says the orchestra had to come to terms with issues in a region long beset by economic and population crises. “Fundamentally, it’s a changing industry in a state where we’re going through wrenching changes,” he says. “The DSO is almost a microcosm of that kind of turmoil.” To end the strike, the union accepted a three-year contract that dropped salaries by nearly 23 percent and employment weeks from 52 to 40 (36 weeks, plus four weeks of vacation). As a result of these cuts, the orchestra’s budget this season is $26 million, down from $30 million. Before and during the strike, the orchestra lost a sizable number of players to resignations, retirements, and leaves of absence (for new jobs). Among the musicians who left were longtime concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert and Principal Timpanist Brian Jones, now members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the entire percussion section. “The bottom line for the musicians during negotiations and the strike was always the orchestra’s ability to uphold artistic quality by retaining and attracting top musicians in the competitive (inter)national talent pool,” the musicians’ statement says. “From the outset we understood that we would need to take pay cuts. The personal effect of cuts on us individually was quite secondary. What we symphony
did not want to see was a contract whose conditions would put the DSO far out of the running for top musicians compared to other major American orchestras.” Moving Forward
The end of the strike brought an immediate return to concerts at Orchestra Hall, one of the country’s acoustical and architectural jewels, and far-reaching plans to attract audiences in Detroit and beyond. One overt sign that the Detroit Symphony is determined to make a powerful local difference can be seen on its website and in all printed materials: “A CommunitySupported Orchestra.” The phrase trumpets the institution’s resolve to make deep connections with new listeners even as it rekindles relationships with former patrons. In March, the orchestra received a $500,000 endowment gift to establish the Arthur L. Johnson African American Artist Fund, named in honor of its longtime board member, who died in November 2011. Money from the fund will bring in black guest artists to perform with the DSO and support commissioning, recording, and performance of works by African-American composers. Friendships are being forged on many fronts, not all necessarily classical or orchestral. Slatkin and the ensemble recently teamed with rap-rocker Kid Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band at the 5,000-seat Fox Theater to raise $1 million for the orchestra. Kid Rock began concocting the community-outreach fundraising idea with Quickens Loan Chairman Gilbert while the orchestra was on strike. As the result of a $500,000 gift the Detroit Symphony received in March from the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, a number of the players are taking part in new educational initiatives and chamber-music performances in the community. The gift is part of a total of $1 million the Fisher family has donated in recent years partly to provide optional work for the musicians, as set forth in the new union contract. Musicians did not comment for this article—opting instead to respond through cellist Haden McKay, a member of the orchestra committee—but a good number of them are participating in the initiatives. In the suburbs, the orchestra is having a whopping success with its Neighborhood Concert Series, which comprises 26 americanorchestras.org
Sue Mosey, president of the nonprofit realestate planning organization Midtown Detroit Inc., has been among the DSO’s most zealous advocates. “We really love our symphony,” says Mosey.
performances in six neighborhoods—including two venues in Grosse Pointe— with Slatkin and eminent guest conductors and soloists. Concert repertoire is interesting and varied in the n eighbor hood concerts; a program in April at the First Christian Reformed Church of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Park featured works by Britten, Mozart, and Prokofiev performed by DSO musicians Hong-Yi Mo (violin), Hang Su (viola), Peter McCaffrey (cello), Jessica Grabbe (bass), Geoffrey Johnson (oboe), and Shannon Orme (clarinet). Heather Mourer, the orchestra’s neighborhood audience development manager—a newly created position—says 1,700 subscriptions and 4,000 single tickets were purchased for the first season of the neighborhood concerts. Subscriptions for many of the series are sold out, with remaining single tickets priced at $25. Attendance is at 94 percent capacity. A measure of the public’s enthusiasm for the neighborhood concerts can be gleaned from a message that Renee Guttmann, a patron in Bloomfield Hills, sent to Mourer, who stays in daily touch with concertgoers and donors. “I have recently moved from Chicago and must tell you I enjoy the DSO,” wrote Guttmann. “On a cold winter night most of the audience that came to enjoy the amazing program at Congregation Shaarey Zedek [in Southfield] would most
likely not undertake the trip to Fisher Hall that night. This venue not only enabled us to hear the amazing DSO, but I was able to sit close to the musicians as never before. Yes, the venue was convenient, but it was also magical. And the performance was outstanding.” Efforts to increase the audience at the 1,900-seat Orchestra Hall also began immediately after the strike. Slatkin, who recently signed a contract extension to 2016, recommended that all tickets be offered at lower prices. One of his ideas that’s become popular is the Soundcard, whose annual fee of $25 allows concertgoers to fill empty seats at any performance. More than 1,000 Soundcards have been sold. With most tickets at Orchestra Hall priced from $25 to $50 (box seats still go for $100), concerts are drawing healthy houses. In the months following the strike, attendance reached 83 percent capacity. The number has remained relatively steady during the 2011-12 season, when the average ticket price for classical, pops, and jazz series concerts has been $36.45. In April, the Ford Foundation announced that it had made a major grant to the DSO that will allow Detroit residents to attend any classical or jazz concert at Orchestra Hall for $15 per ticket. Drawing concertgoers back to Orchestra Hall hinges partly on the revitalization of its neighborhood, Midtown. Paul Hogle, the DSO’s executive vice president, says he quickly discovered upon his arrival in 2010 that the Detroit Symphony was too far removed from the community, an institutional model he says “was destined to go out of business.” With the orchestra today going into neighborhoods, giving 50 classical subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, and embarking on new projects, Hogle be-
lieves fresh approaches are the way to go. The orchestra’s role in the community being developed through the new initiatives is the bailiwick of fifteen eager and passionate staffers in their twenties and early thirties who’ve come on board recently, and mostly since last fall. They include Scott Harrison, executive producer of digital media. “We’re an organization that, despite having enormous difficulties, is staying in contact with people who love
us,” says Harrison, who arrived the first day of the strike in October 2010. He and his colleagues are going about their jobs with missionary zeal. “We can leave our mark here,” says Mourer. “With other organizations in other cities, you don’t have that opportunity.” Another new young face is Teddy Abrams, who’ll arrive in September 2012 to become the ensemble’s first assistant conductor in three years. Abrams, 24, is
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moving to Detroit from Budapest, Hungary, where he’s completing his first season as resident conductor of the MAV Symphony Orchestra. “The concept of imagining the possibilities of an orchestra and trying to explore new goals in a city that needs it was extremely exciting,” says Abrams, who served as conducting fellow of the New World Symphony for three years. “It made me want to be a part of this.” Hogle can’t find enough words to praise the new staffers working on the initiatives. “These people came for rebirth, to reintroduce a great American orchestra,” he says. “It’s kind of contagious to be around it.” With the Detroit Symphony undertaking strategies that appear to be working, officials are cautiously optimistic the orchestra is on the road to better days. Slatkin looks forward to expanding the orchestra’s purview through in-house recordings, both in CD and downloadable format. Recording projects include next season’s threeweek Beethoven symphony cycle, a pairing of Rachmaninoff ’s Isle of the Dead and Symphony No. 1, a Copland ballet project, and a continuing series of performances featuring musicians of the Detroit Symphony as soloists. Another enterprise that Slatkin and colleagues are anticipating in a big way is the orchestra’s first appearance at Carnegie Hall in seventeen years. In its return there in 2013 as part of the Spring for Music Festival, which is devoted to inventive programming, the orchestra will present what Slatkin terms “a rather bizarre idea”—the complete symphonies of Charles Ives on one program. “It’ll be like doing a four-act opera,” he says. Long before it offers Beethoven in cyberspace and Ives in Manhattan, the Detroit Symphony this year expanded its efforts in the digital-technology realm by offering free webcasts in the series “Live from Orchestra Hall,” which is made possible by donations from the Ford Motor Company Fund and changes in the union contract that discontinue extra fees to the musicians for electronic media. Most webcasts have drawn between 4,000 and 8,000 viewers in 40 countries, though a concert featuring Russian violinist Julian Rachlin was seen by 15,000 people worldwide as presented in association with the Russianbased classical music forum ParaClassics and Detroit Public Television. The mobile symphony
app DSO to Go, for live webcasts and other options, is another new creative idea. As they spread “There’s a word of the Detroit fighting spirit in Symphony, the webthis town that casts confirm that the characterizes orchestra remains a every one of us contender in the inwho chooses to ternational scheme of be here,” says musical things. A recent DSO President re-broadcast of Slatkin and CEO Anne leading Mahler’s Fifth Parsons. “As Symphony reflected a result of that what Detroit Free Press spirit and belief music critic Mark in what we do, Stryker wrote about the I believe we’re performance the previgoing to be ous week: “The orchessuccessful. We tral playing was rich must all stay with expression, techniwith this over a cal authority, modulated long time.” dynamics, standout solo work and a lustrous tonal blend. If anyone still wondered about the DSO’s ability to raise its post-strike game to the highest standards, this was a performance to disprove the naysayers.”
