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ACSO Annual Conference
August 16 - 18, 2023
Conference Welcome from ACSO Leadership

After four long years of virtual conferences and Zoom meetings, the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) Annual Conference is back in person and we could not be more excited to connect our members and music community face-to-face so we can give resilience, inspiration, and support to one another.

For the first time in our 54-year history, we are gathering in the Inland Empire! This region of the state often flies under the radar despite its booming population, fascinating history, inspiring scenic beauty, and thriving arts and culture scene. You will get to experience all of that at the conference, thanks in large part to our host, the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, and our partners, the Redlands Symphony and the Riverside Philharmonic. We are also grateful to the City of Riverside for hosting us and making us feel so welcome.

The 2023 conference theme - Uplift & Amplify - emphasizes the foremost work of the orchestra industry today: to center the needs of our audiences, welcome new artistic voices, and use the power of music to serve and connect communities. All of the content being delivered by over 40 incredible speakers at this gathering was specifically chosen to help us generate profound and creative ideas about strengthening the work we do as arts leaders and wielding the influence of our organizations to build a better world.

This conference would not have happened without the sponsors, funders, exhibitors, and partners who have been so generous with their time, talent, and treasure. Thank you.

It takes a village to put on an event of this scale, so we want to thank the ACSO staff, board, conference planning committee, and volunteers for their tireless work.

Finally, thanks to you, our members and community. ACSO wouldn’t exist if you didn’t find value in being part of this network and care about the future of our field.

Enjoy the conference. We hope you find it uplifting!

Elizabeth Shribman

Elizabeth Shribman
ACSO Board President
Chief of Staff, San Francisco Symphony

Sarah Weber

Sarah Weber
ACSO Executive Director

Jessica Bejarano

Jessica Bejarano
ACSO Board Member & Conference Co-Chair
Founder & Music Director, San Francisco Philharmonic / Curator & Scholar in Residence, San Francisco Opera 

Dean McVay

Dean McVay
ACSO Board Member & Conference Co-Chair
Immediate Past President, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra 

Special Thanks to the 2023 Conference Planning Committee

Jessica Bejarano, Co-Chair
Dean McVay, Co-Chair
Tara Aesquivel
Caroline Bamforth Firman
Chelsea Chambers
Jenny Darlington-Person
Julia Dean
Kevin Eberle-Noel
Tiffany Fajardo
Richard Lonsdorf
Jonathan Rios
Anne Viricel
Sarah Weber
Becky Whatley

Wednesday, August 16

8:00 AM-4:00PM
Registration & Exhibitor Marketplace Open
Location: Ramona Court & Spanish Art Gallery

Make this your first stop at the conference! Get registered, grab a cup of coffee, and connect with businesses and individuals that support our field. Learn more about their services and what they can do for you.

9:15-10:00 AM
Conference Orientation
Location: Santa Barbara

Speakers: Kevin Eberle-Noel, Executive Director, Redlands Symphony; Sarah Weber, Executive Director, ACSO; Becky Whatley, Executive Director, Riverside Philharmonic

This helpful overview will quickly orient you to the highlights of the conference agenda, help you get the lay of the land in Riverside, and arm you with networking tips to amplify your time over the next three days when connecting with new colleagues and friends.

Bamuthi10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Opening Plenary: The Brea(d)th of the Task
Location: Grand Parisian Ballroom

Keynote Speaker: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

“The Brea(d)th of the Task” invites participants to consider how we move from a paradigm of gestural anti-racism to structural and generative allyship. Marc Bamuthi Joseph has made critically acclaimed work for both opera and orchestral companies of renown that have served the dual purpose of generating equity strategies for local minoritized communities. He will use his multiple roles as artist, citizen philosopher, educator, and Vice President of Social Impact at the Kennedy Center as launching points for a discussion on how we collectively design a future of “inspiration for all.

Musical Moment
Adagio and Allegro for oboe and piano, Op. 70 by Robert Schumann
Rong-Huey Liu, oboe
Robert York, piano

Sponsored by Sharon Simpson and Dream Warrior Group/ARTdynamix

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Lunch Break
Location: Downtown Riverside

2:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Breakout 1: The Art of Gathering: Bringing the Audience Experience into the 21st Century
Location: Santa Barbara

Presenter: Ruth Hartt, CEO, Culture for Hire

Ruth Hartt looks at the arts sector through the lens of Priya Parker’s bestselling book, The Art of Gathering. You’ll learn how to make cultural events more human-centered, more meaningful, and more rewarding by rethinking purpose and tradition. You’ll get actionable insights on realigning your organizational mission around your community, and welcoming a more diverse audience by creating new traditions that reflect today’s world.

