Publisher’s Notes by Paul R. Judy
Many Thanks to Many People by Paul R. Judy
Organization Study, Organization Consultation, and Research Programs
Hoshin and the Pittsburgh Symphony by Gideon Toeplitz
Harmonizing the Cultures of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra by Robert Stearns
Organizational Involvement by Paul R. Judy
Kansas City Symphony: The Path to “Evergreen” by Susan Martin
A Postscript on the Kansas City Symphony Contract Negotiations and Settlement by Susan Martin
Book Review: Insights on Leadership
Can Symphony Music Become Popular Music? (And Other Outrageous Questions) by William L. Cahn
Masterprize International Composition Competition by Sara Austin
Ritual Versus Performance: The Future of Concert Music by Christos Hatzis
About the Cover…by Phillip Huscher
The Governance of the Symphony Orchestra Institute
This issue of Harmony marks the beginning of the fourth year of active development of the Symphony Orchestra Institute. The Institute’s existence, growth, and acceptance have depended on a large number of participants in symphony organizations, and many close observers, who believe that symphony organizations can function more effectively and create more constituent satisfaction and community value. We start off this issue, in the pages which immediately follow, with warmest thanks to all those people who have, since our inception, given early and strong support to our ideals and programs. We follow with a listing of symphony organizations providing open encouragement to the Institute for 1998.
Through Harmony, the Institute is committed to reporting innovations and other organizational developments which represent and illustrate positive organizational change. We are especially interested in illuminating the actual, interpersonal, group processes which characterize these transforming developments in real symphony organizations with which we can all identify. These processes often involve many “voices”; our goal is to reflect them in authentic form. Quite often, these “stories” highlight the investment of extra hours, hard work, and emotional stress which is required to achieve distinctly higher levels of interpersonal trust and communication within a working group, trust and communication which then ripple out over concentric groups, and, over time, permeate an entire symphony organization. With ongoing investment, these trusting interactions can lead to wide and deep organizational improvement and capability. This issue presents two such stories:
◆ The utilization of the Hoshin planning process by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra organization. Gideon Toeplitz describes the genesis and implementation of this process, and Jim Wilkinson, Ron Schneider, and Kathy Kahn Stept add their thoughts. A close observer and professional facilitator of the process, Robert Stearns, then adds his perspective.
◆ The completion of a unique and very long-view musicians’ collective bargaining agreement by parties within the Kansas City Symphony organization. This story emerges through a roundtable discussion involving Jim Baker, Mary Crist, Shannon Finney, Shirley Helzberg, Tim Jepson, Gordon Kingsley, Bob Kipp, Jacqueline Michell, Brian Rood, and Roland Valliere, with supplemental comments by Susan Martin.
Interspersed between these reports is an essay I prepared, drawn from a presentation I gave at the Orchestras Canada conference in May of this year. The content pertains, in different ways, to each of the above reports.
Later in this issue, we present two essays and a report which relate to the topic of artistic vision, and to the possibilities of flexibility and creativity in artistic programming. These pieces will provide readers with much to think about in terms of the strategic choices which symphony organizations face.
◆ William Cahn, a participant in the long established and widely recognized percussion ensemble NEXUS, notes the diffusion of musical cultures on a global basis, the intermingling of sound and visual materials, the revolutionary effect of computerization, and the actual and semantic confusion between “classical” versus “popular” music. Bill goes on to suggest what this means to symphony organizations, volunteers and employees.
◆ Christos Hatzis, a well-known Canadian composer and professor of music, addresses the topic of art patronage, and moves on to a somewhat iconoclastic overview of the stages of development of symphonic and operatic music in the Western world, from the Renaissance to modern times. Christos speculates that the transmission of the sound and spirit of music will increasingly become a direct and interactive experience between composer and listener/participant. Think, for a moment, what this might mean to the symphony organization of the 21st century.
Between these two essays, as another example of innovation and nontraditional thinking, Sara Austin reports on an international symphonic composition competition—the Masterprize. This competition incorporated many of the same objectives presented in an essay that appeared in the sixth issue of Harmony. We thought our readers would be interested in learning about the main features of this new music competition in which audiences had actual opportunities to vote. The competition is intended to be held biennially.
We regret that we are not publishing at this time the essay by professors Robert Spich and Robert Sylvester which was intended to be a follow-on to their much-discussed presentation in the sixth issue of Harmony. Unexpected academic, administrative, and travel requirements prevented the full completion of this sequential essay. We hope to publish it in a future issue.
We thank Mark Jamison for providing us the highlights of a recently published book, Insights on Leadership. The symphony organization of the future will require leadership in all organizational constituencies. This book will be of interest, therefore, to many readers of Harmony.
The score fragment on the front cover relates to a major composer and affiliated institution of great significance in the historical development of the symphony orchestra. Has Phillip Huscher stumped us again? The answer is on page 91.
The Institute’s organization study, organization consultation, and research programs are progressing steadily, as reported on page xvi.
Members of the Institute’s initial Board of Advisors completed their terms on June 30, 2019. We extend them our great appreciation. As noted on page xiii, the Board of Advisors has been expanded to 16 members, including 4 carryovers and 12 new members. Biographical sketches of members of the Board of Advisors and the Institute’s Board of Directors begin on page 93.
Lastly, trust is a central issue in symphony organizations. At the Institute Web site, www.soi.org, we present thoughts on this topic drawn from two recent publications. A preview of that presentation appears on the inside back cover.
If you have any suggestions or views about the Institute or Harmony, please let us know.
Many Thanks to Many People
The Symphony Orchestra Institute was activated in the fall of 1995 as a catalyst for organizational change within the community of North American symphony orchestra organizations. The Institute was a new resident moving into a long- established and tightly bounded community; we were greeted with caution. As we pursued our mission and initiated early programs, we needed to build the trust of many constituencies. After three years, we believe that trust has been established, and that a groundswell of interest and enthusiasm is building in the direction of change which the Institute has fostered. The momentum of this wave arises from the breadth of involvement of many people who have helped undergird the Institute during the past three years. This is a note of thanks to all those people.
The Institute’s acceptance by the leadership of other industry institutions was vital. Special personal thanks go to Brad Buckley (Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra), former chair of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), his successor Robert Levine (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra), and their colleagues on the ICSOM governing board, for the early recognition of the Institute, its independence, and its unbiased interest in better- functioning symphony organizations. Similar thanks go to Andrew Brandt (Shreveport Symphony Orchestra) and his key colleagues in the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA); and to the leadership of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM). Equal thanks go to Neil Williams (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), chairman of the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL), and to Catherine French, its former president, along with the League’s board of directors, who accepted the Institute and its prospective programs as being supportive and noncompetitive at a time when faith and trust were the only basis for that judgment. Ongoing thanks to Charles Olton, new president of the League, and to its key staff members, for their continuing support, encouragement, and cooperation, and to Betty Webster of Orchestras Canada for her early and continuing interest in the Institute.
The decision to establish the Institute was, in good part, based on interviews with more than 100 participants and close observers of symphony organizations. Though nameless, thanks go to these wonderful people who shared thoughtful insights and opinions about the human dynamics of symphony organizations, and their hopes for improvement and change. Stimulated by these interviews, it became a primary task of the Institute, through Harmony, to foster and facilitate open expression about symphony organizational dynamics for the benefit of everyone in the community. Thus, our thanks go to the chorus of more than 100 persons listed below (with their current or recent organizational affiliations), whose voices have been heard through essays, reports, interviews, commentary, letters, book reviews, and roundtable discussions printed on more than 500 pages in seven issues of Harmony.
Marin Alsop (Colorado Symphony Orchestra); Edward Arian (Drexel University, retired); Sara Austin; Martha Babcock (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Tom Bacchetti (Colorado Symphony Orchestra); James Baker (Spencer Fane Britt Browne); Victor Bauer (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); William Baumol (New York University); Peter Benoliel (Philadelphia Orchestra); Bonnie Bewick (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Robert Birman (Santa Barbara Symphony); Michael Borschel (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra); Pierre Boulez (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Paul Boulian (Lodestar Associates); Trish Bryan (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra); Lawrence Butler (The Cheswick Center); William Cahn (NEXUS); Deborah Card (Seattle Symphony); Marietta Cheng (Colgate University); Mary Crist (Kansas City Symphony); Mary Deissler (Handel & Haydn Society); Wynne Delacoma (Chicago Sun Times); Sam Denov (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, retired); Dianne Dickson (Fort Wayne Philharmonic); Ann Drinan (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Alice Eagly (Northwestern University); Susan Early (Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra); Shannon Finney (Kansas City Symphony); Marilyn Fischer (Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra); Jack Fishman (Amarillo Symphony Orchestra); Ernest Fleischmann (Los Angeles Philharmonic, retired); Susan Franano; Robert Freeman (New England Conservatory); Everette Freeman (Tennessee State University); Soong Fu-Yuan; Paul Ganson (Detroit Symphony Orchestra); G. Michael Gehret (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Karen Grochau (Case Western Reserve University); Christopher Guerin (Fort Wayne Philharmonic); Richard Hackman (Harvard University); Elizabeth Hare (Chattanooga Symphony & Opera); Sara Harmelink (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); Christos Hatzis (University of Toronto); Shirley Helzberg (Kansas City Symphony); Randy Hicks (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Kathryn Holm (The Florida Orchestra); Samuel Hope (National Association of Schools of Music); Jane Hunter (Portland Symphony Orchestra); Phillip Huscher (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Isaiah Jackson (Youngstown Symphony Orchestra); Mark Jamison (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony); Timothy Jepson (Kansas City Symphony); Dwight Johnson (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Robert Jones (National Symphony Orchestra); Robert Kipp (Kansas City Symphony); John Koten (The Wordsworth Group); Rebekah Lambert (Eugene Symphony Orchestra); Marie Langlois (Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra); Erin Lehman (Harvard University); Robert Levine (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); Seymour Levine (University of Delaware); Lucinda Lewis (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Jay Lichtmann (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Sally Maitlis (University of Sheffield); Clara Markham (Louisville Symphony Orchestra); Susan Martin (Martin & Bonnett); Jacqueline Michell (Kansas City Symphony); Thomas Morris (The Cleveland Orchestra); Richard Neu (Rand Corporation); James Orleans (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Lynn Osmond (Chicago Architectural Foundation); Barbara Owens (Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra); Margareth Owens; Victor Parsonnet (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Anita Plotinsky (ARNOVA); Barbara Pollack (Pollack Communication Associates); Meg Posey (Symphony Orchestra Institute); Nicholas Rabkin (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation); Marna Ramnath (Toledo Symphony Orchestra); Christopher Rex (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra); Ruth Rhodes (Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra); Barbara Richman (Symphony Nova Scotia); Allen Rieselbach (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); Jean Riley (National Arts Centre); Brian Rood (Kansas City Symphony); Pauline Sardo (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Michael Schmitz (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); John Schneider (Grand Rapids Symphony); Ronald Schneider (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra); Marilyn Scholl (Scholl Communications); Eric Schultz (WKAR-TV, Michigan State University); Marsha Schweitzer (Honolulu Symphony Orchestra); Greg Shearer (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Robert Spich (UCLA); Fred Starr (Johns Hopkins University); Robert Stearns (Medrad); John Steinmetz; Katherine Kahn Stept (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra); Karen Swanson (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Robert Sylvester (Portland State University); Lawrence Tamburri (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Gideon Toeplitz (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra); Roland Valliere (Kansas City Symphony); Taavo Virkhaus (Huntsville Symphony Orchestra); Robert Vos (New World Symphony); Robert Wagner (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Albert “Nick” Webster; Patricia Werne (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Robert Werner (University of Cincinnati); Christopher Wilkins (San Antonio Symphony); James Wilkinson (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra); Diane Wittry (Symphony of Southeast Texas); Simon Woods (Philadelphia Orchestra); Paula Wright (Austin Symphony Orchestra); Lee Yeingst (Colorado Symphony Orchestra); and Fred Zenone (National Symphony Orchestra).
Since its beginning, the Institute has made a major effort to gain the public support of a wide range of North American symphony orchestra organizations. We have requested a modest financial contribution, as determined by each organization, to symbolize its commitment to the Institute’s aims. In our first year, 17 organizations indicated such support, increasing to 55 during 1997. For 1998, our goal has been to obtain the public encouragement of at least 100 organizations. As of press time, 104 organizations have committed their support, thus carrying us over our goal!
Warmest thanks to the executive directors of these supporting organizations listed below (in alphabetical order of the short name of the orchestra.) And added thanks to their executive assistants and other key staff associates, board chairs and key members, other volunteer leaders, music directors and conducting staff, and to the many orchestra players in these organizations who have indicated their enthusiasm for the Institute’s mission and programs. This overall group of supporters exceeds 1,500 people. Your continued encouragement and interest are vital to the Institute’s future!
Jack Fishman (Amarillo); Michael Geller (American Composers); Mary Blaske (Ann Arbor); Jane Schorsch (Annapolis); Allison Vulgamore (Atlanta); Sharon White Gruber (Augusta); John Gidwitz (Baltimore); Lana Rouff (Binghamton); Mark Volpe (Boston/Detroit); Catherine Barker (Boston Philharmonic); Larry Ribits/Joe Goodell (Buffalo); Christine Wells (Cape); Richard Early (Charlotte); Elizabeth Hare (Chattanooga); Henry Fogel (Chicago); Bill Griffin (Chicago Sinfonietta); Tom Morris (Cleveland); Tom Bacchetti (Colorado); Terri Parodi (Columbus, GA); Curtis Long (Dayton); Lou Spisto (Detroit/Pacific); Susan Bunce (Duluth-Superior); Bob McPhee (Edmonton); Michael Pastreich (Elgin); Rebekah Lambert (Eugene); Jeffrey Berger (Evansville); Kathryn Holm (Florida); Christopher Guerin (Fort Wayne); Robert Lippert (Fresno); Peter Smith (Grand Rapids); Jim Palermo (Grant Park); Ed Cordick (Greensboro); Olin Sansbury (Greenville); Mary Deissler (Handel & Haydn); Shirley Furry (Hartford); David Wax (Houston); Maureen Earley (Illinois); Tom Ramsey (Indianapolis); Steve Osmond (Jackson, MI); Gary Good (Jacksonville/Omaha); Roland Valliere (Kansas City); Mark Jamison (Kitchener-Waterloo); Ruth Eliel (Los Angeles Chamber); Fran Spears (Long Beach); Willem Wijnbergen (Los Angeles); Gregg Gustafson (Louisville); Judith O’Brien (Lubbock); Sandra Madden (Madison); Louis Weiner (Marin); Steve Ovitsky (Milwaukee); Joseph Truskot (Monterey); Rhonda Kess (Music of the Baroque); Tom Illgen (Napa Valley); Myra Daniels (Naples); Alan Valentine (Nashville/Oklahoma City); Bob Jones (National); Christopher Deacon (National Arts Centre); John Macukas (Northeastern Pennsylvania); Larry Tamburri (New Jersey); Kevin Hagen (New Mexico); Chris Dunworth (New World); Deborah Borda (New York); Carol MacDonald (North Arkansas); Richard Hoffert (North Carolina); Helen Trgovich (Northwest Indiana); Barbara Richman (Nova Scotia); Tom Philion (Oklahoma City/ Vermont); John Sterne (Orchestra London); Julian Fifer (Orpheus); John Forsyte (Pacific/Kalamazoo); Geoffrey Fontaine (Pasadena); Joe Kluger (Philadelphia); Joan Squires (Phoenix); Gideon Toeplitz (Pittsburgh); Jane Hunter (Portland); Gilles Moisan (Quebec); Peter Kucirko (Reading); Pat Middleton (Regina); Alan Hopper (Rhode Island); Michele Walter (Richmond); Richard Nowlin (Rochester); Bruce Coppock (St. Louis); Don Roth (St. Louis/Oregon); Peter Pastreich (San Francisco); Rob Birman (Santa Barbara); Catherine McKeehan (Saskatoon); Deborah Card (Seattle); Mack Richardson (South Bend); Ottie Lockey (Tafelmusik); Chad Miller (Terre Haute); Bob Bell (Toledo); Stan Shortt (Toronto); Clyde Kunz (Tucson); Don Andrews (Utah); Barry McArton (Vancouver); Dan Hart (Virginia); Rhonda Halverson (Washington Chamber); Gretchen Rhoades (West Shore); Paul Helfrich (West Virginia); Alexander Morr (Wheeling); and Pat Syak (Youngstown).
In the spring of 1996, we were pleased to participate in the videotaping of a conductor mentoring workshop and related activities under the direction of Pierre Boulez (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and his associates at the Cité de la Musique, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the Institute for the Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music (IRCAM), in conjunction with The Cleveland Orchestra. This resulted in an exclusive limited-edition videotape which continues to be shared widely with supporting North American symphony organizations.
Special thanks to Maestro Boulez; his many colleagues in Paris, especially Andrew Gerzso and David Robertson; John Mack, Felix Kraus, David Zauder, and Thomas Morris (The Cleveland Orchestra); Joyce Idema and Marilyn Scholl for their editing suggestions; and Eric Schultz (WKAR-TV, Michigan State University), producer of the video.
Special thanks also go to all those who participated in an Institute strategy forum held in Chicago in the summer of 1996. In lively discussions, that group explored central issues within symphony organizations, and a range of alternative research programs and new initiatives the Institute might consider. As an outcome of that meeting, and in subsequent reviews with advisors, the Institute began to create a heightened awareness of the discipline and potentials of organization change, and initiated a program of academic/consultant residencies in symphony organizations. These efforts have led to Institute-sponsored, practitioner-led, consultant-advised, action-oriented change programs within selected symphony organizations, toward the objective of achieving real improvement in their functioning and, at the same time, building a methodology for change within symphony organizations in general. Those involved in this catalytic meeting (with their recent organizational affiliations shown in parentheses) were: Martha Babcock (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Bernie Dobroski (Northwestern University); Henry Fogel (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Bill Foster (National Symphony Orchestra); Paul Ganson (Detroit Symphony Orchestra); Richard Hackman (Harvard University); Llew Humphreys (Utah Symphony Orchestra); Bob Jones (National Symphony Orchestra); Kirk Muspratt; Lynn Osmond (Chicago Architectural Foundation); Ron Purser (San Francisco State University); Mike Schmitz (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); Ward Smith (The Cleveland Orchestra); Fred Starr (Johns Hopkins University); Richard Thomas (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Allison Vulgamore (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra); Roland Valliere (Kansas City Symphony); Margaret Wyszomirski (The Ohio State University); and Fred Zenone (National Symphony Orchestra).
The Institute also thanks Arthur Brooks (Georgia State University) for his research and findings relating to the economics of symphony organizations, and John Breda and Professor Leonard Doerfler for their continuing analysis of the comparative workplace stress of orchestral musicians. Also, we thank Thomas Wilhelm and Donna Alexander (Wayne State University), and Patrick Kulesa (Northwestern University), for their ongoing analysis of the ICSOM Conductor Evaluation Data, along with the project’s advisory group: Martha Babcock (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Bradford Buckley (Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra); Catherine Compton (Detroit Symphony Orchestra); William Buchman (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); and Thomas Hall (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); and Andrew Berryhill (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) for his assistance in collecting supplemental project information. Special thanks also to Dileep Gangolli for making his working paper on Internet marketing available to the Institute.
Particular thanks to the ODs-in-Residence, professors Saul Eisen (Sonoma State University) and Karen Grochau and her doctoral-candidate assistant Margaret Hopkins (Case Western Reserve University), and to the many participants in the Oregon Symphony and Toledo Symphony organizations who have engaged in mutual learning with these academic observers-listeners. Ongoing thanks to the those involved in the continuing organization change processes within the Hartford Symphony organization. And finally, advance thanks to the employees and volunteers of the Philadelphia Orchestra organization who are beginning to work toward organizational improvement with the process consultation of the Institute.
Although the Institute has not actively solicited individual or organizational general support, gifts have nonetheless been forthcoming, are deeply appreciated, and have been carefully used. As in the case of supporting symphony organizations, the encouragement given by the following people and institutions is as important as their financial support: Roger O. Brown, Sidney Epstein, Henry Fogel, Vicki Fox, Soong Fu-Yuan, Jack Kamerman, Harvey Kapnick, Robert J. Kavanaugh, Koss Corporation, Joseph H. Kluger, R. Willis Leith, James Mabie, Anita Plotinsky, Cynthia Sargent, and Richard Thomas.
Since the Institute’s inception, and continuing to this day, there has been a clear need for an informal group of advisors to contribute to the direction and support of the Institute, and to provide wise guidance to entrepreneurial action. Richard Hackman (Harvard University), a pioneer in orchestra organization research, was instrumental in first providing this encouragement, and in the conceptual development of the Institute. Paul DiMaggio (Princeton University) lent ideas and a considerable reputation to a fledgling entity. William Moyer (Boston Symphony Orchestra, retired) has been tremendously inspiring and a font of wisdom and insights since the Institute’s beginning days. Stephen Stamas (New York Philharmonic) joined the movement as a formal advisor following many informal exchanges about symphony organization dynamics. Lastly, Ward Smith (The Cleveland Orchestra), an exemplary volunteer in the community of symphony organizations, has been an important source of personal encouragement, industry knowledge, and missionary support.
Early in 1997, the Institute centralized and broadened its advisory group to include board, management, and orchestra leaders participating in organizations of diverse sizes and locations throughout North America, along with some people who closely observe but do not directly participate in an orchestra organization. When initiated, the Board of Advisors consisted of 13 members with terms running to mid-1998. Recently, nine of this original group have been succeeded by newly appointed members, who along with four continuing members and three new additional members, now comprise a sixteen-member advisory group. A brief biographical sketch of each member is given starting on page 93. The role of this group is developing, including the exciting possibility, with advances in user-friendly technology, of conducting an electronic discussion of Institute and symphony community issues on an ongoing basis. The 25 persons whose names follow have been or are now involved in the Board of Advisors; we thank them for their concern for, thoughts about, and missionary work on behalf of the Institute:
Carter Buller (Montgomery, McCracken, Walker, & Rhoads); Jon Deak (New York Philharmonic); Ann Drinan (Hartford Symphony Orchestra); Karen Faaborg (University of Cincinnati); Paul Ganson (Detroit Symphony Orchestra); Joseph Goodell (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra); Julie Haight (Minnesota Orchestra); Sara Harmelink (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); Shirley Helzberg (Kansas City Symphony); Joan Horan (Kansas City Symphony); Mark Jamison (Kitchener- Waterloo Symphony); Rebekah Lambert (Eugene Symphony); Libby Larsen (Minnesota Orchestra); Justine LeBaron (Florida Orchestra); Bob McPhee (Edmonton Symphony); David Alan Miller (Albany Symphony Orchestra); William Moyer (Boston Symphony Orchestra, retired); Victor Parsonnet (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra); Ronald Schneider (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra); Ward Smith (The Cleveland Orchestra); Stephen Stamas (New York Philharmonic); Fred Starr (Johns Hopkins University); Gideon Toeplitz (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra); Mark Volpe (Boston Symphony Orchestra); and Hugh Wolff (The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra).
The Board of Directors includes five persons on whom the Institute especially depends for strategic advice and longer-range development. Thanks go to Debra Levin (D’Ancona & Pflaum) for her legal advice and general counsel in forming and shaping the Institute since its inception, and for thinking about its future. Henry Fogel (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), a leader among symphony organization managers and confidant of many years, has been a mainstay of personal encouragement since the Institute’s origin. Paul Boulian (Lodestar Associates), an organizational consultant with a breadth of industrial experience, has taken a special and caring interest in the symphonic institution, and has provided intellectual and practical energy to the Institute’s strategy for and involvement in organization change programs. For many years, Richard Thomas (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and I have exchanged views about unlocking the human potential within symphony organizations. As a founding member of the Institute’s Board of Directors, Dick has provided reliable advice with steady intellectual and moral support. And finally, warmest thanks to Fred Zenone (National Symphony Orchestra), also an early member of the Board of Directors, and someone with whom I have shared a kindred spirit since our first meeting. Fred’s breadth of insight into symphony organizations, his national leadership among musicians, and his enthusiasm for the Institute’s mission, are unsurpassed. Biographical sketches of directors begin on page 98.
A small group of people provide direct support to the Institute’s operation. Because they share our vision, these parties deliver “extra oomph” with their compensated services. At the head of this list are Eileen Shaughnessy, who helped establish the early administrative systems of the Institute and who continues to provide excellent personal assistance, and Marilyn Scholl and her husband David Scholl of Scholl Communications, who have helped shape the content and form of Harmony since its conception. Warmest thanks to Meg (Sash) Posey for her excellent administrative and operational assistance since the early days, and to her successor, Cathy Brandstetter, for her intensive learning and support in recent months. Thanks also go to Beth Montana, Margareth Owens, and Sara Austin, for their subeditorial support and enthusiasm, and to Phillip Huscher, for serving up tasty slices of orchestral history in each issue of Harmony. The people at Hi-Liter Graphics earn our thanks for their timely and reliable production of Harmony, and we thank the people at Hyperdesign for their pro bono assistance in developing and maintaining the Institute’s computer and Internet systems.
And now, at last, thanks to you, the readers of Harmony. Most of you are participants in symphony orchestra organizations. By reading Harmony in lieu of all the other things you could be doing, you show the importance you place on understanding how symphony organizations function and how they might become more effective. You are building a knowledge base for influence and action. You are just a few steps away from “walking the talk.” We hope each of you will become a provocateur of positive change and improvement in your own organization!
