October 13, 2009
Dear Festival Musicians,
The New Hampshire Music Festival is now in the planning process for its 2010 Season. As I am sure you are aware, we held meetings throughout the summer season with the Orchestra Committee and adopted many of the ideas they presented to us as we determined how best to move forward after the end of the 2009 season. We realize that this past summer was a difficult one for everyone and we are looking forward to a season next year when we can work together to create great music and create a successful season for you and the Festival.
I am attaching a copy of the Personnel Policy that incorporates all the aspects of the discussions with the Orchestra Committee. Should you have any questions relating to this letter, do not hesitate to contact me or one of the Orchestra Committee members for guidance or clarification. I am also attaching two Lists: the first is fifty-nine (59) eligible musicians for consideration for employment in 2010 (“incumbent musicians”); the second list of ten (10) musicians are those who may be asked to substitute. Any incumbent musician on the list of fifty-nine (59) who is not ultimately offered employment but who has been accepted after the opt-in process in 2010 will be added to this second substitute list as well.
By now you should have received our Announcement of the Artistic Director for the New Hampshire Music Festival, Jonathan Gandelsman. We are looking forward to working with Johnny and we are confident that he will bring a dynamic to music making that will excite you and our audiences.
The 2010 Season
The Festival is firmly committed to changing the Artistic Model for the Festival going forward. Our motivation is really two-fold: to generate a new level of excitement for both musicians and audiences; and to reverse a significant and troubling decline in our audiences. We have seen an erosion of 25% of our Classic Series audiences over the last ten years, resulting in the reduction in the number of classical concerts in 2009. This decline in earned and contributed revenue coupled with current national economic uncertainty forced a reduction in the 2009 season in the number of musicians hired and the suspension of our chorus for the 2009 Season.
A generous gift received this summer has enabled us to increase the size of the Orchestra for the 2010 Season. This gift was made explicitly to promote this new Artistic Vision. Our objective is to produce exciting programs and music in 2010 that will translate into renewed interest in the Festival concerts by the public, resulting in the stabilization of our declining ticket sales and possibly an immediate increase in ticket sales. The programming will encompass a wider range of repertoire, including more music by living composers than in the past. We expect that these changes will provide a more stable financial environment for the Festival. We are hopeful we can resume our relationship with our chorus in future seasons as ticket sales justify additional expense. We have not yet determined whether the chorus will be part of the program in 2010.
We are a festival, not a traditional symphony orchestra. To clarify the roles, in a festival, the President bears the responsibility to shape the organization’s artistic direction (a la Verbier, Salzburg, Spoleto, Edinburgh, Ojai, and Ravinia) and manage its business. The President works collaboratively with the Festival Director and Artistic Director in realizing the artistic programming, themes, guest conductors, artists, composers, symposia, etc. Both the Artistic and Festival Directors will be active participants in the festival. The Festival Director will be especially active in seminars, panel discussions, symposia and artist interviews. Some of these will be for serious musical scholars and critics but most will be for the audience; topics will range from the history of performance style to personal interviews with musicians and curators. Curators are artists (soloists, conductors, composers) with very strong musical personalities and beliefs who will be brought in for one or two weeks. For their respective weeks they will work with the President, Festival Director, and Artistic Director to shape the programming and schedules. These curators will also perform in recital and with orchestra, host other performances, and teach our students. They will also participate in pre-concert talks, interviews, seminars and discussions. The Artistic Director will be especially involved in performance and mentoring and will bear the responsibility for the artistic quality of the orchestra, having ultimate authority over orchestra personnel.
1. Rehearsals and Orchestra Performances
We are embarking on a very different way of creating music, promoting greater collaboration and providing individual musicians with an enhanced role in forging a shared musical vision. As a result, rehearsals will be longer and much more participative than in the past. Orchestra seating will rotate within each section. Parts for all works to be performed during the festival will be made available to all orchestra musicians prior to the beginning of the festival.
There will be approximately three concerts in each week of the Festival, comprising a mixture of classical, light classical, pops, and family programs. In some cases a program might be repeated more than once, but it is also possible that all three concerts might contain different repertoire. In addition, there will be chamber music programs. The Festival programs will continue the exploration of the standard orchestral repertoire, as well as discovery of new works by living composers. The final shape of the Festival programs will be worked out over the coming months.
The following is an example of what a weekly schedule might look like. The illustration that follows is representative of a typical week for next year’s festival, although occasionally, there may be some variation in the workload, based on the programming for the week.
