New ACSO Leadership Elected for 2021/22

During ACSO's Annual Meeting on Friday, August 6, 2021, ACSO members elected six new board members, renewed five board members, welcomed new officers for 2021/22, and said thank you to several outgoing board members.

2021/22 board officers

Alice Sauro, President
Executive Director
Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera

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Guest Blog: A Practical Arts Education

 Note from ACSO: The author of this blog, Julia Rael was ACSO's 2021-2022 Program and Membership Intern and her internship was generously supported by a grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

By Julia Rael, ACSO Arts Administration Intern

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ACSO Members Share Their "Coming Together, Breaking Through" Stories

Leading up to the ACSO 2021 Annual Conference Online, we asked members to share their "Coming Together, Breaking Through" stories about how their orchestras brought people together to find support, healing, and inspiration during the global pandemic. 

We compiled written and video responses submitted by ACSO members from All Seasons Orchestra, Folsom Lake Symphony, Mainly Mozart, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, and San Diego Youth Symphony. Their answers truly depict the dedication to providing music and connection for their communities. Read and enjoy!

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ACSO Announces 2021 Award Recipients

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Kris Sinclair Leadership Award, Executive Leadership Award, Emerging Professional Award, and Most Valuable Player (MVP) Volunteer Awards. ACSO’s annual awards program recognizes remarkable individuals and organizations within ACSO’s membership network for their meaningful contributions to the orchestra field.

Kris Sinclair Leadership Award: Sequoia Symphony Orchestra
Executive Leadership Award: Julia Copeland, Executive Director, Youth Orchestras of Fresno
Emerging Professional Award: Virginia Evans, Operations Manager, Reno Philharmonic
MVP Volunteer Award: Terry Brown, Founder and Board Chair, Music in the Mountains
MVP Volunteer Award: Linda Burroughs, Board President, Santa Cruz Symphony
MVP Volunteer Award: Dee Lacy, Board President, Youth Orchestras of Fresno
MVP Volunteer Award: Leslie Lassiter, Board Chair, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
MVP Volunteer Award: George Lucas, Chair of the Performing Arts Docent Tours, San Francisco Symphony
MVP Volunteer Award: Charles Schimmel, Treasurer and CFO, Monterey Symphony
MVP Volunteer Award: Paradise Symphony Society Board of Directors
MVP Volunteer Award: San Bernardino Symphony Music in the Schools Committee

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ACSO Annual Festivals Guide: Music Festivals Return to Live Performance in California and Nevada

Festival season has returned in 2021! As vaccination rates continue to climb and COVID cases continue to fall, our festival members are getting back to work producing safe live events in beautiful places. From June into the fall months, the western United States is once again alive with festivals. Artists from all over the world are coming back to picturesque California and Nevada communities to experience a unique blend of music-making, camaraderie, and fun. The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) is pleased to announce this summer's live offerings from our festival members, highlighting a vital and vibrant way for artists and audiences alike to deeply engage in classical music.

No two are exactly alike, yet each share one common thread: a love and respect for composers, musicians, and the communities in which they are rooted. There are many opportunities to experience world-class performances and connect with the artists who bring these great works of art to life.

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NEA Announces $136,000 in Grants to ACSO and 8 ACSO Members

For its second major grant announcement of fiscal year 2021, the National Endowment for the Arts announces more than $88 million in recommended grants to organizations in all 50 states and jurisdictions. Grants to organizations in three funding categories are included in this round: Grants for Arts Projects, Our Town, and State and Regional Partnerships. Eight organizational members of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), as well as ACSO itself, have been awarded funds totaling $136,000 (see below). For the full announcement from the NEA, please click here.

“As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations reengage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “While the arts, whether through books, movies, or online performances and programs, have been a sustaining force for many throughout the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure.” 

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Up and Down the Scale: January through April 2021

We are excited to share the latest developments and changes in the professional lives of our members. This edition covers announcements made January through April 2021. If you want to share the administrative, board, or staff member happenings at your organization, send announcements to [email protected].

The American Youth Symphony has pledged that 50 percent or more of new music performed by the orchestra will be the work of female composers.

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Guest Blog - Making Lemonade: Local Advocacy During a Pandemic

By Anna James Miller, Executive Director, San Luis Obispo Symphony

After over a decade in arts leadership roles in Washington State, I became captivated by California’s Central Coast and decided to take the plunge and relocate my family. In February 2020 I accepted the role of Executive Director of San Luis Obispo Symphony. Like most, I had absolutely no idea that a global pandemic was merely weeks away from shattering our industry and the livelihoods of thousands in our field.

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Advocacy Call to Action: Your Support Needed for $1 Billion Investment in CA Arts & Culture

ACSO is supporting our colleagues at Californians for the Arts by activating our membership network to join a coalition asking for a transformational $1 Billion investment from the state in the arts, culture, and creative industries and workforce through a series of grant programs from multiple state agencies including SBA, California Arts Council (CAC), and California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE). This investment will address rebuilding the arts and culture ecosystem through jobs recovery, capital improvements, workforce development, and community access to arts.

There are THREE actions you can take before April 28 to help us make some noise about this once-in-a-lifetime chance for California to invest in the arts!

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Lead By Example: A Call for ACSO Board Candidates

If you are a member of ACSO (as an individual or as part of your organization's membership), this is a call for you to directly participate in shaping the field by serving on ACSO’s Board of Directors.

