Shop Talk S01E16: Academia/Pro Divide

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I ended up where I needed to be.” That’s one of my favorite lines from Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently series and it’s a perfect way to describe my conversation with guests Eric Esparza and Michael Lewanski.

We started off talking about the academia/pro divide but that ended up evolving into an even more fascinating conversation about the double standard that exists between the way the field approaches professional singers and instrumentalists.

For instance, why are singers not paid the rate as instrumentalists? We wade into this and a host of third-rail topics such as class, caste systems, artistic patriarchy, the intellectual protection of tenure, and double standards galore.

It is a fascinating discussion that just flew by. Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

There's an unintentional affliction to create a classical music industry. This opens the door for exploiting musicians, but especially singers. Click to Tweet
Singing as seen as universally inclusive; regardless of ability, there's a perception that anyone can do it and you can put them in a choir and hide them. But no one believes you can grab anyone off the street, hand them a bassoon and see what happens. Click to Tweet

Guests

Eric Esparza

Dr. Eric Esparza is the Director of Choral Studies, Vocal Area Coordinator, and Diversity Advocate at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where he conducts the DePaul Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, and Symphonic Choir, and teaches courses in choral music. Dr. Esparza serves as the Repertoire & Resources Chair for Collegiate Choirs on the Board of the Illinois-American Choral Directors Association, for whom he also chairs the Diversity Initiatives Committee. Dr. Esparza has previously served as Artistic Director of Windy City Performing Arts, International Voices Houston, and the United Nations Association International Choir, and was the Director of Music Ministries at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Esparza holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance as well as a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he studied with Dr. Joyce Farwell and Maestro Thomas Jaber. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration from Florida State University where he was a University Fellow. Dr. Esparza earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from Boston University, where he studied with Dr. Ann Howard Jones. He remains active internationally as a singer, conductor, and music editor.

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.

Michael Lewanski

Conductor, educator, and writer Michael Lewanski is a champion of new and old music. His work seeks to create engaged connections between audiences, musicians, and the music that is part of their culture, society, and history. Based in Chicago, he is conductor of Ensemble Dal Niente and Associate Professor at the DePaul University School of Music. He is a frequent guest conductor and recording artist. A native of Savannah, Georgia, he began conducting at 13. At 16, he studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Ilya Musin. He attended Yale University; he subsequently studied with Cliff Colnot and Lucas Vis.

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.


About Shop Talk

The official podcast of Adaptistration.com, Shop Talk invites captivating guests to talk about engaging topics connected to the orchestra business.

Shop Talk Archives | Shop Talk; Last Call Archives

Publication Schedule (subject to change #obvs)

  • E01Reaching Diverse Audiences Through The Marcom Lens, Ann Marie Sorrell and Ceci Dadisman 08/18/2020
  • E02Art Has Always Been Political, Weston Sprott and Jason Haaheim 09/01/2020
  • E03Deconstructing Silos, Anwar Nasir and Scott Harrison 09/15/2020
  • E04Fostering BIPOC And Women Composers, Anne M. Guzzo, Daniel Hege, and Holly Mulcahy 09/29/2020
  • E05: What Orchestras Administrators Really Need, Zak Vassar and Jeff Vom Saal 10/13/2020
  • E06: The Need For Expertise, Mark Almond and Jason Haaheim 10/27/2020
  • E07: Changing Your Narrative, Mark Larson and Scott Silberstein 11/10/2020
  • E08: Centering Equity, Ruby Lopez Harper and Brea M. Heidelberg 11/17/2020
  • E09: How to Create High-Quality Video Content, Bruce Kiesling and Niccolo Go 12/08/2020
  • E10: Walking Back Artistic Elitism, Kenji Bunch and Jenny Bilfield 12/22/2020
  • E11: Being A Content Creator Before It Was Cool, Jeff Curnow 01/05/2021
  • E12: The Commercial Life, Ceci Dadisman and Marc van Bree 01/19/2021
  • E13: Composers In Academia, David MacDonald and Sam Merciers 2/2/2021
  • E14: Musician Injuries Could Soar After COVID: Artistic Decision Makers Perspective, Jennifer Arnold and Tito Muñoz 3/9/2021
  • E15: Musician Injuries Could Soar After COVID: Musician Perspective, Jon Bowen, Catherine Chen, and Yumi Hwang-Williams 3/23/2021
  • E16: Academia/Pro Divide: Eric Esparza and Michael Lewanski

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.

Resources

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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Shop Talk S01E16: Academia/Pro Divide

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