Are You Planning A Big Blowout For Your Inaugural Post-COVID Concerts?

Not long after the onset of pandemic shutdowns, a living wage orchestra decided to cancel the entire season and a comment from their board chair caught my eye.

The chair mentioned that even though they were shuttering for an extended period of time, he was sure the musicians would be able to come back at a moment’s notice to resume the same performances audiences were used to.

On one hand, that certainly projects a hearty degree of confidence in the musicians’ professionalism.

At the same time, that’s not the way things work.

Even the most driven musician who practices diligently over extended breaks knows there’s a difference between those physical demands and performing on stage. The impact of that gap over a season-long break is large enough to raise concerns about serious injury if musicians attempt to jump back into performing some of the most demanding repertoire out of the gate.

Having said all of that, I’m starting to hear about what some orchestras are considering for their back from COVID inaugural events and I’m concerned we could see some genuine perfect storm level events.

To that end, I decided to do a small series of podcasts for Shop Talk on this very topic about how orchestras of all budget size can go about approaching these questions.

I’m recording the first installment tomorrow with the goal of releasing it on Tuesday, March 9. We’re getting right to the heart of the matter and talking to artistic decision makers. Guests include Phoenix Symphony Music Director Tito Muñoz and Richmond Symphony Director of Artistic Planning and Operations Jennifer Arnold.

Mark your calendars!

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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