For all readers who are not active participants, but are close observers of symphony orchestras, let’s have a cheer for the improvements these unique and complex organizations are beginning to show, and the potentials they are beginning to realize.
Organization Study, Organization Consultation, and Research Programs
Two “OD-in-residence” programs were completed this past summer (see Harmony Number 6, page xiv). With the cooperation of all constituencies, Saul Eisen, Ph.D. (organizational behavior), a professor of management at Sonoma State University, completed a residency with the Oregon Symphony organization between January and June of this year. He visited Portland a number of times, learning about the organization through a wide range of interviews with individuals and small groups, and attending a number of group meetings. This fall, he will be sharing his observations with the organization’s constituencies.
A similar residency was completed with the Toledo Symphony organization, involving many participants working with two organizational behavior specialists from Case Western Reserve University. Professor Karen Grochau, Ph.D. (organizational behavior) is acting director of the Arts Management Program, and Margaret Hopkins is a doctoral candidate in organizational behavior. Their observations and feedback will also be completed this fall.
Representatives of both organizations have reported very favorably on these residencies, outlining the value of many people contemporaneously thinking about and sharing insights, and learning about organizational issues with trained listeners and observers. As indicated in the residency plan, any future steps toward organizational improvement are in the hands of each organization.
Each residency further confirmed the uniqueness of symphony organizations and the complexity of their human dynamics, in the judgment of scholars with extensive organizational observation and consulting experience. Their insights will be added to a growing base of Institute knowledge which someday may be integrated into publishable material about the functioning of symphony organizations.
Special thanks go to all those people in these organizations who participated in these studies.
The Institute has been invited by the various constituencies of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association (POA) to render process consultation services as part of an organizational improvement program. After completing a preliminary evaluation, an engagement is expected to be proposed and under way later this fall. As outlined in publicly available documents from the Institute conveyed to the POA:
◆ The primary purpose of the program will be to help create the leadership and organization for further developing and implementing the POA strategic plan in a way that unifies and coalesces all constituencies of the organization, significantly increasing the organization’s chances of realizing the potentials of strategic development over the next two to three years.
◆ A correlative purpose will be to foster Institute learning directly and in some depth as to the dynamics of a major symphony organization, contributing to the development of methodologies and possible models for symphony organizational improvement.
The Institute currently is sponsoring two active research projects: the Conductor Evaluation Data Analysis Project (CEDAP), and the Breda doctoral research project.
◆ CEDAP. As earlier summarized, with the consent of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), the Institute is analyzing conductor evaluation data created by ICSOM orchestra players over the 10-year period from 1988 to 1997, as maintained at Wayne State University. The goal is to determine what if anything these data reveal about various dimensions of orchestra conducting, in the opinion of a large sample of orchestra players.
Preliminary overall conclusions from the data are:
◆ Musicians in the data universe generally approve of their conductors.
◆ This general approval varies little among players by instrumental group.
◆ Evaluations of different dimensions of the conducting role (for example, knowledge of the music, baton technique, maintaining balance, rehearsal time usage, etc.) are highly correlated, both overall and by instrumental group.
◆ There is little variation in evaluations over the 10-year period, whether examined at the level of overall opinion or in subdetail.
Work is presently under way to collect various factors about the orchestras and conductors in the data universe, to develop groupings of orchestras and conductors by such factors, and to see what, if any, differences might exist among player evaluations when considering these factors.
◆ Breda Project. This doctoral research project was initiated in 1996 by Dr. John Breda, with professor Leonard Doerfler as advisor. The project involved surveying more than 600 orchestral players to develop information relating to psychological distress in the orchestral workplace, and to complete various comparative analyses. Although the project has faced delays, significant steps have been taken to complete the data analysis and reach conclusions.
Patrick Kulesa, a doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern University, has been instrumental in advancing these projects.
Extending the Bibliography
Early issues of Harmony contained either cumulative or incremental additions to the Institute’s bibliography on the literature of symphony orchestra organizations since 1960. The entire updated bibliography may now be found on our web site at:
Hoshin and the Pittsburgh Symphony
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) faced the reality of a rapidly declining operating reserve by drawing upon the leadership and expertise of a local manufacturing organization, a company well known for its use of total
quality management concepts, to undertake a new approach to strategic planning.
Author Gideon Toeplitz, executive vice president and managing director of the PSO details the genesis and evolution of the orchestra’s use of the Hoshin planning process. Hoshin—literally “shining metal”—is a planning technique developed in Japan. As Toeplitz explains, over a period of many months, the PSO used this process not only to address a specific goal, but also to draw together musicians, board members, volunteers, and staff.
Acceptance of the process was not without obstacles, but as readers will learn, the Pittsburgh participants were agreed that they did not want to continue with the “old ways.” In an intriguing display of determination, members of the four constituencies did achieve breakthroughs in addressing their special challenge, and in building relationships among people.
Following the Toeplitz essay, a board member, a musician, and an active volunteer share their thoughts about Hoshin. Readers will learn that the Hoshin planning process involved enormous commitments of time, and equally large leaps of faith.
Our exploration of the PSO’s use of Hoshin concludes with observations from Bob Stearns, director of organizational development for Medrad, Inc., and “outside point man” in the symphony’s ongoing use of this planning process.
During the spring of 1993, the Pittsburgh Symphony embarked on a new long-range plan which was the foundation for a major capital gift from the Howard Heinz Endowments and the basis for a new capital campaign of $70 million. This plan, later known as the 1993
business plan, forced the Pittsburgh Symphony to commit itself to reducing its draw on endowment from the unhealthy double-digit level to below 6.5 percent by the year 2000. The capital campaign relatively quickly raised $50 million, but most of the funds came in forms of deferred giving and bequests. Such gifts, while very important, do not enter the investment portfolio until they are actually received. An operating reserve was created to bridge the gap between a 6.5 percent draw on the endowment and the actual level needed to sustain operations. In early 1997, we realized that unless something changed, the operating reserve would be depleted by the year 2000.
It was under these circumstances that a task force of board members, musicians, and staff was formed early in 1997 to review a revised business plan. This plan called for a cash infusion of $6 million to the endowment by December 1999, as well as an addition of $4 million into the operating reserve to take us through the interim period. During this review, the musicians were told that this plan would not successfully accommodate a new trade agreement acceptable to them, but that there was no other choice.
One of the members of the business plan task force was Tom Witmer, CEO of Medrad, Inc., a medical products manufacturer headquartered in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Medrad had won many awards for its approach to total quality management and, in particular, its use of a Japanese method called “Hoshin.” Hoshin, in Japanese, means “shiny needle,” like a needle of a compass which gives direction and focus. The Hoshin process fosters breakthrough strategic planning, using a collection of process tools which empower everyone involved to contribute openly their best thinking, and results in consensus setting of priorities and action planning.
Tom asked me to have lunch in the spring of 1997, at which point he described to me the Hoshin method and asked whether I would be interested in sharing this method with other constituencies of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He believed that the Pittsburgh Symphony had done an excellent job of cutting costs and building efficiencies, while simultaneously maintaining world-class artistic excellence, but that now was the time to focus on investing in growth, and to do so by drawing out the best from all constituencies. At my encouragement, he met separately with both the senior management team and members of the orchestra committee, describing to them the Hoshin process. These meetings set the groundwork for a two-day retreat over the Labor Day weekend of 1997.
Learning the Hoshin Process
During this retreat, attended by approximately 30 musicians, board members, volunteers, and staff (the “four constituencies”), and with the help of Bob Stearns, director of organizational development for Medrad, we all learned more about and began implementing the Hoshin planning method. The essence of the Hoshin method is the idea that “if you continue to do business in the same old ways, and the results are not satisfactory, the results will not get any better without changing what you do.” We learned that Hoshin is a “catchball” process of aligning priorities, solutions, action plans, and results throughout the organization. It is a system for generating ideas, deploying the ideas, and auditing their progress. It is a process which uses specific tools to forge individual ideas into consensus decisions. Everyone who can contribute is involved.
All the retreat participants agreed that the Pittsburgh Symphony must do certain things differently in order to accomplish the goals of the 1997 business plan and
also offer the musicians a contract more in line with their expectations. Our problems were primarily in the earned revenue area. We needed to make tremendous progress in this area in order to be financially solid in the long term. And we needed to find ways for the entire organization of the four constituencies to work together more actively and enthusiastically in pursuing common goals. In short, there was a reservoir of largely untapped human resource potential. We agreed that everything can be changed, including product, presentation, marketing, and communication.
We started the process by generating ideas and directions, and developing an organizational vision, using Hoshin techniques, which turned out as follows:
It is now the end of the 2000-2001 season and the musicians, board, volunteers, and staff are working as partners. We have successfully increased the performance revenue to $5 million above the 1997 Business Plan’s projections. All four groups are satisfied with the overall operation of the organization. What specific actions have we taken to accomplish this goal?
During the two-day retreat, we used an incredible number of yellow stickers which represented the ideas of all individuals who participated in the process. We used an “affinity diagram” to collect participants’ ideas, to categorize (affinitize) them, and to reach consensus on major themes. We used a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, and later identified key drivers and best opportunities, through the use of two tools that are referred to in the Hoshin method as a “radar chart” and an “interrelationship digraph.” We developed criteria to choose Hoshin programs on which the organization should focus. Through a “criteria rating matrix,” we judged impact, revenue goals, return on investment, and achievability. We ended the two days with action planning, involving the formation of teams to investigate initiatives, each team consisting of representatives of all four constituencies— board, volunteers, orchestra, and staff. We also determined what information and data each team would need. We clarified the objectives for each team, and defined targets and means of attainment.
Hoshin Teams were established to pursue the following four program groupings or objectives (each supported by 20 to 30 ideas from their respective affinity groups which were stated using Hoshin techniques):
◆ We develop new programs for targeted markets.
◆ We become leaders in education, enabled by innovation and technology.
◆ We increase ticket sales with innovative strategies (for our existing musical programs).
◆ We have cooperation and trust among all four groups: board, volunteers, orchestra, and staff.
The two-day retreat was a mixed experience. None of us was prepared for the new relationships the Hoshin process required. Symphonies are usually conservative institutions, with a great deal of resistance to change, in process or product. The issue of “authority versus responsibility” was a major undercurrent. Some of us were willing to empower others and to share authority, but with the understanding that responsibility should also be shared. Some were suspicious that the Hoshin process would give the union a vehicle to bypass management. There was also concern about whether people who did not participate in the first retreat would come on board. Despite these concerns, the retreat ended on a high note with great optimism about a better future for the institution.
Four weeks later, we invited all constituencies to meet on the Heinz Hall stage, so that everyone could be briefed about the Hoshin process and have the opportunity to volunteer for one of the four task forces. More than 130 people representing all four constituencies attended the presentation, and many volunteered to serve on the task forces. The atmosphere was extremely positive and we all knew that we were on the right track. The Hoshin process was working. So far, so good.
Obstacles and Breakthroughs
However, we soon encountered significant problems. Symphony orchestras are used to doing business in certain ways which affect the relationships among the four constituencies (as well as the music director, who is probably a fifth constituency by himself). Trust is not a word commonly used to describe relationships among symphony orchestra constituencies because, traditionally, there has been little trust to be found. We discovered that as an institution, we were not prepared for such major changes, which included empowerment, giving authority and taking responsibility, complete openness, consensus conclusions, and a whole different set of relationships. Many issues seemed to surface during the first two or three months of the Hoshin process. There were emotional meetings, ruffled feathers, and a few times when we didn’t think this process could proceed. However, as each team slowly made progress toward its objective, those issues receded. We wanted to see results which would overcome the difficulties. And no one wanted to return to the prior ways of operating— compartmentalized, unempowered, weak communications, and a lack of trust and cooperation.
Hoshin Team #1:
We Develop New Programs for Targeted Markets
This team began dealing with a whole different approach to programming. Our industry traditionally lets the music director (sometimes with the assistance of the managing director or the artistic administrator) create programs for the public. These programs are generally guided by the music director’s personal wishes, or his or her opinion of what the public, as a whole, wants. Our challenge was to examine the marketplace first and then create programs which will better satisfy the marketplace—in particular, the missing generation of the 30- to 45- year-olds. We embarked on an in-depth marketing study which eventually identified three target segments that were then researched for their aspirations, and for what it would take to get them to come to a symphony concert.
Hoshin Team #1 consisted of eight people (music director, managing director, vice president for marketing and sales, artistic administrator, two musicians, and two board members) who met every other Saturday for weeks and weeks to examine data and come up with ideas. I might add that our music director, Mariss Jansons, was an active member of this team. He found the Hoshin process very compatible with his own philosophy of inclusiveness. Following one of our Saturday meetings, he commented, “I have always valued insight from others and now we have a mechanism to give people a voice.”
As a result of this team’s work, we will launch during the 1998-1999 season a new series of three concerts called “Soundbytes.” This series was derived from our research data and discussions. The series will present a more visual product, entertaining and informational, combined with social events, but in keeping with our artistic integrity and with the motto of “quality above all.” The actual presentation has been outsourced to a team headed by the chair of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, one of the best drama schools in the country. Promotion for the series has just begun and we hope to achieve 80 percent of capacity during the first year.
Hoshin Team #1 then moved on to a more long-term project called “The Restructuring of the Season.” The market data showed us that the missing generation of audiences would not make a commitment for an entire season eight months before that season’s start, primarily because of their lifestyles which are very different from those of our current, somewhat older, audience. We are now sketching a new season platform which will allow potential concertgoers to look at a season from different vantage points, without hurting or antagonizing our current audience.
Hoshin Team #2:
We Have Become Leaders in Education, Enabled by
Innovation and Technology
Five people were selected to serve on this team (two musicians, one staff member, one volunteer, and one board member). At this point, we began to see a need for financial resources to enable the teams to move forward. In November 1997, I reviewed the Hoshin programs with the executive committee and later with the board of directors. I explained the Hoshin process and what it would mean to the Pittsburgh Symphony in the long term, and asked for a special allocation of $250,000 for the 1997-1998 fiscal year (then in progress) in order to move forward. The board approved this request without hesitation, and one board member said, “Finally, we take our foot off the brakes and put it on the gas pedal.”
Hoshin Team #2 took an office in a downtown building, and for the next five months spent almost full time interviewing experts from around the country, and creating possible scenarios. This team concluded its first phase in May 1998, and made a series of entrepreneurial recommendations to the board. Those recommendations are being evaluated for funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
Hoshin Team #3:
We Increase Ticket Sales with Innovative Strategies
This team very quickly came to the conclusion that we needed more face-to- face ticket sales, which in the long term will take over from the past successful telemarketing efforts, now in decline. The board’s special financial allocation allowed us to hire three new people in the spring of 1998 to begin further face- to-face sales, particularly in the medical and educational communities.
Hoshin Team #4:
We Have Trust and Cooperation Among the Four Groups
This team arguably had the most difficult task of all. The results of this group’s efforts were destined to dictate not only the future of Hoshin in our organization, but also, in my opinion, the future of the entire organization. The team decided to create a questionnaire which was sent to the entire orchestra, board, staff, and a sample of some 600 volunteers. Many of these constituents were subsequently interviewed in person or by phone, while others were asked to complete and return the questionnaires. The questionnaire was designed to gather as much data as possible about the constituencies’ positive experiences with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and then to build from the positive input. It took 10 weeks to complete this phase. Based on the information they had gathered, the team decided to focus on the following areas to build trust and cooperation among the four constituency groups:
An Ongoing Process
Members of all constituencies received the results of this study in early May 1998. Subsequently, I developed and presented to the members of the Hoshin project a plan that addressed change in our management leadership and communications processes, requesting their discussion and feedback. Through this plan, we made a commitment to change, during the next six months, in the four identified areas, and asked that Hoshin Team #4 define similar initiatives for the other three constituencies.
Fred Zenone, a member of the Institute Board of Directors, was invited to observe a Hoshin planning meeting held among Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra participants on March 11, 2019. The meeting involved 24 participants, began at 5:30 p.m., and lasted three hours. The agenda was to receive and discuss reports from the four Hoshin Teams. With Fred’s permission, we quote from the notes he made of his observations.
◆ The preparation for the meeting was serious. The reports were long and extensively prepared.
◆ I have never seen, nor have I heard of, this degree of total organizational participation in the planning process of a major symphony organization.
◆ The level of communication and cooperation was delightful.
◆ The meeting was remarkable—not only for the evidence of total organizational participation, but also for the spirit of cooperation and sharing.
◆ All constituencies participated—from the stage manager to key members of the board. Some of the player participants have never before come forward to participate in any planning or representation responsibility. Their participation provided a cross-section of player representation not seen before, and it was clear that they had been actively solicited by the current orchestra leaders.
◆ The sharing of ideas across constituent groups, and the feeling of shared responsibility, was remarkable.
◆ In the proceedings, there was no deference to hierarchy, but there was a good understanding of which responsibilities belong with which positions.
◆ These participants believed in what they were doing.
This is work in progress. There have been many obstacles and there will be many more. But, it is now safe to say that our recent five-year agreement with the musicians would not have been such a constructive process, with an early conclusion, and a very amicable atmosphere, without having gone together through the journey of the Hoshin process. It brought all constituencies closer together, and while we have a long way to go in implementing needed new programs, there is more feeling within the organization that everybody can contribute to the process and that everybody will be heard. There is no question that the Hoshin process does take time, particularly from those of us who are already overworked. But the long-term potential results certainly justify the time we are investing.
We are enthusiastic about our future together as we harness the tremendous talent and energy present in all four groups when we focus on the same priorities. We have now requested a special supplemental budget authorization of $500,000 to enable us to pursue these new, entrepreneurial growth initiatives in the 1998- 1999 fiscal year. We will keep those who are interested informed regularly as to the progress of our Hoshin activity.
Gideon Toeplitz is executive vice president and managing director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He holds a B.A. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an M.B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Because the intent of the Hoshin process is inclusive, the Institute asked several members of the Pittsburgh Symphony organization to add their comments.
Jim Wilkinson, Secretary/Treasurer, Pittsburgh Symphony Board of Directors Having been involved in the Pittsburgh Symphony collective bargaining process for 20 years, I frankly
was both excited and scared about the Hoshin process at the outset. Excited, because the process represented a unique opportunity to get the constituent groups together in an organized way to thrash through the future of the organization, and to increase each group’s level of understanding of the problems, concerns, and perceptions of others. Scared, because I knew how much everyone, especially the musicians and the staff, wanted this process to succeed. If it blew apart for any reason, it would have been a significant setback to a process of increased communication and enhanced understanding that has marked the last four or five years for this organization.
I cannot emphasize enough that this process is not for the faint of heart. In many organizations, an attempt to implement it could become a disaster. It is valuable to obtain the commitment of someone who is independent of the process—as in our situation, the people at Medrad—to help the participants learn to deal with the genuine anger and frustrations that occasionally arise, and there are several conditions the parties should candidly address at the outset.
Participants, including board members, need to commit that they will actively participate over an extended period, e.g., a one-year minimum. On occasion, this commitment will be for full or half days at a time, including some weekends and vacation periods. I would estimate the average participant spent 50 hours at meetings during the year, and for some active participants, the involvement was hundreds of hours.
There needs to be a base upon which to build. Over the last decade or so, the orchestra committee has been led by some exceptional individuals who have seemingly bucked the industry trend toward increased confrontation with management, and constantly pushed to enhance musician involvement in the organization’s day-to-day activities, whether in education and outreach, fundraising, or planning. With Gideon’s arrival, the artificial barriers to interaction, especially between board members and musicians, which had existed historically were removed. So the Hoshin interaction among the various groups was not a breakthrough idea. While there are always issues of trust and misunderstandings to be confronted in any relationship, it is my sense that there were no preconceived alignments among constituent groups that created a “them versus us” mentality to be overcome. In fact, there were often differences within constituent groups, especially in setting priorities, since the emphasis was on individual ideas, stated and defended, not on group posturing. If participants make such comments as, “The musicians’ position is . . .” or “The board will never agree . . .,” the process will not go anywhere.
Symphony management must both fully support the process and have thick skin. Few symphony organizations are overstaffed, allowing them to freely commit extra staff time to make this process work. As a result, even though the workload can and should be shared among all the groups, this process will require a realignment of organizational priorities, since only staff has access to some of the information needed to develop certain ideas. Staff simply cannot be expected to do everything they normally do during the week and explore breakthrough ideas on weekends during this process.
Also, especially at the outset, the staff—fairly or not—is both buffeted with comments that question their competence, commitment, and understanding of the organization, and directly criticized in front of board members and volunteers for certain things that have or have not occurred. The participants need to fully appreciate this dynamic or the wheels can come off pretty early in the process. For the process to be successful, participants must be free to speak their minds, but it must be done professionally and in a restrained way that permits (or forces) staff to explain rather than to defend. Lastly, there should be no hierarchy of constituent groups or individuals. Ideas should be assessed on their merits, including arguments for or against, without concern for who put forth the idea or who argued which way.
Ronald Schneider, Chair, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Committee
The 1993 business plan was “cast in stone” before the talks began to negotiate the 1994 to 1998 trade agreement. Both management and musicians were held captive to the plan. To avoid that situation again, Gideon involved representatives of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Committee in the business plan talks that were held in the spring of 1997. The committee met to decide if we should participate, as we could be seen as having being coopted. We wondered whether the sole purpose of our presence was to learn about The Pittsburgh Symphony’s precarious financial condition, and to prepare us for another wage freeze, or worse. Although we agreed to go forward, we remained concerned about the conclusion that the business plan, as presented, would not allow for a successful renegotiation of our trade agreement, which was due to expire at the end of August 1998. While not fully understanding or agreeing with all of the numbers, we believed that Gideon’s experience with the bargaining process was sufficient for him to recognize when a settlement was unlikely. We knew we had a serious problem. At this point, Tom Witmer stated that if the plan would not allow for a settlement, the plan needed to be changed. Tom completely captured the attention of the musicians.
I would like to emphasize two points: the tremendous importance of participation, and the need for consensus building. A few years ago, a consultant visited our orchestra, made some recommendations, and left, with no changes ever being made. The bad taste still lingered that his attempt to make us feel better, without changing anything, had made things worse. It was analogous to one partner in a relationship seeing a counselor to learn how to tolerate the flaws in the other partner.
As a condition of our involvement in the Hoshin process, we wanted to have the board well represented by some of its senior members. To this end, we were extremely fortunate to have the full participation of Bob Kavanaugh, Jim Wilkinson, and Tom Witmer, all members of the executive committee. Their devotion, involvement, and generosity to the orchestra have been inspiring. The support by the board’s leadership was critical to any success we achieve.
As to consensus building, I know from my work with the orchestra committee that to have a “yes or no, majority rules” vote on an issue results in winners and losers. The inclusion of the minority view is good for the process because it keeps the team together and strengthens the final product.
This consensus-building process was quite evident during the two-day retreat. Although both days were long, they were filled with tremendous spirit and energy. We were developing relationships with each other as we explored our mutual concerns about the institution and its continuing artistic growth.
At the meeting which the Hoshin core group held on our stage, everyone was eager to hear about this dynamic force which was already being spoken of in reverential terms. Many people later commented on how profoundly they had been affected by this meeting, and several referred to it as the most positive moment in their histories with the organization. The Hoshin process provided a structure and direction to the spirit of cooperation.
Gideon is quite right in saying there were ruffled feathers. Many of us (from all four constituencies) used Tom Witmer or Bob Stearns as the “Hoshin Police.” After a stormy meeting, the phone calls or e-mail would be flying. Their advice was always something like, “You need to express your views directly to the person with whom you are having the problem.” During one late night call to Bob, when he was counseling patience, I asked him what his major was in college. His reply: “psychology.” No surprise there! We were expecting an instant change in our traditional relationship with the management, and that was not going to happen.
The Hoshin Team #2 deserves a special mention, as their contribution was extraordinary work. Jim Wilkinson (board member) and Dwight Dietrich (computer expert par excellence and volunteer) worked on this project nearly full time. The staff member and the two orchestra members were freed from as many of their usual obligations as possible, and they all worked through vacations and days off.
Although the relatively smooth conclusion of the recent five-year trade agreement probably would not have been possible without the year of preparation, this is only one benefit. Our long-term goal is to work together to strengthen the institution and facilitate its continuing artistic growth. We have learned from the Hoshin process the value of personal connections among members from the four constituencies in working toward this goal.
Kathy Kahn Stept, Chair, Volunteer Leadership Committee
From the outset, the Hoshin process provided each team member from the four constituencies a rare and unique opportunity to interact personally through formal and informal meetings on an ongoing basis. It afforded each team member the chance to gain a clearer understanding of the symphony’s organization structure, economic issues, institutional priorities, and values. Through the flow of information that surfaced during meeting discussions, open dialogue, and informal personal discussions, individuals became better informed and acquainted with the purpose and function of each constituency as it relates to the successful operation of the whole institution. Consequently, before the Hoshin Team #4 initiatives were formally presented to the board, musicians, staff, and volunteers, the seeds of cooperation and trust had begun to blossom. Board members were interacting with staff and volunteers, musicians were talking with staff, volunteers were becoming acquainted with musicians—in a way that had not been previously practical or accessible. The interdependence among the groups became quite clear, and simultaneously came the recognition of the value and positive impact this breakthrough would have on the future success of the symphony.
