Essentials Curriculum

Led by prominent leaders inside and beyond the orchestra field, including many Essentials alumni, the curriculum explores all aspects of orchestra administration and the changing nature of orchestras. Essentials also addresses the new values, roles, and practices that are emerging as orchestras evolve, particularly in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial justice since 2020. Participants gain an understanding of what constitutes essential work in each of the functional areas of orchestra management in an environment that encourages robust interrogation of norms in our field and new thinking about the future.

Orchestras are focusing more and more on authentic engagement with broad civic concerns, and the art form is increasingly drawing upon today’s rich and varied cultural currents to connect with coming generations of audiences. Essentials, therefore, explores not only traditional aspects of leadership, strategy, and governance, but also examines community and equity in its many dimensions as well as orchestras’ need to address changing demographics and societal attitudes.

Essentials will introduce participants to the real-life opportunities and challenges that orchestras face today and highlight the creative, adaptive, and community-oriented skills that leaders need to help move their organizations and the field forward. The course includes individual reflection and sharing with peer groups as well as open discussion and personal commitments.

As graduates of Essentials, participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of core business and operating practices in American orchestras
  • Use critical thinking skills to identify and analyze key strategic challenges of the field
  • Thrive in an environment of competing imperatives and multiple stakeholders
  • Increase their understanding and awareness of critical issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the orchestra field
  • Express a deep commitment to the value and purpose of orchestras in our communities
  • Develop and apply emergent and responsive leadership skills to engage others and collaborate in problem solving
  • Build strong relationships with a wide range of constituents, including staff teams, musicians, audience members, donors, and the general public
  • Advance orchestras as diverse and inclusive organizations, while fulfilling their unique role in the cultural context of their communities
  • Deepen knowledge of, and appreciation for, orchestral repertoire and performances
  • Listen to music with discerning ears and speak about music with deeper understanding and insight
  • Cultivate a network of peers, mentors, and resources for continued professional development
  • Receive a non-credit Juilliard Extension certificate upon completion

Led by a faculty of currently active orchestra professionals and leadership experts, Essentials addresses both theory and practice, integrating the faculty’s extensive practical experience and expert knowledge in the course curriculum. Topics will include:

  • Artistic Leadership and Planning
  • Development and Fundraising
  • Digital and Electronic Media
  • Education and Community Engagement
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Finance
  • Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Leadership
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Musicians’ Perspective
  • Negotiations and Collective Bargaining Agreements
  • Operations and Production
  • Organizational Culture
  • Small-Budget and Entrepreneurial Orchestras
  • Strategic Planning
  • Virtuosic Listening

Additional core activities include faculty mentoring, visits with prominent artists and executives, concert attendance, and excursions to Carnegie Hall and David Geffen Hall.

Essentials of Orchestra Management is made possible by grants from Trish & Rick Bryan, 25th Century Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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