December 23, 2020

Dear Friends: 

Some of us have already celebrated our holidays, and others have them coming up this week. Most of us are gathering in smaller groups than ever before, missing the friends and family whose closeness makes the holidays so special. And all of us will watch the arrival of 2021 with a mixture of deep sadness at those lost to the pandemic and racial injustice, anxiety for the hardship that so many have endured, gratitude to the medical professionals across the world who have saved lives, and admiration for the extraordinary science that has seen vaccines arriving in months not years.

None of us has known a holiday season like this – and probably ever will again. And alongside this, we’re dealing with tremendous uncertainty about how our artform and our field will fare in the year ahead. It doesn’t exactly provide a comfortable backdrop to holiday celebrations. Yet as we reach the turning of the year, there’s still a special space for gratitude. Here are a few things I’m personally grateful for:

I’m grateful for the endless solace of great music and its ability to answer the deepest questions of humanity;

I’m grateful to our extraordinary community of musicians and orchestra professionals. Not only for the friendships of those I’m close to, but for the endless resourcefulness of the entire field which has been so spectacularly on show through this year;

I’m grateful to the volunteers, board members, and philanthropists who have sustained our organizations with their incredible generosity as business models collapsed; 

I’m grateful for the way in which 2020 has asked us to open our hearts to the promise of inclusion and equity, and the way our field has started to respond;

And I’m grateful to be here at the League of American Orchestras, working with terrific people who care deeply about our mission to support orchestras through thick and thin.

I send you warmest greetings for the Holidays and the New Year. May 2021 bring everything we hope for!

Simon Woods

Simon Woods
President and CEO
League of American Orchestras 

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