August 2016

August 2016
The Honorable Elijah E. CummingsLeague’s 71st Conference in Baltimore Attracts National Attention
With its timely focus on diversity, the League’s 71st National Conference attracted the notice of both politicians inside the Beltway and national news outlets. The Honorable Elijah Cummings, U.S. Representative (MD-7), inspired us with his personal story in his closing plenary speech, challenging us to persevere in our efforts to make music accessible for all of America’s children. The opening plenary keynote speaker, Earl Lewis, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, laid out the path to change, supporting his narrative with a strong focus on data. Watch more on our post-Conference site or visit The League in the News to see media coverage of the Conference.
Stirring Performance of “One Baltimore” Highlights Impact of Music

Hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Conference began on a high note as members of the BSO’s OrchKids and Baltimore Symphony Youth Concert Orchestra jointly performed an exuberant rendition of Brian Prechtl’s moving work “One Baltimore,” composed as a “call for unity” in the wake of civic unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. A Baltimore Sun editorial covering the Conference emphasized the importance of orchestras’ educational initiatives, including the pioneering OrchKids program.
Jesse Rosen“A Pressing National Conversation”
“The Richness of Difference,” League President and CEO Jesse Rosen’s opening plenary remarks, introduced the first League of American Orchestras National Conference devoted to diversity. A full transcript is posted on our website, along with video footage of the plenary. Rosen was interviewed on radio station WWFM by A Tempo’s Rachel Katz about the motivation for this year’s ground-breaking Conference, and what future outcomes he envisions. Listen to the full interview here (League segment begins at 10:10).
Educational EquityTaking Action for Educational Equity
As this nation embarks on implementing the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), orchestras are taking action in their states and local communities to improve access to music education. The U.S. Department of Education’s Dr. Monique Chism reminded the League’s Conference audience that our nation’s highest poverty schools have the least access to arts education and joined Rep. Cummings in applauding the efforts by orchestras to speak up for a complete music education for all students. A special pre-Conference event brought orchestra leaders into Baltimore Public Schools to see the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s extraordinary OrchKids program in action. To learn more about how your action today can secure a better future for music education in the schools, see the League’s ESSA resource center. (Photo: Richard Lippenholz)
Ford Musician AwardsHonoring the Critical Work Musicians Do in their Communities
Five orchestra musicians received the League’s newly-launched Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service at the Conference: (left to right) Brian Prechtl, percussion, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (OrchKids); Shannon Orme, bass clarinet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Neighborhood Residency Initiative); Jeffrey Paul, Principal Oboe, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (Lakota Music Project); Beth Vandervennet, cello, Oakland Symphony (Music for Excellence Program [MUSE]); and Penny Anderson Brill, viola, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Music and Wellness Program). Delegates also had the opportunity to experience examples of the musicians' work and to hear from them directly in a Conference session. The Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service is a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund. Read the press release on this year’s awardees here. (Photo: Richard Lippenholz)
Essentials of Orchestra ManagementLeague’s Essentials of Orchestra Management Wraps in LA
Since its inception in 2000, over 400 emerging leaders have participated in the League’s Essentials of Orchestra Management, including many who now hold key leadership positions in orchestras. The ten-day residential seminar, a 360-degree look at the orchestra field, is packed with learning and networking opportunities. One highlight was a full day of sessions at Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring a Q&A with Los Angeles Philharmonic Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel and panel discussions on “Service to the Field” and “Orchestras in the 21st Century.” Read the press release. (Photo: Caitlin Whealon)
Did You Know?
Check out the League’s Conference photo album on Facebook and Instagram!
The League is often called up for context on all things orchestra-related. For a peek at recent media coverage with a League focus, go to The League in the News on our website.
Three new people were appointed to the League’s Board of Directors, and Board officers were elected. See the announcement here.
Visit our dedicated resource center for detailed information about new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidance that spells out how to access exemptions for musical instruments. The League played a key leadership role in seeking solutions that would address urgent conservation concerns while also protecting international cultural activity.


Summer 2016

League of American Orchestras
July 29,  2016 facebook500.png  twitter2.png  yt_home.png?r=1407251763518
Notes from Linda Weisbruch, Outgoing Volunteer Council President

Linda WeisbruchWhere did this year go?  As we bid a fond farewell to 2015-16 fiscal year, here’s a quick look back at the Volunteer Council’s work these past twelve months!

