Thinking about the in-depth conversations at Conference 2022.

By Randy Wong, President, Hawaii Youth Symphony

I was so thrilled to return to the League Conference this June! My colleagues in the League are among my closest friends. We have a mutual understanding and respect for the work we each do; from the quirky and sometimes unusual situations we encounter, to the amazing opportunities presented by our lives in music.

One thing that always grabs me about League gatherings: the shared passion we each have for this work. Many of us, myself included, come from regions where our orchestras are one of few (or perhaps the only) of our kind. At home, our work is unique compared to other nonprofits and businesses; at the League, our commonalities and differences have shared resonance.

My favorite moment was a conversation between YOD leaders and League CEO Simon Woods, on the vital roles that Youth Orchestras play in developing the whole child; particularly in the pursuit of economic diversity so that every child can access and benefit from music. Although it accounted for a relatively brief portion of our constituency session, it was a vibrant, brilliant, and refreshingly transparent 25 minutes that evidenced the passion and commitments that connect orchestra leaders far and wide: Why should making music be a right, an essential part of every child’s education? To what extent can we create opportunities, locally and nationally, for the orchestral field through our advocacy for young people and their passion for music?

I was also enamored by the entire day spent at the Beckmen YOLA Center—particularly to hear from Camille Delaney-McNeil, Heather Noonan, and Leni Boorstein about leading with purpose, and of course, from the YOLA students on the program’s impact, and their performances. 

My other favorite session—and I wish everyone could’ve attended—was the performance by ICYOLA celebrating Black classical composers. I came away with a “brain buzz,” a feeling in which my curiosity and wonder are fully dialed up. I immediately texted my wife and colleagues about several of the composers/works that the concert featured! A big thank you to everyone at the League and LA Phil for another incredible edition of my favorite event of the year! Looking forward to Pittsburgh in 2023!

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