Conference 2014

This year, close to 1,000 orchestra professionals, volunteers and business partners gathered in Seattle for the League's 2014 National Conference. Here are some of the highlights.

Opening Session with Claire Chase (Video)
Closing Session with Alan Brown and Jesse Rosen (Video)

Pre-Conference Sessions

Thursday Sessions, 9:00am-10:15am

Thursday Sessions, 11:15am-12:30pm

Friday Sessions

Constituency Meetings
Volunteer Meetings

Opening Session

Welcome from Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras; Simon Woods, executive director, Seattle Symphony

Presentation of Gold Baton Award to Wayne Brown

Performance by Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra

Stephen Rodgers Radcliffe, conductor

Aaron Jay Kernis:

Dreamsongs For Cello and Orchestra

II Kora Song
Joshua Roman, cello soloist

Richard Wagner:

Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey from Götterdämmerung


"Cello Multitracks" (2010) by Gabriel Prokofiev (excerpts)

Joshua Roman. cello Gabriel Prokofiev, DJ "Cello Multitracks" is a dance suite for cello nonet; originally conceptualized as a multi-track work to be recorded by just one cellist. The four contrasting movements continue Gabriel’s interest in taking influences from both electronic dance music and older, more traditional classical forms. Recorded using a range of performance techniques which often forego conventional classical requirements, combined with the multi-track effect of eight of the parts recorded by Peter Gregson on the same instrument, a unique sound world is created: an impossible ensemble; acoustic yet also "post-electronica."

Keynote address by Claire Chase (Transcript)

Claire Chase, the flutist, cultural activist, founder of the International Contemporary Ensemble and 2012 MacArthur Fellow, gives the keynote address this year, sharing her unique perspective on rule-breaking new models that catalyze creativity and nimbleness in new organizational and artistic practices. With Edgard Varese’s 1936 statement that “music, which should pulsate with life, needs new means of expression” as a springboard, Chase imagines a 21st century musical ecosystem with invention as its engine and change as its guide. She will start her address with a performance of Varese’s groundbreaking 1936 flute solo, Density 21.5.

BMI and DCM, Inc. generously co-sponsored the Opening Session.

Closing Session

Address from Jesse Rosen: It’s About Time

Watch the address from Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras

If It Ain’t Broke, Break It: What 10 Years of Research and Experimentation Tells Us About Audiences, Creativity, and the Future of Orchestras (Transcript) (Presentation)

Arts researcher Alan Brown takes stock of the most significant trends re-shaping demand for the arts, and the groundswell of creativity and experimentation leading the orchestra field into the future. Drawing on a body of research on orchestra audiences and arts participation, the closing keynote will trace some of the field's most impressive gains over the past decade, and identify the key challenges to engaging the next generation of audiences and embedding orchestras in the creative life of their communities.

Alan S. Brown, principal, WolfBrown

The Potlatch Experience

Paul “Che-oke-ten” Wagner, Native flute player, along with Seattle Symphony musicians, will perform an excerpt from the Potlatch Symphony, co-created by Native Lands composer-in-Residence Janice Giteck alongside Native artists and community members. Attendees will learn about the experience from Native participants and Symphony musicians.

Paul Wagner, native flute
Paul Taub, flute, and professor, Cornish College of the Arts
Laura Deluca, bass clarinet, Seattle Symphony
Stephen Bryant, violin, Seattle Symphony
Ludovic Morlot, music director, Seattle Symphony

Concert Formats, Revisited

Musical tastes are constantly changing, as are the ways audiences prefer to experience concerts. Join us to take stock of the array of concert format experiments underway at orchestras today – and what it means to assess the impact of these programs. We’ll explore the role of capturing audience feedback in an artistically driven organization, and delve into assessment methods currently in use by orchestras that are leading the way.

View the PowerPoint presentation for this seminar.

Alan S. Brown, principal, WolfBrown; Howard Herring, president and CEO, New World Symphony

Getting More Out of Individual Giving

Fundraising today is challenging as ever. And while we have seen a shrinking base among institutional and corporate giving for cultural organizations, the good news is that there is real opportunity for growth in individual giving. Organizations that are able to make the essential transition from institutional to individual giving will do well. This session will unpack some very concrete best practices in growing your individual base.

View the PowerPoint presentation for this seminar.

Michelle Hamilton, Vice President for Development, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra; Stacy Wilson Margolis, vice president for development, League of American Orchestras; Amanda Sauer, Executive Director, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra

Reaching Your Board’s Full Potential

Successful organizations are built on a strong governance foundation. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds, resulting in inertia. By focusing on what’s truly important – a board’s fiduciary, strategic, and generative work – your board members can take their governing and the orchestra to the next level.

Join us for this half-day seminar, roll up your sleeves, and learn from organizations that are excelling in governance effectiveness.

View the PowerPoint presentation for this seminar.

