Newslets are compiled with the help of ICSOM delegates and ICSOM Members at Large from sources that include direct submissions, member orchestra websites, and topical news items. The editor encourages input and submissions.
The musicians of the Utah Symphony performed a free concert on September 24 at Emery High School in Castledale, Utah, to honor the memory of the miners and rescuers who perished in the collapse of the Crandall Mine. The program was conducted by Music Director Keith Lockhart and featured a moving performance by Gospel singer Renese King, who graciously traveled from Boston for the concert. Repertoire also included Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, and the Brahms First Symphony. The concert drew 1,300 people, and the response was warm and enthusiastic. Keith Lockhart mentioned that he was touched to hear calls of “more” and “thank you” from the audience during the ovation.
According to the orchestra committee, everyone involved donated their time for the project, which later in the process included many members of the Utah Symphony management. The intent, from the beginning, was to present the community with a concert at the highest level, and to offer a peaceful time with beautiful music. The concert was a success on many levels. One woman felt a Utah Symphony concert would help people return to normalcy. Another said that the effort was a reminder that there was such widespread support. While the musicians were driven to present this concert by the outpouring of support they felt towards their community, the concert was also a helpful reminder of the important role they play in their community.
On August 25, the musicians of the San Antonio Symphony volunteered their time and talents for a concert to benefit the San Antonio Food Bank—the first of what is hoped will become an annual event. Music Director Larry Rachleff conducted the orchestra, which included guests from the Dallas Symphony and Baylor University as well as local freelancers. The program of Mozart and Dvorak raised $4,100 in donations, which the Food Bank will leverage into over $50,000 worth of food for San Antonio’s neediest residents. The concert was presented with the assistance of several local unions and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.
The Minnesota Orchestra has appointed Michael Henson to serve as its president and CEO. Considered one of the U.K.’s top symphonic leaders, Henson has served as the Managing Director and CEO of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony for the past eight years. Prior to that, he ran the Ulster Orchestra from 1992 to 1999.
At Bournemouth, Henson led a large-scale reorganization that turned an annual deficit of $1.8 million into an annual surplus of $800,000. During his tenure there, the orchestra produced 45 recordings, won six Grammy nominations, and made international tours to Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Henson negotiated two long-term orchestra agreements, including a three-year contract in 2000 and a four-year contract in 2004, at a time when the norm had been yearly negotiations.
Henson’s appointment concludes a six-month search that began in February. The search committee included representatives from the Minnesota Orchestra’s board and staff, as well as two musicians, cellist Marcia Peck and flutist Wendy Williams. Williams, the musicians’ committee chair, said, “The Search Committee was impressed by Michael’s ideas on how to achieve the important balance between artistic programming and marketing, as well as his deep understanding of the important role orchestras can play in their communities.” Henson is due to start in his new position by February 2008.
The Nashville Symphony Orchestra is engaged in an inter-institutional musician exchange program with the Orquesta Sinfónica UNCuyo of Mendoza, Argentina. Four South American musicians and one administrator traveled to Nashville to participate in rehearsals, concerts, meetings, tours and social activities May 7–14. Violinist Jeremy Williams, violist Michelle Lackey-Collins, bassist Liz Stewart, flutist Ann Richards, Vice President and General Manager Mark Blakeman, and his assistant, Kim Bogle, all of the NSO, recently returned from their reciprocal experience in Mendoza September 17–25.
The exchange program was designed to foster a relationship with a professional orchestra in a different country, to allow details of each institution to be communicated to the other for the purposes of enlightenment, study, and self-analysis, and to build camaraderie. Former delegate Lee Levine reports that this unique cultural exchange program was made possible through the diligence of Mark Blakeman, who petitioned the State Department for the visas that allowed the visiting musicians to rehearse and perform with the orchestra, and through the generosity of American Airlines, which assisted with transportation.
At a pre-season celebration on September 5, Giancarlo Guerrero was announced as the eighth music director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The announcement was met with prolonged applause, cheers, and a champagne toast for Guerrero, who always ranked at the top of the candidate list during the two-year search. Giancarlo Guerrero first conducted the orchestra during the week following the death of Music Director Kenneth Schermerhorn. Guerrero instantly established a rapport with the musicians and continued to build upon it during his next three visits.
The NSO opened its regular season one week after premiering the Martin Foundation Organ under the baton of Maestro Guerrero, who will return in May 2008. Leonard Slatkin will remain as the music advisor through the 2008–2009 season, with Maestro Guerrero becoming music director in the 2009–2010 season.