More gaps appear in the New York Philharmonic

More gaps appear in the New York Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

January 31, 2017

Apart from losing  president and two v-ps in the course of a week, the New York Phil appears to be shedding administrative talent, especially in the fund-raising sector.

Here’s the current list of recent opening positions:

Senior VP of Institutional Advancement
Vice President of Artistic Planning
Senior Director of Development
Development Officer
Director Corporate Sponsorship
Associate Director of Friends Program
Research Manager
Assistant to VP of Marketing
Relationship Marketing Associate


  • Frankster says:

    This is not a good sign…

  • John Borstlap says:

    Very strange. Would there be a connection with the groundbreaking programming of the last years?

  • Larry says:

    Norman, can you please explain where you got this list? The Philharmonic’s own website lists only “Senior Director of Development” and “Director of Development Operations” job openings in the fund raising category. Granted these are very important positions.

  • Michael B. says:

    Why do they need all of these superfluous suits with hugely overlapping duties who do not play or conduct a single note? The administrative positions at American orchestras have expanded mightily during a period when revenues have been stagnant, attendance has been declining, and governmental support at all levels has just about vanished. Surely there are possible economies here that will never be perceived by the most discerning listener or critic. Maybe someone could write a computer program that would turn the emails that these people fire back and forth into a musical score (that would really scare Mr. Borstlap)?

    • John Borstlap says:

      I am not scared of email electronic art, for I like Morton Feldman quite much.

      But indeed, something is going-on there.

      The NY Phil has a decent nr of staff, it seems to me, and considering that the Vienna Phil has ony a handful of staff which are mainly the players themselves, it is logical that running an orchestra needs professionals – apart from the players. In the US there is the necessity of intense fundraising which requires more people than in Europe. But sometimes staff seems to take-on quite a different meaning. For instance, the Boston Symphony is run by a crowd of 178 people:

      …. which is more than the orchestra itself: 95 musicians – conductors not counted, nor the occasional extra players hired for special luxury programs.

      This looks as if the orchestra is used as an income provider for a lot of people who don’t play music at all.

    • John says:

      Have a look at their 201 annual report and then tell me they have many superfluous positions.

  • Has Been says:

    The issue probably has to do with the lack of oversight by the board, who is made up of rich contributors insecure of their knowledge of music management. Yes, there is an unnecessary amount of overlap and unprofessional experience. Much of the fundraising is done by well meaning amateurs. Fundraising in America requires pin point marketing experience and professionalism. Same with marketing of concerts. It is not a job for amateurs. It is a board responsibility to get to grips with it and not just go to parties, receptions and claim their place on the social register.!

  • Joel says:

    I don’t know about the NY Phil, but I’m pretty sure the large Boston staff includes those who run Tanglewood. And then we have the Boston Pops, which includes the BSO players AND the Esplanade orchestra – which tours.. And Boston Symphony Hall, which is not exactly a maintenance-free facility. It’s easy to quote numbers and make insinuations. As to European orchestras, some of you should figure out exactly how many people it takes the Berlin Philharmonic to stream video of its concerts. Try planning the camera shots for 90 minutes worth of music…….there are a lot of “experts” here who know very little.

  • Nick says:

    Apart from the Artistic Planning post, all are in the marketing, development and fund raising departments. I wonder if this has anything to do with the huge cost of the renovations to the Hall and the fact that the orchestra will be itinerant for a couple of years or so. The amount of money to be raised must still be extremely large and getting cash out of donors is likely to be more difficult during that time.

  • Brian says:

    And meanwhile Orpheus is selling out concert halls wherever they go. Could it be that the message here is that old corporate and cultural hierarchies no longer work in a new, connected millennium? Could it be that the dysfunctionality of trickle-down art is being exposed as clearly as its economic counterpart? These are just questions, but then again, every renaissance in history has begun with the posing of new and challenging questions. It is the mission of any art worth the name to raise such questions and explore them to the greatest depths it can reach.

    • NYMike says:

      Comparing apples to…..Although great at what they do, Orpheus is a conductor-less chamber orchestra, not capable of playing the big works that big orchestras play.

  • John Porter says:

    Orpheus plays a fraction of the number of concerts of the NY Phil. You might just find that in an analysis of the number of services that the NYP has, relative to the number of staff, that Orpheus has more staff members (on a proportionate basis). Four concerts a week, touring, education programs, partnership around the world, and a budget that is likely to be 20 times more than Orpheus, makes it apples and oranges. If you’re saying that the NYP should have a season the size and scope of Orpheus, well, that’s a very different discussion.