Plenary Sessions

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Opening Session: Creating the Greatest Impact

Session Date Start Time End Time Attachments
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 1:00 pm 2:15 pm

Location: Grand Ballroom, Fourth Floor

The 73rd National Conference launches with a keynote by Vijay Gupta, an acclaimed violinist and a passionate advocate for artistic voices at the center of social justice. Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007, and in 2011 founded Street Symphony, a group of professional musicians in Los Angeles who work with communities experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and incarceration. Gupta believes in the potential for musicians and musical institutions to engage with the world as change agents through performance, music pedagogy, and social justice. In this opening keynote, Gupta shares the inspirations that influence and shape his artistry and civic service.

Speakers: Vijay Gupta, violinist, Los Angeles Philharmonic, founder, Street Symphony

The Opening Session is generously sponsored by Broadcast Music, Inc. and TRG Arts. 

Made possible by generous grants from The Joyce Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This session is being videotaped for archiving and future promotional use, including the use of excerpts in social media.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Luncheon Featuring Jennifer Koh and Ford Musician Awards

Session Date Start Time End Time Additional Cost Attachments
Thursday, June 14, 2018 12:30 pm 2:00 pm $25

Location: Grand Ballroom, Fourth Floor

Join us for a performance and remarks by the adventurous and dazzling violinist Jennifer Koh, presentation of the League’s Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service to Jeffrey Barker, associate principal flute, Seattle Symphony; John R. Beck, principal percussionist, Winston-Salem Symphony; Jody Chaffee, community engagement director, flue, Firelands Symphony Orchestra; Erin Hannigan, principal oboe, Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Juan R. Ramírez Hernández, violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and—as part of the League Annual Meeting—remarks by League President and CEO Jesse Rosen and the new League Board Chair, Douglas M. Hagerman. WFMT’s David Polk will serve as emcee.

Speakers: Jennifer Koh, violinist

Emcee: David Polk, program director, WFMT

The Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.

Made possible by a generous grant from The Joyce Foundation.

The Conference Luncheon is generously sponsored by Patron Manager.

This session is being videotaped for archiving and future promotional use, including the use of excerpts in social media.

Full session description »

General Session: Inclusive and Equitable Orchestras—Performance and Conversation

Session Date Start Time End Time Attachments
Thursday, June 14, 2018 4:00 pm 5:30 pm

Location: Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

While the road to success for every professional orchestral musician is unique, the journey to mastery requires an incredible network of devoted teachers, mentors, and advocates, as well as a field that is ready to welcome and retain the emerging talent. This comprehensive community of support is critical to unlocking the potential of young musicians of color and creating a more equitable environment at all stages of the musical and career development. In this session, we invite you to consider: What does an inclusive and equitable American orchestral landscape look like, and what roles can youth and professional orchestras play in enhancing and supporting a diverse talent pipeline?

We will look at the current pathway to professional careers in orchestras; how the ecosystem of music education and training presents opportunities and barriers to success; and the essential role that all orchestras can play in this continuum. In a conversation moderated by Jery Lynne Johnson (Founder and Artistic Director of Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra), we’ll hear from Anthony McGill (Principal Clarinet, New York Philharmonic) and Demarre McGill (Principal Flute, Seattle Symphony) about their musical training and career development, and how professional orchestras, youth orchestras, and music education organizations can work together to strengthen the pipeline and the pathway to an inclusive and equitable orchestra field. 

The session will feature the world premiere of a double concerto by Michael Abels, composer of the score to the film, Get Out. It will be performed by Anthony McGill and Demarre McGill with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, conducted by Allen Tinkham, CYSO Music Director.

Speakers: Anthony McGill, principal clarinet, New York Philharmonic; Demarre McGill, principal flute, Seattle Symphony

Moderator: Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and artistic director, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra

Performance Program:

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Percussion Scholarship Group
Ivan Trevino – Catching Shadows

Patricia Dash and Douglas Waddell, Directors

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Michael Abels – Winged Creatures (world premiere)
Samuel Barber – Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, op. 9

Allen Tinkham, Music Director
Demarre McGill, Flute
Anthony McGill, Clarinet

Made possible by generous grants from The Joyce Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This session is being videotaped for archiving and future promotional use, including the use of excerpts in social media.

Full session description »

Friday, June 15, 2018

Closing Session: Why Culture Matters—A Conversation with Yo-Yo Ma

Session Date Start Time End Time Attachments
Friday, June 15, 2018 1:30 pm 3:00 pm

Location: Grand Ballroom, Fourth Floor

The League of American Orchestras honors cellist Yo-Yo Ma with its highest award, the Gold Baton. The Gold Baton is given annually for distinguished service to America’s orchestras. Since 1948, the Gold Baton has recognized individuals and institutions whose far-reaching contributions to the field serve to champion and advance the cause of orchestras and symphonic music throughout the country.

Ma’s multi-faceted career represents his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences and his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing as soloist with orchestras throughout the world, working with a wide circle of collaborators and institutions, or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, Ma strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination.

Through his work as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, and as a trusted leader, advisor, and ambassador for a variety of institutions including Silkroad, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the United Nations, Ma creates programs that transcend boundaries of genre and tradition, and explores music-making not only as a way to share and express meaning, but also as a model for the cultural collaboration he considers essential to a strong society

In the closing session of the 2018 Conference, Ma examines why arts and culture matter now more than ever before. As technological advancements and complex societal issues challenge our values, beliefs, and traditions, what role does culture have in our communities? How can artists, arts-lovers, and orchestras help us to find solutions to society’s biggest challenges and help us build the world we need in the 21st century?


The session will open with a special performance by Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Ensemble, conducted by Music Director Mei-Ann Chen. Project Inclusion is a talent development program, dedicated to changing the face of classical music, which identifies and trains diverse musicians, conductors, and administrative leaders of color.

Project Inclusion Ensemble Fellows and Alumni
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor

Jennifer Higdon – Movements from Dance Card
I. Raucous Rumpus
V. Machina Rockus

Vivian Fung – Pizzicato for Strings Orchestra


Made possible by a generous grant from The Joyce Foundation.

This session is generously sponsored by Akustiks.

This session is being videotaped for archiving and future promotional use, including the use of excerpts in social media.

Full session description »