Opening Session Thoughts

June 25, 2009

Jesse Rosen welcomed everyone by stating that the theme of the conference is the New Reality. He talked about Daniel Hudson Burnham, the architect who designed Orchestra Hall and prepared “The Plan of Chicago,” which laid out plans for the future of the city, including the lake-front park. Jesse then described the “bean sculpture” in Millenium Park, officially known as Millenium Cloudgate.

According to the Millenium Park website, “Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor’s first public outdoor work installed in the United States. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city’s famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a “gate” to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.”

His point was that the “bean sculpture” reflected the skyline of Chicago in a new way — in a way that we all should explore and embrace as we go forward.

The keynote speaker was Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the  Knight Foundation. He talked about a John Cage concert he went to while a student at Wesleyan University. The concert included a piece involving ball bearings – it was “an epiphany” for him in terms of what music is – it opened his mind to many things.

Ibargüen is a journalist and former publisher of The Miami Herald and of El Nuevo Herald. He related how he was talking with Howard Herring from the New World Symphony and they began drawing parallels between newsrooms and orchestras.

How can music survive in an MP3 world? What is the new business model for newspapers as they’ve given their product away on the Internet?

He told the story of watching the election returns with his wife, who received a message on her Blackberry – it was from Obama! He considers the Obama campaign to have been brilliant in their use of new technology to build community – his wife felt personally connected to his victory that night because of her message from Barack!

Ibargüen talked about www.spot.us, a website for free-lance journalists launched in October 2008 in San Francisco which is building community in a way that formerly only experts did. He mentioned the YouTube Orchestra (see Polyphonic’s first-hand article about this experience) as an amazing new concept, and the Magic of Music initiative of the Knight Foundation in 1994 in Florida.

Ultimately, he questioned the authenticity of news that comes from bloggers and citizen activists rather than established news organizations. In the past, a newsroom was insular and a finished newspaper had thousands of eyes going over it before it was published – now it goes out on the Internet. Similarly, music composition can incorporate everything, and the digital experience is creating a totally different consumer mindset – for both music and the news.

Click here for a complete transcript of Alberto Ibargüen’s remarks.

Friday, June 12

June 17, 2009

Friday, June 12th

[First, my apologies for taking so long to get this written. I spent the weekend visiting college buddies in Madison WI and just never managed to find the opportunity. When I did have a bit of down time, I put up Yvonne Caruthers’ latest post from China instead of my blog – seemed more important. I’ll keep blogging all week, to fill in the holes I’ve left in this account.]

Friday at conference started out with a performance by the Chicago Youth Orchestra at Orchestra Hall – I arrived about half-way through Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel and was totally impressed by the quality of the performance. The horn players nailed every horn call, and the orchestra sounded just wonderful.

Jesse Rosen, League President, then gave his President’s speech. Jesse has a very relaxed, informal demeanor, and spent his time outlining as many positive events that have transpired in the orchestra world in the past season as he could find. But addressed the bad times as well.

He began by introducing Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest). The League partnered with Feeding America  in a food drive at concerts at  over 250 League member orchestras in all 50 states that raised over 200,000 pounds of food. Many of the orchestras involved in the food drive partnered with many other local organizations, and some held contests. Indeed one orchestra had a contest to see who could stuff the most food into a tuba. Jesse cautioned that, in homage to Chicago’s legendary tubist, Arnold Jacobs, the delegates should “lay off tuba jokes!” – a line that got a huge round of applause and many laughs.

In a more serious tone, the motto of Feeding America is, “food fuels the human spirit.” Jesse aptly made the comparison that orchestras also feed the human spirit. He went on to say that the partnerships many orchestras forged with other organizations in collecting food for the needy showed that orchestras care about the collective health of our communities where we live.

Vicki told two stories: one about the movie The Soloist which tells the story of Nathanial Ayers, a Julliard-trained cellist who ends up on the streets of LA due to mental illness, and is befriended by a newspaper reporter. Nathaniel is one of the 25 million people served by Feeding America.

The second was about a letter, received by a food bank in Norfolk VA, that contained a check for $15,000 from a donor who had never given before. She had heard about Feeding America on national media, and checked to see that the national organization served her own community. The check was part of her husband’s severance check – he had recently been laid off by GM but they wanted to share what they had. A pretty amazing story.

