Home | Schedule | SessionsSpeakers | Sponsors 

2021 Online Conference Sessions

MONDAY, AUGUST 2 | 2:00-3:30 PM PT

Conference Welcome and Opening Keynote

Speakers: Afa Dworkin, President & Artistic Director, Sphinx Organization; Daniel Bernard RoumainComposer, Violinist, Educator, Activist

Over the past year and a half, orchestras have gone to incredible lengths to innovate in the name of sustainability. We proved that our industry is capable of taking risks, rising to a challenge, and embracing change.

How do we apply this collective forward movement to our work in equity, diversity, and inclusion? The work can feel uncomfortable and overwhelming, the resources needed can seem unattainable, and it may feel like we never move from conversation to action.

All of this can result in participation paralysis.

To help break through this paralysis, two prominent advocates for racial equity in the classical music field, Afa Dworkin and Daniel Bernard Roumain, will discuss how we can embrace this moment of change, how equity conversations are a fundamental part of the work, and how a singular action can create momentum. They want to hear your ideas too! This is a participatory session and your contributions are highly encouraged.

This session is generously sponsored by Sharon Simpson and John Wineglass.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 3 | 10:00-11:30 AM PT
Plenary Session 

Speaker: Simon Woods, President & CEO, League of American Orchestras

As we emerge from the pandemic, orchestras have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to challenge longstanding assumptions about their missions and how they organize around them. Orchestra leaders are being tested like never before, and the uncertainty that comes with that can be a source of great tension and anxiety. But if we flex with the winds of change, we can build a new future for orchestras – one very much for the better.

This session is an opportunity for ACSO members to get to know Simon Woods, who is completing his first year as League President and CEO, and hear his views on why we can’t afford to let the promise of this moment pass us by.

This session is generously sponsored by Spektrix and Steve Friedlander.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 3 | 12:00-1:30 PM PT
Members-Only Networking Session

Grab a sandwich and connect with your peers over virtual lunch! ACSO’s popular Peer Forums bring orchestra professionals and advocates with similar roles and from similar organizations together to talk about the unique challenges and opportunities they share. These informal, facilitated discussions are a great opportunity to meet new colleagues, reconnect with old ones, and learn from the collective wisdom of your peers. Peer Forums are for ACSO members only. (Facilitators will be added as they are confirmed.)

  • Artistic Leaders and Musicians
    Facilitated by Bruce Kiesling, Sequoia Symphony Orchestra
  • Box Office and Patron Services Staff
    Facilitated by Tiffany Fajardo, Berkeley Symphony
  • Community Orchestra Leaders and Board Members
    Facilitated by Chelsea Chambers and Sheri Frumkin, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California
  • Development Staff
    Facilitated by Scott Vandrick, Pasadena Symphony & POPS and Michael Hicks, Reno Philharmonic  
  • Education and Community Engagement Staff
    Facilitated by Jesse Schiffman, San Diego Symphony
  • Executive Directors & CEOs of Professional Orchestras with Budgets Over $1 Million
    Facilitated by Kelly Lucera, Long Beach Symphony
  • Executive Directors of Professional Orchestras with Budgets Under $1 Million
    Facilitated by Elizabeth Quivey, North State Symphony
  • Finance and HR Staff
    Facilitated by Alicia Gonzalez & Maureen Melville, San Diego Symphony
  • Marketing and Communications Staff
    Facilitated by Nora Brady, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Music Festival Leaders and Board Members
    Facilitated by Jenny Darlington-Person, Music in the Mountains
  • Operations Staff
    Facilitated by Connor Bogenreif, Long Beach Symphony
  • Trustees of Orchestras with Budgets Over $1 Million
    Facilitated by Kathryn Martin and Janet Garufis, Santa Barbara Symphony
  • Youth Orchestra Leaders and Board Members
    Facilitated by Julia Copeland, Youth Orchestras of Fresno

This session is generously sponsored by The Abbott Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley and Scott Vandrick & Tony Foster.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 3 | 2:00-3:30 PM PT
Plenary Session
Leverage Your Leadership Moment

Speaker: Eric MartinManaging Director, Adaptive Change Advisors

We each have five leadership moments every day.

Would you recognize a leadership moment when it comes your way?
Would you know what to do when it does?

Orchestras are coming through a period of rapid innovation in the midst of a time of unprecedented change. Sustaining a spirit of innovation on the other side of the transition invites a different kind of leadership...a democratizing leadership that welcomes unconventional voices, skills, organizational culture, and choice-making.

