Leading the Change: Orchestra Innovation & the SHIFT Festival

Leading the Change: Orchestra Innovation & the SHIFT Festival


:>>Robert Newlen: Good
morning, everyone. And on behalf of Dr.
Carla Hayden the librarian of Congress, it’s my pleasure
to welcome you to the library. My name is Robert Newlen. I have the pleasure of serving as the deputy librarian
of Congress. We are delighted
to be partnering with the Kennedy Center and
Washington Performing Arts and co-hosting this special
symposium Leading the Change: Orchestra Innovation
and the Shift Festival. There’s been a wonderful
buzz about this excellent and exciting festival
around Washington this week, about the great concerts and
events like this one that reach out into the community
of music lovers. And we’re really
pleased to be part of it. I would first like to
acknowledge our partners, the creators and presenters
of the Shift Festival. First, the — and I can only
say the fabulous Debra Rutter, the president of the Kennedy
Center who was traveling with the National Symphony
Orchestra this week in its Russia trip. Robert van Leer the Center’s
vice president for programming. And Jenny Bilfield,
president and CEO of Washington Performing Arts. I know that among our audience
this morning we have music lovers, composers,
arts professionals and representatives for several of the very top orchestras
in the nation. And I would like to welcome
particularly Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the
League of American Orchestras. It’s very appropriate
for us to host you today because great music has a
very strong tradition here at the library. Many of you are probably aware
of our historic concert series, now over 90 years old. This wonderful auditorium
that you’re sitting in that’s a bit chilly this
morning, was built in 1925 by Elizabeth Spregg Coolidge in a groundbreaking
public/private partnership. And it’s been the home
of terrific concerts over the years, everything
from classical, jazz, pop, country and much more. Our stage has seen the premier of Aaron Copeland’s
Appalachian Spring, now an icon of the repertoire,
along with performances by composers from Bartok to
Bernstein and Stevie Wonder. And I invite you to spend some
time looking at the display of manuscripts our curators
have prepared for you, just a few of the major
orchestral works in our vaults. Here at the library we share
your passion for creating superb and vibrant programs that open
all our doors to the widest, most diverse and most
engaged audiences possible. Like you, we are committed
to innovation and to outreach and education and increased
access for young people. I should mention that a little
later you’ll hear a stellar youth orchestra group from
Play On Philly which travelled down this morning just
to perform for you. On a personal note, I’ve been
reading a lot about Shift and the kinds of
outreach you do. As somebody that had virtually
no music education as a child or as a teenager, the kind
of work you’re doing is so important, and I wish I’d had
the opportunity to be exposed to the kinds of things
you’re doing. Regarding our current
programs here at the library, I can’t resist by leading
you with mention of something that you may have read about in
the New York Times yesterday. And that is something
that’s coming to the library the
first week of May. It’s called Biblio-Disco-Tech, and it’s a library-wide
celebration of disco culture, music, dance and fashion. So over the week we’re going to
have a number of music experts, panels that are all
open to the public. Tim Gunn from Project
Runway will be here to talk about ’70’s fashion. And the week will be
capped on Saturday, May 6th with a disco party in the great hall featuring
none other than Gloria Gaynor. So we are so excited. Miss Gaynor’s song I
Will Survive was put on our song registry and
got lots of publicity, so we decided, let’s
really celebrate this and bring Miss Gaynor
to the library. So she graciously agreed. So watch our website. It is a ticketed event, but
it’s free so take a look at our website, because I know
tickets will go very, very fast. So let me state finally that
the Library of Congress music of all kinds is a crucial and
vital element in our mandate to preserve and present the
best in our American culture. Thank you so much
for coming today. If this is your first
visit to the Library, I hope it won’t be your last. Check out our website, LOC.gov. We have programs all
year long and music and every other topic
you can imagine. This is your library. It belongs to the United
States and to the world. So we’re just delighted
to have you here. And please enjoy your day. Thanks again. [ Applause ]>>Jenny Bilfield: Thank you. Good morning. I’m Jenny Bilfield with
Washington Performing Arts. It’s wonderful to
see you all today. Excuse me just one moment. And thank you so much, Robert, for the wonderful
introduction of our guests. We’re so happy to be
here, very grateful to the Library of Congress. And I want to welcome
you on behalf of Washington Performing Arts, the League of American
Orchestras, and the Kennedy Center. I bring greetings from
Debra Rutter my friend and collaborator
who is traveling with the National Symphony
Orchestra this week in Russia and she couldn’t be here. I know that she’s
very disappointed to miss participating in
a festival that she has so strongly believed
in and been committed to from the very,
very beginning. So after two and a half years
of planning, we have arrived at this week and it’s very
exciting to start it here in a place that is of music and
has had such an important impact in the cultural life
of this country. I wanted to give you a little
bit of a background about Shift. And it was really founded
based upon a vantage point of optimism. Optimism about orchestras
and the sense that orchestras are the hubs
of culture and learning within and outside their institutions. You know, very often
orchestras make the news when there is some strife,
when there’s a strike or a negotiation or
something is going poorly. And in contrast, Debra
and I felt very strongly that there were wonderful
stories to be told, and that orchestras were doing
some of the most creative, energizing and energized
work within the arts world. And we wanted to
tell that story. We also believed that if
audiences could experience this, they might actually shift their
perceptions of orchestras. So for that reason,
Shift was the name. A shift in mindset, a
shift in perception, a shift in experience. So I hope if you travel
through the whole week with us, you will have that
experience yourself. We were inspired by
the multi-year series of orchestral performances
in New York under the name of Spring for Music that were
presented at Carnegie Hall by Tom Morris, Marylou Falconi
and David Foster, and designed to highlight creative
programming. We are very grateful for
their example and the impact of their work and their lifelong
commitment to orchestras. From the get-go,
Washington Performing Arts and the Kennedy Center
wanted to think expansively and to extend the
notion of a festival to many residencies
within a festival. And that’s what this
week is about. We wanted to focus on orchestras
of all sizes, as you’ll see. And we wanted to in some
way transpose the great work that orchestras do
in their hometowns and cities to our DC community. We believed that we had the
institutional commitment, scale and partners
to undertake this. And we thought of
course what better place to showcase this work than
in the nation’s capital, the seat of government, the center of diplomacy
and policymaking? And quite an extraordinary
arts community as well. Orchestras that applied to our
national call for proposals rose to the occasion and the offered
programs and residency plans that were ambitious,
specific and completely and utterly reflective
of what they do well and what they value. The ideas leapt off the
page, and coincidentally, all seemed to express
their unique identity through very specific
collaborations, commissions, partnerships and a healthy dose
of contemporary American music. American orchestras coming
to the nation’s capital with a bumper crop of American
works, we were inspired. Today’s symposium
will give us a chance to discuss why Shift
is important not just in this hyper-focused lens
of a one-week festival, but more broadly in the
context of orchestras’ value within their communities. We’ll look at the risks
and rewards of innovation, explore what’s gotten us to this
point, and we’ll have a chance to actually hear music with a
Play On Philly chamber ensemble. I’m very happy to have
music at the centerpiece of this festival
and the symposium. From the get-go, the Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation supported our vision and provided
generous seed funding that enabled us to
green-light Shift. And I’m very pleased that
Susan Fader can be here to see how this all unfolds. Mellon support was matched by
Tina and Gary Mather, Michael and Naomi Nidorf and the
Centine Charitable Foundation, the DC Commission on
Arts and Humanities which is an agency
supported in part by the National Endowment
for the Arts. And also by the Abramson
Family Foundation, Betsy and Robert Fineburg,
Morton and Norma Lee Funger and Daniel R. Lewis
among other donors. We’re very grateful
for their support and we could not have done
it without them, literally. Huge thanks to our teams,
boards, our partners and to the participating
orchestras, the staff, musicians and their boards. A special shout-out
to Samantha Polluck from Washington Performing Arts,
and Jamie Brumus, counterparts who worked so closely and
really bore the lion’s share of organizing this. They are treasures. And when you see them, thank
them, give them a squeeze. They deserve every good wish
and our great appreciation for their efforts in
putting this together. And to Kathy French who
believed in this idea from the very beginning. She was part of Spring
for Music and she is here in Washington DC, and a
lifelong friend of the arts and a longtime CEO of the
League of American Orchestras. Jesse Rosen is her successor. We’re very grateful, Kathy,
for your support early on. We’re so happy that so many of
you who believed in this early on are here with us today
to see how this is launched. We’re very grateful. So I’ll play the role of MC
today, as you may have gathered. And very soon moderator
for the first panel. But right now it gives
me great pleasure to introduce Rhona Wolfe
Friedman who is commissioner on the DC Commission
of Arts and Humanities. She is one of our city’s
most emphatic evangelists for the arts and she’s
a cherished friend. She’s an attorney
with master’s degrees in clinical psychology
and decorative arts. She’s hardly an underachiever. She’s a remarkable and
accomplished woman. The focus of her advocacy and
commission tenure have been in arts education policy
and also around quantifying and growing the creative
economy in Washington DC. She is on the board of
THEARC, which is an acronym for the Town Hall Education
Arts and Recreation Center. And she served on the boards of the Washington
Ballet and Lab School. She is fiercely committed to this community
and to its citizens. We’ve asked her to open
our symposium by speaking about the importance
of Shift and orchestras as an essential civic asset in
strengthening our communities. Please join me in welcoming
Rhona Wolfe Friedman. [ Applause ]>>Rhona Wolfe Friedman:
Good morning. I’d like to thank the
Library of Congress for hosting this
wonderful symposium. And a huge debt of gratitude
to the Kennedy Center and Washington Performing
Arts and the League of American Orchestras for
their collaborative efforts in presenting Shift, the
festival of American orchestras. How lucky we are in our nation’s
capital to have a week-long, immersive musical experience. The concept of Shift
defines what is happening in the arts today. The Shift festival here
celebrates American music, highlights different
size orchestras, where they perform
and whom they serve. This focus on American
orchestras allows audiences and participants to
educate themselves about music perhaps
not familiar to them. At the same time, it affords
participating orchestras the chance to showcase
new compositions and perform their finest works. What a winning combination
we have here, music and distinctive
outreach programs. We think about the
shifting landscape. I would like you to think about President John F.