It is remarkable how much has been accomplished in the short life of this process, and heartening to consider the future possibilities as we continue along the path to further enlightenment.
T he Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is a very vibrant organization which consists of four distinct cultures: musicians, staff, volunteers, and the board of directors. During Labor Day weekend of 1997, 30 good
people, representing these four cultures, came together around a corporate conference table to engage in a Hoshin planning process. They held a common goal: to increase dramatically public ticket sales. What they didn’t know
was that, in the process, they would set the stage to improve dramatically the personal and professional relationships among the four cultures!
First, some background on the Hoshin planning process. Hoshin was developed in Japan in the 1960s. The Japanese word “Hoshin” literally means “shining metal,” as in the needle of a compass which points out the strategic direction for an organization. The process has been successfully used in the United States by such organizations as Hewlett-Packard, Procter and Gamble, Ford, Xerox, and Medrad. The process has three stages: Hoshin Generation, Hoshin Deployment, and Hoshin Audit. The overall purpose of the Hoshin process is to identify key strategies that will help an organization to achieve a “breakthrough” goal or vision (Hoshin Generation). Once these strategies have been selected, the process helps the organization develop detailed action plans for implementing them (Hoshin Deployment). Finally, the Hoshin plan is reviewed on a regular basis and course corrections are made as needed. Insights gained during the planning process are also captured at this point (Hoshin Audit).
Medrad, the company for which I work, first used Hoshin in 1993. The initial Hoshin vision for our company was to increase profitability by 30 percent per year. The Hoshin process led Medrad to establish a breakthrough goal to increase international sales dramatically, as a percent of total sales, by the year 2000. The results to date are international sales that have doubled as a percent of sales. Medrad has also used the Hoshin process to save more than $1 million in manufacturing costs; to redesign our new product development teams; to improve our market share with large medical equipment manufacturers (key customers); and to improve organizational productivity. Our positive experiences with Hoshin have encouraged us to share this process with several local community organizations, including the Carnegie Museum, the United Way, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
We introduced Hoshin to the PSO in the spring of 1997, and several meetings and conversations followed about the applicability of the process to the orchestra. The Labor Day meeting at Medrad was the first time the PSO planning team actually used Hoshin techniques. Beginning with Hoshin SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, the planning team agreed on a Hoshin vision, generated strategies to reach the vision, and set priorities for the strategies. The use of Hoshin tools helped the planning team to determine the best strategies to be used.
The discussions generated by these tools also began to bring to the surface the cultural differences and issues that existed among the groups. I believe that the four groups knew that these differences and issues existed prior to the Hoshin session. However, the Hoshin environment gave each group the opportunity to examine the validity of their perceptions about the other three groups, and to begin to address the issues constructively. As you might imagine, the discussion about these cultural issues became quite spirited at times.
Hoshin in Action
One strength of the PSO organization was that each of the four groups wanted to do what it believed was right for the organization. Unfortunately, the groups’ views on what was “right” were often in conflict. Additionally, it appeared to me that a distrust that had built up over a number of years made it very difficult for members of the four groups to communicate openly.
I told the planning team at the end of the first day that they should not get angry at each other for the views that were being expressed. Rather, they should understand that the statements by each member of the team simply expressed how they individually perceived the situation and the other team members. These perceptions were neither right nor wrong, but they did express what the speaker saw as the “reality” for any given situation. Therefore, each team member should seek to better understand why the speaker felt the way he or she did, and then endeavor to make adjustments that would help the whole Hoshin team work together to the ultimate benefit of the organization. This realization helped the Hoshin team members have a more balanced perspective through the rest of the Hoshin Generation session.
The importance of the concept of trust and teamwork was also evident in the selection of the Hoshin strategies. As Gideon has related, one key strategy that the Hoshin Team decided to implement to enable them to achieve the $5 million sales increase was titled, “We have cooperation and trust among all four groups: board, volunteers, orchestra, and staff.” The Hoshin Team realized that this strategy was really the foundation or building block that would make or break the success of the whole Hoshin initiative. A subteam, made up of members of the full Hoshin Team, took on the responsibility of developing an action plan to accomplish this Hoshin strategy. Gideon explained the steps that this team used to develop solutions, some of which are now beginning to be implemented.
From My Vantage Point
I want to step back for a minute and relate two specific incidents which occurred during the Hoshin implementation process that indicated to me the process was having some positive impacts. The first incident was entirely positive; the second began negatively but ended positively. Both incidents underscored to me the fact that all four cultural groups in the PSO really wanted to work together to accomplish what was best for the organization.
Both Gideon and Ron Schneider have described a meeting that took place on the Heinz Hall stage several weeks after the planning retreat. I was asked to give an overview of Hoshin at that meeting, and to discuss the Hoshin strategies that had been selected. I remember being nervous about the presentation, and about the acceptance of the Hoshin process. I went through my part of the presentation, and then asked Hoshin team members from each of the four groups to give their impressions of the process. There were many questions, and the audience exuded a high degree of excitement. There was also a high degree of anticipation that the Hoshin process might be the tool to finally unite the four groups. After the presentation, more than half the audience responded to our request for volunteers to help with the deployment of the Hoshin strategies. This meeting further convinced me that all four groups really wanted to work together. The Hoshin process was simply providing a vehicle to make this happen.
The second incident occurred a couple of weeks later. I was asked to come to an open meeting of the orchestra to discuss their ideas on one of the other Hoshin strategies: “We develop new programs for targeted markets.” This session did not start off very well. The musicians truly did not trust that their ideas would be heard and/or utilized by the management group. The musicians who had been a part of the Hoshin Team related their positive experiences from the Hoshin process, and were able to convince the others that their ideas were indeed wanted, and would be heard by the PSO management group. This meeting ended with orchestra members generating many good ideas. The attitudes and outlooks of this group were beginning to change; there was a realization that a cultural change was beginning to occur.
Can Hoshin Work for Other Symphonies?
Readers probably have several questions at this point. Why has Hoshin planning worked for the PSO? Can this process work for other symphony organizations? Can a business process be successfully used in the arts? I’d like to share my perspectives, but you will need to decide the answers for yourself, before pursuing the Hoshin method.
First, Hoshin is one of many processes that are used in developing what is now known as a Total Quality Management (TQM) culture in an organization. The main assumption of TQM is that the people who perform specific jobs or roles in an organization best understand the problems that exist in that organization. They are also the best people to develop and implement solutions. Another important tenet of a TQM culture is that when there is a problem, 85 percent of the time the problem is with a process or a method, not with the people.
The Hoshin process is one of several tools that allow the people in an organization to tap into the knowledge that they have about their jobs, their roles, and their processes to make needed improvements. In other words, Hoshin and other TQM processes allow the people in an organization to leverage their innate skills and abilities to make things better. This concept holds true whether people are working in an orchestra, a museum, a medical device company, a copier company, or any other type of organization. The policies, procedures, practices, and processes that have existed in an organization for years, and the methods that people have used to make the organization function, need to be reexamined to see if they are meeting current-day needs.
The reexamination process is what Hoshin has initiated for the PSO. The melodic strains of the PSO Hoshin strategies are still very much a work in progress. The Hoshin team and others who have been involved in the process have struck many positive chords, but there is still much discordance to overcome. I’m betting that the combined knowledge, desire, and love that the members of the orchestra, staff, volunteers, and board of directors have for the PSO organization is enough. Enough to focus them on improving their internal processes and methods. Enough to continue to build respect and trust throughout the organization. Enough to enable them to achieve their Hoshin vision of an additional $5 million in revenue by the 2000-2001 season.
Hoshin planning is simply the vehicle that will enable members of all four group cultures to harmonize their innate abilities to achieve the ultimate vision of the PSO organization. My hat is off to the PSO for all they have accomplished, and for everything I know they will accomplish in the future!
Robert Stearns is director of organizational development for Medrad, Inc. He holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh.
Our exploration of new ways to consider familiar themes continues with an essay penned by Institute founder and chairman Paul R. Judy. Readers of Harmony are well aware that Paul Judy is an avid champion of greater organizational effectiveness for symphony institutions.
In the current essay, Judy asks readers to rethink the roles musicians can and should play within their symphony organizations. He traces the nature of the involvement of key participants in North American symphonies, beginning with board members and other volunteers, and continuing with staff and artistic personnel. He then turns his attention to the orchestra itself.
Asserting that “ . . . we have a large group of . . . well educated, loyal, and, in many cases, well-compensated employees who are only minimally involved in the overall direction and operations of the organization of which they are a central part . . .,” Judy devotes much of this essay to exploring why this is the normal condition in many symphony orchestras.
He then posits that all participants have an obligation to work toward a more cohesive, effective, and enthusiastic workplace for all employees and volunteers. In defending his thesis, he shares examples from industry and details ways in which these examples might translate to orchestral settings.
Admitting that change is not an easy process, Judy leads readers through a discussion of “strategic process involvement” as a way to move an organization toward a state in which “information is widely shared, communications are open and efficient, and everyone’s participation and involvement is welcomed and expected.”
What is the meaning of the word “involvement?” The dictionary tells us that “involve” derives from the Latin word “involvere” which means “to roll or wrap up.” The dictionary goes on to provide various other
meanings including “to connect, to bring into close relation, to enfold, to envelop.” So this suggests that “involvement” means to be connected, closely related, enfolded, and enveloped, thus almost becoming part of something else.
In recent years, such words as “participation” and “engagement” have emerged as synonyms or shades of meaning of an organizational nature for the word “involvement.” Some observers suggest that involvement can lead to “empowerment.” And we hear about degrees of organizational involvement, running from “token involvement” up through “high involvement.” Organizational involvement also can have a temporal dimension, as connoted by “sustained” versus “temporary” involvement, and a close relationship with “commitment” and “sharing.”
So what does this word play have to do with life in a symphony orchestra organization? A central thesis of the Symphony Orchestra Institute is that North American symphony orchestra organizations, in general, need to pursue positive change in their organizational structures and processes toward the achievement of greater effectiveness, greater constituency satisfaction, and greater community value. To do this, most organizations will need to raise to much higher levels, and extend more broadly, the “involvement” of all participants in the life and destiny of their institutions. So let’s take a moment to survey the degree and nature of the involvement of key participants in the overall affairs of the typical North American symphony organization.
Boards of Directors and Other Volunteers
The board of directors of a symphony organization represents a key group of participants, particularly the executive committee or officer group of the board, led by the board chairperson. Quite often, people in this group of seven to fifteen persons also chair key board committees. In many, if not most, organizations, this small, central group is typically perceived to be involved, committed, and engaged in the life of the institution.
However, board members are volunteers and are able to spend only part time with a symphony organization. In many organizations, in order to expose more community representatives to the organization and to provide fresh blood and energy, and broaden funding sources, board members’ terms are limited; their active involvement is often for short to intermediate periods, and not for longer-term, permanent affiliation. Of course, too, board work is voluntary and noncompensatory, and many board members have full-time occupations or other obligations with senior priority.
Various questions emerge from these arrangements. How deeply do board members, and even the small inner and active board group, understand the critical operating issues and processes within a symphony organization? Although staff members may be known to board members, how knowledgeable and informed are board members about artistic matters and personnel, including the backgrounds, work, and thinking of orchestra members? In most symphony organizations, there are reasonably wide gaps of knowledge and insufficient working relationships between the board as the central governance group and the orchestra as the central organizational component. Typically, there isn’t very much “involvement” between these parties.
In some organizations, the overall organizational structure includes volunteer groups or structures other than the board, and these units, through direct service, fundraising, and other activities, are quite often significant contributors to the well-being of the organization. How involved are these groups in the organization’s overall affairs? They are quite often enthusiastic, energetic, hard- working volunteers. But too often they complain that they are not included or involved in the central determinations of the organization.
Administrative and Conducting Staff
Staff personnel, including the executive director and key supervisors, are, by normal definition, perhaps the most involved and informed participants in the overall affairs of a symphony organization, on a sustained basis. They are typically enthusiastic and energetic people, very engaged, working quite hard over long hours, to help the institution meet its goals. In some ways, this commitment is so intense that it results in burnout and undue turnover. And some managers, in their commitment, enthusiasm, and camaraderie, along with a fear of board micromanagement, tend to control the involvement of and information available to the board. Too often, staff would just as soon keep the board separated from the orchestra.
Music directors, guest conductors, and visiting artists have varying degrees of organizational involvement. One would expect minimal involvement from guest artists and that is usually the case. Guest conductors have more organizational responsibility, albeit for short periods, but once again, not much involvement is expected or takes place, in most cases.
How might we characterize the involvement of music directors in symphony organizational life? Certainly, “resident music directors”—generally with smaller organizations—tend to be rather committed and engaged with their organizations, with heavy, if not sole, emphasis on such artistic activities as programming, orchestra development, and principal conducting. For larger organizations, in which a music director spends only part of a season in residence, often in multiple short visits, he or she is actively involved in artistic planning, orchestra personnel additions, and conducting, but cannot be involved in the steady, hands-on, week-to-week professional development of the orchestra, or the quarter-to-quarter strategic development and community participation of the overall organization.
For many orchestra organizations, particularly those having significant seasons, if not involving year-round orchestra employment, orchestra members typically have longer average employment than the staff. Quite often, some orchestra players are the oldest employees with the longest employment in an orchestral organization, and these people possess great institutional memory. Sustained, longer-term, committed loyalty by musicians is partly explained by the tenure system, but it also reflects the fact that many symphony musicians, particularly when they marry and form families, put down roots and look to the symphony organization for their lifetime economic and musical sustenance.
In interviews with orchestra members in many symphony organizations, the organizational sentiment and loyalty which musicians feel is outstanding, but this commitment tends to be expressed as a “very strong bond and commitment to the orchestra and my fellow players” more than as “a very strong positive feeling about my employer and the symphony institution as a whole.”
I have written at length about the unique intellectual and physical characteristics of the orchestral workplace, where many forces tend to isolate the orchestra from the balance of the organization.1 This natural workplace separation is often heightened by a collective bargaining agreement, which nominally sets off the economic interests of the orchestra employees from other employees, and from the interests of key volunteers who provide valuable service without compensation. Suffice it to say, the orchestra is a distinctly bounded and bonded group within most symphony organizations. Although very committed to unified musical performance, players individually and as a group often have relatively low-level involvement in the overall affairs and decision-making systems within their organizations, and relatively low-level workplace interaction with many non-orchestra participants, particularly board members.
Of course, as we all recognize, the orchestra comprises the central human resources of a symphony organization. The orchestra is the raison d’être for a symphony institution. In most organizations, an orchestra of 60 to 110 players constitutes a significant majority of the institution’s employees, and even a majority, if not clear plurality, of total participants, if key volunteers are counted in total organizational size, as they should be. The compensation and benefits of the orchestra are the main cost center in an orchestra organization’s budget, never mind the necessary adjunct costs of music direction, conducting, visiting artist services, and other concert production expenses. The aural output and physical presence of an orchestra in concert are what audiences pay to hear, see, and experience together with others. Contributors support the existence and maintenance of an orchestra; staff and board groups are viewed as necessary support systems.
And yet, we have a large group of typically and increasingly well-educated, loyal, and, in many cases, well-compensated employees who are only minimally involved in the overall direction and operations of the organization of which they are a central part, and who tend to commit their loyalties and trust to each other more than to the institution as a whole, which institution, overall, permits and provides them the opportunity to pursue a livelihood and first love. What is all this about? Why is this the normal condition of affairs? There are many reasons.
What Musicians Say
Let’s first examine what musicians quite often say about their lack of involvement in the overall affairs of their institutions. I am sure that many readers will have heard combinations or permutations of these statements, which I have collected in my travels and through other communications.
◆ As a musician, my job is to play my instrument, to prepare for and play rehearsals and concerts. I and my colleagues shouldn’t be expected to think about, never mind do, the job of someone else in this organization.
◆ My participation in organizational matters or activities other than instrument playing is not wanted by the management or the board.
◆ To be blunt, our involvement as musicians in nonplaying matters is obviously solicited as a token gesture. Our views are not taken seriously. It is waste of our time and energy. Such token involvement is patronizing—it just adds to tension and distrust.
◆ When we musicians become involved, we begin to be exposed to thinking and arguments as to why the organization can’t do this and can’t do that—why there are limits or constraints, and uncertainties and risks, as to what is reasonable for this organization to achieve. If we get really involved, we become too close to management and the board, and to their thinking. Our thinking can become coopted. We lose our freedom of action. We lose our ability, will, and unity to force management and governance to do a better job, to set higher goals, to achieve greater results, to meet our needs.
◆ The trade agreement provides for whatever involvement we musicians have agreed to. If something is not in the agreement, we are not supposed—and should not be expected voluntarily—to do any work or be of any assistance other than the services provided for in that agreement.
◆ I and my colleagues are just not trained for or skilled in any functions taking place in this organization other than orchestral performance.
◆ Participating in organizational matters, beyond orchestra performance and preparation, takes time and energy. I have many other outside work and volunteer activities for my extra time and energy.
◆ I find exposure to various organizational matters stressful. These matters interfere with my life and my instrumental performance.
◆ My orchestra employment is only part time; it is difficult for me to become deeply interested in this institution’s overall affairs, since I cannot depend upon it for my livelihood.
What Managers and Board Members Say
Now, let’s review the reasons I’ve heard managers and board members express for not involving musicians more broadly in the affairs of their institutions. I have also accumulated this collection on visits to the orchestral workplace.
◆ Musicians as a rule don’t wish to be involved in this organization beyond playing their instruments; they are not generally interested in other matters. They are not trained or skilled for such work, they do not have the time, and they quite often do not have the temperament for such involvement.
◆ It is the responsibility of the board and staff to govern and manage this organization, to set its goals and direction, and to carry out its successful operation. It isn’t proper, fruitful, or fair to share those responsibilities with members of the orchestra.
◆ Since the orchestra is unionized, there is a conflict involving its members, particularly its leaders, beyond some point, especially when it comes to sharing financial and operational information. It will be used against us.
◆ If we involve the orchestra in our overall affairs, with such involvement and sharing comes a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of this institution as a whole, and our players just can’t seem to be able to think in those terms.
◆ Important functions around here, like marketing, development, and finance, require special knowledge. We would constantly have to stop and explain these things to musicians, and even then, it is unlikely that they would understand, and it would certainly slow down our whole operation.
◆ If we involve musicians in our overall affairs and we share with them our plans—our enthusiasm, optimism, and hopes—it will just heighten their expectations.
◆ Involving musicians in the overall affairs of this organization would be like having children participate with parents in family decisions, and we all know that that is not a good idea.
◆ Involving musicians in our affairs would be like having the inmates run the asylum.
Evaluating These Attitudes
I find the above kinds of statements, and the attitudes and reasoning behind them, rather fascinating, especially when juxtaposed.
◆ Many statements, by the apparently opposing parties, actually reflect a common point of view. In many instances, there is a tacit agreement “to uninvolve” and “to be uninvolved.”
◆ Many of these statements tend to stereotype or put down musicians, managers, and board members, or to imply the narrowness of their roles, and by indirection, the limited capabilities and interests of the persons filling those roles. These attitudes should remind us of how deeply the management concepts of Frederick Taylor are imbedded in our orchestral institutions. It is as if orchestra organizations should function like assembly lines, circa 1920.
◆ Finally, note how many of the statements frame organizational “involvement.” It is implicit in most of the statements that governance and management are very involved with each other and jointly committed to the best interests of the institution in a very unified way (which view I believe is not sufficiently often the case in itself); this aggregate grouping has the right, duty, and choice to invite or not invite the orchestra’s involvement in the overall direction and affairs of the institution; and the orchestra has the right and privilege to accept or be passive about becoming so involved.
Pursuing Higher Involvement Organizations
Most readers of this essay are participants in symphony orchestra organizations, and many readers will therefore have heard, if not expressed, some of the points of view reported here. With the large degree of entrenched and vocal opinion on the topic, it is quite
natural that many readers would ask whether it is worth all the energy and possible frustration to pursue a much more highly involved organizational environment, particularly incorporating substantially greater musician participation.
To this question, my immediate answer is: What is our alternative? Do we, who feel deeply and keenly about our orchestral organizations, want the climate to continue to be less than optimal forever? Do we want these kinds of embedded attitudes to persist and not be flushed out and confronted? Or, do we want to work toward a more cohesive, effective, and enthusiastic workplace for all employees and working volunteers, and together better address the many external challenges and opportunities our organizations face in the 21st century?
Also, I would answer that almost every organizational behavioral scholar tells us that research indicates that increased involvement and participation
◆ is desired by most people in any organization,
◆ often results in energized performance,
◆ produces better solutions to problems,
◆ helps people understand and agree on needed change,
◆ enhances the acceptance of decisions,
◆ increases participants’ commitment to their organization, and
◆ strengthens peoples’ attitudes about themselves and the world in which they live.
With these general results in mind, aren’t the opportunities of greater involvement worth pursuing in some depth, and with concerted energy?
Organizational research also indicates that employees working together in small groups quite often have very good insights and ideas as to how their tasks can be performed better, with more qualitative and quantitative output. And when employees are empowered to make decisions affecting their work processes, both productivity and work satisfaction often increase. Orchestra organizations have many opportunities for this kind of team task involvement and empowerment.
Let’s also examine a reality of the orchestral workplace. Most musicians are thrilled to be part of an ensemble creating great symphonic music. This is the life work they have chosen, and it is well documented that symphony musicians have very high levels of internal motivation. However, the other side of the coin is that the primary, fundamental work processes of an orchestra—rehearsals and concerts— involve relatively high levels of stress which take many forms. But a primary stressor is the distress which results from an extremely low level of control over one’s work. Between the composer’s script and the conductor’s instructions, there are, for many orchestral musicians, few opportunities for personal input and choice. There is a good deal of necessary regimentation,
repetition, and routine. Compound this basic setting, too often, with the imposition of a conductor who does not have the respect of players, many of whom are long-term employees. Then, further compound these fundamental aspects of orchestral work with an overall organizational environment in which even those musicians who do have the interest, motivation, time, talent, and intelligence are not invited, encouraged, or permitted to contribute and become more broadly active and involved in their organization’s direction and development. With these circumstances generic to an industry, one would expect to find a number of organizations which were not functioning close to their potential, and some organizations which were relatively dysfunctional.
Long-term, Strategic Involvement
Over the last 25 years, one of the strongest trends in North American industry has been to provide ways for employees to have a stake in the financial success of their company, and to provide impetus in this direction through various means. Unfortunately, we can’t market the shares of a symphony organization and provide stock options and performance and productivity bonuses to all employees. But we can create the basic feeling of “ownership” by all participants in an orchestra organization, if we choose to. After all, the financial health and growth of a symphony organization is of keen interest to all employees; how are employees’ material benefits going to grow unless the organization’s finances expand and productivity increases? And as to alternative occupational choices, orchestra musicians have much less occupational mobility than most staff employees; they have a long-term interest in the institution’s financial viability and growth. But more strategically and humanistically, musicians must be invited into and be expected to take a greater stake in the organization’s central and substantive activities and direction since they are the core of the enterprise; their personal services, energy, and motivation are vital to the community’s cultural development as well as the organization’s success.
“Involvement” tends to mean different things to different people, and thus it is for musician involvement. To many participants—managers, board members, musicians, and music directors—musician involvement means some player participation in working groups: boards of directors, board and special task committees, and musician advisory committees. To others, it means volunteer work in educational programs, in fundraising, or in other nonperformance organizational tasks performed independently or with other musicians, with or without staff guidance, and with or without volunteers. The type and character of many of these forms of involvement were described in the October 1997issueofHarmony.2 Alltheseactivities,andmany more, are important, regular, diverse, and, hopefully, expanding forms of musician involvement. However, in my opinion, a much higher level of player involve- ment, which we might denote “strategic process involvement,” is the most fundamental and vital form which we should seek to establish and maintain in our symphony organizations.
Strategic process involvement, or “SPI” for short, entails a significant, representative proportion of all the participants in an organization to become engaged, in an inclusive and collaborative process, in defining the organization’s vision. SPI also means that these participants explore and develop a set of shared, very basic beliefs and principles to guide the decision making within the organization, and these principles and their application are regularly monitored in a dynamic, collaborative process. Under SPI conditions, most organizational participants understand and embrace the organization’s shared, common vision, can enunciate it in their own words, and are dedicated to moving toward it collectively. With SPI, a feeling of trust and mutual commitment grows and is maintained at a high level. Each participant contributes to group tasks in his or her own chosen way, with the choices suited to personal circumstances and organizational needs. Individuals’ task contributions may change from time to time, but the underlying sense of community and collective effort remains broad and strong. When there is SPI, each member of the organization views other members with dignity, respect, and equality. Information is widely shared, communications are open and efficient, and everyone’s participation is welcomed and expected.
Unfortunately, many participants in symphony organizations cannot imagine the existence of such a revolutionary and engaged organizational setting. Some would say that they can envision themselves fitting into such a setting, but cannot envision colleagues changing their thinking and habits sufficiently to be able to do so. The symphony orchestra field has few, if any, examples to go by. And some scholars and practitioners believe that it takes a major crisis for sufficient participants to become so deeply concerned about their organization’s very existence and their own futures to pursue deep transformational change and seek high levels of involvement and mutual commitment, never mind then maintaining such conditions on a sustained basis.
