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Grant Recipients Appreciate Conference

Benefits Include Networking, Creative Thinking, Educating, Professional Development and Dreaming

Christopher Hisey (L), Music Director, and Beth Ulman (C), Executive Director - 2022 Recipients

Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras
GCTYO is so appreciative of ATA Carnets "Play the World" Grant, which allowed us to attend the League conference in Los Angeles without breaking our budget. Once there, the opportunities to network with other youth orchestra directors and hear their stories both inspired us and validated our workl. League conferences generate an energy that gives us momentum to pursue our mission back home with renewed purpose. There were also practical benefits: Our Music Director, Chris Hisey, met with artists who might work with our students in the future. And I was reminded of funding that was available to our organization that we since applied for - fingers crossed that we get it! - Beth Ulman

Michelle Zwi - 2021 Recipient

Operations & Touring Manager
The Philadelphia Orchestra
After a very intense year of focusing on the myriad details of bringing musicians together during a pandemic, it was a necessary breath of fresh air to take a step back and view things in the context of the bigger picture and why we do this work at all. Thank you to Boomerang Carnets for enabling me to attend this year's digital conference, which left me inspired and excited for the work ahead.

Eileen Jeanette - 2021 Recipient

Sr. VP of Artistic Planning and Production
Pacific Symphony

My participation in the League Conference 2021 was focused on learning how the new digital landscape that we had all focused on for the better part of 15 months is going to play out into the future. What will be required of orchestras as we try to move past a pandemic that does not seem like it is willing to give up entirely. I was curious to hear from experts and colleagues their thoughts on the subject. The answer is that no two orchestras are alike when it comes to future digital plans. Each orchestra, whether big or small is wrestling with the questions of resources required to livestream or continue to create new digital content versus their return on this investment. Ultimately it will be different in each community, but hopefully some of this digital investment will be used to connect folks to their home orchestras when situations don’t allow for all folks to attend in-person events, even after COVID. I know this is a big topic of conversation at Pacific Symphony and hearing all of these different viewpoints at the League Conference was very helpful. I learned a lot and the conversations are continuing across the field.

I am sincerely appreciative of the grant from ATA to attend the conference. Admittedly this summer has been crazier than usual with our return to performing for live audiences again and all that this means in a (post) COVID world. I still have a few more sessions on DEI and Innovation that I intend to watch by the end of the month when the League takes the content off of their website.

Michael Garvey - 2019 Recipient

BBC National Orchestra of Wales
My attendance at the LOAO Conference in Nashville this year was a fruitful and valuable experience for me. Firstly I was reassured at the many similarities I noted between the UK and US orchestral sectors: we are both dealing with many of the same issues and challenges and both equally motivated by the desire to serve our audiences and bring the highest quality performances to as wide a ‘market’ as possible. We’re developing a range of audience development tools to achieve this and I gathered a range of ideas from my US counterparts as a result of my conference attendance. Sharing ideas, meeting others and networking with colleagues in a similar role is an exciting and hugely beneficial form of professional development.

Rebecca Calos - 2018 Recipient

Executive Director
Empire State Youth Orchestra
Thank you so much for awarding Empire State Youth Orchestra a Carnets "Play the World" Grant to assist with our first ever Wind Orchestra Hungary Tour. We are in the midst of final rehearsals before leaving for Hungary. We are thrilled, and look forward to a fabulous journey with the opportunity to perform at a great music festival. I truly appreciate your support.

Kelly Waltrip - 2017 Recipient

Executive Director
Denver Young Artist Orchestra
There are several benefits of attending the League conference. This past year in Detroit, was especially beneficial. Not only is it a great opportunity to network with my colleagues and learn from them, but it is an opportunity to get updates on issues that face the field as a whole. I always come away with new resources, new friends and new ideas to continue the work and to further the mission of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra. Thank you for providing me with that opportunity.

Steven Murray - 2017 Recipient

Executive Director
Youth Symphony of Kansas City

Attending the League of American Orchestras Conference is essential to my professional growth and development as a youth orchestra executive. the chance to learn from colleagues and industry experts about their experiences helps me to inform our staff and board as we consider ways in which we might better serve    our community.  Being able to come together to exchange ideas and hear lessons learned from others is so important -- particularly for those of us who work in small organizations!  I am grateful to Boomerang Carnets for their support of this meaningful opportunity.

Meredith Shaner - 2017 Recipient

Development Officer
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras   

Thank you for the generous Carnets “Play the World” Grant and carnet donation of $745 to Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras to support both our 2017 International Tour and attendance at the June League of American Orchestras Conference. It was my first time attending the LAO Conference, and I found it to   be extremely useful to learn some great new information from leading experts in the field, and also meet colleagues from across the country.  Thank you for your support of CYSO.  It was a pleasure to meet you at the LAO Conference!