Kennedy’s quote: “Art means more than the recitation of the past. It means the free and
unconfined search for new ways of expressing the
experience of the present and the vision of the future.” In the broadest sense, the arts
including the humanities can be thought of as the four
C’s: curiosity, creation, connection and communication. In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed
a theory of human motivation, now called the hierarchy
of human needs. It encompassed eventually
innate curiosity. He formed a pyramid with
base needs at the bottom. Safety, moving up the
ladder to love, belonging, esteem and finally
self-actualization. I submit that the arts play
a vital role in meeting so many of our human needs. They help provide an
understanding of our emotions, increase our self-awareness
and bridge the gap between different cultures. How would a society be able to
preserve and share its culture, progress and valued
traditions if not for the arts? People connect, thrive and
prosper through the arts. In our complex world today,
the arts are a necessary tool to help manage the shifting
dynamic issues we face. We cannot replace the arts, nor
allow them to be diminished. They are a lens from
which to look at the past and look forward to the future. Without the arts, we become
a silent society unable to accurately evaluate
our surroundings. Orchestras as an indispensable
art form play an important part in American life. They are part and parcel of
our life today in both large and small communities. They improve the quality of the
cultural fabric of a community and foster pride in
local neighborhoods. In 2016, Ian David
Moss discussed the arts in the Stanford Social
Innovation Review. He suggested using a holistic
approach, tying the arts into wellbeing and
quality of life. We can use this same approach
to expand the definition of what an orchestra
is: promoting wellbeing and enhancing the
quality of life. Orchestras are a critical
resource for arts education. Playing different instruments, they demonstrate teamwork
at its highest level. Older models of music
education are shifting today. Schools with orchestra-based
programs are demonstrating that their populations
have greater skills than students lacking
a musical education. While students develop
musical talents, they’re also increasing
competencies in subjects such as math and reading. To be pragmatic,
the arts make money. They are a critical
economic driver and force in this country. Orchestras play a key role
in an economy of a city. They help populations develop
skills that are transferrable and assist in the
revitalization of neighborhoods. Both large and small orchestras
understand that they need to be relevant to
their communities. Today, they’re engaging in
novel ways to include residents with varying economic, racial
and social backgrounds. A necessary shift is
transforming the way orchestras strengthen, broaden and
deepen their relationships. The shift is multidimensional. Orchestras are connecting
and serving the community not by exclusivity but
by inclusivity. Orchestras should keep
advancing a very basic concept: that a healthy community
must have an orchestra, and demonstrate that this
orchestra is a powerful tool to form connections and
promote vibrancy throughout the community. Some approaches an
orchestra may consider to remain relevant are
one, act with a purpose; one that’s directed outside
of the orchestra itself. Pursue goals that
serve community needs. Evaluate; evaluate what
works and what’s dead weight. Move ahead with strategies that
are working and stay focused. Play towards strength. Reality can bite. Lessen the sting with realistic
goals that allow for shifts. Leverage the power of
orchestra leaders and musicians to forge dynamic community
interactions through education, networking and engagement. And last, reboot. Reboot to help work
for a paradigm shift in the way a community
views orchestra. Encourage experimentation
in thought and action, which brings me back
to the Shift Festival. Focusing on orchestras in our nation’s capital
is a powerful reminder of their importance. This does not detract from non-orchestral
musical expression. This creative festival moves
forward with goals, purpose and community involvement. It demonstrates how music
can lift the human spirit, how orchestras are
involved in our community and for a $25 ticket, how people
can connect with an art form that has withstood
the test of time. And finally, I would
be remiss as the member of an arts commission
that receives money from the National
Endowment for the Arts if I did not offer a reminder
of how critical the NEA is for sustaining the arts. Not just here, but in every
community in this country. The NEA sends grants to
every congressional district in the nation. It’s imperative to
fight for its survival. Thank you and please
enjoy the Shift Festival. [ Applause ]>>Jenny Bilfield:
Thank you, Rhona. That was such a perfect
introduction to the topic of this panel. And I would love, having had
a chance to introduce Rhona, to also introduce
the other panelists. To Rhona’s left we have Thomas
Wilkins, the music director of the Omaha Symphony,
principle conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra,
who also holds a chair with the Boston Symphony for
family and youth concerts. He is so active nationally,
a very inventive programmer, and I’ve had the pleasure
of watching his work over many years,
and my kudos to you. I know that you’re
equally committed to community development
and arts education, but well beyond the
arts as well. I was interested to see
that you’re on the boards of the Greater Omaha
Chamber of Commerce, the Charles Drew
Health Center in Omaha, the Center Against Spouse Abuse
in Tampa Bay, and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg,
which is very expansive. And I hope you’ll speak about how all these different
commitments and interests and passions intersect
in your musical work. I’m also delighted that you have
studied at Shenandoah University which is a source of wonderful
training and many musicians, and also the New
England Conservatory. So you grew up not terribly
far from Washington.>>Thomas Wilkins: Right.>>Jenny Bilfield: Thank
you so much for being here. And then to my right, Stanford
Thompson who’s a trumpeter and executive director and
founder of Play On Philly which you’ll have a
chance to hear a little bit in about 45 minutes or an hour. In 2010 he founded the El
Sistema-inspired program in Philadelphia where
he currently serves as executive director. And he secured over
$9 million in funding which has definitely
impacted the lives of hundreds of children in Philadelphia. He believes orchestras offer
us lessons in leadership, innovation, diversity
and inclusion. And his work absolutely
speaks to that. His vision is very
sharp and focused. He’s trained as a
professional trumped, active across many ensembles. He performs and teaches,
collaborates, conducts master classes. He’s a native of
Atlanta, Georgia. So one of your orchestras
is coming to visit. I love that this
all ties together. Yes. And he holds degrees from
the Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory’s
fellows program. He serves on the boards of
the Curtis Institute of Music, Interlochen Center for the
Arts, the Philadelphia chapter of the American Composers
Forum, and the El Sistema USA and the Philadelphia
Wind Symphony. So thank you all for being here. Many different experiences and
approaches to our discussion. I will sit down. I wanted to do a more
formal introduction. But thank you. And I was wondering if you
could speak a little bit to what this shift if
from your vantage point. What’s happened in the past ten
years that is noteworthy to you and important to reflect upon at
this moment in this gathering?>>Stanford Thompson:
Good morning. [Laughs] I think for me it
goes back a little bit longer than just the past ten years. I think it’s really important to
understand that the orchestras that we enjoy today were built
around a social mission back — gosh, starting in the
1880’s, especially going into the beginning
of the next century. These were immigrants that
were coming to America. They were setting
up new communities. If it was Minneapolis or Chicago
or Boston or Philly or Baltimore or New York or Cincinnati or
Cleveland, what was important to keep those communities
together was their culture and their identity. And a lot of that revolved around classical
music and orchestras. The musicians played an
important role in making sure that community music
schools were set up, that orchestras were established and that they were actually
working hand-in-hand. Philadelphia’s a
perfect example. 1900, the orchestras form. 1904, the Settlement
Music School. They were teaching kids in the
community for a nickel or less. And then they found out
20 years after that, some of the kids
were pretty good. So they created the
Curtis Institute of Music. And for the first four years, tuition was $500 a
year, a lot of money. And they thought that was pretty
crazy because of course a lot of the families could
not afford to pay it. So the woman who
founded the school, who also founded the Settlement
Music School and also helped to found the Philly Orchestra,
put down $12 million in 1928 to make sure that there
was a tuition-free policy. And there is this connection
between the musicians that played and taught and
mentored, and it was all around trying to in many ways
keep body and soul together. So all of that stuff
just blossomed. In the ’60’s it was wonderful because then you had Wallace
Foundation and Ford Foundation, a couple of others
that said, “You know, I think that these musicians and
the music that they’re providing to the community should
be made more available.” So they turned orchestras
into full-time gigs, 52 weeks. And there was a shift. And the money shifted
towards those musicians. Endowments were created. Orchestras were more healthy. But the public, they
were picking up the cost and making sure that
kids had access to music in all the schools. And that worked,
until the early ’80’s. And of course that
infrastructure in the public schools
started to fall apart to what we are now experiencing. And it’s at a point where
there’s not enough public money, but sure these [inaudible]
have a bunch. And that’s where the money is. And I work with organizations
where we’re trying to I think collectively among
several of the boards that I’m on — we’re trying to raise
half a billion dollars for endowments. Now not to say that the
orchestras don’t deserve them, and they do, but when we
watch the infrastructure for music falling
apart, knowing that used to be a really strong
connection, and it was important, then of course what will
the shift be now? So you know, I just think
that half a billion dollars in Philadelphia for
example, that organizations between the orchestra and Curtis
— half a billion that they need for their endowments — I think
half a billion invested in youth in the city would
definitely go a long way with of course making
classical music and orchestras much
more relevant. I think it would also open
up, and as we have found in even the money that we
have raised, a vast majority of that money comes
from education and social service
private funders that want to see something different. There’s more money there. So when I look at the
Shift, I hope that the shift that we make is that we
can no longer divorce those who play music and those
who teach the music. Because I think both of those
actually working together is exactly the infrastructure and
foundation that we really need to build and grow professional
orchestras in the country.>>Jenny Bilfield: Thank you. And I want to come back
to some of the themes and give Tom a chance
to weight in too.>>Thomas Wilkins: There
was a time in my life when I was really irritated
by the word relevance. Because I believed
— and to your point, it really goes back further
than the last ten years. We came with the word
relevant in our industry because we were losing traction. And we were indeed losing
traction of funders as well, but we were losing
interest in the population. And so we had to come up with
a way to justify our existence, and so we started using
this word relevant. But I’m not convinced that across the board we
were committed to relevance. I thought maybe a different
word would have been engagement or deeper connection. I’ve wanted to be a conductor
since I was eight years old. And I first heard an orchestra
when I was eight years old. And I was born to a
single mother on welfare, living in a housing project. And when I talk to funders
and leaders in communities about this, I say that music
literally saved my life. And so I come at music from
a different perspective. If I believe that it is
life-affirming and life altering in my case as it surely
is, why would I want to leave anyone behind
in a community? I’m not worried about Mozart’s
ability to take care of himself, or Beethoven’s ability
to take care of himself. There’s a reason why we still
listen to that music today. What I was worried about was
how we get that music to people so that it can be life-altering
and life-affirming. And so I have always
believed that relevance had to be earnest, and that meant
that we had to find ourselves in places other than
a concert hall. And we had to be okay with that. And we had to be
comfortable with that. Because if you can’t get past
need, you’ll never believe that this music is as
transformative as it is. And so I would like to think
that this idea of Shift means that orchestras all across
this nation are really figuring out that if this music is
as life-changing as it is, it is incumbent upon us to
get it to as many entities and people groups as possible. I often say that I try to
take my music more seriously than I take myself. So I don’t mind if I’m
sitting in a community center at the Omaha Housing Authority
with kazoos and a room full of people who don’t
have any options. But now all of a sudden, here
is one that they do have. And it’s the only one
that we have to offer, but it’s the best one.>>Jenny Bilfield: Rhona, is there something
you’d like to add?>>Rhona Wolfe Friedman:
Well, I know that as part of the commission,
that’s our goal, is to reach out into
the communities, especially in DC
east of the river which is the underserved
communities in DC. And as a board member,
that’s what we do. We bring music, art,
theater across the river. And I agree with
you wholeheartedly. I think if you don’t reach out
into the community and connect, and connect, not just reach out,
that music endeavors will fail.>>Thomas Wilkins: Yeah. I think that part of it was — I gave a speech to MOLA which
is the Major Orchestra Libraries Association, because
my librarian in Omaha hosted it one year. And it was called No
Excuses Necessary. And what I did just for fun
was I played three recordings. One was Tchaikovsky and
another was something by Grieg. And when I played
those excerpts, you could see all the
librarians in the room and they were going, “Oh yeah.” And then I played the last of Bernstein’s Three
Dances from on the Town. Ba-ba-ba-ba-de-ba-da-ba-do-da. And you could see them
all kind of looking at each other and smiling.>>Jenny Bilfield:
Guilty pleasure.>>Thomas Wilkins: And
my point was, you know, the Tchaikovsky is
actually a drinking song. “I found a coin,
I want a drink.” Forgive me, I don’t know
what the exact title is. I Have a Coin, I Want a Drink. Those composers like
Tchaikovsky and Beethoven — not so much Beethoven,
but Mozart for sure, Marlor for sure — they understood that if
their music was going to have a mass appeal
to the general public, it had to relate to them. And that’s why we have
Klesber and Marlor and that’s why we
have folk music and the whole nationalistic
sort of school of composition. But we in America almost feel
as if we have to apologize when Americanism finds
itself in our music. We come up with words like,
“It’s a synthesis of jazz.” You know, so that it