So does this mean that broad-scale, deeply committed involvement and organization change are just fantasies? Or, that the only way to bring about change is to foment a crisis and run the risk of organizational disarray? Both of these points of view might have some merit, but neither seems very sensible. Symphony organizations are human systems, and human beings have the capacity to change. Many of our institutions, although not in crisis, are regularly exposed to it, and perhaps the anxiety this creates will nudge people of good will toward the dialogue which can lead to significant organizational change. It is beginning to happen here and there, and certainly the pattern can be broadened to include many more organizations.
The Institute believes that increased levels of involvement of all participants at the strategic level can be pursued on a concerted basis, and can result in more trustful and better functioning organizations. A wide range of purposeful and intensive task groups can also result in a true sense of high involvement. And usually, to be successful, the whole direction of involvement and change must be supported by central professional management. In some cases, particularly when the organization is in transition with respect to its professional management, a new transformational program can be ignited by a collaboration of board and orchestra leadership.
Involvement and Leadership
It is clear that there is a significant relationship between “involvement” and “leadership.” Genuine and extensive involvement in its many forms at many levels often leads to a broader distribution of power and decision making throughout an organization. In traditional, hierarchical settings, management often views these possible outcomes as a “threat to its authority or an evasion of its responsibility.” Scholars have researched this topic and it is clear that, despite the recognized positive impact on organizational effectiveness and climate of greater participant involvement, managers generally resist fostering or initiating it. This resistance is quite natural and understandable, if viewed through the lens of traditional thinking and teaching about the role and function of management. But if professional managers would look through the lens of more modern organizational theory and research, and view their roles as stewards and catalysts of positive and effective human interaction within organizational systems, they can become “leaders” as opposed to “commanders” or “administrators.” They can begin to see what their jobs are really all about. They can provide a strong, central force to positive change, leading to greater organizational effectiveness.
Within many symphony organizations, trans- formational change may also require a change in the mindset of other key persons within the organization— in the board and in the orchestra. But a great step forward can be taken, and an example set, if the central executive becomes dedicated to principles and processes of open, involved, and informed engagement by all participants, and particularly orchestra members.
For all of us who are vitally interested in the growth and prosperity—and in some cases the absolute preservation—of the orchestral institution, greater participant involvement, all around, should be a high priority for many organizations. The Symphony Orchestra Institute is dedicated to helping organizations understand and pursue these potentials. Bringing about much higher levels of sustained, committed involvement by all participants in a wide range of symphony organizations, is certainly not a simple process. But who promised that life would be simple and easy in the complex and wonderful human system known as the symphony orchestra organization?
[This essay is drawn and adapted from a speech which the author presented at the Orchestras Canada annual conference in Edmonton in May 1998.]
Paul R. Judy, founder and chairman of the Symphony Orchestra Institute, is a retired investment banking executive. He is a life trustee and former president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Judy holds A.B. and M.B.A. degrees from Harvard University.
1 Judy, Paul R. 1995. The Uniqueness and Commonality of American Symphony Orchestra Organizations. Harmony 1 (October): 11-35.
2 .1997. Musician Involvement in Symphony Orchestra Organizations. Harmony 5 (October): 1-19.
Kansas City Symphony: The Path to “Evergreen”
T he dog days of the summer of 1982 were anything but serene for the Kansas City Philharmonic. In a story not unfamiliar to observers of the American orchestral scene, the Philharmonic, approaching its 50th anniversary, was dissolved in mid-September following several years of mounting deficits, unhealthy labor relations, and waning support from the public.
But with true heartland grit, Kansas City civic leaders devised a way for the city to continue to enjoy live symphonic music. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City agreed to operate a new orchestra for one year, a season was quickly cobbled together, and thus was born the new Kansas City Symphony.
The 1982-1983 season was a success, and by the end of the year, with strong financial commitments from many civic leaders and corporations, the Kansas City Symphony was standing on its own feet. Three overarching principles guided the orchestra’s rebirth:
◆ a $10 million endowment would be established,
◆ the orchestra would have no deficits,
◆ and the musicians’ union would not be involved in contract discussions.
Over the course of the next several years, the new Kansas City Symphony maintained an enviably stable financial condition. The orchestra also grew artistically under the music direction of William McGlaughlin. However, beneath the surface, there bubbled a level of musician discontent over the “no union” proviso.
Winds of Change
In all organizations, change is inevitable, and 1995 was a watershed year for the Kansas City Symphony. Shirley Helzberg became president of the orchestra’s board of trustees. Roland Valliere was engaged as executive director. A year later, the organization initiated a long-range strategic planning process. And this year, the Kansas City Symphony made headlines twice. Anne Manson was named music director, and the musicians ratified a long-term “evergreen” contract that included union recognition.
As readers are aware, the Institute applauds efforts which lead to greater organizational effectiveness. So upon learning of the successful negotiations and the breakthrough agreement, we dispatched Harmony editor Marilyn Scholl to Kansas City to hold a roundtable discussion with key members of the organization, asking them to tell their own story of the process that uncovered the path to “evergreen.” What follows is an edited transcript of that roundtable.
Institute: Please introduce yourselves and describe your roles with the Kansas City Symphony.
Tim Jepson: I’m a timpanist with the Kansas City Symphony and a member of the musicians’ committee. I have been with the orchestra for 15 years.
Mary Crist: I am the general manager of the orchestra. My background is as a performer—I played french horn—although I’ve been in management for 10 years. I participated in the strategic-planning process and the negotiations.
Jacqueline Michell: I’m a cellist, and have been here since 1971, as a Philharmonic musician and all through the existence of the Kansas City Symphony. I’ve been a musicians’ committee member for about eight years, and served in the strategic- planning process, in the subgroups, and on the task force. I retired at the end of this past season.
Brian Rood: I’m a trumpeter with the Kansas City Symphony, and have been here three years. I served with Jacky on the human resources subgroup of the strategic-planning process. I was on the musicians’ committee last year and served as spokesperson.
Roland Valliere: I’ve been executive director of the orchestra since July 1995. I came here from the Omaha Symphony and have been in orchestra management for the past 14 years. Before that I was a musician, a percussionist, in the Boston area.
Shannon Finney: I am associate principal flute with the symphony. I just completed my fourth season, and I did not participate in the strategic-planning process. But this past season, I was on the musicians’ committee, the music director search committee, and the artistic advisory committee.
Shirley Helzberg: I’m president of the board of trustees of the Kansas City Symphony. I’ve enjoyed the symphony since I was a child, and after my own children were grown, I became active with fundraising and membership. I have been president of the board since May 1995, and very much enjoy the challenge of working with the board, the staff, and the musicians.
Robert Kipp: Professionally, I spent about 30 years in city management and have spent the last 15 years with Hallmark in private business management. I currently serve as a group vice president for corporate communication services of Hallmark Cards. I became involved with the symphony fairly recently and am now vice president of the board.
James Baker: I’m a partner with the law firm of Spencer Fane Britt Browne. I’ve practiced labor employment law for about 30 years. I was involved in the negotiation of labor contracts for the old Kansas City Philharmonic, and I was involved last year in the negotiation of a labor agreement for the Kansas City Symphony.
Gordon Kingsley: I’m a member of the board of trustees of the symphony, and chaired the human resources subgroup of the strategic-planning group. I also chaired the task force that accomplished union recognition in a way that preserved the best for all parties. Professionally, I work now with a health care organization in fundraising, but probably my relevant experience was my service as president of a college for many years, because the work situations of orchestras and colleges are somewhat similar. Each has highly skilled, highly talented, underpaid professionals.
Institute: It appears that there were three distinct phases that led to the “evergreen” contract: an initiative that culminated in a strategic plan, followed by a task force that considered the ins and outs of union recognition and how you might all reach an agreement, followed by formal negotiations. So let’s begin with the strategic-planning process. Were there specific events that caused you to undertake development of a strategic plan?
Helzberg: We were a new board with a lot of thoughts and ideas. A search was under way for a new executive director, and the executive committee of the board felt that it was time to look at things in a different way. Many of us, through other organizations, had gone through strategic planning, and it seemed to be the vehicle that would pull us all together.
Kipp: As we launched into the search for an executive director, it became clear to us that we really needed to be able to articulate to prospective candidates our long-term strategy. But we were unable do that because we hadn’t gone through the process. So we had to make a choice as to whether we would postpone the search for an executive director or continue the search but, simultaneously, initiate a strategic-planning process. We chose the latter alternative, and as we narrowed down the search, we were able to indicate to Roland, and to others we were considering, that we were undertaking a process that would be ongoing.
Institute: And, Roland, you were open to that concept?
Valliere: It was clear to me that the board wasn’t talking about incremental growth, but about making substantial progress in building toward the future. But we need to back up for a moment because there was a step before the strategic plan—an internal organizational assessment—which led seamlessly to the strategic-planning process. Your readers must understand that the symphony had been very successful in many ways over the first 15 years, but that the needs of the organization were going to be very different from what they had been in the past. The focus was much more external, in building the institution and broadening its mission to the community. So the internal assessment was really the foundation of the planning process.
Kipp: There’s one other thing that I think is important. When Shirley became president, she brought with her a participatory philosophy which was quite different from what the board had had previously. In fact, I had been a member of the board for six months before I even learned that I was on the board! The board rarely met. Shirley clearly articulated a philosophy of having regular board meetings, of having a very participatory board, and of involving everyone— including the musicians—in the process of governing the symphony.
Kingsley: We also selected an executive director who had those same values of shared governance and participatory leadership.
Jepson: Let me interject something here. Soon after Roland came, I remember having a meeting with him and discussing the ideas of shared governance and participation, and I went home thinking . . . this is different. I joined the Kansas City Symphony in the fall of 1983, and this was a new style of thinking. It created a sense of excitement for a long-time player, but I found myself wondering how this was going to play out.
Institute: So you were somewhat skeptical?
Jepson: Not skeptical . . . yeah, skeptical. Not cynical, but I was very skeptical. I was hoping that this was not lip service, because if it was, we musicians were about to have a very demoralizing experience. And, indeed, it proved not to be lip service at all.
Valliere: Another thing that was interesting was that undertaking a strategic-planning process was not the result of a financial crisis. I think in some ways it is more difficult to achieve quantum change without a crisis, because you can be comfortable with where you are. Change always entails risk and fear.
Institute: Can you describe briefly how the process that led to the strategic plan was organized?
Valliere: The Wolf Organization from Cambridge, Massachusetts, facilitated our process. They had worked on the internal assessment, and that flowed into the strategic-planning process. Tom Wolf was the strategic planner, Bill Keens was the facilitator, and Don Roth, who is now in Saint Louis, was the manager. I have known Don for some time.
Kingsley: Victor Poirier, who is assistant to the chairman of Kansas City Power & Light, and a member of the Kansas City Symphony board, chaired the overall strategic planning committee which had 18 members. Additionally, there were five working groups. Bob Kipp chaired the group on artistic excellence. Vic chaired the group on community outreach. Joan Horan, vice president of human resources for DST Systems and a member of the symphony board, chaired the working group on education and music appreciation. The human resources group, which I chaired, was the one that dealt with a lot of the interpersonal and musician issues, such as union recognition, and the fifth working group was finance, chaired by Bill Taylor, a partner at Ernst & Young and also a symphony board member.
Michell: I would like to add something about the composition of the working groups. There were about 10 people in each working group, including board members and community members. There were two musicians in each working group, and that was probably the largest number of musicians who had ever been involved in anything jointly with the board and the management.
Institute: Let’s focus on the working group on human resources. Describe for our readers how you went about your task, and how you felt about what you were undertaking.
Rood: I remember that in an early meeting, Gordon had asked for a five-minute recitation from Jacky and me about the concerns of the musicians as an orchestra. We went a little longer than five minutes! We prepared a several-page document, and it took that meeting and well into the next one to cover our thoughts. Eventually, Gordon was able to corral us back in and develop good group recommendations. It was important, at this time, to have the interaction among board members, staff, and musicians, and to be able to discuss union recognition.
Institute: Gordon, did some of what the musicians were raising surprise you?
Kingsley: No, not really. The intensity of the feeling about union recognition was surprising, but not the issues that were laid out. The musicians in the human resources working group were very firm, pretty much in agreement. But the beauty was that the board people in that group and the staff people in that group did not hold back. They were listening; they were believing; they were accepting; they were honoring. That was my reading of it. I hope you felt that way.
Michell: I felt that way. As opposed to the formality of a board presentation, this was an informal, conversational atmosphere, and it was the most open discussion that I’d ever participated in, up to that point.
Kingsley: It was like this. Just back and forth.
Michell: Just like this.
Kingsley: And the issues very quickly became, what could we do to improve the quality of musicians’ lives? What could we do to make it possible for them to concentrate on music? Because of our history, it was difficult for several of our board members to deal with the union issue, because that had killed the Philharmonic. Some board people felt, and still feel, that once the union is involved, you lose this dialogue because you introduce a third party who has other primary issues. So that was the sticking point. But let me distinguish between the sticking point and the main point. The main point was the well- being of our orchestra and the people who create our orchestra. On that we were agreed. We were agreed on outcome. We were agreed on goal. We were agreed on where we wanted to go. Where we had difficulty was on how we got there—and from a musician’s point of view, when we got there. I think the board was probably willing to take a more leisurely approach than the musicians were!
Helzberg: But there was another issue, too. From the board leadership, and I have to say from my personal feelings, there was a desire to do what the musicians asked, if it was in their best interest. But I had been to a national meeting where I had seen musicians and board members together in front of a forum, and one board member went into tears. I saw all the negative things that were still happening with union intervention, and it was not very pleasant. It was really upsetting to me. When you see that kind of interaction, you have to wonder: Is that really best for our musicians? And that weighed on our shoulders, because this board considers the well-being of 100 musicians and staff a big responsibility. I think, initially, we had a desire to do something unique and much better here.
Institute: Mary, you’ve been rather quiet. What were you thinking at this point?
Crist: I fully understood the musicians’ point of view, having been a union spokesperson at one time in my life. I also understood the concerns of the board, because when I was union spokesperson, there were many times I was frustrated and angry at the union. I think the driving force for the musicians had to do with a sense of identity. My sense is that in the world of orchestra musicians there is a need to be like others, to have similar experiences. And what was happening here was not “we’re unique, we’re different, we’re special”; it was “we’re unique, we’re different, we’re inferior.” I saw union recognition as core to the self-esteem of the orchestra.
Valliere: I think the thing that proved vital was the focus on goals, and that’s where I think the strategic planning process was really critical. When there was discussion about the really hot issue of unionization, we could discuss it in the context of musical excellence. Or discuss it in the context of valuing human resources. Or discuss it in the context of community educational connections. We tried to keep the focus on goals as opposed to emotions. And we need to acknowledge the fact that Gordon was an extraordinary facilitator, because the ability to keep a group focused on goals in an emotionally laden area requires very special skill.
Institute: How much of the strategic-planning process was communicated back to the orchestra at large? Did everybody know that something was happening?
Jepson: Talk at the coffee machine. A lot of it. In fact, that’s where my skepticism started to decrease. I had the realization that everyone was serious about this.
Valliere: There was a really important moment when the musicians got the draft of the strategic plan, and reacted very strongly. That was an indicator to me that there was a lot more distance to go. Brian, why don’t you describe it?
Rood: I think the overriding advantage of the Wolf strategic-planning process was twofold. First, it forced us to develop the plan that did develop. Second, and most important, was the interaction, the one-on-one communication and ability to interact, with people from different constituencies of the institution. When this first draft came back, it did not appear to reflect the work that had been done in those groups. And it did not contain what we thought had come out of the human resources working group, which was to have a task force assembled at some time in the near future for ongoing discussions on the union recognition issue. So Jacky and I talked about it. We met with the other musicians and said we prefer to have our signatures taken off of this. Then everybody took a look at it, including the working group chairs and Roland. They agreed that some of the human resources group’s work was not reflected, and a great deal of rewriting was done to make sure the document represented the actual work involved. That was the turning point.
Kingsley: In all fairness to the Wolf Organization, they were hearing that union recognition was a volatile and inflammatory issue, and feared that addressing it in a printed document with wide circulation could cut major donor support dramatically. It was an emotional issue from the past, and from the experience of some major donors. The thought was, if this idea is flaunted—if it’s right here in your face—then these are folks accustomed to making strong, quick decisions. It’s their money, and they might say, fine, if that’s what you want, we will invest our philanthropic money elsewhere. And that was a great fear. Guess it still is a little. So, I think that’s why it was pretty bland in the first draft. It was talked around. It was alluded to. It was implicit. We all knew it was there, but the language was bland, and Brian and Jacky were pretty intransigent about that.
Institute: Bob, did some of the other working groups deal with tough issues, too?
Kipp: Not to the same extent. I think this was really the central difficult issue. There certainly were a lot of other issues in the strategic plan: financial issues, issues about how we move from our current artistic level to one of excellence, but not divisive issues in the same context as this.
Kingsley: You’ve got to draw the distinction between important issues and urgent issues. And artistic excellence is an important issue, but this one was very urgent, just because of the emotional charge that it carried.
Michell: If we were intransigent, it was because we were representing the views of all the musicians on these issues, and we had to represent their feelings. But in another way, it represented to me a sign that it wasn’t lip service on the part of management and the board. The communication development was real. It gave true meaning to the whole process that was going on—that we could truly say what we felt and be taken seriously.
Kingsley: The strategic plan ultimately was published, and it talked about involving musicians more in the governance of the orchestra, working toward competitive salaries for musicians, working toward a pension plan for musicians. And—we waffled on it—it addressed the concern of musicians for their standing in their professional guild, among their peers. In the musicians’ minds, this translated to union recognition. The board and staff still had hopes of trying to achieve some way of facilitating our musicians’ feeling fully participatory in their professional lives without union recognition.
Valliere: We discovered later that was like trying to have a baby without getting pregnant.
Helzberg: The process of arriving at a strategic plan gave us an opportunity to visit with former board members, our current funders, who were so opposed to union recognition. It gave us an opportunity to bring them information and involve them. We spent many hours doing this, and were received in open, but guarded, ways. There is now a healthy feeling about what has happened in the community. It was handled in the right way.
Kipp: There were a number of things that occurred in the dynamics during that period of time, but one centrally important thing was that we were learning how to accommodate disagreement and to accept the fact that there were differing points of view. We were figuring out how to get along with the process, even in the face of some fairly deep disagreement, and not allowing it to become personal or to institutionalize it, or to draw the line in the sand. That was the learning process that was going on.
Rood: For all of us. We learned from the process, too.
Helzberg: I want to add one thing. I think not only was it a learning process for all of us, but it was also a healing process for many who had been involved much longer than most of us. This coming together and sharing helped heal what had happened before, and restore the trust that had been lost.
Michell: I can only agree with that. Jepson: For years it was don’t ask, don’t tell. Now we were able to openly discuss the budget and disagree, and yet no one left the meeting in tears, and no one pounded the table—not even the negotiating table. Institute: And the strategic plan was complete in the spring of 1997?
Kingsley: Yes. The strategic plan’s done, and now the musicians are waiting for heaven to come on earth, but not long are they waiting.
Finney: Exactly. Things were not completely healed when the strategic plan was complete. That was part of the process, but there was more relationship building and trust that needed to be developed.
Helzberg: I think that your readers need to understand that there were a lot of other things on the table for the Kansas City Symphony. Even as we were going through our planning process, William McGlaughlin resigned, and we had a search under way for a new music director. The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation was undertaking a study to determine the feasibility of building a new facility for the symphony. We needed to replace several musicians who were retiring. Somebody had to keep the shop running.
Valliere: But to be perfectly clear, in hindsight, union recognition was an issue of utmost urgency to the musicians. This was very clear in Gordon’s working group, but, at least from my perspective, we weren’t terribly excited about confronting it.
Kingsley: That is a most remarkable statement for an executive director to make. To sit here in a meeting like this and say that. That statement probably encapsulates a lot of our strength in this whole process.
Valliere: I pretty much understood, so I thought, that going down that path would be walking off the edge of the earth, and, therefore, the challenge was to facilitate a way to get at the issue but not get at the issue. And so we thought, we can defer this. At the same time, the musicians were thinking that union recognition was not going to be deferred; it was going to be dealt with now.
Rood: Last year was the final year of our contract, and therefore a negotiation year.1 We realized that if union recognition was to happen, it needed to be tackled at that time. Otherwise, we were going to set ourselves up for another three- or four-year agreement, and the musicians did not wish that. This was not a decision made in a cavalier fashion! This was a decision based first on a survey of musicians and on countless meetings among ourselves.
Kingsley: Which, however, none of us knew about.
Rood: I think we need to explain a bit about our musicians’ committee and the events that led up to a very tense meeting on November 12th. Musicians’ committee members serve staggered terms of two years, so there will be two or three new people joining the committee each year. That same committee is the negotiating committee. In many orchestras, there is a separate committee for negotiations, but in this orchestra, it’s the same. When the musicians’ committee met in August and talked about what we wanted to work on through the year, negotiations and union recognition were at the top of the list. We had completed the strategic-planning process and looked forward to the assembly of the recommended task force to discuss union recognition. As the new musicians’ committee, we started a very open dialogue with staff. At a couple of those meetings, we asked when this task force would be assembled, and one date that was floated was September 1. Well, September 1 came and went. So the musicians’ committee moved ahead. There were many factors that led to the decision to push for union recognition at this particular time, and many factors that led to choosing an attorney. As we talked with people in other orchestras throughout the country, it became very evident that there was one lawyer who was very good at working with both sides of the traditional negotiation tables— staff and musicians—and that one lawyer was Susan Martin from Phoenix. She came to Kansas City and met with the musicians’ committee, and with representatives from the union local. We decided to engage her.
Finney: Mary explained only part of why we felt strongly about the union. There is an intangible aspect of belonging to the same professional organization as the rest of your peers and colleagues throughout the country. However, we also felt strongly that joining the union was a critical factor on the path to artistic excellence, a path which staff had been saying they were eager for the institution to pursue. This, and the fact that we had a new music director coming in, and potentially a new hall, made the time right to pursue artistic excellence through the union avenue. We also had five people on the musicians’ committee who worked well together. That was critical.
Institute: Brian mentioned a very tense meeting on November 12th. That date seems to strike a chord with all of you. What transpired?
Kingsley: Your readers need to understand that before November 12th we on the board felt at ease in Zion. We were happy that our well-intentioned thoughts were out there in the air, and that the musicians believed them firmly.
Kipp: I think it is clear now—it wasn’t then—that there were vastly different expectations of the task force the strategic-planning report called for. From the musicians’ point of view, it was about needing recognition, sooner rather than later. From the board participants’ point of view, it was about getting behind the question of union recognition to figure out what that meant, and whether or not it was possible to achieve those things in some different manner. And there was quite a bit of discussion during that time about why union recognition was important. There had been conversation about the ability to advertise openings in the union newsletter, about pension arrangements. So the expectation, at least from my point of view, and I think from other board members’ points of view, was that we were going to create this task force to explore not only union recognition, but whether there were alternative ways to skin the cat, to accomplish all of these purposes absent union recognition, and have, in a sense, the best of both worlds. So you had these two very, very different expectations about what was meant by creating this task force. It was as though we were coming into the room through two different doors.
Kingsley: I used the word intransigent earlier about musicians and their expectations. There was some of that from the board, too. At the beginning, it was nearly, “hell no, we won’t go.” So Bob is right in saying that there were polar positions. But, to get to the point, on November 12, 2019, the musicians’ attorney, Susan Martin, was in town. She had met with the musicians. They had signed union cards, and they asked for a meeting with the board and staff. I was declared the “expendable” board member, and sashayed in with Roland. Susan explained that the musicians wanted union recognition, that they were going to get it, that we needed to get it done by December 1, and that we should be happy about that. My instinctive response was not to say that I was happy.
Kingsley: We had worked diligently and together at coming to a meeting of the minds during the strategic planning process. We were all in it together, and now, we were confronted with “enough is not enough.” So I walked out of that meeting surly, hostile, and disappointed, thinking that an awful lot of work had come to naught. To his credit, Roland said, “Let’s not look at this as a disaster. Let’s look at this as an opportunity.”
Rood: It’s not something we did lightly.
Michell: I would like to emphasize that, at all times, Susan Martin acted in accord with the musicians’ goals as represented by the musicians’ committee.
Rood: We spent many sleepless nights and many countless hours discussing this among the musicians’ committee, and with other members of the orchestra. We knew that it was a process that might not work, but we really thought that if it was going to work, 1997 was the year.
Kingsley: And that takes us back to Bob’s observation that we came into the room from two different doors. We also heard that Susan was a good lawyer who worked for accommodation, not confrontation. But that evening, I felt she was very confrontational—probably by design. She was probably trying to get the message through.
Institute: The fact that we are sitting here having this conversation indicates that November 12th was not, in fact, a dead end. What happened next?
Helzberg: Well, first of all, we knew that December 1 was not realistic. Board members have other commitments—including full-time jobs. But once we got beyond that and figured out a realistic time frame, the process became more positive. We came together, we talked, we shared. Our purpose was the same, we just had different ways of trying to achieve our goals. The board had thought about all of the things the musicians were asking. But the one thing that no one had addressed was the importance of union recognition itself. Gordon was the one who stated, that in the musicians’ minds, the union was like a guild and important in their peer relationships. And I think it is also important to say that the board was well aware of its fiscal responsibility for the organization, and that we were at risk of losing major donors. If that had happened, we could have lost this orchestra.
