27: Building Bridges through Music with Noreen Green

Show Notes:

Have you ever wondered, ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™™๐™ค ๐™„ ๐™›๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™˜๐™๐™š?

Dr. Noreen Green, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony founded this organization in 1994 as her niche, and has focused on presenting music with Jewish themes since.

In today’s episode, she shares with us how she creates cultural bridges to connect people with music. Dr. Green also discusses her networking practices, collaborative experiences, outreaching to different communities, and many things that she learned along her entrepreneurial journey,ย 

Dr. Green has served as guest conductor in the United States, Israel, South Africa, Australia and Canada. Under her direction, the LAJS has performed at such venues as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Ford Theatres, The Soraya, Royce Hall at UCLA and the Gindi Auditorium at American Jewish University.

In February 2020, Dr. Greenโ€™s life and career was the subject of a Spotlight Series documentary by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. In 2017, she was honored by Musical America as one of the Top 30 Musical America Professionals of the Year.

Links Mentioned in Today's Episode

LAJS:ย 

Website: LAJS.org

ย 

Instagram:ย @theconductorspodcastย /ย @tingchaowen

Website:ย www.chaowenting.com

Facebook:ย Chaowen Ting

Noreen: 0:00
Well, I think we can’t be we can’t put ourselves in a box, right? We have to always be looking at the opportunities to grow and to learn new skills, and to also look to those people who can help you. You know, you walk into a room and and you are always looking to see who you can connect with. And then once you do connect with them, how do you keep that bridge a lot. What I like to do is to build a cultural bridge between people. We talk about music as the universal language. And so I reach out to the Latino X community or that next community, the black community, I I’ve worked with the Korean orchestra and combining choirs together that way you are building community, and you’re also building an audience because you’re reaching out to audiences that might not know about your culture.

Chaowen: 1:02
Hey there, welcome to The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host Chaowen Ting, a conductor with over 20 years of experience working with professional symphony orchestras, opera houses, new music groups, and vocalist. I’m also founder of Girls Who Conduct and have mentored hundreds of conductors from across the globe. I created The Conductor’s Podcast to share all the behind the scenes secrets with you while I interview conductors, musicians and business gurus from around the world. This is a space created for conductors, conducting student musicians and non musicians who are curious and interested in learning more about the profession, craft, industry and business.

Chaowen: 1:49
Shy away from the real talk? No way. Money, hardship, growth and the rollercoaster of conducting career are all topics we discuss here. I will give you a simple actionable step by step strategies to help you take action on your big dream. Move through the fear that’s holding you back and have a real impact. Now, before we proceed, make sure you’re cozy and get ready to be challenged and encouraged while you learn.

Chaowen: 2:23
Hi there, welcome to another episode of The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host Chaowen Ting and I’m thrilled that you’re tuning in with me today. Happy Thursday if you’re listening on the day of the episode release, or happy any day and every day.

Chaowen: 2:41
My guest today, Dr. Noreen Green had an interesting career path. She started as a choral conductor and went to school for music education, taught in public schools, and later founded the LA Jewish Symphony Orchestra as to her special niche. This is something so special about her that I’m so excited to welcome her to the podcast, because we’ve been talking about niche so much. While we sometimes forget why we need a niche, instead of just having something that is known about us to distinguish ourselves in the market. But I think more importantly, the niche has to be something that we are really, really passionate about. We can’t just find a niche, saying now I want to be the new music conductor while I don’t know much or don’t even like conducting new music, right? Or I can’t just say, I want to be known as an opera conductor when I don’t know anything about working with singers, or when I don’t enjoy working with singers or working in theatre. So I’m really looking forward to this conversation with Dr. Green. And today she will share with us her stories on how she uses this niche to create special experiences for her audience members. What she learned through this entrepreneurial journey and tips for a collaboration and networking. We have a lot to cover. So let’s dive in. Welcome to the show, Noreen. I’m so happy to finally meet you welcome to The Conductor’s Podcast.

Noreen: 4:26
It’s a delight to be here. Thank you Chaowen

Chaowen: 4:29
So before we get started, will you please give everybody just a brief intro a little bit about your background and how you get to where you are right now?

Noreen: 4:38
Sure. So um, I started out as a choral conductor, I have a degree in music education and I taught high school and then it wasn’t fulfilling enough for me. So I started teaching college looking at college jobs and apply to a Master’s at Cal State Northridge and there I also became a teacher as well, this was all choral music. And I taught at Cal State Northridge for 10 years. And I knew that if I really wanted to have a tenured position, I needed to get a doctorate. So I went to University of Southern California, and I worked in the choral department there.

