Road Trip

It’s music festival time and I’m off to the Grand Teton Music Festival for a working vacation. Instead of flying into Jackson Hole this year, the schedule allows for driving which routes the trip right through Nebraska. Upon arrival at the hotel, the congenial young lady at the check-in counter brightened up when she noticed the assigned room, “You’re in luck, that’s a room with the view!”…

Apparently, the definition of “view” is subjective as the picture to the right demonstrates (that’s a cornfield in case you were wondering – click to enlarge). Fortunately, the Grand Tetons provide a “view” I would go out of my way to point out. For example, the picture below is from a group hike to Lake Solitude during the 2005 festival, which occurred shortly after a GTMF fantastic chamber music concert I wrote about in 2005.

I’m going to let you in on a fascinating bit of insider info most folks aren’t privy to. Years ago, when the Grand Teton Music Festival was in its early days, the management used to have a policy that musicians were not allowed to go hiking, kayaking, or engage in pretty much any sort of outdoor activity that might cause them to become injured an unable to play. Can you imagine trying to keep people from enjoying scenes like the one above (the mountains, not the cornfield)? Of course, the festival didn’t have much luck enforcing that rule.

I’m glad to say that this sort of thing is pretty much a historical footnote at this point throughout the world of festivals (although I’d love to hear about similar situations that still exist). Of course, that doesn’t mean festivals are all fun and games. In most festivals the players earn their keep with long working hours and new repertoire each week. At the Grand Teton Music Festival, the musicians put in a great deal of rehearsal time and have very challenging repertoire. Of course fun and games are still there for the taking but practice is the name of the game; even when en route, as the candid picture to the right demonstrates. It is truly a working vacation (quick geek oriented aside, this picture is courtesy of the built-in camera in my Sony notebook).

Festival managers typically have an even busier time as they typically put in longer hours than the players and don’t have as many days off. Nevertheless, summer festivals continue to gain in popularity so obviously, there is something going on in the overall scheme of things that works.

Check back this week as I dig around for some good festival oriented topics to write about.

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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