around $50 million. To bridge a structural and general fundraising.” shortfall, estimated at $3 million to $5 milBefore anyone—individuals, corporalion per year, the organization’s endowment tions, foundations—will consider making needs “$180 million to get us to where we serious donations, the problem of the $54 can have a little bit of breathing room,” says million debt on the Fisher Center must Chief Operating Officer Patricia Walker. be resolved. “We need $12, $13, $14 milManagement projects deficits of $3 million lion annually, and we need to rebuild the this year and next. “It’s going to be several endowment,” says Parsons. “We can’t do years, not two or three, before we can see a that until people understand how that balanced budget, and it will extraor- 9:51 debtAMwillPage be restructured. Second, we must FSA 1101 Symphony Ad require 3 4/14/11 1 dinary fundraising in endowment support settle with the banks so that we can put a
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Maintaining high standards will depend on the orchestra’s ability to continue drawing top players in the face of reduced employment. Departures in recent seasons cut the personnel to 78 full-time musicians, though the three-year labor agreement that went into effect with the 2011-2012 season calls for 81 players in the first year of the contract, 83 in the second, and 85 in the third. Many weeks, the orchestra has more than 20 substitute musicians onstage. Slatkin says his goal over the next few years is to have an orchestra of more than 90 full-time players. In recent auditions, he hired two cellists and a new concertmaster. He expects to engage a principal flute, principal trumpet, fourth horn, section violin, and English horn by the end of the year. “The strike worried us about attracting talent. But that doesn’t seem to be happening,” says Slatkin. “We’re not compromising standards. We’re attracting some experienced people.” Another issue keeping the orchestra on high alert is the endowment, which was $100 million at its height and now hovers americanorchestras.org
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strategy together in the community to secure the institution.” When that will happen, nobody knows. But Parsons, like others onstage, Paul Hogle, backstage, and in the of- the DSO’s fices and board room at executive vice the Detroit Symphony, president, can’t is determined to take the find enough orchestra into a new era of words to praise strength and accomplish- the staffers ment. “There’s a fighting working on spirit in this town that the orchestra’s characterizes every one new initiatives. of us who chooses to be “These people here,” she says. “As a result came for rebirth, of that spirit and belief in to reintroduce a what we do, I believe we’re great American going to be successful. Pa- orchestra. tience and impatience— It’s kind of there’s a balance between contagious to the two and tension be- be around it.” tween the two I wrestle with every day. We must all stay with this over a long time.” Susan Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit Inc., a nonprofit real-estate planning organization housed a block from the hall, says the strike hit restaurants hard and took a toll on community morale. “We really love our symphony,” the woman who’s known as the Mayor of Midtown says. “People were saddened it was experiencing such a situation and not available for the public. It’s a central part of the fabric of the neighborhood.” But local businesses are gradually bumping back with the increase in people attending concerts. Mosey is among the zealous advocates for the DSO. “There’s nothing wrong with taking a complete re-look at your current opportunities and going about it in a different way,” she says. “It doesn’t mean you have to be a less valued asset. It’s certainly worthwhile trying hard to get everyone connecting, having a quality product, and being really visionary about how to operate in the whole cultural milieu of Michigan. I think our symphony will create something quite extraordinary here.”
esm.rochester.edu/apply DONALD ROSENBERG writes about music for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. He is the author of The Cleveland Orchestra Story: Second to None and president of the Music Critics Association of North America.
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Ryan Murphy, current Fellow in the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians, demonstrates the cello for students at McKnight Elementary School in McCandless, a suburb just north of Pittsburgh, April 24, 2012.
Doors by Andrew Druckenbrod
“If we want to see more AfricanAmericans in orchestras, it starts with socioeconomic factors and exposure at a young enough age,” says bass trombonist Chris Davis, a former Fellow in the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
lack of access and exposure to classical music are major factors hindering musicians of color from seeking or developing orchestral careers. But sitting on the stage of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Heinz Hall one weekday in 2009, the then 27-year-old bass trombonist Chris Davis could have done with a bit less proximity. Davis was about to take part in his first rehearsal with the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians, a two-year mentoring program begun in 2007. He arrived at the hall early, giving himself an hour to warm up and to calm his nerves. What he saw was enough to make anyone nervous: two no-nonsense section leaders in the PSO— Concertmaster Andrés Cárdenes and Principal Trumpet George Vosburgh—were already onstage preparing for the rehearsal. Davis, who was no stranger to high-level rehearsals as an alumnus of the New World Symphony, recalls thinking, “The two most powerful people on the stage are warming up. No way I’m going out there.”
He considered warming up elsewhere when Principal Tuba Craig Knox told Davis not to worry. “George loves to hear people warm up,” he said. “He’d probably enjoy it!” “I went onstage kind of scared and reluctantly warmed up,” he says. “It’s been all right ever since.” Davis was not the only one transformed by his experience in the training program. The Pittsburgh Symphony was then embarking on the long and thoughtful implementation of a comprehensive diversity plan, and its musicians, staff, and board were inspired by seeing tangible evidence of how fostering diversity positively impacts an adult musician on the verge of a professional career.
But as is often the case for driven individuals, it wasn’t until he realized the full scope of how others were affected that he truly took it personally. At that time, blacks represented less than 2 percent of musicians in American orchestras, a figure that has not budged, he says. “The ones who excel get an instrument, have private instruction, and are exposed to classical music,” he says. “You see those musicians improve, while you stay where you are due to factors you can’t control. So you find another way to express [yourself ] and you drop out.” In 1992, Shambley and the DSO’s thenPrincipal Cellist Marion Davies formed Young Strings to address the problem for the Latino and African-American commu-
dent’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and been featured at the national conferences of the League of American Orchestras and the American String Teachers Association. The Dallas Symphony’s early adoption of a diversity program is remarkable. But unlike innovation in areas such as programming or fundraising, it is not easily transferred intact to other orchestras, because racial make-up varies from community to community. Each orchestra has to find its own path. Strength in Diverse Numbers
What’s intriguing about the Pittsburgh Symphony is that its diversity initiatives be-
Diversity and inclusion are pressing concerns for orchestras, not only onstage, but for their communities, staff, and boards. A report on how two orchestras are addressing the issue, with two very different—and successful—approaches.
Two Decades of Diversity in Dallas
In the late 1980s, Dwight Shambley, a bassist in the Dallas Symphony, took a hard look at the low number of African-American and Latino musicians in American orchestras in general and the DSO in particular. “There is a youth symphony here, and there are a lot of African-American and Latino kids involved, but why do they keep dropping out?” Shambley remembers thinking in frustration. “It wasn’t a talent issue.” As an African-American orchestral musician, Shambley frequently wrestled with the low representation of musicians of color in orchestras. “When I joined the orchestra in 1972 I had some reservations,” says the Ohio native and graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. “There were some people who assumed that I was a charity project, and I felt like I had to prove myself.” americanorchestras.org
nities in Dallas. “We were just trying to take their interest in music on to college to make sure they have the opportunity to consider an orchestral career,” Shambley recalls. “We are opening the door, not pushing anyone through.” Shambley and Davies began Young Strings with only eight students. Two years later, the Dallas Symphony took it on as a full-fledged program, expanding its mission to developing “the musical talents of outstanding African-American and Latino string students in the City of Dallas.” Today the program offers free lessons, instrument loans, performance opportunities, career guidance, and concert tickets. DSO musicians are among the teachers and mentors for some 200 students. The program has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Presi-
Meeting a new instrument at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings program
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
In Dallas, a similar tale is both younger and older. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its pioneering Young Strings program, one of the industry’s earliest and most comprehensive forays into addressing the racial divide in orchestras. While each approaches diversity from a different direction, together they offer insight into how American orchestras might further address this difficult issue.
