For Boston Baroque’s Miguel A. Rodriguez, The Music Comes First
When Boston Baroque moves full throttle into Beethoven’s 9th at the Strand Theatre this Sunday, Miguel A. Rodriguez can settle back into his seat and enjoy the show. "It’s love of the music first!," said Rodriguez, who when Monday comes will be back to his office administrating the 40-year-old, Grammy nominated orchestra.
"I’m in love with the cultural sector," he enthuses.
The free concert hosted by Mayor Thomas Menino at the Dorchester theater, November 10, is but one of the appointments the busy Baroque administrator has on tap. Also on his "to do" list is fund raising. Finding donors is key to the survival of the orchestra devoted to performing music by composers writing from about 1600 to 1820 with instruments from that period.
Rodriguez likes that part of his position as Executive Director as well as hearing the music he once himself performed.
The openly gay man is conservatory educated, studying first at the University of Michigan, and at the graduate level at Boston University. He then traveled throughout Europe for six years as a lyric tenor singing Mozart and Rossini. He also did "contemporary work because of my B.U. music teacher Phyllis Curtin’s influence."
Rodriguez wearied of the road, however. "I was traveling 46 weeks of the year. I’d have two days at home packing." It began to tell on his family life.
So he launched a new career.....fund raising and administration. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and now has 12 years of experience as a fund raising professional with a long record of building donor relationships.
This work started with signing on as the first general manager for the Landmark Orchestra, which does free performances in places of architectural, historical, and geographical significance, many of these family friendly concerts at the DCR’s Hatch Shell.
Outside the music realm, he served last year as the Finance Director for Mainers United for Marriage, the campaign to win same-sex marriage in Maine, raising over $8 million dollars during the ninth months the campaign was on.
"I was very passionate about getting this legislation passed," he says. "and very proud to have been a part of a campaign that was historical in nature.
"The people voted the equality into law, whereas elsewhere same sex marriage has been decided by the courts or achieved through legislation. Amazing!," he said.
He also notes that the Mainers United experience gave him transferable skills to his job as executive director of Boston Baroque.
"I experienced how powerful young people are in the grass roots movements," he says.
"They used technology --- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram applications --- to reach hundreds and thousands of people. If you speak this language, it’s a new way to mobilize people."
He adds that while Baroque wants young people at its concerts, he also reaches out to retirees and those music lovers in-between.
Recent years have proved especially hard to keep cultural institutions going, the recent shuttering of the 70-year-old New York City Opera as an example. ( For all those decades the NYCO had made opera affordable to New Yorkers, championed new work, and fostered the careers of major singers.) Rodriguez analyses that the competitive Metropolitan Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb lured new audiences to the MET with tech outreach that appealed to young listerners. "He built younger audiences that way and with innovations such as the HD live casts of operas shown in movie-houses which has proven to be a big success."
As to the message Rodriguez wants to send in the many forms he’ll use, he says Boston Baroque is easy to get enthused about
"I love the high artistic level of the performers and how that orchestra sounds live and on recordings," he said. Boston Baroque’s most recent CD is a glorious "Lord Nelson Mass" by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1808) directed by Martin Pearlman music director of Boston Baroque in a live performance in Mechanics Hall, Worchester, Massachusetts for Linn Records (see www.linnrecords.com.)
"They know how to play the music of the period and they do so magnificently," he said. The Sunday free concert is sponsored by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the City of Boston’s Office of the Arts, Tourism and Special Events, along with a grant form the National Endowment for the Arts and the Free For All Concert Fund.
Boston Baroque Presents a free concert hosted by Mayor Tom Menino featuring Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Sun. Nov. 10 at 2 pm at Dorchester’s Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Rd. For FREE reserved-seat tickets go to the Strand box office or phone 617-635-1403.