Kipp: It’s hard for me to reconstruct all my own opinions back at that time, but part of them are clear. We had this very peculiar dance going on, and there was an enormous amount of mythology on both sides. There was the myth of being a nonunion orchestra, when in fact all of our actions for a long period of time had been exactly as if we were a union orchestra. We were checking off dues, and we were doing all the things that you do when you recognize the union. And yet that myth was important from the funding point of view.
And on the musician side, in my view, there was also this myth that the only way you can achieve professional status is if you’re part of a recognized union, which is a long way from the facts. So I felt that we were confronted with ideas that were not rooted in reality. The only way to get at that was to form the task force that the strategic plan had suggested. The disappointment was when Shirley launched that, the musicians said no. That was right at the same time that the musicians—which we didn’t know then—had engaged in some discussion of how to accelerate the union recognition. So my feelings were that the task force was an essential element to get beyond all the mythology, and get to some common ground that was based upon fact rather than all of the beliefs we came with.
Valliere: For me, there was a key moment right after the November 12th meeting. I came to the realization that there was no other way. In order for this orchestra to accomplish its goals, there had to be union recognition. I didn’t agree. I felt that there were other ways, that union recognition would be just the same old way, and that the consequence of that could be quite negative. But what became clear was that the musicians had carefully thought this through, and had weighed the potential consequences from a funding perspective. So the challenge then became: How?
The other part of the November 12th meeting was the December 1 deadline. Obviously, such a dynamic issue was not going to be settled in two or three weeks. It was like putting a gun to our heads, and that’s not a collaborative approach. Gordon, Brian, and I then talked with a number of potential facilitators. And I think largely because of the time dilemma, we decided to not use an outside facilitator. We used Henry Fogel [president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra] as a sounding board because we were all comfortable with him. Once we decided to make a go of it ourselves and activate the strategic plan’s task force concept, we had a full-day meeting on December 8th. This was a full day without facilitation, without lawyers. The task force included the five musicians’ committee members, Shirley, Bob, Bill Taylor, who had chaired the working group on finance, George Powell, who had been a member of the working group on human resources, and me. Brian and Gordon were co-chairs. That was it. And it was a very effective day.
Kingsley: I was really impressed with the musicians on the task force. They were firm, flexible, human, and humane. They made it clear all the way through that they wanted the best interests of this orchestra, that they were not seeking selfish gain at the expense of artistic or organizational excellence. On the other side were people who were saying unionization is either a disaster or a barely mitigated disaster. It introduces external people whose job is not artistic excellence or organizational excellence, but union well-being. It introduces a totally alien element into the discussions of coming together toward shared goals and shared governance and shared purposes. And therefore, it is inimical to the well-being of our future. That was strongly felt by people who had dealt with unions, not by people who were spinning this out of their heads, but by people who had a lot of experience dealing with unions. But, to their credit, they stayed, and listened, and said: How can we make it work?
Another very important factor was that we knew all along there was no way we could not recognize the union. The game was over before it started. We knew how the game ended before we came in. The union was going to be recognized, voluntarily or involuntarily. So the only question was: How do you make it work? And that’s what finally led us to moving forward. I think it was Bob who asked, OK, what are the issues in the minds of our donors that create fears? Deficits and strikes. Those are the two big issues. And the difficulty of communication. So we asked ourselves, is there a way that we can construct an agreement that will say there aren’t strikes, that will say there aren’t deficits, and that will help us with the issue of communication? Bob first came up with the idea of long-term, evergreen contracts, and our musicians listened to that and said: We’ll look at that. And then they said, you know, if there are no strikes, there probably shouldn’t be lockouts. It was the good will of the people involved, the constant focus on the larger goal, the well-being of this symphony, that was critical. It was the openness of the people around the table, even when their opinions were very strong. Their minds were very fixed, but their hearts were very open.
Jepson: Believe it or not, the turning point of the day was, of all things, lunch.
Finney: I agree.
Jepson: At lunch, it was as though the forces had retreated. We all went to lunch together, and simply sitting around and telling musician stories, and having the other task force members learn about us as individuals, changed the dynamic when it came time to go back and start dealing with nitty-gritty issues again.
Kingsley: It was important to hear Brian talk about being a trumpeter. To learn what kind of personality becomes a trumpeter as opposed to a string player. And I want to add that there was another dynamic element to that day. You could speak freely. You weren’t being nailed to the wall. You could leave a position after you’d taken it strongly. You weren’t looked down on if you left a position after you took it strongly. You were looked on as a creative member of the process. I can’t praise everyone enough, because there was firmness, but flexibility, on everyone’s part.
Helzberg: It was a revelation to me to hear some of the terrible things that had happened in the past. Those conversations gave me a much greater understanding of some of the issues.
Kingsley: Shirley’s compassion is quite important to this story. Shirley’s also pretty tough, and the compassion—I don’t know quite how to say this because it sounds soft and mystical—but there truly was an aura around the table. There truly was a sense—and Shirley led it—of humanity.
Valliere: There was amazing leadership from the board. It would have been so easy just to say, “I don’t have time for this.” Or, “This is a path I’m not going to take.”
Kingsley: Bob sat at that table for hours. He’s got a job. Bob, who has major responsibilities for a major American corporation, sat there all day working on how we could agree.
Valliere: We came out of that day with a compass pointing in a certain direction. We had a better understanding of union recognition, of how we might combine language about lockouts and strikes. And then there was a half-day follow-up meeting in early January. There had been a draft report from the task force, penned largely by Gordon, and then refined, and at the January meeting, we reacted and responded to that report. And after the January meeting is when the negotiations began. There were three key recommendations from the task force. There was a recommendation for a nine-year agreement, with provision for no strikes and no lockouts. There was a recommendation that it be an evergreen contract, with an initial term of three years, and then rolling over, being cyclical in nature. And the third recommendation was that it would be a living contract, in terms of being able to approach issues, outside of those three key economic issues, as an ongoing process.
Institute: Jim, the task force functioned without having attorneys present. At what point did you get drawn in?
Baker: I started conversations with Roland in October. I recall a conversation in November when the tone of his voice was a bit more strained. He advised me the union had brought in an attorney. My first involvement with any major issue that I had came after the board had decided that it would voluntarily recognize the union. There’s no legal requirement to volunteer to recognize the union, but for the reasons you all set forth today, I think the board concluded that pursuing an election was something that would be counterproductive. So the issue was when do we voluntarily recognize the union? The musicians, as expressed through Susan to me, felt very strongly that they wanted to be recognized and then we would sit down and bargain. That is the normal sequence of events. But the board, on the other hand, felt very strongly that if we did that, it would become public. “Kansas City Symphony now unionized. Parties to sit down to bargain.” That would have had a very negative impact on donors. So our position was, let’s sit down and negotiate the terms of an agreement, and if we can come to some satisfactory resolution, then we will recognize the union and the agreement will become effective.
Valliere: There were some other key points along the way. One was after the November 12th meeting when Jim and I began having some serious discussions because I wanted to understand more clearly the legal aspects. Shirley and I had a number of meetings with some of our key founding trustees and others, and then there was a meeting of the board on November 26th. And that’s when the board was informed that we had been confronted with the issue of union recognition. There was not agreement at the November board meeting that there would be voluntary recognition of the union, but that thought was put forth as the way we might be going.
Helzberg: And the executive committee was also working very closely with us, and then coming back to the board. So everyone on the board was really kept very informed as we progressed, and was very much part of the process.
Valliere: Looking back, we realize that the timetable was very compressed. There was a flurry of meetings in November; the task force completed its work in January; we negotiated an agreement; and the board recognized the union at its March meeting.
Rood: We wanted to do this as early as possible because we could perceive many potential hills to climb. And that’s why it happened earlier than our usual starting date of January. It happened in November because we thought it was imperative that the negotiating be finished by the end of the season. As it worked out, we were able to do that. We were able to get to an agreement a month before the end of the season. But it was important, from our perspective, that we start as early as possible.
Finney: Part of our goal in starting the whole process early was to be able to advertise openings in the union paper. We thought we could potentially have several openings in the spring. To advertise effectively, we needed to get an ad in the paper by March, at the latest. That was certainly part of the impetus for the expedited timeline.
Jepson: And as Jim stated, traditionally there was recognition of the union, and then the bargaining began. What happened here was a real leap of faith and trust, on both sides. We all began to believe that this was going to work.
Baker: Right, and I think the overall moral of this story is the gradual buildup of communication and trust between the parties, which by the time I became involved, was at a pretty good level. Absent that trust, and the work that you all had done before we sat down, we never would have succeeded. You would not have agreed to defer recognition until after an agreement was negotiated. It would have been as Susan expressed early on, “We can’t do that. If you’re not going to recognize us, we can’t wait until March or April. We want to go to the labor board and get an election because we want to have an agreement in place, and we can’t do this.” But for the level of communication that had occurred prior to that time, and the building of mutual trust, I think the negotiations would have foundered. I think you all would have gone to the labor board and filed a petition, there would have been a public election, and much of what you had built up might have been dissipated.
Institute: Jim, how does this negotiation compare with your prior experiences?
Baker: The mood had changed. The tenor of collective bargaining negotiations is established before you ever sit down. The tenor is a reflection of the ongoing relationship of the parties. The relationship of the parties back in the old Kansas City Philharmonic days was terrible. And the relationship that was emerging during the period of time we are talking about was very positive. It made our task as negotiators much, much easier.
Institute: How many hours were spent in negotiations?
Finney: I remember one week in which we spent 40 hours negotiating over the course of only five days. And this was in addition to rehearsals! It was exhausting and stressful. We’ve all been talking nicely today, but even before the actual negotiations, it was stressful. Even though you are building trust, and making little leaps of faith, the stress is there because the potential payoff for the organization is enormous. Of course, this means that the risk is also enormous, and it was made clear to us what the risks were. The risks to the musicians were immense, and that was a fact that we took very seriously. That weighed heavily on us.
Baker: This is not atypical in negotiations, but it happened in these negotiations very often. We confronted issues where what was proposed was totally unacceptable. When you find an issue you cannot resolve, you move to other issues that you can resolve. And by doing that you continue to build trust, and you create a track record. You create 75 percent of the collective bargaining agreement, and at that point, the other 25 percent looks a little bit less intractable. Nobody wants to get 75 percent of the way there and then say, we failed. There were several issues. We had to say, well, we’ll just address that later.
Finney: And they were important issues. It was hard for us to set them aside, but it ended up being smart.
Valliere: The job of the negotiations was to formulate an agreement which was true to the task force report. And that required a great deal of innovation because the task force recommendations were very unusual—evergreen contract, nine years, no strike, no lockout, living agreement. The task force recommendations gave some framework and focus to the negotiations.
Jepson: And not to create a big back-slapping society here, but Jim was an integral part in creating the trust from which we were building. Later in the process, when Susan would have to fly out to take care of other obligations, there were many times when it was just musicians, and Jim, and Roland working at the table. We had built up the trust, and we knew Jim wasn’t going to hoodwink us. I remember the first time we did that, we were all tentative and hesitant, and Jim said, “Relax, I’m not going to sell you out.” And sure enough, we did, and we got a lot accomplished that way, too.
Rood: Jim even looked after us a couple of times.
Valliere: I was not enthusiastic about having lawyers at the table at all. I hadn’t ever in the past, and I wasn’t looking forward to it now. And I had the same sentiments that Gordon had at the November 12th meeting. Despite Brian’s assuring us in advance that Susan was someone who could work effectively and would not be strident, I thought she was pretty strident on November 12th. And so I thought this was the wrong path to go. It turned out that she was a very effective, necessary, and creative partner in the discussions. She was very helpful in putting some ideas forward, and in her willingness to approach the discussion creatively, not taking what she might have done one place and saying that was how it needed to be done here. That was very important.
Institute: At what point along the way did you realize that you might be able to take an agreement where no orchestra had gone before?
Michell: I would say when we saw the recommendations of the task force. I personally knew that this was huge, a major breakthrough over what everybody else has. It was just interesting to see how it was going to happen. It was like a mystery: How was this going to end? But it appeared to me to have that great potential right then.
Finney: You could see the potential, but were you sure of the success?
Michell: It was like a totally uncharted territory to bring those recommendations to paper.
Valliere: It was much like scientific discovery.
Institute: Mary, what was day-to-day life like through this rather intense time?
Crist: Sometimes I felt like a circus performer twirling the sticks, trying to catch them before the plates fell. Trying to live in the world where Jacky and I were working on wordsmithing, to get a particular piece of the agreement to have clarity of meaning, so that anybody reading it understood it. At the same time, Roland and I were working on how we could say “yes” to an item and not have it be a disaster, because we really wanted to say yes, because it seemed important. At the same time I was trying to book an artist back at the office, and it was budget time. There is no question, it was challenging.
Institute: We have talked a long time today, and I have heard very little mention of budget. Was that not an issue here?
Rood: We were fortunate to have one, and last year, two musicians on the finance committee. It took a while to learn to digest all the numbers and say, OK, this is it. But having open communication and access to financial information throughout the process built a level of trust from one meeting to the next for the musicians on that particular committee. So there wasn’t the problem that I’ve seen in other orchestras.
Crist: The leap of faith was on both sides. Our finance director, who’s very concerned about the well-being of the whole orchestra, will take any phone call from any musician, and has the patience to explain things as many times as necessary. But we also took the leap in trusting the musicians with information that probably is not customarily shared. For purposes of bargaining, the only thing that made sense was to share, so that there could be a true understanding of what the numbers really are. But that took confidence in their confidentiality. So it did work both ways.
Valliere: We provide the financial statements to any musician in the orchestra who wants them—the same materials that go to the board and to the finance committee.
Finney: That’s been a big change for the musicians.
Helzberg: But that change started long before this task force or the negotiations. That started with our new executive director. It started with having a new finance director. It started with having more in-depth information available.
Baker: My goal in any negotiations is to go from a situation where you’re sitting across the table talking at each other to the situation where, figuratively at least,…
Key Provisions of the Kansas City Symphony Agreement
◆ The agreement has a term of nine years (hence “evergreen”), and contains provisions for no strikes and no lockouts, as well as a mutually acceptable manner for addressing noneconomic issues at any time.
◆ Economic terms (salary, title pay, and pension) were established for the first three years. The second three-year period (years four, five, and six) will be addressed in year two of the agreement (1999-2000). The agreement calls for “benchmarking” eight peer-group orchestras to determine economic issues in ongoing years of the cycle. Four of the peer-group orchestras will have annual budgets above that of the Kansas City Symphony; four will have budgets below. All eight must be members of both the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians and the American Symphony Orchestra League.
◆ The agreement established a pension program for the musicians.
◆ Musician compensation and service structure will be equalized over the first three years through moving all musicians to full contract status.
◆ The agreement provides for three musicians to serve as voting members of the board, and for additional musicians to serve on all standing committees, including the finance and artistic advisory committees.
◆ A “service exchange” provision allows for the expansion of the “Community Connections Initiative,” a program of individual and ensemble musician services, to two weeks.
◆ The agreement contains provision for an annual review by the musicians’ committee and the artistic advisory committee of the job performances of the executive director and the music director.
◆ The agreement recognizes the American Federation of Musicians as the collective bargaining agent for the musicians.
…you’re sitting side by side trying to solve a common problem. And it was clear we had a common problem. Everybody had the same goals, and the issue was how to get there. With the level of trust that had built up prior to the negotiations, it flowed rather smoothly and seamlessly into that type of a collaborative negotiating process where, as Mary said, we were sharing virtually every financial detail, and we were engaged in a creative, collaborative effort to find an answer to a mutual problem.
Rood: It’s absolutely true. The fact that we were able to achieve some of our priorities, in addition to union recognition, speaks of the willingness and determination of everybody involved to go to a first-rate, first-class orchestra.
Helzberg: From the board standpoint, that was so encouraging. Roland would come from the meetings with all of you and explain the creative, thoughtful way that the negotiating group was working. Then we would talk about whether we could make a particular financial jump from one year to the next? And I think the innovative, thoughtful ideas that came from the musicians were incredible.
Valliere: We did a lot of benchmarking as well, not only in these negotiations, but at every step of the way—in the strategic plan, in the five working groups. In every working group, we asked the question: Who’s out there already doing these things well? Not just in the symphony industry, but in business in general. For example, we looked at the Springfield Remanufacturing Company, which is a pretty innovative company here in Missouri. We wanted to learn how you disseminate financial information in a way that relates to everybody’s individual job, which helps them to see how their jobs connect to the bigger picture, and how their contributions affect the overall results of the organization. Springfield Remanufacturing was a benchmark group relative to how you optimize human potential and human resources.
Jepson: We did the same thing. I remember making a call to San Francisco, to a local which was affiliated with the San Francisco Chronicle. They had just concluded a long-term, win-win contract. I spoke with the president of the local there on how it was working for them. It was an educational process, using the models of what some other industries had done just to see if some of it worked. For me, it was information that said, hey, this is not so unusual. Very large industries are trying this, and are successful. It gave me confidence.
Finney: One thing that amazed me was that we were able to keep the musicians informed without the press becoming involved. We knew it was imperative throughout the whole process that the press not get a whiff of the situation. We would impress upon the musicians the need for their confidentiality every time we had a meeting to reveal whatever little we thought we could share. We are fortunate to have musicians who respected that request.
Institute: Would you encourage other orchestras to start down this road?
Rood: I would wish for every orchestra the nature of collaboration and cooperation and interaction we have had, plus a developing sense of trust among the different parts of the Kansas City Symphony. I would wish that upon every orchestra.
Finney: Not only for big things, but just the day-to- day atmosphere of work.
Rood: It’s a much nicer place to go to work.
Helzberg: That’s really nice to hear!
Kipp: I think we do have to keep all of this in perspective. We believe we’re on a path toward making the Kansas City Symphony, in every dimension, a leader in the symphonic world, but we can’t say we’re there yet. And in this matter of the relationships within the organization, we are in the process of creating different traditions than have been present here and everywhere else in the past. And we’re in a period when we are all participants, firsthand participants, in that. It’s sort of like when the veterans come back from the war. They have that shared experience. They’ve all been in it together. But there still are tests to come, and I would hate for us in this roundtable, or any other way, to come across as having solved all problems, and break our arms patting ourselves on the back, because the real test is quite a ways off. The real test will come when gradual change takes place, and we learn whether or not we’ve established traditions that are strong enough that people who weren’t there at the time inherit and continue those traditions, rather than gradually fall right back into the old patterns.
Kipp: So, it’s just a step in the process. It isn’t as though we’ve reached the goal.
Helzberg: It puts a great deal of responsibility on us. We have come together and done this really innovative, creative thing, and that means that we have a responsibility to make it work, maybe to enhance it, to make it better, so that others who follow us can learn from what we do. That’s an awesome responsibility.
Jepson: We’ve already had some brainstorming discussions about how we can pass this new culture on to players coming in. We need to figure out how we’re going to generate this culture in a positive way, through whatever orientation process, so that they believe in this process when they get here, having not experienced it before.
Helzberg: Something that really struck me today was when Brian said, “It’s a much nicer place to go to work.” This is what we dream about, and what we visualize as the board of trustees. And to hear that it’s happening makes it all worthwhile. Thank you.
1 Beginningin1986,theKansasCitySymphonyhadnegotiatedwithacommittee of musicians “agreements,” including compensation and work rules. Originally, these were one-year agreements. However, beginning with the 1992-1993 season, they were extended to cover two years. These agreements were ratified by the musicians, and signed by the musicians’ committee and the general manager of the Kansas City Symphony.
Hart, Daniel. 1987. From Philharmonic to Symphony: A Kansas City Odyssey. Symphony Magazine, (October/November).
Kansas City Symphony and Local 34-627 of the American Federation of Musicians. 1998. Kansas City Symphony Agreement. Duplicated material.
Keens, William, Don Roth, and Thomas Wolf. 1997. Kansas City Symphony Strategic Plan: Final Report. The Wolf Organization. Duplicated material.
Editor’s Note: Susan Martin, the attorney who represented the musicians of the Kansas City Symphony, was unable to participate in the roundtable discussion. Because her role in the story was significant, the Institute supplied her with a transcript of the roundtable, and invited her to add comments on the process. Those comments follow.
This project was quite challenging. My assignment went something like this: Help the musicians in a three-tiered orchestra—one that had been nonunion for 16 years, had low wages, no pension, and a conservative,
antiunion board—achieve union recognition and become a full-time orchestra with a respectable wage scale and pension benefits. Do not cause loss of life and limb in the process. Do not add to the Kansas City unemployment rolls. Do not destroy the organization while trying to change it.
By far the most difficult hurdle was to get the symphony to the bargaining table with union recognition in place. The musicians had advised me that the turbulent history of the old Kansas City Philharmonic made the board determined to avoid having anything to do with unions ever again. It’s no wonder Gordon and Roland both commented during the roundtable discussion that they thought I was “strident” at the very first meeting. (Although I do not recall raising my voice, Brian reminds me that I did—surely the only occasion in the entire bargaining process?) However, whatever my tone of voice, it’s my belief that mere mention of the word “union” on November 12th had to sound so discordant a note in Gordon’s and Roland’s ears that had I whispered it, I still probably would have seemed strident.
November 12th was a tense evening. It was my job to let the musicians’ employer know that they were totally unified in their desire for union recognition. This wasn’t something that could be exchanged for comparable benefits. There were no comparable benefits. The musicians did not view the union simply as a vehicle to a pension or the ability to attract better players, although these factors weighed in. Rather, they saw the union as a way to reclaim their dignity and right of self-determination, things they felt had been diminished in the nonunion era, as they communicated them to me. The orchestra had agreed there would be no negotiations without union recognition in place or understood. After all, as I reminded Roland and Gordon, union representation is a legal right, not a benefit to be conferred. At the same time, we tried hard to convey the message that the musicians were most sincere in their willingness to work reasonably to achieve a first collective bargaining agreement that everyone could live with. We also were willing to defer any public announcement concerning the union until an agreement was in place.
We did not attempt to comment on whether the board’s apparent collective opinion of the union was justified. Gordon assured us that it was. So certain was he of the inevitable doom that would follow from the musicians’ demand for recognition that, at that first meeting, he and Roland had in hand charts, purporting to show contributors who would withdraw their support if a union came in, with the dollar amounts they predicted the symphony would lose if we continued with our misguided plans. We were setting out to destroy the organization, we were told. It was hard for the musicians who were present (luckily only two—who had especially strong stomachs) to listen.
We stuck to our guns (so to speak). We asked Gordon and Roland to urge the board to “give peace a chance”—to look forward, not backward, on their relationships with the musicians. We spoke at great length about positive developments that had been taking place between other union orchestras and their managements in the years that the Kansas City Symphony had been divorced from the labor scene. No one left the meeting feeling lighthearted. After assuring Brian and Dave Everson, the chair of the orchestra committee, that I thought the meeting had gone about as well as we could have expected, I returned home worrying whether the musicians’ strategy was correct.
After that meeting, when it was agreed that the board was willing to have a dialogue on the issues with the musicians, I retreated happily to the background to allow the process to unfold. Needless to say, the process worked—the board members on the task force developed sufficient trust and confidence in the orchestra committee and vice versa that there was a willingness to allow the parties and their counsel to sit down at the bargaining table with the understanding that if an agreement were reached, union recognition would be included. Nevertheless, I was concerned whether we would be able to come up with a solution for an initial nine-year agreement. (I don’t think I yelled here either, but the orchestra committee confessed they were not anxious to advise me that they had agreed in principle to the concept of a nine-year contract.) “Even if you never intend to use it, you can’t just go and give up the right to strike while buying a pig in a poke,” I told them after the proposal for a lengthy agreement and an evergreen provision had surfaced in the task force discussions.
When the formal negotiations began, I had no idea how the parties were going to be able to reach an agreement within the parameters set by the task force—it was a tall order. How could we preserve power and protection for the musicians without a fixed economic agreement after the first three years, while simultaneously agreeing there would be no right to strike (for better or worse, labor’s ultimate weapon) for at least nine years? As Jim Baker noted correctly, we agreed to focus on the areas we thought we could resolve and took things one at a time, building confidence and commitment to the process as we went along.
The benchmarking concept, and the idea that the employer would declare its intention to raise salaries and benefits to the level of peer orchestras, or the early genesis of these ideas, surfaced during a conversation Brian and I were having after a bargaining session in which it began to appear that an agreement on economics for the first three years was feasible. I remember how excited we were to have stumbled upon the rudiments of a framework for addressing the remainder of the contract. When the time was right, and Roland and the board agreed to work with the concept, we spent a lot of time ironing out the details in a way we hope future bargaining parties will be able to live with.
Assessing the Results
Looking back, it is pretty remarkable that things went as well as they did. The process involved a considerable amount of risk taking which was critical to its success. For example, if, during my first meeting with orchestra, the musicians as a group had not been willing to risk the kind of dire consequences we expected and in fact heard from Roland and Gordon, I suspect they would still be asking for union recognition and management would still be telling them to be patient. Likewise, if Roland had not been willing to go to the board (his employer) and advocate that the matter be given a prompt and fair review, the parties might now be embroiled in contested proceedings at the National Labor Relations Board. And, if board members Shirley Helzberg, Bob Kipp, Gordon Kingsley, and others had not been willing to break with the past and, once an agreement was in the works, approach major patrons with these new developments and provide assurances that all would be well, then perhaps the predictions of loss of substantial financial support might have come true.
