9 QUESTIONS FOR
1 Does the position of executive director for a sym- phony require a pretty specific skill set? There’s
In Marin / CURRENTS
definitely a shortage of people who know how to run a
symphony orchestra operation.
2 Before stepping into an administrative role, were you originally aiming at a career as a professional musician? Like so many of my kind, I had hoped
to land a big orchestra job. It’s almost unbelievable how
competitive it is. In the San Francisco Symphony there
are four flute positions. My main teacher in college, an
amazing guy named Paul Renzi, won the job as principal
flutist when he was 18 years old and he retired some 60
years later. That’s an unusually long career but when
people get one of those jobs, they tend to stay. The
opportunities are very slight.
3 So you decided to diversify your career inter- ests? Out of economic necessity I developed
some chops for running a business.
4 How did you get the chance to marry your administrative skill with the world of music? The
opportunity came up to run the American Composers
Forum chapter, and I had that skill set. That’s really
when I ended up becoming an arts administrator.
5 What is your role in terms of what programs the symphony is going to be producing? I work in
partnership with Alasdair Neale, the musical director,
to make the programs. There’s an overall structure: how
many concerts can we do, when are they scheduled, and
what other non-strictly classical events are we going to
do. I think for him that’s one of the advantages of having
a musician in this chair — we speak the same language.
6 Is there an example of some of the things you’ll be looking to change at Marin Symphony? For
the last three years, until 2016, Marin Symphony
produced a large-scale outdoor concert called
Waterfront Pops over at Waterfront Park. It was quite
successful in terms of attracting a large audience.
We’re looking to bring it back in 2017 bigger and better and to put it on sound footing so it can be a regular
yearly event for us that will be successful.
7 What are some of the ways that Marin Symphony connects to the community? We have strong,
well-developed outreach and education programs. Those
include our youth orchestra programs and a program
called Adopt-A-School, where we have musicians visit a
selection of schools on a regular basis. And then we
also have both visiting and resident artists who
come, spend time with us and go out into the
community. Midori, the great violinist, came for
five days at the end of January to do concerts
with the Marin Symphony but mainly she
came to go out into the schools and work with
kids and to work with our youth orchestras.
8 What is the major focus of your posi- tion? One of the main challenges of
my job is to create fiscal sustainability for
the organization. That’s all about developing and enhancing our donor base
— finding people who are willing to
support this organization and this
mission with their dollars.
9 In terms of getting new people to give the symphony a try, what would you tell
someone who hadn’t had much exposure to
classical music in their life? First I’d say, “Don’t
be scared — it will be over in a couple hours!”
This is music that I’d say puts a much higher
burden on the listener. It’s more challenging.
It’s not familiar. So it’s really about taking
that first plunge.m
Following a three-month national search to fill the position of executive director, the Marin Symphony
Association found Tod Brody in its own backyard. A resident of Petaluma, Brody had been holding down a
similar post at Opera Parallèle, a San Francisco contemporary opera company. In addition
to his decade-and-a-half of administrative experience, Brody is no stranger to classical
music on the stage itself, having been a professional flutist for most of his life and music
lecturer at UC Davis. He’s excited to bring his energy and new ideas to Marin Symphony, our own 64-year-
old regional symphony orchestra. MARC HERSHON