Noreen: 5:19
And as part of those studies, you also have to choose some other not majors, they call it but concentrations. And so one of those was instrumental conducting. And I started falling in love with working with orchestras and choir at the same time, I liked both mediums. After I graduated from USC, I got a job at Cal State Bakersfield, and I was there for a year and got married. And you know, when you’re when you get married, you have to make some kind of compromises some time, and my husband didn’t want me to be locked into a school schedule. So I decided to explore more instrumental conducting, and I was accepted to the Aspen Music School with Murry Sidlin.

Noreen: 6:08
And as one of the conductors and there at the Aspen Music School, you have to put on your own concert. And I had been working in the Jewish music field. As a choral conductor, I was working for synagogues. And I also did my dissertation on the music of David Nowakowski, who was considered the Jewish Back of Odessa. And at Aspen, I put on a concert of Jewish music. And Marie said, Oh, this is your niche. This is what you should do go back to Los Angeles and start a Jewish orchestra. So I thought, oh, that’s an interesting idea. And I talked to my husband, and we decided to create the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. And that was 28 years ago.

Noreen: 6:56
If anyone tells you that, it’s easy to start things. It’s it’s easy to start things, but it’s very hard to keep them going. And totally. Yeah, so I learned a lot. I had no business experience before that. And so I wasn’t just a conductor, I was also the artistic director and the CEO, and I call myself the head bottle washer, we really have to know all aspects about what it is to run a symphony orchestra, not just get onto the podium and conduct that is reserved for a very few people at the very top of our game that can just walk on to the podium and think about the music.

Chaowen: 7:37
You know, that’s exactly what I was thinking the other day when I had my concert at Peabody. Because I think see my friends posting this really great pictures of the backstage or themselves getting dressed in the dressing room very calmly, I was so jealous. I was like, I never had that I’m always running around crazy solving last minute problems. A missing musician or there’s something wrong with the music, something wrong with the stage, I never have those calm moment. I very rarely have them. That’s a blessing. But I have some questions, if you don’t mind. And it’s really interesting what you just shared. And I appreciate that because my husband actually really loved that I have a relatively flexible schedule. Now I have a university teaching schedule. I don’t have to go to school every day. So I can arrange my class schedule to pick up the kids, for example. So I can I move orchestra to the morning session, so I can always pick up my kids. But coming back, I was more interested. And I wanted to ask, how did you start the choral journey? Did you just grow up as a singer and synagogue singing? Or how did that happen?

Noreen: 8:52
Right. So I was a pianist. And when I was an elementary school, I joined the choir and the orchestra. And but an orchestra piano doesn’t really do that much right? Or you have to play percussion or whatever. And in the choir, I got to sing and participate. And then as I moved up in middle school in high school, I became the accompanist and then also the student music director. So I kind of, the choral allowed me to have more responsibility, and I had a leadership role in growing up and really love that.

Noreen: 9:30
And so when it came time to think about a career, I thought, Well, I think I’d love to be a teacher. You know, in the school, I really love teaching and so that’s what was my first kind of entrance into the choral world. So I’d saying all the ways from third grade on in choirs and and then in college at the University of Pacific I was a choral major and I sang in all the top choral groups and I accompanied I think I had a juries I was accompanying like nine, this right you know, and and so that was my that was my way of getting into the choral field.

Chaowen: 10:13
So you used to conduct the choirs I through that as part of the Jewish orchestra, you have a chorale? Do you also direct that? Or how often do you have this choral orchestral vague masterpiece.

Noreen: 10:27
So for all my years, I’ve always been always had a choir, I never gave up choral conducting. So whether I was at a synagogue or I had community choirs, or college choirs, I was always conducting choirs. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, everything stopped. So we lost our venue, we lost everything. So I shifted my choir to a virtual choir. And I did like 12 videos during the pandemic. And I learned how to do video editing and recall, you know, if you learned all these new skills, right, because because you had to, and then I have found it very difficult to bring the choir back. Because the synagogues don’t want to have large choirs anymore. They want to have just maybe eight professionals and stuff I had 40 voice community choir. So it’s still tough, we haven’t really come back fully. I’ve done a few things where I’ve had just like 20 voices. But I still haven’t done anything live with the choir.

Chaowen: 11:32
Yeah, what do you describe about video editing is just something that we hope that we don’t have to do, again ever in our life.

