Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Style Warriors

It's a source of both frustration and amusement that there are still lots of people around determined to fight the musical style wars of forty or fifty years ago. It's not much of a surprise that you run into such people on Twitter, but it's surprising when I find music-world pros still trying to fight this fight. We saw a prominent example a couple of years ago in San Francisco, when, for reasons that are beyond me, both David Gockley and Nicola Luisotti complained very publicly about that awful dissonant music. I dunno, maybe it was cover for the attempt to persuade us that Marco Tutino's La Ciociara was a really good opera that deserved a place in the repertory. Then there was a program note at SFS; why didn't I ever mail that letter I wrote?

But when I see someone posting the following on Twitter, well, I need a more complete response than "No. Full explanation too long to tweet":

Here's a more complete explanation, which I plan to haul out at every opportunity.

First of all, the tweet assumes that there is no audience for the music of Schoenberg, his students Berg and Webern, and subsequent composers who wrote using atonal or serial techniques. This is simply false. The audience for such music is smaller than the audience for Beethoven, Tchaikowsky, and Puccini, but so? So's the audience for the music of Guillaume de Machaut.

Second, no, it wasn't a dead end. No particular compositional technique can lead to a musical dead end. There's a large repertory of extremely varied music that's atonal or uses serial techniques. There are composers, not all of them old, who are working in such styles and their descendants today.

Third, there are implicit assumptions in this tweet that all Western art music post-Schoenberg was written in an atonal style or using serial technique, and that this state continued until the present day. No, no, no, no, no. NO. Let me name a bunch of composers who were contemporaries of Schoenberg's or younger than he was who (mostly) did not write in the alleged dead-end styles. Why, I'm going to take the list down to the present, even.

Vaughan Williams, Holst, Britten, Bax, Bridge, R. Strauss, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Copland, Martinu, Kaprálová, I. Fine, Shapero, Bartok, Kodaly, Orff, Schmidt, Zemlinsky, Schreker, Messiaen, Barber, Villa-Lobos, Korngold, Ives, Puccini, Ravel, de Falla, Ruggles, Nancarrow, Cage, Sibelius, Nielsen, Bloch, Leifs, Sallinen, Grainger, Varese, Ibert, Ravel, Honegger, Milhaud, Sorabji, Moore, Ornstein, Piston, Hanson, Hindemith, Thomson, Thompson, Gershwin, Haas, Poulenc, Durufle, Walton, Hartmann, Rautavaara, Pärt, Talma, Saariaho, Salonen, Lindberg, Holmboe, Aaho, Menotti, Hovhaness, Takemitsu, Hermann, Lutoslawski, A. Panufnik, Gal, Diamond, Glass, Reich, Dutilleux, Ginastera, JL Adams, JC Adams, Harrison, Cowell, Partch, Bernstein, Weinberg, Arnold, Simpson, J. Anderson, Higdon, Adamo, Corigliano, Harbison, Feldman, Hyla, Hoiby, Kurtag, Ligeti, Thorvaldsdottir, Davies, Kancheli, Gubaidulina, Susa, Young, Riley, Silver, Lieberson, Del Tredici, Wilson, Bolcom, Rzewski, Crumb, Benjamin, Zwillich, A.R. Thomas, M.T. Thomas, Chin, Adès, Shaw, Wolf...and on and on and on. Yeah, I snuck a few older 20th c. composers in there.

And while you're at it, take a look at who gets played. I've heard almost no Schoenberg and Webern in the concert hall, rather more Berg, at least at orchestra concerts and, of course, at the opera.

So, tell me again about the dead end Schoenberg led Western art music into, because it's amazing how many good and great composers found and continue to find ways through or around this alleged dead end.

Domingo at Bayreuth?

So it's been reported that next year, Plácido Domingo will conduct Die Walküre at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival, the holy of holies for Wagner devotees.

All I can say is, why? Are they having that much trouble selling tickets to the famously (not necessarily correctly) hard-to-get-into Festival? Has anyone from the Festival heard him conduct?

He is a terrible conductor! I mean, he is minimally competent; knows how to keep time, knows how to cue an entry, knows the operas (I presume). However, if you listen to the musical line and details, well...he is a terrible judge of tempo and structure. I watched a good chunk of his Operalia contest one year, with him conducting, and it was just embarrassing. He got to be front and center and get as much attention as those young singers, while they had to deal with a celebrity conductor with, at best, mediocre skills. I felt very, very sorry for them; they deserved to be working with excellent conductors, not a tenor who picked up conducting to extend his career as far as possible.

When I was at Bayreuth two years ago, I heard a significant range of conductors, from the puzzling Kirill Petrenko to the excellent Alain Altinoglu and Axel Kober to the incandescent genius of Christian Thielemann. You would think that Bayreuth has its choice of good to great conductors, so you have to wonder WTF is going on here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mailing List Segmentation

Major mailing list management programs, such as Constant Contact and MailChip, offer users a list segmentation function. You use this to divide your list members into sub-lists. For example, I might want to send a particular email exclusively to women who've taken one of my self-defense classes, or to those who've taken my safe rolling & falling class.

Large organizations don't always take advantage of this to the extent possible. I get a lot of email from San Francisco Symphony, and some of it - weekly reminders about which concert will be on this week - I don't necessarily need to see. I checked with them recently, and they do have plans to segment their list more than it's currently segmented.

This morning, I've got email from San Francisco Opera encouraging me to subscribe to the summer, 2018 production of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Evidently, they're also a little behind at mailing list segmentation: I applied for Ring tickets in January, and I already have the confirmation of where I'm sitting.

It's admittedly more difficult for an organization with thousands of addresses on its mailing list to segment that list than it is for me: I have around 125 people on my list. Still, it's possible to run a script comparing existing Ring ticket purchasers with the full SFO mailing list. Tessitura might even have such a function built in, for all I know. Heck, it's possible to do this by dumping the information into a spreadsheet, and it can't even be that difficult to write a little macro to create a non-Ring mailing list to get this stuff.

