Simon Woods on the League’s recent in-person Conference, and how orchestras are becoming more inclusive

Posted on: June 24, 2022

“ ‘The League Conference has always been a sociable occasion, but we were blown away by how many people came,’ ” says League of American Orchestras President and CEO Simon Woods in an unsigned interview in Wednesday’s (6/22) Violin Channel. The Conference took place June 1-3 in Los Angeles. Woods: “The field hasn’t gathered for three years and it was clear from the moment that people arrived, they were just thrilled to see each other…. The programming of the conference was also very strong, with the LA Philharmonic as an amazing partner…. Thomas Wilkins, Principal Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, gave a fantastic address at the Conference’s closing session…. [A major focus] in our field is equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our organization is highly invested in this … Since the last time that we gathered as a field, not only have we had COVID, but we’ve also seen the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the fight for racial equity increase … That has changed the discussion…. American orchestras are really changing the repertoire now, whether that be in the gender or race of the composers. We’re sort of building a new American repertoire, which … is really exciting…. The pandemic has provided us an opportunity to think differently … to say, ‘how can we be more effective as organizations? And how can we be more inclusive?’ ”