Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser Talks Tchaikovsky, Sondheim and the Art of the Turnaround
Sunday, October 02, 2011
Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., desperately wanted to be a singer. But after making an attempt he concluded he just wasn’t going to be good enough, so he turned to arts management, leading such institutions as the American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Royal Opera Covent Garden in London.
Kaiser’s signature contribution has been eliminating deficits that had lingered for years and embarking on bold fundraising initiatives. His work has earned him the nickname the “arts turnaround king.” He now spends a large part of his time as a free consultant to arts organizations around the world, sponsored by the Kennedy Center.
In his interview, Kaiser tells host Gilbert Kaplan:
• Why the Kennedy Center offers a free performance every day.
• The biggest mistake music organizations make in trying to raise money.
• Why he led the Kennedy Center to produce its own plays (its production of Sondheim’s “Follies” just opened on Broadway).
• In his fantasy he would want to be a conductor.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Concerto in E major. First movement (excerpt). English Chamber Orchestra. Daniel Barenboim. Itzhak Perlman, violin. EMI 72435 74720.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni “Deh, vieni alla finestra.” Vienna Philharmonic. Josef Krips. Cesare Siepi, bass. Decca 5365948.
Peter Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings. Final movement (excerpt). Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Philippe Entremont. Naxos 8.550404.
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G. Second movement (excerpt). Berlin Philharmonic. Claudio Abbado. Martha Argerich, piano. Deutsche Grammophon 447 438.
Stephen Sondheim: Follies “Losing My Mind.” New York Philharmonic. Paul Gemignani. Barbara Cook. RCA Victor 09026-63805.
Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier. Act III, Final Trio. Philharmonia Orchestra. Herbert von Karajan. Teresa Stich-Randall, Christa Ludwig, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. EMI Classics 5 67609 2.