I note that I'm not particularly bothered by the extra email suggesting I subscribe. Some sections, for some of the cycles, are selling out fast, I've heard from people who bought tickets this week. So anyone who is thinking of going really should get going on their tickets, before the Ringheads snap them all up.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Steve Jobs, the Man, and Steve Jobs, the Opera

There's been some discussion about The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, the opera, on Twitter over the last couple of days, and about larger issues raised by the work. I was involved in the Twitter exchanges, and so were a bunch of folks I know.

I have to start this blog post with what would be disclaimers in a paid review, but they're not really that in a blog post. First, I work for one of Apple's competitors, Google. Second, I do not in any way speak for Google. Third, I've been a technical writer for 21 years, and anybody who works in high tech has opinions about both Apple and Steve. When I was looking around for a paid review of this piece, I gave some thought to whether these were disqualifying, without exactly reaching any conclusions. Let's just say, for now, that I'm semi-well-informed about Jobs and Apple. I have not seen the competing films about him that came out a while back, one of which was partially filmed at the War Memorial Opera House. I have not read Walter Isaacson's giant biography, which was written with at least some cooperation from Jobs.

I have heard several of Mason Bates's pieces live, going back to "Rusty Air in Carolina" at Cabrillo more than ten years ago. He's a good composer, although I find it odd that with all the publicity about ELECTRONICA in his music, usually you can barely hear the electronic contributions in the wash of his orchestration. I do not have quite as high an opinion of him as some critics do, and I scratched my head over the Beethoven & Bates pairing at San Francisco Symphony a few years ago.

So, about Jobs. He was not the greatest innovator of all time. Many or most of Apple's major technologies were invented elsewhere. Douglas Engelbart invented the mouse. Xerox PARC invented the graphical user interface. Sony invented the portable music player. Blackberry and Palm invented the smartphone, although I own that you could see the smartphone as an extension of the Newton, Apple's early, failed attempt at a PDA. I also note that Andy Rubin founded Android in 2003, four years before Apple released the iPhone.

Jobs was a brilliant marketer and a genius at recognizing and promoting great design, at least after a certain point. Those early Macs were pretty damn ugly, and the GUI was primitive compared to what you see now on just about any personal computer. By always charging premium prices and never licensing their operating system, Apple missed a chance in the 80s to make major inroads into corporate American, instead remaining the expensive boutique computer. But over time, Jobs began to demand, and get, extraordinary design for Apple products. Even the original iPod is rather a miracle of compact design, and the whole lineup of them got prettier and prettier. The current Mac laptops all look and feel great, and so does the iMac I'm writing this on.

One result of this is an extremely loyal fan base, people who will line up for the latest phone or computer coming out of Cupertino. I don't, personally, understand the near-cult around Apple products, but then, I am a value buyer who doesn't want to pay top dollar for products such as cars or computers. That's why I'm driving a 2000 Accord, the fanciest car I've ever wanted. Hey, it will probably run for another five years! That's why I kept my last Windows computer, a Dell, going for nine years. I did replace it with an iMac, but that was for two reasons: by then, I'd switched to a Mac at work, and OS X looked and felt more like Windows XP than then-current versions of Windows did.

Sorry, I know that this probably sounds like a huge insult to a lot of Apple users invested in telling me how the Mac is soooo much more intuitive than Windows. As someone who used both for several years, all I can says is, no, it is not. And I can ask, when did YOU last use a Windows machine? The two OSs have been functionally equivalent for a very long time. It takes a few days to learn keystroke differences, and some time to get used to working with the bells and whistles, but the fact is that I've never used all the bells and whistles on either a Windows machine or a Mac.

Let's say a bit about Steve Jobs, the man. From all reports, he was something of an asshole! The stories are legion! His treatment of his oldest daughter and her mother; his treatment of many Apple employees; the ways that Apple's extremely secretive internal culture reflected his personality and drive. There are plenty of articles about this and of course the bio.

So the thought of an opera about Steve Jobs automatically makes me a look a little side-eyed at the idea. The cast list didn't help: there are two women in it, his wife Laurene Powell Jobs and Chrisann Brennan, his daughter Lisa's mother. There's also Kobun Chino Otogawa, the Zen monk who married Laurene and Steve Jobs.

It is very hard to look at this cast list and not wonder, or worry, if we're going to get an opera about an asshole saved by the love of a good woman and the counsel of a good (Asian) religious figure. (For the Asian religious figure, let's just that my worry is that the opera might be getting into "magic Negro" territory, which would be bad.) We have seen this story before, or some version of it, in an awful lot of media: films, novels, plays, and I think a few operas too. In this case, it would be a rich, white-presenting asshole being saved by the love, etc. Contra Matthew Shilvock's statement - and yes, I know that as general director of SF Opera he has to say this stuff - this sure doesn't look like an opera for or about everybody. It looks like an opera for Apple / Jobs fans.

I have not, of course, seen the libretto. I don't know whether, or how it will address the influence of Jobs's personality on Apple or his poor treatment of many people in his life and at Apple. I am not a big fan of redemption stories, if that's what this turns out to be.

But my concerns here go way beyond "telling composers what operas to write," because Steve Jobs isn't a fictional character invented for this opera (although, I admit, Richard Nixon in you-know-what is at least partly a fictional character invented for the opera). His actions and life had real impact on the world and the people around him, from family members to employees of Apple. It's reasonable to be concerned or wonder about how the opera is going to address all this stuff.

And I think it's okay to make the general statement that it would really good, and good for opera, if composers created more operas about women who aren't either victims or saviors, more operas with people of color in general, broader concerns; if there were more operas written by women and people of color. If you need only one example of why, compare and contrast the treatment of rape in Marco Tutino's La Ciociara and in Kaija Saariaho's Adriana Mater.

See also:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Want to be on the War Memorial Stage?

SF Opera is holding supernumerary auditions. They are on a Monday night when I am already committed or I'd consider auditioning for Elektra. Guess I will have to see it from the audience side.

Here's the supernumerary rehearsal & performance schedule for the fall.


No experience required – for information or to reserve an audition slot, email: supers@sfopera.com

SAN FRANCISCO (July 14, 2017) — Have you ever dreamed of being on the War Memorial Opera House stage? San Francisco Opera is looking for adult supernumeraries (extras) to appear in the Company’s upcoming Fall 2017 Season. An open audition will be held on Monday, July 31 beginning at 6 p.m. at the War Memorial Opera House. No previous experience is required and there is no fee to audition.

