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A Week with the Paradise Orchestra

1 Robert Levine
Cook Strait

(With apologies to Frederick Delius and in the full understanding that his “Paradise Garden” was actually a seedy country pub.)

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We’re In This Together

0 Polly Kahn

For the past 14 years, Polly Kahn has served as Vice President for Learning & Leadership Development at the League of American Orchestras, where she oversaw the League’s artistic, learning, and leadership development programs and services, including the Orchestra Leadership Academy, Emerging Leaders Program, National Conference, Getty Education and Community Investment Grants, Music Alive new music program, constituent services, programs for emerging orchestra executives, online learning, and self-assessment tools for orchestras. Prior to her time with the League, Polly was Director of Education at the New York Philharmonic, and worked in education positions at the 92nd Street Y and Lincoln Center.

As Polly prepared to step down from her position at the League, she wrote a wonderful piece for Symphony magazine, which I featured on Polyphonic a few months ago. She described many of the ongoing symphonic community engagement programs around the country, and spoke with such an optimistic voice.

I asked Polly to write something for Polyphonic, reflecting on her many years working in our industry in so many areas. The article she wrote is deeply personal, raises some difficult questions, but beautifully describes the passion that brought us all to our professions.

–Ann Drinan, January 12, 2015

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How Loud is That?

0 Stephen Danyew

John R. Beck is a percussionist, faculty member at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, and President of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS). Earlier this year, John wrote an article that was published in “Rhythm Scene,” the PAS newsletter. In the article, Beck discusses recent experiments that aim to measure sound levels in various musical environments, and provides information on earplug effectiveness and options. Ultimately, he calls for percussionists and all musicians to be proactive about their hearing health, and provides some useful links for additional resources.

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The Absolute #1 Best Music School for You (and why I can’t tell you what it is)

3 Matthew Ardizzone
Eastman admissions director (not pictured) on why college rankings “get his goat”

Below is a thoughtful and informative article by Eastman School of Music Director of Admissions Matthew Ardizzone (not pictured!) on why college rankings “get his goat.” He also provides advice for prospective students as they think about which college/university/conservatory may be the best fit for them. This article first appeared on the Eastman School of Music Admissions Blog, and is reprinted here with permission.

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Connecting Curriculum: Rethinking the Design and Scope of Outreach Education Programs

0 Terry Wolkowicz
Photo courtesy of John Sladewski/Standard-Times.
Students react during the 2014 Young People’s Con-certs, “The Agents of the S.D.A.”

In the article below, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra Education Director Terry Wolkowicz summarizes the yearlong educational program that was undertaken by the NBSO this year. The orchestra’s innovative education program aimed to go beyond simply presenting children’s concerts of classical music, and to integrate classical music within the academic curriculum – creating synergies and connections for students and teachers. It sounds like it was a great success!

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Is a Symphony Orchestra Musician a Commodity?


Michael Drapkin’s recent article “The Commoditization of Orchestra Musicians” seems to have struck a nerve and promoted lively debate. We have since found an article which discusses the commoditization issue in the context of orchestra labor disputes. In addition, we learned of some recent scholarly research that seems relevant to this topic. Below we have provided links to all of these articles as well as excerpts from each. What is your reaction to this topic? We want to hear from you – do you think an orchestra musician is a commodity?

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The Commoditization of Orchestra Musicians

0 Michael Drapkin

Michael Drapkin is a former symphony player and an active clarinetist. He is Founder and Dean of the Drapkin Institute for Music Entrepreneurship, and author of the popular Symphonic Repertoire for the Bass Clarinet series.

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The Rise of the Industrial Clarinetist

0 Michael Drapkin

Michael Drapkin is a former symphony player and an active clarinetist. He is Founder and Dean of the Drapkin Institute for Music Entrepreneurship, and author of the popular Symphonic Repertoire for the Bass Clarinet series.

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In Memoriam 2013

0 Robert Levine
in memoriam

Polyphonic’s tribute to those people important to our field who died in 2013. Please send additions or corrections to Robert Levine (rob at robertlevine dot org).

Robert Levine

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A Conversation with the 2013 Bruno Walter Conductor Fellows

0 Ann Drinan

The League of American Orchestras annually sponsors the Bruno Walter Conductor Previews, where six young, gifted conductors work with a professional orchestra for two days of rehearsals and a public concert. The 2013 Bruno Walter Preview was held in Florida with the Jacksonville Symphony. I spoke with the six fellows about the experience, and about their thoughts on the future of the American orchestra.
The six winners were:
Joshua Gersen, Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony and Knight Foundation Conducting Fellow of the New World Symphony
Keitaro Harada, Associate Conductor of the Arizona Opera and Music Director of the Phoenix Youth Symphony
Gavriel Heine, staff conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre (formerly Kirov) and Music Director of Northern Lights Festival Opera (MN)
Vladimir Kulenovic, Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera
Sameer Patel, Associate Conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic
Benjamin Rous, Resident Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra

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League of American Orchestras’ 2013 Conference

0 Ann Drinan

I was pleased to attend the 2013 League of American Orchestras conference in St. Louis in June, 2013. I have written several blog posts about various sessions I attended at the conference. This article presents all these posts as a record of this year’s conference.

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The Pittsburgh Symphony’s Music and Wellness Website

0 Penny Anderson Brill

Are you stressed? Do you have trouble getting to sleep? Are you in pain? Music can be used to address all of these issues, as well as many others. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) developed and recently launched a Music and Wellness website…

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