NY Times thinks running an orchestra is a real job

I don’t know if the New York Times has done this kind of profile on an orchestra musician yet; we may need to be content to see one on an orchestra manager. At least they picked a good one to profile:

In early 1990, I got a call from the New York Philharmonic, which was looking for an executive director. I felt as if I had been named president of Harvard.

The orchestra was about to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 1992. To mark the cultural milestone, we initiated programs that were innovations at the time, such as rush-hour and Casual Saturday concerts. We also brought the budget into balance and enjoyed close to a decade of robust artistic and financial health.

One winter Sunday in 1997, I was sitting in my apartment, reading the newspaper, and saw an artist’s rendering of plans for a new concert hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, designed by Frank Gehry. I was stunned by its beauty and felt a surge of professional envy.

More than two years later, a search firm called and I was offered the job of executive vice president and managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I flew to Los Angeles and spent a day at Frank’s studio admiring the beauty of the models for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I also met with Esa-Pekka Salonen, then the music director. Their artistry made an enormous impression on me.

I accepted the job and began on Jan. 1, 2000, the start of the millennium. I was promoted to president and C.E.O. in October 2003.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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