Supernumeraries, also known as supers, act as extras (in costume and make-up) on the stage in non-speaking, non-singing roles. Supers have the unparalleled opportunity to work alongside some of the most acclaimed artists in the world, and help bring San Francisco Opera’s dazzling, large-scale productions to life on the stage of the historic War Memorial Opera House. Supers are volunteers, however an honorarium is provided to those cast in productions. 

Supers will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform in one or more of San Francisco Opera’s fall season operas, including a visceral production of Richard Strauss’Elektra, Jules Massenet’s enchanting Manon, the highly anticipated world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West, and two repertory favorites, Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot and Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata.

WHAT:  Open audition for adults to appear as supernumeraries (extras) in San Francisco Opera’s 2017 Fall Season. Supers can be any age (adults only), shape or size. No previous experience required. These roles are non-speaking, non-singing and volunteer/unpaid (an honorarium is provided to those cast in a production).

WHEN:  Monday, July 31, 2017 beginning at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE:  War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94102

Interested parties should contact supers@sfopera.com to receive more information and reserve a spot for this exciting opportunity!

La Circe, from Ars Minerva

San Francisco-based opera company Ars Minerva continues its series of 17th c. Venetian operas with a production of Ziani's La Circe in September. Here are the details:

“La Circe” is inspired by the adventures of Circe, the goddess and magician of Greek mythology made famous in Homer’s Odyssey and in Ovid’s Metamorphosis. After Ulysses escapes Circe’s clutches, the outraged enchantress remains on her island with a number of unlucky captives who fall victim to her resentment and manipulations. Dreadful potions, transformations, dancing Graces, Furies and other colorful agents of evil – alongside carnival-esque comic scenes – bring drama featuring laments, rage arias and drinking tunes.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the opera will be semi-staged by Céline Ricci and presented on September 8 and 9 at the ODC Theater in San Francisco. It will feature eight singers, an acrobat and an orchestra led by Derek Tam.

Circe - Céline Ricci
Andromaca - Kindra Scharich
Scilla - Aurélie Veruni
Egle - Jasmine Johnson
Glauco - Kyle Stegall
Pirro - Billy Sauerland
Gligorio - Jonathan Smucker
Custode / Tissandro / Creonte - Igor Vieira
Acrobat - Katherine Hutchinson

Conductor / Harpsichord - Derek Tam
Cello - Gretchen Claassen
Theorbo - Adam Cockerham
Violin - Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo
Violin - Nathalie Carducci
Viola - Addi Liu

Production Team
Director - Céline Ricci
Light Designer - Michael Davis
Projections Design - Patricia Nardi
English Translation – Joe McClinton

The ODC Theater
3153 17th Street, San Francisco, California
When: 7:30 p.m. September 8 and 7:30 p.m. September 9
Tickets: $86, $56 or $25 for students

Hunter at Opera Theater Unlimited

Opera Theater Unlimited is the small opera company that put on a thrilling production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea last year. That production used street clothes, a few chairs, and maybe three additional props, with an orchestra of five. The beautiful singing, terrific playing, and alert direction gave this minimalist production huge impact in the tiny, 80-seat Exit Theater.

This year, the company is presenting a new opera, Hunter, by Joseph M. Colombo to a libretto by Caitlin Mullin. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get there, but you might be able!

Performances are July 14, 15, 21, and 22, all at 8 p.m. at the EXIT Theater, 156 Eddy St., SF. This is pretty close to Powell St. BART, so you need not try to find parking downtown. Tickets are $15, $25, or $35.

San Francisco Friday Photo

Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
October, 2016

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

More of the Same: SFS in 2017-18

[I obviously started this back in March and never finished it. Here goes.]

San Francisco Symphony's 2017-18 season announcement came out today, and what can one say beyond headtable?

As I predicted, there's lots of Lenny.

It's white men all the way down, most of them dead, with the exception of one (1) work by Kaija Saariaho (Lanterna Magica), which just happens to be on the one (1) program conducted by a woman, Susanna Mälkki, and one (1) work by a composer with a Chinese name, which just happens to be on the program of the China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra.

There are some living white guys in the new music category: Penderecki, Poznanski (coming with the Israel Philharmonic/Mehta), Salonen (on PH-C's program), Meyer (with St. Martin in the Fields), Wuorinen (that's a surprise, really), Norman (on Valcuha's program), Connesson (on Dèneve's program), and Dean (on Robertson's program). The thing is, these new works are all curtain-raisers, which you can tell because they're mostly the first work on programs with two big pieces.

Also, living male film music composers including Williams and Elfman.

There are plenty of concerts I'd like to see, such as Urbanski's program with the wonderful Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra, MTT's with Bartok 2nd piano concerto (Denk) and the Symphonie fantastique, not the mention Boris Godunov in concert and the two Ives symphonies. There's some Sibelius, too, and I almost never mind hearing his music. (Although - why not Nielsen?) And some Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

When I started this post in March, the LA Phil had just announced its genuinely astounding season, and SFS seemed just plain dreary and more of the same. With a little distance, it's much better than I'd thought; I was genuinely surprised at how many concerts I checked off as must-see or nice-to-see. Still, we are in the shadow of the orchestra to the south.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Voices Are Different

Ellie Dehn
Photo: Victoria Janashvili
Courtesy of San Francisco Opera

From San Francisco Opera comes news of a cast change, for the fall's Manon:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 10, 2017) — San Francisco Opera today announced a cast change for Jules Massenet’s Manon, opening November 4 and running for six performances through November 22, 2017. American soprano Ellie Dehn will essay her role debut as Manon, one of the most enticing heroines of the French repertory, replacing Nadine Sierra who has withdrawn. Sierra said her decision to leave the production was “an extremely difficult one to make, but after considerable deliberation I realized the role was simply too heavy at this point in my vocal development.”
Ellie Dehn thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences earlier this summer as Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème in what the San Francisco Chronicle called a “sumptuous, sparkling turn as the sexually irresistible Musetta—her Act 2 rendition of the showpiece ‘Quando me’n vo’ was as joyous and witty as ever.” She joins a Manon cast, which also features star tenor Michael Fabiano in his highly anticipated role debut as Chevalier des Grieux, that returns this Belle Epoque gem to the Company’s repertory after a 19-year absence in a new production directed by Vincent Boussard and conducted by Massenet specialist Patrick Fournillier. Dehn is excited to add Manon to her repertory and has already made plans to visit Paris and the Church of Saint-Sulpice as part of her preparation. She said, "It's an honor to take on Manon for the wonderful audiences in San Francisco. I look forward to bringing this iconic role to life next season."
I hadn't thought of Manon as a heavy role relative to those Sierra has already sung (Nozze Countess, Lucia, upcoming Musetta), but I also see from her schedule that her next Nozze appearance is as Susanna, which is the role I would think a natural for her. Whatever; she and her teachers know her voice best and this kind of decision is up to them.

This cast change cheers me up, too! I liked Sierra a lot as Papagena, and thought her good, not great, as Lucia. But Ellie Dehn has been the high point of two of the three productions I've seen her in: a witty and scene-stealing Musetta, twice, and a smartly sung Micaela in Carmen. So I'm happy to see her get center stage as Manon.

Scene from Manon
Photo: Martynas Aleksa/Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre
Courtesy of San Francisco Opera

Return of the King

Received from the Met; notes in square brackets by me:
James Levine will conduct the Met’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca next season, replacing Andris Nelsons, who has withdrawn. [Possibly predictable after Kristine Opalais, his wife, left the production.]
Mr. Levine, who now holds the title of Music Director Emeritus, has a long history of conducting Tosca at the Met, including his very first Met performance in June 1971, when he led a cast of Grace Bumbry as Tosca and Franco Corelli as Cavaradossi. He conducted performances of Tosca with Bumbry, Plácido Domingo, and Tito Gobbi in the Met’s 1971-72 season, and more recently, Levine conducted the premiere of Luc Bondy's staging of the opera in September 2009, which the new production will replace.
In addition to leading the new David McVicar production of Tosca, Levine will conduct performances of Die Zauberflöte, Il Trovatore, Luisa Miller, and Verdi’s Requiem during the upcoming 2017-18 Met season.
The new staging of Tosca opens on December 31, starring Sonya Yoncheva as Tosca, Vittorio Grigolo as Cavaradossi, and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia. TheJanuary 27 matinee will be transmitted live as part of the Met’s Live in HD series, which reaches more than 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries around the world. For further information, including casting by date, please visit www.metopera.org. [Sir Bryn is the only original major-cast member left: Jonas Kaufmann was replaced because he couldn't commit to the rehearsal period and full run; Opalais...withdrew....Nelsons withdrew.]

Friday, July 07, 2017

Cahill / Harrison

Pianist Sarah Cahill is on a continuing her Lou Harrison Centennial tour. Here's concert info, and for Bay Area residents, note the wealth of local programs, starting tonight and continuing through January, 2018:

Old First Concerts
Friday, July 7, 2017 at 8pm
Old First Church | 1751 Sacramento St. | San Francisco, CA
Information: www.oldfirstconcerts.org/product/cahill_july17

Stenberg/Cahill/Winant Trio at Mendocino Music Festival
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 2:30pm
Preston Hall | 44867 Main Street | Mendocino, CA
Information: www.mendocinomusic.org

Flower Piano at San Francisco Botanical Garden
July 22, 2017 at 2pm in the Exhibition Garden
San Francisco Botanical Garden | Golden Gate Park | Ninth Ave. at Lincoln Way
Information: www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/flowerpiano  

Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Piano with Javanese Gamelan at MIT Sounding
October 12, 2017
ICA Boston | 25 Harbor Shore Drive | Boston, MA
Information: arts.mit.edu/events-visit/sound-series   

Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto at San Jose State University
October 17, 2017
San Jose State University | Music Concert Hall | San Jose, CA
Information: www.sjsu.edu/music/current_students/degree_plans/ensembles/orchestra/

Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Piano with Javanese Gamelan at Cleveland Museum of Art
October 20, 2017
Cleveland Museum of Art | 11150 East Blvd. | Cleveland, OH
Information: www.clevelandart.org

Lou Harrison Centennial in Fukuoda
November 30, 2017
Fukuoka Arena Hall | 1-1-1 Tenjin, Chuo-ku | Fukuoka City

The New Music Conflagration
December 10, 2017
The St. Petersburg Main Library | 3745 9th Ave. North | St. Petersburg, FL
Information: www.thenewmusicconflagration.org

Ensemble New SRQ
December 11, 2017
First Congregational Church | 1031 South Euclid Avenue | Sarasota, FL
Information: www.ensemblenewsrq.org

Accidental Music Festival
December 14, 2017
The Timucua Arts White House | 2000 South Summerlin | Orlando, FL
Information: www.accidentalmusicfestival.com

San Francisco Performances PIVOT Series
January 24, 2018
A.C.T.’s Strand Theater | 1127 Market Street | San Francisco, CA
Information: www.sfperformances.org/performances/1718/Pivot.html

New Music Miami
March 28, 2018
CARTA Miami Beach Urban Studios | 420 Lincoln Road | Miami Beach, FL
Information: www.newmusicmiami.org

A Region Exhales: Mark Hanson Named ED of San Francisco Symphony

Brent Assink, longtime executive director of the San Francisco Symphony, announced last fall that he'd be leaving the post at the end of this season. And given how well he'd been doing the job, there was plenty of apprehension about who might step into the post, especially - at least on my part - after Allison Vulgamore, who did a pretty bad job at Atlanta and Philly, left her job at the latter.

So I sighed with relief when the press release announcing the new SFS ED dropped into my in-box a few minutes ago, even though I don't know much about Mark Hanson, who will succeed Assink. I will ask around about him, but here's the PR; note, especially, the section I put into boldface, which must have been a significant factor in why he was hired:


SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Symphony (SFS) President Sakurako Fisher, on behalf of the Board of Governors, and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, today announced the appointment of Mark C. Hanson as Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Hanson will succeed Brent Assink, who stepped down from the position in March 2017 after 18 years as the Orchestra’s chief administrator. Hanson will begin his new post September 1.

Mark Hanson joins the San Francisco Symphony from the Houston Symphony, where he has served as Executive Director and CEO since 2010. During his time at the helm of Houston’s largest performing arts organization, Hanson spearheaded visionary artistic projects, built deep and meaningful connections throughout the local community, creatively expanded the Symphony’s audience and donor base, and effectively sparked collaboration between the organization’s many working parts.

"I am delighted to welcome Mark Hanson as the San Francisco Symphony's next Executive Director," stated SFS President Sakurako Fisher. "Mark is an inspiring leader and the board could not be more confident in his ability to build on the Orchestra's legacy while forging new paths and possibilities of what the orchestral experience can be. I have always felt that our next leader would need to be someone who is a connector, who dissolves walls, and who builds shared values. Mark's impressive track record of innovation and success make him a natural fit as we look to broaden the connections we offer to our music and to our community. His strong blend of leadership, passion, and experience will move our shared vision for innovation and excellence forward to ensure that we impact the lives of those around us through the power of music."

As Executive Director, Hanson will lead the San Francisco Symphony— widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the U.S.—in close collaboration with the Board of Governors and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Celebrating 22 years of partnership, MTT and the SFS are a leading presence among American orchestras at home and around the world, celebrated for their artistic excellence, creative performance concepts, active touring, award-winning recordings, and standard-setting education programs. The Orchestra presents more than 220 concerts and presentations annually for an audience of nearly 450,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall and through its active national and international touring. A cornerstone of the organization’s mission, the San Francisco Symphony’s education programs are the most extensive offered by any American orchestra today, providing free comprehensive music education to every first- through fifth-grade student in the San Francisco public schools, and serving more than 100,000 children, students, educators, and families annually. Hanson becomes only the fifth Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1939, when the organization created its top management position (Howard Skinner served from 1939 to 1964, Joseph Scafidi from 1965 to 1978, Peter Pastreich from 1978 to 1999, and Brent Assink from 1999 to 2017).

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as the San Francisco Symphony’s next Executive Director,” commented Mark Hanson. “I have such a deep respect and admiration for the San Francisco Symphony‘s record of artistic accomplishment, thoughtful innovation, community engagement and economic impact achieved over its first 105 years. I look forward to working closely with Sakurako Fisher, Michael Tilson Thomas, and the Orchestra’s musicians, board, and staff to build upon that exemplary legacy, keep the Orchestra at the forefront of the American arts scene, and more-widely introduce its programs to the entire Bay Area. My family and I are also eager to make the San Francisco Bay Area our home and to begin building meaningful relationships with members of the community.

"I am delighted to welcome Mark Hanson to the San Francisco Symphony family," said Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. "His excitement about the future of symphonic music, his experience and success working with other orchestras, and his enthusiasm and knowledge of music and musicians will be a major part of the next chapter of our Orchestra. At the San Francisco Symphony, we have built a strong foundation of virtuosity, adventure, curiosity, and risk taking. The Orchestra, in many ways, mirrors the personality of the city it represents. I know Mark shares these values and I very much look forward to working with him as we all build on these meaningful qualities."

"During the search process, it became very clear that Mark would be the perfect partner to build upon the extraordinary artistic growth the Orchestra has achieved in the past twenty years," said Catherine Payne, piccolo player and member of the Search Committee. "His passion for music and for what music can mean to everyone in our community will bring us all closer together. We are very eager to begin working with Mark as we imagine what the San Francisco Symphony will be in its next chapter and what it can mean to the next generation of San Franciscans—not only in terms of our artistry, but to help us be the cultural organization that best reflects and connects with our wonderfully diverse and exceptionally adventurous community. Mark will be a fantastic advocate for the power of our music."

Mark Hanson has served as the Houston Symphony’s Executive Director & CEO since 2010, during which time the orchestra appointed Colombian-born, Vienna-trained conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada as its Music Director; in March 2017 Orozco-Estrada’s contract was extended through the 2021–22 season. Early in his tenure, Hanson and the Houston Symphony Board embarked on an ambitious and successful five-year plan to expand the Symphony’s audience and donor bases through expanded community partnerships and performances, new concert formats and multi-media projects, and increased marketing and visibility. As a result of that plan, the Houston Symphony—which now has an annual operating budget of $34 million—saw annual contributed income more than double, earned revenue grow by 20%, annual attendance increase from 286,789 to 339,063 people, and achieved six consecutive balanced budgets.

Hanson led the Houston Symphony in breaking down barriers and deepening connections with audiences of all ages through initiatives including the long-standing “Sound + Vision” series, which adds multimedia elements to classical subscription concerts to further enhance the concert-going experience; the formation of three Diversity Leadership Councils which have established important community relationships and better equipped the institution to become more relevant and accessible; the launch of Onstage Insights with Andrés introductions and Behind the Scenes with Andrés videos in which the music director provides brief commentary and anecdotes about the music during select concerts; a two season “Musically Speaking” series at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall that provided audiences an opportunity to go behind the score and learn about the historical and contextual elements of the music being performed; and the “On the Music” podcast series led by the Symphony’s Musical Ambassador Carlos Andrés Botero. Recently, the Houston Symphony forged a multi-year recording partnership with Dutch recording label PENTATONE, released a Naxos recording of Berg‘s opera Wozzeck, and expanded its local concert broadcast schedule on Houston Public Media’s News 88.7 and Classical 91.7FM.

A hallmark initiative of Hanson’s tenure in Houston is the Community-Embedded Musicians program, designed to embed musicians deep within the community and to represent and serve the diverse population of Greater Houston. Through this innovative program, the Houston Symphony hired four string players who are embedded in Houston schools, neighborhoods and health-care settings as teaching artists and performers, but who also perform on stage with members of the Houston Symphony in at least 40 concerts each year. 

Prior to joining the Houston Symphony, Mark Hanson served as President and Executive Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) from 2004–2010. During that time the orchestra appointed Edo de Waart as music director and Marvin Hamlisch as principal pops conductor, undertook major artistic projects such as Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle with sets designed by Dale Chihuly, and released a Naxos recording of Roberto Sierra’s Missa Latina. During Hanson’s tenure, the MSO negotiated two four-year orchestra contracts, doubled the number of full-orchestra performances outside of its primary hall, increased average sold capacity by 12%, and more than doubled annual contributed income from individuals, foundations and corporations.

