The new executive director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra wants to take what he learned in Vermont and bring it to the first state.
Ask Delaware Symphony Orchestra Board President Charles Babcock what distinguished Alan Jordan from the other candidates vying for the position of executive director and he’ll sum it up in three words: experience, knowledge and passion.
“Our product is orchestral music played by professional musicians,” says Babcock. “So if I tell them we got an executive director who doesn’t know which end of the horn to blow into, that isn’t very impressive to them.”
Jordan, who holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory, lays claim to more than thirty years’ experience in performing arts management. Better than half that time was spent as executive director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
During his tenure, the VSO achieved significant artistic and administrative growth. Jordan’s accomplishments included spearheading the orchestra’s first-ever endowment campaign raising more than $3.5 million. He also directed efforts to acquire new equipment, including a Steinway concert grand piano.
New media initiatives included local and national radio broadcasts, CD and DVD projects and an internet e-boutique. He was also responsible for the commissioning or co-commissioning of more than 30 mew compositions.
“He’s a super-hard worker,” says VSO Orchestra Manager Eleanor Long. “Nothing intimidates him. He never looks at the negative. It’s always the glass is half full.”
Jordan credits his success to a deep-seated commitment to and appreciation for music. “I think my real duty in all of this is to perpetuate the art form,” he says by phone from Vermont. “If I didn’t have that lifelong appreciation of music that came from firsthand experience, I don’t think I’d be driven the way I am.”
Jordan believes the DSO is well-positioned to continue its recovery from the near-financial collapse of 2012. “I have to hand it to the staff, certainly to David Amado and the board,” he says. “There was a real crisis that happened there three years ago and for them to have turned it around so quickly both financially and artistically is really a testament to the dedication of those people.”
Jordan would like to see the DSO increase its presence throughout the state. “The DSO should play in Dover, the state capital, at least once every year,” says the 54-year-old Burlington, N.J. native who grew up about a block way from the Delaware River.
Jordan has talked with the DSO board about the possibility of establishing regional boards throughout the state whose members would be better able to generate support from the local media as well as potential donors and patrons.
Another strategy is to break the orchestra down into chamber-sized configurations making it easier to fit into smaller downstate venues. “In Vermont, we ended up finding places where people in a given community congregated,” says Jordan. “Sometimes it was in a church where there was a large altar or a high school gymnasium.”
Jordan also hopes to form partnerships with the various organizations throughout the state. “I think it’s important for us to get to know the other performing arts organizations and the other facilities that do presentations around the state to see how we might be able to work together.”
Jordan believes the key to raising the DSO’s profile in the state is through educational outreach. He applauds the orchestra’s recent efforts to strengthen programs in this area and is eager to build upon them.
“I think a strong education program not only helped us to reach many more families in Vermont than we would have otherwise, but it was a great source of support,” he says. “A lot of people liked the idea of supporting music education in the schools.”
Jordan is also committed to growing what he believes is the core audience for the symphony orchestra: the empty-nester. “I think the Boston Pops/Boston Symphony experience shows that you can’t expect a huge crossover,” he says. “In general you have different audiences that you’re trying to appeal to. I love the idea of expanding the programming at the Delaware Symphony but not necessarily throwing a Beatles’ medley into a masterworks concert.”