Risk taking was accompanied by reasonableness. The orchestra committee, Roland, the board, and, yes, even the lawyers were able to work with open minds, trust, and mutual respect. These qualities were contagious. Once unleashed (like the flu that felled every member of the orchestra committee while negotiations were in progress), they continued to spread and influence the process. Don’t get me wrong. There were serious disagreements along the way. But the bottom line was an honest commitment to reach an agreement that addressed fundamental needs of the musicians and the organization.
Much about this contract remains to be seen. The orchestra understands this part clearly, as I hope does the board. The success of the agreement and, in turn, the future success of the Kansas City Symphony is dependent, in part, on continued good faith and honesty between the parties. Hopefully, as there are changes in orchestra and staff personnel or board leadership over the years, the organization will take pains to ensure that the kind of institutional culture that has begun to emerge is continued.
Susan Martin is a principal with Martin & Bonnett, P.L.L.C., in Phoenix. She holds a B.A. from Antioch College and a J.D. from New York University.
Insights on Leadership
Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990) spent 40 years at AT&T in management research, development, and education. He followed this with another 25 years as a consultant and educator with major corporations, foundations, and educational institutions. Describing himself as a “lifelong student of how things get done in organizations,” Greenleaf’s influence upon management thinking is well documented.
In 1964, he founded the Center for Applied Ethics (now The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership), and in 1970, he wrote an essay, “The Servant as Leader,”1 whichhasinspiredagenerationofindividuals and institutions to actively address organizational change from the basis of personal service. As an introduction to servant-leadership, I recommend the recent release, Insights on Leadership, edited by the Greenleaf Center Executive Director, Larry Spears.
What is servant-leadership? In his original essay, Greenleaf wrote: “It [servant-leadership] begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” In the current book, Larry Spears defines servant-leadership as “. . . a long-term, transformational approach to life and work—in essence, a way of being. . . .” Spears also identifies 10 characteristics of the servant-leader: listening; empathy; healing; awareness; persuasion; conceptualization; foresight; stewardship; commitment to the growth of people; and building community.
I can hear symphony organization participants muttering: “Who needs another philosophy? We need bottoms in seats!” True. But if we start and end there, we have not addressed the structural issues most symphony organizations face. We must change the way we all relate to one another in symphony organizations in order to serve the long-term needs of our art form and our audiences. We need help doing this. Where can we turn?
Start with this book, and read it with a highlighter. Read it in parts; return to it regularly. There are 30 essays covering 4 topics: service, stewardship, spirit, and servant-leadership. Contributors include some of the foremost organizational change practitioners and consultants in America. In the book’s foreword, Stephen Covey writes: “If you really want to get servant-leadership, then you’ve got to . . . foster trust through individual character and competence at the personal level.” Covey’s foreword alone is worth the price of the book.
Joe Batten, author of Tough-Minded Management, and the man who gave the U.S. Army “Be All You Can Be,” provides a manifesto of values for servant- leaders. His essay includes a 37-point action plan which he precedes with the statement: “The very essence of living passionately is change. Life without change would soon result in death. Change is something to embrace, to invite, to zestfully seek.” That was just a warm-up! Contrasting with Batten’s holistic, drill-sergeant approach is a scholarly survey by Lawrence Lad and David Lauechauer of the variety of pathways to servant-leadership—representative authors, major themes, and action/response approaches. Lad and Lauechauer establish that the Greenleaf philosophy manifests itself in many unique ways.
To anyone who has scratched the surface of organizational change writing over the last decade, names such as James Autry, Margaret Wheatly, Ken Blanchard, Peter Block, and Joseph Jaworski are familiar ones. All have contributed essays to the book. All apply Greenleaf principles in individual and effective ways. All bear witness to the importance of a basic personal philosophy put into practice.
In this book are testaments to the application of the Greenleaf principles by practitioners in many sectors. For example, Ken Melrose, chairman and CEO of The Toro Company walks us through the process from philosophy to success in a Fortune 500 company. Can a “bottom-line” company get everyone to participate fully in the leadership process? Yes. Melrose gives us a corporate and personal action plan in his essay which has many parallels for symphony organizations.
Ideas which we as musicians, staff members, and volunteers can use today for personal and organizational growth pour out of this book. Jack Lowe Jr, CEO of TDIndustries, a 300-million-dollar mechanical construction company, titled his essay “Trust: The Invaluable Asset.” He portrays his company’s 30-year experience with servant-leadership right down to detail performance graphs. He closes his essay with: “Trustworthiness, which requires character and competence, can only flourish with leadership that trusts, supports, and encourages. At TD, we call that servant-leadership.”
1 Greenleaf, Robert K. 1970. The Servant as Leader. Indianapolis: The Robert Greenleaf Center.
Insights on Leadership
Larry C. Spears, Editor
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.
398 pp. $29.95
Reviewed by Mark Jamison, managing director, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (Canada).
Can Symphonic Music Become Popular Music? (And Other Outrageous Questions)
This essay opens with an exploration of the evolution of musical styles. Author Bill Cahn asserts that a mingling of styles and forms has occurred throughout musical history, but the pace of assimilation is now taking place with “lightning speed.”
As he begins to answer the question posed by the title of the essay, Cahn explores definitions of “popular” music, sharing numerous examples of film scores which have successfully presented orchestral music to broad audiences.
Orthodoxy and a Changing Environment
Suggesting that orchestras need to reconnect with contemporary American culture, Cahn next addresses “orthodox” and “unorthodox” forms of presentation, arguing that hierarchical concepts (e.g., high art versus low art) are no longer relevant. He points out that “popular music” regularly reconsiders its relationship with its markets, and makes the case that symphonic music must do the same if it is to survive.
Rejecting the notion that rethinking the presentation of symphonic music will lead to a lowest-common-denominator outcome, Cahn concludes his essay by outlining four areas in which he encourages professional musicians, orchestra managers, and board members to improve their skills in order to better relate to “common” people.
Can Symphonic Music
Become Popular Music? (And Other Outrageous Questions)
W e are living in a time of cultural revolution that is taking place with lightning speed and worldwide scope. Classical musicians in India perform thousand-year-old compositions using digital sampling
keyboards; tribal musicians in South Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia embrace the musical forms and electronic instruments of North American pop music, while such pop musicians as Paul Simon and chamber music ensembles in Europe and North America program Brazilian, West African, and Indonesian compositional forms and styles. North American symphony orchestras devote substantial portions of their seasons to music that in the past was associated with Broadway, New Orleans, Nashville, or Las Vegas. Pop recording stars,—for example, Elvis Costello,— include string quartets in their music. What in the world is going on?
This essay is derived from a lecture, “All Music is Popular Music,” which I presented at the symposium, Popular Music and the Canon: Old Boundaries Reconsidered, held at the Eastman School of Music on September 28, 2019. My self-imposed challenge was to make connections between the world of popular music and the world of symphonic music. The premise of the lecture was that the old musical boundaries and definitions ought to be reconsidered, because in many ways, they have either changed radically or they no longer exist. The ability to recognize and even embrace these changes in thinking could well result in the unfolding of new opportunities for symphonic music to connect with people’s lives.
The Process of Assimilation
The tearing down of labels and distinctions, and the increasing crossover of styles are significant trends in music today, and are evident in all musical forms, including symphonic music. This mingling of styles and forms is not new; it has occurred throughout history. Seven hundred years ago, European crusaders returned from their wars in the Middle East with musical instruments from Arabia and Persia. These instruments found their way into all genres of European music. Mozart and Beethoven embraced Turkish instruments and sounds. It was not by coincidence that Debussy composed whole-tone scales in his music shortly after attending the Paris Exposition, at which an Indonesian gamelan orchestra performed.
The process of connecting and assimilating has existed since music was first created, but what is new is the increased speed with which assimilation is taking place. The removal of genre barriers has been accelerated by, among other things, an electronic revolution and worldwide instantaneous commu- nications. Easy access to the world’s music through film, television, compact discs, and computers in this new era of “net surfing” makes it possible and desirable for listeners to be exposed to and to seek diversity—to sample one thing and then go on to the next. Listeners may be less willing to pitch their tents in one place to listen to an entire program within the confines of a single genre. Artists, too, seek greater diversity in content. This process is happening within all musical styles.
In the July 1996 issue of Symphony Magazine, Fred Miller, a Bostonian specializing in change management, is quoted as saying that Baby Boomers have an “options mentality,” in which they demand choices. “That’s why you’re seeing so many short and varied [symphony] subscription series—the ‘six-pack’ or sampler strategy that has strengthened ticket sales. . . . According to Miller, the next boundary [for orchestras] to push is moving from the all-symphonic series to one that would cross arts boundaries, mixing and matching an orchestra performance with a movie, a dance event, maybe even sports. . . . Offer them a six-pack that’s not all Coke.”1
In other words, the suggestion is that symphony orchestras embrace marketing approaches which previously have been considered the province of that “other” music—popular music. Why? Because new economic pressures are gnawing away at the insulation that traditionally surrounds nonprofit musical institutions. As the system of patronage (private and government) for symphony orchestras, inherited from European models, struggles to keep up with ever increasing costs, and as patrons (private and corporate) add more and more conditions to their gifts, performing artists and institutions are forced to think more about marketing just to hold their ground in their host communities. An American model for symphony orchestras has emerged in which the ability to reach the broadest possible audience holds increased importance.
What Is Popular Music?
In trying to explore connections between popular music and symphonic music in a fresh way, one must first ask a fundamental question: What is popular music?
The dictionary defines the word “popular” as an adjective meaning “suitable for the common people.” Popular music is therefore, by definition, “music suitable for the common people.” This begs some provocative questions: Who are the “common” people? Who is an “uncommon” person? Does the term “popular music” imply that it is not suitable for uncommon people? Is some music (for example, symphonic music) unsuitable for common people?
The commercial marketplace has, for many years, acknowledged that any kind of music, including symphonic music, can be presented to the common people, provided that some attention is given to the manner of presentation. This assertion may seem untrue to those insulated from the marketplace, but it is only necessary to glance in the direction of Hollywood to find plentiful examples of a mode of presentation that works. If György Ligeti’s Atmosphères, an undeniably challenging modernist composition, can be so successfully woven into the fabric of Stanley Kubrick’s monumental film 2001: A Space Odyssey, can there be any music that would not be suitable for the general public to hear? It has been more than a half century since Leopold Stokowski, under the hostile scrutiny of critics and skeptics, collaborated with Walt Disney on Fantasia, a film that had a significant impact on generations of “common” listeners. After all, the motion picture is the central art form of our age. It unites the visual and performing arts, including symphonic music, into a significant whole precisely in the manner envisioned by Richard Wagner in his operas more than a century ago.
“Movie Music is Today’s Mighty Market.”2 This headline appeared in an Associated Press article dated July 12, 2019. The thrust of the article is that such recent orchestral film scores as X-Files, which used an 85-piece orchestra, and Titanic, which sold more than 25 million discs worldwide, have been hugely successful in the marketplace.
Another headline, from The Wall Street Journal on April 17, 2019, makes the identical point. The headline reads, “‘Titanic’ Floats Sony Classical.” The article continues, “. . . the words ‘movie music’ are pronounced with a sneer in the classical music world, as if they meant ‘gaudy, cheap, and far too popular.’ Meanwhile, though, a movie score has given Mr. [Peter] Gelb [the president of Sony Classical records] a commercial triumph. He snagged the Titanic soundtrack for his label, and watched it go No. 1 on the pop album chart, win an Oscar, and become the top selling soundtrack ever. All this has classical music people reeling.”3
Interestingly this article also refers to the new crossover trend as “corporate synergy.” “‘Classical’, [Mel Ilberman, the chairman of Sony Classical says] ‘can now become a resource for all our music company.’ Take, for instance, Michael Boulton, who’s signed to one of Sony’s pop labels; when he wanted to sing opera, Sony Classical was there for him. Something similar is springing up at Sony’s rival, Polygram, where Elvis Costello, the brainy rocker, signed a contract covering the company’s pop, jazz, and classical record labels, so his projects can be marketed wherever they might find an audience.”4
Where does this lead in the article? It leads to pro- vocative questions. “Albert Imperato, who runs three classical labels for Polygram . . . thinks ‘core’ classics still might sell—but, he says, they need to be marketed in modern ways the classical music business doesn’t know about. So in a way he’s just as radical as Peter Gelb. . . . Imagine what might happen when the pipeline that brought James Horner [the composer of Titanic] to Sony Classical starts to flow the other way. . . . Suppose, someday, that somebody with orthodox classical credentials writes deeply moving music for a film, profound in its own right, that makes the impact of Titanic. . . . Wouldn’t this be the major, more-than- musical event that classical composers ought to long for? Wouldn’t it start, at least, to reconnect them with American culture?”5
The Associated Press article of July 12 concurs: “Titanic really tapped into people’s desire for emotional connection. People are craving emotional, instrumental music.”6 Common people—the mass market and American culture—are the subjects of this discussion. Can symphony orchestras provide what “people are craving”? Of course they can. But to succeed, they may need more than just 19th century forms of presentation.
The point here is not that symphony orchestras should all be making film scores. Rather, the point is that common people can embrace symphonic music, and symphony orchestras should consider finding ways—orthodox and unorthodox—to present their music to audiences to the end of touching the lives of more listeners—to reconnect the orchestras with American culture.
The orthodox form of presentation (European model; 19th century) is the formal symphonic program, comprised of the standard classics and presented in a concert hall with all of the attendant customs and etiquette. This model is still quite relevant to a significant number of listeners, and I do not suggest that it be abandoned. However, I do propose that other models also be used in order to broaden the base of support for symphony orchestras. The product (symphonic music) itself is very important, but it is also important in a market-driven model to give attention to packaging and distribution. Of course, this has already happened to a certain extent (family concerts, lecture concerts, pops concerts).
Any form of presentation other than the orthodox might be labeled as “unorthodox” (American model; 20th century). In the growing market consciousness American orchestras need in order to face their economic challenges, it is essential that the goal of unorthodox programming not be hierarchical—to make (common) people love classical music more than they love any other kind of music—but rather more consistent with the options paradigm—to make symphonic music a part of the mix of musics that enrich the lives of (common) people.
Such hierarchical concepts as high art (classical music) and low art (pop music) are not relevant in an options-mentality environment. The kind of hierarchical thinking that has permeated Western art (i.e., Western art is deeper than or superior to non- Western or primitive art) is rejected in this new culture; one art form is not considered a priori to be superior to any other art form, but rather different—different in the way “beautiful” is conceived and pursued. The question is not whether low art is diminishing high art. Nothing is being diminished other than a limiting mode of thought. The question is whether art (of whatever kind) can be relevant to diverse tastes?
The six-pack form of presentation Miller proposes is one unorthodox way to bring symphonic music to listeners who might be uncomfortable with the European model. This idea for diversification is in the context of a subscription series of events, some musical and some not musical at all. But the idea of diversification can be taken further by using it within the context of a single unorthodox program. In fact, such a model worked very well for an earlier generation of audiences.
The Eastman Theatre booklet for July 12, 2019, lists the following program. The “Festival Overture” by Edward Lassen was performed by the Eastman Theatre Orchestra. This was followed by “Selections from Aida” performed on organ, and then by the Eastman Theatre Jazz Trio playing three arrangements of popular songs. Next on the program was a staged play, DeClasse, followed by a silent film comedy accompanied by live orchestral music, classical and popular.7
This is an example of orchestral music, presented in an eclectic program, that was very successful with audiences in its day. The Eastman Theatre Orchestra’s supporters then openly asserted that in presenting symphonic music alongside the finest motion pictures, they hoped the general public would develop an appreciation for the music. The intent of this form of presentation also was to attain the broadest appeal possible in the context of a single live performance program, a high priority in any market-driven model.
This eclecticism in programming was practiced prior to the end of the Second World War, until factors such as the general postwar wealth in America, combined with great improvements in public education, made possible a resurgence of the European patronage model. Other factors affecting this resurgence included network radio broadcasts of symphonic music and the emergence of a classical music record industry in high fidelity recordings. These conditions served to widen the separation between classical and popular tastes in music.
By the 1970s, a distinct popular music genre, which had the following characteristics, was fully developed:
◆ It was market driven (there was sufficient market demand to support it commercially).
◆ The primary delivery system or medium was electronic, via radio, recordings, and videos, supported by live concerts. The personality of the performer was a key factor in marketability.
◆ The music was based on a combination of lyrics and melody in compositions that were relatively short (three to five minutes) and formulaic in rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic construction.
These are the traits of the popular music that became so distasteful to a classical music world which was cushioned in the blanket of European model patronage.
A Changing Environment
But today, a new model of popular music has increasingly become apparent in the marketplace. It is a musical genre that includes elements which in the past were considered suitable only for nonpopular musical styles. For example, individual compositions may be up to 10 minutes or more in length, without lyrics, or using ideas that are not formulaic. Orchestral instruments might be used in contrast or in addition to the standard electronic keyboards and guitars. Additionally, since the 1970s, popular music has participated in the accelerating process of merging the distinct popular styles of folk, rock, and country musics, and even some elements of classical music, because of artists’ and record companies’ economic desire to broaden their markets. But this new popular music is still very market-driven; the personality of the performer is still very important; the primary delivery system is still electronic supported by live performances.
By contrast, in the nonprofit music sector, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that symphony orchestras generally began to feel a squeezing fiscal vise—with an increasing rate of cost growth on one side, and a declining rate of patronage income growth on the other side. Furthermore, leisure time diminished and competition for the time available increased in the marketplace, resulting in changes in classical music tastes. A July 1996 column in InTune Magazine reads: “Public tastes have shifted—radically! In a sense, there is no longer ‘a classical…
In the September/October 1998 issue of Strings, Susan Barbieri reports on an enterprising orchestral organization in Houston, Texas. Orchestra X functions under the leadership and baton of John Axelrod. With permission from Strings, we reprint here several excerpts from that article.
The Orchestra X approach encourages audience participation in settings such as cafés, arena theaters, and coffeehouses. Axelrod says his audiences appreciate that there are players in the orchestra who are their age. The 60-member orchestra is made up of a multicultural group of young players, mostly from Rice University and the University of Houston music schools, and the average age is 25. . . . These musicians look a lot like their desired audience.
The 32-year-old Axelrod . . . has no beef with standard material, only with the way in which classical music is performed. In a fast-forward, double-click, MTV age, classical music has to work harder to attract young people’s attention and keep it. And while it’s nice that so many American orchestras do school outreach, that outreach may not stick with the kids as they grow into their teens and 20s.
When Axelrod wrote a business plan for Orchestra X in 1997, he included a market survey that turned up interesting data about how young people feel about classical music. . . . The most interesting [comment by respondents was]: “Whether we were there or not, it wouldn’t have any impact on the quality of the performance.”
This is a generation of kids who need to be able to clap along with the rhythm, sing, or feel an energy exchange between themselves and the performers, Axelrod says.
He notes that larger orchestras can’t risk alienating older subscribers by doing what needs to be done to appeal to younger ones. Orchestra X can take risks with its performances because . . . it has no umbrella organization putting constraints on its repertoire or the way it is presented. Orchestra X has a 15-member board of directors, its own charter, bylaws, and financial support, and its own collective bargaining agreement with the musicians’ union.
Susan Barbieri is a violin student, editor, and writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Strings is published eight times a year by String Letter Publishing in San Rafael, California.
…public’. It has splintered. There are people, believe it or not, who like and will buy obscure religious music, or modern music—even the most extreme sorts of avant-garde music.”8
Added to this expansion of classical music tastes was a substantial change in public education. Lynne Cheney, the former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, said at a public forum in Vail, Colorado, in June 1996, “The link between education and participation [in the arts] is becoming weaker.”9 Few people today would deny that the primary source of information for children (and for most adults) about the arts is now the public electronic media and not the public schools.
The common person (meaning in this case almost everyone who is not a professional musician) today hears music almost exclusively via electric loudspeakers—those found in radios, television sets, home stereo systems, elevators, shopping malls, movie theaters, Walkman® earphones, and computers. The experience of a live performance is, by comparison, relatively rare for most people.
In this environment the best survival option available to the nonprofits is to take a fresh look at their relationships with their markets, something which happens regularly in popular music as a matter of course. As long ago as 1987, the president of the American Symphony Orchestra League said that, “Symphony orchestras must begin to act like businesses. Board members, not conductors, ought to set artistic policy, not just in the hiring of conductors but also in day-to-day operations.”10 What this statement really says is that symphony orchestras must become more suitable to the common people. This requires some changes in thinking by institutions such as symphony orchestras and conservatories, as well as by individual professional musicians and teachers.
Taking Symphonic Music to the Common People
To return once more to the original question: What in the world is going on? The short answer is that, in general, music in all its forms is going to the common people. How can symphonic music go to the common people? Some creativity in the manner of presenting symphonic music will help. The risks of unorthodox programming need not be too large. It is almost impossible to conceive of a program of orchestral music in which some classical music could not be included. Pops concerts and theme concerts can certainly include classical works that relate to the program or theme. Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops was a master at this kind of programming, the goal being to insure that symphonic music is “fixed in the mix” of musics that are presented.
Musicians and business executives associated with popular music have also long recognized that a live performance of music must have something more to offer an audience than can be experienced by simply listening to a recording. This awareness gave rise to the rock show genre, with its lighting, special effects, and theatrical perspectives, thereby recognizing that the way in which the music is presented—its packaging—is an important part of the experience of a live performance. Some form of theatrical presentation is now regularly incorporated into virtually all types of live performances of music, because audiences now expect to be engaged visually at a live musical performance. This trend will continue to develop. The main challenge for live performers (such as symphony orchestras) will be to differentiate the experience of hearing live music from that of hearing virtually perfect, recorded music in the comfort and safety of one’s own home.
Speaking at the National Press Club in 1987, actor John Houseman said, “The deluge of music in the environment must be taken into account by artists and institutions; audiences want hits.”11 This is another trend that is likely to continue as classical music audiences, just as popular music audiences, increasingly prefer well-known, highly recognized artists, while the struggle of lesser-known artists for access to audiences becomes more intense.
In this environment, resources (money and time) will flow to the top, in the direction of the most recognized and away from the least recognized at the bottom. The New York Philharmonic will be increasingly more likely to have access to resources (especially via electronic media) than will the middle- American orchestras. The same holds true for museums, opera companies, jazz artists, performing ensembles, and individuals. As the well-known attract bigger slices of the resource pie, there will be increasing competition among the growing numbers of lesser-knowns for the smaller remaining resources. The challenge here is for the lesser-known artists and organizations to find creative ways to achieve recognition in the marketplace. In other words, marketing, advertising, and promotion will increase in importance, a situation which has been true in popular music for a long time.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of all for those who care about symphonic music will be to open up to the changes that are occurring and, instead of fearing them, take advantage of them. In this attempt to rethink concepts of symphonic and popular music, I certainly do not advocate a lowering of standards for the appreciation of any existing musical style. A lowest-common-denominator mentality is not the goal. This will certainly be very difficult to comprehend for those who have a vested interest (economic or psychological) in the traditional
European patronage model of the symphony orchestra to the exclusion of any other model. The operative principle here is that the closing of minds constitutes a lowering of standards.
Rather, a raising of standards is the goal, by opening minds and by creating conditions under which the preciousness of music in all its forms can be preserved, appreciated, and made accessible to common listeners. Such a raising of standards is essential for the long- term well-being of the conservatories, symphony orchestras, jazz groups, and chamber ensembles that we all cherish. The time is upon us to remove artificial boundaries if they limit our thinking.
For professional musicians, orchestra managers, and orchestra boards, an additional challenge is embedded in the American (market) model: they must understand which skills (musical and business) will be necessary for them to effectively communicate their joy in presenting music to the common listener, and then they must acquire them. There are at least four types of skills that would be very beneficial for orchestras, on an organization-wide scope, to embrace:
◆ Leadership skills: presenting a positive and supportive attitude to others.
◆ Listening skills: the ability to assess the effect of one’s actions on others— including audiences, colleagues, and supporters—by asking them the right questions and listening to what they say. This is marketing.
◆ Public speaking skills and advocacy for music. This is promotion.
◆ Financial skills: the basic ability to understand and use budgeting, accounting, and financial analysis. This is financial management.
Skills such as these could be developed through a structure of annual or semiannual paid service workshops presented by knowledgeable educators and facilitators. Participation by musicians, orchestra staff, and board members should broaden perspectives and encourage the cooperative thinking that will be necessary to make important decisions about the ways in which orchestras will relate to common people—their growing market.
In summary, the proposition that symphonic music and popular music share much in common is based on the assertion that all musicians and music institutions today, regardless of their focus on any particular musical form, face the same fundamental challenge: how to be relevant to the lives of common people.
William L. Cahn is a member of the NEXUS percussion group. He was principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1968 to 1995, and currently serves on that orchestra’s board of directors. He holds his B.M. cum laude from Eastman School of Music.
1 Valdes, Lesley. 1996. The Age of Audience. Symphony Magazine (July-August):38. 2 Fleeman, Michael. 1998. Movie Music is Today’s Mighty Market. The Sunday
Messenger (Canandaigua, NY), (July 12): 4F. 3 Sandow, Greg. 1998. ‘Titanic’ Floats Sony Classical. The Wall Street Journal
(April 17): A-12. 4 Ibid.
