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League of American Orchestras opens search for a CEO

Last June, League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen announced that he will conclude his leadership of the League in September 2020—and the League is seeking a successor. Find a job prospectus here from the League’s recruiting partner, the Aspen Leadership Group, and please share this opportunity with potential candidates!

Posted December 5, 2019

Boulanger Initiative to present “Phenomenal Women from Clara to Clarice”

On December 10, the Boulanger Initiative—which promotes music composed by women through performance, education, and commissions—will present a program entitled “Phenomenal Women from Clara to Clarice” at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The concert celebrating Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday will feature music by women composers ranging from Schumann to Brazilian composer Clarice Assad, with featured performers including singer Alicia Hall Moran and pianist Lara Downes. There will be a pre-concert talk with Downes, Moran, and Assad. Downes will perform selections from her 2019 album Holes in the Sky; the concert will also feature works by Florence Price, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Lili Boulanger, Margaret Bonds, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Clarice Assad, and other living women composers. Violinist Laura Colgate and organist Joy-Leilani Garbutt are the co-founders of the Boulanger Initiative, a Washington, D.C.-based organization launched in 2018.

Posted December 5, 2019

In photo, from left: Joy-Leilani Garbutt and Laura Colgatem, co-founders and artistic directors of the Boulanger Initiative. Photo by Geoff Sheil

Augusta Read Thomas’s opera with beatboxer Nicole Paris

“When composer and University of Chicago professor Augusta Read Thomas had the idea to incorporate nontraditional sounds into her opera, ‘Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun,’ she knew just who to reach out to: beatboxer Nicole Paris,” writes Angel Idowu on Monday (12/2) at Chicago radio station WTTW. “The two began to form a relationship and realized they’d be able to combine their sounds to create an opera featuring beatboxing. ‘We start the show with a famous beatboxer giving her show—Nicole Paris,’ Thomas said. ‘And she comes out and the audience goes crazy and she’s doing her beatboxing… Then all of a sudden, behind her an opera starts.’… With Thomas as the composer and Leslie Dunton-Downer as the librettist, the show-within-a-show is described as having a musical dynamic for all ages…. ‘Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun’ had a one-night run in Santa Fe in October, and Thomas says she’s currently in talks to have the show be picked up by several opera companies. As for Paris, she says this project has been so encouraging she’s started to work on a musical piece of her own.”

Posted December 5, 2019

Review: Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra in new works by Norman, Scime, Evangelista

At a Sunday concert by Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra at Koerner Hall, “it was nice to escape the already overwhelming presence of holiday music,” writes John Terauds in Tuesday’s (12/3) Toronto Star (Canada). “The small and enthusiastic audience was served bracing intellectualism. It was a lot like going to an exhibition of modern art…. Alex Pauk, Esprit’s founding music director and conductor, had chosen the evening’s program with great care. Titled ‘Sustain,’ after the final and longest piece of the concert [Andrew Norman’s ‘Sustain’], the program was a study in forms fed by washes of orchestral color set up in counterpoint to often complex rhythmic skeletons…. Montreal-based composer José Evangelista gave us an engaging peek at the power of time and rhythm in ‘Accelerando,’ which had been premiered by Esprit in 2016…. Built on tonal intervals, the piece not only plays with time and rhythm, it is a compelling study of tonal colors, neatly overlaid. This is an expertly structured piece of music that deserves to be heard yet again. Young Toronto composer Adam Scime offered the evening’s premiere … ‘Afterglow’ … a 17-minute violin concerto [with] virtuosic violin soloist Véronique Mathieu.”

Posted December 5, 2019

Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli to helm Monaco’s Opéra de Monte-Carlo

“Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli is preparing to take on a new role: director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo,” writes Michael Cooper in Wednesday’s (12/4) New York Times. “Ms. Bartoli, 53, who will be the first woman to lead the company, was announced on Tuesday in the company’s ornate home, the Salle Garnier. She will begin in 2023….  Ms. Bartoli will continue to appear at opera houses and concert halls around the world after taking the helm in Monte Carlo. But her appointment is the latest example of the way she has been expanding her portfolio in recent years…. Since 2012, Ms. Bartoli has been the artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in Austria…. In 2016, she and the current director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Jean-Louis Grinda, created Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco, a period-instrument ensemble…. The Opéra de Monte-Carlo has … drawn many of opera’s most famous singers since it opened in 1879. Its intimate jewel box of a theater … is sometimes thought of as a smaller cousin of the Paris opera house [Charles Garnier] designed … Ms. Bartoli … made her debut in Monte Carlo in 1989 … in a performance of ‘The Barber of Seville.’ ”

Posted December 5, 2019

Sakurako Fisher, San Francisco Symphony’s board president since 2012, to step down in late 2020