Our eighteen members hailed from fifteen states representing all orchestra sizes from groups 1-8.  These dedicated volunteers committed their time, talent and treasure to the Volunteer Council and our mission to support volunteers nationwide.

In 2015-16, the Volunteer Council:

  • disseminated the League’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to all volunteers through Volunteer Notes, plus Annual Fund and other field communications
  • aligned the Volunteer Council mission statement* with the new League mission/vision statement
  • conducted a six-part series of Strategic Conversations for thirteen presidents/presidents-elect on governance, fundraising, and membership
  • created a new webinar, entitled “Gold Book – The Ultimate Resource,” a tutorial on how to create a stellar Gold Book submittal plus site navigation/utilization tips for the first time user
  • supported the League’s Conference theme of “The Richness of Difference” through Conference programming and field communications
As always, the Volunteer Council’s planning and execution of all volunteer constituency programming at the League’s 71st National Conference in Baltimore represented our most significant commitment (details follow in the Conference overview article). It was an extraordinary experience to work with the Baltimore Symphony Associates (BSA). Under the leadership of BSA President Sandy Feldman, these host volunteers set the “hospitality bar” at new heights. Each Associate made us welcome at every turn, demonstrating a most gracious can-do spirit for which the Volunteer Council is ever grateful!

A huge thank you to the many, many volunteers whose generosity lifted our 2016 Annual Fund contribution to $46,850 (including $2,350 raised during #GivingTuesday). We worked closely with League development staff to meet and exceed our $40,000 goal in a shortened fiscal year of only nine months. Our support is so critical for the League’s ability to expand and enhance its work with our beloved orchestras. It’s never too late to make a gift to keep the music playing! Visit the League’s online donation page. For more information, please contact Samara Ungar at 646 822 4008 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

It has been my honor to serve my fellow volunteers this past year as the Volunteer Council’s president. I send a special thank you to each and every symphony volunteer across the nation for your dedication to your orchestra family. I would also thank our Volunteer Council members for their outstanding accomplishments, and our League staff liaisons Samara Ungar and Caitlin Whealon for their ceaseless and expert support of the Council’s work.

Looking forward to seeing you in Detroit, June 6-8, 2017 … until then, my very best wishes for a successful 2016-17,

Linda Weisbruch
President 2015-16, Volunteer Council

*The League’s updated mission statement is: To advance the experience of orchestral music, support the people and organizations that create it, and champion the contributions they make to the health and vibrancy of communities. The Volunteer Council has aligned its mission statement to: The League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council leads, advocates, and champions volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras’ community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.

2016 National Conference in Baltimore: Highlights
Jane Schwartz, Conference Committee Chair
Conference 2016
The 71st National Conference was held in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, home of the renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, from June 8 to June 11. The Conference explored “The Richness of Difference,” reflecting the major demographic changes shaping our country’s cultures and communities today. In concert with the full range of programming which the League provides delegates across the orchestra field, the Volunteer Council curated programming specifically for volunteers, including the presentation of 23 award-winning projects.

The traditional first evening ice-breakers, Dine Arounds, were held at several of Baltimore’s finest restaurants in the Inner Harbor. Groups of four and five spread out across the area for fine food, delightfully creative conversation, and a targeted discussion around what diversity meant to each participant.

Volunteer sessions opened on Thursday morning with a welcome message from Volunteer Council President Linda Weisbruch. Sandy Feldman, President of the Baltimore Symphony Associates (BSA) and Volunteer Council Conference liaison, also greeted the delegates and gave an insider’s glimpse into the Baltimore Symphony. Maureen Patton, both a BSA past president and Volunteer Council Sustainer, highlighted the many attractions of the “Charm City.” Spokane Symphony Associates was awarded the 2016 Classic Award for their Christmas Tree Elegance project.

