This, I Would Like To See

While conducting evaluations for the 2006 Orchestra Website reviews, I came across an adult education event that had an immediate amount of appeal…

This particular talk is part of an afternoon series in Louisville where conductors and guest artists get together for lunch with a group of interested patrons. The lecture series is part of their adult education program and the lunchtime talk in question is scheduled for September 29th and will be led by the LO’s incoming conductor, Jorge Mester.

Entitled “Conductors – Who needs ’em?” the promotional copy promises that Jorge will treat his audience “to an inside look at what conductors do, how they do it, and why they do it. Come join our music director as he muses the Louisville Orchestra’s history and future music making.”

On the surface, I wouldn’t necessarily think that a conductor would be entirely frank and open about the inside world of conductors but the topic has a great deal of potential. I don’t know Jorge Mester so I can’t say if he plans to offer an honest look into that side of the business or not but I do know a few conductors that are entirely ready and willing to give such talks so I hope Jorge falls into that category.

Furthermore, wouldn’t it be fascinating if Louisville could pair Jorge with a musician from the ensemble and feature both points of view for the discussion. Even more fun, don’t let Jorge or management select which musician will participate but let the players decide among themselves and simply have the individual show up on the day of the event.

In the end, so long as the event allows patrons to interact with Jorge as opposed to having him talk “at” them, it should be an interesting event. Nevertheless, creating opportunities where patrons can learn more about the internal workings of their orchestra through un-choreographed dialogue and intimate face-to-face interaction is a good thing.

Hopefully, this event will demonstrate that sometimes, the best way to build an audience may not include playing any music.

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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