Monday, October 19, 2009

philly's fearless new leader

For this week, I want to comment on an article forwarded to me from my Mother. It is about the new President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Having spent ages 15-19 in Philly, I have a special place in my heart and in my memory for the philly orch. As a high school violinist, I studied with members of the orchestra, and thus revered the ensemble at a level beyond words. I attended concerts weekly and loved the thrill of smiling to my teacher from the audience. I also interned with the main music critique for the Philly Inquirer my senior year of high school, and thus I learned how to listen with a more critical ear, in addition to the perspective of an aspiring musician. Because of this past "relationship" with the orchestra, I am always curious about their latest news and successes. This article was especially intriguing as it discusses their new CEO in a time when they are facing financial crises, and their new leader is a woman.

Allison B. Vulgamore, their new leader, was most recently the president for the past 19 years at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She joins the Philly team at time when their financial situation is to stressed, it has been near bankruptcy, as according to the article. This is devastating news for thousands of fans, as the orchestra is an establishment long respected and attended by dedication listeners. Thus, the pressure on the incoming CEO must be outrageous, but the faith in Vulgamore is evident, as she has impressive past successes and credentials. 

In addition to her management skills, it's clear she also has a deep passion for the power of music. On a first quick read through of this article, I failed to grasp that last point, and instead wrote her off slightly as a too power-hungry business woman. But this time through reading, I caught some other intriguing tidbits about her life. For instance, she "took a sabbatical for six months and volunteered in Morocco teaching music in a boys' prison for two months with no instruments and no language, and reconnected with myself about the power of music and engagement. And I came back to Atlanta ready to shore up what I knew was its next chapter, and we've done that."

In my mind, that gives her much more credit for her dedication to music and why she even cares to help get the philly orch back on its feet = to insure a healthy future of music for the next generation of musicians and music-lovers, and to preserve a crucial institution in our culture. I'm excited to see where Vulgamore will take the orchestra in their next chapter. 


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