Reader Response: essays on orchestra leadership


In response to the essays on orchestra leadership (located in the right hand column on the Adaptistration page), violist Robert Levine writes:


Most of what your wrote about musicians is accurate. I’ve found it’s hard for someone not actually in an orchestra to fully understand the psychology. My father is a noted researcher in the field of stress, and he and I wrote an article on the subject a few years ago that appeared in SOI’s publication; Harmony. You might find it interesting; you can download it from the SOI website.


I enjoyed reading the essay and highly recommend taking the time to give it a read, especially if you are not a musician. Understanding the artists in addition to the art significantly contributes to your enjoyment of attending live performance art. Look for future blogs on that very issue.


I certainly appreciate the positive feedback, but Robert goes on, taking me to task on my not giving the actual orchestra negotiating committees enough credit. He also points out that I neglected to mention the Symphony Orchestra Institute as an important member in the orchestral industry. And Robert is correct, I should include an essay about SOI.  So stay tuned and keep sending email with your responses.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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