Sponsored by Nora Brady

Breakout 2: Understanding, Identifying, and Interrupting Microaggressions in Orchestra Settings
Location: Renaissance Salon

Presenter: Jessica Schmidt, Principal Consultant, Orchestrate Inclusion

Building upon fundamental Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging (DEIB) concepts, this session will introduce the concept of microaggressions, offer examples of how they can appear in orchestra environments and beyond, and build consideration of their effect on individuals of marginalized identities. Participants will explore key styles of conflict and internalize the practice of identifying, interrupting, and responding to microaggressions. The workshop will include time for participants to engage in guided role play with each other, offering early, hands-on practice in responding to microaggressions in real time.

Sponsored by John Wineglass

Breakout 3: Musical Bridges: A Case Study in Building Partnerships Between Orchestras and Cultural Communities
Location: Mediterranean Terrace

Speakers: Issy Farris, Vice President of Operations and Education, Long Beach Symphony; Rong-Huey Liu, Principal Oboe, Long Beach Symphony; praCh Ly, KHMERASPORA writer, director, performer; Kelly Ruggirello, President, Long Beach Symphony

Facilitator: Chelsea Chambers, Executive Director, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California

Located in one of the most diverse cities in the United States, Long Beach Symphony embarked on an unprecedented and historic five-year journey to connect with a community fearful of integration and partnership. Hear members from the Cambodian community, as well as orchestra musicians, board, and staff tell their story of what it took to produce a culturally conscious, intergenerational, emotionally charged, and artistically complex festival together. Panelists will share their insights about the successes and challenges along the way as the Symphony endeavored to celebrate the musical artistry of one Long Beach's many diverse communities through long-term relationship-building with a collaborative mindset. Orchestras of all sizes will leave this session with new inspiration and understanding about what it takes to begin building ongoing, authentic relationships with cultural and ethnic groups within their communities...and why it is essential.

Sponsored by Arts Consulting Group

3:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Breakout 1: Deepening Your Digital Marketing Impact
Location: Renaissance Salon

Presenter: Bailey Pasch, Senior Analyst, Capacity Interactive

It’s been a challenging three years for cultural institutions, and as our industry continues on the road to recovery, investing in digital marketing remains a crucial component for rebuilding audiences. According to IMPACTS Experience, organizations that maintain their digital marketing spend in the face of financial setbacks tend to bounce back faster than those that constrict. The key is investing where it counts, and understanding the tools and tactics that will drive the greatest results for your organization. Learn how to craft a digital marketing strategy rooted in impact and gather inspiration from organizations like yours that are successfully bringing audiences back through their doors.

Sponsored by We Mail For You, Inc.

Breakout 2: Community-Focused Donor Cultivation
Location: Mediterranean Terrace

Presenter: Tyler Rand, Managing Director, Advisory Board for the Arts

In 2021, the Advisory Board for the Arts conducted a survey of over 5,000 donors to arts organizations and interviewed 50 development leaders from around the world. They found three donor segments: Benefits Donors, Arts Lovers, and Community Donors. Community Donors accounted for 35% of top-end donors, were highly involved in arts organizations, and gave twice as much to strategic initiatives than the other two segments. To resonate with this group of donors, organizations need to adopt best practices in community-centric fundraising. This session will provide a new framework toward Community-Focused Donor Cultivation specific to arts organizations.

Sponsored by Scott Vandrick

Breakout 3: The Five REAL Responsibilities of Nonprofit Symphony Orchestra Board Members
Location: Santa Barbara

Presenter: Alan Harrison, nonprofit consultant

In this session, we explore the five most important responsibilities of art nonprofit board members that help their organizations be essential to their communities.

Too often, board members who are also major donors have a high degree of influence on molding the framework of the organization to fit their wishes and personal priorities. That is because there may be no real mission to the nonprofit - except to do “art for art’s sake." However, as 501c3 nonprofit organizations, as defined by the IRS, our primary purpose is to help eliminate or mitigate a community problem.

The lack of a real, tangible mission has led us to this point in time when nonprofit arts organizations are now at risk of closing. The COVID shutdown informed the public about what is truly essential and what is not, and the public decided that nonprofit arts organizations are in the latter group.