Pittsburgh’s Diversity Plan
Here is an extract based on the executive summary of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Diversity Plan. By 2008, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) had developed a range of programs designed to engage the community and build a basic organizational understanding and support of diversity. However, next steps for making diversity a priority throughout all activities of the PSO on a long-term and strategic basis had yet to be defined. While the PSO had begun to address diversity through external programming, it had yet to set benchmarks for building greater internal diversity. … Orchestras that were discussing diversity generally defined it within the boundaries of cultural diversity. The [diversity] plan includes PSO core commitments, which represent the beliefs that guided the diversity plan process and will guide future action around diversity. A set of four action categories toward greater stakeholder engagement has been proposed within the plan: 1) Establish Practices to Ensure Evidence-Based Decision Making: The PSO must make objective decisions based on concrete evidence to build greater diversity through stakeholder engagement. 2) Develop an Integrated Approach to Stakeholder Engagement: The PSO must focus on building seamless and meaningful long-term relationships with people from all backgrounds, building diverse pipelines for future recruitment. 3) Define and Execute “Locally Engaged” and “High-Quality Experience”: The PSO needs a fundamental change in culture away from exclusivity and toward inclusion and engagement. 4) Disseminate Information and Resources: The PSO must clearly communicate the wide definition of diversity it has adopted, then offer access to the resources and information its musicians, board, and staff need to effect positive change around diversity.
gan as a variety of community-engagement efforts that slowly turned inward to focus on the organization itself. “We had done more with diversity in programming and community engagement,” says Suzanne Perrino, Pittsburgh’s senior vice president of education and strategic development. For instance, for many years the PSO has partnered with organizations in three predominantly African-American Pittsburgh neighborhoods. “We bring in instruments for the students, provide teachers, and give concerts,” Perrino says. Similarly, the orchestra’s annual “Tribute Concert,” begun in 2006, celebrates African-American culture and influence through programming. Even the Orchestra Training program, begun in 2007, is essentially a community-engagement program. These are all commendable initiatives that have had real impact. But in 2008, the PSO was challenged by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, a county government agency that distributes funds to civic and cultural groups, to address diversity more holistically. “We had thought about creating
a diversity plan in 2003, but RAD was the impetus to get the ball rolling,” says Pittsburgh Symphony President and Chief Executive Officer James A. Wilkinson. The goal became not just to service minority communities, but to systematically get their input by more consistently reaching out to them and also bringing in more minority board members. A diversity committee was formed in the fall of 2008, and the PSO began a deliberate process of developing a “comprehensive, long-term diversity plan.” Every constituency of the PSO has been involved, from staff to board to musicians. According to Rachel Walton, a board member who now chairs the PSO’s Diversity Committee, the orchestra “looked mostly internally at changes, as we were already doing many programs for the public that are and were reaching diverse audiences. This is the opposite of a corporate diversity plan. In most cases, corporations have the diversity inside the organization and it is the external service to clients for which they would need a diversity plan.”
“We understood that building an organizational community that embraced and drew from the wisdom of those different perspectives helped us to be a smarter, stronger, more effective organization with a wider set of problem-solving abilities,” says Jessica Schmidt, a former Pittsburgh Symphony staff member who is now director of education and community engagement at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. “As we continued to build relationships with all types of people from all types of communities, we knew that a commitment to longterm diversity would allow us to perform our duty of connecting with and representing people of all backgrounds.” The PSO Diversity Committee researched the issue with its stakeholders, through interviews and statistical mapping of regional demographics by the League of American Orchestras. “We needed to start tracking this formally to understand it,” says Wilkinson. Benchmarking also was an issue. Audrey Murrell, a business professor at the University of Pittsburgh who consulted on the project, says that the PSO “was one of only a few orchestras addressing diversity from a more comprehensive standpoint. There was really both an opportunity and a challenge to create something that could add value locally and be used as a model nationally.” With board approval only last year, it is too soon to measure the success of Pittsburgh’s Diversity Plan. “Change takes time within an or- “Through ganization that has been increased in existence for over diversity, 100 years, one which is we have the very traditional in prac- best chance tice and process,” says of serving Diversity Committee our diverse Chair Walton. “These communities diversity initiatives will in a way that continue to be a work in works best for progress and be ﬂexible them,” says enough to respond to Rachel Walton, the changing needs of a Pittsburgh the community.” Symphony
board member who now chairs At the heart of the push the orchestra’s for racial diversity in clas- Diversity sical music is the make- Committee. Early Exposure
up of orchestras themselves. But with bona fide occupational qualifications for musicians as compelling as those of any profession, the issue can’t be resolved or even adequately addressed in the hiring process alone. Playing well must be the deciding factor—something the field has formally established with an audition process that has long
been rendered color blind by placing musicians behind a screen. Change must come far earlier in the life of a musician of color. “If we want to see more African-Americans in orchestras, it does start with socioeconomic factors and exposure at a young enough age,” says bass trombonist Chris Davis. The mission of the DSO’s Young
Strings is just that. “The point is to get Latino and African-American kids into an orchestra,” says DSO bassist Dwight Shambley. The PSO’s Training Program for African American Musicians follows suit, but addresses older musicians who are advanced and experienced enough to join a major orchestra.
Young Strings at 20
Richard Rejino Photography
Richard Rejino Photography
Amelia, mother of current students Sarah and Samantha When Sarah and Samantha decided to participate in the
Young Strings program, it became a family commitment. We knew that we had to incorporate practices and performances into our family’s schedule. Little did we realize the benefits it would bring to all of us. We have all been exposed to classical music and the expressive arts and we now have such an appreciation for it. We thoroughly enjoy each performance because we can see and hear how Sarah and Samantha grow as musicians. The music that Sarah and Samantha are able to play on their violins has comforted and put smiles on the faces of people who are very special to us. This gift has never been as important as when our family was recently dealing with the loss of a loved one. After my grandmother passed away, we went to visit my grandfather. They played again for him and were sure that she was listening as well. This was the first time we had seen him since the funeral. It brought tears to all of our eyes. This was a time where I had never been prouder of my girls for showing their love and compassion through their music. The music that came from their violins and hearts brought a sense of peace to us all. Abigail, current student My name is Abigail Rosario; I am of Puerto Rican descent. I play the violin and string bass and I have been a student in Young Strings program for three years. I joined Young Strings when I was
in the sixth grade. It has been a blessing because I believe that any child in the world should have a safe outlet to express himself or herself, and Young Strings has given me that gift. In particular, being in Young Strings helped me overcome a very challenging eighth-grade year. … But Young Strings pulled me through and I came out a winner. I am delighted that I have learned about the therapeutic nature of classical music before getting lost in some of the popular music we hear today, which, more often than not, is about violence. I feel I have a better ap preciation for music because of the discipline that is needed to learn a piece. Music teaches discipline, which requires maturity. Young Strings has also made my mother proud of me. She is proud of me without my asking, and that is a wonderful thing. I am a little dreamer, and little dreams become big dreams. Jean Paul, Young Strings alumnus When I look back at my start with the Young Strings program, I can remember very clearly saying, “I want to play sports when I grow up, not music.” As a six-year-old kid, it sometimes
takes a lot of inspiration for you to build a passion for a classical instrument and dedicate many hours of practice each week to it. Luckily for me, I had tons of family and teacher support that kept me going. … Knowing I had a special talent and seeing that people appreciated it is when I realized that music, not sports, was going to be my calling. After arriving at the University of Tulsa, I set off on a fast track to get my talent known throughout the city of Tulsa. After my second year, I became the principal cellist
Richard Rejino Photography
his spring, to mark the twentieth anniversary of its landmark Young Strings program, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra published Young Strings: Changing Lives Through Music, a book that traces the impact of the program on student musicians and their families. With comments from program faculty and supporters, and first-person narratives from past and present Young Strings participants, as well as striking photography and elegant design by Richard Rejino, the book provides a close-up look at how one orchestra is discovering, developing, and promoting the musical talents of outstanding African-American and Latino string students. (The book is available for purchase by emailing c.brainerd@dalsym. com or by calling 214-8714066.) Here, a parent, a current participant, and an alumnus talk about the Young Strings experience.
of the university’s symphony orchestra and was part of three performing chamber groups. I was a regular solo performer for weddings, banquets, social gatherings, and the Tulsa Signature Symphony and the Bartlesville Symphony. I have also done quite a few studiorecording sessions. The great start that Young Strings gave me allowed me to take the right steps in becoming a professional musician, and as a 22-year-old man, I couldn’t be happier with the progress I’ve made. I believe that the sky is the limit … and I’m aiming for it.
“We need more than only musicians,” Dallas Symphony Orchestra bass player Dwight Shambley says about diversity at orchestras. “We need audiences, we need administrators, we need people to be involved.”
In other words, both programs focus on the audition. In the case of Young Strings, technical and artistic skills are built to the point that a player will be ready for the audition at a college. The PSO’s training program is more honed to actual tryout. “The whole cello section has heard me play mock auditions and given me pointers,” says cellist Ryan Murphy, 30, a current PSO fellow. “I’m learning every day here at a rate unseen for me since my undergraduate days. There’s so much to absorb being so close to such a world-class organization, and I’m just trying to make the most of it.” While Shambley sees potential problems even with the screen (“Usually there are people on the committee who have friends and students auditioning, and human nature kicks in”), there’s no getting around racial make-up. “After you pass the first round and the screen is lifted, they know who you are,” says Shambley, who admits at that point it could be “a plus or a negative if you are a woman or minority.” “It’s tough for anyone of any nationality to win any audition,” says Davis. “Hopefully, race doesn’t play a factor in the decision. From my experiences, it doesn’t. I have always wanted my playing to do the talking!” Now based in Chicago, Davis is auditioning as much as he can and subbing in orchestras to further hone his talents. “The PSO helped me because they provided the training needed to win an audition.” Perhaps the most crucial part of this training is simply “the confidence that I can succeed in this business,” says Davis. That’s a common sentiment of those who have been deeply involved with Young Strings. A recent alumna of the program, bassist Jennifer Cheadle, cites the program for being “a positive influence in my life.” Young Strings has been shown to have a positive impact even on those not going into professional music careers; see sidebar on page 65 for comments from additional current and recent participants. americanorchestras.org
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Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Three musicians in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings program
“Young Strings was a catalyst that allowed my son to develop his God-given talent and passion for music,” says Gayle Punch about her son Richmond, a former violist who now heads a company specializing in events entertainment in Dallas. Likewise, Maria “Lupe” Vargas-Garcia, a former Young Strings violinist, credits Young Strings for putting her on the track to a teaching career and directing a Dallas middle school orchestra and mariachi band. The fact that Dallas’s Young Strings has not yet placed alumni in a full-time professional orchestra has not discouraged Shambley. After all, the major concern of the
program is musical development and getting participants ready for at least a college music program. “I anticipated from the very beginning that this is a long-term project,” he says. “If we start them out in kindergarten and take them all the way through into college, that’s twenty years. I think sooner or later it will happen.” But he sees the value of the program reaching beyond the core mission of training young minority musicians. “We need more than only musicians,” Shambley says. “We need audiences, we need administrators, we need people to be involved. If a student had a good experience with music and then goes into another line of work, they will someday come back, go to concerts, and support the orchestra.” The benefits reach beyond that. Every high school participant in Young Strings has graduated from high school. That’s rosy measured against a general graduation rate of 44 percent this past year in the Dallas Independent School District. And almost all of the program’s participants have gone on to college, many with music scholarships. “Many Young Strings students are the first
in their family to go to college,” Shambley points out. “Diversity and community is one of the most exciting conversations happening at the PSO,” says Walton. “Through increased diversity, we have the best chance of serving our diverse communities in a way that works best for them.” As she sees it, a policy of diversity that extends from the stage to community engagement can lead not only to a sustainable future for orchestras, but a flourishing one. Murphy, the aspiring cellist-in-training at the PSO, articulates the potentially farreaching effects for orchestras that embrace diversity. “Classical music [can] be perceived as something that only older white people can enjoy and participate in,” he says. “This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. Classical music can enrich the lives of any and everyone. Nothing shows this more than an orchestra made of people of different backgrounds.” ANDREW DRUCKENBROD is classical music critic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh.
Five By Design Celebrates 20th Season with PBS Television Special Five By Design is pleased to oﬀer orchestras a dynamic marketing tool to promote its symphony pops appearances. Five By Design’s Club Swing was lmed in a 6-camera shoot by Wisconsin Public Television as pledge programming for PBS member stations in your market. Productions on tour during the 2013-2014 season include Cole and its newest Club Swing, Cool & Swingin’ with Richie Cole, pops production, The Ultra Lounge Show. The 2012-2013 season includes a 7-city holiday tour with the Boston Pops and appearances with the Edmonton Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Anderson Symphony, and Quad Cities Symphony orchestras.
BELOW: The Berlin Philharmonic’s digital internet broadcasts come from its concert hall. OPPOSITE: A neighborhood movie theater in Cranford, N.J., one of many theaters showing LA Phil LIVE simulcasts.
& Prokofiev by Jennifer Melick
Are orchestra concerts at the movies here to stay?
ne Sunday afternoon last fall, I headed out for the latest feature at a nearby movie theater. Things started out in the usual way: buy a ticket, grab a bag of popcorn, sit down to watch the previews. Then the main feature began—no, not a new 3D animated film, bromance, chick flick, or action film, but a live all-Mendelssohn concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic from Walt Disney Concert Hall. At that moment, classical-music lovers at hundreds of movie theaters around the U.S. and Canada were doing the exact same thing. Of course, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that in the past several years there has been an explosion of cultural offerings at movie theaters. Much of it is simulcast live, following the example of the Metropolitan Opera and its successful Live in HD broadcasts. In the past year alone, you could go to the movies for “The Goat Rodeo Sessions” with Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan; a 3D Madama Butterfly from London’s Royal Opera House; Lang Lang in an all-Liszt recital and orchestra program with the Philadelphia Orchestra; a live concert of the Israel Philharmonic from Jerusalem; and the New York Philharmonic’s concert staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Company.
The Met began its Live in HD broadcasts in 2006-07, but for orchestras, the movie-theater simulcast is a comparatively new thing. It’s a way not just for more people to see a concert but also potentially to change perceptions of the art form by offering it at a low price and in spaces that are less formal and more familiar to most Americans. Beyond movie theaters, highdefinition simulcasts on large screens can bring Beethoven, Mahler, or Stravinsky to people unable to travel to a concert. Quick Success
When it comes to concerts at the movies, the most prominent orchestral player at the moment is the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which this season is offering two simulcasts and one pre-recorded broadcast as part of its LA Phil LIVE series. “One of the great things about live music is that it’s a communal event,” said LA Phil President and CEO Deborah Borda late last fall, not long before the orchestra was set to head to Caracas, Venezuela for a February 18 live simulcast of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) with the Simon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and hundreds of singers. A broadcast from Disney Concert Hall on March 4 featured the LA Phil’s all-Gershwin 201112 season-opening concert with Herbie Hancock. “You go and you experience the music with other people,” says Borda. “You also cannot compare a screen at home, even
if you have a large-scale video screen, to what you have when you have a full movietheater screen with full-on sound. It’s a different experience.” The first LA Phil LIVE transmission in January 2011 was a concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Bernstein’s First Symphony (“Jeremiah”), and John Adams’s Slonimsky’s Earbox, hosted by actress Vanessa Williams. The orchestra’s media partner for the simulcasts is National CineMedia, which works with many cultural organizations— including the Metropolitan Opera—to present live events at the Cinemark, Regal, and AMC theater chains. Early feedback has been positive, despite the fact that an orchestra concert is not considered an inherently visual experience. Shelly Maxwell, executive president of NCM Fathom
(NCM’s broadcast network), says, “When you think of Broadway plays or you think of the opera, it’s very visual, and the symphony—not so much. But our research suggested that there was a hunger for that.” Borda says NCM Fathom reported that it had “never seen this kind of return on something—99 percent were satisfied overall, and 78 percent were completely satisfied. Customers love seeing the up-close camera angles on the musicians and the conductor. They particularly enjoyed being able to experience Gustavo Dudamel from the front angle—to see his face, because it’s very interesting and dramatic. People really enjoy the backstage aspect of it, being able to go into Gustavo’s dressing room, see what that’s like, see the stage manager actually give the countdown for the start, see the timpanist rush on at the last moment.” NCM Fathom Vice President Dan Diamond says, “The major markets in the country have embraced this. Some of the smaller markets are a little bit slower to adopt, but we saw that same trend with the Met early on. It takes time to build awareness.” To put some numbers on the phenomenon: NCM Fathom presented thirteen live and prerecorded or tape-delayed events in 2007; by 2011 there were 63 events. In terms of who pays for what, NCM Fathom says generally their content providers (e.g., the Metropolitan Opera or the LA Phil) develop and bring the content, NCM handles distribution and
Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera’s successful Live in HD broadcasts in movie theaters have been a model for other performing-arts presenters. Pictured: the Met’s new Götterdämmerung production (with Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde and Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried) debuted in movie theaters on February 11, 2012.
