League of American Orchestras Hosts 2014 National Conference in Seattle - Highlights!

League of American Orchestras Hosts 2014 National Conference in Seattle - Highlights!

The League of American Orchestras' National Conference, hosted by the Seattle Symphony, began with a riveting keynote address by flutist Claire Chase on re-imagining the orchestra, and concluded with a media frenzy and a viral video: Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony's Sonic Evolution concert featuring world premieres by Luis Tinocco, Du Yun, and Gabriel Prokofiev, and spotlighting Sir Mix-A-Lot's now-famous orchestral rendition of "Baby Got Back."

From June 4-6, 2014, nearly 1000 orchestra administrators, musicians, volunteers, and board members came together to experience musical performances, events, and sessions presented by thought leaders, industry experts and beyond. The League has posted Conference highlights here.

Keynote Speeches

In her provocative opening session keynote address, flutist Claire Chase recounted the early days of ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), the musical group she founded, and shared her vision of orchestras: "The word 'orchestra,' in ancient Greece, meant 'a dancing place.' What if orchestras of the 21st century could revisit this most ancient part of their stories and be, literally, an open space? ...a space that houses musicians not as interpreters but as catalysts for change; that inspires administrators to be alchemists, synergists; and welcomes audience members not as consumers but as participants in a dialogue about our pulsating art form and its newest expressive means." Watch opening session videos here.

Building upon Chase's "tantalizing glimpse of an alternative universe," WolfBrown Principal Alan Brown's closing session keynote focused on new research capturing the the six elements of creative capacity: characteristics of organizations that present and produce meaningful arts programs. The "vitality of the arts sector as a whole, and certainly the orchestra field, depends on the collective ability of our creative leaders to continually produce interesting, fun, educational, surprising and imaginative programs... [Building] the next generation of concertgoers is, first and foremost, a programming challenge." Watch closing session videos here.

In his address at the League's annual meeting, League President and CEO Jesse Rosen's state-of-the-field overview underscored the connections between time and place as reflected in orchestra programming, finances, diversity, and artistry. He celebrated programming that reveals "creativity emerging from a deep sense of place" and emphasized that sense of place also encompasses the financial arena: "challenges and opportunities in your local market are at least as important, if not more so, than benchmarks compared to orchestras in other communities." Rosen urged orchestra leaders to "prioritize diversity and inclusion work," and to "support the entrepreneurs already playing in our orchestras, from the videographers creating content for their orchestras' websites to the ambassadors building new community relationships." Watch Jesse Rosen's address here.

Awards and Honors

The League's highest honor, The Gold Baton Award, was presented to Wayne S. Brown by Deborah Rutter, president, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and president designate, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Director of Music and Opera for the National Endowment for the Arts for almost 17 years, and currently President and CEO of the Michigan Opera Theatre, Brown was honored as "a steadfast friend to orchestras nationwide, a fearless advocate, and a cherished advisor to countless colleagues," The Gold Baton has been awarded since 1948 for distinguished service to America's orchestras.

Marcelo Lehninger received the Helen M. Thompson Award for an Emerging Music Director. Lehninger was appointed music director of the New West Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles in 2012, and is also the Boston Symphony Orchestra's new associate conductor. He was featured in the League's Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in 2011.


Conference sessions covered such topics as social media, diversity, community engagement, donor relations, diversity, music education, and Spring For Music festival. Highlights are now available to view online.

League's Annual Meeting

Patricia A. Richards was elected Chair of the League of American Orchestras' Board of Directors (see original announcement here). Former Chair Lowell J. Noteboom remains on the League's Board, and was honored at the meeting, along with League Vice President for Learning and Leadership Development Polly Kahn, who has stepped down after fourteen years of service.

Musical Performances

Conference performance highlights are now available to watch here, including videos featuring
• Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and solo cellist Joshua Roman, conducted by Stephen Rodgers Radcliffe,
• Cellist Joshua Roman and composer / DJ Gabriel Prokofiev, and
• Seattle Symphony musicians and Native flute player Paul "Che-oke-ten" Wagner

Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony performed two concerts at Beneroya Hall: a program featuring critically-acclaimed renditions of works by Henri Dutilleux and Ravel, and the post-Conference Sonic Evolution concert world premieres by Luis Tinocco, Du Yun, and Gabriel Prokofiev.

ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and Gold Book Online Awards of Excellence

Twenty-seven orchestras received 2013-2014 ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, including:

• Albany Symphony, David Alan Miller, Music Director (John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music);
• Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director (Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming); and
• San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director (Award for American Programming on Foreign Tours).

ASCAP and the League present the awards each year to orchestras of all sizes for programs that challenge the audience, build the repertoire, and increase interest in music of our time. The press announcement and list of the orchestras can be found here.

Fourteen outstanding orchestra volunteer projects received Gold Book Online Awards of Excellence from the League's Volunteer Council.