ACSO looks to broaden our board representation by inviting new prospects who reflect our diverse and robust member network. We want to uncover passionate individuals at all career levels who could lend their talents, expertise, and unique viewpoints to ACSO’s Board over the next few years.

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Guest Blog: Expanding the Canon

Expanding the Canon by Katie Pieschala

Note from ACSO: The author of this blog, Katie Pieschala, was ACSO's 2020-2021 Program and Membership Intern and her internship was generously supported by a grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.
In recent years, the classical music field has become increasingly anxious about its relevance. Music magazines and newspapers sound the death knell of the art form and executives wring their hands as their audience numbers decline. While some of this fear is overblown -- do we really believe that orchestras are exclusively populated by octogenarians and destined for imminent extinction? -- classical music is currently not nearly as culturally significant as it has the potential to be. As a young composer and performer, I believe the key to the growth of this field is expanding the canon, using fresh perspectives to reinvigorate existing audiences and engage new ones. We can begin this work re-examining our perception of excellence in classical music.

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New Resource Guide from the League of American Orchestras: Making the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras

Developed by our colleagues at the League of American Orchestras and available at no cost to members and non-members of the League alikeMaking the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras offers concrete answers and practical resources that orchestras can use to advance anti-racism and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at all levels of their organizations. Developed in collaboration with a team of peers—orchestra musicians, music directors, board members, and staff—this resource guide is intended to help the orchestra field take action to become more inclusive and welcoming of all people and all differences.
ACSO encourages our members and network to use this incredible free resource as you are navigating key questions around equity and making your case to take action for change. Click here to access the Guide.

Guest Blog: Student-Led Musical Creativity Encourages Hospital Staff

Student-Led Musical Creativity Provides Pandemic Encouragement for Hospital Staff
Amber Joy Weber, Deputy Director, San Diego Youth Symphony

When I reflect on the past year, my thoughts center on healthcare staff - particularly my husband, Mark Weber. As a hospital chaplain during a pandemic, he and his team have been key to supporting not just patients and families, but also their hospital colleagues - from ICU nurses to respiratory therapists to environmental services - who have experienced waves of frustration, fear, and grief. My husband launched multiple grassroots campaigns, resulting in collecting over 1,000 cell phone chargers for patients, over 600 handmade scrub caps for hospital staff, and even pay-it-forward “donations” for staff to get coffee. It is his responsibility and his nature to provide hope to others, both tangible and emotional, and I have found that it has been mine to encourage him.

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ACSO Members Receive $265,000 in February 2021 NEA Grants

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced $27.5 million in grants as part of its first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2021.

“Grants from the NEA support ACSO's vision of a California classical music landscape that is vibrant, healthy, diverse, and connected to the communities it serves. Especially in challenging times, the NEA is truly the lifeblood of the arts in our country,” said ACSO Executive Director Sarah Weber.

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Up and Down the Scale: October 2020 through January 2021

We are excited to share some of the latest developments and changes in the professional lives of our members. This edition covers announcements made October 2020 through January 2021. If you want to share the administrative, board, or staff member happenings at your organization, send announcements or press releases to [email protected]

Brynn Albanese stepped down as the Concertmaster of the San Luis Obispo Symphony. Associate Concertmaster Emily Lanzone will replace her in the role.

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Leading During Uncertain Times: Words of Wisdom from ACSO's 2020 Award Winners

This past September, the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) announced the 2020 winners of the inaugural Executive Leadership Award, the inaugural Emerging Professional Award, the fourth Kris Sinclair Leadership Award, and the 24th Most Valuable Player (MVP) Volunteer Awards.

As a turbulent year comes to a close, and as we are still navigating the challenges brought on by a global pandemic and engaging in social and cultural changes to promote equity in our field, we asked our award winners to reflect on and answer the question: How do you lead during uncertain times?

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#RestartArtsCA Awareness Campaign Toolkit Now Available for Download

We are pleased to announce that the toolkit for the Statewide Arts Awareness Campaign - #RestartArtsCA - taking place the week of December 7, is now live and available for you to download here.

This toolkit contains sample press release, talking points, social media posts and graphics for you to use for the first phase of the #RestartArtsCA campaign, which is focused on storytelling and data as a means to drive home the necessity of obtaining state guidelines to reopen the arts and culture sector. Please share the content you see in this toolkit with your networks on social media channels, and feel free to adapt it to your particular voice, to spread awareness about the #ReStartArtsCA campaign.

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Thank You to Our 2019/20 Donors!

This is the season when we take time to pause, reflect, and give thanks. And here at ACSO we are thankful for our generous funders, sponsors, and donors who have supported us during an extraordinary and turbulent year.

Thank you to all these wonderful individuals and organizations that have donated to and supported ACSO’s mission and programs.* Your generosity has allowed us to do our work to provide leadership and resources to classical music advocates and organizations.

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Re-Opening the Arts Safely: How You Can Help by Being an Advocate

ACSO is part of a statewide task force, convened by Californians for the Arts, to advocate for re-opening the arts safely. This group is committed to working together in advocacy to educate the state on guidelines needed and sharing resources so that communities across California can begin to access the arts again and we can get back to work.

California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is drafting outdoor live performance guidelines and looking at aligning live arts performances with movie theater reopening guidelines, but it is up to the California Department of Public Health to issue any guidelines.

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Up and Down the Scale: June through October 2020

We are excited to share the latest developments and changes in the professional lives of our members. This edition covers announcements made June through October 2020. If you want to share the administrative, board, or staff member happenings at your organization, send announcements to [email protected]


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