Friday, December 10, 2010

Handel's Messiah - Orchestra Nova Honors the Masterpiece

Ah, Messiah! The emotions it elicits are so varied and so wonderful. I grew up in a small town in Kansas and never heard it performed live until I was a part of a performance as a soprano in college. I remember the joy of singing “And the glory….” and the chills I felt as everyone stood when we sang “Hallelujah.” At the time, I didn’t realize that it had become a tradition for everyone to stand with the first note of “Hallelujah” because that’s what the King of England did the first time he heard it performed.

Orchestra Nova’s annual performance, with the fantastic Bach Collegium chorus, is truly one of the most memorable and wonderful experiences I’ve had with Messiah. I remember a very poignant moment during our performance at St. James by-the-Sea church in La Jolla last year. I had moved up to toward the front on an aisle to ask someone with a video camera to stop recording the performance because it was very disruptive to their neighbors and we have a strict policy against cameras because of our agreement with the musicians.

As everyone stood for “Hallelujah,” I saw a man, probably in his 50s, put his arm around the woman beside him and pull her close. She laid her head on his shoulders and tears rolled down both their faces as the chorus was sung. And right behind them was a family with two children, the parents with their arms around the children, all beaming with big wide smiles.

I thought – “this is what music is all about, especially this great music by Handel – it’s all about bringing beauty and joy into the lives of everyone.” This has been Jung-Ho Pak’s message from the very beginning: we’re here to bring beauty and joy into the lives of people from every walk of life.

This weekend’s three performances of Handel’s Messiah are guaranteed to do just that. I can’t wait!!

Beverly Lambert
Marketing Director and Interim Executive Director

Buy Tickets and See Performance Dates Here:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hip Hop Isn't Too Cool for Classical

It all started when I decided to have flowers delivered to our fantastic graphic designer, Jennifer, for her birthday. I Googled for a nearby flower shop, checked out their web site and gave them a call. A very pleasant voice answered the phone and I placed my order and gave her the message I wanted on the card. I told her I wanted it signed, “Beverly and Jung-Ho.”

There was a pause, then, “Do you, by any chance, mean Jung-Ho Pak?” Surprised, I replied, “Yes, do you know him?” She responded that she and her son (who was playing for the San Diego Youth Symphony at the time) had attended concerts when Jung-Ho was the San Diego Symphony conductor and they absolutely loved going to his concerts.

It so happened that we had a concert that night at Qualcomm Hall, so I invited her and a friend to come as our guests. She enthusiastically accepted and brought her 12-year-old “hip-hop loving” daughter (who certainly didn’t think she liked classical music!) to the concert.

After the concert, we bumped into each other and she and her daughter were beaming. She gushed, “You are responsible for the smile on my daughter’s face. She loved the concert.” And that brought a big smile to my face! I’m hoping to see them both enjoying another “Nova experience” very soon!

Beverly Lambert
Interim Executive Director

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nova Performs with Paul Dateh's "Top 40 Mashup"

Three violinists from Orchestra Nova accompanied hip-hop violinist Paul Dateh on his “Top 40 Mashup” video in front of an enthusiastic audience of over 600 attendees at the San Diego Asian Film Festival Gala Awards Dinner last weekend. Playing from original orchestrations created just for this event, Artistic Director Jung-Ho Pak conducted the piece from his Mac laptop under blue stage lights and the glow of two large video screens.

More great videos from Paul Dateh:

Check back on the San Diego Asian Film Festival website for more information on next year's events.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

4ARTS Makes Date Night Affordable

Yesterday we met with representatives from all of our 4ARTS partners to discuss our exciting new collaboration – four local arts organizations, from four different genres of art. The four partners are Orchestra Nova, Cygnet Theater, Malashock Dance and the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA). The idea was conceived during a weekly Orchestra Nova staff meeting and, soon after, the other three groups came on board. We feel truly privileged to be joining forces with each of these organizations, all of whom are enriching San Diego culture with their unique presentations of art.

Currently, subscribers of any one of the 4ARTS partners, such as our Club Nova members (subscribers and donors of $100+), are allowed 2-for-1 admission to any of the other partners’ regular season concert, performance or museum exhibit. If you subscribe to one of us, you get benefits from all of us. It’s a community of art-love.

If yesterday’s meeting is any indication of what is to come, you will be seeing some amazing things from the four of us in the future. There’s a whole lot of creativity happening here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nova's Very Best? You be the judge.

Getting criticized by a critic is, well, par for the course when you're in the business of entertaining. There's a reason many artists, especially actors, don't read reviews of their performances - can't let that fluff get you down. But occasionally, when a review is just plain unfair, it warrants a response. After all, if a critic gets to put their opinion out there, then so should we.