But all is not lost if board members can decide to place their nonprofit governance responsibilities ahead of the arts. This “Pre-Post-Pandemic Era” has thrown all the decades-old givens of arts leadership into the fire and reminded us that the phoenix that rises from those ashes might save your community.

Sponsored by Jamei Haswell and Tara Aesquivel Consulting

Book selling and signing immediately following

5:15 PM - 6:45 PM
Overture Party
Location: St. Francis Chapel & The Atrio

Overture PartyThe reception begins with opening remarks and a string quartet performance by Chapman University Hall-Musco Conservatory musicians in the beautiful St. Francis Chapel filled with priceless treasures from around the world. Then it moves out to the Atrio Courtyard for drinks, appetizers, and networking while being serenaded by the lively music of Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar.

Sponsored by the Redlands Symphony and Marian Liebowitz Artist Management

Chapman String Quartet:
Sarah Schmainda, violin
Kaitlyn Irianto, violin
Cayden Walters, viola
Ella Magen, cello

Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar:
Jimmy Cuéllar, Violin/Director
Gustavo Hernandez, Guitar
Jason Franco, Vihuela
Albert Jimenez, Guitarron
Aaron Holguin, Trumpet
Maria Valenzuela, Trumpet
Mizael Peña, Violin
Yesenia Lopez, Violin

7:30 PM - 10:30 PM
San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Concert
Location: Riverside City College Coil School for the Arts Concert Hall

One general admission concert ticket is included with conference registration. Show your conference badge at the door to be admitted. Additional general admission tickets may be purchased at the door for $55.

SBS ConcertJust a short walk from the Mission Inn, join the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra at the Coil Concert Hall for Movies with the Maestro, a night of film music. Maestro Anthony Parnther leads us through several of his favorite movie scores, including some of the scores he has personally led on the session stages of Hollywood! The Symphony will also feature a special performance of Emmy award-winning Kris Bowers’ Concerto for Horn, featuring Andrew Bain, Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Following the concert, stay for an optional meet and greet with the artists in the lobby.


Thursday, August 17

7:00 AM - 7:45 AM
Location: Ho-O-Kan

Bring your yoga mats and start the day off right with yoga and meditation in front of the Buddha in the Ho-O-Kan room led by yoga instructor Gina Decker.

Sponsored by Dean McVay

8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Registration & Exhibitor Marketplace Open
Location: Ramona Court & Spanish Art Gallery

Grab a cup of coffee and connect with businesses and individuals that support our field. Learn more about their services and what they can do for you.

9:00 AM -10:30 AM
Location: Grand Parisian Ballroom

Musical Moment: Riverside Phil Ensemble
Strum by Jessie Montgomery
Samuel Fischer, violin
Ji Young An, violin 
Aaron Oltman, viola
David Mergen, cello

Keynote Panel - The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture: How an Arts Organization Can Be a Game Changer for a Community 

Speakers: Drew Oberjuerge, Executive Director, Riverside Art Museum (moderator); María Esther Fernández, Artistic Director, The Cheech Center; Patricia Lock Dawson, Mayor of Riverside, Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, Board President, Riverside Art Museum

Drew Oberjuerge

María Esther Fernández
María Esther Fernández

Patricia Lock DawsonMayor Patricia Lock Dawson Ofelia Valdez-YeagerOfelia Valdez-Yeager

Opening in June 2022, The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum is a public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum, the City of Riverside, and comedian/actor Cheech Marin — one of the world’s foremost collectors of Chicano art.

Beyond being the first of its kind, this museum is proving to be a game changer for a region that is often overlooked and underfunded. It strives to put Riverside on the map as a creative and educational hub, a tourist destination, and an incubator for emerging Chicana/o/x artists.

This story from the museum world offers orchestras insights about how we can be game changers for our communities by pursuing opportunities for collaboration, valuing change that is bigger than ourselves, galvanizing grassroots support, and using our missions as tools for the betterment of our communities.

Sponsored by the Inland Empire Community Foundation and the Riverside Philharmonic Board of Directors

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Breakout 1: The World Has Changed and So Must We
Location: Santa Barbara

Presenter: David Taylor, Arts Entrepreneur, Coach & Consultant

The classical music industry faces many challenges in the post-pandemic world. For it to survive, we need to start having conversations about what the future looks like and how we get there. This session examines why the digital age has changed how we interact as a society, why it's important for orchestras to understand it, and that we need to adapt both the concert format and how it is marketed.

