Artistic Vision

(Adopted by Board of Directors April 2012)

Peter Sellars, the iconic American Theatrical director, once said that the role of an orchestra within a community is to be a “program for radical social change.” While this may be a dramatic statement of purpose it does drive to the heart of the powerful role an orchestra, and its music director should play in a community, a role that is four-fold:

  • An orchestra enriches the community: it is more important than just being something that is “nice to have” in a community, but rather something that brings the community together, allows for the reflection on a topic, and provides an opportunity for the community to see the world differently because of this enrichment of their lives. For example, when an audience is assembled to hear Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, and the music and the inner thinking of its composer is properly explained to them, they listen to the music and have the opportunity to reflect on equality, heroism, the death of ideals, and transformation. The music represents the ideal social equality and emboldened by the message they see the world differently. A community that comes together to share a common experience is richer than one divided by idealistic, social and cultural differences, and the orchestra within that community must enrich everyone by representing these ideal, social issues and cultures.

  • An orchestra should be engaged with its community: the powerful impact that music can have on our lives is meaningless unless there are people there to experience it. To this end the orchestra must be involved in engaging the community to want to share this common experience. For too long the concert hall has been the place that people must come to in order to hear great and meaningful music, but an orchestra has to reach out into the community and provide people a reason to want to come.

  • We must engage the community in a dialog about the role music plays in our lives, about the transformative power of music, and especially about the role beauty plays in our society at a time when ugliness, violence and indifference pervades our lives. Engagement goes beyond just advertising events and hoping people show up, we must reach out, through forums, social media, community groups and invite the community to experience beauty.

  • An orchestra must be a force for the education of society: Too often people use the excuse that they “don’t understand classical music” as a reason not to attend concerts. It is up to the orchestra within a community to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to come to understand the music that is being performed – whether it be through discussion groups, online forums, program notes, social and traditional media to inform the community about the music, and address head on the very real misconceptions about the concert experience. Furthermore, the orchestra must directly engage in the education of youth, not only for the transformative power of musical education in the intellectual development of young people, but to ensure that there is a constant stream of future audiences.

  • An orchestra must entertain the audience that does come to a concert: this may be self-evidentiary but no one wants to go to a concert and be bored. Programming by the Music Director must be carefully thought through so that every concert has something that can engage, enrich and educate the audience. Audiences must leave the concert hall excited by what they have just experienced. We must choose music that is proportional to the ability of the audience to appreciate it, and when we choose to do larger works, or new works we must guide the listening experience for those experiencing this music for the first time. I personally like to build programs that have a logical central theme that the audience can relate to: it can be as simple as music that they have heard on TV as in “Cartoons of Old,” or “diversity” as in the case of a Brahms concerto on a program with “La Salsa” of Roberto Sierra. I believe strongly in bringing new music to the concert stage to perpetuate and expand the repertoire, but it must be music that the audience can immediately appreciate i.e. be tuneful, mostly tonal and preferably uplifting in some way.

  • These core values represent for me the driving force behind my role as a conductor and the leader of an orchestra in the community.