Eight projects received the Gold Book Award of Excellence this year, including: Arkansas’s All Decked Out Playing Card Fundraiser; Augusta’s Cotillion’s 50th Anniversary; Charlotte’s Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour; Minnesota’s Perfect Square: Kinder Konzerts Commission, Premiere and Regular Season; Oklahoma City’s You’re Never Too Old to Start Over – The ESCCO Project; Quad Cities’ 100 Years, 100 Cellos; and Tyler’s Approach to Scrapbooking and Annual Jazz Spectacular. The Arkansas and Charlotte projects formed a panel entitled “Steal, Copy, Tweak” to showcase how Gold Book projects can be repurposed for the needs of different communities.

Our networking wine and cheese reception, entitled “Sip a Little, Learn A Lot,” featured Pratichi Shah, President and CEO of Flourish Talent Management. Pratichi led us in a lively conversation about diversity and why inclusion is so important for our symphonies.

Eleven projects were presented in the Roundtables session – a fast-paced expo format.  These included: Amarillo’s Symphony Kids; Augusta’s Backstage Guardian Angels; Baltimore’s Music Adventures; Charlotte’s Young Artist Competition; Kansas City’s The Sun, The Moon and The Stars Gala; Las Vegas’s Adopt-A-Musician; Madison’s Launching the John DeMain Award; Philadelphia’s Perfect Harmony; Spokane’s Christmas Tree Elegance and Bulletin Board. A “Fashion Forward Fundraising” panel included Dallas’s Fashion Notes, Las Vegas’s Runway Rhythms, and SW Florida’s 2015 Designer Showcase.

As always, our very enthusiastic delegates shared new ideas, challenges, and solutions with each other.  Conversation and discussion abounded throughout. Didn’t bring home what you needed? Wish you had been there?  We’ve got you covered – you can find all the PowerPoints, scripts, and handouts for each of the Volunteer Projects on the League’s website.

We closed with a preview of our destination for the 72nd Annual Conference – Detroit, June 6-8, 2017. Hope to see you there!

League of American Orchestras Conference Overview
BSO Orch Kids
The League of American Orchestras 71st National Conference welcomed nearly 1,000 orchestra managers, musicians, staff, trustees, and volunteers in Baltimore from June 9-11. The Conference focused on orchestra diversity and inclusion, featuring exceptional speakers in both plenary and elective sessions covering artistic innovation, creative fundraising, audience development, technology, financial stability, and more.

Hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Conference kicked off with a performance by the Baltimore Youth Symphony Orchestra and members of the BSO’s OrchKids program, with the opening keynote speech by Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. See the video here. Other Conference highlights included a conducting master class with BSO Music Director Marin Alsop, social and networking events, and sessions built for all areas of orchestra management, including, but not limited to, executive directors, marketing and development staff, volunteers, artistic administration, and musicians.

Notable Closing Plenary speakers included DeRay Mckesson, civil rights activist and Dr. Monique Chism, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, OESE, U.S. Department of Education. Conference came to an inspiring close with an address by The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. Representative (MD-7). See his touching address here.

“Diversity, and in particular the place of race and ethnicity, is an urgent national issue, and the League must seize its role to focus attention and help orchestras find pathways, individually and collectively, to take action,” said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen.

For a full list of pre-Conference seminars, elective sessions, and plenary synopses, please visit the League’s post-Conference webpage.
A Letter from Incoming President, Debbie McKinney

Debbie McKinneyIt is such an honor to serve as President of the Volunteer Council this coming year. We are already beginning preparations for the League’s 2017 Conference in Detroit, June 6-8, 2017. While volunteers will gather at Conference again eleven months from now, there are lots of great resources available and several activities to reference and utilize in the meantime.

The League, as always, has been at the forefront of our orchestra universe – recognizing trends, reacting quickly and appropriately to re-educate all constituents to operate effectively and efficiently in an ever-changing landscape.

Resources are continuously being developed and enhanced for every constituency. For volunteers, much resides online from award-winning volunteer projects to best practice webinars about all facets of auxiliary management (www.americanorchestras.org/board-members-volunteers/volunteers).The Volunteer Council also offers mentoring services for nascent volunteer organizations and auxiliaries in stress, as well as one-on-one sounding board conversations for current leadership. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be connected with the appropriate person for your specific needs.

