on the record: April 2008 Archives
There has been a growing trend over the past ten or fifteen years, more prevalent in small or mid-sized orchestras than in the largest ones, but true in some of those as well. This trend has been to change the "reporting structure" of symphony orchestras. The traditional structure, still in place in the majority of orchestras, is that the music director and the executive director (that latter title may in some places be "president," "managing director," or something else) both report to the board, usually through the board chair (sometimes called "president" - am I confusing you yet?). The new trend is to have the music director report to the executive director. I presume this has come about because boards and their chairs feel they don't have the professional competence, experience, and/or knowledge to "supervise" the conductor. Another reason, perhaps, is that the conductor is often out of town guest conducting, but we still don't have a tradition of guest managing, so the executive director tends to be "home" year-round.
In my visits to orchestras around the country, and my conversations with administrations and boards, I am sometimes struck by how orchestral organizations undervalue the importance of the total customer experience. There is no question that high-quality playing, committed performances, and vibrant programming are the most essential ingredients in an orchestra's success. But these things alone won't do it. An orchestral institution must examine every single aspect of the customer experience and raise it to the highest possible level.
Many of us know that music education in