Upcoming Adventures In Venezuela

Starting Thursday, I’ll be away for several days as I’ve been invited to Caracas, Venezuela to follow Benjamin Zander and the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra at the New England Conservatory as they perform along side the Venezuelan National Youth Orchestra.

Although the trip has been put together last minute, I’m fully expecting it to be a very rewarding experience.  Furthermore, the trip should produce some timely follow up material to the articles about American Youth Orchestras published last week by the Partial Observer.

Although I’m still learning about all of the details myself, I understand there’s been some significant growth in the active participation of classical music throughout Venezuela and Caracas in particular.  Their youth orchestra and music education program is said to be an outstanding program and is beginning to produce some excellent performers.  For example, a 17 year old bass player from the program recently won a position in the Berlin Philharmonic.

I’m anxious to learn more about their program and how it’s impacting their society as well as beginning to see if many of the “excuses” used here by some managers and consultants behind why classical music is falling from the cultural consciousness hold any water south of the equator.  You’ll have to wait until I return before I can elaborate on that.

I’ll be away from Thursday through Sunday, but hopefully I’ll be able to locate some internet access and post a few on location reports.

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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