sounds intellectual. And I’m thinking, “Why should
we apologize for that?” Why? Because we have always
believed that we operate in basically a western
European tradition. And we believe that if
we don’t live our lives, speak our language and carry
our attitudes in that tradition, that people aren’t going
to take us seriously.>>Jenny Bilfield: Right. And you’ve hit on so many
interesting things here. The first I want to
touch upon is this shift from the let’s call it
relevance from the purview of one department, the
education community outreach is responsible. And then the rest of
the orchestra does this to actually shifting the
institutional DNA to be one that is much more porous and
has that sense of excitement from the top, from the
directors, the founders, leaders, to feel and to be
very present with the community and in the community and
to have the community feel as if it’s monolithic. But to have members of the community feel very
part of the orchestra. And it’s not simply to secure
that grant or to check a box. It’s actually to
fundamentally rearrange the DNA of an orchestra to be a
community, a living, breathing, evolving community institution. So that’s a very
big shift as well. Ironically, in speaking
with European orchestras which are the ones that theoretically
American orchestras have in the past tried to emulate,
some of the most adventuresome, well-resourced education
programs and community-based
programs, are on display with European orchestras. So as American orchestras,
our building that sense of porousness — so many
European orchestras have been in the vanguard of that through
very imaginative collaborations. I would love it if both of
you would speak about some of the things that have
excited you most musically when you have really been at
sort of the most open, engaging, porous, as music directors, as
creative innovators yourselves. What are examples of moments
when that’s come together and just been so satisfying?>>Stanford Thompson: Oh wow,
we shared one in Detroit.>>Jenny Bilfield:
Okay, tell us. Perfect.>>Stanford Thompson:
This last month?>>Thomas Wilkins: I think so.>>Stanford Thompson: Right. Wow, yeah, last month. This was at the SINCS
Conference and Competition.>>Jenny Bilfield:
Explain what SINCS is.>>Stanford Thompson: It’s a
20-year-old organization founded by Aaron Dorkin who is now
the dean of the music school, art school at University
of Michigan. But they’ve been focused over
the past 20 years in really kind of pushing the diversity
and inclusion conversation in the field of classical music. So a lot of success that they
have seen over that amount of time, but they host
every year a competition for string players, both
pretty much high school and college age students. And they also run side by side a
conference called SINCS Connect. And at the competition, after
the competitors were there, we performed a piece by
Gerald Thomson, The Last Words of the Unarmed, which literally
took the last words of people like Trayvon Martin,
Eric Garner. But there were I believe seven
people that were highlighted. But it literally took the last
two or three words and put it into a really, really
powerful 15-minute piece. And I will say it was the most
powerful experience I’ve ever had on a stage. We all have been around
the conversations. We’ve seen everything
on the news. We’ve heard all the
arguments from all sides. But to have that
artistic display — I’ll never forget
the first rehearsal. I was playing the
trumpet in the orchestra. But sitting there,
I mean it was tough. I mean, that first
rehearsal for everybody in the orchestra was really
difficult to get through. And I believe the
connection that we made at that performance was
something I’ve never felt, I’ve never seen. And I just think when something
is — to not use relevant, but something that is that
engaging, that puts a spotlight on a really big problem that
we’re having and that we’ve done that through the
medium of an orchestra, I believe that we made a
really powerful connection that I think a lot of people
that were in that hall that day will be
able to build upon.>>Thomas Wilkins: There
are several that I think of, but we have in Omaha what
we call community partners, and they range anywhere
from Nebraska Medical Center to Girls, Inc., the
Omaha Housing Authority. So there are a lot
of things that we do that are less attached to a
performance and more attached to either delivering music or
delivering access to music. But for me, I still
have to go back to this Omaha Housing Authority
example where we send musicians out — there’s a retirement
center that exists there, and these are indeed people
who have no options left. And most are elderly,
but some are not. This is just where they land. And so we send musicians
out on a regular basis and our education person asked
if I would be willing to go out. I said, “Yeah, but
let’s do something fun.” And we literally
brought in kazoos. I’m not kidding. And my job was to conduct
this now kazoo orchestra. And I must say that we
spent more time laughing because there was nothing more
ridiculous than that scene. But what really sort of blessed
my heart was when they got to come to my concert. Now in Omaha we have now
— it’s ten years old, but at the time it was newer
— $100 million concert hall. And these people didn’t
even know where it was, let alone walk in the building. And so not only were
they at the concert, but then we closed
the hall afterwards and we spent time together
in the room in the hall. And what was so poetic was that
here was this group of people with no predisposition
to this music. All of a sudden,
this room was theirs and this orchestra was theirs,
and this conductor was theirs. And in fact, one
of the ladies said, “I feel as if this is all ours.” I mean, she literally said that. And you know, are they going
to buy a ticket down the road? No, they’re not. But we have done our job in making sure that
they understand. I mean, one of the great gifts
of music is that it tells us that we were built for something
greater than the despair that we probably experience
on a regular basis. And this was one
of those moments when they could say,
“You know what? I was made for something
better than this.” So for me that was my
best memory to date.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yeah, I
mean two very profound moments around music and shared space. And through the eloquence
of kazoo.>>Thomas Wilkins: Or some
maybe even more profound, right.>>Jenny Bilfield: Or
a commissioned work, but in a very different
context, different repertoire, but with a sense of
vision and leadership that helped define that. And how well equipped are
orchestras to initiate that conversation or
comfortable, confident reaching out to partners who are perhaps
better equipped than they are? Because not every institution
has a smooth transition to new leadership,
to partnerships. Especially if an orchestra
is a dominant institution in a community, sometimes
the messiness of partnership can
be unfamiliar. So how do orchestras
embrace that? And you’ve created an orchestra
and we would love these sort of different perspectives
as you’re starting up and asserting a vision and
a presence and a mission.>>Thomas Wilkins: Sure. Yeah, I think there’s
a lot of fear. I mean, I remember when we
started, people were like, “Are kids going to sign up? Are they going to show up? Are they going to drop
out in big numbers? Why would they want to in our
program spend three hours every day after school learning music,
especially classical music?” And the same thing goes for our
I think partnerships all around. For example, what the
Philly orchestra does is that they present
groups from the community in the lobby before
performances. And there was some interest
from Simon Rattle to work with our kids five years ago, four and five years ago
when he was in town. And instead of having him
come up to the school, he agreed to put the
kids on the stage right at the beginning of the concert. The orchestra wasn’t
going to play an overture, but the kids were going to play. And it was a really scary thing
to go back and forth between, “Should they be in the lobby or
should they be on the stage?” The patrons did not pay to
hear students from west Philly that had only been
playing a year and a half. What would the union do? And of course the musicians
have to warm up on the stage for a certain period of time. And then what happens
if there’s overtime? And there were all
these questions. But I mean, it was
wrapped in a lot of fear. Like how would the
kids handle that? How would the audience
handle that? Would it be uncomfortable? Not to say the kids were
playing perfectly in tune.>>Jenny Bilfield: All the
negatives of fear, yeah.>>Thomas Wilkins: Right. And what ended up happening is that actually it was a
very magical experience. We even talked about
concert tickets. The orchestra makes
a lot of money when Simon Rattle’s in town. But parents bought tickets at
$90, $130 to be in the room. When that sold out, we
opened up an overflow room. We set up a TV so that more
families could come in, and that room was packed. And in many ways there
was this connection between the parents see
how hard their kids work.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yeah.>>Thomas Wilkins: And of
course being able to now connect that to a professional
orchestra and put that work into perspective of what’s
going on that’s powerful. The other part of it, to be
completely honest and candid, there are not many opportunities
where a room full of people who typically look like the
typical white audience in a city like Philadelphia are ever on
their feet clapping for a group of kids in west Philly. Honestly.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yep.>>Thomas Wilkins: And
to see that connection between kids standing up,
accepting that applause at the end, saying, “They’re
all clapping for me,” and watching the parents
feel, “They’re all clapping for my kid,” you know, I mean
that was a really powerful bond that was connected and I think
has allowed our relationship and partnership with
the orchestra and many others to flourish. So a lot of it is we also both
organizations received big donations after that.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yes.>>Thomas Wilkins:
In the seven figures. And it just was a
good thing to do. It was a great experience.>>Jenny Bilfield: We’ve
done some of that here too at Washington Performing Arts. We don’t have the ensemble of
an orchestra on a regular basis, but when there’s an opportunity to showcase either our
gospel choirs or some of the young performers in our
education programs, we do it and we do think about that. Because we’ll get
the nasty-gram — I will usually get the
nasty-gram from someone who paid for one thing, they got another. And my response is
always, “You know what, I’m so glad that you
came to the performance and had the opportunity to
hear some of the young artists who are working towards
perhaps being in the audience or onstage in the future. It’s part of our mission.” If there has been a residency
activity in the community, I speak about it from the
stage every single time because I think people
understand the finished product because they come and
the lights and the stands and everything is set. They don’t necessarily
understand the granularity of the process. They don’t understand or they’re
not even aware of the role of the teachers in the classroom
playing side-by-side, the buses, the parents driving,
the catering, the kids taking time off
from studying, you know, coming out early in the
morning, staying late at night. There’s a process and
in some ways I worry that we have orchestrated such
a polished finished product that we’ve done it at
our own disservice. Because it’s hard
to make the urgency of supporting the finished
product really articulate without showing the
process where the real time and cost and investment are. And so I think with the question
of how all of this is going to happen, we simply have
to say it is going to happen and it’s going to be awesome. And you’re going to be really
sad that you missed it. And it’s that sort
of confidence. There will be cranky people,
people and organizations that are insecure about it. But it’s the leaders of the
organizations who have to take that deep breath and do it.>>Thomas Wilkins: We
at the Hollywood Bowl, we on a regular basis are
joined by YOLA, Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, on stage.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yes.>>Thomas Wilkins: I have had
them several times playing by themselves and also
playing with the orchestra. And we spoke in our
sort of pre-meeting, we talked about this a little
bit, about how important it is for us to give words to people
who are not in our business, because they don’t
know our language. They’re not supposed
to know our language. We shouldn’t expect them to and we shouldn’t feel
bad that they don’t.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yes.>>Thomas Wilkins: It is our
job to teach them our words. And I will often say to the
audience, to the audience, when they applaud for those
kids, how grateful I am that they took the time
to say to these kids, “We are surrounding you. We believe in you and we want
nothing but the best for you.” And at that moment the audience
has nothing better to do than to take that
responsibility. And they sit up a little
taller in their seats and go, “Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s what we’re doing.” Therefore it is now
important to them and now they understand
why YOLA is there.>>Jenny Bilfield: Right. And consistently.>>Thomas Wilkins: Right.>>Jenny Bilfield: It’s
not just a one-off.>>Thomas Wilkins: Right.>>Jenny Bilfield: It
becomes a regular diet so that it’s integral
to the organization. Rhona, I would love if you
would speak about the role of the commission in supporting
so many important arts programs that reach schools and kids
and professional musicians. It’s a very wide
range of support that the commission
provides to do much of this sort of activity.>>RWJ: We do. We started with a very small
budget in a couple of millions. And we went up to $18
million and we’re hoping to go up to $25 million. Do you hear that? [ Laughter ] And we support a whole range
of different programming through our granting program. We’re a granting organization. And what we do is we have
different categories of grants. We have startup organizations. We have large, we have a
heritage grant for those that have been in existence. And people apply and through
a panel grants are awarded throughout the city. And we have a separate program
as I mentioned before for east of the river to help empower
underserved communities. And you were mentioning
before about how you reach out into the community. And I want to take your point
of those of us, me included, who were not raised in a musical
background, you do have to reach out to the audience
and make them feel that they’re important despite
the fact that they know nothing about the musical
instrument, the composition, the notes on the page. And with that I think comes
— and I call it connection. I don’t call it relevancy. I think it becomes a partnership
and I think it’s important for audiences to
partner with orchestras and with musical events too. And that’s what WPA
does so well. They go out into the
community and they reach to all different
types of populations, and they bring them
into their fold. Welcome them into their fold, and that to me is why
WPA is so successful.>>Jenny Bilfield: Thank you. I mean one of the things — and this was the
mantra of our founder. And I was very pleased
to hear that the Library of Congress actually has some of Patrick Hayes’ archives
on display outside. I’m looking forward
to seeing them myself. But Mr. Hayes is remembered
for intoning the phrase of “Everybody in, nobody out.” And so when we began to
design this festival, we wanted the musicians
