For the first time since 1966, the St. Louis Symphony will host the League of American Orchestras conference. The 68th annual conference which takes place June 18 – 20, will focus on the theme Imagining 2023. More than 900 people are expected to attend, representing every type of role associated with a symphony orchestra including musicians, conductors, administrators, board members and volunteers, as well as members of support organizations such as artist management, music publishers and acousticians.
League President and CEO Jesse Rosen commented to Cityscape host Steve Potter on the purpose of the organization. “We’re about helping symphony orchestras stay healthy and vital. There are many, many things, in fact most things, they can handle very much on their own, but there are some things that every orchestra needs a helping hand with particularly in advocacy in Washington at the Federal level, leadership development to insure we’ve got a strong pipeline of talent coming into the field and advancing through the field, as well as good knowledge and information about what is actually happening to orchestras as well as wider contextual circumstances that have a bearing, an impact on orchestras.”
For St. Louis Symphony President and CEO Fred Bronstein, the League of American Orchestras was his gateway to orchestra management. After many years playing in a chamber ensemble, he entered the League’s Fellowship program and ironically, his first assignment in the Fall of 1995 was in St. Louis. He echoes Rosen’s thoughts on the value of the League. “The role of advocacy is so important and training and development and all the things that individual orchestras can’t really do on their own, but we can do collectively.”
Rosen explained that the conference will help orchestras explore how to adapt and thrive in the new landscape of the 21st century. “The St. Louis Symphony is really in the forefront with a lot of this work and has been for a long time which is one of the reasons we’re so excited to have our whole community descend on St. Louis and be in and around the St. Louis Symphony because they have a magnificent story to tell,” he said. "And it’s not just one of health and vibrancy, but also one of great resilience. They’ve had their rough patches as many orchestras do, but they’ve come back so strong, so it’s a great place for everyone to meet."
Participants at the conference will be asked to imagine the state of the symphony orchestra a decade from now. Sessions will focus on topics such as dealing with the new digital landscape, engaging college students, collaborations and there will be conducting workshops, master classes and much more.
Bronstein commented on why he is so pleased that the annual conference has returned to St. Louis after an almost 50 year hiatus. “From the orchestra’s perspective, we are very proud of what the orchestra has been able to do artistically, financially, in terms of from a labor perspective, in terms of our relationship with the orchestra and the long term agreement we have. We think there are a lot of things here that we’ve learned over time and we want to be able to both share that with other orchestras and learn from other orchestras, of course. But frankly, many people know the St. Louis Symphony through recordings over the years and there’s a long discography, but most folks haven’t heard the orchestra live, and most folks haven’t heard the orchestra live in Powell Hall which is a fantastic space to hear this orchestra and to hear music. So all the folks from the industry will hear that next week. Also, St. Louis is a wonderful city, and we want to be able to show the city off.”
On the opening night of the conference, the public is invited to Powell Hall as David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony in a program including works by Mozart, Wagner and Sibelius in addition to John Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony, a work that the orchestra recorded on the Nonesuch label in 2009 that was recognized as the CD of the Decade by the Times of London.
Fred Bronstein and Jesse Rosen were Steve Potter's guests on Cityscape to discuss the work of the League of American Orchestras and the conference in St. Louis.
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's League of American Orchestras Concert
Tuesday, June 18, 2103
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis Symphony Website