Lindsey Nova - 2017 Recipient

Executive Director
Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra

Joseph Bernstein- 2016 Recipient

Director of Operation & Education
Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras

Attending the League Conference in Baltimore was valuable in a variety of ways. It was my first League conference and I had the opportunity to meet and network with other leaders in our field.  It was reassuring to discuss and brainstorm issues that are common to other youth orchestras. Through this process, we are able to determine which practices might benefit us, and which ones we currently do well. Connecting with alumni from our organization was also exciting as we heard principal BSO trumpeter Andrew Balio—a WYSO alumnus—perform.

Rebecca Calos - 2016 Recipient

Executive Director
Empire State Youth Orchestras

I write to express my sincere thanks to Carnet for selecting Empire State Youth Orchestras to receive a “Play the World” Grant this year to attend the 2016 League Conference. The conference provided invaluable insight into the trends and opportunities in our ever-changing industry. This information was particularly important as our Youth Orchestra prepared for successful international tour of Portugal.  As a youth orchestra, it is often difficult to send more than one person to the Conference. With this grant, both myself and our Artistic Director were able to go, allowing us to gather much more information throughout the conference, and better link the artistic vision of our operation with new communication and marketing opportunities. We continue to reap the benefits of this opportunity months after the experience.

Emily Hepworth - 2016 Recipient

The Orchestra of Southern Utah

With the generous help of Carnets "Play the World" Grant, I was able to attend the League of American Orchestras conference for the first time. I came home with a notebook full ideas to help our community orchestra grow musically and financially. Networking with world class orchestras taught me that we are on the beginning steps and headed in the correct direction; but their ideas will help our volunteers be just as excited about the future as our orchestra board. The conference helped us to ignite a fire for growth in our orchestra!  Thank you.

Linda Edelstein - 2016 Recipient

Executive Director
Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra

Caroline Curatolo - 2015 Recipient

Director of Program Management
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

The League of American Orchestras conference in May 2015 was a valuable opportunity to meet and learn from orchestra managers, artist managers, musicians, and other industry professionals from across the country. I attended operations-specific sessions on subjects directly related to my everyday work, including electronic media and traveling with instruments, and it was useful to hear from colleagues at other orchestras about their experiences. I was also able to attend sessions about diverse topics in marketing, development, and audience engagement that broadened my perspective on the work my orchestra does in our community. Thank you to ATA Carnets for making it possible for me to attend the conference!

Steven Payne - 2014 Recipient

Executive Director
Oakland East Bay Symphony

The Group 4 orchestra managers was all very enlightening. And the piece perhaps least tangible were all the hallway and lunch conversations I was able to have with those in the industry facing similar challenges to those which I am also dealing with. I am so grateful for this opportunity to attend conference and congratulate boomerang carnets® on supporting the field in this very special way.Thank you again. Being able to go to Seattle was a lot of fun and also very meaningful to me.

Rosina Cannizzaro - 2014 Recipient

Executive Director
Vermont Youth Orchestra

I am grateful to Boomerang Carnets® for awarding me a grant to attend this year's League of American Orchestras conference. It was hugely beneficial in allowing me to connect with colleagues from around the country to discuss recent initiatives by youth orchestras in developing school partnership programs, fundraising strategies, and board governance culture. I gained valuable information that I look forward to implementing and piloting at my organization. Finally, it was such a pleasure to hear the Seattle Symphony perform.

Heidi Evans Waldron - 2014 Recipient

Executive Director
Florida Youth Symphony Orchestra

The League of American Orchestras Conference was an amazing experience! I embraced the conference early on by participating in forums hosted on League 360. I attended all three days of the conference and found every session to be equally educational. During the conference I participated in valuable round table conversations and educational sessions with my peers from across the country. Thank you for providing a wonderful opportunity for my organization as well as my personal experience in Seattle. These unforgettable experiences have encouraged my growth as a professional in my industry and a leader within my organization.

Troy Peters - 2014 Recipient

Music Director
Youth Orchestras of San Antonio

As a youth orchestra music director, I find that the League of American Orchestras National Conference is a tremendous opportunity to stay in touch with colleagues and keep an eye on the latest developments in the field. The League does a good job of convening leading voices in the American orchestral scene and engaging with the most pressing topics of our time. Most importantly, though, the chance to catch up with peers about their successes and challenges helps me refine my own professional goals and bring back good ideas to my orchestra.