Jesse then turned his attention to the economic downturn, stating that attendance is still high despite the economy. He talked about the Louisiana Philharmonic, who were one of the “first responders” after Katrina in terms of playing a large role in healing New Orleans. They began by playing in area churches and 4 years later, they’re still playing in those churches because of the community ties. [Ed. Note: Polyphonic recently published a spotlight on the LPO http://www.polyphonic.org/spotlight.php?id=16.%5D

Jesse mentioned how musicians in Atlanta and Baltimore have initiated conversations about how to cope with the recession; musicians in other orchestras are following their example. How “Beyond the Score” in Chicago is really making a difference in the way that audiences relate to the orchestra. How the Dallas Symphony premiered a work by Steve Stucky, “August 4, 1964,” celebrating the 100th birthday of LBJ and his role in the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. About Michael Morgan and the Oakland East Bay Orchestra celebrating their community heritage with a performance around the Persian New Year.

Jesse tells me that the League plans to open membership to all administrative staff and musicians who want it next fall, and he’s working on getting Symphony magazine distributed among musicians.

To sum up, Jesse insisted that collaboration is the right thing to do for art because it grows more connections and creates a synthesis. Orchestras are resilient and have deep roots. Basically he thinks we’ll survive because we’ve figured out how to do so in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Orchestras can adapt. I’d say stay tuned for more about that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alas, I didn’t stay for the New Music performance because I had to attend to some email messages that had come in that morning, finish packing and check out of my room. I heard from others that it was a really interesting concert, featuring the CSO’s MusicNOW with performances of music by Osvaldo Golijov, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Jeremy Flower, and Michael Ward-Bergeman.

Everyone then traipsed back to the hotel for another round of Toolboxes and Perspectives – again too many interesting sessions presented simultaneously.

1) Beyond the Chicago Symphony’s “Beyond the Score” – I took notes (by hand – remember the near riot of the day before!) during the performance and will describe it in some detail in another post later this week. I really wanted to attend this one but was committed elsewhere.

2) Getting the Most out of Social Networking, about how orchestras can use Facebook, Twitter, etc.

3) El Sistema USA: Taking the Next Steps – I did attend this session and took copious notes. I plan to turn this into an article, so stay tuned for more information. Dan Trahey from the Baltimore Symphony headed for Venezuela immediately after this session and will be sending “postcards” of his trip to me while he’s down there with 18 music educators and his group, The Archipelago Project. We’ll get those up on the home page of Polyphonic shortly.

4) A Hard Look at Today’s Economy – self-explanatory

5) Difficult Conversations – another session I really wanted to attend, with ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge, League Board Chair Lowell Noteboom, Jesse Rosen, and Peter Kjome, Exec. Dir. of Grand Rapids discussing how orchestras can deal with the current financial pressures in terms of compensation, admin. head count and contracts. The hard stuff.

6) New Models for Consortium Commissioning: Expanding the Repertoire/Growing Community Connectivity – another session I wish I could have attended, particularly given my conversation with Jeffrey Biegel the morning before. I’ll try to get some notes from the presenters.

I wish these sessions were presented several times, so I could attend more than one. As I said above, I’ll get into El Sistema USA in much more detail soon.

At this point in Conference, everyone was getting pretty brain-dead and I was thrilled to hear my phone ring and find Bruce Ridge on the other end. We met for lunch in the hotel restaurant, sitting near Lowell Noteboom and his wife – Lowell wanted to know why I hadn’t been at their session, furiously typing away ( I guess I now have a reputation for furious typing!). I wish I had been there but then I found the El Sistema session fascinating (and I was typing furiously there as well!).

At lunch Bruce looked really tired – he’d left North Carolina in the wee hours to get to Chicago in time for the session, and was flying back early that same evening. His travel schedule on behalf of ICSOM is daunting, to say the least (I’d say grueling!). But he was in his usual good spirits and we had a grand visit – it’s always special to find some time to catch up with Bruce. We talked a lot about the role musicians should be playing in “officially” consulting to orchestras in trouble – or actually to any orchestra. At this point, the concept of paying a musician to consult with an orchestra about future planning is just not out there. Bruce and many others in ICSOM, ROPA, & OSCM and SSD are doing this already but without much significant recognition from the administration side of our industry. This could be a significant career path for some of us who’ve spent time serving in so many capacities – we just need to make the admin folks realize how much knowledge we really do possess, and how much that should be worth to them in $$$.!

