Monday, December 21, 2009

And for our next trick...

The moment you finish one concert, you are already focusing on the next one...or even further in the future.

Right now we are in the midst of planning for our 2010/2011 season, a process that takes about 6 months to put together. Season planning is one of those elements that is rarely ever seen beyond the administrative offices of an arts organization. When planning a season there are a whole host of issues that need to be taken into consideration. The scheduling calculus regarding the availability of venue, artists, what other arts organizations arts are doing, all of these are factors that require require a lot of flexibility and creativity.

Jung-Ho is putting together next season from an artistic point of view - pulling everything together from the programming side of things. We start with a white board with all our concert slots and then discuss them as a team, writing up every idea on post-it-notes and continuously refining. We are now looking multiple years in advance - all the way out to 2015! Attached is a photo of our current planning calendar - would you look at all those post-its!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

West Coast vs. East Coast orchestra management - is there a difference?

As many of you know, Jung-Ho Pak serves as artistic director for both Orchestra Nova San Diego and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra (as well as several other groups around the country - he's a very busy guy.) Tomorrow, I'll be leaving sunny So Cal and traveling to the Cape to attend CCSO's holiday concerts, meet my artistic and education colleagues, and see what it's like to manage an orchestra more than twice our size in a city one fifth the size of San Diego. I'll get the chance to watch performances from backstage and from the audience (a rarity for me), chat with musicians, and watch Jung-Ho with his "other family."

We're in a pretty unique situation - having a sister orchestra 3,000 miles away that we can cross-train, cross-market, and share resources (guest artists, music) and ideas with. Granted, putting on a concert is fairly universal. But who attends, why they donate, and the overall Cape Cod culture is what I'm looking forward to seeing. At least there's no snow in the forecast...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Applause or not?

Recently, we've been experiencing more applause in between movements of a symphony or concerto, and while that's been frowned upon by long time classical music audiences, it's undeniably a result of us attracting new audiences. So ensues the heated debate between those who believe a symphony is a sacred musical experience that should not be disrupted vs. those who think that if a movement is played well, it should be acknowledged with approval. Another way to look at this is the desire for the experienced wanting to educate the newcomers.

One illuminating detail to this discussion is the actual history of applause. Throughout most of classical music history, applause between movements was accepted and even welcomed with delight by composers, including the most famous like Mozart and Beethoven. If the applause was great enough, the audiences were treated to a an encore performance of the movement. In an era without a recording device or replay button, this was indeed a gift by the performers. To read a fascinating perspective, read this description by a noted critic from the New Yorker magazine: It also strikes me as very funny that those who do not advocate applauding between movements, feel very strongly that one is equally "in the know" when applauding after a beautiful aria in an opera. This seems most contradictory as an opera is even more a continual dramatic thread and suspension of reality that is broken with applause.

One of the most negative reasons newcomers state why they don't attend classical concerts is the intimidating and sterile environment they find there. The last thing they want to hear is how they are to express their enjoyment of the music. For Orchestra Nova, we're also breaking the rules on how we are "supposed" to express joy on stage. We strive for real emotion, so we hope to get the same from our audiences.

It's clear orchestras around the country are struggling to gain relevance for an increasingly non-Euro centric and uninitiated culture. Nova been successful in bringing in a broader demographic, and our regular audiences seem to be very understanding that the spontaneous applause is perhaps a good thing overall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We're going to need more shelves...

The other day, Paige let me know that she and Ryan - the orchestra's librarian - had secured a huge donation of music for our library. Orchestra Nova would be receiving 20 bankers’ boxes of music, from full symphonies and ballets to operas and a bunch of full scores. For any orchestra this is a fantastic gift and we were over the moon.
The only hitch is that we now needed some place to store all of these pieces and our storage room doesn't have enough room on our bookshelves (already bursting at capacity with our current library). We turned to our fantastic horn player John Lorge who, in addition to being an excellent musician, is also a carpenter. John gave us a quote on new shelves that was very friendly, but we still needed to come up with the money (we have a policy of not spending money on anything that isn't already budgeted).
A very generous volunteer and supporter said she would donate half the cost if we were able to come up with the rest. At our Board meeting on Monday evening, I raised this issue and how we needed some extra funds to pay for this project and quickly seven folks at the meeting (two staff members and five board members) each donated for the shelves.
This is the power of giving in any amount - you can effect real change, really fast. Eight generous folks donated towards our shelves, and so next year we will be able to choose pieces from our expanded library for our performances - saving us money and using this great resource. I'm always gladdened when a generous donor gives anything at all to the orchestra, because it will always be appreciated and ALWAYS be used.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

After about an hour of rummaging through a thesaurus on a wild goose chase for the perfect way to describe our orchestra and my experience here thus far, I realized there is only one way to put it; one of a kind. Playing classical music with several youth symphony orchestras led me to believe that I knew what an orchestra was. Boy was I wrong. No cummerbunds or bow ties here, folks!

I am now beginning my second season with Orchestra Nova, where I get to talk to audience members, help to promote the orchestra, sell tickets at each of our venues and a whole lot more. My responsibilities on and off of concert nights are varied, never dull, and always a learning experience. I consider myself very lucky to have a job I can honestly say that I love.

P.S. no picture necessary, I am on the bottom of the page with the vacuum.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Name that Tune

Imagine sitting on your couch watching a rerun of Apocalypse Now. All of a sudden you hear Ride of the Valkyries (remember "Kill the Wabbit"??). If you knew the name of the piece and that it was composed by Richard Wagner, then you're as smart as a fifth grader.

