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Summit Summaries

One of the key benefits that Symphony Services International offers to its Associates and Members is annual Summits. These are get-togethers of similar people from within professional orchestras across Australia and the region. In 2010 we hosted three Summits – for orchestral librarians, Chief Executives and Artistic Administrators.
A key feature of each Summit is an inspiring guest speaker, someone that the group would most likely otherwise not have the opportunity to hear. We’ve been delighted with the feedback we’ve received from this year’s participants, and hope to build on that to make the 2011 offering even more exciting.

Orchestral Librarians

Our first Summit, for Orchestral Librarians, took place on 25 October in the Board Room of the Sydney Opera House. It was attended by the librarians of the six Member orchestras as well as four of the Associate orchestras (Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria).

Following a welcome address by Kate Lidbetter, the invited guest speaker Clare Mirabello from TressCox Lawyers presented the first session entitled “Getting music copyright right: a practical overview” which not only clarified essential concepts and information about copyright in music but also discussed topics relevant to print music and performing rights. Many of the participants were able to obtain advice on specific issues during the question time.

Vi King Lim, Manager of the Symphony Services Music Library, presented the second session Creating new editions: the role of orchestral librarians as editors which examined and highlighted the editorial nature of many of the tasks performed by orchestral librarians when preparing scores and parts for use. He also used the opportunity to showcase Goodear Editions,  SSI’s newly-launched publishing arm, as an example of practical music editing with the orchestra in mind.

The third session of the day took the form of an open forum on resources used by orchestral librarians. Peter Alexander, Opera Australia Librarian, chaired the discussion which looked at printed and online resources and catalogues for checking instrumentation, duration, publisher information, percussion requirements, etc., as well as networking options for orchestral librarians.

The Summit concluded with a tour of the Music Library at SSI and many of the participants also enjoyed a convivial dinner together at a restaurant in Walsh Bay.

On the following day (26 October), the Music Library staff and the Member orchestra librarians held a day-long meeting in the SSI Board Room  to discuss operational and logistical aspects of SSI’s provision of library services to the Member orchestras. In addition to positive feedback about current service levels, some useful suggestions for improvements were put forward and an action plan was compiled to effect changes and refinements to current systems and policies of the Music Library. As a new service to the Member orchestra librarians, remote browse access to the Music Library’s live collection was rolled out with the Member orchestra librarians who received a hands-on tutorial on HLMSW at the end of the day.

Chief Executives and Artistic Administrators

Deliberately timed to coincide with the Berlin Philharmonic’s tour to Sydney, the Chief Executives and Artistic Administrators met at the beautiful APRA board room and conference space in Sydney on Tuesday 16 November.

The morning session was shared, with a presentation from Cathy Milliken, the Australian-born Director of Zukunft@BPhil, or ’Future@BPhil’, the inspiring and exciting education program of that orchestra. Cathy outlined the many ways that the Berlin Phil engages with the local community, in particular children, and how the orchestra endeavours to engage young people from all cultural backgrounds in its educational activity.

It was clear how much the orchestra and its management values the program, and what an integral part of the orchestra’s activities Zukunft@BPhil is. Cathy explained that the program had been set up by Music Director Sir Simon Rattle, and that his stamp is all over the design and implementation of the activities. Clearly the orchestra sees its investment as vital, with five staff working with Cathy and an international reach, as evidenced by the REMIX Mahler activity being run with Year 11 and 12 students in Sydney during the orchestra’s tour. The two-week creative project involved improvisation, composition and musical exploration through the music of Mahler. The project culminated in the students performing their work at the Sydney Opera House alongside the Berlin Philharmonic, a truly amazing opportunity.

Following Cathy’s presentation, the Executive Director of the Major Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council, Tony Grybowski, spoke informally with the group. He updated participants on issues such as the appointment of a new federal Minister for the Arts and his staff and advisers, where the funding model review is up to, and ways that orchestras can best articulate their needs and issues to government and funding bodies. Words that stood out included ‘relevance’, ‘vision’, ‘artistic leadership’ and ‘renewal’. Tony answered a range of questions and joined participants for lunch.

In the afternoon, the groups separated to consider issues of individual relevance. The Artistic Administrators, with representatives from the six symphony orchestras plus the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia, discussed sharing educational product, pooling resources for collaborative commissioning of composers, ways forward with commercial engagements and ways to jointly market and promote their activities. SSI’s Artist Services Manager, Alison Saunders, updated the group on recent changes in the immigration process, best practice in issuing contracts and itineraries, research into ways to share information digitally and airline carry-on baggage policies that have recently been affecting violinists.

Meanwhile, the CEOs had representatives from those same orchestras, plus the Canberra and Darwin Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. They discussed industrial relations and sharing of information, how orchestras can best support each other, interesting models of employment around the world and an update on the situation for orchestras and other music organisations in the UK and US, given different but equally worrisome financial and funding situations in both of those countries.Participants then stayed on to enjoy a drink together, and many headed off to hear the magnificent Berlin Philharmonic perform its opening night concert to a full house at the Sydney Opera House.

Feedback from participants of all Summits has indicated that the events were extremely productive and beneficial.

It is anticipated that the CEO and Artistic Administrator groups will meet annually in this format, while other groups will be convened on a biennial or triennial basis.  SSI is investigating the demand for Summits involving Orchestra Managers, Education Managers, Marketing and Publicity staff and so on. The sky’s the limit when it comes to sharing information! Already the Librarians have decided to meet again in 2012, this time in Melbourne. We look forward to sharing the outcomes of that meeting with you in due course.