“San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher is stepping down,” writes Peter Feher in Tuesday’s (12/3) San Francisco Classical Voice. “Fisher will be leaving the post in December 2020. Priscilla B. Geeslin, currently a vice president on the Symphony’s Board of Governors, will succeed her. Fisher has navigated changes of all kinds since taking over as president in 2012. An early challenge was the 2013 musicians’ strike, which ended after 18 days—a far cry from the most recent contract negotiations, approved in 2018 without fuss. During her tenure, Fisher has overseen the departure of a chief executive, Brent Assink, as well as the appointment of his replacement, Mark C. Hanson. A shift on the artistic side of things has occurred as well; Michael Tilson Thomas retires at the end of the 2019–2020 season, to be replaced by Esa-Pekka Salonen and a board of artistic advisors…. ‘In a time when change is the new normal,’ Fisher said in a statement, … ‘I continue to be strengthened by not only the music and musicians of this fantastic orchestra, but also by the commitment of both the board and staff to be fearless in the face of change.’ ”

Posted December 5, 2019

Charitable giving declines following 2017 tax reforms; newly proposed legislation would reinstate charitable deductions

“U.S. charities are feeling the full impact of the 2017 tax reforms as a drop in donations,” reports Nova Safo in Monday’s (12/2) American Public Media “Marketplace” program. “The law increased the standard deduction to allow more Americans to claim it. But that removed an important incentive for charitable contributions, which could reduce tax burdens. Under the 2017 law, the standard deduction nearly doubled to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for couples. For most Americans, that increase meant that they no longer needed to itemize their deductions—including charitable contributions. Many charities have reported declines in giving since the law went into effect. In the first half of this year, fundraising revenue was down 7.3% compared to the same period last year for more than 4,000 organizations … Steve Taylor, senior vice president and counsel for public policy at the United Way, the largest American charity, said, ‘We believe there is a direct cause and effect between the tax law and the drop in giving.’ ” On December 3, Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina introduced the Universal Charitable Giving Act, “which would allow more Americans to once again deduct charitable contributions,” up to $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for married couples.

Posted December 5, 2019

Owensboro Symphony, bringing music to hospital patients and families

“Diane Earle considers her piano performances at the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital as part of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra’s Music On Call program that takes place throughout the month of December to be somewhat of a ministry,” writes Bobbie Hayse in Monday’s (12/2) Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, KY). “ ‘Music just takes whatever you’re feeling and amplifies it,’ she said…. ‘I think that’s the beauty of it.’ Earle has been performing with the Music On Call community engagement program for many years. This year she will perform at least 90 hours, she said. Joining her on Sunday was fellow Owensboro Symphony Orchestra member, violinist Lacy Jean…. Jean said Music On Call … caters to those who are coming and going throughout the hospital, or in waiting rooms nearby…. ‘It’s the perfect spot,’ she said…. This is the fifth year of the program, according to Symphony deputy CEO Gwyn Payne, who also said that the OSO is ‘excited about this collaboration,’ and that it ‘continues to grow.’ … Jeremy Stephens, Symphony director of operations, even has memories of Earle performing in the hospital lobby from when his baby was born…. ‘There are lots of parents who have memories like that,’ Stephens said.”

Posted December 5, 2019

In photo: Owensboro Symphony Orchestra musicians Diane Earle, seated, and Lacy Jean perform as part of the symphony’s Music On Call program at the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. Photo by Bobbie Hayse/Messenger-Inquirer

Hartford Symphony invites student musicians to enter its Young Artists Competition

Connecticut’s Hartford Symphony Orchestra is accepting applications now through January 31, 2020 for its annual Young Artists Competition. The first-place winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and the possibility of performing at Hartford Symphony Orchestra events. The second- and third-place winners will receive cash prizes of $750 and $500 each, and all three winners will receive tickets to a Masterworks concert of their choice. To be eligible, applicants must be Connecticut residents in grades 9-12 during the 2019-20 academic year, cannot be a first-place winner of a previous Young Artists Competition, and must play one of the following instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, alto saxophone, percussion, harp, piano, violin, viola, cello, or bass. Following preliminary rounds of judging, the final round will be a public concert with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Hartford. Awards will be given to the top three finalists during the May 30 performance. Learn more at the Hartford Symphony website.

Posted December 4, 2019

Musical America names 30 “movers and shakers in the performing arts” for 2019

Musical America, the publisher of Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts and the news website, has released the 2019 edition of its Top 30 Professionals of the Year report, profiling “movers and shakers of the performing arts.” Among the 30 are several associated with the League of American Orchestras. Two are members of the League’s board of directors: Charles Dickerson, executive director and conductor, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and South Side Chicago Youth Orchestra; and David Whitehill, executive director, Asheville Symphony Orchestra. Two are alumni of the League’s Emerging Leaders Program: Ahmad Mayes, director, education and community engagement, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; and Gary A. Padmore, director of education and community engagement, New York Philharmonic. Synneve Carlino, chief communications officer at Carnegie Hall, is an alumna of the League’s Orchestra Management Fellowship Program. The report includes artist managers, publicists, teachers, operations chiefs, producers, musicians, and record producers. Read the full report at

Posted December 4, 2019