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Category Archives: Development
For instance, musicians generally just want to play concerts. Sounds simple, but in actual fact it’s quite multi-faceted. We prefer to play pieces that challenge and engage us, constantly striving to create a deeper understanding of the art form. Simultaneously we demand a full house, plenty of concerts, a good salary and all of the backstage amenities required to perform at our peak. On the surface, all of these things are reasonable.
Those most affected by repertoire choices (after the audience of course) are the marketing and development folks. How do they inspire people to donate to our cause? How do they sell our “product”? We, the artists, tend to have a slight allergy to this second question, as our art form is reduced to a word that could just as easily describe a screw driver, or dish-washing liquid! However, the honest truth is that from their perspective we are a product and an experience. Some of our products/experiences are more sellable than others. A balance has to be struck to keep people coming through the doors.
Thirdly, we have finance. I am in awe of people who understand liabilities, assets, and deferred income. It’s impressive. Because they are so close to where the rubber meets the road, they are keenly aware when applying the brakes is needed to stop a head on collision with debt or worse, a complete financial meltdown. Their lens sees everything from the vantage point of the “bottom line.” Many an artist has been undone by the dreaded bottom line!
Each of these areas is represented on the administrative staff by paid professionals. Simultaneously, a group of dedicated volunteers choose to be on the board of directors because of their love of the art form, and their particular expertise in any of the above listed areas. These volunteers take time out of their busy lives once or twice a month, or more, to oversee the workings of the organization and make sure that everyone is on their game. While usually not active in the work itself (this is how it’s “supposed” to be, anyway), they are ultimately responsible to the patrons and creditors of the organization. Each person has something to lose, and faces that challenge in a different way.
In the middle of all of these factions is the music director. We strive each day to complete the picture of all these moving parts, prioritize them, and ultimately make decisions or recommendations as to the best direction forward. We are constantly juggling of all of those widgets to make the whole. This balancing act can be fraught with peril. Creating an imbalance in one direction or the other can topple the entire organization. Get the balance right and everyone leaves happy and the organization succeeds. The margin of error from success to failure is surprisingly thin and fragile, yet for the sake of music we constantly teeter. We constantly seek out the broadest view possible from which a decision can be made to achieve our goals. It is messy and oddly invigorating. When it succeeds it is amazing, and when it fails it is exhausting. No matter what the outcome, the same truth becomes evident. Step one is to understand how our widget fits into the whole. When we start there, we then open the door to a clarity that allows us to succeed and thrive. I wouldn’t trade my position for anything, as I reach towards an understanding of the broader picture and engage in one of the most wonderful arts forms ever created – music!
From Robert Franz’s blog Building Bridges with Music. CLICK HERE to read more of his posts.
Watch this video for all of the incredible performances to come in the 13-14 Centennial Season!
Make your gift of any amount online today to be counted amongst the 5,000 donors helping the Houston Symphony receive this second $1 million grant from Houston Endowment. Visit http://www.houstonsymphony.org/annualfund
Why is music relevant? For the past couple of weeks, we have been putting together the components for our new in-hall campaign called A Million Reasons to Give, and this question is really at the heart of everything. The question is easy for me. I don’t have a biased opinion just because I work for the Symphony. My life and who I am is a result of strong musical influence in my life.
My musical journey began in Tiny Tots choir at my church years ago. I won’t bore you with the details here, but I can tell you during my time in that choir, I was more concerned with the pretty white bows in my hair and making sure my white gloves didn’t get dirty. Reflecting on that experience now, I distinctly remember singing in the choir opened the door for the opportunity to visit new places in the greater Houston area and experience things that I otherwise would not have experienced.
My realization of my love for music actually happened in the sixth grade and particularly the eighth grade at Lanier Middle School. I had the privilege to study under two choir teachers whose passion for music and children radiated from their personality. They made music so much fun and extremely intellectual. They challenged our impressionable minds by learning difficult music, and encouraged us to be disciplined and serious singers. I loved every minute of it!
I am sure that if we all sit and think about it, music is an influence on each of our lives. There is a reason that we choose to visit the Symphony 6, 9, 18 or more times a year. There is a reason why we have listened to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or Carmina Burana a billion times in our lifetime, and each time we listen to it, the chills are still there. Music is a part of us. The experience of watching live music—50 plus violins going to town on their instrument— is so thrilling.
For some of you who don’t know, the Houston Endowment has issued the Houston Symphony a challenge. The Houston Endowment has challenged the Symphony to increase our annual fund contributions to $8 million and our donor base to 4,000 by May 31. If so, the Endowment will give us $1 million.
Hence, we created A Million Reasons to Give. We would love the $1 million from the Houston Endowment so that we can continue to be an impact in the community and ultimately make you proud to be a part of the Symphony family.
This should definitely be a carefully thought out decision for you. As you consider giving to the symphony, think of some of the many reasons how the Symphony has impacted you and this community. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- #238: Scores of Community Connection concerts bring free performances to 22,000 people throughout the city each year
- # 623: The Instrument Petting Zoo gives more than 3,000 youngsters their first touch of an instrument…and it’s fun!
- #73,340: Our music education activities help bridge the budget-driven gap in school art programs
- #333,920: Our music stirs the soul
We want you to be inspired and have fun in your giving too. To encourage the spirit of giving, we have set up some meet-and-greets post concert during select performances throughout the remainder of the season. All you have to do is donate $25, and we’ll invite you to stick around after the concert to get to know us a little better. If you decide that you want to give online before you attend the performance one of those weekends, you can still join in on the fun. Just print your receipt and bring it with you when you come to the show.
I have given to the annual fund, I hope you will too – thanks a million!
Houston Symphony Magazine spoke with Stephen and Mariglyn Glenn, musician sponsors, in December 2010. This conversation is reprinted from the January 2011 issue.
Birthplace: Stephen – Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Mariglyn – Coleman, Texas
Education: Stephen–Texas Tech, BS, engineering physics; Rice University, MS, space physics. Mariglyn – Texas Tech, BS, education (we met in chemistry lab)
Joined the Houston Symphony: We began attending in 1966, but took time out to raise kids. We returned in 1995.
Earliest musical memory: Stephen – Denver Symphony on a fifth-grade field trip; Mariglyn – Roy Orbison singing at a Wink, Texas, school assembly
All in the family: Our sons were pretty good high school musicians. One was an all-state French hornist for two years, and another studied percussion at the University of Michigan.
Current listening: the Houston Symphony’s Christmas CD
Looking forward to in the 2010-2011 Season: Classical, Pops, specials – we love them all! We are especially looking forward to Aralee Dorough playing a Mozart Flute Concerto in April.
Favorite part of the Symphony experience: We love the great Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann and Mahler symphonies.
Pastime and good company: We both enjoy attending high school football games. Stephen enjoys running and computers. Mariglyn enjoys cooking, spending time with grandkids, aerobics and yoga.
Meeting your musician: We met our musician through a Symphony staff member during the intermission of a Very Merry Pops performance. It has been great getting to know Christian and we have found that we have many things in common. It turns out that Christian was good friends with the musician we previously sponsored who left the symphony a few years ago. All the musicians are very special people, and we have special memories of them.
All for a reason: The Houston Symphony enriches our lives and broadens our horizons. We wanted to become more involved with the Symphony, but we had no idea it would be so rewarding when we became patrons!
Pass it on: We would definitely encourage others to become musician sponsors! Meeting the musicians and attending special events is priceless. It’s the best investment we’ve ever made. Also, it gives us a person to “root” for when the Symphony performs.