Knowledge, Research & Innovation

Learning and Leadership

On Building Arts Audiences

Interested in New Methods of Audience Engagement?

A distinguished panel tackles this question and more during a special discussion!

Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360, leads the conversation with:

  • Robert Battle, artistic director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Jane Chu, chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
  • James Houghton, founding artistic director, Signature Theatre Company
  • Kelly Tweeddale, executive director, Seattle Opera

The panel focuses on the importance of arts organizations trying new approaches to engaging audiences and the imperative to learn from one another in the process. The event also included an announcement from Wallace Foundation President Will Miller about a new $40 million initiative in the arts. Learn more here.

SMART: Strategy and Money Alignment Readiness Tool

You have the vision.  You have the plan. Can you afford it?

The answer is right there on your balance sheet – and SMART (Strategy and Money Alignment Readiness Tool) will help you see it clearly.

The League’s new self-guided version of SMART can help you and your orchestra easily understand your current financial health and align your mission with the money you have. The end result - supported by easily generated charts and reports - can help drive those candid, sometimes difficult conversations with the people who matter most to your orchestra.

Ready to get SMART? SMART and the accompanying handbook are available free to League members - just register here.

We recommend that before you get started, you watch the free 30-minute webinar, Making SMART Choices. Allison Crump of TDC gives an easy to follow demonstration of SMART that takes all the guesswork out of getting started.


The Strategy and Money Alignment Readiness Tool and webinar are made possible by a generous grant from Fidelity Foundation.

Past Meetings

Some resources from previous League conferences can be found here. For more, visit the Learning and Leadership Development section.

Upbeat, Spring 2014

Upbeat Newsletter
Winter 2014
Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

In this issue:


Upbeat is published twice a year by the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras, dedicated to the development of American symphony orchestras and to the cultural vitality of the communities they serve.

Let’s Talk – Youth Orchestra E-Mail Discussion Group

Contact the Youth Orchestra Division Board

Note from the Chair

Dear Youth Orchestra Colleagues,

I hope the New Year of 2014 and the Year of the Horse finds your organizations humming along with renewed vigor and purpose. Thank you for everything that you do to offer educational and artistic experiences for young people in your community.

The Youth Orchestra Board has met through conference calls and in person at the League’s Mid- Winter sessions recently held in New York, and planning is underway for this year’s annual conference in Seattle, WA, June 4th – 6th, 2014. The YOD goals for our sector this year are:

  1. Provide initiatives which enhance the level of support available to youth orchestras, namely through professional development (e.g. peer calls, Mid-Winter Meeting and National Conference.)

    Build out content for peer calls, professional development meetings, identify potential speakers and presenters (both within and outside of the field).

  2. Review current statistical data and initiate possible research study on youth orchestras in the US.

    Review current statistical data available from the League’s data analysis office. Identify areas for improvement/tweaking. Develop a case statement for a national level study that will benefit the entire field.
  3. Advocate for and build an effective case for the public value of youth orchestras.

    With the end goal of creating a case statement, develop a message framework and key talking points that the youth orchestra constituency can use to broaden support and advocate the value of music education.

Committee structure:

  1. Professional Development committee Steven Murray, Chair
  2. Data and Research Committee Dan Petersen, Chair
  3. Public Value & Advocacy Committee Megen Balda, Chair

There was excellent discussion and spirited participation at the YOD sessions at Mid-Winter conference in NYC in January, and I look forward to that energy and enthusiasm carrying over into the sessions in Seattle. It’s not too early to think about a trip to Seattle in June - please mark your calendars and plan to join your colleagues, get the latest information from the field and celebrate the great work of youth orchestras and the League. I hope to see you in Seattle!
Dan Petersen
Chair, Youth Orchestra Division, League of American Orchestras
Executive Director, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras

Orchestra Notes


Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia
Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia and Virginia Children's Chorus present a world premier of nationally renowned composer Adolphus Hailstork's "The Gift of the Magi," for youth orchestra and children's chorus. Sunday, December 22, 7pm, at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center in downtown Norfolk.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras is excited about its newest endeavor, a youth steel orchestra program. CYSO’s Steel Orchestra program has been created to provide access to music education for students who may have no prior experience on an instrument. This full year program introduces students ages 10-18 to music through the unique and easy to learn percussion instrument - the steelpan (or steel drum). Rehearsals focus on basic music theory, technique, musicianship, building a diverse repertoire and learning about calypso - the traditional music of Trinidad and Tobago - as well as other music styles ranging from classical to jazz.