After lunch I stopped in briefly at a Development round table session to see how they were addressing the economy, and then went in search of a “quiet corner” with WiFi to write this blog. I found the corner and wrote two sentences but then realized that my “corner” was on a central traffic route for delegates. Lots of meets and greets, and then Aaron Flagg and I had a chance for a private conversation. Aaron, a musician member of the League Board, is the incoming Dean of the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, and will be living just a few blocks from the HSO administrative offices downtown. He had lots of questions and I had lots of advice (for whatever it’s worth…) about his move to Hartford, whom he should get to know sooner rather than later, the buzz about his arrival going around town, etc. Good stuff.

Then I had to boogie to get to the rental car place before they closed and headed off to visit Yale friends in Wilmette. Saturday morning I drove up to Madison WI where I met with several people I hadn’t seen in 37 years. What a wonderfully fantastic weekend – a dear friend from college drove all the way over from Minneapolis for a visit.

I promise I’ll fill in the gaps in this account of the League Conference in the next few days so keep checking back. As long as the large graphic link is up on the Polyphonic home page, I’m sill adding entries. Then we’ll move it to the blog list for a while.

Thursday, June 11

June 12, 2009

Another full day. We started early, with the League’s Annual Meeting breakfast at 7:45 in the ballroom. In the past the Annual Meeting has been a formal (paid) luncheon with a keynote speaker. In order to reduce the conference by a day so that more orchestra executives can come, it’s now a continental breakfast (free), so the turnout was good. :-)

I had made plans to meet Jeffrey Biegel, the piano soloist, to talk about his new plans for another piano concerto commissioned by a consortium of orchestras — he’s done several in the past. This one he wants to be global, with 100 orchestras each contributing $1000. Check back this summer for an article about orchestra consortium commissions.

At the annual meeting, the 2008-09 ASCAP awards were presented, Robert Hanson, Music Director of the Elgin Symphony for the past 35 years, was given special recognition, and the Helen Thompson Award was presented to Graham Parker, Executive Director of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

We all then traipsed over to Orchestra Hall, just a block away but it was raining. All the weather websites had said it would be nice, so who thought to bring an umbrella? I had to run back up to my room for my laptop, so I got there a bit late — just in time to see Jesse Rosen and Nick Webster present Henry Fogel with the Gold Baton, the League’s highest honor. Henry got a rousing standing ovation, and seemed very moved to have such an award presented in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, where he’s spent so much of his professional life.

Next was Beyond the Score with the Chicago Civic Orchestra — Martha Gilmer of the CSO had discussed these programs briefly at the opening session, and I was prepared for a lecture-demonstration of how they put these programs together.  So I booted up my computer and lowered the screen to reduce glare, and prepared to take notes. I caused a mini-riot in the balcony!

A gentleman behind me pointedly asked me whether I planned to have my laptop on during the concert and I told him I was hoping to write an article and would keep the screen down, but needed to take notes. Suddenly a woman behind him went nuts (I guess you could say ballistic!), called an usher, created a huge commotion! The man explained to me that it was a concert, and I quickly shut down the computer. Suddenly I was descended upon by ushers, glaring and hovering. The man came to my rescue and explained that all was resolved amicably and he and I chatted a bit, but the woman was still fuming. I had decided to use my laptop as a table on which to hand-write notes on a pad, and I guess she thought I was going to boot it back up when the ushers weren’t looking.  Turns out they had sold tickets to the general audience for this concert — no wonder they were annoyed by my computer glare! I’d had no idea it wasn’t just us League delegates in the hall, nor that it actually was a real performance, not a demonstration. Ah well — makes a good story.

The Beyond the Score performances was amazing. The CSO is in the midst of a 3-week Dvorak festival, so they were exploring the New World Symphony. I’ll write more about this performance this afternoon, giving credits and details, but basically they had an actor playing Dvorak and two narrators, one presenting history and Dvorak’s life and the other discussing the structure of the music. A video accompanied the script, which included many well-chosen excerpts from the symphony performed by the Civic Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder. The synchronisation  between the performers, the orchestra, and the video was impressive.

Back to the hotel in more rain, a few emails to Eastman, then I attended an invitation lunch for Development staff (I got an invitation through my HSO email where I write the grants part-time). I couldn’t find the room – no signage – so missed the presentation, but the discussion was interesting. Everyone is hurting — what to do?

The afternoon’s Musicians’ session was about building a career from multiple employers. Hosted by Bob Wagner of the New Jersey Symphony, two Chicago contractors explained how they do business. We had about 15 attendees and the conversation got pretty lively.