logistical aspects, and ticket sales are split. Both NCM Fathom and the content provider market the events. The Metropolitan Opera makes a modest profit from its Live in HD series—more than $8 million in net revenue for 2009-10. But, as Don Rosenberg wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in October 2010, the transmissions have had an “enormous impact” on donations, adding several thousand new contributors to the Met over several seasons. As of this February, the LA Phil said it is pleased with the results from its LA Phil LIVE events to date and hopes to continue them. So what’s it like to experience a symphony orchestra concert in a movie theater? As a hybrid form, it combines the concert hall with a typical movie theater experience—the same basic structure of previews followed by main event. The typical price nationwide is about $18 a ticket, roughly double the average cost of a movie. Often, however, you’ll receive a printed program. There are the same preshow onscreen quizzes most people have come to expect at the movies, but here there are questions like “Why is Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony called ‘Scottish’?” and “How long did it take Mendelssohn to complete his violin concerto?”
And from Philadelphia…
Another orchestra that has had an enthusiastic response to its HD broadcasts is the Philadelphia Orchestra, which transmitted concerts to senior-care facilities in 2008, 2009, and 2010 with media partner SpectiCast. “It was kind of the opposite tack that many orchestras have adopted in trying to get young people interested in classical music,” says Stephen Millen, vice president and orchestra general manager at the Philadelphia Orchestra. “We continue to do that, but we said, ‘Wait a minute—there’s a whole other segment out there who already love classical music, but for one reason or another can’t experience live performances. Why don’t we reach out to senior-care facilities, because they really have been a neglected part of the listening population as far as live performances are concerned.’ ” The success at senior-care facilities spurred the orchestra’s decision to offer concerts to art-film movie theaters around the country, such as the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, which has broadcast several Phil-
adelphia Orchestra concerts. “The Philadelphia Orchestra is highly regarded as one of the world’s greatest orchestras,” says Millen. “That’s part of the lure. Someone on the West Coast, for example, may never have the opportunity to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra live. This allows them to have the experience of both seeing and hearing the orchestra. It’s exciting to know that there is a thirst out there for people to experience an orchestra in that way.” Although at press time Philadelphia’s theater broadcasts were on hiatus while the orchestra focused its energies on issues related to its recent restructuring, Millen says, “We continue to get requests from movie theaters, ‘When are you resuming the season?’ So we know we’re onto something that has market demand and desire both from the distributor of the concerts and the listeners who want to experience concerts that way.” Philadelphia hopes to announce plans to resume the theatercasts later this year. Location, Location, Location
Behind the rising popularity of live cultural events in movie theaters is a story about real estate. For movie theaters, attendance for domestic films has declined, with recent reports of attendance in the U.S. dipping in 2011 to its lowest levels in sixteen years. Movie theaters around the country want something beyond the standard film releases to offer—and they also struggle to fill all their seats, especially off-peak in the middle of the week. “We do feel like we’re filling the gap,” says NCM Fathom’s Shelly Maxwell. “Our charge as a company was to monetize all this real estate out there, Monday through Thursday, during the day, and at nighttime. To find other programming beyond movies that will entice people to come to the movie theater.” Mark Rupp is president symphony
Events in the movie theater tend to be longer than an actual live concert, because of the added preshow and intermission features. In the case of the LA Phil’s Mendelssohn concert in October, there was a green-room chat with Dudamel, a backstage conversation with Borda, and a short film featuring violinist Janine Jansen talking and rehearsing with Dudamel and the orchestra. Not surprisingly given its location, the LA Phil often uses Hollywood actors as hosts and performers. Audio quality is pretty good for a movie theater, but does not attain the level of a live concert—nothing can do that. On the other hand, the audience is put right at the center of the live event, right down to the pre-show buzz of the actual audience at the concert hall. And in that sense the events are remarkably similar to attending a live concert. WorldRedEy
The New World Symphony simulcasts concerts onto a 7,000-square-foot projection wall outside its New World Center in Miami Beach.
“At every single performance we turn to the audience and say, ‘Support your local orchestra.’ There’s still nothing like a live performance in the hall. Our sense is that all boats rise with the tide, and if this can actually turn people on to going to a symphony concert, that’s a very good thing.” — Los Angeles Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda SUMMER 2012
It’s not just concerts in movie theaters: technology means the concert hall can be anything from a computer or mobile device to a large screen outdoors. The sampling below represents just a sliver of the many virtual concert experiences that can be seen and heard without heading to the neighborhood multiplex. Berlin Philharmonic (left): Through a program launched in December 2008, subscribers to the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall (annual fee €149; 48hour ticket €9.9) can view live or archived concerts from Berlin on computers or mobile devices.