to be very visible and accessible to the audience. We wanted the price of
course to be accessible. We wanted to present
an experience that would be really different in the Kennedy center concert
hall and on our series. And all of that agency
went to the orchestras. But interestingly, as you’ll
see throughout the week, you’re going to find
musicians at the title basin, at the Hamilton, coaching at
schools, in galleries of art. The sense of finished product,
of accessibility is going to be teased out in
very different ways. And every orchestra
and the musicians who are making those commitments to doing the residency
events were really excited about doing it because
it’s a way for them to get to know our public,
to get to know you, and to be very much themselves. This is something that the
orchestras do organically and well.>>RWJ: And to build on
that is, in this city, performing in different
venues is critical. As opposed to maybe smaller
cities or different cities.>>Jenny Bilfield: And different
neighborhoods and communities.>>RWJ: Theaters, clubs, concert
halls, not just in a large, expensive, ticket-based event.>>Jenny Bilfield:
Yeah, and to your point, there are many audiences who
come to an outdoor stroll-to who might not wander
inside to a performance.>>RWJ: That’s right.>>Jenny Bilfield: But
they’ve had an experience that they might like to. And we certainly see that
with our summer camps. Kids have a first-time
experience with people who come to some of our outdoor
performances. We never know who’s
in the audience and when there’s a chance
to get them excited. And that’s something we think
about a lot as a presenter. That experience has to compete
with what people experience on TV, the radio, what
they can dial up at home. So it’s about the musicians,
the creativity, the connection that drives people to
experience this together. So when you said sharing the
space, I think that’s something that even more than relevant is
perhaps the most profound thing. It’s the sharing of space
whether it’s indoors or outdoors.>>Stanford Thompson: Right. I also want to add to that,
I think there are needs of the community that also
need to be listened to. And I think some of
that is people’s voices.>>Jenny Bilfield: Right.>>Stanford Thompson:
When I think about — I just don’t understand
this blue team versus red team,
urban versus rural. I mean, schools are
bad in both places. Kids don’t have what
they need in both places. There are not enough jobs
or opportunities to grow. We’re all in the same
boat and we’re paddling in different directions. And it’s really easy
to say, “Well, I think we need another
youth orchestra. We need another music camp. We need to curate
another performance.” And quite frankly what I’m
hearing from my parents and from the kids is that
you, kids need an opportunity. I mean, their kids need
opportunities to grow, to be challenged, to
be in an environment where the bar is set
really high for them.>>Jenny Bilfield: Right.>>Stanford Thompson:
Kids want activities. They want to connect
with one another. They want to feel
proud about something that they have really
accomplished as a team. And I think that they want to
be seen in a positive light. They want their voices
to be heard. That was powerful about
that performance in Detroit. We’re saying we are
important in many ways. We gave voice to that.>>Jenny Bilfield: Right.>>Stanford Thompson: And we
did that through the orchestra. Then you have everybody
that sure — I mean, we need more taxpayers. And we need safer
streets and we need people that are more responsible and that are contributing
back to society. And we can give that back. But I just feel that when I
look at my Facebook news feed, the big problem is what a
lot of artists are having. And I just think that that’s
not necessarily the solution. It’s really to say, what do
the people around us need? And if we take care
of that first, I know that we will be okay. It’s just, do we have
the will to do it? Do we even have the
will to listen?>>Jenny Bilfield: Right.>>Stanford Thompson: If not,
we will continue to create stuff that folks just don’t need. And they’re not even there in
the audience to even hear it. And then we rely on
a very small group of people to keep this afloat. And I just don’t think that
that’s going to really get us into the next 20 years
thinking that we’re going to be even more healthy.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yeah.>>Thomas Wilkins: May I say,
just because I want to make sure that it gets said, almost
to both of your points. But you said something that made
me think of it, and that is — it was actually your
notion about being willing to play in different places. What I say to my orchestra
is that we’re not going to run away from
our versatility. We’re going to run
towards that versatility.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yes, yes.>>Thomas Wilkins: Because you
mentioned in our phone meeting that the orchestra
is like a community. It’s a diverse group of individuals working
together for a common good. But at least in the
orchestra world, we can become one
thing one night — two weeks ago, we did Ben
Folds the first night, Pete Martini the second night
and Chasiko the third night. Now those weren’t all the same
people groups, but we were able to be this for this
people, this for this people and this for these people. And we sacrificed
nothing in the process. And sometimes that finds
itself away from the stage, but in any case, it really is
more about us being willing to be different things
at different times.>>Jenny Bilfield: So ultimately
we want our organizations to thrive. And you know, every generation
would say they’re at sort of an existential crossroads of
doubling down and understanding and articulating what
they can do uniquely. There’s a very different
level of engagement and frankly I think it’s one of the most exciting parts
certainly of our work here, is that there are so
many fantastic musicians and creative people living
and working in Washington DC. As a former music publisher,
I knew from the numbers that it had one of the highest
musical populations per capita of any place in the country. So many choirs here. So many people making music. And as I moved here and heard and saw what people were
creating in clubs, the bands, the ensembles, the culturally
specific community performances, I was blown away
and I thought, “Wow, that could really inform
what we choose to program and what we do together.” So we created a whole program
called the Mars Urban Art Initiative where local artists
and visiting artists connect and make music together, are
featured on our main stage, are featured in free
performances, paid performances. It’s something that
it’s not contrived. It’s a way for us
to be more fully — a fuller, more dynamic
organization. Because we have local
artists who are fantastic and who we can discover
and grow through. I mean the whole Go Go movement
here, we had David Harrington with the string quartet
visiting a couple weeks ago. And he’s traveled
all over the world. I think many of us have
discovered new music through his sort of cultural
anthropological lens. And one of the little
girls in the class that the quartet played
for raised her hand after they had played music
from Armenia and Azerbaijan, and she said, “Do you
play any Go Go music?” And he said, “Well,
what’s Go Go music?” And she described it. And then he came into my
office afterwards, he said, “I have to hear about
this Go Go music.” And so we played
some Chuck Brown and some covers and
he said, “Okay. I’m always learning. I’m always learning. And of course it would be a
10-year-old in the class.” And he had that sense of
curiosity and sense of curiosity about place and the
specificity of communities, and learned something
at that moment. And that little girl who had
the courage to raise her hand and push him perhaps pushed
him in a creative direction that will inform
a future program that we will bring
to our stages. And we presented the Go
Go symphony in the past, but this could be an
interesting new collaboration. So I think that’s a
wonderful sense of discovery, if you feel it authentically. We’re always learning. Communities change,
evolve in different ways. And I love that you’re finding
resonant ways to support that in your own
programming and work.>>Rhona Wolfe Friedman:
I wanted to say something about arts and arts education, which is very near
and dear to my heart. You mentioned about bringing
opportunities to youth. When the ARC was built as a
$28 million beautiful glass structure in southeast, and it
houses Living School of Music, Washington Ballet — it was
the Corkrane, now it’s going to be the Philips Boys and Girls
Clubs, and just a whole host. And I was on the board of a
dance company at that time and we were really worried, if
we build it, will they come? And we built it. And they opened it and we said,
“Oh God, if we have ten kids to start in music and if we
have five kids in dance,” especially we wanted some
boys, not just all girls. We opened the doors and had
like 200 people the first day, 400 within the first week. And it’s of course
pay what you can. But it was bringing
the opportunity and giving people a
chance to do something and introducing an art
form to them, music, dance. And it really changed the
landscape of the community.>>Jenny Bilfield: Yeah. So I know that we have a
performance to look forward to. Are there sort of some final
words you’d like to share? Or should we jump into your
introduction of Play On Philly?>>Rhona Wolfe Friedman:
Jump into music.>>Jenny Bilfield: Well, thank
you for a wonderful discussion. [ Applause ]>>Stanford Thompson:
So we are really excited to perform a brief
piece for you. First of all, I am
really, really proud of all of our students at
Play On Philly. We brought about 50
or so down yesterday. They performed at the
ARC and also made a stop at Howard University, and
then I believe were running around the monuments
late at night, till 11:00 or midnight or something. I can’t remember what it was. But I’m really, really
proud of our students. They represent — you’ll see
about 20 or so on this stage. There’s about 50 that came. There’s several of our
students here on the front row and several in the back. So if you all could
give all of our kids that are here today a
big round of applause. [ Applause ] And also very, very thankful
for our teaching artists that are here, and our staff. Especially Ryan Crump who
runs our high school program and Chris Santentasio
who will be the conductor of this ensemble. So they will perform Therondel
from Bizet’s L’Arlesienne. I grew up in Atlanta. [ Laughter ] I’m sorry. Yeah, I’m not built
for all that stuff. But they’ll perform
that for you. I’m pretty sure that we’ll
need about two minutes to kind of get the stage set. And if I am correct,
after their performance, I believe we’ll take
a short break. Or do we?>>Jenny Bilfield: We
have one more speaker, then we’ll take a break. Yes.>>Stanford Thompson: Okay. So just sit tight
for a little bit. But thank you for having our
students here to perform. So enjoy that.>>Chris Santentasio:
Good afternoon. My name is Chris Santentasio. I’m the conductor of the Play
On Philly Symphony Orchestra. Thank you for having us today. And we’ll just begin. [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Jenny Bilfield: Thank you. Oh, please continue to join us
for just a short amount more and then we’ll take a
break in a few minutes. But one of our many
special guests today, it gives me great pleasure to
introduce Barbara Comstock, Congresswoman from Virginia. Although she recently joined
the Kennedy Center board of trustees, Congresswoman
Comstock has been a consistent and effective advocate
for the arts, having spearhead the
formation of the Arts Caucus in the Virginia House
of Delegates where she served in that body. The congresswoman was
elected this past November to her second term in the House, representing the
nearby Virginia district in the House of Representatives. She has been a supporter
for the arts and many of our local cultural
organizations. We welcome her leadership. In the House of Representatives,
the congresswoman serves on the Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, as well as the Science, Space
and Technology Committee where she is chair of the
subcommittee on research and technology, the House
Administration Committee in the US House of
Representatives and the Bicameral Joint
Economic Committee. I now join each of you in
expressing our appreciation for the strong voice she has
had in Congress on behalf of northern Virginia and
metropolitan Washington. We are honored that she is able
to be with us this morning. Please join me in welcoming
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. [ Applause ]>>BC: Thank you and
good morning to you all. It’s a pleasure to be here and
to hear that wonderful group. How delightful to see them. And as I was seeing them walk
out, thinking with this kind of mentorship, with this kind of
support, they’ll be able to — whatever community they go, hopefully they will
find a music home for themselves in
their communities. And that’s what we’re
here celebrating today. So I’m honored to be on
the Kennedy Center Board, also a member of the Arts
Caucus as was mentioned. And also was able to start
an arts caucus in Virginia. You know, we know our founding
fathers were patrons of the arts and understood what an important
part of our education it is. Now it’s estimated that there
are over 100,000 musicians who perform and approximately
1,600 orchestras throughout the country. So one of the things
there that I know from supporting my own
local orchestra in McClain, Virginia where I live,
just over the river, is that protecting
our charitable status, tax-giving status, helps many
orchestras in our country. Because most of them
are organized as 501C3 tax exempt
organizations. And it’s also a great way that
any community, wherever you are, can give back and become
part of something local. I’m also privileged to
have the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing
Arts in my district. And one of the things that
we were able to do when I was in the state house
was to utilize that arts center
for STEAM education. So it’s not just about STEM and
the science, but also understand that arts works together, and
be able to have model programs that now they are modeling
throughout the program and I believe throughout
the world. So young people here, we want to catch them even
younger in the arts. So we do know we are going
to have some challenges on that front coming
up, I imagine. But I’ve always been
supportive of that. And last Congress, we
supported equitable access to the arts education
in the education bill that we reauthorized, where the
bill sets aside approximately 30 million to high-risk schools so they can develop
an arts program. Those have been somewhat
in decline and we wanted to make sure that we
could reinvigorate that. Now we also — when you
have these local orchestras and local arts groups,
local music group, you end up really
providing so much support for your youth orchestra
too, and mentoring. And they see people
who are engaged — I know in our local
orchestra we have a conductor who not only is the conductor
for the McClain orchestra, she travels all around
the country and even all around the world. So she brings back all of her
experiences and then works with her local artists who range
from professional musicians who are part of this to doctors
and lawyers and moms at home who are sort of getting back
into the field in that way. And I am always amazed when
I go to our local concerts to see the variety of people
who are in that program, and then the quality
of our youth orchestras because they are part of this, and that’s a big part
of their program. And they understand the
community support that’s going to be there for them. So I really appreciate the
opportunity to be here. It’s really something I
think that is a lifelong part of the learning process and
