Welcome to the League's National Conference!

Is this your first time? Don’t worry, you’ll have a great time!


The first thing you notice about a League Conference is the sheer scale: it’s big!

Over 900 delegates from orchestras and organizations all over the US and beyond.

My first Conference was in San Francisco in 2003 and it felt a bit bewildering to begin with, but that did not last long.  Everyone was very friendly, the staff was there to help, and you cannot resist the enthusiasm and energy of colleagues who share
your interests and passions!

Here is an overview of how Conference works.

ola_weOrchestra Leadership Academy
This year the first session for some delegates will be on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings, June 9 and 10, for those who have registered for an Orchestra Leadership Academy seminar. League staff will direct you where to go in the Palmer House Hilton Hotel. All the materials you need, including your full Conference registration packet, will be waiting for you. (Full OLA schedule)
(Photo: Mark T. Osler/PJeye.com)

Exhibit Hall

Most delegates will arrive on Wednesday, June 10, in time for the opening of the Exhibit Hall, which is not to be missed. Nearly 100 companies set out their wares in the hall and you should certainly tour the booths, make new connections, and be aware of all the products and services available to you. (Full Exhibitor list) (Photo: Glenn Ross)

constit_meetingsConstituency Meetings
There are many useful and important aspects of the Conference, but amongst the most popular are what we call Constituency Meetings. There are normally five blocks of time spread over Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday when you meet with your peers. There are meetings for executive directors, marketing managers, musicians, conductors, volunteers, board members, and many more. The schedules and topics for all the meeting groups can be seen by selecting your interest area/constituency group from the dropdown menu on the upper right of every Conference web page.  (Photo: Mark T. Osler/PJeye.com)

toolboxToolboxes and Perspectives
On Wednesday and Friday you will see two time periods devoted to 15, seventy-five minute sessions on a vast range of topics. These are Toolbox and Perspective sessions and you may choose to attend one on each day. Toolboxes are practical, skill-based sessions designed to provide immediate “take home” applications of knowledge. Perspectives are multi-faceted explorations designed to provide a “big-picture” look at an issue. Whichever two you choose, there is something for everyone’s interest and need. Full details here. (Photo: Mark T. Osler/PJeye.com)

opening_sessionOpening Session
This year’s opening plenary session is rich in content that applies to the difficult economic environment.  As orchestras and newspapers both face uncertain futures, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation President and CEO, Alberto Ibargüen, gives a keynote address that will draw parallels between the two industries and lends insight on how both can embrace the future.

The address is followed by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: An Essential Partner in a Vibrant Community, a presentation in which the Chicago Symphony Orchestra shares how their enduring institution, in partnership with other important Chicago artistic institutions, plays a central role in the cultural, social, and economic life of the city. (Photo: Mark T. Osler/PJeye.com)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has helped us make this Conference one of the most musical in years. On Wednesday night we will be treated to a concert that forms part of the orchestra’s Dvořák Festival, conducted by Sir Mark Elder. The following morning we hear the orchestra again in an opportunity to experience the CSO’s Beyond the Score ® presentation of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World). Designed not only for classical music aficionados, but also for newcomers looking to delve deeper into the world of classical music, the first half of each Beyond the Score® program offers a live multimedia documentary of the selected score, with live musical examples, followed by a complete performance of the symphony.

Stage_ovationOn Friday morning we hear from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and MusicNOW, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s nationally recognized and critically acclaimed new music ensemble. To conclude the Conference we go outdoors at 5:30PM on Friday to the magnificent Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park to hear a performance by the Grant Park Festival Orchestra and Chorus. Full details of all the music at Conference may be found here.

Three or Four things NOT to miss!

  • Tune-Up Party – immediately after the Chicago Symphony performance on Wednesday night. Full details here .
  • Solutions for Our Time - Peer-to-Peer Roundtables. Full details here.
  • All-delegate reception. Thursday, June 11 at 5:45pm
  • Next – sorry if you’re over 35, this event is not for you! Check it out here!

Top Tipsnetwork

  • Register outside the Exhibit Hall as soon as you can to receive all the material you need, including tickets for meals and concerts.
  • Keep your Program Book close at hand, it has all the essential information you will need during the week.
  • Introduce yourself at every opportunity. So much of a successful Conference is the contacts and the new friends you make.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask! League staff and seasoned Conference-goers are there to help and we all want you to have a successful visit.
  • Check the delegate list on the Conference pages before you travel to see who you need contact in advance to arrange a meeting.
  • Use the Message Board in the Exhibit Hall to make contact with fellow delegates.
  • Bring layers - while Chicago will be warm in June, the hotel AC can keep some rooms chilly!
  • Dress comfortably; we recommend business casual.

Have fun in Chicago, we are looking forward to meeting you!

Russell Jones
First Timer
League Conference, San Francisco, 2003