Berlin Philharmonic Media
Detroit Symphony Orchestra (below): The DSO launched its “Live from Orchestra Hall” free digital video streams with an April 2011 concert; webcasts continue this season and include intermission features with guest artists and members of the DSO. Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: To welcome incoming Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski last spring, the ISO webcast a concert live from Hilbert Circle Theatre that was viewable on computers or on mobile devices via the ISO’s iPhone and smartphone apps. Medici.tv: Launched in May 2008, this Paris-based company presents about 80 live HD webcasts per year, with some programs offered free and others for an annual ($99) or monthly ($10.90) subscription. Orchestras have included the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Orchestre National de France, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Beyond the computer screen, its events can be viewed via its free apps for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones. New World Symphony: The Florida-based professional training orchestra’s free outdoor NWS Wallcasts are concerts simulcast onto a 7,000-square-foot projection wall outside the orchestra’s New World Center in Miami Beach. The orchestra also pioneered distance learning through Internet2, a high-speed internet technology, to hundreds of U.S. universities, providing a link to masterclasses, seminars, rehearsals, and symposia. Sphinx Organization: Sphinx offers live video streams at its website of its annual competition for young black and Latino string players. WQXR: Nearly all concerts broadcast live from the radio station’s Greene Space in New York City are also live webcast at Q2, WQXR’s online newmusic station. Q2 periodically offers virtual concerts from other venues, including last summer’s live video webcast from the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, featuring contemporary-music ensemble ICE. For season-opening and other special events, many orchestras offer free simulcasts in plazas and other outdoor venues, including the New York Philharmonic, the Nashville Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
of SpectiCast, which has presented movietheater broadcasts by the Berlin Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. Rupp agrees that “alternative content” events at movie theaters are growing, but also points to another piece of the real-estate story. “In the performing-arts-center world, there are dark days and weeks and evenings where they will drop a screen and show a digital broadcast of an opera or symphony or ballet, and sometimes a feature film, if it’s germane to their mission. There are some beautiful theaters in the science and natural-history museums, with comfortable seats and 100-foot screens, just sitting there dark much of the time. When I talk to museum managers, they are very interested in the kinds of content we have. Digital simulcasting and broadcasting are incredibly cost-effective for the exhibitors. So performing arts centers are kind of becoming movie theaters, and movie theaters are becoming digital performing arts centers. The roles are converging, just like the phone companies and the cable companies are all becoming kind of one thing. Everyone is trying to leverage their economics and their overhead.” Big Screens and Small Screens
One of the orchestras whose concerts Rupp has broadcast into movie theaters is the Berlin Philharmonic. The Berlin Phil, of course, also has its own online Digital Concert Hall, where diehards can view live concerts on their computer or mobile device in real time from Berlin. Of that format, Rupp says, “Their concerts are beautiful and they do a great job, but it’s still quite a challenge to ask somebody to sit for two hours in what’s often a desk chair. A lot of stuff we’re talking about is meant to be seen on big screens. I think the oftenstated doom of the movietheater industry is way overstated. Because people like going out to the movies. I have a home theater symphony
Virtual Front Row
“Someone who lives on the West Coast may never have the opportunity to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra live,” says Stephen Millen, vice president and orchestra general manager at the Philadelphia Orchestra. “This allows them to have the experience of both seeing and hearing the orchestra.” SUMMER 2012
and I have nice comfortable seats, and I certainly could rent a movie a lot cheaper than I could going to the movies, but there’s something about being at a movie that’s a new release. It’s the same as going to a live concert, or a screening of a concert or an opera. It still has that communal experience.” Supporters of live classical music on the big screen point to that communal experience. There are those, however, who question whether these events could eventually affect the art form itself by changing the audience’s expectation of what live events look and sound like. Video cameras reward opera companies who hire thin, attractive singers, who may have voices that are too small in the opera house but are perfectly adequate with microphones. For orchestra theatercasts, opinions on close-ups range widely. At his Sonic Labyrinth blog in January 2011, music professor Jeffrey Johnson complained, “We don’t need so many close-ups of the musicians. We don’t always need to pan during wide shots…. There is nothing boring about watching an orchestra. Choose an angle and let us watch them for a while.” But the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Peter Dobrin, commenting in September
2009 on a Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall transmission, wrote, “This ‘listener’ likes to see the hands of the piano soloist, the face of the conductor, the fingers of the clarinetist.” No one interviewed for this article claimed that a classical performance sounded better in a movie theater than it did live. The more likely risk is that fans used to seeing up-close images of musicians could be frustrated at the greater physical distance between themselves and the orchestra musicians or singers. Some in the classical industry worry that this could hasten the amplification of opera, ruining the art form in the way that many feel microphones destroyed the essence of attending a Broadway musical. Only time will tell what the long-range effects of live theatercasts might be.
Courtesy NCM Fathom
Actress Kate Burton speaks to the camera at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Shakespeare-themed LA Phil LIVE concert in 2011, also featuring Orlando Bloom, Anika Noni Rose, Matthew Rhys, and Malcolm McDowell.
don’t have to drive an hour to Walt Disney Concert Hall, with the famous Los Angeles traffic?’ ” Borda says with only six concert transmissions in its first two seasons, it’s too early to say yet, but at “every single performance we turn to the audience and say, ‘Support your local orchestra.’ There’s still nothing like a live performance in the hall. Our sense is that all boats rise with the tide, and if this can actually turn people on to going to a symphony concert, that’s a very good thing.” Metropolitan Opera General Director Peter Gelb has said much the same of the HD broadcasts. “Our success in HD has had a positive effect not only on the Met but on opera generally around the world,” he said in Opera News in July 2010. NCM Fathom vehemently denies that movie-theater broadcasts hurt attendance at live events. “I’ll give you an example that’s completely out of the realm of classical music or opera,” says NCM Fathom’s Dan Diamond. “In 2004, Prince was coming out of a nine-year sabbatical from touring. We were talking with the tour promoters, saying, ‘What can we do in movie theaters that would be unique and different to launch Prince’s tour?’ And the first thing that came up was, ‘The local promoters are all going to be up in arms if we do anything with Prince in the theaters before he gets to those markets.’ ”
All Boats Rise
Another inevitable question about orchestra simulcasts in movie theaters is whether they hurt attendance at live events by local orchestras. As the LA Phil’s Deborah Borda puts it, “Is it cannibalizing our audience? Are people out there saying, ‘I can get a great experience with this, and this means I symphony
But Prince liked the idea, Diamond says, and “Not only did we sell out the theaters, but they sold out every tour date in 48 hours and were adding tour dates based on the theater event. Because we’re not trying to sell 10,000 tickets in a market. We’re trying to fill several 250-seat auditoriums.” As to whether movie-theater classical concerts are here to stay, these are still early days. In a November 2010 article in The New York Times, Deborah Borda characterized the LA Phil LIVE transmissions as an experiment, and when she and I spoke last fall, the orchestra, with four simulcasts under its belt, was still taking things one day at a time: “This is a very iterative process,” says Borda, “so one doesn’t rule anything out. One learns and grows, and it’s a very fluid learning experience for everybody.” The orchestral concertgoing experience, after all, has many long-standing traditions that no one wants to lose, especially amid today’s bewildering array of entertainment options. The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith, for instance, declared early in 2011 that he was “obstinately old-fashioned” and “couldn’t get overly excited about attending a virtual concert (or opera).” But, he added, “I’m all for anything that will bring people together for music, and I hope this venture is a success.”
One recent observation: the 18-to-30 demographic is much less in evidence at the movies than older people or parents with young children. For movies, they may prefer to stay home and stream a Netflix movie. The broader debate of our time may not be centered around live-in-person versus live-at-the-movies performances at all. The NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, released in 2009, documented big shifts in how Americans spend their
leisure time, with declining audiences for everything from live performing arts presentations and movies to sports events. Meanwhile, Americans are turning to online performances in record numbers. The big challenge may be just getting people away from their electronics and out of the house. JENNIFER MELICK is managing editor of Symphony.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has broadcast its concerts to assisted-living facilities as well as art-house movie theaters.
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Twelfth-grader Elyssa Lindeman’s painting was featured in the Haggin Museum’s annual McKee Student Art Contest & Exhibition, which made this year’s theme conflict resolution in connection with the Stockton Symphony’s Uzu and Muzu commission.
Harmonic A by Edward Ortiz
t first glance the city of Stockton, California, where the Stockton Symphony makes its home, looks no different than any other small U.S. city. A scant 80 miles east of San Francisco, Stockton is nestled in the farm-rich San Joaquin Valley, where an ever-present sun casts a glow over a population of 292,000. But simmering under the surface here is a city vexed by conflict and hardship. In the years since the recession began in 2008, Stockton has been home to high crime rates, one of the highest home-foreclosure rates in the nation, and an entrenched gang population.
R. R. Jones
The Stockton Symphony in performance with Music Director Peter Jaffe
The Stockton Symphony is using a Music Alive residency featuring composer Avner Dorman to deliver an inspiring message about resolving conflict. With its latest commissioning project, the Stockton Symphony used adversity as a jumping-off point for creating community dialogue and remaining relevant. Uzu and Muzu, a 30-minute work by Israeli composer Avner Dorman, is based on a Hebrew childrenâ€™s story about conflict and resolution. Buoyed by the potential for such themes to speak to the Stockton community, the orchestra spearheaded a americanorchestras.org
broad range of events that went far beyond the usual concerts and pre-concert talks. It embraced a writing competition through the local Stockton Record, a poetry slam, readings and exhibits at local libraries, and discussions on conflict resolution at local churches, Jewish synagogues, and the Mexican Heritage Center. Many of these activities involved Dorman himself, who served as composer in residence over the course of
Avner Dorman (foreground) offers composing advice to University of the Pacific music composition student Marco Herrera-Rendon. Steve Pereira
state’s oldest orchestras.) Dorman based his score on the modern children’s book Uzu and Muzu from Kakamaruzu by Israeli author Ephraim Sidon. The story follows two close brothers—so close, we are told, that when one is pricked the other bleeds—who end up quarreling over a trivial matter. “They build a wall in the middle of their house, and for generations to come, their descendants believe that horrible monsters and demons reside on the other side of the wall,” Dorman explains in his composer statement for the Music Alive commission. “It takes the naïveté of two of Uzu and Muzu’s great-grandchildren to cross over the wall and demolish the wall of prejudice built by their forefathers.” Thus, Uzu and Muzu, as conceived by Dorman, addresses the issue of conflict—in both families and communities. “The fact that this work is based on a children’s book invited the opportunity for children to be involved and talk about conflict issues,” Kenworthy says. “In Stockton, youngsters are recruited into gangs at an early age.” In a Stockton Record news story last fall, interim Stockton police chief Blair Ulring stated that Stockton had a documented population of 3,000 gang members spread out over 57 groups, with two large gangs embroiled in a Hatfield-and-McCoy-like feud. On the Stockton Symphony
Avner Dorman (in foreground) and Stockton Symphony Music Director Peter Jaffe address the crowd prior to the premiere of Dorman’s Uzu and Muzu, in March 2012.