On December 14, the inaugural CYSO Steel Orchestras concert featured each of CYSO's three steel ensembles performing a range of music for a full concert hall. At the end of the free concert, the audience members joined the musicians on stage for a fun and engaging percussion jam session.

Connecticut Youth Symphony
On October 13 and 14, The Hartt School Community Division’s (HCD) Connecticut Youth Symphony (CYS) joined the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) for its 70th Anniversary Opening Weekend. CYS musicians performed Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride alongside HSO members under the direction of Carolyn Kuan. Jeffrey Johnson of the Hartford Courant noted “The Connecticut Youth Symphony, prepared by their music director Daniel D'Addio, did a wonderful job with the agile strings parts, especially the exposed second violins. It was inspiring to hear these young musicians. They are on the very edge of great things.” The program also featured Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, played on the Bushnell’s historic, Hartford-made Austin pipe organ and a composition for pipa – a Chinese lute – played by virtuoso Wu Man, recently named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year.

Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
We are excited to announce an upcoming year-long project to create a collaborative, crowd-sourced composition: The New4Seasons. The Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is teaming up with Cedarville (OH) University composer, Austin Jaquith, to solicit original melodies from pre-college students to create this new work. The project will begin in January 2014, and budding young composers will submit original melodies to the project via YouTube. Selection of melodies will be completed in May, and over the summer composition students from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Cedarville University and the University of Dayton will orchestrate a new five-movement composition (one for each season of the year, plus an "overture") based on the selected melodies. The New4Seasons will be premiered at the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra concert in December 2014. Full details and an application form are available here.

Empire State Youth Orchestras
Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) appointed new Executive Director Rebecca Calos on Oct. 1. Ms. Calos previously worked for the Hawn Foundation and Brown School. Almost 1500 school children enjoyed ESYO’s annual Young People’s Concert which featured Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, with full narration, and excerpts from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. The narrator and “Reporter Kent Clark,” (wearing a Superman t-shirt) educated the children about the impact of freedom (or lack thereof) upon the composers’ compositions. In Nov., the Tech Valley Nonprofit Business Council recognized ESYO as a “Non-Profit of the Year” for exemplary contribution to the vitality of the Capital Region of New York State. Compositions and performances by three ESYO alums were featured in this year’s Melodies of Christmas concerts. ESYO’s flagship orchestra has performed in these concerts for 33 years, helping to raise $7 million for a childhood cancer center.

Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra
The FSYO is overjoyed with the successful start of its new program, Sing-Song, String Along. Made possible by TD Bank, Sing-Song, String Along was developed for elementary school children and their families as an immersive education program that focuses on nurturing a love for music and teaching essential developmental skills.

Hawaii Youth Symphony
Hawaii Youth Symphony will perform three concerts at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on February 9-10, 2014. Maestro Henry Miyamura will conduct the 90-member Youth Symphony I, comprised of high school students from three islands, along with piano soloist Jonathan Korth. The two concerts on February 10 are designed as educational services and align with Hawaii fine arts standards. Learn more about HYS at

InterSchool Orchestras of New York
InterSchool Orchestras of New York is pleased to announce that Young Concert Artists’ violinist Bella Hristova will perform as soloist with its top orchestra, the ISO Symphony, in Saint-Saëns’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” on Wednesday, January 22, at 7:00 p.m. at the Julia Richman Education Complex, 317 East 67th Street in New York City. Also on the Symphony’s program will be Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphoses,” Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, and other selections. ISO’s Carnegie Hill Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, and ISO Flutes will complete the program. In addition to the concert, Ms. Hristova will conduct a masterclass with ISO Symphony violinists on January 14 made possible by Young Concert Artists’ Annaliese Soros Educational Residency Program.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra/Youth Orchestra
The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra is celebrating its 40th Anniversary Season during three concerts in 2014! The official Celebration Concert will take place on February 17, 2014 with the top three orchestras collaborating on Vaughn Williams' Concerto Grosso. Winners of the 2013-2014 KSYO Concerto Competition will be featured with the top orchestra on February 23 and this orchestra will present the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Bella Hristova on May 5, 2014.

Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra
Wisconsin’s First Lady Tonette Walker personally invited Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra musicians to perform for an evening reception as part of the culminating events of the 2013 National Governors Association’s 105th Summer Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Held at the Rotary Amphitheater at Discovery World Museum, on Milwaukee’s lakefront, Saturday, August 3, 2013, MYSO was honored to perform for the nation’s governors and their families. MYSO Artistic Director Carter Simmons conducted an orchestra of 59 of MYSO’s young musicians ages 13-18, from its internationally acclaimed Senior Symphony, in a patriotic performance set to fireworks. In honor of the state’s first lady, Mr. Simmons and the orchestra began with Leroy Anderson’s Belle of the Ball. The 30-minute program also included the Richard Rodgers/Robert Russell Bennett Overture to “Oklahoma,” Morton Gould’s American Salute, Aaron Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody and Hoe Down from “Rodeo.” The program concluded with Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever.

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
We, the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, are planning to hold our summer camp in the US next August, performing in New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. We need donations to make this dream come true for this historic visit of reconciliation and cultural outreach. Visit to find out more.

Oklahoma Youth Orchestra

The Oklahoma Youth Orchestra performed Jerod Tate's "Spider Brings Fire" for the Oklahoma State of Creativity Forum on November 19, 2013 in the Civic Center Music Hall conducted by Matthew Mailman. The concert was the capstone performance of the forum with over 1000 in attendance.

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory
San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) was one of only two youth symphonies, to be awarded a 2013-14 Getty Education and Community Investment Grant from League of American Orchestras, alongside orchestras such as LA Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras. This $15,000 grant was awarded to develop SDYS' Community Opus Project, and is in recognition of the innovative dedication SDYS has to increasing its relevance to the community. SDYS launched the Community Opus Project in 2010 as a strategy to demonstrate the many benefits of music education, build support for music in the community, and convince school districts to provide music as part of students' regular curriculum. It was so successful that within only three years, the Chula Vista Elementary School District committed to providing music education to all students and, with the assistance of SDYS, has begun to phase in-school day music.

Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras
Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras holds its fourth annual Super String Saturday on January 26, 2014. This free community event is open to the students and families of the schools which are part of the Southwest Strings Project – a partnership program with Seattle Public Schools, which provides highly trained professional musicians as “coaches” for beginning string students in an undeserved community. Super String Saturday begins with a mini-concert performed by Seattle Youth Symphony, one of America’s premier youth orchestras. Then violin, viola, cello and bass students participate in instrument technique clinics led by Youth Symphony musicians; observe a chamber music demonstration; and perform “side-by-side” with the Youth Symphony musicians, providing lots of opportunities for musical mentoring! School teachers and SYSO coaches are also on hand to talk with parents about how to best support their young musicians.

Virtuosi of Houston
Virtuosi of Houston, a Young Artists Chamber Orchestra, performed their Opening Night Concert on December 7, 2013. The musicians and their conductors performed rarely heard works including Beethoven’s Consecration of the House Overture, Hindemith’s Suite of French Dances, Mozart’s Paris Overture, and Saint-Saëns’ unnumbered Symphony in A Major. The music centered on a French theme as Virtuosi announced its collaboration with the Texan French Alliance for the Arts for an exchange program. In their 19th Season, Virtuosi musicians will join with local conservatory students for a week of master classes, rehearsals, and performances in France. In the 20th Season, the French students will travel to Houston. You can support Virtuosi of Houston by donating to our Power2Give Campaign. This will help provide mid-rehearsal meals to our students. Anyone may make a donation, anywhere in the country. Just go to and select Hungry! Hungry! Young Musicians.

Youth Symphony of Kansas City
All four orchestras of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City performed an arena-style Open House Concert at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Each orchestra performed separately and together in a colossal combined orchestra of 340 musicians. Repertoire highlights included Mozart’s Titus Overture, Saint-Saëns' Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture-fantasy and Smetana’s “Three Dances” from The Bartered Bride. The combined orchestra performed an arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s holiday favorite Sleigh Ride. The 3,500 seat auditorium, which opened in 1925, has a varied and interesting history. In the 1960s and 1970s, popular recording artists including Grateful Dead, KISS, Pink Floyd and REO Speedwagon performed there. Additionally, country singer Patsy Cline’s last public performance took place at the venue, just days prior to the airplane crash which took her life. Today the hall is primarily used for wrestling matches, academic convocations and graduation ceremonies.