Noreen: 11:42
Right? Agreed. And I’m what I did was I did all the initial audio engineering. And I did, I looked at every single video, but then I sent it to professionals for the final product. But you know, you can’t just send it to a professional, you have to know what they’re doing. So that you can put your own like you you become the producer, right? You’re not just the conductor, but you’re the producer, and you look at every single video and every single and you listen to every single audio and you decide, you know, how it’s going to be mixed. And and and then you would have to tell the choir to do the video over again, because you’re not looking at the camera or whatever, you know, so you become a director and producer and right.

Chaowen: 12:26
We are wearing so many hats.

Noreen: 12:30
Yeah, definitely

Chaowen: 12:33
But I think that really echoes what you said earlier about when you started founding this ensemble, you learnt so many things that you didn’t expect, or you didn’t think about that’s not related to conducting or waving your arms, per se. So looking back, your journey was the most important thing that you learned, you will say?

Noreen: 12:57
Well, I think we can’t be we can’t put ourselves in a box, right? We have to always be looking at the opportunities to grow, and to learn new skills, and to also look to those people who can help you find the answers. Like there are workshops on on just how to do payroll, you know how, how to build a stage, you know how you have to be willing to learn all the time, you can’t be stuck in your little box. It’s like I just want to conduct? Yes, that’s all I want to do. I only want to look at scores, practice my piano, work with musicians, but that’s just not reality.

Noreen: 13:41
And I think you know, we talk about our spouses, I was very lucky because my husband runs a very successful medical company. So I had him as a business advisor all the time, and I had those people to look to, lawyers, you know, you you have to understand the laws even about hiring and firing, and workman’s comp and all the stuff that I didn’t think about when I started the orchestra boards. Oh my goodness, right. You have to deal with a board and raising money and marketing and graphics. And there’s just so much that goes into. And now with social media you have now you have to be a social media maven, and you have to have a face, a website, you have to be a website designer, or at least hire somebody but you’re always there advising because it’s your voice, right? The LA Jewish Symphony is me. That’s who it is. And anything that goes out publicly I look at and I read because I want to make sure that it’s my voice out there.

Chaowen: 14:51
It is a lot of work and I’m so happy to hear that you have a wonderfully supportive spouse and I think that’s something that we at least I am hearing more and more people are talking about how their spouses or partners can be really helpful and supportive. And that’s something really important for us, as well. So I like that you say, like reaching out to people, there are so many wonderful video tutorials. So many silly ones. Yeah.

Noreen: 15:19
But YouTube has become like the tutorial, right? You can learn anything from YouTube.

Chaowen: 15:26
Yeah, my husband is usually checking on the plumbing thing, I have to change this well, and how to fix. And I’ll be doing like video on how do I switch cameras between the video editing thing. But when we talked about when we discussed the topic for today’s episode, you mentioned this idea of building bridges. And I love that dearly. But I posed that question. I hope you didn’t find this silly. Well, we know we know that we need a bridge to connect two sides, at least two sides. So where are we? Who are we connecting to? And why is that important? Why are we? Why don’t? What are you doing? That is reaching out from us or from our organization from our own symbol to others who are those others?

Noreen: 16:22
So, I think building bridges is kind of a an acronym for outreach. Right? We’re always reaching out to other organizations, other ensembles other people to to create collaborations. And for me, this is the only way that we can survive. I think the you know, back in the day, when people supported their local orchestra or or choral organization, they did it because it was in fashion. It’s the thing to do. You know. I remember, I grew up in Los, I grew up in Los Angeles, I still live here when Zubin Mehta was here. And he was like my idol. And I would go as a student and just sit in the front row and watch. But he it was known as one of the best fundraisers on the podium, like he would go to every reception, he would reach out to all of the who’s who’s and what’s what of Los Angeles, to make sure that they understood how important it was for the Los Angeles Philharmonic to exist. And, and that always kind of stuck in my head, because it’s something that we have to do and, and there’s an art to it to building a bridge.

Noreen: 17:42
So you know, you walk into a room and and you are always looking to see who you can connect with. And then once you do connect with them, how do you keep that bridge a lot, you have to remember who they are, you have to remember who their spouses you have to remember who their kids are, what their job was. And, and in order to do and I learned this from my husband, because this is how business people do it. And then go home and write it down and have a list of people that you have met and and make notes about them, and how they can help you and like for fundraising or marketing or composers that you you go see that you want to work with us to get a card, right you used to you would get a business card, and then you would take that business card and write on the back of the business card. All of the things well, nobody has business cards anymore. So you have to remember or go to their website or whatever it is.

