Fantastic interview with conductor Michael Morgan in which he talks about what it really takes for an orchestra to become an integral part of its community. Here are some of my favorite quotes. It's a GREAT read and I highly recommend you check it out.
I think that everyone should be shooting for the widest possible range of things that a symphony orchestra can credibly do. And the members of the symphony orchestra can do all those things; you just have to see how far you can expand your audience — you don’t want toleave your audience behind, either.
On reaching new audiences:
So we reach out to various communities. We’ve done Persian, we’ve done Armenian, we’ve done Chinese, and we will add Filipinos to that, connecting to another corner of our community in a way that is genuine. I mean, you don’t just play the Marquez Danzon and expect everyone Latino to show up. You try to find out what that community would actually embrace that a symphony orchestra can do, and then [you] reach out at the grass roots level, which requires a lot of guerrilla marketing.
You have to know how to approach them. Very frequently, just putting an ad in the [SF] Chronicle doesn’t do it. You have to find out how they communicate among themselves and get into those media streams. And then people understand that it’s a genuine effort to connect with them and not a one-off attempt to be multicultural for multiculturalism’s sake. You don’t expect all of them to come back; you expect a few of them to become part of your family, going forward.
The most fundamental thing is the ability to translate the way a piece should sound into physical gesture, which is actually a fairly rare talent — that’s why there are so many conductors, and so few people who are really good at it. The other thing is figuring out what your real contribution to the field is, which is different for each person. Finding the thing that’s important to you is what really makes you not just successful but also content in the success you’re having.