Next came a general session of musicians, general managers, operations staff, and artistic administrators to hear more about Churn — how to get first-time concert attendees to come back. This was a big presentation at last year’s conference, and Jack McAuliffe (formerly with the League) gave some statistics of the results some orchestras have had putting these findings to work. I spoke with Jack briefly about linking to the Oliver Wyman PowerPoint presentation on the League website from Polyphonic, so I can write an explanation of the findings of the research study. Looks promising, so again, check back later this summer. In the meantime, take a look at the League’s website for many of the materials presented at Conference.

The last session was Peer-to-Peer Roundtables — 22 round tables set up in a ballroom with representatives from many orchestras and organizations presenting a program, an idea, a solution, etc. We could pick 3 out of the 22 — each had 20 minutes to present their solution, and did so 3 times. I listened to a woman from the League explain how to use social networking (Facebook, Twitter, MeetUp.com, etc.) to attract younger audiences, Margo Drakos from InstantEncore.com explain how their free Web 2.0 technology lets orchestras provide immediate downloads of performances and other concert material, and Beth Perdue Outland of the Indianapolis Symphony describe their Peregrinos Project — a commissioned work exploring Indianapolis’ expanding Latino population with composer Gabriela Lena Frank.

A reception was then held in the Exhibit Hall for all delegates, with much meeting and greeting.

BTW, culture won out tonight — I went to the new wing of the Chicago Art Museum and stayed until closing. I’ll try to find out how the pub crawl went …

Wednesday, June 10

June 11, 2009

Today was a very busy and full day at Conference. I had a lovely luncheon with Dr. Brandfonbrener — we discussed all sorts of health issues plaguing musicians while I played with her little dog Rosina and looked out at Lake Michigan.

Back at the conference I attended a session hosted by Peter Pastreich, former CEO of the San Francisco Symphony, about the structure of orchestras. I took many notes and will turn this into an article for Polyphonic, so stay tuned. Peter has accepted a position with the Philharmonia Baroque San Francisco (visit this site for more information: http://www.philharmonia.org/). I saw Peter’s son Michael at the concert tonight and he said his father is very pleased at the prospect of settling down again, after many years of traveling and consulting.

The Toolbox sessions are always hard to choose, with 5 or 6 simultaneous events happening. I attended two: one on arts in education – lots of information about reports coming out soon, which I’ll add to this blog later, and one on musicians’ hearing issues presented by the Association of British Orchestras. The ABO PowerPoint presentation will be up on the League’s website soon, and I’m hoping to turn this into an article for Polyphonic as well.

The opening session featured remarks by Jesse Rosen, CEO of the League, a keynote address by Alberto Ibarguen, President and CEO of the Knight Foudnation, and a discussion by Deborah Rutter and other arts executives in Chicago about arts organizations that collaborate with the Chicago Symphony.

It’s late and I have an early breakfast meeting with Jeffrey Biegel, piano soloist, so I will write details about the opening session tomorrow. Many interesting thoughts were presented.

The CSO all-Dvorak concert was lovely: In Nature’s Realm, the Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein, and the 9th symphony. I hadn’t been in Orchestra Hall in years — the string sound felt like it was being presented on a pillow – lush and yet so roundedly quiet. Alisa and the orchestra received standing ovations.

The Tune Up party was across the street in the Museum of Art. We went in the front door and walked all the way through the museum to the new addition for the reception. What an amazing place!

My friend David Gier, Music Director of the South Dakota Symphony, is receiving yet another ASCAP award tomorrow morning — his 4th in 4 years! He must be doing something right out there to have introduced so much contemporary music to Sioux Falls. He’s invited me to join him and Frank Oteri (founding editor of NewMusicBox) and others for a Chicago pub crawl tomorrow night – but that’s when the museum is open. What’s a girl to do?

As I was leaving, David and I came across Frank, who was trying to figure out when he could come back to visit more of the museum. When I told him about the Thursday late night hours, he solved my dilemma — pub crawl is delayed so everyone can go to the museum! (I’m not really a pub crawl kind of person, but hanging out with all these new music folks for a while should be most interesting!)

Chicago, Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 10, 2009

I’m pleased to be here in Chicago at the 2009 Conference of the League of American Orchestras, and to once again blog Conference for Polyphonic readers. (Note: The League’s conference is just “Conference” — we are “at Conference” — I will “blog Conference” — no article necessary or desired!)

