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Springfield Symphony Orchestra rebuilds board, as musicians continue to program their own concerts

 The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, performing at Symphony Hall in 2019.
Springfield Symphony Orchestra
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The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, performing at Symphony Hall in 2019.

Before the pandemic, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra — in ongoing contract negotiations with its musicians — was losing audience, according to Andrew Cade, senior vice president of the Urban League of Springfield.

Cade is one of three newly elected SSO board members. His affiliations with community organizations and events connect to the city's Black community, Cade said, and that could help the SSO attract a more diverse and younger audience.

"I have been affiliated with WTCC radio station for a number of years and have several contacts throughout the city in diverse populations," Cade said, "from Saint John's Congregational Church to the Stone Soul Festival."

Prior to the pandemic, Cade was on an SSO advisory board where he said they discussed the SSO bringing in guest conductors of color, and developing concerts with more diverse music choices.

For years, the musicians have been advocating for the board to fill its vacant positions, said trumpeter Thomas Bergeron, part of a group of musicians who represents players during contract negotiations with the SSO, still underway.

"We continue to believe that the SSO will find more success with a governing board that reflects the diversity of the Springfield community which it serves," Bergeron said.

After ongoing contract disputes and a National Labor Relations Board settlement, last year the musicians formed their own symphony known as Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO).

Bergeron said they were not consulted regarding the new appointees but, "nevertheless we are pleased that some appointments are finally being made."

Last winter, to no avail, the musicians called for key board members to step down.

The SSO's interim director Paul Lambert said in a press release, “we are extremely pleased to add these new members to the SSO Board, each bringing a unique set of skills as we rebuild the organization after the two-year hiatus brought about by the pandemic."

In addition to Cade, who is also president of the Springfield Cultural Council, the SSO appointed Marge Mantoni to its board. According to the press release Mantoni is president and CEO of The Loomis Communities, a primary provider of senior living in the Pioneer Valley. The SSO also appointed Evan Plotkin, CEO of a regional commercial real estate company and active in several Springfield community arts events, including the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival.

Jill has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing The Connection with Christopher Lydon, Morning Edition, reporting and hosting. In the months leading up to the 2000 presidential primary in New Hampshire, Jill hosted NHPR’s daily talk show The Exchange. Right before coming to NEPM, Jill was an editor at PRX's The World.