Facilitated by Eric Martin, author of the recent book, Your Leadership Moment, this highly interactive session explores the leadership moments you face regardless of your role within or outside of the orchestra.

Eric is an internationally acclaimed expert in Adaptive Leadership, a framework for leadership and change developed at Harvard University over 35+ years. Drawing on Eric's experience helping leadership teams through times of transition and uncertainty, we will explore the choices and leadership moments orchestra managers and administrators can seize to create consequential change for themselves, their orchestras, and their communities.

This session is generously sponsored by Aspen Leadership Group and Kathryn R. Martin Next Chapter Coaching & Consulting.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4 | 10:00-11:30 AM PT
Plenary Session


Speaker: Vu LeRabbelrouser, Nonprofit AF

Over the past year, as society grapples with a pandemic and systemic racism, nonprofits have stepped up. Arts organizations have provided lifelines to many while undergoing funding and other significant challenges. While our sector remains vital, it continues in many ways to perpetuate the inequity it is trying to fight. Fundraising, in particular, has been fraught with problems. Having been centered on the comfort of the privileged, it reinforces white saviorism, poverty tourism, and the perpetuation of the Nonprofit Hunger Games. Fundraising in the arts is no exception. What does it look like to reinvent a new fundraising philosophy, framework, and set of practices? How do we center the voices of the communities most affected by injustice? How do we do this when so much of our work still depends on traditional practices? It won't be easy, but we must be bold and courageous to advance a more equitable world. 

This session is generously sponsored by Aubrey Bergauer and Lee & Shirley Rosen.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM PT


Don’t miss the chance to connect and chat with our sponsor companies! These businesses have been working closely with orchestras and performing arts groups during the pandemic to help build their operational and leadership capacity and respond to rapid change. Their financial support has also made it possible for us to offer our 2021 Annual Conference Online as a “pay what you can” event. Use this dedicated time to visit with them at their virtual exhibitor booths and learn what they can do to support your orchestra.

Members-Only Networking Session


Facilitator: Alice Sauro, Executive Director, Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera & Julia Rael, Program and Membership Intern, ACSO

Are you an emerging professional looking to meet and network with fellow early-career orchestra administrators? Then this roundtable is for you. Meet other emerging leaders, discuss your most pressing issues and ideas, and participate in a guided discussion about the future of our field. This session will be facilitated by Alice Sauro, Executive Director of the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera and ACSO Board President, and Julia Rael, ACSO's Program and Membership Intern. ACSO defines “Emerging Professionals” as those who have been in the field for less than five years, regardless of age. This roundtable is for ACSO Emerging Professional members only.

This session is generously sponsored by Giuliano Kornberg and Dean McVay.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4 | 4:30-6:00 pm PT
President's Reception

On Wednesday, August 4, from 4:30-6:00 PM, ACSO sponsors and donors are invited to attend a special beer and cheese tasting experience led by beer expert Dr. Charlie Bamforth - perfect for those who love beer AND for those who don’t! Following the tasting, guests will break into small groups for a few rounds of hosted speed networking.

This event is not included with conference registration. It is open by invitation to ACSO conference sponsors and individual donors as a way to say thank you to those who have donated $150 or more during the 2020/21 membership year. Not a donor but want to join us? You can choose the $150 or higher “pay what you can” options when registering for conference to receive a separate invitation to the reception. If you wish to confirm your donation status, email [email protected] You must become a donor by July 15, 2021 in order to attend the reception.

About Our Beer Expert: Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UC Davis, now Senior Quality Advisor at Sierra Nevada Brewing and 43-year veteran of the brewing industry, Dr. Charlie Bamforth, will lead guests through a guided beer tasting. Dr. Bamforth taught at UC Davis in the Food Science and Technology Department for 20 years, and is a world-renowned expert on beer and brewing. Passionate with a generous dash of humor, Charlie has a way of convincing even those who don’t think they like beer that there is a beer out there for them.

Charlie will provide guests with a list of beers and suggested cheese pairings ahead of time, so you can gather the supplies you’ll need to follow along. He’ll explain how different ingredients, brewing methods, and storage all lead to the wide variety of tastes available at local stores and breweries. Not a big drinker? Not to worry! We’ve got suggestions for the best nonalcoholic beers to try as well.

