Interview with Elizabeth Brown. Her Role: New executive director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra
1. How long have you been with the Lima Symphony Orchestra?
Iíve been with the Lima Symphony Orchestra for about five years. I started as the director of marketing. I was in that position until about two months ago. Iíve been the executive director for about six weeks or so.
2. Are you originally from the Lima area?
I am. I grew up here. Then I left to go to college. I went to grad school and worked in New York for about 12 years, and then I decided it was time to come back home.
3. How did you come to be at the Lima Symphony Orchestra?
I was looking into the marketing originally because I think it is a challenge for all orchestras to make themselves culturally relevant in their community. I was very excited about the strengths of the symphony, but also the opportunities I saw. I wanted to see what I could do in regards to deepening the attachments the community has with the orchestra. Then, when the director position came open, I already had five years of knowledge about how the organization works. I had really strong relationships with the artistic director, with board members, with the community members, the ticket buyers, the donors. It was a great opportunity for a really seamless transition to take some of those other objectives and goals that I hadnít had a chance yet to achieve and to make them happen.
4. As the executive director, are there some things you would like to see happen under your leadership?
Oh, there are so many things, absolutely. You know, weíve already started doing some of it, but itís only been a couple of months really. We are very lucky. This is our 60th anniversary, and we have a deep tradition of musical excellence, community support, financial stability, but there are many things Iíd like to do. We are going to do a sanctuary series starting in September. Thatís kind of our first new surprise. On Sept. 7, we are going to be performing at St. John's [Delphos]. They did a tremendous renovation. We used to do our candlelight series there, but we just grew out of the space. It is a chance for us to go back to what was really our first home in Lima. Then there are lots of things such as, we started doing music in unexpected places a few years ago, and weíd like to do more of that kind of thing. One vision is to have our orchestra go out in the community more, not just on stage, but find places around town.
5. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I think the most challenging aspect is something orchestras across the country are struggling with and that is how to become relevant to the community. A lot of people donít feel an automatic connection with classical music. They didnít grow up with classical music, and so how to make people realize that they donít need wear a tux to our concerts, that they donít need to worry about when they can and cannot applaud at our concerts, but that they should come and they should try us. People know a lot more classical music than they realize just from movies and commercials and even cartoons.
6. What do you enjoy the most about this job?
One thing I like the most, which can be one of the most challenging things for some people, is the drama of concert week. I love being able to see music go from a very rough form when all the musicians gather around the week before the concert begins. The first rehearsal is always overwhelming and people are still learning their parts, and to take that and see the final product just a week later. Itís incredible to watch the creative process.