Sunday Day off
Monday 6:00pm – 9:00pm Rehearsal
Tuesday 10:00am – 1:00pm Sectional Rehearsals
2:00pm – 5:00pm Rehearsal
Wednesday 10:00am – 1:00pm Rehearsal
2:00pm- 5:00pm Rehearsal
Evening Chamber Music concert/symposium
Thursday 10:00am – 1:00pm Rehearsal
8:00pm Orchestra Concert
Friday 10:00am – 1:00pm Rehearsal
Early or mid-afternoon Chamber Music Concert
8:00pm Orchestra Concert
Saturday 10:00am – 1:00pm Rehearsal
8:00pm Orchestra Concert
Rehearsal: 24 hours
Orchestra Performances: 3
Chamber Music Performance 1 or 2
We will invite a limited number of distinguished students in 2010. The Artistic Director will select the students for 2010. For the following seasons, an audition process will be established. It is our intent that these students will be chosen from the finest conservatories and music schools in the country. The students will be seated amongst incumbent and non-incumbent musicians by the Artistic Director and will also rotate seats within the sections. This introduction of a mentoring element in the Festival is intended to provide young talented musicians with a unique experience they would not otherwise have access to — an opportunity to spend 6 weeks rehearsing and performing amongst professional musicians, in a spirit of collaboration, discovery and excitement. One of your roles will be to mentor these students during the course of the Festival season. Whether it is sharing the stage in an orchestral setting, playing in a joint chamber music group or simply listening to your young colleagues’ questions or concerns, each professional member of the orchestra will lead by example.
As all of you are very much aware, the professional life of classically trained musicians has been rapidly changing in the last decade. For the young generation of musicians, to lead a successful and fulfilling life in music doesn’t simply mean a choice of a solo career, chamber music, teaching or playing in orchestra. They have to be computer and Social Media savvy. They need to be curious and open to experimentation in performing, arranging and composing. They have to be able to actively engage the audience in what they do on stage, thus possessing excellent communication skills is a must. It is the Festival’s intent to create a thrilling and unforgettable atmosphere of collaboration and exploration for the young musicians who will be joining the Festival Orchestra. Toward that end, seminars, coachings, chamber music reading nights and open mic nights will be offered to the students. Musicians will not be expected to offer seminars. We sincerely hope that all of you will be as excited as we are about creating this new environment.
3. Chamber Music Concerts and Recitals
The Festival intends to continue to present chamber music programs, however those programs will be more integrated into the overall programming of the Festival. The Artistic Director, Festival Director, guest artists and curators will play a major role in shaping and participating in the chamber programs. Students will have an opportunity to perform in chamber music groups with the professional members of the Festival Orchestra.
Importance of Collaboration
In summary, the collaborative process of music making will now include a curator who might be a conductor or guest artist or composer working with the musicians of the orchestra in meeting the challenge of presenting music with a renewed freshness and excitement, allowing musicians and audiences alike to discover and rediscover repertoire. The concept of mentoring students is also a new one for the Festival.
This will require a commitment to a different concept, a commitment of time, creativity and energy. Excellence in instrumental playing is what we have always strived for. But going forward, instrumental proficiency will not be the only criteria. Musicians must also demonstrate their mentoring abilities and their commitment to our new model to be selected to participate in future seasons.
During the 2010 Season, as we implement our new model with the able direction of our new Artistic Director and with the active participation and promotion of the new model by those musicians grounded in this experience who will be joining us for the first time, you will be asked to actively participate in the new model. Because we are differentiating our product from the past in order to create a different experience for professionals and audience alike, you will be evaluated on: (a) playing proficiency; (b) your mentoring skills; and (c) your demonstration of a commitment to the new model.
Orchestra members will decide how to select a Peer Review Committee. This Committee, once constituted, will consult with the Artistic Director and provide its feedback on evaluations of all musicians in the Orchestra. The decision to reengage musicians for the 2011 Season will be made on an evaluation of performance proficiency and mentoring skills. In addition, an important criterion for reengagement will be how the musician demonstrated a commitment to the new collaborative model in his/her behavior and attitude during the course of the season and how they fulfilled their direct responsibility towards the young musicians’ experience during the summer of 2010. This evaluation will be comprehensive and ongoing throughout the Season. The Artistic Director’s decision regarding reengagement will be final.
