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Orchestra Musician Forum

Orchestra Musician Forum - An Overview:

Funded by a gift from the Symphony Orchestra Institute (founded in 1994 by Paul R. Judy), the Eastman School of Music has established the Orchestra Musician Forum.

It offers students and young professionals the opportunity to engage and interact with their peers. Over time, other activities directed to the Forum’s mission might be pursued.

Orchestra Musician Forum - Mission:

To enhance the professional development and broaden the perspectives of musicians who are participants in North American symphony orchestras and other musical arts organizations.

The first major activity of the OM Forum was to develop a comprehensive website (Polyphonic.org) designed to offer a range of educational and informational services contributing to the professional growth, personal fulfillment, career advancement, job satisfaction, and organizational participation of career musicians in North American symphony orchestra organizations.


The site, Polyphonic.org has been developed with these broad goals in mind:

  • To engage musicians to learn skills, obtain insights, and participate in a learning community, which together will enable them to become more involved, contributing, and effective stakeholders in musical arts organizations, and especially symphony orchestra organizations.
  • To provide educational background material about the structure, issues, and economics of orchestra and other musical arts organizations and about the socioeconomic environment, forces and trends which impact these organizations and their participants.
  • To establish a reputation as a long-term career learning center for orchestral musicians, and a portal to all other websites with content relating to the organizational and occupational interests of musicians in musical arts organizations.
  • To provide content relating to alternative orchestra employment opportunities, including entrepreneurial and innovative activities and paths.
  • To provide excellent content selection and editing, and an independent, thoughtful, balanced, professional editorial approach throughout
  • To establish a reputation as the primary source for regular, daily site visitation and active participation.
  • To establish a reputation as a daily or weekly occupational companion to the career orchestra player in community with other orchestra players around the nation.

In a desire to expand its reach, Polyphonic has broadened its focus and created Polyphonic On Campus—an area of the website designed by and for young musicians. It offers students and young professionals the opportunity to engage and interact with their peers.

Polyphonic OnCampus focuses on:

  • OnCampus TV
  • Vlog
  • Webinars and Hangouts
  • OnCampus Articles
  • Resources


Paul R. Judy
Center for Applied Research

The Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester is pleased to announce the next stage in the evolution of its Institute for Music Leadership (IML): Noted philanthropist Paul Judy—chairman of the Chicago Philharmonic Society, life trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), former president of the CSO board, and founder of Eastman School of Music’s Orchestra Musician Forum and its online resource center Polyphonic.org—has made a $1 million commitment to establish the Paul R. Judy Center for Applied Research at Eastman. The Paul R. Judy Center will be a new component of the IML that will be devoted to understanding and stimulating the development of innovative ensemble models that can find success in the changing music world. Click here to read a complete press release from the Eastman School.

The Paul R. Judy Center for Applied Research, as part of the Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership, is dedicated to fostering scholarship about our rapidly changing musical world, as well as to helping musicians respond to the changes so that they can become self-sufficient. These activities are sorely needed now, at a time when the recent decline of American orchestras—and the emergence of alternative ensembles—has profoundly changed the institutional landscape of music.

What the Paul R. Judy Center Will Offer

The Paul R. Judy Center will encourage scholars to engage in a new field of research, one that focuses on alternative ensembles, their business models, and their impact on contemporary culture. This is an underrepresented area in music studies that can yield cross-disciplinary results valuable to addressing the real-world problems our musicians face today.

This research will provide the basis for new courses and experiential learning opportunities for young musicians. Finally, and most importantly, the Paul R. Judy Center will serve as an incubator for emergent alternative ensembles.

In addition, the Paul R. Judy Center will sponsor a biennial festival and conference for scholars, orchestra managers, ensemble administrators, music school leaders, and students that will offer discussions, presentations, and performances. The inaugural festival and conference is scheduled for early 2015.

Alternative Ensembles: A Study of Emerging Musical Arts Organizations

In an effort to analyze viable models for successful classical music ensembles, Paul Judy, founder of the Symphony Orchestra Institute and chairman of The Chicago Philharmonic Society, and Emily Wozniak, an Eastman School of Music graduate student, conducted a study of a select group of cooperating professional organizations that appear to be pursuing non-traditional music-making paths and organizational practices. The study was undertaken to better understand what makes these organizations thrive and specifically what they are doing similarly and differently to spur such apparently positive artistic and financial growth and job satisfaction for the performing members. The study then speculates as to how the patterns exhibited by the alternative ensembles might apply to larger-scale music ensembles and organizations.

Click here to read the study.