main: October 2009 Archives

I remember a moment during the summer of 2002, when I looked at my wife and told her that I needed to make a change in my professional life. I had been managing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for seventeen years--a dream job, to be sure--but there comes a time when one realizes that one needs a change, and probably the organization you are leading realizes that as well. 
October 30, 2009 10:51 AM | | Comments (21)
Earlier this year the National Endowment for the Arts released its 2008 Arts Participation Survey, and the picture it paints is worrisome. The study was done in May, 2008, six months into the recession, and certainly we can draw a conclusion that some of what it tells us was probably affected by the economy. But I think we would be hiding our heads in the sand if we argued that the economy was the sole cause of what looks like a continuing and increasing decline in attendance at all arts events, particularly classical music, in this country.
October 23, 2009 10:12 AM | | Comments (6)
If you go to symphony concerts in Europe or South America, you see audiences that tend to be more diverse than ours in the United States--more young people, more ethnic diversity, more apparent diversity of economic and demographic background. Since the criticism often leveled at American orchestras is their lack of such diversity, one certainly starts wondering just why it is different here. I was most strongly struck by this in São Paulo, where the São Paulo Symphony plays to almost sold-out audiences night after night and there are enormous numbers of young people--as well as racial and ethnic diversity that an American orchestra manager would die for. But the same tends to be true to a large degree in Amsterdam or Moscow or Hamburg.
October 16, 2009 10:32 AM | | Comments (2)
I appear to have caused some confusion in the past with my comments about orchestra board members who try to wield too much authority in programming decisions, and conversely about conductors who adopt an autocratic, almost dictatorial stance, saying, "I am in charge of all artistic matters--just leave me alone." In a private email I was recently asked, "Which is it, Mr. Fogel? Is the music director in charge? Or the board? Or, for that matter, the management?"

October 9, 2009 1:38 PM | | Comments (3)
In last week's blog, I began a discussion of some of the questions I am most frequently asked by orchestras engaged in music director searches. This week, I am continuing that subject.

What do we do when we start getting local pressure for a candidate?
It is shocking to me how often this happens. Sometimes it's a relative, sometimes it's a close friend, sometimes it's a well-meaning person who just loves the work of one conductor and pushes that name over and over again. It is really up to the music director search committee to hold firm, to apply identical standards to all candidates being looked at and discussed, and not to bend those standards just because someone (even a big donor) wants them bent. Once you start down that road, you'll never get off it. If you are involved in a search, you will easily find dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who are 100 percent certain that they know the right next conductor for you. They don't. Only a well-functioning committee that does its homework, and that rigidly applies the same standards to all potential candidates, is going to come up with the right decision. It takes a strong search committee chair, backed by an equally strong board chair, to resist the various pressures that will be applied on behalf of people's favorites.

October 2, 2009 12:34 PM | | Comments (1)


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