Noreen: 18:42
And I basically talk about building a cultural bridge. So we are a niche orchestra. So we are a Jewish orchestra. What does that mean? That means music of the Jewish experience, not necessarily a Jewish composer, but music that has some kind of relationship to the Jewish cultural experience. So what I like to do is to build a cultural bridge between people, we talk about music as the universal language. And when we go up on stage, there is no cultural barriers. It’s only about the music. And so I reach out to the Latino X community or that next community, the black community, I I’ve worked with the Korean orchestra and and I do interfaith and intercultural, and with other choirs, like combining choirs together, and that way you are building community, and you’re also building an audience because you’re reaching out to audiences that might not know about your culture, and that has been very gratifying.

Chaowen: 19:49
So I wanted to come back and ask about this niche thing, because I am really amazed how early you were given this advice because for me personally, it was much, much later I was always told that you just to be the best, you just have to be the best conductor, you just have to have the best technique, the best way of working with an ensemble, then you’ll get a job when we found out it’s really about that. So how did you see or how do you still feel about this niche working for you? And are there benefits and or maybe even some disadvantages, what people feel a little bit remote or say, Okay, I don’t know anything about Jewish culture at all? What were their barriers that you have to cross?

Noreen: 20:39
Yeah, there was as a very interesting, insightful question. I did because I’m in Los Angeles with a large Jewish population, people were like, Well, why do we need to have a Jewish orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic plays Bernstein and Gershwin, there are Jewish, Copland. There, he’s Jewish. But that is not what my orchestra is about. It’s about finding the music that people don’t know about. And, and creating programming with that.

Noreen: 21:05
And there’s, like music from Israel that people don’t know about the music from Israel. Now I’m doing a I do a lot of crossover. So like, between Jews and Muslims and Christians, the Abrahamic religions, so allows me to outreach in that way. So, but the barriers are that I am now the Jewish conductor, so that I don’t get hired to do Beethoven or Brahms or any of those other pieces that I could certainly do. And, but that’s okay, I’ve made peace with that. That’s, that was never my goal was to be the conductor on the main circuit. Okay, I had other goals. And I grew up very Jewish. And I, you know, I’m not Orthodox, but very culturally Jewish. And, for me, conducting the Jewish music resonates in my body differently than when I conduct Beethoven. So Beethoven, you know, is the ultimate in intellectual stimulation as far as conducting but I get to conduct Schoenberg. So the Schoenberg A Survivor from Warsaw, hardly anybody plays plays that in the in the regular orchestra tiers, but I connect to that, as part of our Jewish orchestra, talk about an intellectual. I think, if you have a passion, like to conduct a certain niche, and you find the supporters, then then you should do that, if that’s what your passion is, if your passion is not to do that, then you shouldn’t do that. Because, you know, but you have to listen to your own heart and your own instincts as to what resonates with you.

Chaowen: 21:22
What you say, certainly resonate with me, I remember studying with Brad Lubman, at Eastman, and he is the new music orchestral collector. And once at the seminar, he was like, I can come back to Beethoven. I do very good Brahms, but I’m only I only get Mason or the other things. Stop calling us out. Well, that’s the thing we don’t get. But, um, that’s also something that I found with a few women composers or conductors that you’re labeled as, okay, you you’re only conducting women composers work. Now you’re a woman conductor, because something that we are hoping to see more open with the change in the industry, for sure. But I wanted to come back to what you talked about earlier about networking. Because I’m going to ask this question for myself. Because I’m very awkward talking to people talk for the first time for strangers. And that’s something that I had to learn. later on. Now I’m working. So do you have any tips or things that you do that help you break the ice, or being more natural when you have to connect with donors and people outside of your comfort zone?

Noreen: 24:14
Yeah, well, luckily, I’m one of those people, extrovert who loves people and loves to talk to people, and has the kind of the gift of gab, and I don’t. So I never had to actually learn it. What I had to learn was to listen, I think, if you’re a good listener, and you ask the right questions, so I kind of when I go into a situation, I have like questions that I know how to ask and I again, I learned this from my husband, you want to ask questions about what they do. Oh, tell me about. That’s so interesting. I’ve never met someone who is in bitcoins or something like that, like say, so I tell me more about that. I don’t know anything about that.