This event is generously sponsored by Sharon Simpson and ACSO President Alice Sauro.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5 | 10:00-11:30 AM PT
Plenary Session

Speakers: Julie Baker, Executive Director, Californians for the Arts; Marni CookSenior Director Community Engagement & Volunteer Services, San Francisco Symphony; Gustavo Herrerra, Executive Director, Arts for LA; Heather Noonan, Vice President, Advocacy, League of American Orchestras; and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, California's 65th Assembly District. 
Moderators: Giuliano Kornberg, Chief Revenue & Development Officer, Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera; Sarah Weber, Executive Director, ACSO

Arts advocacy has never been more necessary than now. Over the last 18 months, our industry's survival depended on massive coordinated efforts at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure policymakers and elected officials included arts workers and arts organizations in relief funding. In California, the arts were the first to close when the global pandemic hit, and they were the last to receive reopening guidelines. We needed to advocate strongly for a place at the policy table and for consideration from our officials about our importance in the state's economic and wellness ecosystems.

The past year has also taught us transformational advocacy lessons about our field, such as how getting out of our silos and working together across arts disciplines and organizations is vital, how resources and opportunities are not distributed equitably to BIPOC artists and arts organizations, and how every single one of us has a responsibility to advocate for our sector.

This panel of experienced arts advocates will reflect on:

  • lessons we learned about how the arts are included in funding and policy making
  • how the events of the past year will change the way we advocate and define our advocacy priorities going forward
  • the long-term political/policy impacts that COVID may have on the arts
  • how we can support our elected officials who are championing our recovery and success

This session is generously sponsored by PBO Advisory Group, Jamei Haswell, and Mireya Asturias Jones.

Members-Only Networking Session

Over a virtual lunch hour with your colleagues, unpack and dive deeper into one of the six plenary session topics presented during conference. Share challenges and ideas that emerged as you listened to the plenary speakers, and be inspired by creativity and solutions from others. In small breakout groups, these informal discussions are led by experienced facilitators who will kick things off by sharing their own experiences and questions surrounding these topics. They then will open it up for group conversation. Idea Exchanges are for ACSO members only. (Facilitators will be added as they are confirmed.) 

  • A New Future for Orchestras
    Facilitated by Aubrey Bergauer, Changing the Narrative
  • Building Community Relationships
    Facilitated by Chrysa Kovach, ACSO and Jazmin Morales, Colburn School
  • Community-Centric Fundraising
    Facilitated by Nicola Reilly, Monterey Symphony
  • Equity in Action
    Facilitated by Elizabeth Shribman, San Francisco Symphony and Alicia Gonzalez, San Diego Symphony
  • Everyone is an Arts Advocate
    Facilitated by Leni Boorstin, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Post-COVID Organizational and Leadership Shifts
    Facilitated by Amber Weber, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory

This session is generously sponsored by Bennett Direct and Stephen Wilson.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5 | 2:00-3:30 PM
Plenary Session

Speakers: Charles Dickerson, Executive Director and Conductor, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles; Jazmín MoralesAssistant Director, Center for Innovation and Community Impact, The Colburn School

It is more important than ever for orchestras to authentically engage with communities and audiences to ensure that our missions are impactful, that we are inclusive and accessible, and that we are responsive to community need and input. In this session, we will explore frameworks for orchestras to use to meaningfully engage their communities that challenge traditional methods of “outreach” and instead center relationships to maximize impact. The session will be led by Jazmín Morales, Assistant Director of the Colburn School’s Center for Innovation and Community Impact, and she will be joined by Chuck Dickerson, Executive Director and Conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. The session will be part presentation, part conversation, and part activation as we practice what it means to be a community.

This session is generously sponsored by Withum, Nora Brady and Loribeth Gregory-Beck.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 6 | 10:00-11:45 AM
Closing Plenary & ACSO Annual Meeting

Speakers: Mieko HatanoExecutive Director, Oakland Symphony; Michael MorganMusic Director and Conductor, Oakland Symphony

The Oakland Symphony's executive director, Mieko Hatano, and music director, Michael Morgan, will reflect on the challenges of the past year for the orchestra sector. They will recognize the ways California orchestras worked to innovate and continued to bring music to their communities during the pandemic and will discuss how the world has changed for orchestras and how we can rise to meet those changes head-on and be more mission-centered and relevant in the years ahead.


The Annual Meeting gives ACSO members the chance to vote on the slate of new and renewing board members, meet next year’s officers, and learn about the association’s financial health, strategic progress, and future initiatives.

The ACSO Awards Program recognizes remarkable individuals and organizations for their meaningful contributions to the orchestra field. The following awards will be presented: the Kris Sinclair Leadership Award, the Most Valuable Player Volunteer Awards, the Executive Leadership Award, and the Emerging Professional Award.

This session is generously sponsored by Jeri Crawford, Sean Sutton, and Robert Swaney Consulting, Inc.