Delegates and volunteers supporting major orchestras across the United States and Canada gathered in Washington, D.C., June 2-5, for AMSOV’s 43rd Biennial Conference. They enjoyed four days of sharing ideas, learning, listening to beautiful music and seeing the sights of the U.S. capital.
The conference was hosted by the Volunteer Council for the National Symphony Orchestra, with AMSOV Vice President Carmen Stull chairing the event, which took place at the REACH at the Kennedy Center. The conference theme was “The Power of Music Reimagined." This was addressed through unique innovative lenses of the presenters as they shared their knowledge, experiences, and expertise.
Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter warmly welcomed our group at the Opening Session. She was followed by an illustrious panel of Kennedy Center and National Symphony Orchestra staff and associates, including the NSO’s Composer-in-Residence Carlos Simon; Director of Education Programs and Productions David Kilpatrick; NSO Manager of Community Engagement and Orchestra Projects Michael Mossaad; Assistant Principal Timpanist Scott Christian; and Marketing Manager Kaila Willard. The panel was moderated by Nigel Boon, the NSO’s director of artistic planning. We heard each panelist’s perspective on the challenges of programming orchestral music for the 21st century audience in this post-COVID world.
Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma was a dynamic presenter. She works with children with developmental disorders at the Kennedy Center of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, is medical director of the Mount Vernon (NY) School District and serves as executive director of the Children’s Orchestra Society. She talked about “The Transformative Power of Music” and related several inspirational stories of how music has changed the lives of children her organizations have served. Dr. Ma also entertained us with a video of her and her brother, Yo-Yo Ma, performing as children at a Washington arts fundraiser attended by President Kennedy and former President Eisenhower, with tales of what the two of them most remembered from that performance—including Danny Kaye standing on his head doing an imitation of an orchestra conductor!
We attended a masterful performance by the National Symphony Orchestra of Nino Rota’s Ballet Suite and Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 and Polovtsian Dances conducted by NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda. Maestro Noseda engaged the group the following morning in an interesting and fascinating conversation hosted by NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling.
Over lunch at a historic Washington club, NSO General Manager Genevieve Twomey
and NSO Manager of Community Engagement and Orchestra Projects Michael Mossaad
spoke about the outreach activities of the NSO. This was followed by roundtable discussions on education, fundraising, and membership retention. The event ended with a brief presentation by Don Dagenais
about Kansas City, the host city for the 44th
Business sessions continued at the Watergate Hotel, including a review of bylaws and standing rules updates which were approved. The most significant updates are:
- Dues are now paid annually, rather than biennially.
- All individual members, including board members, pay $25 per year.
- Organization memberships are $150 per year.
Members also voted in a new board of directors. Their names and positions are featured in the right rail of this newsletter.
It wasn’t all serious business. Meetings were interspersed with a tour of the Ippakutei Tea House and
a lovely lunch at the former residence of the Japanese Ambassador where a string quartet from the NSO played for us; a Happy Hour reception at the Kennedy Center’s REACH; a nighttime tour of Washington, D.C. monuments; a luncheon and tour at the Hillwood Estate, the Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion that is now a museum housing her extensive art collection; and a dinner at the Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace Restaurant preceding the NSO concert.
The conference was capped off with the AMSOV Gala at a former Beaux-Arts mansion on Embassy Row, now an elegant private club. During the reception, NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling thanked everyone for coming to the conference and offered his best wishes to AMSOV and the new Board.
The evening was highlighted by a presentation of the President’s pin to former President Sheri Gill, followed by the turning over of the gavel to incoming AMSOV President Carmen Stull by outgoing President Marena Gault. After brief remarks from Carmen and Marena, we were entertained by QuinTango musicians and Tango Brillante DC dancers, in a spirited performance that made us want to get up and join them on the dance floor!
On our last morning at the famed Watergate Hotel where we stayed, a tour was offered of the “Scandal Room”. Most timely, as we were there just days before the 50th anniversary of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters. Others visited the National Museum of African American History, pleased that AMSOV was able to obtain these much sought-after tickets.
For those who were gathered in D.C., enjoy the photos below which will bring back fond memories of our time together. And if you didn’t make it this year but are enticed by what you see and read, mark your calendars now for the next conference: Kansas City, April 18-21, 2024.