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Welcome to the September edition of The Podium

Our second edition of The Podium for 2014 provides an interesting discussion about ‘cost disease’ and other challenges faced by orchestras around the world. Written by our colleague Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras, its revealing subtitle (‘That’s no way to run a business!’) sums up the conundrum – an essentially loss-making enterprise that must nevertheless function in a fiscally responsible and artistically innovative way.

Since the last edition of The Podium, I have attended the League of American Orchestras’ conference in Seattle, Washington. I was joined there by our US-based correspondent Gordon Williams, and his run-down of the conference canvasses some of the issues it raised. The League sets a high bar when it comes to events of this kind, and there is always something to learn and many people with whom to share ideas and solutions for the kind of challenges posed by Mark’s analysis.

As we go to print, the 2014 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards has just wrapped up. Huge congratulations to the Young Performer of the Year, 16 year old violinist Grace Clifford, who also won the Best Recital, Best Chamber Music and People’s Choice awards. Grace has just taken up a position at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia – someone to look out for in the future! Congratulations also to the runners up, oboist Andrew Kawai, and violinist Anna da Silva Chen, who also won the Nelly Apt Scholarship, and to Kiran Phatak who won Best Performance of an Australian Work for his performance of Brett Dean’s Demons for solo flute. Thanks to our hosts, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, to all who were involved in making the event a wonderful success, and finally to our conductor Christopher Seaman, who will be known to our American and British readers.

Don’t forget to check out our Speed Read for perspectives from other parts of the world, and read about our featured Member, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Our Top Tip this time is a shameless plug for Symphony Services International’s own product, the Goodear Acoustic Shield.

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Kate Lidbetter

Chief Executive Officer

The orchestral business model – That’s no way to run a business!

In recent years there has been much discussion of the orchestral business model. What is the view from the UK? Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras, offers his perspective.

Orchestras in our time and place: the League of American Orchestras’ conference, Seattle, 2014

This year’s League of American Orchestras conference took place in Seattle. Gordon Williams was there to record his impressions and feelings about the role of orchestras in the 21st century. Read his thought-provoking report.

TOP TIP: Goodear Acoustic Shield

All orchestras need a range of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) products to ensure their members are kept safe from workplace harm. Hearing is a particularly sensitive issue, and one that is intensely personal to the performer. Some like to use earplugs; others don’t. Some like personal shields, others find them intrusive. Rostering and managerial techniques also form part of the equation. The key lies in flexibility – each orchestra needs a range of tools in their arsenal to help fight hearing damage.

One excellent option is the Goodear Acoustic Shield, manufactured and sold by Symphony Services International. Priced to suit not only professional orchestras but also amateur/youth ensembles and individuals, Goodear features a wrap-around, soft headpiece on an adjustable stand. Unlike hard, clear shields which protect shielded players but bounce harmful sound at others, Goodear protects everyone sitting adjacent to it. When measured directly behind the shield in normal use position, the attenuation provided by Goodear is approximately 8dB (equivalent to an 84% reduction in dangerous sound exposure). This is a substantial safety tool for orchestral and band players.

For further details, including the full range of independent testing carried out by the Australian government’s National Acoustic Laboratories and Musicians’ Hearing Services, as well as price lists and other information, visit

Featured Member orchestra: The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

For more than six decades the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has been at the forefront of concert life in Tasmania. The TSO is a much loved cultural institution and 'a source of pride' to 90% of Tasmanians, according to a recent survey. Read more.

Speed Read

This edition’s Speed Read begins with a couple of links about new names on the scene. There’s a lot of talk about the crisis of opera, but here are some artists whose activities indicate that the genre is still alive and kicking:

14 Artists Who Are Transforming The Future Of Opera

Then there's news of WQXR’s 24-hour presentation of emerging women composers

And to end, here's a more general article on the nature of creativity.