But first, here's an article printed on singing the praises of Orchestra Nova's season opener on Friday night, Mozart's Very Best:

The original title of the Union Tribune (U-T) article written by newly-minted critic James Chute on Friday night titled "Entering The Nova World Proves A Painful Experience" was published not once, but twice, in both the Saturday and Sunday editions of the U-T!  At least they toned it down for the online version on to "Are You (Orchestra Nova) Experienced?"

Another oddity is that the U-T has pulled a recent article with a positive tone - an interview with Jung-Ho written by Mr. Chute and published in the Night & Day section last Thursday.  As of Saturday, it no longer exists online [Note: they put this article back up on Friday, October 22].

We chose to respond by sending a letter to the editor at the Union Tribune - we'll find out soon enough if they have the guts to publish it. All's fair in love and war...and, truly, no hard feelings toward Chute, but we just want to let the world know that we are so much more than meets the critic's eye.

Our letter to the Union Tribune:

We have had an outpouring of support from our fans in the last week and we deeply appreciate all your kind words.  Many of you said you also planned to write a letter to the editor and we would love it if you sent your letters to us as well (we won't publish anything without your consent):

How was your experience at Mozart's Very Best?  Please write your comments, suggestions and criticisms in the space provided below - we want to hear from you all!


The Orchestra Nova Team

Monday, July 26, 2010

Take 5 for Music

Imagine 60,000 young people listening to classical music each day.

With the philosophy of "Every Child, Every Life" our goal is to bring classical music to every student in San Diego. Last year nearly 6,000 students in grades 3-6 participated in Music Memory: a fun, interactive curriculum that focuses on 16 pieces of music each year and concludes with a county-wide Music Bee. But with nearly 60,000 elementary students enrolled in the San Diego Unified School District, we have a lot of work to do!

"Take 5 for Music" is in the beta stage right now, having tested the program on 20 elementary schools this past spring. Take 5 provides five minutes of daily listening to great classical music masterpieces. You don't need to know how to play the clarinet to participate, students just need a good set of ears and a quiet listening environment. The music does all the rest.

Classrooms filled with Bach and Mozart each day? What a wonderful thing that would be.

Paige Satter
Artistic Administrator & Education/Outreach Coordinator

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Notes from Interlochen

I'm typing from a bucolic setting by the lake next to my cabin at Interlochen where I'm Director of Orchestras during the summer. After two weeks of young audiences screaming and cheering for Ives, Mozart and Respighi, it gives me pause to think, "if it can happen here, can it work in the commercial/professional world?" Of course, my belief is that it can.

The great thing about youth is that they don't have expectations. If you can present an experience that reflects the energy and imagination that they expect, they'll embrace just about anything...including classical music.

I think Nova is heading boldly in the right direction. It's a course that dares to accomplish the impossible. We actually believe that the general public can become excited over beautiful art if it's presented in a way that is as fresh and imaginative as anything they can find in the world of leisure and entertainment. Usually these two worlds seem at odds, but Mozart (and Verdi and others) understood how to blend these seemingly disparate tastes. We're just doing this for our own own generation!

Jung-Ho Pak
Artistic director and conductor

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Vacation for Orchestra Nova! Not!!

The season has ended. So, you haven't heard much from Orchestra Nova for a month or so. No concerts in the summer - the staff must be enjoying life at the beach. Right? Wrong!!

Jung-Ho's been to South Korea for a conducting stint and he's spending the remainder of the summer at the world-renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan where he leads all orchestral activities. But I can attest to the fact that he's spending lots of creative thinking time about how we can make Orchestra Nova's next season the best ever - the e-mails and phone calls are flying across the miles!

Marketing is in full swing - the Inspire magazine, market research, new programs, etc. etc. - but what I want to mention today are the 520 completed surveys that our May concert guests returned to us. We were thrilled with the response rate of returns and with the high overall rating for "the Orchestra Nova experience" (4.5 average on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest). However, what we were most interested in were the fantastic suggestions we received for making it even better. We are holding weekly staff meetings to develop and implement actions plans to address issues and suggestions in the feedback. WE DO CARE!

We are planning to conduct focus groups in September to continue our market research - our first focus group will be with Young Professionals. If you're interested in participating, send me an e-mail at:

Stay tuned - you'll be hearing from other staff members about their activities.

And, I'll be sharing some stories with you as we go along too!
Check out our web site:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Producing Unique Performances in Unique Spaces

I have been asked to teach a class today at San Diego State on "Event Planning in Non-Traditional Spaces," a topic I have lectured on for several years now. Unlike a large symphony or theater company, Orchestra Nova does not have a "home." Instead, we are fortunate enough to have several: from low-tech churches to state-of-the-art concert halls.