Sharing ideas and examples from other industries and inside the classical world, this session gives practical advice and exercises on how to make those changes that apply to any orchestra. Topics covered include identifying the main challenges we face, adding value to the concert experience, audience development, marketing in the digital age, branding and defining your orchestra's voice.

Sponsored by Steve Friedlander and The Bopp Montalvo Group at Morgan Stanley

Book selling and signing immediately following

Breakout 2: The Big Idea: Balancing a Major Gift Campaign with your Annual Fund
Location: Mediterranean Terrace

Speakers: Nuri Kye, Director of Development, Marin Symphony Association; Catherine Heitz New, Executive Vice President, RSC Fundraising; Jeremy Hatch, Principal Consultant, RSC Fundraising

No matter the budget size or goals, your orchestra has a limited number of donors and qualified prospects that often must be shared across multiple fundraising campaigns. How do you balance operational (i.e., Annual Fund) asks from an endowment, capital or special projects ask? Is there a way to have donors give to multiple campaigns without feeling over-asked and overburdened? RSC will guide a discussion, featuring the real-time case study of Marin Symphony’s successful Symphony Sustained campaign, to answer these and other related questions so that your orchestra can enter into a leadership campaign without fear of impacting your much-needed annual support.

Sponsored by Withum

Breakout 3: Concerts That Connect: Building a Compelling Evening from the Ground Up
Location: Renaissance Salon

Speakers: Richard Lonsdorf, Executive Director, New Century Chamber Orchestra (moderator); Jen Babcock, Director of Artistic Production, MUSE/IQUE; Brian Colburn, CEO, MUSE/IQUE; Rei Hotoda, Music Director, Fresno Philharmonic; Julia Ward, Director, Humanities, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Orchestras know all too well the frustration that comes when a performance of compelling artists and repertoire fails to gain traction with audiences. Often we direct blame at audiences themselves, asking why they don't "understand" what we are presenting. But what if we turn our lens on our own programming process? Why are we presenting these works to an audience in the first place? The answer is not always clear, and that has ripple effects throughout the chain of execution, promotion and more. In this session, Richard Lonsdorf gathers several creative programmers from California orchestras to discuss how a concert with clear meaning, context, and relevance helps the story of the evening come to life in a way translates from the brochure to the stage!

Sponsored by Opus 3 Artists

12:15 PM - 2:00 PM
ACSO Annual Meeting & Luncheon
Location: Grand Parisian Ballroom

At the Annual Meeting, members vote on ACSO’s new and renewing board members and learn about the association’s financial health, impact, and future initiatives.

The luncheon also includes a panel discussion about the California Festival followed by a message from California Arts Council Executive Director Jonathan Moscone titled “The (Constant Flux of the) State of the Arts."

Musical Moment: Temecula Valley Youth Symphony Woodwind Quartet
Sunny Days by Jonathan Wall (world premiere)
Married Life from the Disney Pixar film Up by Michael Giacchino, arranged for wind quartet by Aidan Guilderson
Gabby Potter, flute
Olivia Wooldridge, oboe
Zaiba Choudhury, clarinet 
Sofia Latapie, bassoon

CA Festival LogoCalifornia Festival: Exploring Statewide Collaboration and Musical Innovation

Panelists: Laura Bergmann, Associate Director, Advocacy & Community Engagement, San Francisco Symphony, Veronika Krausas, Composer and Professor at USC Thornton School of Music; Meghan Umber, Senior Vice President Programming, LA Phil

Taking place November 3-19, the California Festival is a celebration of new music, honoring the Golden State’s long history of musical experimentation and forward-thinking artistry with more than 90 organizations performing music written in the last five years. The festival was conceived of by LA Phil, San Francisco Symphony, and San Diego Symphony Music Directors Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Rafael Payare and organized in collaboration with ACSO. The panel will explore the California Festival’s content and creation, the state’s legacy of musical innovation, and the impact of statewide collaboration.

Sponsored by Claremont Graduate University Center for Business & Management of the Arts

2:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Breakout 1: Radical Relevance: Reclaiming Relevance to Rebuild Cultural Audiences
Location: Santa Barbara

Presenter: Ruth Hartt, CEO, Culture for Hire

Ruth Hartt offers a new framework for what it means to be relevant in today’s world. She’ll explain the business framework that illuminates customer motivation, and why it matters for arts marketers. You’ll walk away inspired to shift away from traditional arts marketing (which is often boring and, worse, egocentric) to the more empathetic—and more effective—customer-centric approach.