Hanson previously held positions as Executive Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (2001–2003) and Rockford Symphony Orchestra (1998–2000). A trained cellist who studied at the Eastman School of Music for two years, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and participated in the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, holding posts at the New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, and Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. He and his wife, Christina, are parents to three sons.

East Bay Friday Photo

View from Point Isabel Dog Park
October, 2016

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Donor Relations


In the wake of the 2017 presidential election, organizations such as the Sierra Club, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood received lots and lots of donations from concerned citizens. (In my opinion, concerned for very good reasons that this year has only borne out.) For example, the ACLU got $24 million in one weekend following the announcement of the original Muslim travel ban.

I was among those who scattered some money around immediately after the election, that is, in November, 2016. I somehow thought that I was making an annual donation, and come the 2017 end-of-year donor season I'd get renewal notices from those organizations.

Imagine my surprise when I started getting renewal notices early in 2017. It turns out that at least some of the orgs I donated to don't do 12-month memberships. They do calendar year memberships. So my money counted for November X, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

I've been informing these organizations that their next donations will come on January 1, 2018 and I've suggested two things to them:

1. When you've got a giant windfall, extend everybody's memberships through December 31, 2017. 
2. If you're not going to do that, at least make it perfectly clear on your web site what period of time donations apply to.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

War Memorial Opera House Seat Replacement Project

If you sit in the Balcony or Balcony Circle for performances by SF Opera or SF Ballet, you were the first beneficiaries of the ongoing seat replacement project. It started in the summer of 2015, and....since then, no seats have been replaced.

I did some digging around in the minutes of the War Memorial board of trustees (it is wonderful what you can find with a Google search) and also asked the communications group at the War Memorial about the future. As of now, it seems that the orchestra seat replacement will take place in 2021. The dress circle and grand tier might be done in 2021, or might be done sooner.

A general groan. I had already heard from SFO that the orchestra section is hardest to do, though I can't remember exactly why, but oh the seats there - they vary in width, and they are all much too low. The dress circle seats are an unpleasant squeeze.

The new seats in the upper reaches are amazingly comfortable. Nothing can provide more leg room, but my back did not yell at me after Meistersinger in 2015, and the proof is in the pudding.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Lincoln Center White Light Festival

Lincoln Center announced its 2017 White Light Festival about ten days ago. As usual, there's some great stuff: cross-cultural music and dance, John Eliot Gardiner leading the three surviving Monteverdi operas, and many great concerts.

Over the course of a number of programs, musical settings of all of the Biblical psalms will be performed. It's a great concept, mixing old and new settings. Alas, I'm shocked at the tiny number of works composed by women that will be performed. What an opportunity missed; read the press release here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

July Self-Defense Class: We've Still Got Openings


I'll be teaching an intensive self-defense class for adult women in July.

Dates:   Two Saturdays, July 8 and July 15, 2017

Time:    1 p.m. to 3 p,m. both days

Who:     Adult women, age 16 and up, cis or trans. No athletic or martial arts experience required. 
               Techniques are adaptable for a wide range of physical abilities.

Cost:      $90. Class open to all, regardless of ability to pay. If you need to pay less, just let me know.

               at Mind Body Dojo 
               7512 Fairmount Ave.
               El Cerrito, CA 94530

You'll learn basic blocks, kicks, and strikes; effective defenses against common attacks; self-protection strategy. It's a fun, energetic, power-building class.

Class taught by me, Lisa Hirsch, second-degree black belt in Dan Zan Ryu jujitsu. I've been practicing since 1982 and have about 25 years of teaching experience.

To enroll, leave a comment here or contact me at sensei@opendoorjujitsu.com, via the dojo contact form, or at 510-842-6243. 

For lots more information about Open Door Jujitsu, see our web site!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Some Thoughts on Writing, Especially Big Projects

A discussion on Twitter got me thinking that I'd like to write up some observations about writing. They are based largely on three things:

  • Twenty years as a professional writer, usually with tight deadlines. I've been a technical writer since 1996, and mostly I have had to deal with deadlines. (I will say that I'm happier and get more done when I have externally-imposed due dates.) I've been writing paid music reviews since 2004, and deadlines are the reason I got my SF Opera Les Troyens review done in a reasonable time frame (before the second performance), but you still haven't seen my blog posts about the Chicago Troyens...which was last November.
  • Editing projects of varying lengths for professional publication. These include a novel and a doctoral dissertation, plus some shorter articles.
  • Thirtyish years of practicing and more than 20 years of teaching martial arts. Yeah, I've learned things that apply to writing projects.
Martial arts practice is different from writing. It's a physical practice that is significantly influenced by your internal state, learning style, physical abilities, and cognitive strengths. In my style, there are also no deadlines: in general, nobody is giving you a due date to test for a particular rank. You can take as long as you'd like.

In a situation like this, it can become a teacher's task to motivate a student who is practicing regularly but seems directionless and therefore isn't making progress. Setting deadlines may in fact provide some structure for that student and help her to move ahead. I would generally not make this a deadline for a rank test, but I would not hesitate to say "I would like you to demonstrate 5 (or 10) arts of your choice in three weeks. Please bring a list of what you'll demonstrate to the next class." And then I'll make sure the student gets time to practice those and gets feedback from me, too.

In terms of long writing projects, getting hung up in your material in some way can hold you back. For some writers, making up a detailed outline and even a detailed schedule may help you move forward. You can get all sorts of elaborate tools for these tasks, or you can just use a spreadsheet or word processor. Using something less complicated is a good idea, because otherwise you can get sidetracked by learning an elaborate tool.

Just committing to writing 250 (or 500 or 1000) words per day might be enough to help you make progress. After you make something a habit - such as writing 250 words a day - for many people, it'll get easier to do. There's a lot of psychological research published at this point about how to change or establish habits, with different approaches to doing this. One of these approaches might work for people who feel stuck and would like to change their working habits.

Then there's perfectionism: OMG THIS JUST ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH MUST REVISE. AND REVISE AND REVISE. My first jujitsu sensei always said "Strive for perfection, accept what you get." In martial arts, this is easy to understand, because you will do that imperfect technique thousands of times during your years of practice. Some will be great, some won't be, but over time, your basic standard will go up. I can execute dozens of techniques on a consistently good basis, but that's after a lot of hard work and a couple of dan rank exams.