Noreen: 25:01
And then people love to talk about themselves. And then and then I would find a way of, of connecting whatever they do to what I do. So be what you said about like women composers and women conductors. What that’s one of my passions is to is as a woman connector to also highlight Jewish women composers. But how do we reach out to the men when we’re doing that? Right? So it’s, it’s a kind of a hard balance, because you don’t want to negate one for the other. Right? So because even Jewish men conductors or men, composers need to be highlighted as well. So, so finding, finding something to talk about with, like if you meet a woman who is a has a large foundation. And then you want to talk about that, you know, what the struggles of being a woman conductor and wanting to be a woman composer? So especially if you’re talking to somebody who has a foundation or gives out grants, you know, that’s a good thing to talk about.

Chaowen: 26:17
Totally. Yeah. So I think what Richard said was great. It’s more about listening and let the other people speak about themselves, and then you’ll find a way to connect with them. So back in the days when we used to still give out business cards, how do you follow up after the initial contact? Do you just send newsletters or do you invite them to come to your next concert? Because we know like having the first encounter is great is difficult, but it’s kind of keeping and curating that relationship.

Noreen: 26:53
It takes a lot of work. That’s definitely does. And they know how to do you know what I do is like, I’ll plan a, well this is pre-pandemic, right? I will plan a musicale, like a salon, where you you invite then you can invite 50 people, and then you work the room? Right? You these 50 people are in the room. And you make sure that you say hello to everybody, how are you? How’s it going? And you have a brief conversation with almost everybody there. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work.

Chaowen: 27:31
But it’s so important. It reminds me of i Since the pandemic, I’ve been listening to podcasts or doing some online business marketing workshops. And they talk about how you curate your relationship with your online community as well like send newsletters to Facebook life and all that it sort of felt really overwhelming.

Noreen: 27:56
So I mean, I have a staff so you know, one of the things we raise money for so that I have a staff and you don’t have to do all that. So we do have a newsletter that goes out every Thursday, and my administrator puts together the you know, we talk about what what would be good for that week for this week for for advertising a concert, or I have a thing called Where’s Our Maestra? so this Bach podcast will be on the the Where’s Our Maestra? We do that once every month or two depending on what I’m doing. So this week, in addition to the this podcast, I also was a guest lecturer at a college a zoom class and there were 100 people on the Zoom. And so we took pictures of the of the screenshot and then that will be an another Where’s Our Maestra? like I went there, and then I was a guest conductor in Anguilla. So we did a whole thing. Where’s Our Maestra? and, and then, you know, we are we are a union orchestra. So we have, we can send out clips of our concerts.

Noreen: 29:01
So we have a YouTube station, you know, with the YouTube link, and we’ll put a YouTube link in and say, you know, if you’re doing throwback Thursdays or whatever, you know, and you put a link into one of the concerts that you’ve done, but not a whole concert, just a clip because you know that that’s what’s allowed. And then I have my administrative assistant is in charge of social media outreach. I don’t do it myself. So you know, she does our Facebook posts and our Instagram posts. But what we do is at the beginning of the week, we discuss what is relevant for this week. And then and then I like I said, I approve everything that goes out. So I proofread everything and approve every video that goes out. And it’s a lot of work even I have a manager and I have an education director, but still I approve everything. It’s my voice.

Chaowen: 29:57
It’s so important to own what is out there about you? So, you know, it’s authentic. And that represents you well.

Noreen: 30:06
I got one of them. Can I just think about that? So I am, this is my orchestra. The Los Angeles Symphony is my orchestra. If you’re working for, you know, I have a friend who’s a Bangor Symphony Orchestra like Lucas Richmond, he’s a good friend of mine, and he’s the music director there. And he is hired by the board. So he has a different situation. So he he’s looked to for advice and, and everything. But the fact is, is that he has an executive director and a board that hires him. And that’s a different situation for a conductor than what I do as, as the owner of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, not just the conductor.

Chaowen: 30:52
Totally, when you are the boss and the orchestra as part of your own voice, it’s a different situation, as opposed to hired conductor or music director that your work for the board, and dependent on the structure your work for many different people. At times, that happens. But I wanted to kind of come back to what you said about going to the community and the Los Angeles, big Los Angeles area. So how do you do that in your programming, because traditionally, we have, you know, educational outreach to kind of separate it from the mainstage or a classical series. And since the Jewish Symphony Orchestra is such a niche organization, do you balance? Or do you combine them? What’s your artistic vision about that?