Sponsored by Young Concert Artists

Breakout 2: The Change-Up: Succession Planning Best Practices
Location: Mediterranean Terrace

Speakers: Shawn Ingram, Vice President, Arts Consulting Group; Anwar Nasir, Executive Director, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; Nagham Wehbe, VP Research Practice Leader, Arts Consulting Group; Reggie Wilson, Board Vice President, Pasadena Symphony and POPS

Leadership transitions can be a great challenge or a great opportunity for an orchestra. Join this session led by Arts Consulting Group to learn about best practices in planning for the departure of an executive, artistic, or board leader and the arrival of new leadership. This session will offer strategic recommendations to ensure organizational stability during a time of transition, build collaboration and effective communications between staff and board, support the identification of interim leadership and/or an executive search partner, and effectively engage donors and stakeholders to build confidence in the transition process. The session will also feature a facilitated discussion highlighting the experience of orchestra board and executive leaders related to leadership transitions. The session will conclude with questions-and-answers. Attendees will leave the session with broader knowledge of the leadership transition process and materials to support leadership transition decision-making within their own organization.

Sponsored by BMI

Breakout 3: Improving Capitalization in the Arts: A Primer
Location: Renaissance Salon

Presenter: Tyler Rand, Managing Director, Advisory Board for the Arts

Panelists: Kathryn R Martin, President and CEO, Santa Barbara Symphony; Elizabeth Shribman, Chief of Staff, San Francisco Symphony; Stephanie Stallings, Executive Director; Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra

As organizations reemerge from the pandemic, their cash positions are worse than ever. Nearly half of arts leaders surveyed by Advisory Board for the Arts (ABA) expect a deficit budget next year. Audiences have been slow to return, and many long-time donors are turning their attention to social justice and safety net causes. At the same time, inflation is driving up costs and staff are turning over at record numbers. To survive and thrive, arts organizations of all sizes absolutely must have more capital, and it must be the right kind of capital, to navigate the risky path ahead.

Tyler Rand will present ABA's research on arts capitalization and then talk with a panel of orchestra leaders about how successful capital positioning allows organizations to operate existing programs, preserve long-term assets, and mitigate the risks associated with change.

Sponsored by the ACSO Internal Affairs Committee

3:45 PM - 5 PM
Peer Forums

  • Executive Directors with Budgets Over $1 Million
    Facilitators: Mieko Hatano, Oakland Symphony + Alice Sauro, Las Vegas Philharmonic
    Location: Santa Barbara (closed meeting)
  • Executive Directors with Budgets Under $1 Million
    Facilitator: Kevin Eberle-Noel, Redlands Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Board Members of Professional Orchestras
    Facilitator: Jamei Haswell, Santa Rosa Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Education and Community Engagement Staff
    Facilitator: Laura Reynolds, San Diego Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Operations Staff
    Facilitator: Issy Farris, Long Beach Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Development Staff
    Facilitator: Eman Isadir, Santa Rosa Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Finance Staff
    Facilitator: Natasha Miller-Zahn, Santa Barbara Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Music Festivals
    Facilitator: Jenny Darlington-Person, Music in the Mountains
    Location: Ballroom
  • Youth Orchestras
    Facilitators: Alex Chu, Pasadena Symphony and POPS + Nadia Liu, Young People’s Symphony Orchestra
    Location: Ballroom
  • Community Orchestras
    Facilitator: Chelsea Chambers, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California
    Location: Ballroom
  • Marketing & Patron Services Staff
    Facilitator: Tiffany Fajardo, Berkeley Symphony
    Location: Ballroom
  • Musicians and Artistic Leaders
    Facilitators: John Wineglass, Composer + Bruce Kiesling, Sequoia Symphony
    Location: Ballroom

Sponsored by RSC Fundraising

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Dinner Break
Location: Downtown Riverside

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
President’s Reception (invitation only)
Location: Ho-O-Kan & The Court of the Orient

The President’s Reception is an opportunity for ACSO to thank our Individual Donors and Conference Sponsors at a gathering that includes drinks and light appetizers. Have a drink on us, network with one another, and know how much ACSO appreciates your support! This reception is open by invitation to our Conference Sponsors and individuals who have donated $100 or more to ACSO in the past year. Donate at the registration desk or the door to secure your invitation!