When you're writing, you get something that you don't have in the martial arts: the revision and editing process. Until you turn in the final manuscript, you have lots of control. Yeah, the words on the page might seem to suck, but you will have lots of opportunities to revise your book or dissertation. 

And, you know? Sometimes they'll suck, but sometimes, maybe most of the time,  they won't. You might not be the best judge of what you're writing! It's a good idea to have friendly eyes, people you really trust, take a look at your project while it's in process. They are more objective than you are. If they're good writers or editors, they may spot organizational issues that, when dealt with, make everything flow better. 

It's important, very important, to keep in mind that your manuscript is in flux. Let go as best you can if you find yourself stuck, or obsessed with a particular section, or chapter or day's writing. Work on something else: it is entirely possible to write a large document out of order, as long as your revision process allows you to ensure end-to-end coherence. 

Here I'll throw in something the composer Sheila Silver said to me when I interviewed her some years ago: she composes by sitting down every day and composing. Sometimes what she writes is good and moves ahead the work in progress. Sometimes it's not and she winds up tossing it, or saving it for another time. It's a process that isn't all that different from the process of writing: get something down on paper, evaluate as dispassionately as you can, get something down on paper....

I say "as dispassionately as you can" because, hey, this can be an emotional process for a writer. I write technical documentation, and one salient fact of life for tech writers is that your work becomes obsolete with some speed, depending on the kinds of products you work on. A manual on how to use the database query language SQL won't date that much, because SQL is forever, within various variants. However, every word I wrote between 1998 and 2006, when I was with Documentum, is probably completely obsolete by now. It was useful when I wrote it; they paid me; I genuinely don't care that it's obsolete.

Your dissertation or novel will stay interesting, useful, and current for lots longer that that, and you are probably more emotionally involved with your dissertation or novel than I am with any of my documents. (I am, in fact, somewhat on the cynical side about what I write, and if you saw how tech companies operate, you might be too! Cynicism:it's a good survival skill. And I like the company I work for.) So it's harder to feel dispassionate about. 

What you can do is keep this in mind: writing is a craft. Yes, there's plenty of art in it, but ultimately, it's a craft. It's true that there are people whose writing process never becomes easy. But the more you can do to regard it as a craft, as something you get better at, the more likely it is that it will get easier for you over time.

I'm going to throw in maybe one or two final thoughts before I publish this: try not to get too socially isolated while you're got a big writing project going on. I know how absorbing the work can be, and I know how easy it is to get stuck inside your own head. See people at whatever level works for your place on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Talk about things other than the writing project. Give yourself a break. 

And, really lastly, get yourself physically out of your writing space. You can't just stare at the screen all day. Get out into nature or the city streets around you. If you're ambulatory, you might find walking on your breaks to be helpful; movement somehow shakes things loose and can give you new ideas or cast useful light on what you are doing. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Washington National Opera: Departure of Phillipe Auguin

I realize I forgot to write a post about this: Phillipe Auguin's contract is not being renewed, and he becomes music director emeritus, at Washington National Opera at the completion of the 2017-18 season. "Not renewed" seems pretty blunt: the company didn't want him back. If conductor and company hadn't been able to come to an agreement, the announcement would have said he had decided to leave.

Here's what Francesca Zambello said about his departure. It sounds as though there will be less opera, done on a smaller scale, at WNO than there has been:
“I think he served the company very well,” said Zambello, WNO’s artistic director, by phone on Monday. “Eight years is a good tenure to have.” She also said, “I think he is evolving toward a different aspect of his career, and we are evolving toward different needs from a music director.” The company is focusing, she said, more on American works and projects such as the American Opera Initiative, which involves 20-minute and hour-long new operas. The big Wagnerian repertoire, she said, “is not really in our financial ranges right now.” But Auguin “will stay part of our music family. He’s back this season, and in future seasons.” He will conduct Verdi’s “Don Carlo” — the final opera of his official tenure — at WNO in March.
Anne Midgette's subsequent article about Auguin's depature pulls no punches. Draw your own conclusions, or I'll draw them for you: he was under-used (music director not involved with artistic planning??) and perhaps he and Zambello were as oil and water.
Current list of known openings:
  • Seattle Symphony when Ludovic Morlot leaves
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra (when Jaap van Zweden takes up his new post at the NYPO)
  • Milwaukee Symphony
  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
  • San Diego Symphony
  • Vienna Staatsoper / VPO (Dominique Meyer not planning to appoint a WSO MD; his contract expires in 2020.)
  • Dresden Philharmonic: 2019 departure for Michael Sanderling
  • MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony: 2018 departure for Kristian Jarvi
  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra: 2018 departure for Robin Ticciati
  • Orchestre National de Lyon: open now, with Leonard Slatkin's departure
  • Brno Philharmonic: open since 2015
  • Singapore Symphony: 2019 departure for Lan Shui
  • Vienna RSO: 2018 departure for Cornelius Meister
  • Toronto SO: 2018 departure for Peter Oundjian
  • Winnipeg SO: 2018 departure for Alexander Mickelthwate
  • Czech Philharmonic, following death of Jiří Bělohlávek
  • Hamburg Symphony, following death of Sir Jeffrey Tate
  • Washington National Opera, departure of Philippe Auguin at conclusion of 2017-18 
  • San Francisco Opera, departure of Nicola Luisotti at conclusion of 2017-18
  • Opera North: open now, with Aleksandr Markovic's departure
  • Bavarian State Opera: with Kirill Petrenko going to Berlin and KP's Munich contract through 2021, it's sort of implied that he'll give up Munich
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: 2017 is Stephen Lord's final season as MD
I am curious about all of these, but of course the San Francisco Opera opening is closest to home.