Noreen: 31:47
So because I come from an education background, it was very important for me to incorporate educational outreach. So we have several educational programs that we’ve done over the years, the most successful has been our patchwork of cultures, which is using Sephardic music as a bridge between the latin community in it, which is huge in Los Angeles, and the Jewish community. And in fact, our concert is coming up I don’t know when the podcast comes out. But we we have an annual concert. And of course, we had during the pandemic, we put everything online, that was a whole other thing.

Noreen: 32:21
And we have teaching artists that go into the schools. And we have a whole curriculum that is based around the using Sephardic music, and learning about the common heritage from Spain between the Latin community and the Sephardic Jewish community, not just, for your audience of Sephardic Jews, are Jews that came from Spain, and were during the Spanish Inquisition in 1492. They were forced either to convert or to leave. And so that community then dispersed to a lot of the Iberian Peninsula area, and they spoke a language called Ladino, which is very close to Spanish, as opposed to the Eastern European Jews, which are Eskenazi Jews, and their common language is Yiddish. So just so your audience understands, well in in LA, because of the high population of Latinos, it was important to reach out to that community. So that program, which we’ve been doing for about 15 years, is completely funded by grants.

Noreen: 33:23
And then we expanded that program into our Mainstage and musical mainstage concert. So we’ve had several concerts that use a Sephardic theme, as our as our concert theme. All of our concerts have theme, so all of our concerts have an educational component to it. And every single concert, you know, I was one of the first conductors who talked before the the, the music onstage, I didn’t have a pre concert lecture that was completely separate. It was incorporated into the concert, because everything people were listening to was new to them. So I wanted to be able to educate them on subjectively, why did I pick this music? Why did I pick this theme and then objectively why this is a good piece of music. So so that an educational component has been an overriding factor in everything that I do. And then I go out and I give lectures and talk about the the music that I’m going to perform to organizations. And that’s also part of your grassroots about building an audience and making yourself available as the conductor to go talk to people. So you know, every synagogue has an adult education group, and I’m invited to come and talk about music, and then they come to the concert. So that’s how you use education as a as an outreach.

Chaowen: 34:50
I love it. I’d personally love hearing people talk about the music before the piece is performed, even if they say something that I had already known about the music, but it feels, it feels really different coming from that person’s voice, kind of their sharing of, as you say, why you pick the music? Why does this important for you why you wanted us to hear about it? I love that experience. And it sounds like you do a lot of collaborations with different organizations, or other agents in town. Can you talk a little bit about how you build relationship and or anything, any tips about collaborating with others, or things that you learned the hard way that you want to share with the audience?

Noreen: 35:34
Well, I think you have to be fearless. Because I think people get afraid to ask, and all they can say is no, right? It doesn’t hurt you, it doesn’t do anything to you. But if you never ask, you’re never going to know. And that’s what I have found. I’m always surprised when I when I reach out to an organization. And they say, oh, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s talk about it more. But if you never present the idea, then you’ll never know. And I think there’s a lot of organizations out there that don’t know how to incorporate music into their mission. So so we have to help them do that all of the organizations have fundraisers. So we have become the go to for fundraising. You know, we can we can send out a chamber ensemble, we can send out a singer, but we, I always go to so I’m always part of whatever it is, I’m not necessarily conducting all the time. But I’m speaking about the music and highlighting whoever is performing, whether it’s our string quartet or you know, we have different ensembles that go out. And I think that’s important.

Noreen: 36:45
But I would say my best advice is to be fearless, and to think out of the box, and to remember that the person that you’re talking to, doesn’t know how to incorporate music into their organization. So you’re the one who has to tell them how to do it. Here’s a perfect example. I just had a conversation with a wonderful pianist in a folic, who is a, you know, on the international stage, and she’s Jewish and grew up in Odessa. And her friend of hers is writing a piece for her called Lilith. Well, Lilith is a biblical woman character. And even though the composer isn’t Jewish, there is a Jewish connection there. And so we were talking about how we could collaborate, and who would be interested in performing this Lilith concerto. And I told her ideas, and she was like, I never thought of that. I never thought of that. So you have to be the idea maker, and and present it to other people. And like I say, all they can say is no.

Chaowen: 37:52
It’s the feeling of rejection and frustration and hurts. I’ve been there and I’m just speaking for myself, sometimes I’m so fearful to make that initial contact, because I don’t, I don’t want to put myself in a position where I feel people are judging me if I don’t present a good idea, for example, or I feel so self conscious that people will think it’s such a silly idea.

