Thursday, April 20, 2006

Esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra Hires Internet-Savvy Educator To Help Lead It Into The Broader Contemporary World

PHILADELPHIA - "The Philadelphia Orchestra has appointed a music-conservatory dean as its next president and chief executive officer, citing his fundraising success and ability to turn to new technology to expand the appeal of classical music.

James Undercofler, dean of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., is expected to start Aug. 1, succeeding Joseph H. Kluger, who announced in May he would resign after 16 years as the orchestra's president.

An 18-member committee of musicians, staff and board members recommended Undercofler, in a departure from current industry practice. The leaders of the other Big Five orchestras, in New York, Chicago, Boston and Cleveland, worked their way up in the orchestra industry.

The decision also marked a course change for Undercofler, who less than a month ago announced a new five-year term as the Eastman dean. He said he had called Philadelphia to take his name out of the running, had regretted doing so, and after five days had been contacted again by the search committee.

Orchestra officials pointed to Undercofler's fundraising record, overseeing a $100 million increase in the value of the Eastman School's endowment while dean, and his technological orientation, using the Internet to set up interactive lessons between students in Rochester, N.Y., and Glasgow, Scotland.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to grow audiences through the Internet," said Harold A. Sorgenti, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. "Selling 2,500 seats for a concert is not where it's going to be for the next 10 years." ...

Though he said he was hesitant to put forth ideas so soon, Undercofler said he would emphasize outreach and education. Eastman started a program this month called Music for All, sending students and their music to hospitals, schools, bookstores, churches and other community centers.

"You'll hear me talk about the power of music and what it can do for communities and individuals," Undercofler said. "The malaise in classical music in America is that we've lost that connection. The theme for me is building those connections.""

Associated Press "Philadelphia Orchestra names Eastman School dean as president" via April 20, 2006

Architectural detail from the newer Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The Center is the home of the esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra, which is now seeking new ways to connect with 21st century classical music audiences.

Photo credit: custom_railing.shtml With thanks.


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