Harp music performed by Sophia Fontes

6:00-8:00 PM
LGBTQIA+ Happy Hour
Location: The Menagerie, 3581 University Ave, Riverside, CA 92501

Hosted by ACSO Conference Committee Co-Chairs Jessica Bejarano and Dean McVay

Get to know your fellow LGBTQIA+ colleagues at this casual networking event held at the longest running bar of record in historic downtown Riverside. Since its opening in 1983, The Menagerie has been proudly serving the LGBT community of Riverside, the Inland Empire, and beyond. This event has a no-host bar. You must be 21+ to attend.

Text the keyword Happy to (323) 615-3513 to sign up

8:00-10:00 PM
Dessert Reception at “The Cheech”
Location: Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture

Cheech ReceptionYou heard the story of how “The Cheech” came to be when an extraordinary art collector connected with a determined community. Now see it in person! Join us for dessert, drinks, and a stroll around the galleries at the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture. This museum, a collaboration between actor Cheech Marin, the City of Riverside, and the Riverside Art Museum, showcases more than 700 pieces of Cheech’s Chicano art collection and is the first North American facility dedicated to Mexican-American art.

Music provided by Heart Sound Entertainment

Sponsored by The Rios Family and the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, with support from the Riverside Art Museum and the City of Riverside Arts & Cultural Affairs Division

Friday, August 18

7:00 AM -7:45 AM
Location: Ho-O-Kan

Bring your yoga mats and start the day off right with yoga and meditation in front of the Buddha in the Ho-O-Kan room led by yoga instructor Gina Decker.

Sponsored by Dean McVay

8:00 AM - 1:00PM
Registration & Exhibitor Marketplace Open
Location: Ramona Court & Spanish Art Gallery

9:00 AM - 10:15 AM

Breakout 1: Epic Fail: Horrible Bosses 
Location: Mediterranean Terrace

Presenter: Aubrey Bergauer, CEO, Changing the Narrative

The top reason employees leave their jobs is not the company, the lack of compensation, or getting a better opportunity elsewhere. Employees leave more than any other reason because of one thing: their horrible boss (Source: literally too many sources). Why are so many managers so bad at managing? How do so many supervisors make our work lives full of dread and misery?

Come to this session to hear some truly horrible stories, and - most importantly - leave with research-based best practices on how to manage people better, create workplaces of belonging and safety, and celebrate a zero tolerance of horrible bosses.

Sponsored by Kathryn R Martin - Next Chapter Coach

Breakout 2: Music Directors Roundtable
Location: Renaissance Salon

Moderator: Jamei Haswell, Board Member of ACSO, the League of American Orchestras, and the Santa Rosa Symphony

Panelists: Jessica Bejarano, Founder & Music Director, San Francisco Philharmonic and Curator & Scholar in Residence, San Francisco Opera; Rei Hotoda, Music Director, Fresno Philharmonic; Sameer Patel, Artistic Director, San Diego Youth Symphony; Ransom Wilson, Music Director, Redlands Symphony

A panel of orchestra music directors provide insight into their own professional journeys, how they collaborate with and support musicians, their relationships with the audiences and communities they serve, how they make programming choices and the inclusion of new music, and the relevance of the orchestra in society today. 

Sponsored by Sean Sutton and Donna Williams

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Closing Plenary
Location: Grand Parisian Ballroom

Lara DownesAmerican Kaleidoscope: Perspectives on Programming

Speakers: Lara Downes, Classical Pianist and Cultural Activist in conversation with Bill Lueth, President of Classical KDFC and Vice President of Marketing and Sponsorships for Classical California

As the closing keynote speaker for the 2023 ACSO Annual Conference, iconoclastic American pianist Lara Downes will introduce and preview selections from her newest project: American Kaleidoscope, celebrating the centenary of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in 2024 with a vibrant and unexpected new arrangement of Gershwin’s masterpiece by the Puerto Rican composer Edmar Colón. Lara reimagines what Gershwin called “a musical kaleidoscope of America”, opening up new perspectives on this American classic to a broad and diverse audience by incorporating musical elements to represent the waves of immigration that have transformed the sound of American life over these last 100 years. This new version honors Gershwin’s blurring of boundaries and expands his vision to reflect the multicultural, kaleidoscopic sounds of American life in our own time.

In conversation with classical radio legend Bill Lueth, Lara will use American Kaleidoscope as an entry point to share her thoughts on how we can establish new standards in authentic, innovative, and relevant orchestral programming by creating bridges between the past and the present, the known and the new, the timeless and the timely.

Lara Downes is known as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene, engaging with communities nationwide through her innovative projects as soloist with orchestras including Philadelphia, Boston, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Detroit. Her approach to performance and curation challenges conventions and extends an authentic welcome to diverse audiences both in and outside of the symphony hall.