Process for Selection of Musicians for the 2010 Season
We will be working from a list of fifty-nine musicians provided by the Orchestra Committee. The musicians on this list are referred to as “incumbent musicians” in this Solicitation Letter.
We anticipate, assuming funding levels are reached, that there will be forty-five (45) positions available in the 2010 Season for incumbent musicians. Up to twenty (20) incumbent musicians will have the opportunity for employment for all six weeks of the 2010 Season and up to twenty-five (25) incumbent musicians will have the opportunity for employment up to four (4) weeks. Which musicians are selected and how many weeks each is employed will depend first on the choices that incumbent musicians provide in this Solicitation Letter. We are committed to employment of forty-five incumbent musicians in the manner described here. In the event any Incumbent Musician opts out, the Festival will continue to offer positions to Musicians on this list until forty-five (45) Incumbent Musicians are employed or until the list is exhausted. The Festival’s offer for employment will be dependent on funding and an evaluation of the musician’s ability to support the Festival and the new direction it is taking. In the event insufficient funding is raised to employ the number of Incumbent Musicians referenced above and the twenty (20) non-Incumbent Musicians, the complement of musicians will be reduced proportionately among Incumbent and non-Incumbent musicians. Both the Festival and those Incumbent Musicians who are offered and accept employment agree to support the efforts to meet these funding requirements.
As a first step in this process, our Artistic Director, Jonathan Gandelsman, will determine instrumentation requirements for the 2010 Orchestra in consultation with Festival Director, Henry Fogel. Programming will be determined by the Festival President, Festival Director and Artistic Director with additional input from curators as appropriate. The Artistic Director will determine the seating for new non-incumbent musicians who will be distributed throughout the Orchestra to insure that each section/family of instruments have a sufficient participation of these musicians who are experienced in the collaborative model we are implementing. In any given week there will be at least twenty (20) Orchestra positions filled by these non-incumbent musicians.
In completing seating, we will first consider those incumbent musicians who submit a request for six weeks. After selection of those incumbent musicians who opted for six weeks, Johnny, working with the Section Leaders (those who performed as Principals in the 2009 season), will seat the balance of the Orchestra, placing musicians according to the specific instrumentation needs of any given program, as well as the musicians’ preference for number of weeks and placement of those weeks. The Artistic Director may use his discretion to use programming as a tool, consistent with the thematic approach for the Season, to maximize incumbent musician preferences.
We are asking musicians to indicate not only their first and second preference for which weeks they would prefer to work but also, for those who are able, which non-consecutive weeks the musician could play. This will afford flexibility to maximize the accommodation of as many incumbent musicians as we can for the longest duration of employment, according to their preference.
In the event a section is oversubscribed in this process, the selection of which incumbent musicians will be offered employment in each section will be made by the Section Leaders, in consultation with the Artistic Director. In the event Section Leaders, for whatever reason, decline to participate in this process, the Festival will employ a fair process for selection.
In the 2010 season, the Artistic Director will institute a process for seating and rotation of Principals.
First, you must decide whether or not you would like to remain with the Festival. i.e. “opt in” or “opt out”.
Next, for those of you who opt in, you must decide how many weeks you prefer to work. Those who opt for six weeks will have first preference in seating. If you opt in for less than six weeks, you should indicate as many combination of weeks for which you wish to be considered for up to four (4) weeks. Some of you, based on your own individual circumstances, may be able to indicate non-consecutive weeks. The more combinations of weeks you provide, the more flexibility we will have in seating.
In past seasons, some musicians have declined employment for an entire season for personal reasons. These have included, for example, an offer of summer employment elsewhere, or personal considerations (e.g. a spouse’s work assignment, health issues including maternity). If you wish to opt in for employment with the Festival but wish to take advantage of this opportunity to pass on the 2010 Season, please indicate on the attached form that you prefer to opt in but are passing next season and the reason you are passing. You must provide an explanation. If an incumbent musician chooses to opt in and is offered employment but chooses to pass on the 2010 season, (s)he will be placed on the substitute list.
You must submit the attached form to the Festival so that the Festival receives it no later than close of business, Friday, November 13, 2009. You may choose to mail it via US Mail (we recommend that you send it certified mail, return receipt requested) or email with a request for confirmation of receipt by the Festival.
However, in the event your selection is not received by November 13, 2009 or if you choose to opt out of the 2010 Season, or if you opt in but are not offered employment, you will no longer be considered for employment by the New Hampshire Music Festival.
David H. Graham