Two items for your immediate attention:
  • Gold Book:  the online site is “open for business” and awaiting your organization’s project submittals from this past fiscal year. Submit your volunteer organization’s project now for consideration to be presented at the 2017 Conference in Detroit.
    • All projects must be submitted in full by September 6 at goldbookonline.org and must have been completed between July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. Submission categories include: audience development/community engagement, communication/technology, education, fundraising, leadership/organizational structure, membership, and service projects.
    • Watch the Volunteer Council’s new webinar for tips and strategies on how to submit your best project below. For questions, please contact the League Volunteer Council liaison, Caitlin Whealon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 646 822 4083.
Gold Book Webinar
  • Strategic Conversations:  Please join me and Volunteer Council President-elect Becky Odland (Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra) for these in-depth conversations with your peers.
    • The series consists of six 60-minute calls on the following Tuesdays at 3:00pm EST: September 27, October 11, October 25, November 8, November 29, and December 13. Together, we will talk about governance, leadership development, member recruitment and retention, fundraising, and other topics. We will email agendas and resource materials to all participants in advance of each call, and minutes from the conversations will be distributed following each call.
    • To register for this Strategic Conversation, please complete the following online form no later than September 12, 2016. In order to ensure everyone can participate fully, we have limited space, so sign up early and join the conversation.  We look forward to sharing, learning, solving, and laughing with you!
    • Note: The tuition fee is $50 for this program – although if you sign up here, you will receive a 20% discount by using the discount code: VOLNOTES.
Looking forward to a wonderful year – wishing everyone great success for you, your members, your organization, and your entire orchestra family,

Debbie McKinney
President, 2016-17

League elects three new Board members

Learn more about Lester Abberger, Practichi Shah, and Nathaniel J. Sutton here.

2016 Pops Listing

List Your Pops Attractions in Symphony magazine!

Deadline: Wednesday, August 17

Symphony is once again offering the opportunity for artist managers and self-represented artists to list their pops attractions, by genre, in the fall (October) issue of the magazine.

These Pops Listings include the name of the artist or attraction, name of artist representation or management company, contact e-mail, and website. The listings serve as a reference guide for orchestra decision-makers charged with booking their pops seasons.
If you aren’t familiar with Symphony’s Pops Listings, you can see last year’s listings on page 44 of the Fall 2015 issue here.

As an added distribution bonus, a link to the Pops Listings will also be included on The Hub, the League’s daily online news aggregator, in early November.


You may choose from several options:

Option 1: Pops Listing Only

To purchase your Pops Listing, please submit our Pops Listing form

Pricing for each listing is $100 per basic listing, $50 for each additional genre.

You can also make your pops attractions stand out from the rest by purchasing an expanded listing. The expanded listing includes a 30-word description of your artist or attraction, and a headshot or company logo.

Option 2: Pops Listing with Ad Purchase

If you purchase an ad in the fall (October) issue of Symphony magazine, those artists or groups appearing in the ad will be included in the Pops Listings free of charge.* In order to receive your free listing, your artist must appear in the ad. 

To purchase an ad in this issue, please use the “Pops Listing (with Ad)” form to reserve your space and submit your listings.

Symphony magazine’s 2016 media kit can be found here.

The deadline for submitting your pops attractions is Wednesday, August 17.  For any questions on the Pops Listing section of Symphony magazine, please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


*Ads under ½ page receive up to eight complimentary listings with the purchase of an ad.  Ads larger than ½ page receive up to fifteen complimentary listings with the purchase of an ad.

Summer Policy Round-up: Ivory Rules, Visas, Funding, & Music Ed

July 8, 2016

Ivory rules take effect

Fresh guidance is now available about the impact of ivory rules for musicians. On July 6, new policies officially took effect for international travel and domestic commerce with musical instruments that contain small quantities of African elephant ivory. The League played a key leadership role in national conversations with White House officials, top leadership at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Congress, and conservation organizations to successfully seek solutions that would address urgent conservation concerns while also protecting international cultural activity. Visit our dedicated resource center for detailed information about new USFWS guidance that spells out how to access exemptions for musical instruments.

Visas: seeking more expedience, not expense!