Music Memory, Orchestra Nova's listening-based music education program, continues to grow. Kids in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 are learning 16 pieces of classical music each year and it's EASY! Just this week, we signed up schools in La Mesa and National City - bringing our count to 25 schools and 27 awesome teachers throughout San Diego County.

All year, kids will be learning the music and getting ready for the May 20th County-wide competition. Yes, classical music is cool again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jung-Ho's First Nova Blog Entry

Welcome everyone to the debut or the Orchestra Nova blog! We're definitely breaking new ground for an orchestra conductor communicating with an audience and fans in such a direct and informal way. I would like to invite you to express your thoughts and ideas about our concert "experiences" and website, or feel free to ask questions about classical music in general or about the revolutionary vision for our wonderful orchestra. We are your orchestra; we are an orchestra of joy and imagination; we are Orchestra Nova San Diego.

Meanwhile, we're having a whale of a good time with our opening Mozart concerts along with our soloist Lindsay Deutsch. Let us know what you think!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So what do you play?

Whenever I am introduced to new people outside of the Orchestra Nova world and I tell them who I am and what I do, they invariably ask: "So what do you play?" - assuming that I am a member of the actual orchestra.
I am always flattered when folks ask me this - but alas, I am not one of our very talented musicians - rather, I am an administrator. I handle legal and financial issues for the orchestra as well as working with our incredible team in the office to produce the concerts, plan the seasons and raise the money to keep everything humming around here. It is a very challenging but rewarding gig and one that I enjoy very, very much. It is exciting to go to one of our concerts and listen to the beautiful music and know that I was a part of helping get that on stage.

So, when folks ask me what I play, I say the check book.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Hello everyone of the Orchestra Nova community!

I am Chad and I am the current Marketing Intern for Orchestra Nova San Diego. I have had the fantastic opportunity to work with the Orchestra Nova team and especially the incredible Beverly Lambert.

I have learned a lot from working here and I have, hopefully, made a positive impact for the entire organization. I did manage to make this blog. I think that's an accomplishment. Likewise, I hope to hear from some of the other members of the Nova community.

With that. I am currently working on editing down a movie for Orchestra Nova and when it is finished I will post it on our blog and other websites!

Take care.

Chad - The Intern

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wow! After nine months of "behind-the-scenes" glimpses of scenarios with guests, staff, musicians and board members, setting up cameras for videotaping concerts, getting the lighting just right - all of the things that go into producing a documetary - we have given birth to our brand new documentary, "Orchestra Nova: Celebrations," produced by the truly professional (and fantastic!) UCSD-TV team, led by John Menier, Producer.

Part of our agreement with UCSD-TV was that we wouldn't have editorial rights - so we held our breath - set up all of the interviews, gave them access backstage during concerts, to staff meetings and to all of the "behind-the-scenes" activities that go into producing our "extraordinary experiences" - and hoped for the best!I invite you to decide if it was worth the effort.

Check it out. and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why a New Venue?

As a new blogger for Orchestra Nova, I wanted to start things off with a bang and discuss a very popular question these days: "Why a new venue?"

Moving to the Irwin Jacobs Qualcomm Concert Hall in Sorrento Valley is very exciting and momentous for many reasons.

This is one of most perfect concert halls in the world. If we were to custom design a home for us, we couldn't ask for a more sophisticated and exquisite setting. It was acoustically designed for an ensemble exactly like ours, and it is also one of the most comfortable venues for both the artist and audience.

I remember getting calls from some of our musicians who performed in the hall during its first year, and their reviews were ecstatic. Our expectation is that this high-tech and state-of-the-art facility will become integral to our image as a cutting-edge and hip orchestra for the next generation. You have to see (and hear) it to believe it. All of this, and parking is free!

We're so curious about what you think about this move and about the hall – but you may want to experience Nova in its inaugural season there first. Our first concert is Saturday, September 11. Let us hear from you!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Double Duty for Stella

A most valuable employee – Stella Karl – our administrative assistant takes a turn with the vacuum cleaner.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Season Planning

Planning the 2009-2010 season is well underway. As Artistic Administrator/Production Manager, my job at Orchestra Nova is to coordinate the many different components of the concert experience; from working with the librarian to order the music, to working with our personnel manager to make sure the correct size orchestra is hired, to working with the executive director to create realistic and manageable budgets, and finally to working with Jung-Ho Pak to create exciting production components for each concert, each experience.

So far, we have secured all of the venues for the season and the music is being ordered. Also, the musician contracts have been sent out, as well as those for our many guest artists. The other day I was asked to write an article about four of our players who are celebrating their 20 year anniversaries. There is still much planning that needs to happen and each day brings with it a fresh to-do list and the opportunity to make this upcoming season even better than the previous one.

I love being a production manager. I have an "all-access pass" which allows me to be intimately involved in the creative process from attending rehearsals to working closely with our talented musicians. There is nothing more exciting than the buzz that goes on backstage just before the concert begins and the lights go down and I send Jung-Ho out to begin an evening of magic.

Monday, July 20, 2009



A major focus for Orchestra Nova this season is CONNECTION. A connection between friends, fans, guests, musicians, Maestro Pak, our staff and anyone else interested in becoming part of our network.

This blog is just one of the many ways we’re hoping we can maximize that connection with you. We invite you to join us regularly and to become an active participant through your comments.

You will be reading blogs on a regular basis from me and other staff members as well as from Maestro Jung-Ho Pak and our musicians – some behind-the-scenes information that you won’t hear about from any other source or will hear about first here. So check us out regularly – and let us hear from you.

Our iNOVA Connection is up and running!