that the passion that is brought to all of you who are supporters
of the arts, and transmitted through all of our
communities and transmitted back to our children is a very
important part of the heritage that we can pass on as
part of our country. That’s our privilege to be part
of the Kennedy Center and many of my local arts groups in
order to continue that effort. So thank you for being here
today, and enjoy your day and thank you for your support
and patronage of the arts. [ Applause ]>>Jenny Bilfield:
Hello, everyone, Jenny Bilfield back again to introduce our
wonderful second panel. Hope that you enjoyed your break
and had a chance to look at some of the archives that library has so generously set
out for us to enjoy. It’s my great pleasure
to introduce Karen Dillon who will then introduce her
panel for risk and innovation. Karen Dillon is a former editor
of the Harvard Business Review and has long chronicled
the successes and failures of businesses and their leaders. She’s currently a
contributing editor to the Harvard Business
Review focusing on topics of leadership, managing people, managing yourself
and entrepreneurship. She’s a coauthor of the bestselling How Will
You Measure Your Life?, Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation
and Customer Choice. And she was previously
the deputy editor of Inc. Magazine and served as
editor and publisher of the critically-acclaimed
American lawyer magazine, the London-based Legal Business. She is currently a global
ambassador for Legal 500, providing in-depth analysis
of the global legal market. She’s a graduate of Cornell and Northwestern University’s
Medill School of Journalism. And she was named
by Ashoka as one of the world’s most influential
and inspiring women in 2011. Please join me as she
makes a presentation and then invites
her panel to join. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Karen Dillon: Thank you
very much for the introduction. Good morning. Very happy to be here around
all these creative people. It’s very exciting to me, especially talking
about innovation. Innovation, I come
with a business hat on, but I know it is
a global problem. It’s a problem for
organizations of all sizes and types literally
around the world. And it’s something
that in the pages of Harvard Business Review we’ve
been writing about for decades without showing much
signs of progress. It turns out we may be
innovative people and we think of ourselves that way, but by and large companies
stink at innovation. Let me show you why. This is data from Neilson which
scans all consumer goods sold, things you might buy at
Target or the grocery store. And over a four-year period, there were 20,000 new
products launched — these are in the
past four years — all of which had smart people. They were good ideas, they
were things that seemed like they had all the
data and information to be sure these would be hits. Only 92 of them were
any definition of a hit. Most of the other
ones disappeared. That’s a terrible
investment rate for a company that’s invested
time, money and energy in, trying to create
something, a new innovation that would bring
them more customers or make their customers
more loyal to them. The global consulting firm
McKenzie recently surveyed global leaders, and 84%
of global leaders said that innovation was
extremely important to the success of their company. If you look at the Fortune 500
from say 20 years ago and now, that will become very obvious. Many companies that were Fortune
500 staples then are gone from the Fortune 500 now. It’s critical to
growth and staying alive and staying competitive. But of those 84% who said
it was extremely important, 94% of them were very unhappy with their company’s
performance in innovation. For some reason,
really smart people with good ideas keep
getting innovation wrong. What is it that we’re not asking
or doing or knowing that means that we haven’t gotten better? Organizations have not
gotten better at innovating over the past decades, even
with all the data we have now. The technology we can employ,
the way we can analyze things, we’re still not improving
our strike rate. Well, I will submit to you that maybe we’re asking
for the wrong things. How do you know what is going to make an innovation
successful in advance? Mostly, that 92 hits out of 20,000 will tell
you it’s a little bit of a crap shoot, hit or miss. Try a lot of things. You hope you get it right. You think you understand
your customers or prospective customers and you’re going to
create something. But is that really a
strategy: try, hit and miss? Is that good enough? Especially when you have limited
resources as I’m guessing some of your companies
and organizations do. Well, I’m going to
tell you a story about successful innovation
that has nothing to do with technology, has nothing
to do with focus groups. It has everything to do with understanding the
right questions to ask. This is a story where the hero of our tale is a humble
dining room table. So there was a Detroit-area
construction and housing company that built two-bedroom condos
on the outskirts of Detroit. And they were really lovely. They priced them
competitively compared to other condo types and things. They create all kinds
of features that they knew people
would like: granite countertops,
chrome appliances. They aimed at downsizers,
people who were probably looking to move from their house into
a nicer, more upscale community that would make them
feel special about the condo they were buying
and the life they were living. They had many, many people
come and look at those condos. And yet very few of them
converted to a sale. They didn’t understand it. They convened focus groups and
they asked prospective buyers, “What could we add to make
this a more attractive condo for you to buy?” And those focus group
prospective buyers had no shortage of ideas. Bay windows, squeakless floors. “I want more options
and cabinets and the pulls on the cabinets.” They had a lot of ideas. So they created the
showrooms to do that and show that they could create
all of those options. Everything the focus
group participants wanted, they created a show house,
show condo to demonstrate that that was all possible. That didn’t work either. Sales did not improve. And they were literally giving
prospective buyers everything they said they wanted. Then they brought
in a consultant, a guy called Bob Mesta who was
asked to try to figure out, how can we improve sales? They blamed everything:
bad weather, salespeople weren’t good enough. Maybe the hours were bad. They tried to fix
all of those things. And so Bob decided to
take a different approach. Instead of asking prospective
buyers what would make them buy, he asked people who had
already bought a condo, “Tell me about the journey to make the decision
to buy this condo.” They thought from that
they might be able to piece together the ideal
demographic or psychographic of a prospective buyer. Did they all come from
certain zip codes? Were they all certain income? Could you tell by the
car the actual age? As they went through
interview after interview, they couldn’t see a pattern. It was really random. They could not predict based
on any data about that person if they were going
to be a buyer or not. But this one very strange
clue kept coming up. People oddly kept mentioning
their dining room table. “As soon as they
figured out what to do with the dining room
table, I was free to move.” That was sort of an odd thing, because in most cases they
were dining room tables from the 1970’s,
well worn, dinged up, chunky old style
furniture, not something that would even make sense
to bring into these lovely, sleek, two-bedroom condos. It was only as Bob
Mesta was sitting at his own dining room
table over Christmas that he had a revelation. What does a dining
room table stand for? Think about your own. Family. Sitting at
a dining room table, you’ve probably had
family celebrations, birthdays, Christmas, Hanukah. In my house we did homework
on it, we made forts under it. The dining room table was a
visual reminder of the life that these people had built. Getting rid of it,
just throwing it out or giving it to charity
felt hard. It was giving away something
that meant so much to them. It was really a powerful
indicator of the significance of the move. With that insight, we
call that the aha insight, they realized something
else was going on. They weren’t in the business
of helping people just move to a new condo or buy a condo. They were in the business of
helping people move their lives. So when you think about
innovating, what did they need to do to those condos to
help people move their lives, not just buy a new
place to live? That changes the way you think
about what you need to add or subtract to make
it more appealing. They might have cared
about chrome appliances, but that wasn’t going
to trigger them to move. But when they figured
out, “Okay, we need to take something away,
20% of the second bedroom, to make room for the dining
room table,” that allowed people to not have to make that
decision about whether or not they were actually
going to leave behind that memory of family. They could choose to take
it if they wanted to. They actually raised the
prices of the condos, made the second bedroom smaller and then they added
a few small things in that made a powerful
difference to people. They created on-side storage
so that people didn’t have to get rid of everything
at one fell swoop when they were ready to move. They created a sorting
room on sight as well so they didn’t have to go
through every piece of artwork from their children’s childhood
or calendars and cards, things they had saved. You could take two
years to do that. They increased the price a
little bit, added those services in and they were able to improve
their sales by 25% at a time when the Detroit area market
was having a very hard time otherwise. They were growing when
everybody else was shrinking. The aha is in what they
realized: people wanted to move lives, not
just buy a condo. Now what is the significance
of this? This illustrates
something I’ve been working on with Harvard Business School
professor Clayton Christianson. He’s been working
on it for 20 years. Clayton Christianson has been
called multiple times the most influential management
thinker in the world. And he’s been struggling
for 20 years with the idea of why are companies so
hit or miss at innovation? Why are they so bad at it? And that moving company
illustrates his answer to the question. People don’t just buy
products or services. They hire them, in his
language, to do a job for them. And what we mean by that is what
we call the causal mechanism in academia. What causes what to happen is
not anything about the specifics of the product; it’s about
how it helps them do that job that they’re hiring it to do. Now this may just sound like
a simple language change, but we think it’s a really
profound and significant change in the way you think
about innovation so that people will actually
hire your product or service, in your case your organization. We mean something very specific. We call it the job to be done. People are looking to bring a
product or service in their life to help them make
progress on something that they’re struggling with. It’s usually surrounded
with complex social and emotional components
as well, and it’s always in particular circumstances. You can innovate successfully
if you understand the job to be done for people
who are your customers or prospective customers and
offer a solution that does that job better than
anything else does. Now let me illustrate so
that you know this isn’t just different language
talking about it. Thinking about innovation
through the lens of jobs to be done changes everything. Table equals family. You can see the powerful social and emotional pieces
of that ugly table. That’s fine, it is
an ugly table. But that had nothing to do
with the function or meaning of a table to dine on. It had to do with the emotional
and social pieces of that. Help me make progress — that is
what people are looking to do. And if your product or
service helps them do that, then you will successfully
bring people to your product or service and keep them there. So what changes if you put on
the lenses of jobs to be done? Look at the problem through
that distinct point of view. Everything changes. This is a Sony Playstation. Who’s the competition
for Sony Playstation? Xbox, maybe Wii in the old days. Makes sense, right? And I know that they’re
often compared side by side in sales and prices. That’s how you look at it
and decide which one to buy. What if I told you this
was the competition? How about this? This is my solution. [ Laughter ] These are these adult coloring
books, a new innovation. Have you seen those? These are all competing
for a different job than you might have imagined when I showed the
Sony Playstation. They’re competing for
the job of help me relax. Maybe when I get home from
work or on the weekends, help me do something that
will take my mind off of whatever else is
stressing me at the moment. Now okay, competing with those, that sounds like a theoretical
thing, but is that really true? That’s exactly what
Netflix understands. Reed Hastings who’s the founder of Netflix was asked how he
saw the competition with Amazon and their videos recently. And he said, “We compete with
everything you do to relax. A bottle of wine may be
our toughest competitor.” If you realize you’re not
just competing with things that are exactly like you, you completely broaden your
opportunities to innovate and bring more people to you. You are a solution
to a job to be done. If it’s only something that’s
exactly like you that you think of as your competition, you probably haven’t fully
understood the reason people are choosing to hire your service over any other possible
solution. The job to be done is complex
and the solution is complex and does not line up along
specific category lines. And if you can just
begin to think about what you’re competing
with and open your mind to that, you’ll be able to offer a
better solution than some of those competitions that you
may not realize you’re competing with in the first place. What does better mean? I said you’ll be able to
offer a better solution? This is a little hard to see,
but there’s an air mattress up against the wall
in an empty room. This is not better than a hotel
room by most standards, right? You probably know
where this is going. This is Air BnB. Air BnB was founded not to
compete with hotel rooms, which is what you might think. It was competing with not
making that trip at all, or staying with friends. And the people who hired Air
BnB in the beginning wanted to be part of something
and feel local. They wanted to be able to attend
a conference or they wanted to feel like they lived in the
city of Paris for a few days. It was competing with
something entirely different. It was competing with nothing. Competing against nothing
is a really good place to be when all other solutions for that job are not
better or nonexistent. The field is wide open for you. You probably know, Air BnB
is now valued at $30 billion. It’s worth more than the top
several hotel chains combined. And maybe now they’re competing
with some higher-end offerings, but the innovation came from recognizing a
different job to be done. You would never have thought
that possible ten years ago. So okay, you might buy it. I like the idea of
job to be done. Well, how do I find
a job to be done? How do I locate it in my
community or the people that we want to deal with? What you’re looking for is what
people are struggling with. You’re looking for
struggles to make progress. It’s always about
making progress in particular circumstances. And there are clues that people
give off without even realizing. Good innovations are
ones that solve problems that have bad solutions now or
don’t have a solution at all. If your solution to a job to
be done is slightly better, even a little bit more
