The League of American Orchestras
in association with
University of Southern California Arts Leadership Program

Essentials of Orchestra Management

“The gold standard of orchestra management training”


Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar. Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel this year’s meeting in Los Angeles due to events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming months, we’ll be exploring additional ways to provide professional development during the next year.

If you are interested in future Essentials programs, please contact David Styers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Essentials of Orchestra Management, the premier orchestra management course in the United States, is an immersive ten-day seminar which prepares orchestra professionals with the tools they need to be effective administrators and leaders. Since its inception in 2000, more than 450 professionals have participated in Essentials, including many who now hold key leadership positions in orchestras. This residential program on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles provides an in-depth overview of orchestra management, builds diverse career networks, and offers participants a unique opportunity to obtain the knowledge necessary to become a successful leader in the arts.

Led by a faculty of high-profile orchestra executives, musicians, arts activists, and leadership experts, the seminar is designed to address both theory and practice. Participants can expect to explore key functions of an orchestra manager’s work (e.g., artistic planning; equity, diversity, and inclusion; audience development; and contract negotiation) through an innovative course of study that explores not only the challenges faced by orchestra managers today, but also how orchestras must adapt and change to be sustainable in the future.

“My creative/professional high point of 2016 was being one of the 30 participants invited nationwide to attend the League of American Orchestra’s Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar and getting to learn from some of the most brilliant orchestra executives.” Shiva Shafii, Director of Communications, Seattle Symphony.

The purpose of Essentials is to:

  • Serve as a platform to develop future orchestra leaders
  • Envision orchestras of the future
  • Deepen the knowledge and skills of the people in the field
  • Connect orchestra professionals to one another
  • Inspire life-long careers in, and dedication to, orchestras
  • Strengthen orchestras as they carry out their missions

As graduates of Essentials, participants will be able to:

  • Enhance critical thinking skills to identify, diagnose, and resolve strategic challenges of the orchestral field both today and tomorrow

  • Advance orchestras as diverse and inclusive organizations and fulfill their unique role in the cultural context of their communities

  • Develop leadership abilities to work productively with competing imperatives and a wide range of constituent groups, including patrons, musicians, staff members, boards, and partner organizations

  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of core business and operating practices in American orchestras

  • Deepen knowledge of orchestral performances and learn to speak about orchestral music with understanding and insight

  • Cultivate a network of peers, mentors, and resources for continued professional development

All program applicants will receive a discounted registration rate for the League’s 75th National Conference, taking place June 10-12, 2020 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Registration is limited to 36 participants. Program participants will receive a one-year membership to the League of American Orchestras.

Who Is Eligible to Apply?

Early career professionals, musicians, career changers, and graduate students are encouraged to apply. Experienced administrators who wish to expand and deepen their knowledge base in all aspects of an orchestral organization are also welcome. The League especially invites applicants from backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in the orchestral field.


essentials classroom

Essentials participants in a group activity
photo credit: Agibail R. Collins Photography

2020 Core Faculty and Leadership


Alex LaingRosenDS

  • Essentials Director Simon Woods, Interim Executive Director, Grand Tetons Music Festival, former Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  • Essentials Associate Director Scott Faulkner, Principal Bass, Reno Philharmonic Orchestra; Former Executive Director, Reno Chamber Orchestra
  • Jennifer Barlament, Executive Director, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Alexander Laing, Principal Clarinet, The Phoenix Symphony
  • Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras
  • David Styers, Director, Learning and Leadership Programs, League of American Orchestras

Essentials 2020 Guest Faculty:

  • Megen Balda, Executive Director, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies
  • Reveta Bowers, Retired Head of School, The Center for Early Education
  • Jahmad Canley, CEO & Senior Consultant, Potential Unleashed
  • Dan Coleman, Director of Development, Campaign, and Strategic Projects, San Francisco Symphony
  • Diane Erickson, Director, People Services, HealthCare Partners
  • Amy Fogerson, Director, Street Symphony
  • Vince Ford, Vice President, Audiences and Innovation, New York Philharmonic
  • Kenneth Foster, Director, Arts Leadership Program, USC Thornton School of Music
  • Maia Jasper White, Violinist, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Director, Salastina Music Society
  • Dr. Tanya Kalmanovitch, Associate Professor, The New School, and Faculty, New England Conservatory
  • Laree Kiely, President and CWO, We Will Inc.
  • Susan Miller Kotses, Vice President, Education and Community Engagement, Pacific Symphony
  • Mitch Newman, Violin, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Noah Price, Senior Consultant, Potential Unleashed
  • Faith Raiguel, former Chief Financial Officer, LA Opera
  • Laura Reynolds, Executive Director, Boise Philharmonic; former Vice President, Education and Community Engagement, Seattle Symphony  
  • Meredith Snow, Viola, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Board Member, ICSOM (International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians)
  • Daniel Song, Vice President, Philharmonic and Production, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Ed Yim, President, American Composers Orchestra

Alumni Spotlight

IBVIgnacio Barrón Viela, a 2018 participant, described Essentials as an opportunity to reflect on the impact of music beyond the concert hall. A trained cellist, Viela studied engineering and worked as a consultant in the energy sector. After attending the seminar, he became executive director of the Billings Symphony Orchestra in Montana.

Viela stresses the importance of discussing how artists are impacting the world, and he says that relating Essentials sessions about audience building and increasing donations back to the central concept of why musicians make art was perhaps the most heartening component of the seminar. “This blew my mind: how much music can make a social impact in a community,” he says. “It was fantastic to get to know a group of people with such a different array of backgrounds and levels of experience. Everyone is so passionate.”

Links to More Essentials Information

Read about last year’s seminar

See a photo story of the 2018 class

Read what faculty and alumni say about Essentials

See a recent Essentials ad in Symphony magazine

Article in Winter 2019 Symphony magazine on Essentials


For any questions, please contact David Styers, Director, Learning and Leadership Programs at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


USC logo


Essentials of Orchestra Management is made possible by generous grants from
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 
The Hearst Foundation, Inc., and the National Endowment for the Arts


 Photo credits of faculty and alumni: Brandon Patoc, Elizabeth Harraman, Jeff Roffman, Jared Platt, Dan Rest, Pasha Kalachev, Ryan Welch