For an orchestra in real need of a morale adjustment, ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge provided treatment in the form of an energetic yet congenially convincing presentation during his recent visit to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
My only regret was that the NJSO management chose not to avail itself of Ridge’s offer to meet with the board or staff—except for a last-minute breakfast meeting with our Interim CEO.
Bruce did sit down several times with the orchestra committee, giving valuable counsel as we begin to take steps to remedy the reality of our perennially under-organized membership.
During a two-part meeting with the NJSO musicians, Bruce delivered an inspirational message, touching on his now-familiar themes: the importance of protecting an orchestra’s brand; that providing an inferior product never leads to success; the large economic impact of the arts nationally and in our community; and a gospel of hope via his catalog of success stories from orchestras all over North America. During the question and answer period he fielded queries ranging from how to establish a separate identity for the players before the public, to addressing the challenges and opportunities of an aging audience. He also reminded us of NJSO’s upcoming centennial in 2021, stressing the imperative that the institution must capitalize on this important milestone in the life of New Jersey’s largest arts organization. The players’ response to his presentation was uniformly positive. One grateful colleague could not hold back tears as she greeted Bruce after the meeting. Another musician, referencing our present search for a new CEO, asked me if Bruce might be interested in the job!
We are grateful to have had a visit from our out-going Chair. It will be remembered.