7 Eastman Theatre Program, Week Beginning July 12, 2019. Rochester, NY.
8 Tircuit, Heuwell. 1996. The Current International Crisis. InTune Magazine, (July): 29.
9 Cheney, Lynne V. 1996. Who Should Pay for the Arts? Keynote speech at the Vail Valley Institute Open Forum, Vail, Colorado.
10 Morning Edition. 1987. National Public Radio June 12 broadcast of an address at the American Symphony Orchestra League convention, New York City.
11 Houseman, John. 1987. May 26 address at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
Masterprize International Composition Competition
In the April 1998 issue of Harmony, we published an essay by Soong Fu- Yuan, in which he proposed much greater involvement of performers and audience in the encouragement, selection, and evaluation of new symphonic compositions. His view was that audiences should be more “empowered” in new music programming and more trusted and respected for their musical judgments, and that these judgments should be more influential in the recognition and rewards of new music composers. In particular, Soong proposed the initiation of a national competition for composers and their works, involving performer nominations and performer/audience voting, through a sequence of orchestral “playoffs,” resulting in “finalists” and a “winner,” with the winning composer receiving a substantial monetary prize, and lesser prizes going to final contenders.
We published Soong’s essay because it provided some interesting and nontraditional thinking, and possible methods of implementation relating to a significant decision-making area within symphony organizations, moving toward greater involvement by all stakeholders, and particularly greater audience and performer engagement.
Unbeknownst to the Institute and to Soong, an international competition of symphonic compositions was under way during the period of the essay’s preparation. The competition’s existence and final procedures came to our attention just as we were going to press. Although different in many details, the Masterprize competition was originated and implemented based on many of the same concerns and objectives that Soong expressed. We decided to acquaint our readers with the main dimensions of this innovative competition in a report prepared by Sara Austin. – The Publisher
The most celebrated riot in music history broke out on May 29, 2019, when the audience that gathered to hear Igor Stravinsky’s new Rite of Spring took their stunned reaction from the Theatre du Champs-Elysées into the streets of Paris. The classical music world treasures the anecdote, but John McLaren, founder of the Masterprize International Composition Competition, would like to single-handedly retire it. Music experts, he says, use the tale as “a
battering ram to splinter the confidence of ordinary music lovers. The subtext is clear: don’t depend on your uninformed judgement, don’t trust your amateur ears . . . composers are rarely appreciated in their lifetime.”1
It’s another image of Stravinsky that inspires McLaren: Following a performance of the Rite one year after its premiere, the composer was carried on the shoulders of his rapturous audience. “Only time can show which works will truly endure, but music does not require 20 or 50 years to pass before anyone can make head or tail of it,” McLaren says. “It needs only an interested audience listening attentively and repeatedly.”2
McLaren designed the ambitious Masterprize competition to provide composers with this kind of attentive audience, and to encourage audience members to hear new music with new ears. By the time the first Masterprize winner was announced in April 1998, the competition had attracted an impressive roster of sponsors, six accomplished finalists, and an unheard of number of listeners participating in a new music event. “For classical music to flourish in the next century, new music has to enter into the mainstream repertoire,” says McLaren. “Masterprize has created a uniquely powerful channel for composers to address this with the chance to win over large numbers of music lovers.”3
Inventing a Competition
John McLaren makes an unlikely savior for contemporary music. A former investment banker, British diplomat, and the author of two novels, he has no musical credentials to speak of. And he is certainly not the first to point out the disconnect between composers and their audiences. Despite the many premieres of contemporary classical pieces, a lack of repeat performances means that audiences seldom have a chance to form opinions—much less attachments—to new music. The problem is confounded by programming that presents the music without context, and at times by the challenges of the music itself.
If McLaren wasn’t the first to identify the problem, he thought he had conceived of a unique solution: a competition in which a worldwide audience could hear the competing pieces repeatedly—through radio broadcasts, a recording, and a concert—and have a voice in who would win the £25,000 (about $42,000 U.S.) first prize. He took his populist approach to the BBC. “I was sure I would be sent home with a flea in my ear. But I was wrong,” he says. “The speed and enthusiasm with which they responded took me by surprise.”4
BBC Radio 3, BBC World Service, and BBC Music Magazine all signed on as partners, joined by EMI and the London Symphony Orchestra. The Worshipful Company of Musicians contributed an additional £10,000 ($17,000 U.S.) commission for the highest-ranked composer under age 30.
Audio Note provided additional sponsorship, and Coutts, an international private banking group, agreed to finance the Masterprize final concert. Coutts has a reputation as the bank of blue bloods, but chief executive Herschel Post explained that, “Our clients are as likely to have made their money in the new enterprises—media, film, music, and publishing—as to have inherited their wealth. Masterprize is a perfect reflection of where Coutts stands today.”5
With the sponsors signed on, McLaren and his staff, Louise Price and Madeleine Milne, put out the call for entries. The chance for international recognition through radio, recordings, and promotion proved an irresistable draw. More than 1,000 composers from 60 countries entered, despite restrictions that the pieces be between eight and twelve minutes long and not be previously broadcast.
In August 1997, a panel of 11 music experts (including composers Andrei Golovine, Steen Pade, and Colin Matthews, and conductors Mischa Damev, Richard Bernas, and Joel Sachs) pared the entries down to a shortlist of 15 semifinalists. At least two members of this panel evaluated each score, and the entire panel reviewed about 100 scores to agree on the shortlist. The semifinalists’ works were recorded by the BBC Symphony and regional orchestras, and broadcast in autumn 1997 on BBC Radio 3 and 35 radio stations worldwide. Short-listed composers were from the United States (5), Australia (2), United Kingdom (2), and one each from Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, China, and Russia.
Finalists were selected by a second jury of classical broadcasters, composers, soloists, and conductors, including conductors Andrew Davies, Kent Nagano, and Riccardo Muti as well as Masterprize’s patron, Mstislav Rostropovich. They were:
◆ Victoria Borisova-Ollas, 29, a Russian-born composer now living in Sweden. Her Masterprize entry, “Wings of the Wind,” was inspired by Psalm 104: “He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” The pulsating piece combines complex orchestration, minimalist influences, and a powerful use of brass and percussion.
◆ Italian composer Daniele Gasparini, at 21 the youngest finalist. His entry, “Through the Looking Glass,” is a set of variations that recalls “Rite of Spring” as well as the writing of Lewis Carroll.
◆ American Stephen Hartke, 46. A well-established composer in the United States and a professor of composition at the University of Southern California, Hartke entered “The Ascent of the Equestrian in a Balloon,” originally commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra. The playful, rhythmic piece describes two bumpy rides: an 18th century aviation experiment and Harke’s nightly ordeal of tucking his two-year- old son into bed.
◆ Andrew March, 25, a native of Warwickshire, England. March’s piece, “Marine—à travers les arbres” (Marine—through the trees) draws its inspiration from a scenic bay in Guernsey that the composer visited early in 1997. A slow, impressionistic tone poem, “Marine” shows the influence of Debussy and Elgar.
◆ Established Australian composer Carl Vine, 44. His entry, “Descent,” was originally commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to accompany scenes from Fritz Lang’s classic silent film Metropolis. The piece presents Lang’s futuristic city as seen from the viewpoint of the downtrodden workers who live and toil beneath the city’s surface.
◆ Zhou Long, 45, born in China and currently living in New York. Like all of Zhou’s work, “Two Poems from Tang” merges Eastern and Western musical influences; The reflective piece conceives of the string section as an expanded ch’in, an ancient seven-string Chinese zither.
Selecting a Winner
The six finalists were given the broad exposure McLaren promised. EMI produced a recording of the pieces by the London Symphony Orchestra under young British conductor Daniel Harding; BBC Music Magazine, with a worldwide circulation of 200,000, made the recording its covermount CD for the February 1998 issue. Music fans were given an opportunity to vote for their favorite piece using a form in the magazine or over the Internet on the BBC World Service Web site. Radio stations and music publications in Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia also organized national votes. In all, 35,000 people from 45 countries sent in votes for the final.
With the public vote tallied, the finalists gathered to hear the six works performed by Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra at a concert hosted by actor Simon Callow and BBC broadcaster James Naughtie. Broadcast on 40 radio networks internationally, through 250 separate broadcasts, the Masterprize final reached an estimated global audience of 150 million listeners. The celebrity panel for the final included pianist-conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, composer Michael Berkeley, baritone Thomas Hampson, film composer Michael Kamen, and music producer George Martin. Following the concert the panel cast their own votes, which were split 50/50 with the public vote, with a poll of members of the London Symphony Orchestra serving as the tie-breaker.
In the end, the tie-break was not necessary: both the public and the experts agreed on Andrew March’s “Marine—à travers les arbres.” Cheri Blair, wife of…
Philadelphia Orchestra Competition
As we were completing the report on the Masterprize competition, we learned that the Philadelphia Orchestra was planning a competition of its own. Simon Woods, the orchestra’s artistic administrator, prepared the following to give readers of Harmony the details.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a long tradition of advocacy of new music. This commitment goes back to the Stokowski era, which saw U.S. premieres of Mahler’s Das lied von der Erde, Schönberg’s Gurrelieder, and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, as well as world premieres of numerous works by Bartók, Rachmaninov, Barber, and others. But in recent decades, composers have not always had totally creative and constructive relationships with musicians and the public. Our goal now, therefore, is to forge stronger and more creative links among the different constituencies involved, through a composition competition, to take place in 2000, as part of the orchestra’s centennial celebrations.
In collaboration with the American Composers Forum (ACF), with whom we are building a successful ongoing relationship, we will start by announcing a request for scores. A specialist panel, organized with the help of the ACF, will evaluate the scores submitted, and will choose a shortlist of three. The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform these three works during the first half of a special concert conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch. During intermission and the second half, votes from the audience, the musicians, and another Philadelphia-based specialist panel will be counted. These results will be collated, with each voting constituency having equal, one-third weightings, and the winner will be announced at the end of the concert. There will, of course, be a cash prize. But our crucial commitment is that we will undertake to play the winning work in a future season (both in Philadelphia and in New York) and on tour, and we will also develop a program for the composer to meet and work with sponsors, musicians, donors, schools, audiences, and other key groups who form part of our musical “food-chain.”
The choice of a three-way voting pattern is philosophically carefully reasoned: it says, very simply, that we regard the reaction of our audience, the perspective of our musicians, and educated critical opinion as factors of equal importance. And our commitment to promoting the winning work widely is a demonstration of our faith in these groups to make a challenging and stimulating choice.
…the Prime Minister, awarded the £25,000 first prize to March, as well as a £3,000 second prize to Victoria Borisova-Ollas, and a £2,000 third prize to Daniele Gasparini.
Not everyone agreed with the choice, or the competition’s philosophy. Critics complained that competition was rigged in favor of safe, tonal music, at the expense of experimentation and originality. Andrew Clements, music critic for The Guardian, led the charge: “It might all seem healthily democratic, but great art has never been made by popular consensus. . . . The Masterprize recipe is much more likely to come up with a work that has simple surface attractions.”6
The choice of March’s “Marine”—the most traditionally tonal and melodious of the final pieces— also raised hackles among music critics, several of whom called the piece derivative and mediocre. “Competitions are even more notorious than critics for getting it wrong when it comes to predicting composers’ places in posterity,” wrote Times critic John Allison. “But by any standards the result left me speechless.”7
Masterprize organizers are unapologetic about the competition’s focus on the mainstream. Says McLaren: “We had no objections to atonal pieces, but if we’d chosen a piece which sent the audience out of the concert hall shaking their heads in perplexity, we’d simply have reinforced the problem we are trying to address.” Masterprize manager Louise Price adds that vigorous debate was part of the plan: “We wanted to create a debate. We tried to avoid being at the center of it, but we thought we could be a catalyst for discussion.”8
For John Lawley, oboe and chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra, the results of the Masterprize competition were less meaningful than the exposure it afforded six worthy composers. “The important thing is that all six composers will now get commissions: It’s a platform,” he told BBC Music Magazine. “It was great to think that thousands of people from over 40 countries were tuning in to contemporary music. All I can hope is that they thought: ‘Hey, this really isn’t bad.’ Without their interest and commitment to new music, we have no future.”9
As for the future of Masterprize, all of the principals have signed on for the second competition, scheduled to have its final in November 2000. The format will not change substantially, although McLaren reports that the ban on previously broadcast works may be lifted in order to attract more established composers. EMI plans to rerelease the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of the 1998 finalists, and the Masterprize staff will work to secure additional performances for the finalists.
“We have ambitious plans, but all we can be is a catalyst for a wider process,” says McLaren. “If music is to reengineer a healthy balance between new and old, the bridge with most music lovers must be rebuilt. We should encourage listeners to express their opinions; otherwise they will keep voting with their feet. And when we, the public, are prevented from criticising the bad, we tend not to praise the good either. The result is silence, the death of the word of mouth that is the oxygen supply for the new.”10
Sara Austin is associate editor of Civilization and American Benefactor magazines. She holds a B.A. summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.S.J. from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.
1 McLaren, John. 1998. Change of Tune. Sunday Times (London), (April 5): II, 6.
3 Masterprize press statement.
4 Change of Tune.
5 Coutts press statement.
6 Clements, Andrew. 1998. Eye on the Prize. The Guardian (London), (April 3).
7 What Did the Audience Think? 1998. BBC Music Magazine (June): 19.
8 Morris, Jane. 1998. New Competitions: Hitting the Right Note. International Arts Manager (March): 25.
9 What Did the Audience Think? 10 Change of Tune.
Ritual Versus Performance: The Future of Concert Music
Participants in and observers of the world of symphonic music regularly use the Internet to seek information, to communicate with one another across vast distances, and simply to explore what is posted at various sites on the World Wide Web. It was during one such exploration that we discovered the writings of Christos Hatzis, a composer and author of the following essay.
The Viability of Concert Music
The essay opens with Hatzis pondering whose responsibility it is to fund what he calls “high culture.” He outlines changes brought about by an increasingly global economy, shifting governmental priorities, and the growing role of corporations in arts funding. He then steps back and traces the history of arts patronage from pre-Renaissance times to the present, drawing the somewhat gloomy conclusion that the stage and record industries support interpretation rather than composition.
A New Paradigm
Hatzis then turns his attention to musical works composed from the 1960s onward, music that he says adheres to a “New Age” musical paradigm. In language understandable to all readers, he details how changes in composition mirror changes in society.
Arguing that postindustrial information societies suffer from information overload, Hatzis presents the case of a “need for sanctuary,” predicting that composition will change in both process and content, becoming what he calls “a spiritual canvas.” He concludes the essay on a more optimistic note, encouraging artists to become embodiments of human aspiration and suggesting that the modes of transmission of music in the years ahead will bring composer and listener closer to one another.
As a composer of primarily concert music, I have often wondered about the viability of what I do and the prospects of my music’s survival within a rapidly transforming cultural milieu. It is not the act of composition itself that I question, but whether this activity of composing and presenting the kind of music that interests me is relevant to enough people and to a significant enough degree to merit support through public funds.
I belong to a generation of composers who were schooled in the modernist tradition. During the 1970s, when I was a university student in composition, this tradition was already questioned by a growing number of professional practitioners, but continued to be the prevailing ideology in academic settings. The questions which were asked then rather quietly by conservative social thinkers, and are now more vocally rearticulated by a greater number of public voices, are as follows: Is it the responsibility of government to support cultural products which are deemed to be important by only a minority of citizens? Is high culture of any benefit to the average citizen who’s paying for it with tax money? And if the average citizen thinks high culture is not a benefit, is it not the responsibility of an elected government to incrementally reduce or terminate the funding for the creation and reproduction of such cultural products? Should not special interest communities, such as the arts sector and those whofind unprofitable art of interest and value, take on the burden of sustaining high culture?
Today, many detractors of public funding for the arts think and argue along these lines. To compound the problem of this politically conservative “lean and mean” attitude towards public spending, there is a growing resentment of any kind of protectionism among supporters of a borderless global economy. Defenders of international free trade view cultural subsidies by governments as protectionist measures counter to the spirit of existing free trade agreements.
The Canadian government, for example, is under constant pressure from its NAFTA associates to make culture an aspect of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The heavily subsidized cultural sector in Canada considers such a possibility suicidal for Canadian culture because, in a free-trade context, the Canadian cultural industry would not be able to compete with an industry 10 times its size located south of the border.
Pressure from the outside is not peculiar to Canada. In many conutries, the view of government as a protector of national culture, agriculture, or industry is under assault from the outside and, in many cases, from the inside, too. Under such circumstances, it becomes increasingly difficult to balance the economic benefits of free trade with the less visible benefits of cultural identity. There is an ongoing debate within all levels of government, and the public at large, about the social importance of culture and the government’s role in its preservation. The winners emerging from this debate are very rarely the artists. This ongoing climate of uncertainty, caused by a corresponding lack of vision and commitment to long-term support for the arts, has given rise to cynicism on both sides of the debate.
Increasingly, the corporate model, which the world of finance uses as a measuring device for everything else, finds converts within an arts community strapped for cash and willing to accept money with strings attached. The image of the successful corporation as a finely tuned orchestra is by now a cliché, but it still adorns sponsorship pages of concert programs and other printed publicity. Conversely, the more a symphony orchestra resembles a corporation in its structure and operation, the more attractive it becomes to potential sponsors from the business community. This in itself is a small price to pay for securing one’s funding base. But it does not stop here. The constantly aging subscription base requires an increase in light, inoffensive content; the preference of corporate sponsors to underwrite concerts with well-known soloists and conductors forces the increase of star content in programming, even if that means reallocating resources in a way that the remuneration gap between higher and lower artistic fees widens (as does the cynicism of orchestra members towards the whole idea of music making). The pressure from government funding bodies, which often make funding conditional upon commissioning and performing new works, results more often than not in apologetic productions of these works with limited chance of interesting a wider audience. Artistic directors play all these demands against each other and, at the other end of this juggling feat, out comes yet another concert season. Our concert music, in its desperate will to survive at all costs, has gone the way of the publicist, the lobbyist, the sleek image, and the MTV face, dress, and body language.
Tracing an Ongoing Problem
Art and music have, of course, always been in similar predicaments. Artists had to strike balances between the requirements imposed by their patrons, impresarios, and underwriters and their own needs to say what they wanted to say. With a few exceptions, the cost of mounting ambitious works of art has always been beyond the means of individual ticket-buying attendants alone to underwrite. As the patronage of high art was passed from the hands of the church to the secular courts, to the bourgeoisie, to the present-day corporate and government sponsors, the requirements changed. But the character of art patronage since the Renaissance has remained essentially the same. It is a form of decorum, a measure of affluence, influence, and worldly position. To a Renaissance prince, a new Mass was similar to what a state-of-the-art industrial video or multimedia presentation is to a multinational corporation today. It was an indication of status, a subtle means by which the commissioner could assert independence from other sources of secular, religious, or economic power. It was an advertisement of a patron’s “edge” over the competition. Art and music particularly flourished at times of pronounced rivalry between competing centers of secular power and influence. Secondarily, it was a confirmation of the social system itself. By being the guardian of culture, the apex of the social pyramid legitimized its own position. Art validated the notion that a pyramidal social structure was the best means of maintaining a high level of civilization.
By the 19th century, when Romanticism was in full swing, one could argue that in Europe artists had finally managed to liberate themselves from social pressures, negate this pyramidal establishment, and set themselves independent of the patronage system of previous centuries. While on the surface this appears to have been the case, the image of the liberated artist became, in essence, a metaphor for the emerging urban, industrialist, and mercantile middle and upper classes. These new concentrations of economic power, resented by the old and declining aristocracy, sought to find social legitimacy through art, as had similar power structures before them. For this emerging new order, the story of Prometheus became the story of class struggle. Accordingly, Prometheus was established as morally higher than Zeus, the former representing the individual who takes his fortune into his own hands and suffers heroically for it, the latter symbolizing the inherited—or usurped—apex of an unpopular social pyramid, a resented arbiter of an arcane and irrational moral code.
In spite of appearances, romantic figures in art were very much a product, not a negation, of society. Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Nietzsche, and Darwin were the evangelists of the capitalist ethic and, conversely, the advent of capitalism
and its moral philosophy made their ideas possible and credible. As a new hierarchy of economic achievement was taking over from the older structure of social castes, that hierarchy raised the concept of individualism to a supreme ideological value. Individualism gave rights to talented or driven individuals who had no such rights under the system of inherited aristocracy. They in turn justified their upward mobility as an individual right, and in return gave the concept of individualism the status that only a class in power can provide.
The artist became a metaphor for the individual and his or her rights. By the nineteenth century, the gradual secularization of the role of the artist had acquired an added dimension. There was an increasing amount of psychological transference taking place between the audience and the stage. The performer and the composer increasingly embodied the urges, aspirations, and dreams of the new citizen. Goal orientation, the trademark of Western music since the Renaissance, became the operating principle of any successful musical work of the 18th and 19th centuries, and of performances of such works. From the relative lack of dynamic profile of early music through the terraced dynamics of the baroque, we reach a point at the height of the Romantic era when dramatic tempo and dynamic (amplitude) transformations, and gestures of every kind, become the lingua franca of musical communication. The orchestra increased in size and volume to celebrate the ideals of the industrial revolution. New, louder instruments were invented and older ones were outfitted with new appendages to cater to ears which were becoming accustomed to the powerful intensity of industrial machinery.
I could find endless parallels between musical and social change in Western post-Renaissance society. It is not the parallels themselves, but the idea that music exists as a parallel to life, that necessitated a separation between the two. Music was life “acted out”; the two developed in tandem, but could not coincide or overlap as in premythic societies. They had to be kept separate for the psychological process of transference to take place. The artist was an object of identification for a repressed individual who was otherwise at a loss in understanding his or her position within society, not unlike the situation with pop music idols today. The stage took the place held by the altar in pre- Renaissance Europe and art became a substitute for religion. If theocracy was a hierarchical system in the “image and likeness” of pre-Renaissance society, then the Promethean individual who rises above the crushing weight of the opposing forces was in the “image and likeness” of the capitalist ethic. The soloist struggling against the orchestra in the concerto and the composer defying the expectations of the audience were images the romantic spirit cherished.
Even though a great deal of 20th-century music- related rhetoric was anti-romantic in nature, the actual musical attitudes with regards to performance did not change significantly. As modernism became aware of the impossibility behind the promise of capitalism, it took upon itself the unenviable task of exposing the lie behind the promise. The modernist message was of limited appeal, because—due to the lack of viable alternatives and the fact that in practice the industrial revolution was still promising a great future full of consumer commodities and scientific breakthroughs— society as a whole went into negation. Society chose to continue with the process of transference fine-tuned during the previous century, instead of facing up to the grim reality which modernism was exposing. So instrumental virtuosos, opera singers, and Promethean conductors continued to dominate the world’s stages. If composers were disenchanted and unwilling to play along with this industrial myth, society was willing to dispense with them altogether or relegate them to relative obscurity. There was enough music from the common-practice era to perform over and over again. The focus shifted to interpretation. The concept of interpretation, a predominantly 20th-century phenomenon, gave a new lease on life to the finite classical repertoire. As an idea it did not originate in the 20th century, but it was for the first time in this century—with the invention of the phonograph record and the magnetic tape recorder—that we could make a permanent record of the way performers interpreted the works of the past. For several decades, the stage and the record industry focused their energies on interpretation rather than composition. They helped to establish the former as an art form of the highest cultural significance, while paying lip service to the latter. This was a faint echo of the veneration previous centuries held for the act of original creation.
A New Paradigm
In recent years, there has been a marked change in public attitudes towards classical repertoire. The mainstream classical record industry has reported alarming annual sales losses for several consecutive years. Analysts attribute this to the fact that record collectors have finished replacing their vinyl collections with compact discs and have, therefore, stopped buying. This analysis is further supported by the fact that certain smaller labels specializing in music by living composers—ECM New Series, Nonesuch—seem to be unaffected by this recession and are actually reporting annual growth in almost inverse ratio to declining sales of classical repertoire. No matter how one interprets the numbers, they clearly indicate a shifting interest from classical to new music among buyers.
Having said that, I should qualify the term “new music” in relation to these statistics. It does not include mid-century experiments usually known as the avant-garde, or similarly inspired works of the present. It mostly includes works composed from the 1960s onwards; those which adhere to a new musical paradigm.
I have written elsewhere about this new paradigm1 and its music, so I will outline it only briefly for the purposes of this essay. Western music, from the advent of polyphony to about the middle of this century, has followed a more or less continuous trajectory of evolution, technically described as a process towards emancipation of the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and structural aspects of composition. The underlying social forces causing this development in composition can be broadly described as a psychological process of individuation. Polyphony and the concept of pluralism in music signaled the end of the Middle Ages and the era of one authority, one truth, and one voice common to everyone.
With polyphony, the Renaissance paradigm was born, even though the actual musical era that we describe as “Renaissance” did not come until later. This Renaissance paradigm extended to the late 19th century, when the process of individuation reached its peak, and almost immediately afterwards followed a path of sharp decline, reaching a musical and psychological state of maximal entropy—total randomness—by the 1950s and early 1960s. One can trace the origins of a new paradigm, the New Age paradigm, to about the same time. The proliferation of non-Western ideas, minimalism, and certain aspects of postmodernism are the early expressions of a growing disenchantment with the Renaissance paradigm and its postulates and the beginnings of a new way of looking at our society and its culture.