than slightly better than other solutions to the
problem, you’re not likely to win people over to you. Slightly better does not
cause people to switch. We know from Nobel
Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman that people’s risk aversion
of loss is so powerful that they’re far more likely
to accept the devil they know than to risk losing
that for something else that may be slightly better. You have to be wildly better
or again, find an opportunity to compete with nothing. That’s where you’ll find
innovation opportunities. You’re looking for workarounds,
things people are doing to try to make an existing
solution work for them; that may give you a clue
that there’s an opportunity to develop something
better here. This is a quick example
everyone’s probably familiar with, Quicken’s personal
financial software which has been around
for a couple decades. That was on the market for
four years before the founders realized that something
funny was going on. They got feedback every year
for those first four year that people were kind of
creating weird ways to use it for small business software,
to use Quicken for that. Funny ways, but they were
buying it for that and using it for their small business. And they ignored
it for four years because they thought there is
really good accounting software out there that they can buy
that makes your books pristine and it’s like having a
small accountant on staff. Then they kind of realized that
wasn’t what people wanted to do. They wanted to not have to worry
about doing their books at all. They wanted it to be simple. They weren’t competing
with that small business accounting software. They were competing with
hiring your brother-in-law to do your books or stuffing
all your receipts in a shoebox and kind of getting around to
it at the end of the month. They quickly realized
that and corrected it. QuickBooks was launched
at twice the price of the best small
business accounting process and it was the market leader
within months and it still is. That whole company Intuit
focuses on the job to be done with all of their
product innovations now. Non-consumption. Basically you’re
looking for something where people would
rather do nothing than try to solve their problems
because they don’t like any of the solutions out there. Have any of you seen
those commercials on TV for Southern New
Hampshire University? There’s a blue bus that’s going
around the country handing out diplomas to people. If you haven’t heard of Southern
New Hampshire University, SNHU I think they
call themselves in the commercials, you should. It’s one of the biggest
success stories in education in the past decade. Southern New Hampshire
University was the small, nondescript liberal arts
college it is in New Hampshire that realized they
were in trouble like so many other small, nondescript liberal arts
colleges not competing at the top level
about ten years ago. They knew every year exactly how
many students they would get, how many they’d compete with from these three
other local universities. The win and loss rate was
almost always the same. There was no prospect of growth. And financial survival
was in question. Then they kind of realized they
did have this sleepy beginning arm that was doing what
they call distance learning for people who didn’t want
to come to campus but wanted to make progress
towards a degree. Their big aha insight was that that distance learning
wasn’t competing with Harvard or Yale or even the local
universities around them. It was competing with nothing. Those people who were doing
distance learning were trying to decide if it was worth going
back to school to get a degree when they perhaps had avoided it or never had it in
the first place. Maybe I should just stick in
this job for two more years and try to get promotions. They would rather do nothing than accept a really difficult
solution that would require them to drive to campus or
take weekends and nights that they didn’t have to work on extra credit projects
and things like that. With that insight, you’re
competing with “It’s better to do nothing than to pursue
your education further,” they made sure that everything about their online
program worked for people who were working long days,
weekends, maybe sitting down at the computer
at 11:00 at night. They didn’t need to be as
good as Harvard in many ways. They needed to be good for the
job people were hiring them to do, which was
make my life better. They’ve been wildly successful. They stage on campus I think
five separate graduation ceremonies now. Not on campus, the town’s
biggest place, Verizon Arena. Because so many people
who have never set foot on campus all their
years towards a degree, come for that moment of
getting the cap and gown and getting their degree. And it’s a huge success story. They were competing with people
who were choosing to do nothing. Oops. My clicker’s
not advancing. There we go. Look for unusual uses. Any of you ever knocked back a
couple of spoonfuls of Nyquil when you really just
wanted a good night’s sleep? Lots of people do that. It turns out the company
finally recognized it. They didn’t need Nyquil, all
the ingredients in Nyquil. They needed sleep. Thus, the birth of
Zquil which has none of those cold medicine
things in it. That was a clue. There was an innovation
opportunity to be had here. Jobs in our own lives. Most of us actually
know, if you think about things you’re
struggling with, things that you wish
there were solutions for. You may be the best beginning
germ of an idea for a job to be done that you
can share with others. If you have it, others
might too. This is an illustration
of Care.com which is the online babysitter
matchmaking service for parents, and elder care and dog
care now as it turns out. That was founded by a
woman called Sheila Marcela who was having trouble
finding a solution for her own day care needs. And she created what is now I
think a $65 million company. Negative jobs, things we
do not want to have to do. People don’t want to do
this, so any solution that makes it easier for
them to not fully do that. Think of the last
time you woke up and your kid says they
have a sore throat. You know it’s probably
strep throat, but man, going to the doctor,
what a pain. You have to call, wait
till the office opens. You can’t go in to
work for a few hours. You sit there and you know
they’re just going to say, “Antibiotics,” or whatever. Well, CVS Minute Clinic
was born when a dad sat in the emergency room
with his daughter for just a little too long and
got a little too annoyed having to wait for what ended up
being a simple prescription of antibiotics. That was what we
call negative job. I don’t want to have to do that. There’s a solution
that is way better than having to do it, found. This is really important
to know. Jobs are not just tasks. They’re not just
something functional. They involve experiences
and that’s really important to understand, the experience. This is where the social and emotional components
of it come in. You can’t successfully innovate if you just served
the functional need of whatever it is, because the
other things are actually far more powerful. We believe that if you
actually understand the job to be done properly, customers
will pay a premium price for a solution that does it
better than anything else. So this is not a race to the
bottom; this is actually a race to give people what they most
value and most care about. Here’s my favorite
case in point. American Girl Doll, the company’s been
around for 30 years. Many, many people have
tried to compete with it by creating similar dolls. You’ll see them in
Target, you’ll see them in the Disney Store, Wal-Mart. Have any of you ever paid the
current price, I think is $120, for an American Girl Doll? Me. I’ve bought several of them. And then the wardrobe
on top of that which you could buy
an outfit for yourself for some of what you pay. Do you think we’re paying $120
for a doll because the dolls are so special, the individual doll? They’re nice dolls, but I
don’t think there’s anything incredibly special
or unique about them. We’re paying for something else. What’s the real job of
the American Girl Doll? It’s a chance to connect
with our pre-teen daughters and nieces and children in a way that we didn’t think
we could before. People said there
was no doll market. Girls aged out of dolls at age seven before American
Girl Dolls were invented. And Pleasant Rowland the
woman who started it was told, “There’s no chance that
this will succeed.” The only options at
that age and stage up to age seven were Cabbage
Patch dolls in those days and really hyper-sexualized
Barbies and Bratz and things like that. And that wasn’t a good
enough answer for her wanting to connect with her nieces. American Girl Dolls not only
come in a very special box, the experience of going
with your mom or your dad to get your doll —
this is a sample. I actually took this
off someone’s blog where they were doing highlights of their cross-country
trip with their family. This is one of their highlights. This is the American
Girl Doll restaurant where if you don’t have a doll, you can babysit one
while you’re there. They have birthday
parties there. There’s something about
having that special experience with your mom and your dad
that people remember forever. And the dolls all
have backstories, historical backstories. There’s something that makes
us feel good as parents about giving our children
American Girl Dolls because they’re substantial and maybe we’ll have
conversations about the feelings. $120. I can’t think of any
product that you willingly put up that kind of money for. But this one absolutely
understands the job to be done and everything about the
American Girl Experience is tailored to that. Again, you put on the lenses
of seeing a job to be done and not just the function
of a product or service. Everything about
what goes into that and how you treat your
customers, how you talk to your customers, changes. So I’m going to ask you — I heard a lot of interesting
things this morning at the panel discussion
about what job — you didn’t use those words,
but that’s what it was — what job orchestras
have to do now, or people want to
hire them to do. It’s changed, clearly,
from the old days where perhaps it was clearer. Are you selling a product? Or are you solving
a job for people? One of them will give you
ample opportunity to innovate and potentially charge
premium prices and competitive advantage, all things all organizations
want to have. Because people will know that you’ve helped them make the
progress that you want to make. The other one is just as good; the next competitor will
be compared side by side. You’ve reached success when
people don’t shop around. They just know that they want
to go straight to your service. They want to go straight
to what you offer, because it does the job
better than anybody else. That’s what we call
a purpose brand. You want to be a purpose brand for what job you’re
solving best. And I’m going to illustrate
this, the difference between talking about the
product you’re selling and selling your
response to a job. If you could show
the first video — this is an old Snicker’s
commercial.>>Can I help you
enjoy that Snicker’s?>>[Singing] Happy peanuts soar over chocolate covered
mountaintops and waterfalls of caramel. Prancing nougat in the
meadow sings a song of satisfaction to the world.>>The world!>>That’s right.>>Karen Dillon: Okay, we
heard about prancing nougat and waterfalls of caramel. Those are all the
features and benefits and the quality ingredients
that go into Snicker’s. Is that exciting
as a commercial? Do you think that makes
anybody want to go? Put on your own lenses
for your own organization? Are you doing a version of this? Talking about the
ingredients and the quality and all the components
that you know are superior, but maybe just add up to a
list of things to offer people. Now from a different
perspective, if you put on a job to be done lens and you think
about, how are you talking to your customer, how are
they seeing you as a solution to their job to be done, you’ll approach it
entirely differently. Snicker’s now is one
of the bestselling — I think it is the bestselling
candy bar in the United States. And one critical insight I
think led to that development: they recognized when and how
and why — the job to be done — people actually hired
a Snicker’s bar. It turns out a lot of us hire
it when we’re hungry and angry, a concept they call
hangry, right? It’s not necessarily competing with Three Musketeers
or any of the others. It’s competing with
peanuts or food or a meal. You’re hungry and you
want to be fed quickly and you want something that’s
going to stop that hangry thing from taking over really quickly. If you watch in airports, you’ll
see lots of people buy Snicker’s and they think it’s
people who are racing for planes and haven’t had food. It’s a very different job to be
done than just something sweet to fill me with joy
at the moment. So this is the approach
they’ve taken. It’s a very clear job
to be done communication about hiring a Snicker’s
bar when you’re hangry. If you could play the next one.>>Hut! [ Grunting ]>>Come on.>>Mike, what is your deal, man?>>Oh come on, many, you’ve
been riding me all day.>>Mike, you’re playing
like Betty White out there.>>That’s not what
your girlfriends says.>>Betty.>>Oh.>>Eat a Snicker’s. Better?>>Better.>>Hut.>>I’m open. [ Grunting ]>>That hurt.>>You’re not you
when you’re hungry. Snicker’s satisfies. [ Laughter ]>>Karen Dillon:
See the difference? The fact that we all respond
to that second commercial means that we understand that concept and we might hire a
Snicker’s when we’re hangry. How are you talking
to your customers? And your prospective
customers, and the customers that are hiring nothing rather than solving their
job to be done? Do you know what the
job to be done is that you’ve been hired to do? If you don’t, I would urge you to think long and
hard about that. Talk to the people who
already have hired you and talk to people who haven’t hired you
at all to try to identify that. Because once you
have that in mind, it can become a real
guiding beacon for all of your innovation
efforts and one that we believe is far
more likely to succeed and not leave you vulnerable to
the hit or miss of innovation. Thank you very much. [ Applause ] Okay.>>Jesse Rosen: Karen, thank you
for that fantastic presentation.>>Karen Dillon: You’re welcome.>>Jesse Rosen: Entertaining,
and you kind of drove us right to the intersection
of art and business.>>Karen Dillon:>>Jesse Rosen: And we’re
going to get right to that in a second, but let me
introduce our panel first. And I’m Jesse Rosen,
president of the League of American Orchestras. Kevin Shuck runs the
Boulder Philharmonic. He is a molecular
biologist by training and avid outdoorsperson. We’ll hear more about that soon. Sandi runs the North Carolina
Symphony, also has worked with the Seattle Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra,
great colleague. And Sarah Kirkland Snider, a
composer whose biography reads like a Lifetime Achievement
Award. She has been performed by every
major orchestra, collaborated with every major
artist, commissioned by every commissioning source
and an extraordinary talent. Thank you and welcome, panel.>>Thank you.>>Jesse Rosen: Yeah. [ Applause ] Gosh, there’s so many
places to jump into this. The Snicker’s commercial,
the first one with the guy singing
actually reminds me of orchestra press releases and
brochures from not too long ago. Where they just heaped
praise and praise and praise upon themselves in describing all the ways they
were wonderful in the same way that guy was singing
about the Snicker’s bar. And now of course orchestras
communicate about themselves and express themselves
very differently. And maybe it’s a place
to jump in to pick up with Karen’s last
question, which is, you know, how has our job changed? And there was certainly a