Maestro’s Notebook

Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra
Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra will host its first annual Alumni Concert, at The Grove at Mead Garden on Sunday, December 22nd, 4 pm. This long-awaited event will feature 90 of FSYO’s past musicians, with representation from the majority of its 57-year span. Alumni are coming in from all over the country, some even as far as Japan, to participate in what is sure to be an evening to remember! The program will include some FSYO Holiday staples such as “Sleigh Ride” and some traditional holiday pieces, such as movements from the Nutcracker Suite. Most significantly, the program will feature the worldwide debut of the piece “Solstice”. This prominence of this debut is amplified as FSYO Alumnus and current conductor, John Dupuis, composed the piece for this event.

Oklahoma Youth Orchestra
Matthew Mailman is in his 19th year as Professor of Conducting in the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. He conducted the opera "Street Scene" by Kurt Weill in November 2013 at OCU and conducted the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra performing Jerod Tate's "Spider Brings Fire" for the Oklahoma State of Creativity Forum on November 19, 2013 in the Civic Center Music Hall. The concert was the capstone performance of the forum with over 1000 in attendance. He will present a conducting clinic at the Missouri Music Educators Association annual convention in January 2014, and he will conduct the opera "Our Town" by Ned Rorem in February 2014.

News and Resources

• The League, in partnership with 12 national arts and education organizations, has released Arts Education for America's Students, A Shared Endeavor, a statement outlining the importance of high-quality arts education and those who provide it to students. The document can help to prompt local dialogue and engagement with community leaders about how students in your community access arts education.

• National standards for arts education are undergoing revision and nearing completion. A public review and comment process on the latest draft standards for what students should know and be able to do in dance, media arts, music, theater, and the visual arts will open February 14 and close February 28. Visit the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards site for complete details.

• Extraordinary out-of-school and afterschool programs that make a difference in the lives of young people are annually recognized by The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Applications for the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are due on February 10.




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Hitting the Right Notes: Capital Campaign Trends and Fundamentals for Success

Capital campaigns are an important part of the fundraising cycle for any orchestra, large or small. While many of the tried and true principles of effective campaign fundraising remain the same, changing demographics and global and industry trends have required that orchestras innovate and strategies evolve. This webinar will provide an overview of recent trends in philanthropy and capital campaign fundraising, with an emphasis on symphonies and orchestras, while also sharing the essential fundamentals and tools needed to plan a comprehensive campaign. Participants will hear best practices for creating a realistic timetable, drafting a compelling case for support, and recruiting the right volunteer leadership, as well as develop a solid understanding of how it all fits together to form a winning plan. 

Presented by Bridget Keane, Corporate Vice President, CCS and Preston Walton, Assistant Vice President, CCS. This on-demand webinar is free for League members. Register now!

View the PowerPoint presentation for this webinar.

Moves Management® and Developing your Major Donor Pipeline!

Moves Management® isn't just about portfolios, coding and moves.  It is a comprehensive approach for your development operation that will bring major gift prospects closer to your orchestra through a series of strategic steps. Adopting a Moves Management® system that incorporates creative cultivation opportunities and strategies to generate a high-level of activity is the key to establishing a healthy major donor pipeline.  In this webinar, learn best practices for incorporating an effective Moves Management system, as well as innovations in donor strategies that will help build your pipeline and secure more major gifts for your organization.

Presented by Eric Javier, corporate vice president & managing director, CCS and Steven Talbot, executive director, CCS. This on-demand webinar is free for League members. Register now!

View the PowerPoint presentation for this webinar.

Workgroup on Diversity & Inclusion

This workgroup is designed for staff, board members, and musicians interested in promoting diversity and inclusion at their orchestras.

Meeting via phone, the group will work to create a “safe place” for discussing diversity strategies and best practices within varied contexts specific to orchestras.

Participants will be encouraged to use the workgroup conversation to jump-start their personal efforts to move diversity and inclusion work forward within their organization.

Moderated by Jim Hirsch, executive director, Chicago Sinfonietta

To join this group, email Ken Cole at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dates & Times: All sessions are from 4:00 to 5:00pm EST

  • Tuesday, December 17
  • Tuesday, January 21
  • Tuesday, February 18
  • Tuesday, March 18
  • Tuesday, April 15
  • Tuesday, May 13
  • Tuesday, June 17

Audience Engagement

For research and data on Audience Engagement, visit the Knowledge, Research and Innovation section.