For a production manager, presenting in different venues has its own set of opportunities and challenges. For example, at Qualcomm Hall I am fortunate enough to work with a professional stage crew of ten, operating the lighting, sound, video, and stage moves. We are able to use Jung-Ho's computer backstage and run a full video display during the concerts. There are plenty of dressing rooms, well-stocked refrigerators, and a backstage paging system. Oh yeah, and a 9-foot Steinway on site if we should need one. In contrast, when we perform at St. Paul's Cathedral, the lights are controlled by a breaker box in the hallway, several columns make it difficult to view video, and the musicians need to line up outside before they take the stage as space is limited. We also have to use music stand lights and a special light below Jung-Ho's podium so that the musicians can see his hands. The stage manager and I do the stage set up, any stage moves, and put the church back together at the end of the night.

We have gotten to know each venue intimately and we know what can be done in each space. I would urge our guests to try out the different venue...each experience is completely unique.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The more you know...

I don't know about the for-profit world, but in the not-for-profit world there are lots and lots of opportunities for improving your knowledge and skills. In the sector there is a great deal of on-the-job training, but outside learning is always encouraged and appreciated. There are many aspects of working in the not-for-profit world that we don't know coming in - these are skills and talents that must be honed and improved over time and if you can take a class in it, all the better!
Right now I am taking a course through the Fieldstone Foundation - a great foundation in Southern California and Utah. The course series is called the Executive Learning Group and has a cadre of wonderful NPO leaders from around San Diego involved. Our sessions are lead by Tom Hall, former Executive Director of the Old Globe and a very talented administrator/consultant.
Some other opportunities for learning that I am pursuing are through the San Diego Foundation - at the end of March I hope to take a course through the Foundation on Corporate Partnerships and in April begin a six-month course in Development. I am so excited about the possibilities of continued learning so that I can better serve Orchestra Nova and our family of supporters.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Post-Bach Reflection

We plan our seasons a year in advance, so as we were creating an all-Bach program, I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I did. Last night we performed the final concert at Sherwood Auditorium and the musicians played wonderfully. Even with the challenge of holding their bows in a Baroque style (slightly higher up on the bow than usual), the sound that came off that stage was what makes Orchestra Nova who we are. The concert highlighted our own players, instead of bringing in guest artists, and as I watched from backstage, I was overwhelmed with pride for this organization and for the musicians that perform under the Orchestra Nova name. And I'm reminded that during this time of cash shortages and uncertainties, that the arts most definitely have a place in people's lives, hearts, and simply define who we are. And because of that, we plan for next season.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The end of the world (as we know it)

It's a scary, yet quite telling time for orchestras these days. Last week, the New York Philharmonic posted its largest recorded deficit in its 168 year history. That's saying quite a bit, especially in the wake of the appointment of its young new music director, Alan Gilbert. In the same week, the Cleveland Orchestra's musicians made the unprecedented move of handing out leaflets to its audience prior to a concert in order to make a statement amidst contract negotiations. This, from one of the greatest and highly paid orchestras in the country.

What is happening? Essentially, our profession is struggling to catch up with the catastrophic economy and rapidly changing societal tastes with a dinosaur of an organizational paradigm. Despite unrivaled quality, audiences, donors and sponsors are either pulling back their focus on the arts and entertainment, and we are witnessing a possible cyclical or permanent cultural ice age for certain art forms. In some ways, it doesn't really matter which, for many arts institutions are increasingly being forced into oblivion on a daily basis all over the world. What is needed is a general revolution of presenting classical music in a way that the American public can embrace broadly; a new approach that accepts the arts as a business (at least in part) and the viewer as a consumer with limited time and resources, and then begin to ask the difficult question of whether we are truly in touch with the public we are supposedly serving in the first place.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why do you work in the arts?!?

I get that question when I talk to some of my friends from high school or college - why do you work in the arts? Why work in a nonprofit - especially now?

I think the answer is simple and universal to every member of our dedicated team: we work in the arts and in the nonprofit world because we love it. To be a part of the creative process, to contribute to something larger than yourself and to be a part of a cultural tradition that spans millennia - that is pretty cool.

It takes dedication to work in a world like this, especially at a time like this. We are lucky at Orchestra Nova to have a very dedicated staff team - people who genuinely believe in the art that we help create and who love serving the audiences who come. I know that sounds cliché, but talk to any of us and you’ll soon discover a passion that doesn’t exist in many other organizations.

So yeah, that is why I work in the arts, and that’s why I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work at Orchestra Nova.