Bill Lueth has been a major force in California classical radio broadcasting over the past two decades and was inducted in 2021 into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in the category of management.

Sponsored by Classical California KUSC/KDFC

CD selling and signing immediately following

1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Mediterranean Terrace

Post Conference-Workshop:
Recognizing and Managing Implicit Bias in Orchestra Settings

Jessica SchmidtWorkshop Leader: Jessica Schmidt, Principal Consultant, Orchestrate Inclusion

This 2.5-hour workshop will introduce the concept of bias through the specific framework of the orchestra environment, supporting orchestra staff, board members, and musicians in their own identification and management of bias. Jessica Schmidt of Orchestrate Inclusion will offer context around the importance of practicing recognition of bias in the field and will lead group exploration of affinity and confirmation bias in the context of orchestra practices. The session will encourage shared examination of where and how bias can appear in orchestra settings, serving to equip attendees with additional strategies to recognize and interrupt personal and organizational bias.

Workshop is not included in the general conference registration and has an additional fee of $75, which includes lunch.

Sponsored by Chelsea Chambers and Mieko Hatano

4:00 PM - 10:30 PM
Road Trip to Redlands!

Road trip to Redlands! Kimberly Crest HouseWrap up your conference experience with an evening in Redlands, known for its oranges, Victorian homes, and America’s longest continuously running free summer music festival. We’ll travel 25 minutes by bus to the beautiful Kimberly Crest House & Gardens for a pre-concert reception. Dating from 1897, this property is composed of the Chateauesque style residence and carriage house, a formal Italian garden, and approximately three acres of citrus.

Road Trip to Redlands! Redlands BowlFollowing the reception, we’ll head to the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival for its 100th season finale concert - Classics Under the Stars featuring the Redlands Symphony conducted by Ransom Wilson. Selections include Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 followed by The Harry Potter Symphonic Suite by John Williams.

  • 4:00 PM: Bus to Redlands
    Buses will load on the side of the Hotel near 6th Street.
  • 5:00-6:30 PM: Reception at the Kimberly Crest House & Gardens
  • 8:00-9:45 PM: Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival Season Finale Concert featuring the Redlands Symphony
  • 9:45-10:30 PM: Post-Concert reception hosted by the Redlands Bowl

Sponsored by Dean McVay and ACSO Board of Directors Alumni

Conference Speakers & Facilitators
Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Vice President & Artistic Director of Social Impact, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Lara Downes
Classical Pianist & Cultural Activist
Jennifer Babcock
Director of Artistic Production, MUSE/IQUE
Aubrey Bergauer
CEO, Changing the Narrative
Laura Bergmann
Associate Director of Advocacy & Community Engagement, San Francisco Symphony
Jessica Bejarano
Founder & Music Director, SF Philharmonic; Curator & Scholar in Residence, San Francisco Opera
Chelsea Chambers
Executive Director, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California
Alex Chu
Director of Education & Community Engagement, Pasadena Symphony & POPS
Brian Colburn
President & CEO, MUSE/IQUE
Jenny Darlington-Person
Executive Director, Music in the Mountains
Kevin Eberle-Noel
Executive Director, Redlands Symphony Association
Tiffany Fajardo
Patron Experience and Community Engagement Manager, Berkeley Symphony
Issy Farris
Vice President of Operations & Education, Long Beach Symphony
Maria Esther Fernández
Artistic Director, Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture
Alan Harrison
Author & Nonprofit Arts Specialist, 501(c)(3) Guru
Ruth Hartt
CEO, Culture for Hire
Jamei Haswell
Board Member, Santa Rosa Symphony, League of American Orchesetras, ACSO
Mieko Hatano
Executive Director, Oakland Symphony
Jeremy Hatch
Principal Consultant, RSC Fundraising
Catherine Heitz New
Executive Vice President, RSC Fundraising
Rei Hotoda
Music Director & Conductor, Fresno Philharmonic
Shawn Ingram
Vice President, Arts Consulting Group
Eman Isadiar
Director of Development, Santa Rosa Symphony
Veronika Krausas
Professor of Composition, USC Thornton School of Music/LA Phil
Nuri Kye
Director of Development, Marin Symphony
Nadia Liu
Executive Director, Young People's Symphony Orchestra
Rong-Huey Liu
Principal Oboe, Long Beach Symphony
Patricia Lock Dawson
Mayor, City of Riverside
Richard Lonsdorf
Executive Director, New Century Chamber Orchestra
Bill Lueth
President, KDFC/VP Markeing and Sponsorships, Classical California
praCh Ly
Artist, Long Beach Symphony
Kathryn R Martin
President & CEO, Santa Barbara Symphony
Natasha Miller-Zahn
VP of Finance, Santa Barbara Symphony
Jonathan Moscone
Executive Director, California Arts Council
Anwar Nasir
Executive Director, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
Drew Oberjuerge
Executive Director, Riverside Art Museum
Bailey Pasch
Senior Analyst, Digital Marketing, Capacity Interactive
Sameer Patel
Artistic Director, San Diego Youth Symphony
Tyler Rand
Managing Director, Advisory Board for the Arts
Laura Reynolds
Vice President of Impact & Innovation, San Diego Symphony
Kelly Ruggirello
President, Long Beach Symphony
Alice Sauro
Executive Director, Las Vegas Philharmonic
Jessica Schmidt
Principal Consultant, Orchestrate Inclusion
Elizabeth Shribman
ACSO Board President & Chief of Staff, San Francisco Symphony
Stephanie Stallings
Executive Director, Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra
David Taylor
Arts Entrepreneur, Coach, Consultant
Meghan Umber
SVP, Programming, LA Phil
Ofelia Valdez-Yeager
Board President, Riverside Art Museum
Julia Ward
Director, Humanities, Los Angeles Philharmonic
Nagham Wehbe
VP Research Practice Leader
Becky Whatley
Executive Director, Riverside Philharmonic
Ransom Wilson
Music Director, Redlands Symphony
Reggie Wilson
Vice President, Board of Directors, Personnel, Pasadena Symphony Association
John Wineglass
Composer & ACSO Board Member
Thank you to our sponsors, funders, and partners

