About the American Orchestra Forum

During the San Francisco Symphony’s 2011-2012 Centennial Season, the American Orchestra Forum brought together voices from diverse cultural perspectives and the general public to explore many issues facing the twenty-first century American orchestra. Topics considered throughout the year-long program included how orchestras connect with their communities; how orchestras balance creativity and innovation with artistic traditions and practices; and what orchestras can learn about changing audience patterns and engagement strategies from looking outside their own industry.

The presence of all seven of America’s leading orchestras—Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco—in San Francisco during the Symphony’s 2011-2012 Centennial Season offered a unique opportunity to explore these topics using various formats and media. The Forum included three live public discussions in San Francisco (in October 2011, March 2012, and May 2012); four behind-the-scenes roundtable discussions with visiting orchestras; collaborations with academic and other organizations; Web-based interviews, blogging and exchanges; and podcasts that synthesize and disseminate the conversations across all platforms. Participants included music directors Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel, Alan Gilbert, as well as scholars and thought leaders from within and beyond the classical music field.

While the discussions on this site are no longer active, we encourage you to explore the site for numerous resources, and to disseminate your thoughts and responses to these conversations through other forums.