In March, the New York Philharmonic announced that Deborah Borda, longtime President of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, would be replacing Matthew VanBesien as President and CEO, in September. The move represents a return for Borda, who previously served as the Executive Director of the New York orchestra from 1991 to 1999. In Los Angeles she oversaw the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the engagement of current music director Gustavo Dudamel.
The National Symphony Orchestra has engaged Gary Ginstling to be its new Executive Director, replacing Rita Shapiro (who resigned in January). He is currently the CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, which has recently seen dramatic increases in ticket sales and fundraising, as well as a progressive contract with the musicians reached more than a year before the expiration of the old agreement. (Note: See “Newslets” in the December 2016 issue.)
Amy Adkins, President of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, announced in May that she would be leaving in July to take a position leading the All Saints Health Foundation. Her six-year tenure leading the orchestra was marked by the recent contract negotiations that led to a 13-week strike by the orchestra last fall. (Note: See the October 2016 and December 2016 issues.)
Also leaving in July is Michael Mael, the Executive Director of the Washington National Opera—a position he took up in 2011, as the WNO became an affiliate of the Kennedy Center. The highlight of his tenure was the successful production of the company’s first Ring Cycle, in 2016.
The MET Serves Vets
The MET Orchestra Musicians continued to expand their public outreach, performing on April 23rd at the Veterans Affairs NY Harbor Healthcare System Facility in Manhattan, and on May 1st at the system’s Brooklyn facility. Joined by soprano Susanna Phillips and conducted by Marco Armiliato, 42 members of the MET Orchestra performed overtures, arias, and patriotic music for an audience of veterans and their caregivers.
The concerts were part of the MET Orchestra Musicians’ new public performance initiative, which seeks to bring their music out of the opera house and into the community. The initiative has already seen five free public performances since March, including performances in New York City public schools.
Baltimore Ratifies Early
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced on June 2 that the musicians had ratified a one-year renewal contract, three months prior to the expiration of the existing agreement, which was also a one-year agreement ratified three months early. The new agreement, like its predecessor, contains salary increases, this time of 3.7% year-on-year. The successive short-term agreements come at a time of transition in leadership for the orchestra, with former President and CEO Paul Meecham replaced by Peter Kjome in February. Quoted in the Baltimore Sun, Kjome said, “My sense is that next year we would work toward a multi-year agreement.” Orchestra Committee Chair and ICSOM Delegate Greg Mulligan said, “We are pleased to have another season agreed to, with both a salary increase and plans for several auditions in the works, in order to keep the Baltimore Symphony moving in the right direction, while everyone in the organization takes the time we need, under Peter’s direction, to develop some strategic goals for the institution.”
Utah Plans Great American Road Trip
The Utah Symphony announced a series of concerts in state or national parks and monuments across the state, including Zion National Park and Natural Bridges and Dinosaur National Monuments. Titled the Great American Road Trip, and echoing the orchestra’s Mighty 5 Tour in 2014 (which visited each of the five national parks located in Utah), the orchestra will be creating performance spaces, transporting a portable stage to each location. In a press release, Utah Symphony Utah Opera President and CEO Paul Meecham stated that the tour’s objectives were to celebrate Utah’s natural and cultural history, as well as provide live classical music to rural parts of the state that may not have easy access to it. “What better way to connect great live music with the unparalleled natural beauty and heritage of our state than for the Utah Symphony to perform outdoors in the heart of our dramatic landscape!” he said.