Noreen: 38:19
Yeah, but I mean, you have to do it, you just you have to get over that fear. And, and then think about the the times that you have presented an idea. And if you’ve had a positive reaction, you know, and just go back to that one. So let’s say you present 10 ideas, and eight out of the 10 people go Ah, no, it’s not really doesn’t resonate with me, but you have to that went through. That’s, that’s a success. 20%

Chaowen: 38:48
I know, we just need to focus on focus on the good things that came out of it. And also, I think it’s important to practice asking, because sometimes it’s not about your idea, but the way you present it, people don’t don’t get it right away. They might be

Noreen: 39:03
very important. You know, and the reason they don’t get it right away is because you haven’t been clear. Yeah.

Chaowen: 39:09
Right. And that’s something that I learned to, to really find your idea. Well, so people can understand it right away.

Noreen: 39:17
Absolutely. And how do you do that by writing it down? I never go into a meeting without first making notes.

Chaowen: 39:26
So do you write out a script and practice that? But memorize it, how, what’s your approach to that? Okay, so

Noreen: 39:33
I have two different approaches. First of all, I write a script for every time I get in front of an audience. Always I write a script. I taught I say it, I time it and everything so that I know that it’s concise. And I memorize it. I never use notes on stage ever. And then I talk and I say it to people. I practice it before I get up on stage. Number one

Noreen: 40:00
Number two, if I’m going into a meeting with, let’s say three or four people who are on presenting an idea to, I create a proposal, a written proposal, so that, and I give it to the people, so that when I’m talking, I’m highlighting the points and they have a visual as well. And then they can take it home, and they can make notes on it. So that’s different than a brainstorming type of situation. Okay, if you’re like, all of a sudden, you’re like, when I was talking to this, pianists, that was a brainstorming situation. And we were just kind of bouncing ideas off of each other. But if I’m invited to present at an organization, or for fundraising, or I know, I’m going to be meeting a luncheon with people, I always write out a proposal, I might not bring out the proposal right away. But if it’s if you see that the conversation is going in that direction, you say, Well, you know, I kind of wrote down my thoughts, would you like to see them? Then you have it there. And also, it allows you to then organize your thoughts.

Chaowen: 41:09
I also love your idea of given a written proposal, because then you have control over the things that topics, and they can follow your thoughts more easily when they see it while hearing your voice? I think that’s a brilliant idea. Thank you so much for sharing this. Sure. And I wanted to ask, I love the example that you just gave about the pianist. But can you share an example of you thinking outside of the box of collaborating with non musical or, like other art forms? Do you have maybe some interesting collaboration?

Noreen: 41:46
So um, so right now, the biggest problem in Los Angeles is homelessness. And actually, Lucas Richmond is writing a concerto for violin that’s based around kind of a homeless, empowering the homeless. So I have presented this idea to several organizations here in Los Angeles, not music organizations, for example, the Jewish Federation. So the Jewish Federation, one of their missions is to help in the homeless situation. So I wrote a proposal and sent it to them and the and the Jewish Community Foundation, also a different government organizations about how this symphony this concerto can be done as a fundraising event that would the money would go directly to homeless organizations. Okay, so that’s one example.

Noreen: 42:47
Save a child’s heart was a an organization that we did a fundraiser for. And we called it Symphony of the Heart. Okay, so the save a child’s heart, what they do is they raise money for doctors to go into third world countries, Israeli doctors to go into third world countries, and to bring the children to Israel for heart surgery. It’s an incredible organization. And so they started this whole thing called Symphony of the Heart. And we participated in that. So that actually wasn’t my idea. But I thought it was a great idea of how to think out of the box about creating fundraising events. So those are two examples.

Chaowen: 43:28
Thank you so much. I think that’s totally wonderful. If you have passion, or something that you care so much about. Starting a fundraising event, is a great way to have the first step no one would reject. No one would say no to someone helping them fundraise, but you also bridge that with your musician, and you are there in the community, and all that. So kind of wrapping up our conversation today, I am so grateful that you share so many tips and your experience. What’s the, we’re talking about that, what what what are the things that if you were doing it again, you would do it differently?

Noreen: 44:12
Wow, that’s a very life question. Id would you do your life over.

Chaowen: 44:19
I think about that all the time.