a few weeks last fall and this winter, under the auspices of Music Alive, a joint program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA, made possible with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund. In the months leading up to Uzu and Muzu’s subscription series debut on March 8, it would’ve been hard to go anywhere in Stockton without hearing or seeing something related to the work and its message. When planning the commission, the orchestra thought big from the get-go. “We didn’t just call up Avner and ask him to write a piece for us,” says Jane “We wanted a Kenworthy, executive piece that would director of the Stockreally speak ton Symphony. “We to the civic had a specific idea— issues here in we wanted a piece that Stockton,” says would really speak to Jane Kenworthy, the civic issues here in executive Stockton.” (The Stockdirector of ton Symphony recently the Stockton marked its 85th anniSymphony. versary and is one of the
concerts that capped Dorman’s residency, including its March subscription debut, the piece shared a concert program with another work that plumbs conflict—but with a different kind of resolution: Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet. “It’s very easy to get into the mode of demonizing the other person, and making up stories about someone else,” says Dorman, who grew up surrounded by conflict in Tel Aviv and more recently spent time in Los Angeles, where gang violence is an ongoing problem. “I was introduced to the Uzu and Muzu story at thirteen when I was babysitting for a neighbor. It made a big impression on me, and the more I work on it with the people of Stockton, the more I realize that this story is universal. The music seems to speak to them, and it’s giving them a pathway into the topic of conflict resolution.” “This project, which builds on the power of music to bridge divides, is a wonderful example of the many new roles orchestras are playing in community life,” says Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “Whether performing in hospitals, offering instrumental education to disadvantaged youth, or working with adult amateur musicians, orchestras are finding ways to reach more diverse audiences and to make an impact far beyond the concert hall.”
Dorman speaks to a band and orchestra class at Lincoln High School in Stockton as part of his Music Alive residency at the Stockton Symphony.
As with all Music Alive residencies (see sidebar, page 82), connecting with the community and improving local music education are central to Dorman’s residency in Stockton. During his visits—one week spanning late October to early November, and a longer stint from late February into March—Dorman visited a Central Valley Youth Symphony rehearsal, a San Joaquin Delta College music class, an El Sistema-inspired afterschool program called Harmony Stockton, and several public schools in the greater San Joaquin area. One school where Dorman’s visit reportedly had a profound impact is Ansel Adams Elementary School. The school’s website states that more than half of its students have parents without a high school diploma, and a majority also qualify for the free lunch program. Dorman’s school visit likely exposed some students to classical music for the first time, and it’s a safe bet that this was their first interaction americanorchestras.org
JOHN SUCH ARTISTS’ MANAGEMENT, LTD
Gabriela Lena Frank will spend two seasons with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra creating two new works, including a new piano concerto and a piece
celebrating the orchestra’s 50th anniversary. Steven Stucky will have a new work performed, mentor young composers, and curate a retrospective of works by Lutoslawski during a single season at the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of Andrew Norman’s two-year residency at Boston Modern Orchestra Project include a commission, a recording project of four of his works, and communityengagement projects like the Club Concerts series and a collaboration with the composer collective Score Board. During a one-year residency at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Mason Bates is creating two new works,
with a living composer. “I now have students that are actually working on compositions of lyrics or music in class,” says Agnes Litfin, a music teacher at Ansel Adams. “They were inspired by Dorman’s visit.” This is not the first time that someone has visited Litfin’s classroom on behalf of the Stockton Symphony, nor is it the orchestra’s first Music Alive residency. In 2007 the orchestra took on a commission similar in scope to Uzu and Muzu, a piece titled Music is the Power by Christopher Brubeck, son of jazz legend Dave Brubeck. The four-part suite for orchestra and 250-voice choir integrated text and imagery into the overall performance. In that effort it was Stockton Symphony Music Director Peter Jaffe who came into the classroom to talk about the work. After those concerts, Litfin says, “Several students told me that they were pleased to be taking an orchestral instrument after listening to the music.” The Brubeck work sought input from the students: the text
who snore in identical pitches, by scoring it for the guiro, a Latin American wooden instrument played by rubbing a small stick against a ridged surface. “I played what I had written for kids and asked them how the orchestra would make the snoring sounds—this was something that really excited them,” Dorman recalls. After playing a MIDI file of the musical passage Dorman made the snoring sound and asked students to do the same. Hearing the juxtaposition of the different tones inspired him to write directions in the music and narration asking the audience to snore along with the music in performances. “Up until the classroom visits it did not occur to me to do that,” he says.
participating in communityengagement initiatives, and helping the orchestra develop a multimedia concert series. Singer-songwriter and composer Gabriel Kahane is spending two seasons as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s first-ever composer-in-residence, creating a new song cycle, assisting the orchestra in launching a non-traditional concert series in Brooklyn, and participating in the programming process throughout the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
In addition to its musical benefits for the Stockton students, what makes the Uzu and Muzu project stand out is its potential to positively influence the city’s social fabric. Stockton has the lowest literacy rate of 69 U.S. cities with populations of 250,000 or more. So the symphony partnered with the Stockton Record to sponsor a writing competition. Students and adults alike submitted stories about their experiences with conflict—in their families, schools, communities—to the Record, which began publishing the stories on February 15 and continued through the Uzu and Muzu performances in early March. Stories in Spanish were also accepted for publication by The Bilingual Weekly. With Our Words, a
To date, Music Alive has supported 84 residencies with 82 composers at 66 orchestras. The program is made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund.
was designed to be an exploration about music, written by students from Stockton and the surrounding San Joaquin County. “There were a thousand text entries submitted,” Jaffe says. These were whittled down to the entries that best fit Brubeck’s music. “In this way students were not just witnesses but co-creators,” Jaffe says. Interaction with students had equal payoff for Dorman. During his first week of residency, while in the throes of writing the piece, Dorman brought MIDI files of the music he was working on to schools in Lodi, a nearby town also in San Joaquin County. He played sections to students and asked what they thought, even changing one aspect of the piece based on his interaction with a student group. Uzu and Muzu is scored for orchestra and narrator, with two percussionists—who represent the musical voices of the two brothers—placed on separate parts of the stage in front of the orchestra. In one section Dorman portrayed the snoring of the two brothers,
A total of 6,764 fourth- and fifth-grade students attended the six Steppin’ Out education concerts at Warren Atherton Auditorium, where the Stockton Symphony performed Avner Dorman’s Uzu and Muzu.
