Getting Settled into FIRST CHAIR

I had lunch the other day with Steven Smith, musical director of the Richmond Symphony. That’s organizational speak for conductor – or maestro.

Steven and I are partnering on a new Symphony/Floricane initiative called FIRST CHAIR. It essentially puts a team of people (anywhere from 40-80) on stage with the musicians from the Symphony for a two-hour exploration of leadership, culture and change. It is an intense and visceral experience for everyone involved, as Steven and I co-facilitate and conduct a three-way conversation between an organization, a group of musicians and Beethoven.

We did a session with a group of leaders from HCA’s Chippenham/Johnson-Willis campus earlier in the spring. Another half-dozen organizations are in active discussion to experience FIRST CHAIR themselves, which led to lunch.

In addition to continuing a debrief on our spring experience, we wanted to make sure we were on the same page going forward. Any lunch – especially at Perly’s – that includes passionate discussion about organizational democracy, the nature of music and the importance of authenticity and surprise is a good meal. That’s what we had at Perly’s last week.

It’s exciting enough to be inventing a new, game-changing series with the Symphony. It just gets better when I sit down with people like Steven who embrace the power of music and change, and discover that we’re singing the same tune.

It looks like we’ll be doing three offerings of FIRST CHAIR during the upcoming season for three extremely vibrant – and different – organizations. We’re going to have a blast.