Global Stages / Local Stories
By David Styers
The first week of March, the League proudly launched the website for its 75th National Conference, highlighting the exciting sessions we had planned with our hosts at the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Within days, as we watched the pandemic spread and saw orchestras move from postponing individual concerts to cancelling the rest of their seasons, we realized that an in-person Conference in June would be impossible.
We knew, though, that the orchestra field needed information and resources from the League more than ever, so canceling the Conference was not an option. And we knew that orchestras needed those resources right now, so waiting until mid-June to do a three-day virtual Conference did not make sense. We also wanted to preserve as much of the planned Conference content as we could, plus have room to add new, coronavirus-specific sessions without overwhelming attendees. And we wanted to provide the content for free to League members. So, an online Conference event stretching six weeks, with near-daily sessions starting the first week of May, was born.
And, as the League’s online Conference progressed and worldwide demonstrations in June protested racial injustice following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, the Conference adapted again, this time to include new and newly refocused sessions on today’s most urgent social issues.