Joshua Simonds - 2013 Recipient

Executive Director
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

The opportunity to attend the 2013 League of American Orchestras Conference is vital for professionals in our field. The three days allows for sharing of ideas, brainstorming and reconnecting with colleagues from across the country. Without the grant, smaller organizations like CYSO would find it hard to attend. We are grateful for the assistance as you help more of us come together for greater dialogue and conversation. Thank you!

Bridget Fraser - 2013 Recipient

Executive Director
Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra

The League of American Orchestras Conference in St. Louis was a great kickoff to our 2013-2014 season. I was able to network with many of my youth orchestra colleagues from around the country, sharing new ideas and deepening my knowledge of best practices. I was able to bring back several actionable ideas that I shared with my staff and board, resulting in better governance and operational efficiencies. Thank you very much for supporting my attendance at this excellent national conference.  

Ian Harwood - 2013 Recipient

Assistant to the VP of Operations/Special Projects Coordinator
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

My attendance at the League of American's Orchestras Conference has been invaluable to my career. Because of the "Play the World" grant I was able to receive extensive training in labor relations and negotiation, as well as connect with colleagues across the world and discuss incredible work being done everywhere! Thanks, ATACarnet / boomerang carnets®, for investing in my professional development and our orchestra community.

Sonja Winkler - 2012 Recipient

Director of Orchestra Operations and Touring
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

I found attending the conference very beneficial for both networking, creative thinking and gaining a fresh perspective on the industry. I was able to reconnect with old friends and place faces with familiar names of colleagues I had only previously communicated with via email or phone. Additionally, I found the General Session lectures and small group sessions very invigorating. It is not often that we get the opportunity to set aside dedicated time to dream about the future of American Orchestras with our talented colleagues. We are in a time that requires critical thinking and problem solving for the health of our industry. Thank you to ATA Carnet for making my attendance possible at Conference, and for your continued support of touring orchestras!

Angela Cassette - 2012 Recipient

Operations Director
Florida Orchestra

I had a wonderful time at the Dallas conference. For me the primary benefit of conference is the opportunity to build relationships. In an industry where so much of our contact with our colleagues at other orchestras, artist managers, and vendors occurs via phone or email, the rare opportunity for face to face interaction is truly valuable. At the Dallas conference, I considered it a privilege to hear the wonderful keynote speakers from Ford and the UAW of Detroit, whose message I found to be timely and inspiring. And it was my first visit to Dallas (not counting the airport) and my first time hearing the Dallas Symphony Orchestra - both the city and the orchestra exceeded high expectations. Thanks again to the ATA Carnet team for support of the industry, and I'm quite certain we will be in touch soon regarding international touring!

Rachel Fine - 2012 Recipient

Executive Director
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Rachel says:On behalf of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, thank you and ATA Carnet for the generous grant, which enabled me, the Executive Director, to attend the League Conference in Dallas in June 2012. As you are likely aware, the economy has not been particularly kind to orchestras in recent years and, as such, vital professional development opportunities, including attendance at important industry conferences, are few and far between. I was grateful to attend the League Conference with ATA Carnet’s assistance and took full advantage of the Dallas Conference offerings, including the moving session involving the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s educational outreach presentation and concert. I was influenced hugely by the the dynamic and inspirational speech by Carnegie Hall’s Clive Gillinson. In addition, I was able to take part as panelist on a conference session, which focused on the importance of creative commissioning and fundraising. It was gratifying to share my organization’s resources and my experience with conference attendees on this important topic. And finally, the networking and peer-group colloquiums proved invaluable, as always. Should the Orchestra tour internationally in the future, I look forward to contacting you. In the meantime, thank you again for your generous support.


Holly Caprell - 2011 Recipient

Executive Director
Greenville County Youth Orchestra

I am very grateful for the LAO grant I received. This was my first LAO conference. I make a number of great contacts and connections and learned a lot in the youth orchestra sessions and about the orchestra industry in general.

Alice Sauro - 2011 Recipient

Director of Operations
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Bryan Rudderow - 2011 Recipient

Operations Manager
New Jersey Youth Symphony

Vanessa Rose-Pridemore - 2011 Recipient

Managing Director
The Knights  

Jon Hummel - 2011 Recipient

Executive Director
Philadelphia Youth Sinfonia

Ashley Mirakian- 2011 Recipient

Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Toledo Symphony Orchestras

Veronica Bashbush - 2011 Recipient

Director of Strategic Operations
Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Ahmad Mayes - 2010 Recipient

Director of Operations
Youth Orchestras of San Antonio

Cathy Spieth - 2010 Recipient

Executive Director
El Camino Youth Symphony

Christine Burgener - 2011 Recipient

Director of Operations
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Lisa Dixon - 2010 Recipient

Executive Director
Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Heather Stengle - 2010 Recipient

Operations Manager
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

All Carnets "Play the World" Grant Recipients