I arrived late Tuesday afternoon — lots of weather delays for everyone — and checked into the Hilton Palmer House, a lovely older hotel 1 block from Orchestra Hall and the Chicago Institute of Art. My room is quite small but very elegant. I took a walk over to the parks after I’d settled in a bit and to my delight, the Grant Park Orchestra was rehearsing in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park. What an amazing outdoor sound system they have set up over the park — arching metal poles over the field with speakers everywhere. The sound was just wonderful. And a curved metal walkway over the highway cuts off the sound of the traffic while looking quite elegant.

The new addition to the art museum is also something worth exploring — the Tune Up party after tomorrow night’s Chicago Symphony concert is in the new wing. And I noticed that there’s free admission from 5 to 9 Thursday night — you’ll know where to find me then!

The conference officially starts at 1:00 this afternoon. Yesterday and this morning the League holds OLA (Orchestra Leadership Academy) seminars, for an additional fee, on a variety of topics such as financial management, developing a public relations strategy, and guidance for governance leaders. I’d signed up for a diversity seminar but it got canceled, so I’m going to have lunch with Alice Brandfonbrener this morning. She’s America’s pre-eminent expert on music medicine, and teaches at Northwestern University, though she tells me she’s vainly trying to retire. She has written for Polyphonic (http://www.polyphonic.org/article.php?id=44) and we’ve emailed each other many times, but have never actually met. Should be fun — she lives right on the lake.

Here’s a brief overview of Conference: this afternoon we have a constituent meeting and then a “Toolbox” session – 5 0r 6 sessions offered simultaneously. Often hard to pick just one! The official Opening Session is at 4:15 with a kenote speech by Alberto Ibarguen, President and CEO of the Knight Foundation and music by the CSO Percussion Scholarship Group. The CSO concert (all Dvorak) and the Tune Up party are later tonight.

Thursday is the annual meeting and award ceremonies (ASCAP, Gold Baton to Henry Fogle, etc.) in the morning followed by a Chicago Civic Orchestra concert, then more constituent meetings, Peer to Peer Roundables where about 20 orchestras or organizations offer a solution they’ve discovered or developed to some problem (more tomorrow about this), and then an all delegate reception. Thursday night I’m off to the museum!

Friday starts with a concert by the Chicago Youth Orchestra, another Toolbox session, and constituent meetings all afternoon. The Grant Park Festival Orchestra and Chorus have a concert Friday night in the Pavilion.

The exhibit hall opens today at noon — lots of vendors: arts management companies, Pops acts, music publishers, acousticians, lots of consultants (marketing, fund-raising, education, management, etc.), and services (telemarketing, ticketing, travel, etc.). It’s fun to wander around. I remember being a bit amazed at my first conference (many years ago) at all the services I’d never really thought about that are necessary for our “industry” to function. Several people are here from my orchestra, Hartford Symphony, including Terry Gellin, our new Development Director. She came to us from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art recently, so this is her first conference and first glimpse into the orchestra world as an industry — I’m eager to hear her perceptions.

After Conference Musings

June 17, 2008

Finally made it back to CT around 9 last night – United canceled my Sunday evening flight so I spent an unexpected extra night in Denver.

Big Blue Bear

The big blue bear sculpture at the convention center? No story. I asked at the convention tourist booth. Looking it up online, I found that the 40-foot tall, blue bear is a creation of Lawrence Argent, and is titled “I See What You Mean.”

According to a city of Denver website, the artist has described I See What You Mean as a stylized representation of native fauna. As the bear peeks inside the enormous facility at the conventioneers, displacement and wonder pique curiosity and question a greater relationship of art, technology and whimsy.

“My public artworks are part of a larger whole,” stated Lawrence Argent. “I am an artist that utilizes assorted mediums and venues to engage the viewer in questioning the assumed and provide a vehicle by which stimulus opens a plethora of responses that defy verbal articulation.”

Like I said, it’s a big blue bear.

Saturday, June 15th

June 16, 2008

Artistry as Civic Engagement – The Role of Performing Artists in Serving Their Communities

The Saturday morning 8 AM session was probably the best session I attended for musicians. It focused on examples of musicians reaching out to their communities in very real ways.