time I think when we thought about orchestras were doing
products and services. We created concerts
and people came. Now we kind of think we
maybe have a different job. And Sandi, why don’t you start
us off, maybe with a reflection on where we’ve been and
where we’re going to?>>Sandy MacDonald: Actually I’d like to reflect on
the presentation. What business am I in? Or what’s the job
I’m trying to sell? So I believe that in the case
of the North Carolina Symphony, we are not seeking to
be the Chicago Symphony or the Cleveland Orchestra
or the Berlin Philharmonic. We are seeking to be the
orchestra of our community. In our case, we serve the
entire state of North Carolina through orchestral
performance as well as our music education series. And so we want to provide music
that is unique to our area, to our orchestra, because you
can get the greatest Beethoven symphony performed by the
Berlin Philharmonic — they do that really well. But what we do very, very
well is produce concerts that are meaningful to a North
Carolinian, and you will hear that tomorrow night
at our performances at the Kennedy Center. So my job is to find
those tentacles, to find those opportunities
to connect with our community in unique and different ways.>>Jesse Rosen: And is that a relatively new
development in orchestras? We’ve been in the field a while. Has it kind of been
that way for a bit?>>Sandy MacDonald: I
came to North Carolina from the Cleveland Orchestra. I don’t know that we spent a lot
of time talking about connecting to the musical DNA
of our community.>>Jesse Rosen: Right. And Kevin, how about you? How do you think about the
job of orchestras today?>>Kevin Shuck: Sure. I think there’s a lot of
resonance in how we think about it at the Boulder
Philharmonic with what Sandi just
said in North Carolina. It’s that well, in our case,
about eight years ago — so you’re asking how
recently these kinds of thoughts have been
in the orchestra field. About eight years ago our board
had done a strategic planning exercise, whereas our
goal as an orchestra was to reflect those qualities that make our community
unique and special. Every community is
unique in different ways. And so I think in our case we
were just looking to tie music into in our case what
makes Boulder unique. And you know, I think that’s
very much part of the Zeitgeist. It’s what at League of American
Orchestras conference we’re talking about a lot these days. And it’s good to see
orchestras like this week that are having some
success in those areas.>>Sandy MacDonald:
We also codified — our board codified our
point of view on programing to be uniquely North
Carolina-focused and of national significance. But we’ve been doing this
work in the early 2000’s.>>Jesse Rosen: And Sarah,
a different kind of person than Sandy and Kevin
and Karen and myself. You’re a creator. And so how do you
think about this?>>Sarah Kirkland Snider:
How do I feel about –>>Jesse Rosen: How do you think about the job you
do as a composer? And has that changed for you?>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: Yeah. Well, as a composer, I
think what drew me to music from the very beginning
was the power of music to communicate and
express emotion. And as a child, I was just
utterly fascinated by that. And still to this day
I feel that my job is to communicate something with
an audience to put something, a feeling that you
can’t put into words. That’s what music
can accomplish. So yeah, I really see my job
as being one of communication, and that’s not necessarily
true for every composer, but for me it definitely
feels that way.>>Jesse Rosen: Great. And I’m kind of curious,
thinking about some of these changes that
are taking place. The question Karen poses
in her presentation about how do you know,
and how do you come to understand your
constituents, your public? And in the arts, this
is kind of a little bit of a different question
than it is in business, because after all, we’re
not exactly prepared to give up everything we do in order
to become something else because it’s more profitable. That’s not our thing. So Kevin, talk a little
bit about this question of how do we balance
what we come to know an audience is looking for with what we feel is
somehow defining of who we are. What can change? What can’t change?>>Kevin Shuck: Sure. Well, the first thing about
the job that is to be done, I think with orchestra concerts,
I think it’s a challenge because there are
different segments coming with different jobs to be
done in a single concert. So that makes it difficult to
balance all of these things and to come up with a
satisfying experience. But it is also I think
a great potential for a very rich experience. And what I mean by that is
there are people that are coming for the sole purpose
that they want to hear the great live jukebox
for this music they know, they’ve learned and they love. And I think that’s the
traditional job that we think of orchestras as doing. Well, you can still do that and
at the same time be thinking about what are the social
reasons that people are there. And I think there’s
a lot of resonance to what Sarah was saying about the emotional
resonance of music. I think orchestras are uniquely
positioned to create community. In our current world where it
is highway, suburbia, fast food, these things, people are looking
for a place where you can come and there is an authentic
connection. Orchestras are uniquely
positioned to do this because we are bringing together
people in a shared space for a shared experience. It’s something very
different from the day-to-day, and I think that that is
something that we can harness as organizations to really
create something very special. And so as far as the job to be
done, I think that you know, certainly there’s
this relaxation or leisure time bubble. And so we think, who are
we competing against? We’re competing against Netflix, we’re competing against
the couch. So really when you look
at this leisure bubble, you’re really talking about
there’s a subset of that which is in some way
people are looking for something that’s more
fulfilling or enriching or special or has a night
out component to it. And so I always think that our
biggest struggle is growing the piece of that leisure
time relaxation pie that people are looking for
those kind of quality outlets. And so I think that leads a
lot of the thinking that we do about how are we going to
get people into concerts.>>Jesse Rosen: So I
know a lot of people who would violently disagree
with the idea that going to an orchestra concert’s
a great way to be together with
other people. I mean after all,
it’s a terrible time. It’s 8:00 at night. You have to rush through
dinner, you get home late, you have to listen to music,
some of it you might like and some of it you
might not like. And it’s really expensive and
you can’t talk, you can’t drink and it’s formal and
rigid and uncomfortable, unlike most other
performing arts experiences. So unless I’m –>>Sandy MacDonald: Where
do I buy a ticket for this? [ Laughter ]>>Jesse Rosen: I think
there might be more than one or two people who feel that way. So how does an orchestra
confront some of these very changing
ways that people feel about going to concerns?>>Kevin Shuck: Well, you’ve
ticked off a lot of barriers that we are always looking
at and talking about. I think one way we
think about it is, how can you put out
the welcome mat. Because yes, if a newcomer
to the performing arts, orchestras in particular,
is just looking at it, all of those negatives are
just too easy to think of. So instead we try
to think about, what are the entry points, what
are the doorways we can create, what are the welcome
mats we can put out? And so in our case at
the Boulder Philharmonic in Colorado, I mentioned
that we are trying to reflect the qualities that
make our community special. And so a lot of times that means
meeting people where they are. In Boulder, that usually
means on a trail somewhere. I think last week it was the
city with the highest rate of exercising or
something in the country. It’s very overachieving
in many dimensions. And so in our case, we thought,
okay, well how do we meet people on their turf so to speak and
create a welcome mat there? And in our 2013-2014 season
we were exploring works that were inspired
by the natural world. When you come to Boulder,
that’s one of the first things that you notice is we have
this very scenic backdrop, and that’s what draws
a lot of people there and that’s what people
are actively enjoying. So that’s part of your
culture and that’s where people are spending
their leisure time and that’s what their
interests are. How can you then convert that
into a welcome mat to get people into the concert hall? So since we had a list or
repertoire of composers that were inspired by music, we were commissioning new
works along this vein as well, we had the crazy idea to reach out to our city open
space department which is a big deal in town. And I wrote them a
letter basically saying, “We’re performing music
inspired by nature. I think we should collaborate.” And I went ahead and mentioned
a few possibilities for this, thinking that they’d either
just laugh me aside — but within two days
I was meeting with the entire senior staff
of the open space department. Because they said,
“That’s exactly what we’re interested in.” So we’ve been using our
collaboration with them to create that welcome mat, to kind of put all
those negatives aside and actually show that it can
be something that is social. People on the trail are enjoying
conversations, sharing music. And when they come
to the concert hall, it’s the same as well. During intermission,
people are buzzing. I met people that I met
on a hike that we do. Then I’ll see them at the
concert hall and it’s like, “Oh that’s just amazing. When I heard that piece, I
could just see the geese flying over the Sawhill
Pond,” for example.>>Sandy MacDonald: Kevin
mentioned collaboration and I think that is an area
where we invest a good amount of our time to create
programs where we collaborate with another organization. One example is the Museum of
Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The museum created visuals that
celebrated the 100th anniversary of the state parks
of North Carolina. We performed the four seasons. And together, this performance
which couldn’t resonate in any other state
than North Carolina, our audience members — which expanded to the museum’s
audience members as well and those people just
interested in the state parks — brought together the sum of all
those parts, something bigger than any one of us could have
been, and create a performance that can’t be replicated
by something else. Listening on the radio — how
old of me to mention a radio. [ Laughter ] Or you know, watching
Netflix or doing nothing. You had to be there
in that space to see those three critical
elements brought together in performance.>>Jesse Rosen: I love it. And Sarah, you’ve
created a piece that the North Carolina Symphony
is going to play in a couple of nights, on Wednesday night. And I understand that that
came together in a way that also really
brought people together. Could you talk a little
bit more about that?>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: Sure. Yes, so a few years ago Martin
Share came to me and said, “I understand that you have
some family connections to North Carolina. Would you be interesting for
writing a piece about that?” And I jumped at the opportunity because North Carolina
has always felt like my spiritual home,
my ancestral home. My family had been
there for 13 generations and my father was the first to
leave and he worked in New York, so we lived in New Jersey. But we would spend a lot
of time during the year in North Carolina and
I really thought of it as this place where I belonged. So I was very excited to write
this piece, and I thought, what should it be about? I thought it should be
about those feelings of what does home mean? And what is a longing for home? What does that feel like? What is that about? You know, is it about family? Is it about landscape? Is it about the things
that you did there? So I decided that I would try to
write a piece about the nature of memory and longing
for a place in your past. And I had this idea that
it might be interesting to combine it with a film
component, because so much of my memory of North Carolina
was sense memory based. You know, the way things looked, the way the sunlight
cast shadows on my grandparents’ patio,
the way that the town looked. The things that I
did with my family — I thought it would be
interesting to look at some of that from an abstract,
cinematic perspective and to have that
accompany the music so that it would be this kind
of dreamy exploration somewhere between memory and a dream. But one that the audience
would have some kind of reference point for
the emotionally journey that the music was exploring. So we went down to
North Carolina and shot some footage actually of my own children
recreating some of my memories and my father’s memories. Yeah, so it became
a real sort of look at small-town life
in North Carolina.>>Jesse Rosen: And it’s been
performed already, right?>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: Yeah, they performed it several times
last year in North Carolina. And also in New Jersey.>>Sandy MacDonald:
Your hometown, yes.>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: Yeah,
the other co-commissioners, the Princeton Symphony
which was the actual place of my birth and growing up. So that was neat as well. But yeah, they performed it too.>>Jesse Rosen: Yeah. And how did the origin
of the work — I mean, when it was finally
performed, what kind of impact? What was the significance
of all that led up to creating the piece when
it finally came to the public?>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: Well
that was what was so remarkable, was having all of these
friends and family from North Carolina
come to the premier. And they felt so
emotionally connected to the piece and what they saw. And for them it really resonated with their own memories
of North Carolina. So that was really
extraordinary, just the senses of community that was
brought about by the project. A number of the people had
participated in the making of the film, had recreated a lot of these social scenes
that we shot. So it really felt like this
galvanizing collective memory exercise in a sense. And that was really
special, yeah.>>Sandy MacDonald: And
we were able to perform it in the community that evoked
all of these memories. So it was very North Carolina. And we’ve had two performances
of it there and performed it in other locations including
our headquarter hall in Raleigh.>>Jesse Rosen: Right.>>Sarah Kirkland Snider:
And that’s what’s amazing, is actually a lot of people from
North Carolina are traveling up for this performance.>>Sandy MacDonald: Yeah.>>Sarah Kirkland Snider:
They feel a sense of ownership and investment in it,
which is really special.>>Sandy MacDonald:
Sarah is a star. [Laughs] I just hear a
job in that right away: make me feel proud of
being a North Carolinian. And you’ve checked
all those boxes. It’s maybe about the music,
but the music is a way to achieve the progress, right? Make me feel proud of it. I hear success and a job there.>>Sarah Kirkland
Snider: Thanks.>>Jesse Rosen: So I’m
thinking back to Karen’s slide, the one that showed
92 out of how many?>>Karen Dillon: 92 out
of 20,000 products, yeah.>>Jesse Rosen: So listening
to you, it sounds like we’re in the 92 camp, that somehow
we’ve figured this out.>>Karen Dillon: Right.>>Jesse Rosen: I mean, people
have written so many books about innovation, it must
be hard and complicated. So I’m curious, as you
go through these changes, is there any tension
around this? Or is it just you’ve
got it all figured out?>>Kevin Shuck: I think
there’s inevitably tension when you go outside of the
box of a traditional art form. I think that’s just kind
of taken for granted. But, well, two things about the
