New job: Managing director of string quartet

New job: Managing director of string quartet


norman lebrecht

July 02, 2020

The Jack Quartet has appointed a managing director.

Her name is Julia Bumke and she is ‘a new work dramaturg and nonprofit strategist who fosters composers, performers, and playwrights at all stages of their careers.’

She started work yesterday and her salary is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts’ Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) Initiative.

Why a string quartet should need a fulltime CEO is open to question. But why the public purse should pay her wage is baffling indeed.

Go on, explain.



  • CA says:

    Perhaps it cheaper than the quartet hiring an agent? And they get dedicated attention.

  • Couperin says:

    And: “Her musical background stems from a degree in French horn performance from The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division.”

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Someone has to handle the bookings, travel arrangements, concert sites, contracts, etc.

    Bring it in house and save money rather than rely on those wretched leeches who charge 20%.

  • caranome says:

    Another made-up, busy-work, sub living-wage job only fit for those who do this for love and/or who has access to OPM (other people’s money) such as parents, spouses n taxpayers.

  • steven holloway says:

    And she also teaches Yoga! What more could a string quartet ask for? She “fosters” composers, does she? Shame she wasn’t around to foster Beethoven. That would have given her second thoughts about fostering composers; indeed, about cobbling together a collection of very different roles in the Arts in order to get an income without the indignity of regular employment. She can always fall back on the Yoga, though. (I wonder if she’s a distant American relative of Arthur Asske.)

  • Dd says:

    Geez. Give her a chance. Who knows? Something very good may come of this.

  • Mr. Knowitall says:

    Regarding “But why the public purse should pay her wage is baffling indeed,” isn’t just about every classical musician, technician, and administrator in Europe paid with public money? And unlike the on-going support that Europeans receive, Ms. Bumke’s salary is a result of a seed-money program.

  • J. Pratt says:

    Love that these comments focus on things listed on her personal website as hobbies and ignore that she has advanced degrees from Harvard and Princeton. That’s not gendered and creepy at all.

  • Sbm says:

    I’m sorry – why does this post even exist?

    Does the author or commenters below have any experience as a Managing Director or management of a nonprofit 501-C3 in the chamber music world?

    The work incurred is far beyond an in-house job and requires training, time, and energy devoted to:
    – booking and gig advancements
    – financial management
    – board management, donor cultivation and communication
    – media and marketing strategy/implementation
    – my list could go on…

    Also I would check your gender bias commenting on someone’s work outside of what you find to be acceptable or the “norm”

    • SVM says:

      Sbm seems to think that persons who are not themselves expert insiders have no right to question the value of a particular approach, not even when taxpayer subsidy is involved.

      Lebrecht, quite reasonably, is asking why a string quartet needs a *full-time* manager, and why this manager has the job title “managing director” (such a title may be fairly common for larger ensembles and chamber *orchestras*, but is definitely not the norm for a string quartet, not even for one with professional management). At the end of the post, he actually invites those in the know to explain.

  • Stephen says:

    The job spec answers all your questions!

    In short, it’s rather more than just an agent for a string quartet.

  • Dave says:

    They have a manager. They’re with Colbert Artists. She is part of their personal team.

  • Will says:

    *JACK Quartet

  • Robert Pape says:

    Since you asked:

    Why would it be surprising for any ensemble with professional musicians to not also have a professional manager? My job as Executive Director of Boston Musica Viva is to do everything I can offstage to get my pro virtuoso players and the music of great living composers on stage. They set a high bar for quality, and so do I.

    Professional arts administrators handle management in the widest possible sense so musicians can focus on the music, and the good ones have an exponential impact on fundraising and earned revenue far beyond their salaries. If you look at the groups that are growing and thriving in this era, it’s the ones who maximize their breadth with eager, invested leaders. Artist managers and publicists are good resources for touring groups, but an in-house manager is a dedicated ambassador who builds relationships with patrons and donors. The fundamentals of development don’t change just because you’re a small shop. If anything, it makes them even more critical to survival.