Building Arts Audiences

Arts organizations are experimenting with new approaches to engaging audiences. For 15 years, The Wallace Foundation has supported audience-building efforts by arts organizations and commissioned research to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why. Learn more!

Audience Participation Webinar

Two recent national studies, the National Endowment for the Arts 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, and the League’s Audience Demographic Research Review, offer statistically reliable national demographic information about audience participation. The findings raise both serious concerns and new opportunities for orchestras. They merit close attention from all who are concerned about the future of orchestras in America.

National Endowment for the Arts 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts
Sunil Iyengar (bio), director, NEA Research & Analysis
Watch here

The League’s Audience Demographic Research Review
Atul Kanagat (bio)
Watch here

The League’s Audience Demographic Research Review was made possible in part by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Orchestra Lab: The Spring for Music Experiment

How can we have inventive, challenging programs that build audience interest and investment in local markets? Spring For Music (S4M,) the closest thing America has had to a national orchestra festival, presented 25 concerts, by 23 orchestras in annual week-long festivals in Carnegie Hall from 2011 – 2014. S4M became a how-to laboratory for building community to support artistically adventurous work. So what was learned from this experiment?

  • how unusual programming affects critical reception and audience interest
  • the kind of audience you get when you price every seat in the house at $25
  • how some orchestras successfully built their Carnegie Hall appearances as a season-long vehicle to build community and support at home

Sponsored by Akustiks.

Daniel J. Hart, executive director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Kathleen Carroll, president and CEO, Toledo Symphony; Thomas W. Morris, artistic director, Ojai Music Festival; James R. Oestreich, former classical music editor, and currently writing for the New York Times; Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras


The Art & Science of Ticket Pricing

Ding, ding, ding! In this corner we have the belief that dropping ticket prices grows audience participation and loyalty… in the other corner, a slow but steady diet of step-wise growth is the way to go with ticket pricing and donor contributions. Hear the two sides battle it out – what’s working, what’s not, and what are the lessons about the art & science of ticket pricing that you can apply to your orchestra.

Jon Limbacher, vice president and COO, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Jack McAuliffe, president, Engaged Audiences LLC

Taking Measure in the Age of Social Media

This session looks at real-world next generation strategies for using social media and community data to understand and adapt to what your communities want.

Most of the ways we have been measuring the impact of the arts are ineffective, but now we have a much more effective tool. You can look at social media as a way to spread the word and build community, but it is so much more than that. Its real power lies in its ability to constantly “research” how people interact around what we do and teach us how to react. The most sophisticated media and technology companies have developed tools to measure their impact and adapt to how their “audiences” interact. Getting the data isn’t so hard, but you have to be aware of how to use it.

Doug McLennan, editor,

Emerging Leaders Program

Nominations for the Emerging Leaders Program are now closed. The following information is provided for reference only.

The League is seeking up to seven young leaders with imagination, ambition, and discipline who are ready to be inspired and challenged. The Emerging Leaders Program is a two-year program for those who want to be a driving force in the future of America’s orchestras.

The Emerging Leaders Program will take a natural born leader and help them reach their potential through formal leadership and organizational development curriculum and mentoring, while they design a project that benefits his or her orchestra.

Nomination deadline: November 1, 2013

The Ideal Candidate

  • Must be 35 years of age or under
  • Must have the potential to be a leader for orchestras and for making an even greater contribution to the organization they currently serve
  • Must have a passion for orchestras
  • Must be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (or it seems like they do)

The Emerging Leaders Program is not focused on your current job title – it focuses on what you want your future to be. 

What’s Needed to Apply

Potential candidates must be nominated by their executive director* or board chair. This program is open to all full-time staff and musicians of League member orchestras. Please read the Emerging Leaders Program Guidelines before proceeding further.

Please note that the essay portion of the application should be 1,000 words or less, total.

Nominees invited to apply will be notified by mid-November. You can also see a full timeline of the program.

*Please note: If the candidate is an executive director, he or she must be nominated by their board chair

The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


The League offers numerous programs and opportunities designed to help orchestra professionals develop their leadership skills. Here are some of the resources available.


  • Webinars

    Webinars offer the chance to engage in interactive, online learning that utilizes phone conference and internet technology. Led by field professionals, each webinar will focus on one topic that will assist you in your work with your orchestra.

    Webinars are made possible by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., and the Argosy Foundation.

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  • Learning and Leadership
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