ACSO thanks the following sponsors, donors, and funders for making the 2023 Annual Conference possible.


Sharon Simpson

Redlands Symphony

Clairmont University


RSC IE Community Foundation
Classical California combined dream warrior

ACSO Board of Directors Alumni

The Rios Family
San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors Riverside Philharmonic Board of Directors



Young Concert Artists Opus 3 Artists
TA Consulting Arts Consulting Group
BMI_Logo Withum-Advisory-Tax-Audit
The Bopp Montalvo Group at Morgan Stanley ACSO Internal Affairs Committee


Viking Logo Onstage Publications

Arts Mgmt


Nora Brady
Chelsea Chambers
Steve Friedlander
Jamei Haswell
Mieko Hatano
Giuliano Kornberg
Mitch Menchaca
Dean McVay
Sean Sutton
Scott Vandrick
Donna Williams
John Wineglass


Arts & Cultural Affairs Division
Riverside Art Museum


National Endowment for the Arts California Arts Council
ACSO Board & Staff


Elizabeth Shribman, President
Chief of Staff
San Francisco Symphony

Scott Vandrick, Vice President
Chief Development Officer
Pasadena Symphony Association

Alice Sauro, Immediate Past President
Executive Director
Las Vegas Philharmonic

Loribeth Gregory-Beck, Secretary
Education Manager
Museum of Ventura County

Steve Friedlander, Treasurer
Executive Director
Carmel Bach Festival


Jessica Bejarano
Founder/Music Director, San Francisco Philharmonic
Curator & Scholar in Residence, San Francisco Opera

Nora Brady
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Los Angeles Philharmonic Association

Chelsea Chambers
Executive Director
Peninsula Symphony of Northern California

Amanda Wu Chroust
Mid Market Account Executive

Jeri Crawford
Las Vegas Philharmonic

Dr. Mieko Hatano
Executive Director
Oakland Symphony

Jamei Haswell
Santa Rosa Symphony

Dean McVay
Partner, Lewis Brisbois
Immediate Past President, San Bernardino Symphony

Akilah Morgan
Director of Programs
Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles

Jonathan Rios
Director of Major Gifts & Parent Giving
USC Thornton School of Music

Amber Joy Weber
Employ & Empower Program Manager
City of San Diego

Donna M. Williams
Board Member
Oakland Symphony

John Wineglass
JW Productions, LLC


Caroline Bamforth Firman
Conference & Programs Manager

Julia Dean
Membership & Operations Coordinator

Elly Khotim
Conference Intern

Taki Salameh
Conference & Membership Intern 

Sarah Weber
Executive Director


PO BOX 71439
Los Angeles, CA 90071