words both innovation and risk. I really don’t like to
think that we’re trying to innovate all the time. That’s actually not kind
of the vocabulary we use. We’re instead trying
to be creative. And I think that it’s about
looking for the connections, looking for ways that music
can reach different parts of your community. In doing that, the
end result is often that your programming
is innovative. But we’re not pursuing that
in and of itself as our goal, because I think that leads
you down the rabbit hole where you could be doing
things that are different just for the sake of being different. Rather than if you are
following from the standpoint of where the art takes you,
where that creativity takes you, then it leads you into
a more authentic place that might happen
to be innovative. And I think that as far
as, is there a tension — I mean, there are certainly
traditional audience members who are happy with the
music just the way it is. In talking to a lot of
people I hear this, “Well, I understand why you’re
doing that,” because they see that our audiences are
growing by leaps and bounds. So they see the effect of it,
they are invested in the music, they want it to be successful. So they get behind it. Even though that’s not the
job I guess they’re looking for the concert to
fulfill for them, we’re able to bring them along,
because they see the effect. They see that it is
done in a way again which is authentic
and not gimmicky. Which again, I think if
you focus on just trying to be innovative, that’s where
you can end up a lot of time. And so that’s how we’ve
been able to manage that.>>Sandy MacDonald: I
would just argue though, that might be doing
the job for them. The job for them might
be, “I want to be a pillar of this community and
this is the way I feel.” If you think narrowly
about what the job is, again you think innovation is
a rabbit hole, it might be. But if you think about the job
and you only add or focus on how to make that experience
better, they still feel like a pillar of the community. Maybe you’ve done it better because you’re a
growing organization. It’s not an either/or.>>Jesse Rosen: So if
the job of orchestras, or among the jobs are creating
experiences that connect with people, connect
with community and move beyond the
transactional product, we’re selling the concert —
so is this good for business?>>Sandy MacDonald: Certainly.>>Jesse Rosen: Because you’re
running businesses too, right?>>Sandy MacDonald: Yeah, yeah. We’re running business
and we worry a lot — I spend a lot of time
worrying about risk and limiting the risk,
the financial risk. And so we’ve come up
with some solutions that reduce the risk for us. So for example, everyone
wants the millennial audience and the illusive
millennial audience. And so there was a time
we would put on a concert that had hybrid music in it and our marketing department
would be in the corner stewing about selling tickets and where
are they going to come out, and let’s get food trucks
and let’s sell martinis. Moving away from actually
what our business is. And a couple of years ago we
decided, let’s take that money, let’s eliminate the tension
within the organization. Let’s talk to our
musicians about a concept of giving them money to develop
a program that would be held in for example a club in
our case in downtown Raleigh that I would not go to. Well, maybe Sarah
would go to it, but most of us might not go this because we wouldn’t even
know about the club. The marketing would
not darken my door. And you know, can we
be more successful at reaching an audience
that we’re not reaching in a traditional performance? Close up and personal
with our musicians who have chosen the repertoire
they’re going to play, who have used their
social network to bring people to the concert? And let’s not charge
a ticket price. Let’s have a cover charge. And so those reduce
the financial risk. Let’s not put these in big giant
halls, because they don’t belong in big giant concert halls, and stew about filling
all of those seats. And let’s make the
connection that way. And so that’s an example of
it making sense both in terms of resource and inspiration, I
posit to our musicians as well.>>Jesse Rosen: And are
you seeing positive changes in attendance at the
North Carolina Symphony?>>Sandy MacDonald:
Over time, we have, yes. Yes. We’ve grown our
ticket revenue by $1 million in this planning cycle
that we’re in right now. We’re at the end of a
five-year planning cycle. And that’s by doing a
variety of different things, not just performing Beethoven
symphonies, but making sur that we’re reaching out
to the entire community. Yeah.>>Jesse Rosen: Kevin,
how about you? Good for business?>>Kevin Shuck: Yes,
it’s good for business. Since 2009 our ticket sales have
grown 66%, subscriptions 44%, contributive revenue
by similar amounts. And I think it’s because when
you do this type of work, you’re increasing the
number of stakeholders in your organization
and the community. So if you do one of
the collaborations like what Sandi was
talking about, which is a really key
part in these years, 45 different organizations
we’ve collaborated with. And some of these are
what you’d expect, other performing
arts organizations, but some are what
you would not expect, like social service
organizations. Or nature and science
and youth organizations. And every time you do it, you’re
going to get new ticket buyers in the door, maybe just
for that one concert. A certain portion will come
back, but even for the people that didn’t come to the concert,
they now have a touchpoint for your organization. So they think that, oh, this
organization supported something that I care about,
so it’s a checkmark in your column for good favor. And I think that
community goodwill can’t be underestimated. The snowball effect I
think is really what it is, is that each time you
do something like this, it’s another ripple in the pond. You’re reaching additional
people. And sometimes we go
to a lot of effort for something we think is a good
idea, that really makes sense, and maybe the impact is not
as big as what we’d hoped for. And sometimes it goes beyond
our wildest projections. But it’s a cumulative effect. And it’s I think committing
to this type of approach, systematically and organically
throughout your organization which over the long
run has these benefits.>>Jesse Rosen: Right. Sarah, I’m not going to
ask you about business, but I am interested — as a
creative person working a lot with orchestras, what’s
the optimum for you in a relationship with an
orchestra that allows you to fully realize all of
your artistic aspirations?>>Sarah Kirkland
Snider: You know, I’ve had a really
extraordinary experience with North Carolina
working on this project, because we’ve had
multiple performances, multiple rehearsals. Getting that kind of time to
get to now a conductor and get to know the members of the
orchestra, the administration, really enables the project
to go that much deeper and be that much more satisfying. I’ve since revised
the piece a few times, and I’ll be revising it again. So yeah, I think that having
any kind of second performances, multiple performances for a composer these
days are pretty unusual in the orchestral world. So having a chance to go deeper
is really pretty extraordinary. But I think any time that an
orchestra can take a moment to really work with a living
composer is an incredible experience for everybody. I mean, it’s great
for the community, it’s great for composers
obviously. It’s great for the orchestra
to feel connected to living, breathing music that
they can have a role in introducing to the world. I just think the more that living composers can
be introduced to orchestras, the better for everybody.>>Jesse Rosen: Yeah, kind of
the center of the whole thing.>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: Right.>>Jesse Rosen: So Karen, you’ve
had about three hours to get to know the wonderful world
of orchestras [laughs]. From what you’ve
heard, challenge us. You’re an expert on this stuff,
on shifting and changing. What words of wisdom?>>Karen Dillon: One word of
wisdom I would sort of pass on from Clayton Christianson
— they’re not original to me. But the reason that so many
great organizations ultimately fail when faced with competition
from what he calls disruptors — small upstarts that initially
you don’t see as a threat and then little by little
they gain market share. Great example is Blockbuster,
now bankrupt, and Netflix. Netflix was a disruptor. His theory is called the
theory of disruption, more famous than the
theory of jobs to be done. It’s that the incumbent,
the established company, in the face of that
competition they get nervous and start making their
product better and better, more expensive, add
more layers of gold. You know, they make
it so that they want to make it more valuable
to their customer base. But what that does is it makes
them have an increasingly smaller customer base
because people start deciding, “This is good enough. Why should I spend that?” So I would just hear — I love hearing some of
these creative ideas for alternative things here, the
caution to not chase your market up further and further to
the point of losing them to a disruptor because you
think the best response to that threat is
to make ours better. Again, I would say
better in what way? Better for whom? Better for what job? Make sure that better
is always focused on what those customers want. And it’s okay if it
comes in the form of disrupting yourself
with smaller ideas. I mean, you might as
well disrupt yourself and get all the revenue from both the disruption
and the existing one. So just to be careful not to
over-gild the lily in search of better when better is when
people come and hear you, however you want to be heard. Just keep that in mind.>>Jesse Rosen: Terrific. Well, before a hangry assaults
all of us, let me give each of our panelists a minute
to talk about your concert. Kevin, yours tonight; Sandi,
Wednesday night; and Sarah, you can tag-team
your Wednesday night. Tell folks about your concerts.>>Kevin Shuck: Okay. Well, the Boulder
Philharmonic is honored to kick off the inaugural
Shift Festival tonight. Our program is, as I mentioned, has an unabashedly programmatic
title, The Nature of Music. Which is bringing all those kind of initiatives I was
just talking about to DC. We open with a new commission. It was commissioned
with National Endowment for the Arts money, the
Imagine Your Parks Initiative, to commemorate the centennial
of the National Parks Service. We have an adventurer-composer
who we’ve worked with before, Steven Lias. It will be the premier
of his work inspired by Rocky Mountain National Park. After that we have a mandolinist
from here close in Virginia. His concerto is called
From the Blue Ridge. So our goal with the
Nature of Music was not just to show off Colorado with
lots of pretty pictures of our mountains, but also that
these things are universal. So we have something from
local audiences here as well, from your backyard as well. The second half opens
up with a piece, Ghost of the Grasslands,
by Steve Heitzig. This is about the prairies, the
lesser-known half of Colorado. And interesting, percussionist
drummers like Stalks of Prairie Grass, Bison
Bones, Squeak Toys that Sound like Prairie Dogs, and then that
takes us into the grand finale which is Copelands Appalachian
Spring with something which is pretty eye-popping. Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance
Company we brought with us from Boulder do a
beautiful rendition suspended above the orchestra.>>Sandy MacDonald: Wow. And I have my tickets. [ Laughter ] So the North Carolina
Symphony is bringing a program that demonstrates who we are. We have two works by Robert
Ward who spent the mature part of his life in North
Carolina and was the dean of the University of North
Carolina School for the Arts and eventually became
an audience member of the North Carolina Symphony. So we bookend the performance
with two of his works. We will be joined by North
Carolina-born Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and
performer Caroline Shaw who will be the soloist
in her work, Low. And let me think — thank you. Mason Bates — I was going
to hand it over to you. Mason Bates work is evocative of
his time spent in the Carolinas. I believe he uses
cicada in his sounds, in his piece called
Rusty Carolina. And then the big centerpiece of
our program is our co-commission of Sarah’s work, which maybe
you could tell us a little bit about.>>Sarah Kirkland
Snider: Oh, okay. I felt like I gave you a lot
of information, but the name of the piece is Hierite. That’s Welsh word that means a
longing for a time or a place in your past that you
can no longer return to. So yeah, I’m excited about that.>>Sandy MacDonald: And then
on Thursday night we’ll be at the Cogod Gallery or
the auditorium, thank you. Space. Courtyard, there you go. Space. And with a program that
we performed at an art museum on Saturday night that featured
Sarah’s piece Unremembered that has been traveling
the globe. And so her piece
with our orchestra, and as well a piece called
By and By, by Caroline Shaw. That program is an example of the North Carolina
Symphony getting out of a traditional concert
hall which we do frequently and performing our works
in a different space.>>Sarah Kirkland Snider: I think it’s worth highlighting
too that something special about North Carolina Symphony
is that they like to go deep with the composers
they work with. So they do multiple pieces by a
certain set of composers rather than lots of pieces by
lots of different composers which I think is really special. Because it enables the community
to get to know artists better and feel a stronger connection
to each piece that they hear, because they have a
little more context for it.>>Jesse Rosen: Right. You know, earlier today
some of us right here in this library were looking
at the original manuscripts of Mozart and a lock
of Beethoven’s hair and Bartok’s manuscript
from the concerto orchestra Heiden Symphonies. And I couldn’t help thinking
about this great sense of tradition and old stuff. And here we are hundreds
of years later, we’re still playing
the same music. We’re still playing
the same instruments and the same orchestra. And it reminded me — this
will sound a little crazy — but I’ve been watching the
hearings for Judge Gorsuch and so the word originalist
which I didn’t know before — now I know what an
originalist is. But the tension around
you know, the past and how does the past live
as you go into the future, is a question that kind of runs through so many aspects
of our lives. And I think the work
happening in orchestras of asking those same questions, we know this incredible
tradition. We learn from it, we revere
it, we’re in awe of it. And yet we’re also in a completely different
place and a different time. And so how do we make that
alive and real for today? And I think that’s kind of the
journey orchestras have been on, along with probably
the rest of America. So anyhow, thank you
for being with us, and a big thanks to our panel. [ Applause ]>>Jenny Bilfield: Many thanks to our panelists
and participants. Thank you for being here. And just a final word, if
we have piqued your appetite and you don’t yet have
tickets for everything, they’re still available. I hope that you’ll find
the Shift events located on the Kennedy Center
website, also at the bottom of the Washington
Performing Arts homepage. Just click a link and it will
take you to a whole series of residency events that
are free in the community, as well as the performances
that start up in the Kennedy Center
tonight on Main Stage, Millennium Stage,
all over the city. Please join us. We need your energy, we want
your support and participation. Thank you for being
with us today. Thank you to the Library
of Congress for hosting. We look forward to
seeing you this week. Thank you. [ Applause ]

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