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The John F. Kennedy Center SHIFT Symposium

The SHIFT festival provides a national platform for orchestras to showcase the breadth of their innovative work, on stage and in the community. It highlights the ways in which orchestras of all sizes are making a "shift:" where they perform, how they sound, and whom they serve.

I was invited to speak at their inaugural symposium with Rhona Wolfe Friedman (Commissioner, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities), Thomas Wilkins (Music Director, Omaha Symphony and Principal Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl), and Jenny Bilfield (President and CEO of Washington Performing Arts).

We tackled the question "why is change important?" for the orchestras in America who are struggling to adapt to changing local landscapes. Our communities are calling out for more engagement from their non-profits and the art form seeks its place amid the currents of contemporary American life. We challenged American orchestras to take risks, develop cultures of continuous learning, and view their communities as a central partner. You can watch the entire speech here.

The message I shared on stage is simple: we can no longer separate those who use music to perform to inspire a community from those who mentor to uplift the same community. We need to train artists to be both and help connect today's artist to tackle the challenges and opportunities in front of us. There is much work to do in the years to come, but it is great to see our kids at the forefront of that change.

Following my remarks, the Play On, Philly! Symphony Orchestra performed Bizet's Farandale from his L'Arlésienne Suite No.2 under the baton of Christopher Santantasio.

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