Noreen: 44:20
You know, like, what if I wasn’t a conductor, what would I be doing? I think, you know, music as as a as a life, you know, gives life in many directions to I mean, like I just conducted the World Doctors Orchestra. These are all all doctors who are accomplished awesome musicians, but they but they needed to have music as part of their life. I think as a conductor, you’re almost like a psychologist. Right? Because you have to kind of get people to come with you and do the things that you’re that you want them to do. And you know even as a conductor with the musicians, you have a vision of the music. And maybe not all the musicians agree upon the, their, their vision of what it should be. So I’m not one of those conductors that say you have to do it my way or the highway. It’s a collaborative, even with my musicians. If I had to do it, or if I hadn’t met my husband, I would probably be a professor, like a tenured,, that was the direction I was going is to be a tenured professor, I really liked the idea of giving back and being a teacher. So I probably would have done done that. Also, I would love to have had a a week on Broadway. The conductor on Broadway is I really love Broadway.

Chaowen: 45:48
that is a wonderful hope. And I wanted to ask, so you think, working with a Jewish Symphony for so long? Do you? Where do you see yourself do in addition to continue in this and your guest conducting engagement and all that? Do you have any ideas of expanding the project or doing other projects? What? What are you looking into the future?

Noreen: 46:16
I think, you know, after 20 years and developing all this repertoire, it like you said a lot of it’s just done once you know sometimes, you know all the new music, I my husband is retiring soon, we’ve talked about like taking it on the road and going to different states and cities and stuff and presenting the the repertoire that I’ve developed, I have several shows that can be just brought and hire a contract an orchestra in that city or work with an orchestra. So I really like to expand that my guest conducting and then along with that I also you know, talk and give lectures, working now right out right now on presenting a a staged play in Australia and I will be doing a residency as a music director in in Australia on the stories of the violence of hope, which is a project that I’ve been very much involved in violence that had been restored and recovered from the Holocaust. And I curated music for a show and we’re talking about bringing it to Australia. So I’m doing everything I want to do. And I just want to continue doing it. And then my kids are grown and maybe they’re going to get married and have kids of their own and I’ll be a grandma. Now, not too soon. Not too soon. Until Yeah.

Chaowen: 47:43
I am just waiting for my kids to pass the teenage period. And I found that

Noreen: 47:48
that’s right. You’ve got a ways to go the teenagers are tough.

Chaowen: 47:52
Yeah. And two teenage girls are not fun. Thank you so much. And before we finish today’s conversation, I want the audience to hear from you. Where can they find you? Can you do you want to share your social media or website if they want to get in touch?

Noreen: 48:16
Absolutely. So our website is LAJS.org, LA Jewish Symphony.org. And on the website, you can find our YouTube link, and our Instagram link and our Facebook link, we have all of that stuff. And you can join our mailing list and to find out what we’re doing. And and, and you can reach me through the website as well. So I look forward to hearing and and getting to know people around. Is this a worldwide thing to people? Yeah. Alright, so hello to your international audience.

Chaowen: 48:58
Last time I checked, I think it’s been downloaded and 41 countries. Wow. That’s I don’t know if they listened to only one episode or if they listened regularly. But when we did have reach to a lot of people around the world.

Noreen: 49:14
Wonderful. Well, congratulations to you because this is really wonderful.

Chaowen: 49:18
Thank you so much. So here you have it, my friends. What was your biggest takeaway from this conversation? What stood out to me the most was how prepared knowing is every single thing. She has draft and script of every speaking occasion. She works hard or learning about potential donors and sponsors so that she can have a meaningful conversation with them. She researches her collaborators to bring them proposals that will help them solve their problems, which is one of the most important things that I found in my daily life. You know, since I started working, I got those pitching emails from time to time. They are often composers wanting to get their pieces performed, or instrumentalist, moving to my area, wanting to connect, and potentially work for my orchestra, as a section, or coach, or as soloist, whatever that they were asking for. To be honest, I always open those emails and glance through them. But I don’t always respond. A lot of the times, people don’t even do their proper homework. They don’t research about me, they don’t know what kind of problems I might have. And they don’t try to solve my problems for me. They just want to say, Hey, I’m great, you should hire me. But why? Why am I going to hire someone out of the blue, when I have someone that I trusted, and work before that might be a better fit or, or equally good musicians. So that is something that I want to urge everyone to think about when you’re trying to network when you’re reaching out to people find their problems, and propose a solution for them. And I also wanted to remind you about the episode with Elizabeth Askren when she talked about networking skills. Elizabeth is one of the best people that I’ve met a wonderful colleague who is so graceful in her ass and in her communication styles. She is also one of those people that I had already on my interview list before I even started this podcast. That episode was episode number 15. One five, and you can find the show notes at chaowening.com/15.. And I will link that in our show note. It’s almost the end of March and I hope you’re having a great 2022 and I will see you next week at the same time, same place. Bye for now.