Susan S. Meier, senior governance consultant, BoardSource

Acting Up: Urgent Civic Priorities

Unlock your orchestra’s untapped potential to address the most pressing civic challenges and opportunities in your community. Explore how organizations like yours are finding the resources and courage to use the power of music to respond to public priorities like homelessness, hunger, our returning vets, and other issues that matter so much.

You will learn: 1) the steps needed to identify your community’s needs that can be served by your orchestra’s unique capacity;  2) real-time examples of orchestras delivering relevant civic impact; 3) recommendations for framing a discussion within your orchestra that can lead to action.

Warren W. Hyer, executive director, Central Ohio Symphony; Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Kayla Skinner deputy director for education & public programs, adjunct curator, Seattle Art Museum; Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose chairman of education, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sarah Johnson, director, Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall

Check This Out #1:Artistic, Education, and Technology Innovations

Check This Out is a fast-paced opportunity for those attending conference to get a quick snapshot of exciting work happening in a number of organizations. Each presentation will be approximately 6 to 8 minutes in length, allowing for several different presentations in a short time-frame. This session will introduce work in the areas of artistic and education projects as well as technology which have potential for replication and learning by the field at large. The goal of this session is to shine a light on innovative projects and ideas which are applicable and/or replicable for other organizations.

Presenters & Projects:

Jim Hirsch, executive director, Chicago Sinfonietta, How “Blue Ocean” programming grew single ticket sales by 30% in one year

Anthony Spain, music director, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Connecting to your community through the music of local composers

Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and music director, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Citywide Side by Side Program

Cindi Hubbard, Arts Management Consulting,EarShot: New Music Readings and Composer-Development Projects

Natalia Staneva, executive director, New West Symphony, SymphoNet Young Artists Competition in collaboration with iCadenza

Carl P. Giegold and Dawn R. Schuette, partners, Threshold Acoustics LLC, Supporting Diverse Programming

Robert Zimmermann, CEO, Berlin Phil Media GmbH, Digital Concert Hall

Read descriptions of projects

Looking Forward - Acting Now

Longitudinal data from ten large orchestras in the Patron Growth Initiative revealed that just 10% of households accounted for almost 80% of patron-generated revenue over the seven-year FY05-11 period—and the 65+ age segment accounted for two-thirds of that revenue. These sobering statistics are compounded by rapidly shifting buying patterns and the potential reality of a post-fixed subscription (and more transactional) orchestra world.

This session will examine trends in subscription migration, single ticket sales, and donations by generational age cohorts and begin to project revenue replacement needs in the coming years. We’ll then tap into a panel for marketing, development, and artistic perspectives on the implications of this changing revenue picture, and discuss actions orchestras are and should be taking now to thrive as our audience and donor base evolves.

View the PowerPoint presentation for this seminar.

Anne DeVivo DeMesa, director of major and planned gifts, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Delta David Gier, music director, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra; Sherri Prentiss, vice president of marketing, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Kate Prescott, president, Prescott & Associates

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,

Achieving Impact: Funders' New Expectations

Today’s funding landscape requires us to artfully and effectively communicate our impact in new and meaningful ways. To attract the funders of tomorrow, we will need to speak to the issues that are important to a new generation, and demonstrate how we address community needs.

You will learn: 1) an overview of the current climate in fundraising and “hot” funding topics; 2) information directly from new funders about what does, or would, draw them to our industry; 3) what orchestras can do to remain essential to their communities and relevant to funders.

Liz S. Alsina, program associate, performing arts, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Janet Brown, president and CEO, Grantmakers in the Arts; Lauren Nesholm, representative, Nesholm Family Foundation, and board member, Seattle Symphony; Heather Noonan, vice president for advocacy, League of American Orchestras

Check This Out #2: Audience Engagement, Development, and Marketing Innovations

Check This Out is a fast-paced opportunity for those attending conference to get a quick snapshot of exciting work happening in a number of organizations. Each presentation will be approximately 6 to 8 minutes in length, allowing for several different presentations in a short time-frame. This session will introduce work in the areas of audience development and in marketing and development innovations which have potential for replication and learning by the field at large.  The goal of this session is to shine a light on innovative projects and ideas which are applicable and/or replicable for other organizations.

Presenters & Projects in this order:

Anne DeVivo DeMesa, director of major and planned gifts and Brittany Lavalleur, manager of individual giving, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,The Centennial Legacy Challenge

Robert Stickler, president and executive director, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Yes:  Expanding the Charlotte SymphonyOrchestra family

Michelle Winters, director of marketing and public relations,OKC Philharmonic, Overture: Friends of the OKC Philharmonic

Renée Huang, director of public relations,Utah Symphony | Utah Opera,Digital Scavenger Hunt and Outside-the-boxPress Conference

Read descriptions of projects

Collaborating with Asian Communities

Seattle’s strong Asian presence is borne out by its geography. It is as close to Tokyo as it is to London. Immigrants from across the Pacific Ocean have been a part of this city from the very beginning, and today they, and their descendants, comprise 15% of the region’s population. This session will explore approaches to working with selected groups within Asian culture.