The panel was moderated by Alan Fletcher, President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival. Panelists: Michael Morgan, Music Director, Oakland East Bay and Sacramento Symphonies; Jerod Tate, Member of the Chickasaw Nation and Artistic Director, Chickasaw Music Festival; Robert Wagner, Principal Bassoon, New Jersey Symphony; Gaylon Patterson, Asst. Principal Second Violin, Memphis Symphony; and Lisa Dixon, Director of Community Engagement and Operations, Memphis Symphony.

Michael Manley of the League asked me to videotape the session so that we can stream it on Polyphonic, and fortunately we were able to do so. Bob Wagner also has a PowerPoint presentation to go along with his remarks. So I’ll put it all together as an article; check back in a couple weeks.

Read the rest of this entry »

José Antonio Abreu, Founder of El Sistema

June 15, 2008

At an afternoon session for the League, Jesse Rosen asked Señor Abreu to tell the attendees a bit about Venezuela, so that everyone could gain a greater insight into El Sistema.

Because his remarks were translated, I was able to capture his entire response, which follows:

When Venezuela was still an undefined territory, it was one of the poorest regions of Latin America. For example, foreign commerce was limited to two ships per year. Agriculture was limited to coffee and cacao, and the population was mainly made up of rural people.

At the end of the 18th century some cities started developing, especially Caracas. Near the city lived a priest who had studied in the conservatory in Rome. Towards the end of the 18th century he brought to Venezuela the first music sheets. This was an important moment among composers in Venezuela, especially among poorer composers.

But after Venezuela attained its independence in 1830, the country had many years of civil war that made the country and the population even poorer than before. When oil appeared in 1917 the country was not prepared to receive this wealth. And an explosion of wealth occurred. At that moment the country realized how backwards it was, educationally speaking.

As a consequence, universities and colleges were created to compensate. In 1930 the first Philharmonic Orchestra of Venezuela was created with 70 foreign musicians and 10 Venezuelan musicians. Until 1975, this was the only symphony that Caracas had. Maracaibo, the 2nd largest city and the oil capital of Venezuela, had a second orchestra made up of 99% Polish musicians.

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Friday Afternoon, June 13th

June 15, 2008

The League held its annual luncheon and annual meeting at noon, and announced this year’s winners of the MetLife Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement, the Bank of America Award for Excellence in Orchestra Education, and the Gold Book Awards for Symphony Volunteer projects.

Lowell Noteboom, the League’s Board Chair, presented an award to Bruce Clinton, Treasurer of the League and long-time symphony supporter.

Then Lowell gave a tribute to Henry Fogel’s long career in radio, in orchestra management, and at the League, accompanied with great photos of Henry in the kitchen, Henry with his dog, Henry at the radio station in Syracuse, and Henry with his 20,000 CD collection. Henry will be stepping down as League President at the end of June, to be succeeded by Jesse Rosen, current League Executive Vice President.

Henry has been traveling the country during his tenure at the League, visiting over 125 orchestras and mentoring countless orchestra administrators. He is beloved by so many because of his willingness to share his wisdom and experience.

The League has planned a most unusual parting gift for Henry – they have already raised $40,000 to commission a new orchestral work to be performed by a consortium of orchestras and dedicated to Henry. The Executive Director of the Reno Chamber Orchestra was most eloquent in asking other orchestras to join in the consortium – there are currently 5, including Reno and Memphis.

I’ve never seen Henry speechless before, never mind verklempt! (I got a little verklempt myself.) He was absolutely stunned and overwhelmed at the gift, and said that he guessed he didn’t have control over his staff as much as he’d thought he did!

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Turning First-Timers into Life-Timers: Addressing the True Drivers of Churn

June 14, 2008

This morning, bright and early again, was a presentation for Artistic Administrators, conductors, and musicians of the big research project that’s being featured at the conference this year. This was a truly fascinating session – the results of a study of nine orchestras by Oliver Wyman, the world’s third largest business consulting firm, about how to get first-time single ticket buyers to start coming back. The presentation contained a huge amount of information and I have not had time to assimilate it all. Plus the presenter skipped over a lot (because of time constraints) to focus on repertoire issues.

The PowerPoint presentation will be available on the League’s website in a few days. I will summarize my notes once I can actually see the slides up close and will probably turn this into an article, rather than include it on the blog, because the information is so compelling.

One sore point – one issue the study addresses is which solo instruments these first-timers prefer. The results are not surprising: piano, violin, cello, horn, trumpet, clarinet, flute, viola. The problem is that it was presented as a horizontal bar graph, and the line next to viola was so short, I had to ask if this was supposed to be a viola joke!


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