Notes from the Upper Balcony

Last week, while participating in the League of American Orchestras' National Conference in Chicago, I attended a Chicago Symphony Orchestra Dvorak Festival concert with Sir Mark Elder conducting and Alisa Weilerstein as the very able soloist. My seat was in the Upper Balcony, and I ascended the stairs to the very top of Symphony Hall. It's quite a view from that perch - the rake of the hall takes your breath away until you get used to the steep angle looking down on the stage. The ceiling seems close enough to touch if you could just jump … [Read more...]

Tribes in the Arts

  Click on this for the speech! I found a terrific little speech by Seth Godin on Ted.com, and I think it might be of benefit as we think about drawing communities together around the arts. I've come to respect Godin's thinking on a number of subjects. His book, Purple Cow, formed the basis of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra's reinvention of itself with some quite remarkable results, and it is such a simple concept that it can be applied to a number of seemingly unrelated areas and activities. It has even encouraged me to ask myself, … [Read more...]

Mahler’s Instant Community

A few weeks ago I was sitting in a box seat at Carnegie Hall looking down on an empty stage. It was only a few minutes before the concert was to begin and the hall was still half-empty. The orchestra was still waiting in the wings, and I couldn't help noticing the moment. In just a few minutes the whole room would be changed, the environment transformed, and a new community created. In other words, the event itself had brought people of shared interests together. I had flown from the mid-west with this concert as part of my agenda for being in … [Read more...]

One cellist…

One cellist, thirty passionate people....as much emotional bang as Bruckner Fourth - which makes me think, what are we doing here? Where do you begin? This blog won't be all about symphony orchestras, but that IS what I do for a living, and so it should probably start there. I found myself driving home the other night after an extraordinary evening of music making. The night had featured a cellist in the orchestra who had been engaged for an "Up Close" event - meaning he played a little bit of unaccompanied cello music (Bach, and Hindemith), … [Read more...]

Creative Destruction

What if we took a step back and asked some pretty big questions?The arts aren't dead, and they're not even dying, but the old models aren't working so well anymore. It's is clear that this is the time for cutting new paths - something as dangerous as it is essential. I wonder what will happen next. … [Read more...]

John Thomas Dodson

John Thomas Dodson

John Thomas Dodson has been asking questions about how the arts can be used in building communities. Currently Music Director of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo, he has been involved in redesigning the model of the American orchestra. He is passionate about serving as a catalyst for placing the orchestra as a vibrant center of modern life. … [Read more...]