When I tell people that I am an operations manager of an orchestra, the first question is usually, what does an operations manager of an orchestra do? My usual response: an ops manager’s job at an orchestra is to take care that all the “people and stuff” required for a concert are present and accounted for.
For a typical orchestra concert, all the arrangements for “people and stuff” begin many months in advance. Once the repertoire has been decided upon, the planning process for the operations manager begins. The number of rehearsals for the concert is determined, along with when and where they will happen. Confirming the number of musicians and specific instrumentation required for each piece of music is next, followed by checking to see if we own the music parts for the concert. If we don’t, then arrangements must be made to purchase or rent those pieces of music. If there is to be a soloist on a concert, the soloist is selected and their fee is negotiated with their management. Performance spaces are selected, and arrangements are made for lighting, recording equipment, camera equipment, pianos and piano tunings. Music arrives in advance of the concert and is reviewed and bowed by the Concertmaster and Principal string players (ever wonder how it is that all the string players’ bows move together? Now you know!). Once all the parts are marked the music is distributed to the musicians.
The week of the concert is when the rehearsals begin. Everyone has had their music and worked on their parts, and it’s the Conductor’s job to pull it all together – and my job to keep everything on and off stage running smoothly, so the collective focus of the orchestra is on the music at hand.
I have so far only shared things that are pretty methodical and process related to my job as an operations manager. The human, artistic element of producing concerts is another story. The creativity and intelligence of the musicians I get to work with is amazing. To hear the individual players blend into the beautiful sound of an orchestra, and communicate with such emotion and passion…this is why I love my job!
Let’s add in the element of competition. Takes everything to a new level, for sure! This last Sunday the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra had the privilege to play for the first of five Finalists for the American Pianists Association on the Premiere Series. Claire Huangci was delightful – a talented young woman who was so poised and calm during the rehearsal process. Watching her interact with Maestro Kirk Trevor before the rehearsal began, she exhibited ease and confidence discussing tempos and other technical matters of the music.
After hearing her performance, I thought to myself how encouraging and exciting it is to hear the next generation of up and coming musicians – and how much I am looking forward to the next APA Premiere Series concert on November 11th!
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra