The “Secrets” of a Music Director Search

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The concept of a music director search is no stranger to Cincinnati music lovers, as the Cincinnati Pops just finished a search to replace Erich Kunzel and a search to fill the Music Director (MD) position for the Cincinnati Symphony is well underway. However, people, especially (if I may say gently) the older symphony -going crowd, love to speculate. When I speak to people while interning in development at the CSO, questions about the MD search come up the most often, and their opinion on what is going on or who the symphony should hire is often close in following. While an MD search is notoriously shrouded in secrecy, I came across this article today about the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s search that I really enjoyed:

The article gave me two thoughts:

1) People seem to be rarely excited about a big period of uncertainty and change. If smaller orchestras are giving their audience a “say” (and who is to know how much that is taken into account anyway,) wouldn’t that be a way for larger orchestras to have their audiences really become part of the symphony family and have a personal investment in their orchestra too?

2) It’s nice to see an instructional article demystify something so vital to the orchestra structure. Everyone loves to lend their opinion as an “expert” (see: but it’s nice to see someone trying to loop in the public with some straight answers. Then perhaps I can stop listening to people tell me who they think should be the next MD without thinking in my head “no, they’re not going to hire Paavo’s brother just because they’re related” or “yes, I know the search will take a long time, but it’s not because of whatever reason you just made up and told me about.”

Those are my thoughts… what are yours?

submitted by Stephanie Johnson


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