Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 14

The Minnesota Orchestra is celebrating many new beginnings, not least
of which is the start of an exciting concert season. Just arrived as interim
president and CEO is
Kevin Smith
, who is familiar to many music lovers from
his 25 years at the head of the Minnesota Opera. He shares his thoughts on the
Orchestra, its role in the community and the importance of collaboration.
Why did you accept the interim leadership post with the Orchestra, and what’s
it like?
We all know that the Minnesota Orchestra is a foundational member of our state’s
cultural community—so when I was asked to play a transitional role here, I jumped at
the opportunity. This past summer was a tremendous experience, as I attended concerts
and met the musicians, board, staff and community groups. I’ve witnessed an incredible
surge of togetherness and creativity, with everyone coming together in new ways to
build the Orchestra’s future, a future that’s artistically driven, community-connected and
financially sound.
We’re already seeing the fruits of collaboration.
Yes, in all aspects. Musicians and staff have worked together on planning and
marketing a remarkable new season. A community member raised more than $100,000
in challenge funds to be matched by Minnesota Orchestra donors, and we more than
exceeded the goal—thanks to hundreds of contributors, including many Orchestra
musicians. Now we want to build on that base, on the interest our community has shown
in the Orchestra, and transfer that passion into participation. We want people to come
often to Orchestra Hall, but we’ll bring the Orchestra out into the community, too, with
education and enrichment activities.
Can you tell us about the upcoming season?
Gladly! We’ve focused on making each concert a special
event, so people coming to Orchestra Hall will be engaged in
new ways. There will be multi-week concert clusters on particular
themes—for instance, Shakespeare, Richard Strauss, Russia,
music of contemplation—that will be supported by visuals and
other activities. For example, we’ll have engaging panel
discussions with faith leaders and poets before the
“Spirit and Spring” concerts. Osmo Vänskä will lead
a wonderful season with terrific guest artists and
As interim president, how do you hope to
make your tenure matter?
Even though I expect to be here for a
relatively short time, I have a responsibility to make
decisions that will support the organization in the
long run, so it will already be set on a good course
when a permanent president takes the reins. But the
most important thing I can do is meet people, listen
to them and strengthen communications throughout
the whole Orchestra family and the community. The
word symphony literally means
sounding together
and with all the energy and optimism I’ve encountered,
I’m pleased that our Orchestra and our community are
doing exactly that.
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