You will learn: 1) proven approaches to short and long-term partnerships; 2) cross-cultural collaboration techniques specific to Pacific Rim countries; 3) a new perspective about partnership needs through education, marketing, and artistic lenses.

Please also refer to this online toolkit, Engaging Diverse Cultural Groups.

View the PowerPoint presentation for this seminar.

Byron Au Yong, composer; Kelly Dylla, vice president of education and community engagement, Seattle Symphony; Pankaj Nath, vice president/relationship manager, JP Morgan Chase; Mayumi Tsutakawa, manager of grants to organizations, Washington State Arts Commission

Mind the (Generation and Diversity) Gap!

Whether you are a 20-something or a 70-something, you need to build the skills to put in motion the cultural and organizational adaptations required in our rapidly-changing country.

You will learn: 1) communication skills that can create more opportunities to draw talent close and help make your orchestra’s public value more evident; 2) a framework to create the kind of change needed for greater effectiveness in a cross-cultural world.

Salvador Acevedo, principal, Contemporanea; Jim Hirsch, executive director, Chicago Sinfonietta

Get a Grip on the New Music Education Ecosystem

The time for simply lamenting the end to public music education’s heyday is over (It’s been at least 40 years!). There’s real strength and power to what arts education is accomplishing in our nation’s schools. But it is, in fact, accessible to too few students. Learn how orchestras can take action, both through programmatic work and your advocacy, to create a sea-change in music education for future generations.

You will learn: 1) an understanding of how orchestras connect to the latest education trends, including Common Core and the new National Arts Standards; 2) the know-how to access data that supports the music education claims we make to funders and community leaders; 3) a re-imagined idea of how board, volunteers, staff, and musicians can make a real difference.


Scott Jones, senior associate for research and policy, Arts Education Partnership; Una McAlinden, executive director, ArtsEd Washington; Dalouge Smith, president & CEO, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory; Susy Watts, planning, research, and evaluation consultant

Grassroots Fundraising: Partnerships Between Volunteers and Development

Volunteers, working in partnership with development staff, can make important contributions to your orchestra’s contributed revenue.

At this session we will explore ways to create and sustain productive partnerships. Whether in a large or small orchestra, healthy, professional relationships between these two groups can create a symbiotic relationship that is a win-win for all involved.

This session will include case studies presented by volunteer and development teams around successful partnership systems and projects, as well as time for Q&A and roundtable discussions to help you determine how you can apply these ideas and best practices to your own organization.

View the PowerPoint presentations for this seminar:

David Clark, president, business and professional committee, Los Angeles Philharmonic Affiliates; Michelle Hamilton, vice president, development, Charlotte Symphony; Stacy Wilson Margolis, vice president for development, League of American Orchestras; Elaine Mischler, volunteer, Madison Symphony Orchestra League; Casey Oelkers, director of development, Madison Symphony Orchestra; Melanie Sanguinet, manager of volunteer activities, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Mary Staton, president, The Symphony Guild of Charlotte, Inc

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

Play On! Learning from Passionate Amateurs

The “professional/amateur” (pro/am) movement is growing. Boomers, in particular, are eager to pick up their musical instruments, practice, get into the best shape they can, and make music. And, if they can make music with coaching from orchestra musicians, all the better!

You will learn: 1) details about successful pro/am programs in orchestras; 2) techniques for successfully implementing pro/am programs.

View the PowerPoint presentation for this seminar.

Carol Bogash, vice president of education and community engagement, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Ron Gallman, director of education programs/youth orchestras, San Francisco Symphony; Lowell Noteboom, chair, League of American Orchestras; former board chair, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (and amateur cellist); Alan Shen, music director, Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra; former conductor Microsoft Orchestra

Constituency Meetings

Board Members

Materials: Capitalization and Community, Presentation by Susan Meier

Development, Groups 1-2

Materials: Belief and Confidence, Success: What Works Now, Presentation by Ron Schiller, Aspen Leadership Group, Major Campaigns: Then and Now at the Seattle Symphony, Swedish Medical Center and the University of Washington: A study of comprehensive campaigns, the driver of their successes and applications to arts campaigns

Development, Groups 3-8

Materials: Belief and Confidence, Seattle Symphony presentation, Success: What Works Now, Presentation by Ron Schiller, Aspen Leadership Group

Education and Community Engagement

Materials: Arts Education for America’s Students: A Shared Endeavor, Statement of Common Cause: Orchestras Support In-School Music Education, From Design to Dissemination, Survey

Marketing, Groups 1-2

Materials: Looking Forward - Acting Now

Youth Orchestras/College

Materials: SYSO Partnerships Presentation, SYSO Partnership Matrix, Measuring the Impact of Youth Programs


Roundtables: Gold Book Awards Presentations:

For a full list of sessions and Conference related materials, visit

Who attended Conference 2014? View a list of delegates by organization, last name, or constituency.