Stuart Cohen ’66

Community based arts organizations always need a lot of help. Since I like classical music, I became involved with a symphony orchestra in my town. After one year on the board I was tapped to be president, not because I knew anything about orchestras but because I was enthusiastic and not afraid to talk to people.
Over my five years as president we accomplished a lot and revived the financial health of the orchestra. I learned on the job. The three most important lessons were:
  • Talk to everybody you can about your organization. You never know which conversation will lead to something.
  • Listen to those who know more than you do, which in my case was just about everybody
  • Thank people and thank them again. Thanking folks is about a third of the job.
 It was satisfying to have put the orchestra on my back for a few years and carried it forward. Musicians can’t do it themselves. Classical music is one of the great accomplishments of Western civilization; it stays alive because of the efforts of ordinary people who care. And being around all those live performances that I helped bring into the world was wonderful.