MOLA 2022 conference wrap-up

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From June 3-6, 2022 in Philadelphia, MOLA: An Association of Performance Librarians (formerly the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association) held their 40th annual conference, and by all accounts it was a huge success.

Perhaps the most successful thing about the conference was that it happened at all. After the cancellation of the 2020 Vancouver conference due to the COVID pandemic, and the 2021 all-virtual conference, this year marked a return to an in-person gathering among orchestra and performance librarians, many of whom had not seen each other since the 2019 Atlanta conference.

After an opening Friday night reception at the Kimmel Center, the conference was in full swing on Saturday, with a full calendar of sessions, presentations, vendor tables, breakouts, and coffee breaks to fuel it all.

Our friends Steve Reading and Annie Miller from Scores Reformed were in attendance showcasing their ever-growing catalog:

Scores Reformed at a MOLA 2022 vendor table

The MOLA Technology Committee met to discuss a variety of items, including what to have in their burritos or taco bowls. Thank you to committee chair Mark Fabulich of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and to committee member Master Sgt. Matthew Dannan, Chief Music Librarian with the United States Air Force Band, for making the very important decision of District Taco as the lunch venue:

MOLA Technology Committee and guests, from L-R: Mark Fabulich, David MacDonald, Jeff Domoto, Matthew Dannan, Mark Fugina, Tony Rickard, Colin Bunnell

Jane Cross, a music archivist at the Library of Congress, gave a presentation entitled “Bits and Bytes: Managing All Those Digital Music Files.” The presentation was so important, she gave it twice during the conference (a backup copy?):

Jane Cross’s presentation: “Bits and Bytes: Managing All Those Digital Music Files”

Later, David and I caught up with Jane to discuss her presentation for a future Scoring Notes podcast episode:

From L-R: Jane Cross, David MacDonald, and Philip Rothman

Of course, a delightful late spring weekend led itself to an outdoor gathering, amidst wine, food, and an animated discussion about music licensing:

From L-R: Maureen Conroy, David MacDonald, Liz Dunning, Lisa Dempsey Kane, Matt Searing, Philip Rothman

Along with Mark Fabulich, and Georgina Govier of the Welsh National Opera, David MacDonald presented “(Y)Our Future With Digital Sheet Music”, where the present and future state of digital display and distribution of music was a topic of much conversation:

“(Y)Our Future With Digital Sheet Music” with Mark Fabulich, Georgina Govier, and David MacDonald

Alastair McKean, head of library services at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, presented to a standing-room-only crowd about “Composer Wrangling, or, Helping Composers Think Like Musicians”. Among the items discussed: Even though notating like Orff looks cool, it will just cause musicians to cross out the quarter note and put a “4” in its place:

Don’t do this

Back in the main ballroom, David and I had a moment to mug for the camera before our “Advancements in Music Notation Software” session:

We gave a lightning-speed tour of what’s happened in the last year in the world of music notation software and related technology, and fielded questions from the audience. Nearly every question had a relevant Scoring Notes article that provided an answer! We recorded the session and it will appear in some form on our next podcast episode.

Manly Romero of the Manhattan School of Music, and Nishana Dobbeck of the United States Marine Band (and, come this fall, a librarian at The Metropolitan Opera), demonstrated AirTable, which they use for project management in the library. It was another packed session which garnered lots of interest among conference attendees.

Manly Romero and Nishana Dobbeck demonstrate AirTable

At the banquet, violinist Jennifer Koh was presented with the inaugural Eroica Award for Outstanding Service to Music. Afterwards, everyone celebrated, and we managed to catch up with our good friend Nicole Jordan, principal librarian of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to get her thoughts about the conference (including a session in which she talked about preparing for a recording of Florence Price’s music). Naturally, we got it on tape and we’ll make our conversation available in a future Scoring Notes episode!

From L-R: Nicole Jordan, Philip Rothman, and David MacDonald

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