usic Alive, a partnership of New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras, provides financial support, technical assistance, and professional development services to selected orchestras and composers for commissioning projects that engage their communities. Applications, which are submitted by orchestras and composers together, are selected by a panel of distinguished composers, musicians, and orchestra officials. In addition to Avner Dorman’s residency at the Stockton Symphony, Music Alive has been supporting five other residencies beginning in 2011:
Composer local nonprofit that promotes Avner Dorman literacy through slam poetry, at work also partnered with the Stockton Symphony to have students write poetry on the theme of conflict resolution, to be performed at With Our Words events and at the orchestra’s family concert on March 4. Other events took inspiration from the elements of conflict in the Uzu and Muzu story. The local Haggin Museum, which annually holds the McKee Student Art Contest and Exhibition, has this year made conflict resolution the official contest theme to connect with the Uzu and Muzu project. The Cesar Chavez Central Library also featured a display of books on music and conflict from The music of February 1 through March 10. ter for San Joaquin County, Uzu and Muzu For Dorman, writing Uzu develops in a the Mediation Center of San and Muzu was an opportu- way that reflects Joaquin, and Temple Israel. nity to engage with his own the story’s The music of Uzu and experiences of conflict, mostly growing conflict. Muzu develops in a way that emerging from his childhood At first, Dorman reflects the story’s growing in Tel Aviv. “Every Israeli is says, notes fall conflict. At first, Dorman very much affected day-to-day easily on the says, notes falls easily on by the Israeli-Arab conflict, ear. As the issue the ear. As the issue of conand the Israeli-Palestinian issue of conflict takes flict takes over, the key of C is part of it,” he says. “It still af- over, the key evolves into music that emfects my life today. My earliest of C evolves ploys multiphonics and overmemories have to do with ter- into music tones. “I used multiphonrorist attacks like bombs. Later that employs ics in the woodwinds, with my friends started going into multiphonics note bends in woodwinds the Army and had to deal with and overtones. and brass along with the use the war directly.” of multiple types of mutes,” He also notes a point of Dorman says. These he comconflict most Westerners never hear bined with the use of mistuned trills; the about: tensions between Jews from Euromusic also calls for string players to use pean countries and Jews from North Afpercussive techniques. The latter part of rica. “Many of the Jewish immigrants from the work is characterized by “an avoidance North Africa and other Arab countries in of traditional pitch use,” Dorman explains. the 1950s felt that they were mistreated by “While pitch is a unifying element, it gets the government, which was predominantly cacophonous fairly early where the harmade up of ex-European Jews,” Dorman mony becomes very dense and clustery. The says. His Ellef Symphony, a four-part work orchestration gets very noisy.” (A MIDI written in 2000, deals specifically with war. simulation of Uzu and Muzu can be heard This winter Dorman lent his own voice to on Dorman’s website: dormanavner.com.) those in the Stockton community by parJaffe notes that Uzu and Muzu not only ticipating in readings of the Uzu and Muzu engages the community around the issue of story at local libraries, as well as discussions conflict resolution, but can also be tailored about conflict at such local organizations as to young audiences. Uzu and Muzu is an the Mexican Heritage Center, New Bethel adult concert, but it’s also a youth concert, Baptist Church, the Peace and Justice Cenlike Peter and the Wolf, he says. “I’ll venture americanorchestras.org
to say that this piece will stick around and become part of the repertoire,” Jaffe predicts. “It shows off all the instruments so well, and it’s written for not that large an orchestra, so it is a work most orchestras will be willing to take on.” Dorman has orchestrated the work for between 60 and 75 players. Jaffe will be using approximately 60 musicians for the Stockton performances. Prior to Dorman’s second stay in Stockton this winter, Jaffe predicted that Uzu and Muzu, whether through performances or community events, would reach more than 5,000 people. And it seems a sure bet that Dorman’s Uzu and Muzu, like Chris Brubeck’s Music is the Power before it, will lay the foundation for further Stockton commissions. With Dorman’s residency the orchestra launched a new “Commissioning Club.” Prospective donors were invited to the home of a board member, where Dorman offered a preview of Uzu and Muzu, along with his personal insights as a composer. Soon after that event the orchestra received a generous gift to help with future commissions. “We are a modest organization and we cannot achieve the infinite,” Jaffe says. But with its latest commission, the Stockton Symphony appears to be well on its way. EDWARD ORTIZ is an arts reporter and critic with the Sacramento Bee, and writes for NewMusicBox.org, Stanford Lively Arts, and San Francisco Classical Voice.
BuScH StadiuM MuSic director david roBertSon
The St. Louis Symphony looks forward to hosting you.
2013 NaTioNaL CoNfereNCe
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If Orchestras Have Enriched Your Life… The League of American Orchestras invites you to become a member of the Helen M. Thompson Heritage Society and join others in helping to ensure the future of America’s orchestras by making a legacy gift to the League.
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Edward Walker, Oklahoma City, OK Linda Weisbruch, Charlotte, NC Melody L. Welsh-Buchholz, Crestwood, KY Melinda Whiting & John Burrows, Riverton, NJ Peter Stafford Wilson, Westerville, OH Lisa M. Wong, M.D., Newton, MA Joshua Worby, White Plains, NY Rebecca & David Worters, Fort Worth, TX Edward C. Yim, New York, NY · * Charter Member † Directors Council (former League Board) · Orchestra Management Fellowship Program Alumni + Includes Corporate Matching Gift ‡ In-Kind Donation
Every week, the NPR/PBS program From The Top showcases talented young musicians from around the country. Genre-bending pianist Christopher O’Riley comments on the pleasures of hosting the show, and how young people serve as emissaries for classical music.
Top Prospects Christopher O’Riley shares a laugh with eleven-year-old cellist Lev Mamuya during a From The Top broadcast at New England Conservatory, February 2008.
Courtesy of From The Top
in a kitchen accident, ended up on a full From The Top is now in its twelfth year, teach me about these pieces than I have scholarship to USC playing horn, and and we’ve been extraordinarily gratified to teach them. finally found somebody who could make from the beginning of the program to find Many of the kids actively seek advice an oboe that he could access with the that first-rate musical training is not relfrom us about their career path, and we digits he had available to him. egated to the so-called cultural centers. It also keep up with them and revisit some These kids are the best emissaries for extends into every corner of the country. of them on our show. A couple of times the music because while in some cases We’re able to have a talented young tenor a year we do in-studio “where are they they’re wholly dedicated to classical music, from North Dakota, a saxophonist from now” features—new interviews taped for the majority of them classical music Tacoma, Washington, a cellist from Baton with old performances of kids who have is just one part of their lives Rouge. There’s just no end to without which they could real first-class training. When not happily exist. When we I was growing up, the idea bring these young musicians was always that if you were into local schools, what comes really serious about this you across is, “Here’s somebody had to go to Europe to study. who found something they’re Well, that’s just not the case passionate about, applied anymore. We really have the themselves, and now they’re best musical training here in playing at a world-class this country—the proof is in level.”A listener in that situathe pudding. tion thinks, “If I apply myself I During the show, we take can do anything.” That’s a very great pains to present the powerful message, and it’s not young musicians in their best just about classical music. It is light and to know everything helpful to have classical music about their background. If Christopher O’Riley performs with clarinetist Eran Egozy—creator of video given that sort of ambassadowe’re true to who they are, games Guitar Hero and Rock Band—and sixteen-year-old cellist Jonah rial treatment by these kids. then every segment of our Ellsworth during a From The Top broadcast at New England Conservatory, But it’s more about empoweraudience on that day graviJanuary 2011. ing kids not just to make active tates strongly to those kids. contributions in an expressive medium, Their personalities are really what make gone on to have life-changing experibut more generally empowering them in the audience say, “I’m going to give this ences. Carol Jantsch, who played Flight of the pursuit of excellence. Classical music music a chance”—it’s that performer’s fathe Bumblebee on the tuba at our Interlois thought of as an elitist pursuit in some vorite five minutes of music, so it doesn’t chen Arts Academy show in Michigan communities, but would you think of matter if it’s by Elliott Carter or Liszt. many years ago, is now the youngest and Andre Agassi as an “elitist” just because he Playing with them on the show is also first female tuba player in the Philadelplays tennis really well? This is a pursuit a selfish pleasure for me. I’m a concert phia Orchestra’s history. And a young of excellence, and we are all brought up pianist by trade, often falling back on old man from Malibu who played the oboe by watching him perform. Classical music habits. But this is music these kids really at our Idyllwild Arts Academy show in has the same thing to offer. believe in, so they have much more to California later lost a couple of fingers
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“ I love this hall!” Yo- Yo Ma, Cellist, October 2012
Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville, Illinios
The finest music performances begin with musicians at peace with their stage environment. Give them the sound that releases their ar tistr y. Consultants in Acoustics, Audio and Video Design 1033 SOUTH BOULEVARD
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