This week, the League led a broad coalition of national performing arts organizations calling for immediate improvements to the U.S. visa process for international artists. Amidst lengthy processing delays, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed making it more costly to apply for the required visas for foreign guest artists, increasing the filing fee by 42% from $325 to $460. The date for implementing the proposed fee increase has not yet been set. The League has submitted comments on behalf of orchestras - and in partnership with a national nonprofit performance arts coalition including the American Federation of Musicians, Performing Arts Alliance, The Recording Academy, and many others - urging USCIS to make immediate improvements to the artist visa process.

Federal funding: your summer homework with elected officials

Given that this is an election year, the House and Senate are taking a long summer recess, which makes the prospects uncertain for the federal budget to be completed. Bills that are of importance to the orchestra community are on the move, and here is the latest on where things stand:

  • National Endowment for the Arts: The House Appropriations Committee has recommended $149.849 million for FY17, which equals the President's request for the agency and would be an increase of $2 million from its current budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee has also recommended an increase, but a smaller one - just $500,000 above the FY16 budget.
  • Arts EducationOne new area of funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act is for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, which will support learning in "well-rounded subjects" including the arts. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved just $300 million for this program, which falls far short of the already paltry $500 million requested by the Administration. House Appropriators have approved $1 billion. Meanwhile the Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) program received a Senate Appropriations recommendation for level funding of $27 million while the House has not advanced funding for the program.
  • Cultural Exchange: The House Subcommittee has recommended $112 million in FY17 for the U.S. Department of State's Office of Citizen Exchanges, which administers arts, sports, youth, and other exchanges. The Senate is further along in its process, with the Appropriations Committee having just approved $107.69 million, a more modest increase above the FY16 level. In its report language accompanying the funding recommendation, Senate Appropriators made special mention of youth orchestras:

    Citizen Exchange Programs.-The Committee encourages the Secretary of State to support, from funds provided for Citizen Exchange programs, exchanges for youth orchestra and other musical ensembles administered by the Youth Programs Division in coordination with the Cultural Programs Division.

Take action for music education

The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) marks an important, new opportunity to ensure that every student has access to arts and music education. Now, even more of the decisions about how the arts are supported in education will be made at the state and local levels. As civic-minded community-based organizations, America's adult and youth orchestras work every day - through their programs, partnerships, and policy engagement - to increase access to music education in our nation's schools and communities. The League has prepared an ESSA Resource Center with links that provide an overview of the new law, public statements to elected officials that urge full funding and support, resources to equip arts advocates at the state and local level, and next steps for orchestras to take action

O and P Visa Fee Increase Ahead: Urge USCIS to Make Improvements Now!

July 6, 2016 (This is an update to our originally posted item from June 28, 2016)

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed making it more costly to apply for the required visas for foreign guest artists, and is inviting public comments on its plans to increase the filing fee for an I-129 petition for an O or P artist visa from $325 to $460 – a 42% increase. The Premium Processing Service fee would remain at the current rate of $1,225 – still out of reach for most nonprofit arts organizations. The date for implementing the proposed fee increase has not yet been set.

The League has submitted comments on behalf of orchestras in partnership with a national nonprofit performance arts coalition. We also invite our members to weigh in as well. USCIS is accepting public comment on their fee proposal via the Federal Register through July 6, 2016. To learn more, please visit our special online campaign that lists the improvements we are seeking and provides an easy way for you to participate in this public comment process.

The League in the news

The League is often called upon to provide national context on an array of vital issues, See recent media coverage here.

Speak up today! Congress advances NEA funding this week

June 14, 2016

The House Interior Subcommittee has approved a $2 million increase for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in FY2017, matching the President's budget request. Today, the Senate Interior Subcommittee approved an increase of $500,000. Every dollar matters - and so does your voice - as both the House and Senate move the NEA's funding forward for further consideration. The full House Appropriations Committee acts tomorrow, and the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up the bill on Thursday. Now is the time for you, as a constituent of these key decision makers, to weigh in and remind your members of Congress just how important the NEA is in bringing the transformative power of the arts to all corners of the country.  

CONTACT CONGRESS TODAY: Join us in urging Appropriators to support increased funding for the NEA in FY17!

New League guide on orchestra governance

Smart, succinct advice–Effective Orchestra Governance: A Guide for Boards is a new book from the League, free for members to download.

New ivory rules support musical instruments

New rules are in effect for int’l travel and domestic commerce with musical instruments that contain African elephant ivory. Read our overview here.