By Ken Williams | Editor
Leah Rosenthal has her dream job with La Jolla Music Society (LJMS) and enjoys living in North Park with her husband, Matt, and their young daughter.
When she is not in the office, Rosenthal can be found on the tennis court, or cheering for the Chicago Bears with her spouse, or walking her dog, Johann Sebastian Bark.
This month, Rosenthal and the music society are busy preparing for the WinterFest Gala 2017, which will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at Civic Theatre when the Malandain Ballet Biarritz returns to San Diego with a new full-length ballet, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Here are five questions with Leah Rosenthal:
- What is your role with La Jolla Music Society?
“I am the director of artistic planning and education. Working closely with LJMS’s president and artistic director, I oversee the programming and execution of LJMS’s multi-disciplinary winter season and annual chamber music festival SummerFest in addition to managing all aspects of LJMS’ educational programs. Together with an incredibly talented Artistic & Education team, we are responsible for the preparation and execution of contracts, program information, hospitality, travel and schedules for all visiting artists.
“We also facilitate over 100 educational and community engagement activities throughout the year and coordinate classes at our after-school program, the Community Music Center in Logan Heights, and The Music Institute, a premier pre-collegiate program for classical music instruction in Balboa Park in partnership with the San Diego Symphony and Conservatory.”
- What is your professional background?
“From performing in musicals to singing Joni Mitchell songs in my high school rock band, I have always been involved in the arts, and music in particular. I knew from a young age that even if I ultimately decided not to be a performer, I would certainly work in the industry in some capacity.
“After receiving my bachelor of arts degree in voice performance, I continued to study and perform, but was also fortunate to secure coveted internships at venerable institutions like the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and NARAS (Grammys). These experiences ultimately led to my employment at WTTW-TV, a Chicago PBS affiliate, where I had the opportunity to work as a production assistant on ‘Soundstage.’ As a result, I had the opportunity to interact with internationally known artists like Robert Plant, The All American Rejects, Shirley Manson and others, and I loved every minute of it. These experiences confirmed my desire to pursue arts management as a career.
“I eventually received a master’s degree in performing arts management from Columbia College of Chicago while simultaneously working full time as a production coordinator and executive assistant to the vice president of building operations at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”
- With the Trump administration making threats to cut or end national arts funding, how would that impact La Jolla Music Society?
“Sadly, this isn’t the first time in our history that we have had to deal with the possibility of cuts to national arts funding. My colleagues locally and across the country (namely Lincoln Center’s 11 resident companies) are coming together to voice their concerns.
“That being said, La Jolla Music Society does receive federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; however, like most other nonprofit organizations, we have diversified our funding sources so that we can weather unexpected changes and sustain during times of economic difficulty, i.e.: our recent recession. Thankfully, as our audiences continue to grow, so does our pool of potential donors, and we have many longtime supporters who have been with us for decades.”
- Why should people support the arts?
“There are so many reasons people should support the arts. For me personally, I feel wholeheartedly that a lack of support for the arts would, in so many ways, create a huge void in our society in particular the joy it provides. The arts can take you to another place and connect you with people, no matter the differences, to a shared powerful moment. The arts creates dialogue — creates something more than ourselves. The arts inspire. The arts make us feel. It is so innately humane to draw, to dance, to make music. It’s magical.”
- What do you like about living in North Park?
“My husband and I love living in North Park. Just thinking about our beautiful home on Herman Avenue, surrounded by historic bungalows and quirky neighbors, makes me happy. The neighborhood has really evolved to become a wonderful, walkable community in the heart of San Diego. We enjoy the local restaurants, shops, bars and music venues.
“Proximity to all that Balboa Park has to offer is another great aspect of North Park. With a 1-year-old daughter, our weekend rituals are usually very simple. We often take her over to Santos Coffee House for mom and dad’s early morning caffeine fix or to Cardamom Cafe for lunch. We can easily walk to the swings at Bird Park or head over to the zoo when we know it won’t be crowded. When we do have the chance to get out with friends, the endless supply of San Diego’s finest breweries and restaurants at our fingertips can’t be beat.”