We had the good fortune of connecting with Noreen Green and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Noreen, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Looking back, starting an orchestra without ever having any business or nonprofit training was a huge risk! Many times over the past 27 years I have said to myself: maybe it’s time to give it up. What always keeps me going is the response of our funders and audience. Each time we receive a grant, a donation, a good review, a glowing audience comment, a note from a composer, a note from an orchestra member – I am reminded of the positive impact the LA Jewish Symphony is making on our community and beyond. By updating our YouTube channel, this year, our outreach has grown.
Throughout my career, I have taken risks, always reaching and growing, and looking at the possibilities. As a conductor, I love challenging myself with difficult scores, creating programs by thinking out of the box, joining forces with other organizations beyond the Jewish community and continuing to stretch the limits of what is comfortable. Due to the challenges of performing live due to the pandemic this past year, with limited knowledge of audio and video engineering, I embarked into unknown virtual waters directing and producing more than 15 videos to sustain our organization and keep it relevant through the pandemic. When my community choir was without a rehearsal space, together we learned the skills necessary to record at home.
Personally, my life is richer for the risks I have taken with the family I have created with my husband and two children, one of whom is adopted from Ukraine.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been lucky. As a woman conductor and business owner, my struggles have been minimal. I have used my orchestra as a means to bring the music of the Jewish experience to a larger audience. Some questioned the need for this type of orchestra, but over the years, with the unique type of programming I create, each concert I present has a theme, where I push the boundaries of what is considered Jewish music. Music can bring people together. In addition to championing women composers, the programs I am most proud of are those where we joined with other organizations. Some examples are:
Using Sephardic music as a bridge between the Jewish and Latinx communities of LA. For instance, in our “Patchwork of Cultures” program, we featured the Mariachi Divas in a joint concert.
Combing with Gospel choirs in several programs such as “Gospel Fusion” and “Celebrate Freedom: The Meaning of Passover” – to celebrate our shared history of slavery to freedom.
“Friendship and Harmony” – a concert with the Korean community at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The lessons I have learned is that everybody has a story, and if we listen, we can find common ground. No one fights when they are playing music together. If I were to say what my life purpose is, it is to reach out and create harmony within different communities through music.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, now that LA is opening up again:
A concert at the Hollywood Bowl is a must!
The Soraya in the Valley – a great concert hall!
Disney Hall – see anything with the LA Phil! Dinner at Kendall’s when it reopens.
A trip to Malibu and the pier. A favorite – Malibu Farms Restaurant
Universal City Walk, and the tour – a very LA thing!
Griffith Park – any of the hiking trails, maybe a show at the Greek, or Shakespeare in the Park
Will Rogers park – hiking
Hollywood – if the theaters are open – Pantages, with dinner at Delphine
Olvera Street for Mexican food
Calabasas Saturday Farmers Market or Santa Monica Farmers Market
3rd Street and the Pier at Santa Monica (evening)
Venice Beach with lunch at the Rose Cafe
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Dr. S. Ian Drew, my husband and president of the LA Jewish Symphony.
Together we made the decision to start the orchestra as a way to give back to the Jewish community. Since its founding, I have never taken a salary. We raise money to bring the music of the Jewish experience to our community and beyond. We also have an education program where each year we serve over 1200 school-age children.
Without the support and love of my husband throughout the years, I could not have kept the LAJS afloat. His business knowledge and contacts have been invaluable to its success. And his love gives the strength that I always need to keep going. He is also dedicated to our family, ensuring that all of our needs are always met with love and commitment.
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