Fearless Journeys: The Audio Interviews

A series of conversations further exploring the innovative practices described in the League’s recent publication, Fearless Journeys: Innovation in Five American Orchestras, with interviewer and host Catherine Maciariello, principal, Creative Arts Consulting.

Read Fearless Journeys here >>


Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Collaborative Organizational Culture 

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 John Sparrow Charlie Wade Evans Mirageas

John Sparrow, Charlie Wade, Evans Mirageas

(31:57) In this audio interview hear from Atlanta Symphony members John Sparrow, vice president and general manager of the orchestra; Charlie Wade, vice president of marketing; and Evans Mirageas, director of artistic planning.  The interview explores (timings indicate when a specific topic begins)

  • The Birth of the War Room  (1:54)
  • A Glimpse Inside the War Room:  Structure and Decision-making (4:14)
  • Finding Common Ground:  The Intersection of Artistic Planning and Marketing (9:38)
  • The Role of the Music Director  (13:04)
  • New Synergies:  Musicians, Staff and Collaborative Organizational Practices  (18:25)
  • Lessons Learned  (22:46)

Click here to learn more about the ASO’s “War Room”


Los Angeles Philharmonic 

Excellence & Innovation 

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Deborah Borda Chad Smith

Deborah Borda, Chad Smith

(37:20) In this audio interview hear from LA Philharmonic members Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chad Smith, vice president of artistic planning discussing the following topics in their interview (timings indicate when a specific topic begins):  

  • LA Programming Philosophy:  Excellence and Innovation (2:15)
  • The Programming Process:  Creating an Artistic Profile  (7:50)
  • Seasonal Platforms:  Pillars of the Philharmonic's Season  (13:40)
  • Teachable Moments:  When Things Don't Go as Planned  (18:50)
  • Signs of Success:  Board Engagement, Partnerships, Audiences  (22:50)
  • Lessons Learned for Other Orchestras: Can anybody do it?  (34:40)

See pdf PDFs of some of LA Phil’s festival brochures:


Memphis Symphony Orchestra 

Community Partnerships 

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Ryan Fleur Marc Willis Jennifer Puckett

Ryan Fleur, Marc Willis, Jennifer Puckett

(25:10) In this audio interview hear from Memphis Symphony members Ryan Fleur, the orchestra’s president and CEO; Marc Willis, the past CEO of Soulsville Academy, a community partner with the orchestra; and Jennifer Puckett, principal viola in the orchestra and a Soulsville mentor to students at the school.  The interview explores (timings indicate when a specific topic begins):  

  • A New Synergy:  The Relationship between Artistic Excellence and Community Engagement (1:16)
  • The Soulsville Charter School Mentorship Project (2:39)
  • Owning the Future:  New Roles for Musicians (4:17)
  • Guiding Principles:  Building Mutually Fulfilling Community Partnerships (8:16) 
  • Evaluating Success:  Defining New Assessment Standards  (16:23)
  • Lessons Learned:  Applying the MSO Approach in other Orchestras (21:38)

Click pdf here to read more about the Leading from Every Chair Program, an experiential workshop with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra


Memphis Symphony Orchestra 

Internal Culture

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Lisa Dixon Susanna Gilmore Dan Poag

Lisa Dixon,  Susanna Gilmore, Dan Poag

(26:14) In this audio interview hear from Memphis Symphony members Lisa Dixon, chief operating officer, at the Symphony; Susanna Gilmore, concertmaster; and Dan Poag, immediate past board chair discussing the following topics in their interview (timings indicate when a specific topic begins):  

  • Organizational Culture:  An Essential Building Block for Innovation (1:06)
  • Cultural shifts:  Adopting a Service Perspective (3:47)
  • The Demands of Leadership:  New Roles, Responsibilities, and Perspectives (6:21)
  • The Value of Shared Leadership (9:25)
  • Keeping the Spirit of Innovation Alive: The Board's Role (13:00)
  • Feeding the Artistic Soul:  The Effect of Culture on Artistic Expression (15:25)
  • Living with Uncertainty:  Learning How to Manage Innovation (19:19)


Pacific Symphony 

Contextual Programming 

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Carl_St_Clair John Forsyte Eileen Jeannette Joseph Horowitz

Carl St.Clair, John Forsyte, Eilieen Jeannette, Joseph Horowitz

(29:00) In this audio interview hear from Pacific Symphony members Carl St.Clair, music director; John Forsyte, president; Eileen Jeannette, director of artistic and orchestra operations; and Joseph Horowitz, artistic advisor to the orchestra.  The interview explores (timings indicate when a specific topic begins):

  • Contextual Programming: The Pacific Symphony's Perspective (1:14)
  • Making Connections:  How Thematic Ideas Emerge (4:52)
  • Los Sonidos de Mexico (7:45)
  • Enhancing Musical Context:  The Role of Local Partners (13:12)
  • Holding it Together:  The Role of the "Integrator"  (18:31)
  • Mistakes and Learning (21:28)
  • Final thoughts and Advice for Colleagues (25:48)

Click here for more information about the Pacific Symphony’s American Composer’s Festival


The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra 

New Artistic Leadership Model

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Sarah Lutman  Chuck Ullery

Sarah Lutman, Chuck Ullery

(27:10) In this audio interview we will hear from SPCO members Sarah Lutman, president and Chuck Ullery, principal bassoon (timings indicate when a specific topic begins).

  • Context:  Achieving Momentum (1:10)
  • Finding that "Trusting Place:" The Role of Education in Building Collaboration (1:55)
  • Creating a Culture of Change: "Fearless" Planning (7:29)
  • Transferring Values, Culture and Learning:  A Structure for Participation (9:56)
  • Taking the Model to Scale:  Applications for Larger Orchestras (14:18) 
  • Building Shared Responsibility:  The Artistic Partners Model (18:15) 


Taking the Learning Home 

Some Themes and Transferable Lessons

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Jesse Rosen

Jesse Rosen 

(38:38) In this audio interview, listeners hear from Jesse Rosen, president, League of American Orchestras, talk about some of the themes evident in Fearless Journeys and some of the major shifts he has been observing in orchestras of all sizes as he travels throughout the field. (timings indicate when a specific topic begins)

  • Applying the Heat:  Management and Leadership in Orchestras (1:09) 
  • Upping Our Game:  Why Creative Leadership Matters Now (4:31)
  • Teamwork and Collaboration:  A Shift in the Leadership Model (6:43) 
  • Opting In:  Unleashing the Creative Talent of Musicians (10:39)
  • New Artistic Perspectives:  Making the Table Bigger (14:58)
  • Nurturing Innovation:  The Role of Boards (19:16)
  • Seeing the Future in the Past:  Connections between Art and Community Service (23:50)
  • Keeping Communication Alive:  How an Orchestra Listens to its Community (28:10)
  • What's Next for the League? (32:22)


Letter from Catherine Maciariello 

In early 2010, the League published Fearless Journeys:  Innovation in Five American Orchestras.  Why link fearlessness with innovation? ... pdf more

Cathy Maciariello

Catherine Maciariello


The Fearless Journeys publication was made possible by a generous grant from MetLife Foundation.

Additional support for Fearless Journeys was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.