Conductors looking for jobs (that is, as of the near future, or now, they do not have a posting):

  • Sian Edwards
  • Jun Markl
  • Ingo Metzmacher
  • Bramwell Tovey
  • Jac van Steen
  • Mark Wigglesworth
  • Simone Young 
  • David Robertson
  • Peter Oundjian as of the end of 2017-18
  • Nicola Luisotti
And closed:
  • Vancouver Symphony; Otto Tausk comes on in 2018
  • Orchestra Nationale de France; Emmanuel Krivine takes the post in 2017.
  • NDR Elbphilharmonie: Alan Gilbert becomes MD (or chief conductor) in the 2019-20 season.
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Stéphane Denève to succeed David Robertson
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic; Jaap van Zweden's contract extended through summer of 2022
  • City of Birmingham SO; Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla appointed 2/4/2016, succeeding Andris Nelsons
  • New York Philharmonic; Jaap Van Zweden appointed, 1/27/16, succeeding Alan Gilbert
  • National Symphony Orchestra; Gianandrea Noseda appointed, 1/4/2016, succeeding Christoph Eschenbach.
  • Leipzig Gewandhaus: Andris Nelsons appointed, 9/9/2015
  • LSO: Simon Rattle appointed, 3/2/2015
  • Orchestra de Paris: Daniel Harding, 6/11/2015
  • Berlin Philharmonic: Kirill Petrenko appointed, 6/22/2015
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard succeeds Donald Runnicles in September, 2016

Friday, June 23, 2017

Borda Return Media Round-Up

For reference. Am I missing anything? (Yes, so I have updated the post. And updated it again on June 23. First published in March, 2017.)

Orchestra Executive Merry-Go-Round

Yesterday, Drew McManus had an article at Adaptistration about current vacancies, and recently-filled vacancies, in the executive suites of various American orchestras.
  1. Brent Assink's departure from the San Francisco Symphony after many successful years of financial and (mostly) labor stability. 
  2. Rita Shapiro's departure from the NSO in Washington, DC. She has been replaced by Gary Ginstling, formerly an executive at SFS, a good hire.
  3. Matthew VanBesien left the NY Philharmonic, which then managed the fantastic coup of luring Deborah Borda back to NY from the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  4. Of course, this leaves a huge gap at the LA Phil, but they've got two excellent internal candidates in Gail Samuel and Chad Smith, and the orchestra should just promote one of them.
  5. Most recently, Allison Vulgamore is out at the Philadelphia Orchestra at the end of this year. It's about time: she was terrible for the Atlanta Symphony (and so was her successor there) and she happily led the Philly into bankruptcy.
My current nightmare: LA or SF hires Allison Vulgamore. Please, no. You had really good things going with Assink and Borda. Keep the streak going.

Gilbert to Hamburg

Alan Gilbert, whose tenure as the music director of the NY Philharmonic just ended, has a new appointment: he will be the music director of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, starting in the fall of 2019. He was their principal guest conductor from 2004 to 2015 and evidently it's a love-fest all around.

Here's what he has to say about this:
As I wrap up my time at the New York Philharmonic, very little would have tempted me to take on the challenge of a new position so soon. But the perfect confluence of circumstances seems to have come together with the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. First of all, this is a group of musicians that I already know so well and love dearly. The musicians and I have shared a very special rapport and musical chemistry for many years. Furthermore, the environment surrounding the orchestra is uniquely exciting. The Elbphilharmonie is the perfect and already iconic physical space in which to play and present music, and the management team, headed by Achim Dobschall and Sonja Epping of the orchestra and Christoph Lieben-Seutter at the Elbphilharmonie, is the most inspired, ambitious, and forward-looking in the world of music. How rare it is to find a situation in which it is not only possible to imagine pushing the paradigm of orchestras in the 21st century forward, but one in which all constituent groups are demanding that this progress happen. I’m thrilled to have found such a place.
How rare, indeed. Congratulations to Maestro Gilbert, and thank you for giving me one more reason to visit Hamburg one of these days.

Here's Michael Cooper's NY Times article about Gilbert's new gig. Leaving a fixer-upper for a  brand-new house, yep.

Updated list of known openings:
  • Seattle Symphony when Ludovic Morlot leaves
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra (when Jaap van Zweden takes up his new post at the NYPO)
  • Milwaukee Symphony
  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
  • San Diego Symphony
  • Orchestra Nationale de France
  • Vienna Staatsoper / VPO (Dominique Meyer not planning to appoint a WSO MD; his contract expires in 2020.)
  • Dresden Philharmonic: 2019 departure for Michael Sanderling
  • MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony: 2018 departure for Kristian Jarvi
  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra: 2018 departure for Robin Ticciati
  • Orchestre National de Lyon: open now, with Leonard Slatkin's departure
  • Brno Philharmonic: open since 2015
  • Singapore Symphony: 2019 departure for Lan Shui
  • Vienna RSO: 2018 departure for Cornelius Meister
  • Toronto SO: 2018 departure for Peter Oundjian
  • Winnipeg SO: 2018 departure for Alexander Mickelthwate
  • Czech Philharmonic, following death of Jiří Bělohlávek
  • Hamburg Symphony, following death of Sir Jeffrey Tate
  • Washington National Opera, departure of Philippe Auguin at conclusion of 2017-18 
  • San Francisco Opera, departure of Nicola Luisotti at conclusion of 2017-18
  • * Opera North: open now, with Aleksandr Markovic's departure
  • Bavarian State Opera: with Kirill Petrenko going to Berlin and KP's Munich contract through 2021, it's sort of implied that he'll give up Munich
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: 2017 is Stephen Lord's final season as MD

And closed:

  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Stéphane Denève to succeed David Robertson
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic; Jaap van Zweden's contract extended through summer of 2022
  • City of Birmingham SO; Mirga Grazintye-Tyla appointed 2/4/2016, succeeding Andris Nelsons
  • New York Philharmonic; Jaap Van Zweden appointed, 1/27/16, succeeding Alan Gilbert
  • National Symphony Orchestra; Gianandrea Noseda appointed, 1/4/2016, succeeding Christoph Eschenbach.
  • Leipzig Gewandhaus: Andris Nelsons appointed, 9/9/2015
  • LSO: Simon Rattle appointed, 3/2/2015
  • Orchestra de Paris: Daniel Harding, 6/11/2015
  • Berlin Philharmonic: Kirill Petrenko appointed, 6/22/2015
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard succeeds Donald Runnicles in September, 2016
  • NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Hamburg; Alan Gilbert appointed starting in 2019.