on the record: July 2009 Archives
I have written previously about the crucial importance of good boards of directors (or boards of trustees--the terms seem to be used interchangeably in orchestra governance, though they probably should not be). A well-functioning board is absolutely essential to a successful orchestra.
Last week I wrote to encourage young people with an interest in music, and with a reasonable business head, toward a career in orchestra administration. As a follow-up to that, I write today about the skill-set that is required for success in that profession. This is a question I am often asked, either by search committees seeking an executive director or by young people pursuing a career in orchestra administration. Here are qualities that I believe are essential to success in orchestra management. I hope this will serve those who might be interested in such a career, as well as those search committees who are looking for an executive director.
When small or mid-sized orchestras announce an opening for music director, they routinely receive between 250 and 350 applications. That's right--the orchestras in Boise (Idaho), Lafayette (Indiana), Columbia (South Carolina), and many others have experienced that in recent years. This is without an aggressive recruitment effort: these are applications that come in as a result of announcements on the League of American Orchestras website and the Conductors Guild website.
As you read this in early July, an important phase of my professional life is ending: my formal association with the League of American Orchestras. I stress "formal" because I hope and expect to maintain an informal relationship with this remarkable organization that has served American orchestras for all of the 67 years that I've been on this earth. (The League and I were both born in 1942.) But after two separate terms as a member of its board, five years as its president and CEO, and another year as senior advisor, I depart the League in order to start a new professional life as dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
It is sometimes difficult to figure out for whom I write these blogs. Sometimes I cover musical subjects or issues that probably interest both the general music-loving reader and those in the orchestra or music business. But sometimes I feel the need to express myself on a matter that might well be of interest and importance to those connected to orchestras, but not particularly relevant to those who sit in the audience. This is probably such a subject.