Boston Symphony’s Gail Samuel on tackling multiple challenges, ushering in change

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Boston Symphony Orchestra president and CEO Gail Samuel in Boston’s Symphony Hall. Photo: Ken Richardson

“Confronting the challenge of wooing listeners back to concerts, widening the audience by appealing to multi-generational groups, and pushing an often-insular industry perceived as elitist by some into diversity and inclusion on stage and in the choice of repertoire,” writes Clarence Fanto in Friday’s (8/4) Berkshire Eagle (MA). “That’s the goal of Gail Samuel—the first woman to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra—in her second year as the president/CEO. [At Tanglewood this summer] there’s music by living American and international composers, especially women and African-Americans, on virtually every concert program. Samuel, 54, was appointed in February 2021…. A clear sign of Samuel’s major priorities is the recent appointment of Sandra St. Fleur Wright in the newly created position of vice president of talent and equity. ‘Sandra’s appointment not only reflects a modern evolution of our human resources function,’ said Samuel, ‘but also signifies our deep commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion across the BSO. We want to ensure that every person, regardless of their individual background or circumstances, feels welcomed at the BSO.’ ” In a Q&A, Samuel speaks about her top priorities for the BSO and the pandemic-era challenge of bringing audiences back.

August 8, 2022

Family classical-music road-trip, including festivals in Colorado and Wyoming

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“Four classical music festivals. Three children. Two exhausted parents, with a brave grandfather in tow. One bedraggled minivan. It’ll be fun, my wife promised me. Surprisingly, it was,” writes David Allen in Saturday’s (8/5) New York Times. “The revival of programming after the darker days of the pandemic affords the adventurous a fresh chance to get better acquainted with the summer offerings here in the United States. There are plenty of them … My family and I … started with the up-and-coming Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, which is within easy reach of Rocky Mountain National Park. Then it made sense to a climb up to the ski resorts west of Denver—first to Bravo! Vail, then to the next valley for the Aspen Music Festival and School. Jackson Hole, Wyo., didn’t look all that far away, really. There, the Grand Teton Music Festival plays just outside the park of the same name, with Yellowstone National Park an hour to the north…. The … four festivals … are all quite different, serving discrete audiences in distinct atmospheres…. Each has its own idea of what—and whom—a summer festival should be for, and each turned out to be valuable in its own way.”

August 8, 2022

Montana to Nevada: Ignacio Barrón Viela selected as Reno Philharmonic’s president and CEO

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“Ignacio Barrón Viela’s love for music started at his childhood home in Spain, but soon it will lead him to Reno. Barrón Viela will begin his new role as the president and CEO of the Reno Philharmonic on Oct. 26,” writes Jenny Kane in Friday’s (8/4) Reno Gazette Journal (NV). “Barrón Viela will succeed Tim Young, who retired last November…. Barrón Viela … most recently … served as the executive director of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, where he helped to acquire the two largest single gifts in the organization’s 72-year history [and] led the organization to adopt a diversity, equity and inclusion policy and worked with Montana senators and the Spanish Consulate bring foreign artists to Billings…. In college, Barrón Viela studied industrial engineering … ‘but I was missing music so much,’ … said Barrón Viela. While working in Germany and playing cello for a local orchestra, the administration asked him to use his consulting experience to assist the orchestra in building its financial stability…. Barrón Viela decided to pursue a master’s in business administration. He … graduated with a master’s from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.” Barrón Viela is an alum of the League of American Orchestras’ Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar and Emerging Leaders Program.

August 8, 2022

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s three-week Summermusik festival: Piazzolla, women composers, chamber crawls, new “Symphonie fantastique” arrangement

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“Coming out of Covid, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s Eckart Preu has a new motto: Joy. ‘It’s not just another season. It is a joyful occasion, and I think everyone will be excited to be playing again,’ said the German-born music director,” writes Janelle Gelfand in Friday’s (8/4) Cincinnati Business Courier. “The Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Summermusik’ festival, Aug. 6 through Aug. 27 … includes four mainstage concerts with the full, 32-piece orchestra…. There are also ‘Chamber Crawls’ and ‘(A Little) Afternoon Musik’—an inventive menu of short concerts for small ensembles in unexpected venues, such as Fretboard Brewing, New Riff Distillery and Newport Aquarium. They are curated by the orchestra’s own musicians…. The musical selections in this year’s mainstage programs [include] [Astor] Piazzolla’s Concerto for Bandoneon, ‘Aconcagua.’ [with] Hector Del Curto [on] button accordion. Tango dancers will also enliven the concert…. There will be nods to women composers [Gabriela Lena Frank, Florence Price, Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Nadia Boulanger]…. On Aug. 13, the orchestra will give the North American premiere of Berlioz’s famous ‘Symphonie fantastique,’ as arranged by Arthur Lavandier…. The orchestration will include a midi keyboard, electric guitar and alphorn…. The season will conclude Aug. 27 with … ‘Water Concerto’ by Chinese composer Tan Dun.”

August 8, 2022

Kennedy Center hires Jen Luzzo as director of public relations for classical music

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“Jen Luzzo has been hired by the Kennedy Center to oversee classical music public relations,” writes Nicholas Beard in Friday’s (8/5) Musical America (subscription required). “Previously in a related position with the New York Philharmonic, she arrived at the KenCen last week and has a portfolio that includes the Washington National Opera (WNO), the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), the Fortas Chamber Music series, all music education activities—of which there are many—and initiatives that explore the intersection of music and wellness. Luzzo reports to Eileen Andrews, VP of public relations at the Kennedy Center, but will be working with NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling (ironically, leaving for the NY Philharmonic in the fall to succeed Deborah Borda as CEO) and WNO General Manager Timothy O’Leary. Luzzo studied music and broadcast journalism at Syracuse University.”

August 8, 2022

Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra performances in New York and Washington, D.C.

Industry Buzz

New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts will present two free concerts by the touring Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra on August 18 and 19 at Damrosch Park. The orchestra, organized by the Metropolitan Opera and Polish National Opera, is touring Europe and the U.S. this summer. Musicians in the orchestra include recent refugees of the war, members of orchestras in other parts of Europe, and musicians from ensembles in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson will lead the orchestra in Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s Seventh Symphony and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with Ukrainian pianist Anna Fedorova. Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska will perform “Abscheulicher!” from Beethoven’s Fidelio. An outdoor reception following the August 18 performance will offer an opportunity to connect with the Ukrainian artists. The concert is free, but donations are encouraged to organizations supporting the resettlement of Ukrainians. The Lincoln Center performance is a co-presentation of all eleven resident organizations; there will also be an August 20 performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. More information here.

August 8, 2022

Changes coming to The Hub

Help Yourself

On August 1, the League announced that it will soon be launching Symphony.org, an engaging mix of news, articles, and thought leadership. This updated, mobile-friendly version of Symphony will replace The Hub and the physical version of the quarterly magazine (we’ll still print one special Conference issue). The site will provide an accessible way for members to stay informed about the field and their colleagues. Business partners will benefit from a wider range of advertising options and a greater reach.

As the League staff focuses on developing this new platform, The Hub will transition away from daily posts. News about the orchestra field will appear in a slimmed-down way, spotlighting essential headlines and information. Starting on Thursday, August 11 and continuing until Symphony.org launches, expect new posts on The Hub every Thursday at hub.americanorchestras.org.

August 8, 2022