Let us examine a bit more closely this disenchantment. As I noted earlier, the music of every era is important, inasmuch as it addresses a certain deeply felt need and so long as it reverberates within a larger context, however one may choose to define it. We saw how the psychological process of individuation and its social and economic counterpart, capitalism, found continuing expression in the music of the Renaissance paradigm. A classical composition is a structure consisting of multiple layers of forward-moving harmonic progressions aiming toward a cadence. Even though there is a background structure, such as the I- V-I background progression in Shenkerian analysis, the great works of the 18th and 19th centuries were not composed “from the top down,” but in a way that the structure did not impede the forward motion of the foreground material. The opposition between themes, and the setting up and resolution of dissonance, were the prime tools of musical continuity. Society wanted structure, but it did not want an artificially maintained status quo. Structure had to be earned through struggle.
The mechanisms of this process had to consciously engage the listener long enough for the subliminal message—the compositional process as a metaphor for social and psychological ones—to take effect. The music had to engage the listener’s attention and expand the attention span by occasionally confirming, but mostly betraying, listener expectation, producing musical information by means of a cat-and-mouse process. In an era when information was the privilege of the few, this was a great educational and mind-building tool.
In the postindustrial information societies of the present, this process has a different effect. Today we are bombarded with information. Information overload is similar to the environmental contamination the industrial revolution caused. There is a great deal of competition among information providers for our attention—on the radio, television, telephone and fax, on the Internet, on the billboards and subway posters we see on our way to work and back. The advertisers’ strategies and methodologies for getting our attention are essentially no different from the strategies and methodologies Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms used to the same end. There is a hook or a theme to engage us initially, and then some form of suspended resolution, which guarantees that we will stay tuned to the end of the message.
To defend ourselves against this barrage of information, we have developed a complex set of filters, which enables us to block unwanted information and let in only what we want to hear and see. To varying degrees, most postmodern urban dwellers are capable of deconstructing incoming information. This, however, happens at a psychological and, eventually, social cost. In such a state of siege, our antennas cannot stay tuned to the faint whispers of our souls, wherein lie the seeds of a new and fundamental rethinking of ourselves, or to the subtle signals emanating from others which might become catalysts to this rethinking process. While advertisers and marketing experts develop ever more potent arrows, and we respond with heavier information shields, what is lost is the discovery which comes with traveling light. We are increasingly weighted down by information and feel oppressed by it.
In the same way we deconstruct a television advertisement, we also tend to deconstruct a Mozart symphony. If Mozart has become more popular in recent years than some of his contemporaries, it is probably because he “pushes” information less relentlessly. One can enjoy his music as a pure sonic experience, more so perhaps than Beethoven’s music, which by comparison sounds like a rigorous sonic implementation of structure. This new, less cerebral way of listening to music is reflected in a new kind of classical radio programming, the variety show. The programming principle is extreme geographical and chronological displacement: the more different two successive items are from each other, the better. This type of presentation is successful not because the listener is capable of constantly switching cognitive mechanisms to follow the radically different languages between successive items, but because he or she absorbs the music at the level of sound, rather than the level of structure, and is implicitly encouraged by this form of programming to engage in a manner of listening which is not hierarchical, but random.
Our perception of the music can be described as a series of instant “epiphanies,” sudden bursts of meaning which are not threaded in any discernible linear manner. The method of presentation ultimately becomes the content. In postmodern societies, we listen to the classics in a way which engages their information content considerably less than it has in the past, as background music for a dinner conversation, or while reading the newspaper, or when driving the car in heavy traffic. We want the music we listen to to relieve stress, not add to it by further exposure to information. Capitalism may be the only extant socioeconomic system today, but we don’t need Wagner to remind us of it. What we need is a sanctuary for our cluttered senses.
The Need for Sanctuary
In some respects we have come around full circle, or, as I see it, we are on the same perpendicular position on an upward-moving spiral. Just as the church and its metaphysical promise of salvation provided an answer to medieval society (with its political and economic uncertainties and the frequent invasions of Europe by hordes from the east), spirituality today becomes an open door for an individual who has been reduced by the information society to little more than a target.
Religion, which in its etymological sense means “to reconnect,” provides an answer to postmodernist deconstruction. Is this escape? It could very well become so, and the very industry which forces us to escape in the first place is readying itself to receive us at the other end. Compact discs of any music with spiritual aspirations or pretensions sell well, and the most visible evangelists of the New Age paradigm are now big business. But true spirituality is our last, our only surviving citadel: it is the still center within us, a sanctuary no one can enter uninvited. It is our “gyro,” which, as in fighter airplanes, will orient us no matter how fast the world turns around us and we in it. If the music of the new paradigm composers can help us attain that realm which will empower us as individuals, the price of a compact disc or a concert ticket is a small price to pay, indeed.
The viable music of today is catalytic. It responds to real needs by real and direct means. The glorification of the individual as a struggling demigod associated with the old paradigm is no longer a viable psychological and/or sociopolitical necessity. I believe, therefore, that its musical analogue, virtuosic performance, on stage or electronically captured, will have little functionality in tomorrow’s culture. Conversely, the concept of musical ritual in its pure sense, where there is no division between priesthood and laity, performers and audience, but rather a communion of participants with the music functioning as a catalyst for that communion, will be most likely the music of tomorrow’s society. It will be an egoless music whose center of gravity will lie outside the composer: it will lie in fact outside the composition altogether.
If the need for sanctuary today is fast becoming universal, a critical mass of people should acquire a taste for music which addresses this need at some point in the future. If and when this becomes the case, the question of whether or not governments should support the arts will become rhetorical. Chances are that the system of parliamentary democracy may not fare any better tomorrow than arts funding, health care, and welfare do today. If we relinquish the idea of our government being all things to all people, we in fact relinquish the moral raison d’être for government altogether.
If I were to predict the future of concert music based on the trends discussed here, I would say that we will most likely witness simultaneous growth and decline within the arts sector at either end of the new/old paradigm polarity. Musical metaphors of the industrial era, such as the large symphony orchestra and the conductor/soloist cult, are likely to decline while such participatory structures as community choirs are likely
to transform and grow. Composition will change, too, in both content and process. It will become more interactive; not in a mechanistic way, imitating the structure of video games, but in a manner whereby the composer creates spaces within which the listener-participant meditates. It will be a spiritual canvas, the imprint on which will be that of the end user more than the creator.
I started this paper in a rather pessimistic manner because there is growing pessimism and cynicism in the field of music on both sides of the funding debate, and in labor relations within larger arts organizations, caused no doubt by the perception that the future of classical music appears bleak for both practitioners and music lovers. As musicians, we have been made to feel that we are immaterial, unnecessary, and real nuisances by the powers that be and the public at large for the better part of this century. At the doorstep of the new millennium this no longer is the case. If we stare bravely into the future, if we penetrate the seemingly impenetrable clouds of our present predicament, we will see great need for music, and an opportunity for the artist to become an embodiment, not just a metaphor, of human aspiration. Dare we accept this challenge? Dare we sacrifice our artists’ egos on the altar of humanity? The plethora of choices we have been accustomed to having in the past is fast collapsing into two distinct ones: the first leads up a narrow path to spirituality; the other choice is, increasingly, MTV.
Christos Hatzis is a composer and an associate professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He holds a B.M. and an M.M. from the Eastman School of Music and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
1 Hatzis, Christos. 1996. Footprints in New Snow: Towards a New Musical Paradigm. Posted on the World Wide Web at <www.chass.utoronto .ca:8080/~chatzis/paradigm.htm>. Published by MikroPolyphonie on- line journal, Latrobe University, Australia.
About the Cover
T he music on our cover represents the high point in a historic partnership between an orchestra and its leader. On March 3, 2019,
the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra premiered Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony—our excerpt shows the very first page—with the composer conducting. Felix Mendelssohn served as conductor of the Leipzig orchestra from 1835 until his death in 1847. Even at the time it was generally accepted that, under his enlightened leadership, the Gewandhaus had become the greatest orchestra in the world.
Long before Mendelssohn moved there, Leipzig boasted an unusually distinguished history as a music center, highlighted by J. S. Bach’s 27 years as cantor of St. Thomas Church. (He died on the job in 1750, and is buried in the churchyard, in an unmarked grave). The forerunner of the historic Gewandhaus orchestra dates back to Bach’s lifetime, when the Leipzig Grosse Concert Society was founded in 1743. In 1781, with the building of the new Gewandhaus—the “cloth hall,” named after the guild of cloth merchants on whose site it stood—the Leipzig orchestra quickly took its place among the most prestigious music organizations in all Europe. Mozart played two of his piano concertos there in 1789. Beethoven’s First Symphony was performed in Leipzig in 1801, scarcely a year after its Vienna premiere.
Once Mendelssohn took over as the orchestra’s fifth conductor in 1835, the Leipzig Gewandhaus set new standards in musicmaking, artistic planning, and leadership. Mendelssohn regularly invited important guest conductors and soloists—Liszt played with the orchestra in 1840, Berlioz led his Symphonie fantastique there in 1843—and he broadened the repertoire to include both forgotten masterworks and serious new music. His series of “historical concerts” reintroduced audiences to works by Handel, Haydn, and Mozart that were already slipping from the active repertory. (Imagine living at a time when those three composers were not well known and valued, and when such recent music was considered too old to be worthy of attention.) His pioneering work championing Bach’s music single-handedly paved the way for the great Bach revival of the late 19th century.
Mendelssohn also played a great deal of important new music in Leipzig. He gave the world premieres of Schumann’s first two symphonies, as well as the historic, posthumous first performance, in 1839, of Schubert’s Great C major symphony, which had been discovered earlier that year in Vienna, at the home of Schubert’s brother. But, for sheer prestige, no event eclipsed the night in March of 1842, when Mendelssohn led the Leipzig musicians in the first performance of his own Third Symphony, which soon became one of the most popular works in the repertoire. (Later generations dubbed it the Scottish, although Mendelssohn rightly felt that it stood on its own, without a nickname.)
Mendelssohn worked continuously in Leipzig to raise performance standards. He was the first conductor there to use a baton, and he instituted the practice, novel at the time, of leading all symphonic music himself, rather than leaving it to the concertmaster. (Wagner, who grew up in Leipzig, remembered a particularly chaotic performance of Beethoven’s Ninth shortly before Mendelssohn’s arrival; earlier still, when Mozart appeared with the orchestra, he was forced to stamp his feet so hard to keep the musicians together that a buckle flew off one of his shoes.)
Mendelssohn formalized the orchestra’s seating plan, with first and second violins split at each side, as was becoming the custom at the time. (Leipzig, so progressive in some respects, was among the last orchestras to allow its musicians to sit rather than stand while playing; the Gewandhaus violins and violas did not use chairs until the first decade of the 20th century!) He also regularly intervened on behalf of musicians’ rights, and campaigned vigorously to increase their salaries. And as a popular and energetic civic leader, Mendelssohn was able to raise funds from the wealthy city merchants to found the Leipzig Conservatory, where he served as its first director and hired his good friend Robert Schumann to teach piano and composition.
Mendelssohn’s vision for Leipzig as an international music center clearly pointed the way to the future, and, to this day, his years at the helm still serve as a model of insightful leadership, visionary programming, educational ideals, community engagement, and harmony in the workplace.
Phillip Huscher is the program annotator for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Board of Advisors
The Board of Advisors of the Institute is composed of up to 18 active or former participants in, or close observers of, symphony orchestra organizations, with terms running through June 30, 2019. The board will normally include symphony organization board members, executive directors, orchestra members, and other orchestral organization participants and close observers, in about even proportions, and representative of various organizational sizes and locations. Although the Institute may make exceptions, the board will normally not at any one time have more than one member affiliated or formerly affiliated with the same symphony orchestra organization, and, in order better to assure independence of view, will not normally have a member who is also in an executive role with an industry group or association. Advisors have the following duties:
◆ Volunteer ongoing advice as to the general direction, programs, and policies of the Institute, and critique specific questions, ideas, and proposals.
◆ Foster greater awareness of positive organizational change and advances in the effectiveness of symphony orchestra organizations.
◆ Promote an interest in and support of the Institute and its programs. Members of the 1998-1999 Board of Advisors are as follows:
Carter R. Buller
Carter Buller is a senior partner in Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP, a Philadelphia law firm, for which he served as chairman from 1992 to 1996. Additionally, he presently serves as a member of the boards of trustees of Jefferson Health System, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and as chairman of the hospital’s finance committee. During 1997 and early 1998, Carter served as the chair of the Philadelphia Orchestra Millennium Task Force. Carter is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and received his J.D. degree from the Yale University Law School. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Jo Ann, and has two grown children.
Jon Deak, a well-known American composer who has been composer-in- residence at the Colorado Symphony, is also the associate principal bassist and creative education associate for the New York Philharmonic. He was awarded a bachelor’s degree in music from the Juilliard School, a master’s degree in music from the University of Illinois, and, as a Fulbright Scholar, completed his graduate study at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome. His compositions have been performed at music festivals around the world, and by a number of major symphony orchestras and chamber groups nationwide. Jon’s commissions include a two-act opera for the 20th Century Consort Chamber Group and works for the Colorado Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. His Concerto for Contrabass and Orchestra (“Jack and the Beanstalk”) was nominated by the National Symphony for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize. Jon is an avid mountaineer, and is active in bringing new music to young people. He has been teaching in the Denver and New York City public schools, where he is developing a technique for allowing elementary and middle school children to compose directly for the symphony orchestra. Some of the results have already been broadcast on national television.
Ann L. Drinan
Ann Drinan has been a violist with the Hartford Symphony since 1980. She served on the orchestra committee in the late 80s, and has been the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) representative for the orchestra since 1989 and a board member since 1992, serving on the executive, marketing, and long-range planning committees. In 1997, she was elected vice president of ROPA. When not playing with the orchestra and attending board meetings, Ann tends her own business as a technical writer, developing documentation, on- line help systems, and programming specifications for computer software companies. Ann received a bachelor of arts in music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a master of arts in international relations from Yale University. She lives in Connecticut and New York City, with her husband, Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist for film and television.
Karen Faaborg is a professor of arts administration at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and co-director of the graduate program in arts administration. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, her M.A. in theater from Miami University, and her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati. Using both her legal and performing arts training, as well as her professional background in educational theater and community arts, she focuses on the organizational and personnel issues facing arts organizations, and the policy and legal environment for the arts. In addition, she also serves as a consultant and advisor to professional arts organizations in these areas. Karen is married to Robert Faaborg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati. They live in the Cincinnati area.
Paul Ganson received a bachelor of arts in English literature from the University of Michigan, after which he began his career as a bassoonist. Since 1969, he has been assistant principal bassoon for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He also served as the founding administrator of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra during its creation and the first two years of its existence. In addition, he has been active with Save Orchestra Hall, Inc., since its inception in 1970, serving as president until 1989, when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra returned home to Orchestra Hall, 50 years after leaving it. Paul has played bassoon internationally, playing with the City of Belfast Orchestra, the Northern Ireland Grand Opera Association, and the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra, with which ensemble he recorded for broadcast Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major for Bassoon and Orchestra, K. 191. While working towards his master of arts degree, Paul served as principal bassoon with the Toledo Symphony, and as second bassoon with the Dallas Symphony. Having completed his master’s degree at the University of Michigan, he complemented his musical activities in Dallas by teaching English part time at Southern Methodist University.
Julie Haight received her bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Iowa, after which she joined the Minnesota Orchestra. After serving in the artistic and marketing areas, she returned to school to earn an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul). She then joined a governmental agency, but came back to the Minnesota Orchestra as an assistant to the personnel manager. She was recently appointed personnel manager of the Minnesota Orchestra. Julie was the chairperson of the Orchestra Personnel Manager’s Association for 1997 and 1998. Julie and her husband, Tom Curran, live in the Minneapolis area.
Shirley Helzberg has been involved with the Kansas City Symphony for several years. She joined the board in 1992, and has served as president since May 1995. She also serves as president of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and as the chairman of Della Lamb Community Services. In addition, she is currently on the boards of several cultural, educational, and philanthropic foundations in Kansas City and nationwide, including trustee of the Nelson- Atkins Museum of Art, the State Ballet of Missouri, the Starlight Theater Association of Kansas City, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Friends of the Kansas City Zoo, the National Council of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Kansas City Chapter Brandeis University National Women’s Committee. Shirley pursued a career in radio advertising and broadcasting in California prior to turning her energies to philanthropy. She has two children and lives with her husband, Barnett, outside of Kansas City.
Mark Jamison joined the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra in 1996 as managing director. Educated in music at the University of Toronto, Mark has enjoyed two careers. He spent a decade as a double bass player with the orchestras of Quebec, Hamilton, Toronto, and London. Then, following business studies at Ryerson University, Mark began a second career as an association executive with trade, business, and education organizations. He has served on a number of arts and community volunteer Boards. Immediately prior to his appointment in Kitchener, Mark was executive vice president of the Royal Conservatory. In addition to his KWS duties, Mark also oversees the Canadian Chamber Ensemble (made up of the principals of the KWS) and the Kitchener- Waterloo Youth Orchestra. Mark lives in the Toronto area with his wife, Jill Vitols, a prominent freelance cellist, and their two children. The entire family is active in Waldorf (Steiner) education and related societies.
Rebekah Lambert has been the executive director of the Eugene Symphony since early 1996, prior to which she served as the executive director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, and as orchestra manager of the Honolulu Symphony. She also participated in the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Orchestra Management Fellowship program with internships at the Canton (Ohio) Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic. A native of southern California, Rebekah received her bachelor of music in cello performance from the University of California at Santa Barbara, spending her junior year at the G. B. Martini Music Conservatory in Italy. She received a master’s degree in management from the Yale School of Management.
Justine LeBaron has been a french hornist with the Florida Orchestra since 1974. An active member of the musicians’ committee for the past six years, she serves on the orchestra’s board of trustees and has been a member of three negotiating committees, and the board’s education, marketing, and executive committees. Teaching has also been a priority throughout her career, beginning with public school instrumental music in New York. She received her bachelor of science from the State University of New York–Potsdam, and a master’s degree in education from the University of Florida at Gainesville. She has taught at Stetson University and currently serves on the faculty of Florida Southern College. Justine lives in Tampa with her husband, Don Owen, also a member of the Florida Orchestra and a professor of trumpet at the University of South Florida.
David Alan Miller
David Alan Miller has been the music director and conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra since June 1992, prior to which he served as assistant and then associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During his years of working with orchestras, David has initiated several programs for schools, youth orchestras, and young musicians. He served for several years as the music director of the New York Youth Symphony. In 1996, his fresh approach to drawing new audiences into symphony halls garnered front page coverage in the Wall Street Journal. He has also conducted several recorded concerts, including the world premiere in Los Angeles of Mel Powell’s “Duplicates, Concerto for Two Pianos,” which won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize. David received his bachelor of arts in music from the University of California at Berkeley and his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Juilliard School. He lives in suburban Albany with his wife and two children.
Victor Parsonnet, M.D., is an undergraduate of Cornell University and received his medical degree from New York University. An accomplished surgeon and researcher, and a pioneer in the development of cardiac pacing, he also has gained international renown in the field of vascular and cardiovascular surgery. He has served on several editorial boards and holds five patents. As a recognized expert and lecturer in his field, he has authored a wide range of articles, books, book chapters, medical tapes, teaching films, and exhibits. Victor has served in numerous capacities in many professional organizations and societies, including trustee of the American College of Cardiology. Through his avocational interest in symphonic music, he became chairman of the board of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 1991, and continues to serve in that capacity. Victor lives in New Jersey with his wife, Mia, who is also a physician; the Parsonnets have three grown children and five grandchildren.
Ron Schneider became a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1978. He grew up in Boston, where his father was a violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He started his musical training on the violin, switching to the horn at age 15. He attended the Eastman School of Music, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music, and he then did graduate work at Northwestern University. Ron has been an active participant in Pittsburgh chamber music groups, and has performed as a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony on several occasions. He has taught at Penn State, Duquesne University, and Chatham College. He has also been active as an orchestra representative to the Pittsburgh Symphony board and is currently chair of the orchestra committee. He and his wife Debra reside in suburban Pittsburgh with their two daughters and two golden retrievers.
Ward Smith received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1952, and his law degree from the University of Buffalo in 1955. Since then, he has served on the board of directors of several educational, cultural, and philanthropic organizations, including Case Western Reserve University and the American Symphony Orchestra League, of which he is vice chairman. Presently he is chairman, past president, and a trustee of the Musical Arts Association which operates the Cleveland Orchestra. A former reserve officer in the United States Navy, Ward lives in the Cleveland area with his wife, Gretchen.
S. Frederick Starr
Fred Starr, former president of Oberlin College, chairs the Knight Foundation’s symphony initiative. At present he is planning a new university in Tajikistan for the Aga Khan, and chairing a new center on Central Asian studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. In addition, Fred, who resides in the Washington, DC, area, is a clarinetist. He records and tours with the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble of New Orleans, the first jazz band to appear at the Grammy Awards, and an ensemble which regularly performs with symphony orchestras.
Mark Volpe was appointed managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in September 1997, following six years as executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Previously, he was the vice president and general manager of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Mark obtained his juris doctor cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983. He received his bachelor’s degree in music with a major in clarinet performance from the Eastman School of Music in 1979, and did graduate work at the Indiana University School of Music. He holds an honorary degree from the New England Conservatory, where he also sits on the Board of Overseers. He is also a member of the recommendation board of the Avery Fisher Prize Program and is on the board of directors of the National Arts Stabilization. Mark and his wife, Martha, have two children and live in the Boston area.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of the Institute is composed of up to seven persons who have legal and fiduciary responsibilities for the Institute, and who oversee its management and direction as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. Members of the Board of Directors are as follows:
Paul V. Boulian
Paul Boulian received a B.S. in electrical engineering and an M.S./M.B.A. from the University of California at Irvine, followed by a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Yale University. He was employed by Cummins Engine Company from 1974 to1983, where he became director of organization effectiveness and corporate training and development. At Cummins, Paul and his staff led efforts to develop high performance work systems throughout a global organization. After his employment at Cummins, Paul became an organizational consultant where his work has focused on assisting organizations to improve their performance and increase the security of employees. He has worked extensively in the areas of strategy, leadership, and team development, and the imple- mentation of broad-based and accelerated change processes. In unionized settings, he has developed joint labor-management processes as a key vehicle for guiding and leading improvement efforts. Paul and his family live in Connecticut.
Prior to joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1985, Henry Fogel served in an executive capacity with both the National Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. As president of the Chicago Symphony, and thus its chief professional manager, Henry oversees the operations of a variety of groups associated with the orchestra. Henry is also involved with several arts organizations, both locally and nationally, and has served as the only non- British member of a funding practices committee for London orchestras. In addition, Henry is a regularly published record reviewer and radio producer. Henry has acted as producer and broadcast host for more than 100 radiothons for more than 25 orchestras, having conceived the first radio fundraising marathon for an orchestra while working as vice president and program director for a radio station in Syracuse. A native of New York City, Henry received his education at Syracuse University, and lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Frances.
Paul R. Judy
Paul Judy graduated from Harvard College, served as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps, and received an M.B.A. from Harvard. In 1958, he joined the Chicago investment banking firm A. G. Becker & Co., becoming president and chief executive in 1967, serving in that capacity until 1978, and retiring from the firm in 1981. Between 1981 and 1994, he served as a professional director of a number of public and private corporations. During his business career, Paul was active with a range of civic and charitable organizations serving as a trustee of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Northwestern University, Carnegie Hall Society, Financial Accounting Foundation, and the Field Foundation of Illinois. After many years as a volunteer with the Chicago Symphony, Paul served as president for a term and was elected a life trustee. In anticipation of retiring as a professional director, Paul undertook an evaluation of the need for and potential of a nonprofit research and educational foundation dedicated to improving the effectiveness of symphony orchestra organizations. In 1995, he founded the Symphony Orchestra Institute and has since been devoting full time to the development and funding of that institution. Paul resides in the Chicago area with his wife, Mary Ann, and has four children and six grandchildren.
H. Debra Levin
H. Debra Levin received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and an L.L.D degree from Harvard Law School, after which she joined the Chicago law firm of D’Ancona & Pflaum. She became a partner in 1982. Debra’s practice centers on estate planning and probate, employee benefits and ESOPs, and charitable organizations. Debra has been counsel to the Symphony Orchestra Institute since its founding. Debra is married to Anthony M. Kotin, M.D., who is the national medical director of Prudential Insurance. They have two sons and reside in Chicago.
Richard L. Thomas
Dick Thomas is retired chairman and a former director of the First Chicago NBD Corporation and its principal subsidiary, the First National Bank of Chicago, where he was employed for 38 years. He also serves as a director of several other corporations. A past chairman and life trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he is also a trustee of many charitable and civic organizations. Dick received a bachelor of arts degree from Kenyon College, followed by study as a Fulbright Scholar in Copenhagen, and service with Army Intelligence in Iceland. After receiving an M.B.A. from Harvard, he entered the banking industry. Dick is a founding director of the Institute. He lives with his wife, Helen, in the Chicago area.
Fred Zenone has been a member of the cello section of the National Symphony since 1969, before which he was a member of the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for musicians and symphonic music, serving as chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), co-chair of the orchestra panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, a board member of the American Symphony Orchestra League, and in many other positions. Fred and his wife, Pat, live in the Washington, DC, area.