We name the v-p that Curtis sacked

We name the v-p that Curtis sacked


norman lebrecht

August 07, 2020

WE’re in a position to name the member of the Curtis Institute’s senior leadership who was laid off in a day of long knives.

She’s Lourdes Starr Demers, an industry veteran of 20 years who worked for the National Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra before being appointed Senior Vice President of Artistic Operations at the Curtis Institute of Music.

During her time at the Curtis Institute of Music, Ms. Starr Demers has been instrumental in the opening of Lenfest Hall, the ongoing production of Curtis’ highly popular massive open online courses, and the design, development and success of Curtis Summerfest, now approaching its’ seventh year. As a member of the senior team at Curtis, Ms. Starr Demers shares her passion of bringing musical excellence to the greater global music community. She has presented on topics in music education and arts administration at national conferences such as Sphinx Connect (2018) and as part of an ALAANA network for the League of American Orchestras (2018).

We’re hearing a great deal of internal turmoil at her dismissal.

Still no word from Curtis.



  • CA says:

    If I’m not mistaken, she earlier had worked in development and in orchestra personnel management for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Recent Curtis alum says:

    Appalling. Lourdes is a wonderful person and has done so much for Curtis over these last few years. The school should be ashamed of itself.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    From the photo, one imagines that it was a day of light sabres rather than long knives.

    Seriously, it is grievous to read of the turmoil at Curtis over the past several months. I’m sure it’s the students, and music, that suffer most.

  • John Marks says:


    and the design, development and success of Curtis Summerfest, now approaching its’ seventh year.


    One must hope and pray that the apostrophe in ” its’ ” was a transcription error.

    Because if that was sent out by the Curtis Institute, we are all freaking doomed.


  • anonymousalum says:

    It appears that another person let go was Chris Hodges, director of admissions. He was recently called out on the @orchestraisracist Instagram for a comment he made. If that is in fact the case, it is my opinion that this comment is not a justifiable reason for letting this person go. Certainly, there might be more to the story that I don’t know. I have never had a negative experience with said person.

  • Fred Funk says:

    Well, there’s what, about 167 students there? How many people need to be employed in administrative assignments to supervise 167 students?

  • Curtisgrad says:

    Curtis was founded to give the very best talent the chance to have time to develop into extraordinary and individually brilliant performers, who would change the world with their message and ability. Over the almost 15 years that Diaz has been in charge, this ethos has slowly been displaced and Curtis seems now to exist purely for its own existence.
    Diaz’s emphasis on touring (something that he bills himself far too often) has taken away the special thing Curtis was and had; a safe and happy place for brilliant performers to find their feet in the most amazing way.
    He gave the people who have lost their jobs no time or ability to save their jobs, people he recruited from good professional situations. Rather than shutting down the touring dept and redistributing the money that is there for touring (after a $55 million donation for touring from Nina Van Maltzahn) he has shut down the dept that is actually necessary above all others for the Curtis ethic to exist.
    I know many of the faculty at Curtis are so angered by what Diaz has done over the years, recklessly employing people he had no right to be giving jobs to.
    One could ask now what is the point of Curtis. Before Diaz there was a great point to it, and it was a place that was always led by world leading music icons.
    Now this orchestral viola player, with a seemingly enormous chip on his Chilean shoulders has turned it from something extraordinary to something very ordinary.
    It’s probably time he left above all others.

    • hasbeen says:

      I played in a string quartet with Diaz when we were undergrads at NEC. It still blows my mind that he’s running Curtis.

  • anonymousalum says:

    I witnessed firsthand the downfall of the school after Maestro Otto Werner Mueller retirement and by the administrations decision to not appoint a permanent music director replacement from him. At that point the artistic level of the orchestra, went down substantially. Meanwhile Rice’s Shepherd School , with their fantastic orchestra as a centerpiece of their program, overtaking Curtis as a place to go to study classical music in the United States in my opinion.

  • Curtiswhoa says:

    ———- Forwarded message ———
    From: Bryan, Paul
    Date: Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 10:42 AM
    Subject: Danielle Orlando
    To: Curtis ALL USERS


    I am writing to let you know that following 34 years of loyal and committed service to Curtis, Danielle Orlando has decided to leave her position at Curtis as she continues her international career.

    Danielle has been dedicated to our students in a variety of roles. For many years she was the department’s principal opera coach and this past year she served as the Hirsig Family Chair of vocal studies and co-director of the Curtis Opera Theatre.

    Eric Owens, who served alongside Danielle as co-director of vocal studies and the Curtis Opera Theatre, will remain with us as leader of the vocal studies department. As frequent collaborators throughout much of his career, Eric remarked: “Danielle has been a great friend to me over our many years together—in addition to being a dear colleague. I will be forever grateful for her invaluable leadership. But I am also looking forward to working more closely with our students as we continue to hold excellence as our goal.”

    Please join me in thanking Danielle for the time, energy, and passion that she devoted to us here at Curtis. We wish her all the best in this next stage of her career.


    Paul Bryan

    Paul Bryan, Dean

    Curtis Institute of Music

    1726 Locust Street

    Philadelphia, PA 19103



  • Curtis Alumnae says:

    Dear staff and students of Curtis Opera,

    After 34 interesting and challenging years, I am departing from this respected school of music. I have greatly valued my time at Curtis in all the many roles I’ve held, including the latest one as co-director of the Curtis Opera Department along with my friend and colleague Eric Owens.

    I wish all of you the very best as you continue your own musical and life journeys, especially during these difficult and changing times. Thank you to my colleagues for your support and for the innumerable great moments we’ve had over the years.

    I’m reminded of the phrase Luciano Pavarotti shared with me many years ago – “Musica e passione.” May all of you find as much inspiration from those words as I have and be able to rise to and love the challenges which this art form demands.