Thinking about the in-depth conversations at Conference 2022.

By Jessica Satava, Executive Director, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra

What a hopeful and refreshing three days: from John Williams, YOLA to Angelica Negron, Gustavo and the LA Phil, and the inspiring words of Simon Woods and Thomas Wilkins!

It was incredible to hear and see all around me that real strides are being made for inclusion and relevance to our communities—hearing the stories of orchestras across the country who are grappling with these questions and succeeding was powerful. We have a long way to go, but the change we’ve been saying we needed is finally starting to happen. 

I wrote down a quote shared by Susan Feder (via one of her grantees) in a session: “Equity is the driving force, culture is the frame, and belonging is the goal.” Wow. Talk about a takeaway.

And speaking of belonging: the support provided and the ideas shared in our constituency groups made such a difference for me. I had the opportunity one day to gather a group of fellow EDs together for advice on a project. There was such generous response and follow up from my colleagues. As an alum of a League training program (Essentials of Orchestra Management), I had a chance to reconnect and laugh with my fellow alumni. Over the pandemic years, we’ve relied on each other’s input to keep our organizations strong, months throughout which laughter was in short supply! Our three days in LA fueled me for the coming season and gave me a chance to get out of the weeds and be renewed in my focus for service through music. As Thomas Wilkins summed up so eloquently in his remarks: orchestras have a charge to offer beauty and belonging to a world in crisis. It’s a tall order. But with nearly a thousand of us across the country returning to our communities with renewed vision…it doesn’t seem at all out of reach.

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